READY FOR RISE
By BELINDA SCOTT
MICHELLE Roelandts says she and her husband, Toby, had already factored yesterday's 0.25 interest rate rise into their budget, but that doesn't mean it won't affect them.
The young Toormina family have just refinanced their mortgage in order to buy a more fuel-efficient car to cope with rocketing petrol prices.
High petrol prices are one of the inflationary pressures cited for causing the interest rate rise.
"With a 2.5 per cent rise in the past two years, the repayments have gone up by a lot," she said.
The latest interest rate rise, coupled with the new borrowing, will mean that the term of the Roelandts' loan is extended, so it will take them longer to pay off their house and they will pay more in interest charges.
While Mrs Roelandts hopes to find a part-time job when five-year-old Cassie joins her brother, Luke, at Mary Help of Christians primary school, at present the family are balancing the budget for a family of four on one wage, so $12.96 a kilogram supermarket bananas are off the menu ? 'that's a ridiculous price for Coffs Harbour', and high prices for other fruit are stretching the housekeeping budget.
When they were considering moving to Armidale for Mr Roelandts to take up another position with the company he works for, they were offered a $300,000 loan by the bank to buy a house there.
"But we could have been in the situation where we lost everything," said Mrs Roelandts, who is watching Sydney relatives juggling $500,000 mortgages.
She said before buying their house for $60,000 seven years ago, when their average income was $27,000 a year 'and that's nothing to live on', the family made the decision to buy a modest house and factor in interest rate rises of 10 per cent.
"Mum and Dad bought a house just before interest rates went up to 18 per cent and they have always instilled in us to be careful of rate rises, but a lot of people have never gone through that," she said.
While her husband is now a senior geotechnician and rising prices have quadrupled the value of their house, the Roelandts' are also coping with rises in rates and have two children to educate, so Mrs Roelandts conserves fuel by synchronising her business trips, medical and dental appointments.
She has noticed that the price of groceries has gone up and misses the vanished roadside stalls selling 99c a kilogram bananas. With two children with allergies to oranges, she says trying to find some variety among fresh fruit she can afford 'is driving me crazy' while dental costs are always a concern.
Mrs Roelandts sympathises with mortgagees 'on the other side of the railway tracks' in Sawtell, who have seen much more dramatic rises in prices, land valuations and rates.