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Enquire below for a free debt analysis

1300 237 669

Whew what a roller coaster the last 12 months have been!

Global pandemic, quarantine, self-isolation, lay-offs, retrenchments, stand-downs, ‘unprecedented times’, home schooling, multi-industry and economic downturns, jobkeeper, Mark McGowan, hand sanitiser, social distancing, rise in mental health issues, masks, masks and more masks … and that is all without even touching on the UK, Europe, USA or even ex-President Trump! Not to get too cliché-y but … is this our new normal?

2020 …. via GIPHY

And let’s be honest, we have no idea when this rollercoaster is actually going to end, right?  This ‘ride’ just keeps going.   There are certainly a multitude of challenges that we are all facing and no one has it ‘better’ or ‘worse’ when we understand that we are all connected as a society.

One item which I am relived to note has gained a lot more public awareness is the term “financial hardship” ….. not because I wish hardship on anyone, but because these world events inevitably have a financial impact and many, many, people were previously simply unaware that your lender has a legal obligation to have processes in place designed to temporarily assist their customers who find themselves in financial hardship.

Yes, that’s right.  A legal obligation.

Now, just to be clear, this does not mean that they must do what YOU want or that you can simply stop paying your bills … more so that there are avenues and options available to those who find themselves unable to meet their normal repayments, subject to each lender’s specific hardship criteria. 

These hardship relief options have always been there, they just were not as well-publicised. Now, because of the sheer volume of customers experiencing financial hardship, the banks and lenders have actually had to ramp up, expand and streamline their criteria and processes.  Many have ‘lowered the bar’ in terms of what qualifies as hardship or they have extended the timeframes involved for borrowers to access the assistance.

So, don’t mask your debt problem = Communication is key.  Your lender is not able to ‘guess’ that you are in financial hardship – you must tell them.  Any instances of non payment are taken to be deliberate not a case of ‘unable to’.  Contact your lender, bank, creditor, even your utility providers for electricity, gas, telco and even local council for your rates will have hardship schemes – just ask!

No, hardship is not a magic wand solution – there will be a time frame involved and yes there will have to be arrangements at the end to either catch up your arrears or, if available amortise them (add to the end of the loan) however, hardship can be the temporary relief you need to get back on your feet.  Financial counselling is also a fantastic and, most importantly *free* service, click th elink or call on 1800 007 007.

If you, or someone you know is struggling with unmanageable debt – or maybe your hardship period has ended – call our friendly team at LIFE AFTER DEBT to discuss an option to avoid bankruptcy and collections harassment on 1300 237 669 or fill in a contact form for us to call you.

Remember, there is life after debt and we want to help you get there.

 

As of 1st January 2021, the temporary COVID-19 debt relief measures introduced by the Government have been removed.

The temporary debt protection period pre-covid was 21 days; in March 2020, the Government extended this period to 6 months for applications made up to 31st December.  However that period has expired and from 1st January current amounts/time periods are:

  • the minimum amount of debt that can trigger bankruptcy is $10,000, down from $20,000
  • the amount of time an individual has to respond to a bankruptcy notice is 21 days, reduced from six months
  • temporary debt protection allows for 21 days relief from creditors, instead of six months.
Financial Hardship

Financial Hardship

We urge anyone struggling with unmanageable debt to contact their Creditors to discuss hardship options with them as soon as possible.  A financial counsellor can also help with this as well as guide you on other options available.

Life After Debt is a personal insolvency firm, assisting everyday Australians in the assessment, preparation, logement and administration of both informal and formal debt management arrangements.  Australian Financial Solutions P/L, trading as Life After Debt, is registered with AFSA as a Debt Agreement Administration firm (#1211) and also a member of AFCA (#77102).

Should you, or anyone you know be struggling with unmanageable debt, please contact our friendly team today for a no obligation and free initial assessment.

Source:  AFSA media release

 

 

Your credit score can define you as far as many lenders are concerned. 

Get a “good” score and your chances of being approved are so much better, however, a lower or “poor” score can equally end your credit application before it has begun!  But how can you improve your credit score?  Lucky for you we made this super short information video…

 

 

Like what you see?  Why not share it?  Need more help?  Contact Life After Debt on 1300 237 669

Find that Life After Debt

AFSA has recently released updated insolvency statistics showing that in the March 2020 quarter, personal insolvencies rose by 4.0% when compared to the previous quarter.

Capital City Stats

There were rises in all capital cities except for Greater Perth, Greater Darwin and the Australian Capital Territory. New personal insolvencies in regions outside capital cities fell 1.1% in the March quarter 2020 compared to the previous quarter.

The proportion of debtors in capital cities rose by 1.2 percentage points in the March quarter 2020 compared to the previous quarter to 65.1%.

Number of Bankruptcies Fell?

The interesting part is that Bankruptcies actually fell by 15.9% which suggests that more debtors are opting for repayment compromises with their Creditors rather than declaring themselves Bankrupt. 

Is bankruptcy ahead? It seems not.

What does personal insolvency cover?

The term “Personal insolvencies” covers a range of mechanisms under the Bankruptcy Act, such as a Part IX Debt Agreement or Part X Personal Insolvency Agreement as well as Bankruptcy;  the difference is that under a Part IX the debtor negotiates a repayment scheme over a set term, with interest frozen and also then avoids all the restrictions associated with a Debtor’s Petition for Bankruptcy.

If you or someone you know is struggling with debt, then call the team at Life After Debt to discuss options to avoid bankruptcy.

 

Source: AFSA insolvency stats media release 

It’s always nice to have over-estimated, right?  Well, no.

What happened?  

A recent announcement by the Government has advised of an accounting error in relation to the number of businesses claiming the JobKeeper payment.  It has been put down to the ATO relying of business-owners to accurately input their own claim data.  Confusion during the registration process has resulted in a huge miscalculation; when asked the number of employees the business would be claiming JobKeeper for, many small business owners have entered ‘1500’ – this being the amount of the claim – instead of ‘1’ for 1 employee.

It has so far been estimated that over 1000 small businesses have therefore registered to receive 1499 extra claims.  The Government has been quick to point out that this has NOT resulted in over-payments, only an “over-budgeting” issue.

Whilst this is good from the point of view that Australia does not need to go into as much debt as previously thought, the BIG problem with this inaccuracy is the knock-on effect; many of the Government’s other measures were based upon these numbers which now brings the whole debt recovery plan into question.

Source:  News.com article 22 05 2020.  Click to read the full article here.

Confusion during registration process

Life After Debt has been receiving a large number of enquiries relating to Australians struggling with debt due to Coronavirus (COVID-19);  If you are struggling with debt and would like to discuss your circumstances in confidence, call our friendly team on 1300 237 669.

 

Temporary debt relief

On 25 March 2020, the Government introduced temporary measures  to support individuals and businesses during this crisis. These include:

If you have been financially impacted by Coronavirus (COVID-19), you may be eligible to receive financial assistance – see the Services Australia website Affected by coronavirus for more information.

If your business has been impacted, you can find more information on the business.gov.au website:

Six month temporary debt protection

The temporary debt protection period available for people in financial difficulty has been increased from 21 days to six months. This protection now prevents recovery action by unsecured creditors for a six month period.

You can use this time to:

  • Seek advice from a free financial counsellor – contact the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 or see Where to find help.
  • Negotiate a payment plan with your creditors. You can do this yourself or authorise someone else to negotiate on your behalf.
  • Consider if any of the formal insolvency options would be right for you – see What are my options?

Changes to bankruptcy notices

  • The debt threshold required for creditors to apply for a bankruptcy notice against a debtor has been increased from $5,000 to $20,000.
  • The timeframe for a debtor to respond to a Bankruptcy notice has increased  before a Creditor can commence bankruptcy proceedings.

What happens to Bankruptcy Notices issued before 25 March 2020?

  •  from 21 days to up to six months. This means that a creditor will have to wait until the six month period has 

If the bankruptcy notice was issued before 25 March 2020, the debtor has 21 days to comply with the bankruptcy notice. For more information see Bankruptcy notices.  These temporary measures will be available for six months.

Seek free advice from a financial counsellor

You can get help from a free financial counsellor by contacting the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.  Financial counsellors provide free, independent and confidential advice to help you manage your debts or negotiate with creditors.

The National Debt Helpline website also has step-by-step guides and useful information on how to deal with specific types of debts.

Impacts to people who are currently bankrupt

How will payments from the Coronavirus Economic Response Package affect people in bankruptcy?

  • Economic support payments – are not claimable by your bankruptcy trustee as income or as an asset, regardless of whether you receive the payments before or after the date of bankruptcy.
  • COVID-19 supplement payments – are claimable by the trustee if you receive them before the date of bankruptcy and it remains in your bank account when you become bankrupt. During bankruptcy these payments are included in your after-tax income amount. If your after-tax income exceeds a set amount, you may have to make compulsory payments. For more information see Income and employment.

More information about these types of payment are available at Services Australia.

Early access to superannuation

Should you receive payments from your superannuation under the Coronavirus Economic Response Package, there is no change to the way this payment is treated in bankruptcy.

See Is my superannuation affected? for details on what happens to your super during bankruptcy.

The Australian Taxation Office has more information about super payments on their website at Early access to your super.

 

 

Impacts to people in a Debt Agreement

What can people in an active Debt Agreement do if they are affected by the Coronavirus?

If you are in an active Debt Agreement and your circumstances have changed as a result of the Coronavirus, you can contact your debt agreement administrator to discuss your options, which may include submitting a possible variation proposal.

For example, you may request that:

  • The payments you have made to date be accepted as the full payment (which would end the debt agreement)
  • The debt agreement to be extended for a specific period

More information & Links

 
 
 

Caronavirus or COVID-19 has thrown the entire world into chaos.  Whilst we are all attempting to adhere to social distancing in order to flatten the curve, there is also the financial chaos which needs to be dealt with.

Have you been stood down / laid off / had your income reduced?

If you are one of the many whose income has been affected, you are no doubt wondering how long this situation will go on for (as we all are).  For a long time, many Australians have simply been living pay-to-pay where any unexpected expense caused financial stress. Fast forward to COVID-19 where incomes have been halved or completely wiped out and these Australians are wondering how they are going to get back on their feet ever again. 

So, what should you do?  The answer, in the short term, is surprisingly simple:  Communicate.  

As we all know, COVID-19 is a global pandemic.  Everyone is aware of it.  Everyone knows that businesses have shut down, employees laid off, unemployment queues seemingly endless.  If you are simply unable to pay your bills, debts and other repayments, you must communicate to your Creditors.  If they do not know that you are struggling it will be assumed you are choosing not to pay.  

All lenders are required to have a Hardship Provisions designed to set out the criteria of how the Creditor can assist its customers when they are facing temporary financial hardship.  Creditors repeatedly tell us they want the opportunity to communicate and assist their customers directly prior to more serious options being explored. Yes, they may well be over-subscribed at the moment, but be patient as there are many people in that boat with you.  

Each Creditor will have their own criteria and assessment process so you will need to apply separately to each one.  For this reason it is possible that you meet one criteria and not another.  Additionally, each Creditor may offer different arrangements; it is crucial you note the terms of each arrangement and maintain accordingly or if unable to do so that you advise the Creditor as soon as possible.

Many banks have been pro-active in their treatment of mortgage-holders; we are hoping to see these measures applied to a far wider range of loans however the reality is that each lender will approach this crisis in their own way and will have their own way of addressing the needs of their customers.  

NOTE:  Its not just lenders who have Hardship Policies

Any provider of credit will have a hardship policy; utility companies like electricity, gas and water; telecommunications providers; your local council or shire in respect of Rates; even the ATO!

Hardship is a Buzz Word

Think of “Hardship” as a buzz word;  as soon as you advise your lender or credit provider that you are in financial hardship, they need to take steps to assess and, where applicable, assist you.  Again, we must stress that during these unprecedented times, you may need to wait a little longer than usual but there are a few things you can have ready to make the process smoother;

Items you will need to apply for Hardship Relief

Your lender or Credit providers commonly want much of the same information provided,  We’ve put together a list of information that you are likely to be asked for during a Hardship Application:

  1. Proof of changed circumstances; such as a notice from your employer detailing your stand-down/lay off/reduced income.
  2. Details of current income; if you have been made unemployed, a copy of your Centrelink claim.  If your income has been reduced, then payslips or a letter from employer.
  3. Other debts; some lenders may want details of all other debts you need to repay in addition to theirs.
  4. Household budget; As part of their process, lenders may ask for a copy of your living expenses to determine your affordability. There is a free budget planner available from our website https://www.lifeafterdebt.com.au/budget-planner/

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it is typical of the information Creditors will need from you at some stage during the Hardship Application process.

What is Hardship Assistance? 

In a nutshell, Hardship Relief = Temporary Assistance.

If granted, hardship assistance can provide you with a limited time to reduce or even suspend repayments whilst you seek a long term solution to your circumstances.  As a guideline, hardship assistance, when granted, is usually for 3 months.  Given the extraordinary events we are experiencing, it is anticipated that Creditors’ hardship policies will be amended and even continue to evolve as this crisis proceeds.

What Other Help Is Available?

Financial Counselling; If you are struggling with debts, bills, rent, maybe unsure of your rights, need advice on Centrelink benefits or accessing your Superannuation, want to access a hardship variation, are being unduly harassed by collection agents, or are considering bankruptcy then there are trained professionals available to help and advise you free of charge.  

How do I find my nearest Financial Counsellor?
Services are usually provided by local councils or not for profit charitable organisations such as Anglicare, The Red Cross, CAP or Salvation Army.  Here is the link to find your nearest Financial Counsellor / office, http://ndh.org.au/Talk-to-a-financial-counsellor/Find-a-financial-counsellor/.

Debt stress

Who can help with other issues like loss of income or bills to pay?

  • If your mental health is being affected, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36
  • Contact Centrelink on 13 24 68 to discuss what support payments you may be eligible for.
  • Contact your nearest Financial Counsellor via the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007
  • Contact your utility supplier to discuss HUGS grants or time to pay arrangements

 

Life After Debt® is a professional Insolvency practice; we aim to provide clients with information on debt options and negotiate repayment arrangements with Creditors.  Our service relieves the stress of unmanageable debt.  For more information visit www.lifeafterdebt.com.au 

Get your Debt under Control

You want to navigate to a Balance Transfer Credit Card to pay off your debt during that helpful interest free period, but you’re unclear on how it works. What mistakes could you accidently make?

Don’t worry. We’re here to help.

Credit card debt?

Here are some top tips to save you interest costs and get your debt under control.

  1. Aim for a Low Transfer Fee

Did you know you could be charged between 1% to 3% of your total balance when your debt is transferred to the new card?

Yes! So, keep an eye on your balance transfer amount – If you’re not careful, this fee can cut into your potential savings and diminish the benefit of the transfer in the first place.

 

  1. Annual Fee and Extra Charges

Pay attention to annual fee charges. Why? Because they will be treated as a purchase and therefore will have the same interest rate applied to it as any other purchases made with your new card.

To make the most out of a Balance Transfer, look out for the cards that waive this cost or pay the annual fee upfront to save yourself any extra interest charges.

Also, don’t forget to close your old account after getting your balance transferred. You don’t want to end up paying account costs for a card that A) has nothing on it, and B) you’re not using.

 

  1. Don’t just aim for the ‘Minimum’

Most people forget the ‘minimum repayment’ isn’t actually what they should be aiming for.

Yes, that may be all that’s required, but small repayments could make paying off your debt take years, which is time you may not have, nor want to spend paying off debt.

The moment your interest free period ends, you’ll collect interest at the standard rate of your card. You want to avoid any nasty surprises like fees ranging between 12% and 21% or more; otherwise you’re back at square one (and we don’t want that).

Make bigger repayments each month and clear the debt before the fees jump up and say “boo.”

Lastly, calculate how much you’d have to pay each month to clear your debt before the offer ends. Don’t think you can pay it off in time? Look for a card with a longer balance transfer offer.

 

  1. First, Focus on your Debt

Not surprisingly, people can often leave themselves vulnerable to more costs and fees when they forget their intention and make purchases using their new balance transfer card.

Purchases collect a different interest rate and credit card issuers are legally required to relocate your monthly repayments to purchases instead of clearing your debt. This will extend the timeframe you have set in place to pay off your transfer and make getting it cleared before the conversion to a higher rate, harder to achieve. 

 

Debt can be overwhelming, and sometimes navigating the number of transfer card options, fees and interest rates without debt assistance can be even more so. But never fear, with these top tips to manage your credit card balance transfer, you’ll be less overwhelmed and debt free in no time.

Need a little extra help with your debt needs?

At Life After Debt® in Perth and Sydney, we have over 50 years combined experience getting people out of debt. We can help you reduce unmanageable debt by offering you affordable, practical debt solutions. Contact us  today and together, we’ll find the best debt relief for you.

That Life After Debt feeling

Stress relief from debt relief – Life After Debt

Twice a year, the Indexed Amounts are updated.  “What are Indexed Amounts?”  I hear you ask?? Well!  These are the limits applicable to certain aspects under The Bankruptcy Act, such as;

  • The amount of income you earn whilst Bankrupt, before being required to make contributions to your bankrupted debts;
  • The limits applicable to the value of certain items you can retain whilst Bankrupt (e.g the value of a car or the value of tools used to earn an income);
  • Threshold limits in respect of income, debts and assets to be eligible to lodge a Part IX Debt Agreement.

What are the indexed amounts?

Every year, the limits are reviewed and updated on 20th March and 20th September in line with CPI or the base pension rate.  Well one of those dates is today!  Here are the updated threshold amounts relative to Part IX Debt Agreement eligibility;

  • Total amount of your unsecured debts cannot be more than $116,662 (per person)
  • Total after tax income for the next 12 months cannot be more than $$87,496.50 PA (approx $122,980 gross) or $1682 net per week (per person)
  • Your interest in unsecured assets (e.g value of asset minus a mortgage or secured loan) cannot exceed $233,324.00 (per person)

These limits are applicable at the time of assessment and lodgement of the Debt Agreement.

At Life After Debt, we specialise in compromising unmanageable unsecured debts into a single repayment package (per person) that is based upon what you can afford.  Check out our client testimonials or Google Reviews to see just how we have helped so many everyday Australians to “Lose their Debt, not their Dignity”.  You do not have to continue to struggle with unmanageable debt, we are only a phone call away to listen and advise you what would be best based on your current situation;  whether that be a Debt Agreement, Bankruptcy, seeking Hardship Relief, seeking an appointment with a Financial Counsellor or just directing you on budget management.

vvvvv  CLICK PLAY HERE TO WATCH OUR 40 SECOND  EXPLAINER VIDEO vvvvvvvvv

 

So if you are tired of dodging collections calls, afraid to answer the phone or front door, keep stuffing those nasty-looking letters into drawers …. then you need Life After Debt.  Call 1300 237 669 or complete an enquiry so we can take that stress away and show you the way out.

Be debt free

Debt or Debt Free?

This is one of the most common FAQs the team at Life After Debt is asked!  So you are definitely not alone if you are wondering “How do I find all of my debts?” …  The answer is as simple as following these steps:

Find My Debts – The Steps

  1. Access a copy of your own credit file.  This is a great starting point as it will have a record of every time you applied for credit in the last 5 years, regardless of whether or not you actually took the account out.  If you use this link you can find out how to get a copy of your credit file for free!
  2. Go through all of your old letters / emails / post.  I bet you have a drawer at home stuffed full of envelopes you haven’t even opened … right?  Well now is the time to open them!  You may find some debts which are not listed on your credit file, like maybe a professional bill such as an accountant, lawyer, doctor or it might be an overdue tax account.
  3. Make a list!
  4. Make a budget.  Can you afford to pay all of these debts?  If you are unsure perhaps you should consider drawing up a budget.  Each debt is likely to want a regular payment, so once you know how much each wants, factor it into your budget and see if you have enough money to cover them all.  If not, you may need to consider requesting hardship relief or make an appointment with a financial counsellor. 

Check out our super-quick You Tube video here:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you feel as though your debt is becoming unmanageable?  Call the team at Life After Debt and we will provide you with a free initial consultation of your debt solution options.  We specialise in arrangements to avoid bankruptcy and legal action, such as a Debt Agreement.  Contact us today for your free debt solutions assessment.

 

Life After Debt

That debt relief feeling