A Day in the Life of Debbie Griffiths, Financial Mentor, VisionWest Budgeting Service

A Day in the Life of Debbie Griffiths, Financial Mentor, VisionWest Budgeting Service

Everyone knows someone who isn’t making ends meet. It’s not just caused by alcohol, drugs, gambling, or bad spending habits. It could be health issues, dissolved marriages, loss of income, or high rental and living costs. These challenges break people’s spirit.

Here at VisionWest we don’t just offer advice, tips, and tricks for budgeting. We also come alongside people and advocate on their behalf. This may include attending appointments and meetings, explaining how contracts calculations work, or helping build confidence to negotiate with creditors. Sometimes people just don’t have the background information or know-how to start the communication. 

We operate from two models. The first is a Whānau Ora model, which is about including everybody in your whānau in financial mentoring. If we can help our children gain financial literacy, teaching them how to not get caught in money traps, they will have a brighter future.

We also drive from a strength-based model. We’re not in the business of “rescuing” people, and most don’t want that. We won’t do it for you – we’ll show you how you can do it. 

Our approach is to listen to what’s worked for people in the past and encourage those strengths. We might support them to write their financial plan of action based on that. It’s their way forward, their options. 

We’re also big on partnering and collaborating with other services in the community. This includes mental health services, young mothers’ groups, and other budgeting services … whatever will help a client on their journey.

We deal with primarily ages 18+, but another important group we help is senior citizens. So much has changed out there for our elders. They’re used to everything being face to face, relational – but some services charge for that now. So, we’re here to help explain and inform them of change, even if that’s just teaching them how to be savvy about scams.

I’ve been in this job for over 12 years. I’ve seen lots of shifts in Auckland living costs over that time. Poverty has risen, with more and more people struggling to honour basic living costs – power, rent, food, water. No one is exempt. Any of us can experience having everything one day and nothing the rest. 

I wish others could see what I see. Financial hardship can make any one of us so vulnerable.

Those who are comfortable don’t think about missing a meal so they can keep the heater on for the kids. I just met with a man who once had a business, cars, a house, a perfect marriage, and kids. Then he had a heart attack, his wife left, and things snowballed. It all fell away.

I’ve also seen some wonderful transformations. It’s extra special when you see families restored. I love to see people find themselves again through our holistic, faith-based approach.

VisionWest can’t fix everything, but we can offer you a place to come where you will feel you belong. There’s no judgement here.