Single parent trying to make ends meet (MyBudget client case study)
This is Lisa-Ann, a MyBudget client living in Western Australia with her young daughter and son. I asked Lisa-Ann if I could share her story with you because her situation typifies the experience of many single-parent families. Lisa-Ann is a single mum with a part-time income and no local family to help her. She tells us how she was living on the edge and how she turned things around.
Lisa-Ann spent most of her life in South Africa before moving to Perth in 2002 with her husband and six year old daughter. Lisa-Ann’s husband was working for a mining company in the far-north, while Lisa-Ann was working as a nurse in the city. They were getting ahead financially and were enjoying life in Australia.
But time apart took its toll on the relationship. After being in the country for only two years, the marriage broke down. Lisa-Ann was suddenly a single mum with no local family or long-time friends to help her. She began working permanent night duty because the money was better and she managed to scrape by for a few years. “My troubles really started in 2007,” Lisa-Ann tells me. “My credit cards were maxed out and I had to move house because my landlord had decided to sell the place I was renting. My car insurance was due, my phone was in arrears, and then I hurt my back in a car accident and I couldn’t work for a while.”
“It was a horrible time,” continues Lisa-Ann. “Credit card companies were chasing me. I was afraid to answer the phone. I wasn’t sleeping properly. I thought ‘why do I have to deal with this on my own?’ Sometimes I couldn’t even afford the basics—things like toothpaste and toilet paper. I felt like moving back home [with my parents in South Africa] where I wouldn’t have the pressure of being the family provider. I didn’t want to be the person who was responsible for everything on my own.”
Lisa-Ann says that she approached MyBudget cautiously. “I really didn’t like the idea of giving my income to MyBudget. Friends were warning me that it might be a scam, but I was desperate. I had to try something. I was apprehensive, but I felt really good after the initial interview—especially when they told me that they’d deal directly with my creditors. It was such a relief.”
I asked Lisa-Ann how she found adjusting to life on a budget. “It wasn’t easy at first,” she tells me. “But eventually I managed. I cut down on certain things—things like eating out and shopping with my daughter. I used to use the car all the time and now I try to combine trips to save petrol.”
As a result of a brief reconciliation with her husband, the couple also have a two year old son. Unfortunately, they separated again before the baby was born. “When I stopped work to have my son I wondered how I was going to survive, but it worked out amazingly. MyBudget helped me meet all my bills and I got to spend a whole year with my son without working full-time. I wouldn’t have been able to do that without them. MyBudget has been like an invisible husband.”
Lisa-Ann now has savings behind her and is planning a trip to South Africa to visit her family. When asked how she feels about her financial future, Lisa-Ann’s reply is extremely honest: “Some people aren’t good at managing money and I’m one of them. MyBudget takes the pressure off me and it’s so comforting. I just have to make sure my income’s coming in and they take care of the rest. Honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever leave MyBudget.”
We find that many of our sole parent clients are overwhelmed with all of the responsibilities they have to deal with, so it’s incredibly rewarding for us to watch as clients like Lisa-Ann put their lives back together. Being a sole parent is difficult and often isolating, but Lisa-Ann is an example that you don’t have to do it alone. Thanks for sharing you story, Lisa-Ann. It’s inspiring to see you not just getting by, but really getting ahead.
Written by Kylie Hughes for MyBudget, Australia