If the stress of your finances are starting to become a hassle in your daily life, how can you tell if it’s just a hurdle or a situation that requires further attention?
You are in a state of financial hardship if you are having difficulty paying bills and repayments on your loans or debts when they are due.
Financial hardship can occur as a result of the following:
- A change of circumstances where you are no longer able to make the repayments
- You were initially provided with a loan or ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ arrangement that you perhaps could not afford afford, which can be deemed to be irresponsible lending from the creditor
There are a few things to note if you are in a situation of financial hardship.
1. You have rights
There is no reason to feel ashamed or embarrassed, as this can happen to anyone at any time.
It can also be very stressful and have a negative impact on your mental health. It is important to remember that you have rights when you are in this situation.
For example, in certain instances you have the right to request a ‘financial hardship repayment arrangement’ from the lender that you owe money to – and they are obliged to respond to your request with a reasonable arrangement. These arrangements can include extra time to repay, a variation to the repayment amount, freezing late fees or interest, or even a waiver in rare cases.
2. Get a copy of your credit report
If you do find yourself in financial hardship, it’s a good idea to get a copy of your credit report.
A credit report should list all the loans and outstanding debts you have and missed repayments with several sources including banks, credit card companies, and the government. Be aware that some debts may not be listed, including informal lending arrangements.
Your credit report will give you an overview of your debt situation and will alert you to any other debts you may have forgotten about. If you notice anything that shouldn’t be on there or want help in accessing or understanding your report, you can speak to a financial counsellor at La Trobe.
I have my credit report – what’s next?
When you are certain of exactly what debts you have, you may start seeking financial hardship repayment arrangements. If your debt is with a bank, you can contact their hardship department to ask for this and their contact details will be listed on your bank statement or app. However, if you are feeling overwhelmed or need some support in negotiating an arrangement, a financial counsellor at La Trobe can assist in advocating on your behalf.
Support at La Trobe
If you find yourself in a financial hardship situation, it is important you seek out support as soon as possible before the situation spirals out of control. You can email Financial Counselling or visit www.latrobe.edu.au/financialcounselling for more info.