Getting help with money can change your life. For some it’s finding answers from our Sorted guides and tools – but others need one-on-one help. For Kane Lyden, working with a financial mentor was a turning point in getting on top of a difficult financial situation, in a non-judgemental and practical way. She has generously shared her story with us in the hope that it will inspire others to reach out for help.

I realised I needed to make some changes

At the age of 30, I was living in South Auckland with bills that had accrued in my name while in a very dysfunctional relationship. Crippled by gambling addictions that left my small family in financial hardship, the struggles were never-ending.

I had the realisation that my situation was not healthy, and my financial burdens had become overwhelming. There was a need for change.

Moving to make a new start with whānau in Kaikohe

In 2001 I made the move to Kaikohe as a single parent of three children, aged 6, 5 and 6 months. I was emotionally scarred by my past relationship, and followed by creditors serving court orders in my name for debt that had accrued over time.

This was a very scary moment in my life that left me wondering about the livelihood of my family. I was in critical need of help and support.

My whānau members in Kaikohe welcomed me and my small family, and provided us with some sense of security.

Help came in the form of a financial mentor

I was determined to change my current situation somehow. A debt collector directed me to Mid North Budgeting Services in Kaikohe. I explained my situation to the financial mentor. I was on a $250 weekly benefit with three children, looking for budgeting assistance and accommodation.

The financial mentor was very welcoming and provided me with assistance that made me feel safe and understood… that the impossible would be possible.

The financial mentor helped me to complete a budget report that contained my living expenses and debt owed to various companies. They contacted the creditors and put a proposal together which was accepted.

This meant I did not have to appear in court, my debt slowly decreased over time, and the reduced weight of my financial hardships allowed me to breathe.

Over time, I worked hard to improve my financial position. I continued to attend my appointments and stick to my budget.

Giving back to my community as a financial mentor

The financial mentor then suggested that there was an opportunity for me to volunteer as a financial mentor myself, which fitted well with my life as a single parent. My responsibility was to provide budgeting advice to clients.

Over time, I received professional development training that allowed me to provide relatable, ethical advice to those in financial hardship.

I successfully applied for the manager’s role in 2005. Getting this position allowed me to dream bigger.

Living by the advice I give gave me my big break

Being a financial mentor I felt the need to change old habits. I realised that my gambling addiction would contradict the essence of the advice I would be providing to clients within my community.

This was the turning point in my life, where I felt accountable to live by the advice I gave.

KiwiSaver was introduced in 2007, and I began contributing 4%, which was matched by my employer. Furthermore, I gave up smoking in 2007. The money I would have spent on smokes went straight into my KiwiSaver, helping me to start saving for my future.

In 2016 I officially signed the ownership papers to my own house.

My meaningful journey to financial wellbeing

Without the help of the financial mentor who supported me, provided advice, reassured me that the impossible can be possible, and believed in me, I would have found it hard to get to where I am today.

When I think about my journey in a nutshell, my 30-year-old self would be in tears to think of what we have accomplished. I couldn’t have imagined owning my own house, my children thriving with one being married, one a university graduate working for Far North District Council, and one looking at the sustainability of our environment.

Overcoming the struggles I have faced – not only financially but mentally – has changed not only my future aspirations but the future of my children, and even those around them.

The wellbeing of a family is the wellbeing of our community

I don’t need to imagine how my clients feel when they walk through those doors – I've been there myself. But everyone has a story, and each story is different, so I take the time to understand where my clients are coming from.

My daughter recently reminded me that the wellbeing of a family is the wellbeing of our community.

It is unfortunate that money can determine the future wellbeing of individuals and their families. But at the end of the day, knowing both sides of the coin helps me to help others.

For the past 20 years my experience has enabled me to educate youth, young parents and others within the community by providing a service beyond a service.

Some have been inspired, some not so much. But like a totara seed that sprouts, it eventually grows.

Kane Lyden is a financial mentor at the Mid North Budgeting Services Trust, where she helps others face and overcome their financial challenges. If you, or someone you know could benefit from speaking to a financial mentor, reach out to the team at MoneyTalks for help over the phone or a referral to a local budgeting service – it’s free and confidential.



Comment (1)

Gravatar for Les


5:29pm | 29 Nov 2021

This story is good to show that you can improve your life by working towards your goals.