“My friends and my family joke that money burns a hole in my pocket”

This is my story

Like many people, Sue developed unhealthy online shopping habits during COVID lockdowns.

“I racked up about $15,000 in debt using my Westpac credit card, Afterpay and then I discovered Zip Pay. They were my three main debtors.

“I knew that it was getting out of control when my repayments were more than I could afford.

“I talked to a counsellor and realised that my online shopping was an addiction. I didn’t necessarily need the stuff that I was buying.

“I decided to do something about it, so I spoke to a couple of free services and then found Way Forward.

At first, I didn’t understand what was going on but once I spoke with Bianca from Way Forward, she made it simple.

“We started documenting my debts and repayments. Then, things changed 18 months ago because I separated from my son’s father, which meant I became solely responsible for new expenses like rent and bills.

“In the past, I had never worked out my incomings and my outgoings, but I’ve done this now.”

New opportunities

Sue was given a lump sum of money once she had separated from her former partner. She’s using the lump sum of money firstly to repay her debts, which are currently managed by Way Forward.

Sue has goals she wants to achieve including buying a home to live in. She’s currently looking for a mortgage broker since she’s received a lump sum payment from the separation with her former partner.

She is optimistic about the future.

“The next time a mortgage broker investigates my finances, they’ll see only good things whereas only 18 months ago, it would have been quite dire.

“I’m working out how I can keep that money safe. Habits that I’ve had for my whole life aren’t going to go away just because I’ve got a large sum of money in my bank.”

Changing habits

Recently, Sue saw a free financial counselling service to help with budgeting.

“Not to say that I’m completely healed but I’m now keeping track of my spending.

“Way Forward and counselling has taught me that my finances are my responsibility. I’ve never had that before and I’m 47 years old.

“It’s about time to really knuckle down.”

Being open to changing her habits and behaviours is something Sue takes pride in.

“I’m not scared to reach out to whoever can help me. There are many services out there for someone in my situation and, as an example, I’ve been able to get free counselling.”

Sue has words of wisdom for people in a similar situation.

“Check out all the terms and conditions if you are engaging someone to help you.

“I almost used a particular company but when I started asking questions and reading more into it, I realised that it could be worse for me in the future.

The only trouble is that Way Forward is a well-kept secret. And I wish that that wasn’t the case.

“I’m good at researching, which is how I found Way Forward. But other people might not necessarily have that tenacity to find answers to questions, they think this is just too hard.

“I would love for everybody to know about Way Forward. I’m sure that given the amount of people I’ve spoken to, I’m not the only person that during COVID when we couldn’t get out and travel, got themselves into an online shopping habit.”