I’m happy to blast the federal government for their petty, heartless antics, but I’ll just say this:

Thank you for the Dole. Thank you for Centrepay.
Thank you Laura Tingle for your essay.

Always on a learning curve, in 2009 I committed (again) to practicing budgeting and managing my money wisely.

Boyed on as a youth by concepts of ‘you can change your life right now’ and ‘you too can be a millionaire’ my attempts had been shrouded in some progress and lots of disappointment.
Hope turned into expectations, turned into disappointment turned into humiliation.

The difference from 2009 was taking a long-term approach. I thought of it like playing pool and setting a ball up. If I can’t get it in first turn, I can make it easier for next turn. Investment in the future was an important concept. I used it in various parts of my life.

I started paying my rent via Centrepay. Sometimes I had to insist, because ‘helpful’ real estate agents said I didn’t need to pay it that way.

I researched what it would take to improve my credit rating. Pay off your debts. Keep money in your account for bank fees. Keep money for Direct Debits. Stop applying for credit cards.

It took a few years to pay off my phone debt from younger days. The debt collectors didn’t like it one bit when I’d call and say “I can’t pay anything this week”.  But I paid it off.
When I let someone talk me into getting a phone on a plan, I paid it off in advance. I hated having that liability hang over me. Plus it was way too easy to run up a huge bill.

In 2012 I started paying off my electricity bill in advance, via Centrepay. When I moved on I got a nice letter saying something like ‘you can use this letter with other electricity companies as a sign of good credit’.  Gee that felt good. That letter has pride of place in my heart.

Centerlink wouldn’t give me an Advance payment for years as they paid me weekly. This was a storm cloud with a silver lining. I had to learn to put things on layby – or pay cash.
Being paid weekly has been a life-line for me. This way if and when I stuffed up my budget, I only ever had to wait a few days before I’d have food in my fridge again.

I’d been trying to save for years, and would end up spending the money. I’d go through a rough patch, or get excited and impulsive and withdraw the money. Disappointment always followed.
When I was younger I had a Christmas Club account. Did that stop me from using my savings? Nope.  Losing $15 in fees to take out my savings was a price I was quite willing to pay.
Nowadays a family member holds my savings in reserve. Thank god for family.

It took years to finally strike off my Things To Do list; ‘don’t go on the pokies for god’s sake’ and ‘can you just stop fricken drinking?’ But I did it.

Now I own furniture. I haven’t had to beg friends for anything in years. I am managing my finances.

I’m about to start a Diploma in Febuary. I’m looking forward to what 2015 brings.

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