Single parent budgeting is hard. Here’s how this mum got back on her feet
When single mum Jenni came to MyBudget for help, she was at rock bottom. She had no partner support, was caring for a sick baby on a single parent budget and quickly running out of hope. This is how she got back on her feet and learned how to live on one income.
Single parent budget challenge: Unexpected financial stress
Nobody gets into money trouble on purpose and Jenni is no exception. She was 34, with a good job, nice home and manageable mortgage and knew how to live on one income. In her own words, Jenni was “a responsible person”.
Things started to go downhill financially for Jenni towards the end of her pregnancy. Due to medical complications, Jenni used up her annual leave and sick days before the baby was born. Then, when daughter Charlotte did arrive, she spent weeks in neonatal intensive care.
In the months that followed, Jenni realised that normal child care wasn’t going to be an option for Charlotte. She was faced with the reality that going back to full-time work wasn’t going to be possible for a while.
“I had all these bills to pay and living costs… I knew that I was good with budgeting, with money, but things were spiralling,” Jenni explains.
Single parent budget challenge: Delayed welfare payments
Jenni applied for welfare support, but a bunch of red tape meant she waited nearly four months before getting a payment. In the meantime, she was making ends meet as best she could on a single parent budget.
She tried to sell her home with no success. Then, with the hope that rental income would help to cover her mortgage payments, Jenni moved out of her home so that tenants could move in. The extra income helped. But by this time, Jenni’s home loan payments were already falling behind.
Bills, late fees and loan interest were piling up and, in addition to the stress of caring for a sick baby, Jenni was constantly being hounded for money. “It’s the most awful thing,” says Jenni. “Even today, I hate the sound of my phone ringing.”
“When you’re a responsible person and you’re trying your best to make sure that the money owed to people is being paid, but nothing you do is good enough, and they keep ringing to hassle you, again and again – it’s just soul destroying,” Jenni reflects. “The biggest problem was not that they were calling, but that I didn’t even know what I could offer, what I could afford.”
Single parent budget solution: A MyBudget money coach
Jenni was recommended to a number of financial counsellors.
“I went and saw quite a few,” she says. “Mostly they asked ‘How did you even get to this point? What have you been doing?’ I think they thought I had a gambling issue or a drug problem or something.”
Then Jenni saw an ad for MyBudget on television. “I felt like I was about to lose everything I’d worked my whole life for. People had already come to repossess my car twice,” says Jenni.
“He was really lovely,” Jenni remembers. “I felt like I needed to explain the situation to him – like, this is not how I run my life. This is not how I do things. It just ended up this way. And he said that we all need help once in a while and you’ve come to the right place.”
Single parent budget solution: Strategies to get back on track
Tom went through Jenni’s finances in detail with her over the next couple of hours and they talked through her options for dealing with her creditors and how MyBudget helps create a budget for single mums like her. It was the first time she felt a glimmer of hope.
“He [Tom] said ‘It’s a mess and it’s going to be difficult, but I think we can do it.’ And he immediately started working out single parent finance strategies to help the situation. He said ‘First things first, don’t worry – let’s make a list of people that need to be contacted and we’ll contact everyone for you. They won’t call you anymore, they’ll call us.’”
“We sat there for quite a long time going through figures and working out how we could get it done. And that’s exactly what I needed – was for someone to actually sit down and help me work out what I could afford and what we needed to offer each [creditor]. And the fact that MyBudget was willing to do it for me – it was just like an incredible weight was suddenly lifted.”
Single parent budget success story
Jenni’s single mum budget was tight in the beginning. To help ease her cash flow problems, MyBudget made informal arrangements with the companies Jenni owed money. Jenni’s budget showed exactly what was affordable and how her situation would improve as payments in arrears were caught up. She was also able to lean on support from the MyBudget team to rework her budget every time a new bill or expense popped up.
Eventually, Jenni and Charlotte moved back into their home. Charlotte’s health improved, which meant that Jenni could return to work. With Jenni working again, MyBudget Loans (a free benefit for MyBudget clients) was able to save Jenni more money by refinancing her other debts into her mortgage.
These days, Charlotte is at kindy, doing dance and swimming lessons, and looking forward to starting school next year. Her medical issues are mostly behind her and Jenni’s already saving for Charlotte’s private school fees.
“Count four years later and I’m in my own home, I drive a nice car, all of my bills are paid on time, my daughter is booked in for private schooling and I have savings,” says Jenni. “It all just works and MyBudget has given us real hope for our financial wellbeing into the future.”
You don’t need to tackle it on your own…
Parenting on your own is hard enough, let alone staying on top of your finances. If you’re a single parent, budgeting is difficult but not impossible! MyBudget can relieve the time, stress and ‘what ifs’ of single parent finances. A free budget consultation costs nothing and the customised budget we create is yours to keep.
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