Tackling debt head-on and emerging victorious
Mum-of-three Sally* is ending 2023 full of hope, positivity and purpose.
After months of careful budgeting, guided by the advice of her financial mentor from the Salvation army, her once soul-destroying debt is finally under control. It has taken sheer determination, but inch by inch, she has gained power and strength.
She’s come a long way. You see, last Christmas, Sally was at rock bottom.
Already burdened by debt, she suffered domestic abuse and the emptying of their joint bank account by her partner. She was left with nothing.
It was only a food parcel from The Salvation Army that enabled her to put food on the Christmas table and hide their true situation from her children.
“I felt such a failure that week,” says Sally. “It made me feel human to be able to make a Christmas Day meal for my kids. Then I sent them to their grandparents where there would be gifts because I had no money for any.
“It was very hard at the beginning of the year,” she says. “I was quite depressed. I just didn’t want to be around my reality. It’s so easy to get stuck in that ugly hole of feeling down and hopeless. I’ve even thought about giving my kids to a family member because I felt like I couldn’t look after them. I just couldn’t bear to think that they’re missing out on a childhood.
“I’ve lived in poverty before. As an individual. But when you have children it’s different. No one wants their children to go without. There’s a lot of mum guilt. Children can’t grasp what being broke actually means. They don’t see what you’re going without yourself or what bills you’re not paying. And I don’t think they should, either.
“Definitely, the best thing I ever did was to come to The Salvation Army for financial mentoring.
Journeying with Sally for the rest of the year, her financial mentor was able to suggest the best way to manage her finances and help her set goals. She was put on a kai plan with regular food parcels to help take the strain off her budget and allow her to start tackling her debt.
In October, Sally found a new rental which is $90 a week cheaper than the last one. Having already paid most of her debt, it is a giant step towards being able to live within her means. She is also planning to save for an emergency contingency fund.
Her financial mentor was the first person Sally told about the move.
“It’s good to share wins like that with someone who really gets the significance. Another is that I’ve put on weight because I’m finally eating properly! Talking things through has helped me not to be so ashamed of my situation. And feeling supported makes me feel like I can keep going. Things are looking a lot brighter.”
Sally has taken on extra shifts at work and started buying grocery vouchers to plan for Christmas.
“This Christmas is going to be different. A real do-over for us as a family. I want to give the children that special Christmas feeling that I had growing up. It’s very much about food. Food is the glue that the whole day is built around.”
Sally is now close to being self-sufficient though The Salvation Army will be there for her, and families like hers, as a safety net if needed.
“In the nicest possible way, I can’t wait to say goodbye to the food parcels. I feel so proud that I’m not going to be relying on other people for much longer. And that food will be able to go to someone else who needs it.
“Being deep in debt is like living with the fear of drowning. This constant effort to keep swimming and it’s like you’re in the middle of the ocean. Every day, I’d wake up and have to give myself a pep talk to stay focused.
“Now I wake up and think, ‘today is going to be a good day’.”
*Name changed to protect privacy
Bring light in the New Year
While our Christmas Appeal encouraged you to 'Light up Someone's Christmas,' the need for help is not confined to a specific time of year. Sally's story highlights that assistance is crucial beyond the festive season. If you want to send a donation to help fund the support needed by those who come to us in the new year, there is still time to donate to the Christmas Appeal. Please click the button below and go to our secure online donation site hosted by Flo2cash to make your donation now.