If you’re unemployed, money is something you wish you had more of. If you’re employed, you’re continually chasing a higher paying role or trying to convince your boss that you’re worth more. Do you find that you finish paying all the bills you have only to have more pop up like a noxious weed? What role does money play in your life?

For me? I’ve lived on both sides of the street. On the left, there’s my life pre-employment; living on the single-parent pension, paying rent, paying off a car, barely surviving. Then there’s the right hand side of the street; full-time employment, car payment, house payment, school fees and more insurances than I can keep up with.

Most peoples’ dream is to own their own home. And, when you look at it realistically, it does make more fiscal sense to be paying off a home loan for yourself, rather than someone else. However, doing this on one wage isn’t as easy as it seems. It can be really hard!

My life seems to be dominated by money. I either had none, or I had more than I needed and didn’t spend it wisely; and now I feel like I have none again. You see, I bought a house in September. Yes, it’s a fantastic achievement and one that I’m highly proud of myself for achieving as a single-parent. There’s so much you have to consider, so much more than just the repayments. There’s home and contents insurance, loan protection insurance, rates, all of the water bill is now yours. So are all the repairs.

I know how fortunate I am to have been able to buy my house. I am, however, deathly aware of how much of my money I have squandered since I started working full-time.

When I was living on a single-parent pension, I recieved around $900 a fortnight. Yes, that’s right, a fortnight. Yes, it was tax free. It wasn’t substantial. Especially when you consider that I was paying $360 a fortnight in rent and $200 a fortnight in car repayments. Essentially, I was living off $340 a fortnight.

That money had to cover nappies, formula, food, bills and any sundry amounts that would come along. Naturally, I had a budget. In fact, I had several budgets. I would budget every night that my son went to bed. I was hard on myself. I was scrupulous with funds. I didn’t buy what I couldn’t afford; I was too proud to pay anything other than my son’s Christmas layby’s off.

Can I tell you a secret? I was so much happier when I had no money. I may not have had a lot but I was happy. I spent a lot of time at home with my son and he was a happy kid. I got to go to the gym every day, I thought I was in heaven.

Then you realise that people have ideas of the contribution that you need to have to society. You should be working; and I wanted to, I applied, but there just wasn’t anything going. That was until my former employer rang and asked if I would be interested in a couple of days work here and there.

When I started working a couple of days a week, I was happy because the money I was earning would pay for my rent and would leave me with a bit of extra money to play with. And I saved it. I saved like I was never going to have money again.

Work eventually crept up to full-time and I was grateful. Gosh, I was so grateful to have found a full-time job in a town where there weren’t many jobs to be found. I was earning real, honest to goodness money.

And I was stressed. I had the parental guilt of not being home when my child needed me, not wanting to push my luck at work and ask for countless days off (in the first two years of my re-employment, I had taken a total of 8 days annual leave and probably 2 sick days); I didn’t want to look that gift horse in the mouth.

Now I find myself stressed, with a house, and very little money to spend; and Christmas is looming.

For me, money is something that can, ultimately, affect my mood. When I don’t have to worry about it too much, I’m reasonably happy. When things are tight, so is my mood. It’s a balance I haven’t managed to achieve yet. So, why don’t we ask Maria what her tips are for managing our money and the stress that comes with it; and how CCH could help you achieve this…

By Kate

KATE KENNEDY

SINGLE MUM

A single mum who devotes her life to her son. Kate is an inspiration to everyone who has been through tough times. Her insightful writing explores her own deep inner struggles that many women can relate to. She is courageous and hopes that her writing can help other women break through the barriers that hold us back, through her personal life stories.

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