Brad had been in survival mode for a decade trying to pay off debts until he could no longer afford groceries

This is my story

When Brad turned 18 years old, he took out his first loan. He borrowed money to buy the things he always wanted as a kid but could not afford: a big screen television and a new sound system, and a nice secondhand car. Fast forward 10 years and his was unable to pay off those debts anymore, in fact, he could no longer afford groceries. He was in trouble and needed help.  

“I was worried about my financial situation for a long time but always had that couple of hundred dollars saved up. Then suddenly, I couldn’t afford anything at all. I had to ask my parents or someone else to help me.” 

“That’s a hard circle to get out of. You save up money and then another random expense comes up. And you’re back to square one again. 

“All the banks say yes to lending you money because you’re an 18-year-old. Then suddenly, you got four credit cards, each maxed out. I’m 29 years old now, I didn’t do anything about my finances until I was 28 years old. I just kept paying off the monthly fees.” 

 Brad says having a well-paid job means that he was able to borrow money easily. He took our several loans.  

“Ten different bills add up, they are nothing by themselves, but together they add up to a lot.” 

 He said his debts and challenging financial situation started to take its toll on his health and wellbeing.  

“It made me go and drink. It made me think, well, I’m not going to get anywhere, let’s just spend this 50 dollars on alcohol because there’s no point trying to save it.”  

“Money was that major stress; it just shuts down your life.” 

 Brad says he sacrificed experiences and moments he would rather have had.  

“I had friend’s weddings, I couldn’t go either interstate or on a holiday. I’ve never been overseas; I’ve never done any of that sort of stuff.  

“Being in survival mode, you think spending money on yourself is a waste of money. I’ve got the mindset that a holiday is a waste of money. Which I don’t believe it is. Experiences are experiences. You need to have them.” 

“That was what triggered me to change. And now, what I’m paying for my debts through Way Forward is 100 percent manageable. 

 Brad then sought help and called the National Debt Helpline who referred him to Way Forward. 

 “Way Forward put together a budget. I was included in the process and given all the necessary information to keep me informed of the process and outcome.

“It taught me how I could manage it eventually on my own.  

“It is about being empowered by knowledge and learning how to exactly manage your money moving forward. 

“I still want to have the ability to make those mistakes. And choosing the correct path rather than making those mistakes.”

 Brad is feeling much better about his financial situation.  

“Money is no longer a stress. I still have all these loans to pay off. But it’s no longer keeping me up at night.  

“Once every two or three years, I would refinance. I would put all my credit card into the one personal loan. It helped a little bit but then I could also get an extra few extra thousand dollars to have in bank account and in three months’ time, it was all gone. It wasn’t manageable. 

Brad had previously sought help from a fee-based service to help him with his debts.  

“Their business plan is to take part of the money, that’s just never seemed right to me. It helps a bit but it’s taking money from someone who’s already struggling.  

 “There was no there was ulterior motive with you guys ever had because it is a free service.” 


Struggling to pay for the essentials such as food and rent and want to know more about your options? Our emergency funding page lists some of the available free emergency services and funding if you live in Australia and find yourself in financial difficulty.

By Rachel Ryan

Rachel is a policy and communications specialist with over a decade of experience working in government, education and not-for-profit organisations. She is grateful for the opportunity to work alongside Way Forward’s clients to assist them in sharing their story on their terms, in a way that is empowering and uplifting.