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Boss of her own finances: How divorce saw Anthea take charge
9 July 2021
Faced with building a secure future for her young family alone, Anthea underwent an education in money management that’s seen her thrive.
Q: Do you have any advice for other women who find themselves in your position?
A: Know that you’ll be okay in the end. When you’re going through a divorce and there are children involved there’s a lot to deal with, practically and emotionally. It can be overwhelming.
It’s really important that you look beyond what’s going on right now or next week – beyond just surviving – and try to think about the longer term, about how you can protect yourself and make good decisions. Taking ownership of your financial situation may be challenging and confronting, but doing so gives you choices, options – and a better future.
Q: What are you looking forward to in the future, financially?
A: In 10 years’ time, I’d like to have good financial security. It wasn’t a priority years ago, but it means so much to me now – standing on my own two feet and not being reliant on anyone else.
I’m also hoping I can help my children get a head start in life. Being in the position to help them buy their first cars would be wonderful. And, although it’s a way off yet, I have started thinking about retirement. I want to be able to makes choices and have adventures and experiences in my old age. Hopefully contributing to my super, as I do now, means having that future; being able to afford the things I want to do. Sailing around Croatia is something I’ve always dreamt of – I’d love to have the financial freedom to make it happen. It’s something to look forward to and strive for.
Q: In relationships, it’s not uncommon for one party to become the main money manager. Is that how it was for you?
A: Yes. I’d left all of that for my ex-husband to take care of. When the children were little, he paid all our bills; I wasn’t involved in that aspect of running the household. Like most people, getting divorced wasn’t something I had planned for and, when it happened, I had to return to the workforce after 10 years out.
And I had to step up and learn about my finances from scratch – and take ownership of them, as an adult. Doing so was almost foreign to me but, with four children to be responsible for, I didn’t have a choice. I had to get out of the passenger seat, take control and start driving.
Q: How did you go about getting your head around everything, in those early days of single parenthood?
A: The hard way, with plenty of trial and error! It was a steep learning curve and, at times, a bit overwhelming. When I was married, I used to go to the supermarket and buy groceries without thinking about how much it would come to or whether I’d have enough – I would just hand over the money. Then that changed.
I had to stop and think, ‘What are my expenses this week? What’s come in and what’s gone out?’ Suddenly having to become aware of budgets and cash flow really reshaped the way I looked at money.
I also spoke with an accountant, who had lots of advice on setting up basic systems to manage my affairs. As I began to put that advice into practice, I realised I’d had a fear factor around money. I hadn’t wanted to know about it and had been happy to leave it all to someone else. The accountant encouraged me to not be afraid and to start learning.
Q: How have things changed for you since then?
A: I feel a lot more confident. I’m aware of my incomings and outgoings and I don’t get caught out with unexpected expenses. I also like to know I can afford things for the children so they don’t miss out. It’s important to me to make sure there is room in the budget for more than just the very basics. Being on top of things means having money set aside to go away in the school holidays, without having to be afraid of what next month will bring.
I didn’t have my own savings account before I became single, but I do now and it’s very satisfying, watching that grow and contributing to it when I can. It’s a buffer zone between surviving and being able to have choices and do extra things together as a family.
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