A few years ago, Ray didn’t have so much to look forward to. When he first moved from Queensland to Bendigo he found resettling tough. “At the time I was on the Disability Support Program which is hard to budget on and does not leave a lot of room for larger expenses like a fridge or other household needs.”
After successfully applying for a No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) loan, Ray was able to purchase essential household items to get back on his feet. “I felt like I was given a fair go. I was relieved that I could now go out and get the items. I felt that someone cared about how hard it is living on a Disability Support Pension,” said Ray.
For Ray, accessing the NILS loan was a step toward financial inclusion and independence. “I was very relieved that I could get these items and then pay them off at an amount I could comfortably afford. The repayments left me with enough money to live.”
After paying off his NILS loan, Ray felt confident that he could budget and save, and he applied for the AddsUP Matched Savings Plan. He did this so he could afford to make the trip to Queensland to visit his family, something he’ll be doing very soon.
“I am going to Queensland to see my grandchildren, I can’t wait. One of my grandchildren has a disability that means he cannot travel down here to see me. Before AddsUP, I did not think I would be able to save the money needed to do this,” said Ray.
The AddsUP Matched Savings Plan is offered to people like Ray who have successfully completed paying off a NILS loan or StepUP low interest loan. The program was developed in collaboration with the National Australia Bank as a community initiative with Good Shepherd Microfinance. The intention is to provide financial incentives to encourage people to develop savings habits. If they can save $500 in a period of six to twelve months, the National Australia Bank will match it dollar for dollar.
With AddsUP, Ray has not only achieved his savings goal, but has developed a savings habit that will set him up for future financial resilience, “I am absolutely planning to continue to save money. There are always things that you want and need – car costs and household furniture – now I know I can save for these things and also the unknown.”
Good Shepherd Microfinance is Australia’s largest microfinance organisation. We offer a suite of people centred, affordable financial programs for people on low incomes at different financial stages of their lives. Our aim, together with those of our community partners, is to enable clients to realise their own economic wellbeing, as they define it themselves, through appropriate financial services.
As a result, people feel valued, accepted and included and in control of their own finances and lives. Our programs have reached more than 140,000 people previously excluded from mainstream banking access to loans and savings, with repayment rates consistently above 95%.