With a strong desire to create positive change – and the right support - budgeting, tackling debt, and getting ahead is still possible, even in these tight economic times.

What are the best budgeting services available in New Zealand?


As the cost of living crisis continues to bite, getting on top of your finances can feel a bit like wading through treacle. Feel like you’re going nowhere fast? You’re not alone. 

According to research commissioned by Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission, over half of Kiwis are feeling financially squeezed, with those struggling increasing by a whopping 17% from 2021 to 2023. The Commission’s 2023 annual survey makes for grim reading with 51% of the 4,000 participants reporting they were either ‘starting to sink’ or ‘treading water.’ Feeling the pinch impacts all aspects of daily life and can have significant long-term consequences, reducing our ability to grow our money or to set ourselves up for the future.

Budgeting INP AdobeStock 314029240

But there’s good news, too. With a strong desire to create positive change – and the right support – budgeting, tackling debt, and getting ahead is still possible, even in these tight economic times. A wide range of excellent free budgeting services are available online and nationwide, and there are companies like enable.me who have created a business out of helping people get back in the money management driver’s seat. Yes, you pay for the privilege, but it’s a formula that clearly works. In the 15 years since Hannah McQueen launched enable.me she has helped thousands of Kiwis build their wealth. The business now has 90 staff, offices in six locations, and has recently merged with Advice First with plans to launch into Australia.

“We’re not a budgeting service – we are in the business of changing lives,” explains Hannah. “Our clients range from those in their early 20s to their early 80s. Some have lots of money, some have very little, some are good with money, some are not; some own property, some don’t. But the one trait they all share is that they want to do better than they’re currently doing.”

The demographic is wide but it’s the 45–55-year-olds who make up the bulk of their market.

“These are the clients that want to pay off their mortgages, make wealth moves, ensure their children become financially independent and retire comfortably, maybe even early.” Sound like a dream come true? Hannah reckons it’s not as difficult as you might imagine.

“If the goal is big enough, you’re capable of a lot more than you would otherwise think. A lot of the people we work with earn a good income, they’re just not making the progress their income says they should. Many are financially literate but they don’t have a plan, don’t know how to make big wealth moves and are inefficient with money management. Some people need to be smarter with their money, some need to get their money to work harder for them, but for most people it’s both.”

Budgeting INP

Each enable.me client is matched with a financial advisor and coach to work alongside them, taking on as much of the heavy lifting as possible.

“Most people work with us for 12 months at a time. In that first year we try and move a mountain, solving as much as we can so it’s easier to make progress. We help people accelerate the speed they’re moving forward; if someone comes to us hoping to get on the property ladder in five years, we aim to get them there in 18 months. We have methodologies and guard rails designed to keep clients engaged, make it as painless as possible and see progress as quickly as possible. That’s the magic formula.”

But while expert advice and guidance is worth its weight in gold, there’s also much to be gained from talking to others who are treading the same path, as MoneyMates practitioner Alyson de Marco explains.

“Sharing your experiences about money is so valuable. Parents don’t tend to do it with their children but it’s probably one of the cheapest and best things they could do.”

Manager of Auckland’s Tamaki Budgeting, Alyson is known as the ‘MoneyMates guru’ and is passionate about the nationwide MoneyMates initiative which offers support group-style weekly meetups at neighbourhood community centres and cafés.

“I’d say there would be around 80 services in the country that are successfully running MoneyMates meetings, but I think that figure will double for 2024 because more facilitators are going into training, more people are becoming aware of the service and people can see how exciting it is.”

Each week different topics are discussed, from goal setting, compounding interest and how much money is enough, through to tips for reducing the grocery bill, and managing the cost of funerals.

“We had one recent meetup discussing wills and enduring power of attorney. So many people turned up that some had to sit on tables outside!”

Helping people boost their financial capabilities gets Alyson out of bed every morning. The best part? “Seeing people achieve their goals as a result of coming to MoneyMates. We’ve had a solo mum on a benefit who is now a homeowner, we have people on their third cruise, and a couple who have both gained Master’s degrees. We encourage people to dream big – give us ten compelling reasons why you really want something, and we can show you how.”


Story by Vanessa Trethewey for the Autumn 2024 issue of AA Directions Magazine. Vanessa is an Auckland-based freelance writer who regularly contributes to AA Directions. 

Explore more from AA Directions magazine:

More from AA Directions

Find out more

Home profile: a former fish factory in Wellington

We visit a former Wellington fish factory that has been converted into a stylish home. Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Build to rent: changing New Zealand's housing model

We investigate the Simplicity scheme that’s revolutionising the housing sector. Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Money Matters: Emma Poole, Young Farmer of the Year

2023 Young Farmer of the Year Emma Poole shares advice on rural finances and money matters. Read the story . . . 

Find out more

How to avoid road rage

Driving while emotional can be distracting and even downright dangerous. We share tips on how to keep your cool behind the wheel. Read the story . . .