“Don’t do what I did. Just pick up the phone and see if Way Forward can help.”

This is my story

Following a marriage breakdown, relocation and a new job, Sarah found herself losing sleep over unmanageable debt with only costly ways out. When the stress over finances started to affect her relationships with loved ones, such as her young daughter, she knew she had to ask for help. Now, Sarah wishes she’d done it sooner.

“I had a good situation, nice place, nice car, overseas travel, everything going well, I was in a happy relationship. Things changed after falling pregnant and the relationship continued to deteriorate after having our daughter. So a family breakdown led to my current set of circumstances. And that’s been exacerbated over time with family law processes and basically, having to start again.”

Despite working, family expenses and costly emergencies made Sarah turn to credit cards and personal loans, which quickly ballooned into a problem.

“When I was unable to repay my debts, my solution was to find a consolidation loan to reduce the repayments and a cheaper rate. I spent many sleepless nights looking and applying for consolidation loans to try and move forward. I halved my credit rating in the process, which was devastating.”

“I was told I didn’t have enough income for a consolidation loan, although it would be a lower repayment than what I was currently paying. That’s when I started to look at alternatives.”

“I contacted numerous organisations and many called me back to say I should go bankrupt in one form or another. Being a single parent that wasn’t really an option.”

When Sarah met Bill

Following endless nights of research, Sarah finally got in touch with Bill, one of Way Forward’s financial hardship advisors.

“I was very fortunate to find Bill who reassured me that with Way Forward, it was a different process. One where I’m still honoring my creditors, which meant a lot to me because I’ve always paid my debt. I’m particularly proud of being in that situation now.”

Putting together a realistic debt repayment plan with enough left over to manage Sarah’s living expenses brought instant relief.

“The process of putting a repayment plan and budget together was easy and simple. Bill was really understanding and he worked with me to find a solution. And it wasn’t just lip service. It was backed by a real, long-term solution to start managing my debts.”

“It is a huge relief, being able to sleep again, not stressing out, not staying up all night, not losing time with my child over the anxiety of dealing with this. I don’t have any regrets about the process with Way Forward, whereas every other option would have left me in a worse position.”

“I knew it was a matter of time before I find a solution where everyone wins. I just wish I would have picked up the phone and contacted Way Forward sooner.”

Ask for help

For others in a similar situation, Sarah’s advice is clear: you’re not failing if you ask for help.

“When I got to the point where I knew I had to call for help, I had this feeling I failed and that I shouldn’t be in this position. So then to have someone like Bill on the other end, who made me feel good, was a huge relief. He wasn’t trying to get me into a worse position or wasn’t trying to sell me some ridiculously expensive solution. He was genuinely trying to help.”

“So don’t feel like you’re failing by picking up the phone and calling. You won’t regret it, you’ll get your life back. And you’ll have a true solution put in place where everyone wins.”

“And that’s one of the things Bill said that made me feel better. The banks and creditors are still getting something back rather than nothing. It made me feel so much better knowing those debts are still being repaid but at an affordable rate for me.”

More time for what matters

Now Sarah has more time for the things that really matter in her life such as her job supporting vulnerable people and spending time with her daughter – while getting through home schooling during lockdown.

“I realised yesterday that I was really enjoying our time together again with my daughter. And I thought, I’ve been a little bit absent, not being able to connect as much because I’m always concerned about this underlying issue. And she’s felt that as well.”

“So the biggest thing for me is not having those barriers to connect with the people you love and care about, which is what it’s all about anyway, because of the stress over finances.”


If you’re stuck, get help early. Pick up the phone and ask for support. Find out if Way Forward can help you.

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.