real life

Four women share how they flipped the script and changed their lives after 40.

Thanks to our brand partner, MyBudget

There are a lot of myths out there in the world and while some are to do with monsters, gods and magic by far the most terrifying one of all is centred around the idea that a woman’s life is set by the time she turns 40.

The idea that nothing exciting happens to women after 40 is a myth that’s as disheartening as it is untrue, perpetuated by the idea that all women have to offer in life is tied to their youth, rather than looking at the strengths that come from life experience coupled with the excitement of what is yet to come.

The end of your story is never set in stone, and while some planning, sacrifices and hard work may need to play into the preparation for a big life or career change, there is no one age that locks you into a life you don’t want.

Here are four women who flipped the scripts of their lives after turning 40.


“At age 40 I was diagnosed with breast cancer which resulted in me reassessing my priorities in many aspects of my life. Shortly after completing surgery, chemo and radiotherapy I made the decision to leave my career of some 26 years in banking and finance, and follow my dream to work in my field of passion which is emergency management.

“I had been volunteering as an emergency responder for some six years at that point and knew I loved it. So I threw caution to the wind and left the bank based on a three-month contract.  I have now been working with the service as Operational Capability Officer for two and a half years. I have no problem getting out of bed in the morning to come to work and make a difference to my community and state. I am so incredibly lucky to do what I love and be paid for it. ”


“I travelled a lot through my late 20s and early 30s and by the time I settled down in New South Wales I had a lot of life experience but not a lot of career experience apart from fruit picking, cleaning and working in a bar, but I was also sick and tired of cleaning up after other people.

“I was 38 when I landed a job working behind the counter at a small print and craft shop through a friend of a friend.  The job was mostly still tidying up the shop but also working the till and serving customers. I began to get really involved in the running of the store, ordering stock our customers actually wanted and doing some marketing for the business. I mostly run the place now when my boss is away. I’m now 41 and I’ve started taking some business and marketing courses to broaden my skills. I never thought I’d work in this area but I love it.”


“I had our children early and there was no chance of university for me. I failed year 12 and started my working life as a dental assistant at 18 years old. I then worked in many different areas of nursing until the age of 30, when I decided to work in the operations team with a nursing agency.

“At the age of 35 I was encouraged by a friend to apply for a role coordinating a small team of nurses, then when I was 38 I applied to for an account manager position with a company who provided services in the aged care sector.


“After a couple of years in the role I decided now aged 40 it was time to invest in formal training but couldn’t afford university. I undertook a Diploma in Business and Management which gave me some foundation knowledge but also cemented my ability in the business space. Then I was approached to see if I would be interested in joining the sales team as a Business Development Manager.

“My take away on why I have reached my potential after 40 is that having kids early and no university degree slowed down my career but didn’t halt it. Work ethic was the reason for each of my promotions.


“I worked in family daycare for many years while raising my own children, I enjoyed it and loved being able to work from home. Once all my children were well into their school years I began to feel that family daycare was no longer for me. So I started volunteering at my children’s school and fell in love with it, I still got to be around children and I thrived in the school community. I am now training to be a Teacher Aide and my hope in the next few years is to go to university to study primary school teaching.

“It’s a lot of work and I still have my own children to look after, but at 45 I am very excited about this career.”

"I worked in family daycare for many years while raising my own children. I am now 45 and in my dream job." Source: Getty.

MyBudget Founder and Director Tammy Barton knows exactly what it's like to change careers, and believes the key to success is all about working to a gradual plan and sticking to it.

"I was 22 and working at a solicitor’s firm where I was put in charge of a small debt collection service," she told Mamamia. "I was conscious of the fact that I had a good job and a good starting point to work my way up the corporate ladder. However, I would go to work each day and spend hours talking to people who were stressed about money, and all I could think about was how much I wanted to relieve their pain.


"The idea for MyBudget grew gradually. Over months and months, I started to get more passionate about showing people how to create a budget and get their money under control.

"The leap into self-employment was made possible because my husband had a job, I had savings to fall back on and I had done the equivalent of 12 months of market research going to work and talking to people every day about their money problems."

Empowering women financially has been one of the most rewarding parts of Tammy's work. In fact, it's something she lives and breathes, with full wage equality among her staff.

"MyBudget appoints staff on merit, so female employees have an equal opportunity to apply for leadership positions."

Tammy said the first step towards a career change is to create a budget so you know exactly how much income you need to meet your commitments each year.

"When creating your budget, you’ll need to take into account all of your expenses over the entire year," she said. "If you only budget for your weekly expenses, you’ll miss less frequent bills, such as car registration, insurances and special events.

"There are a few different ways to build up a savings buffer. One is to transfer money into a separate savings account from every pay. The other is to set aside your lump sum payments, such as your tax refund or end-of-year bonus or leave loading. The key is to automate your savings and to keep them in a separate saving account that’s difficult to access.

"In other words, come up with a plan that allows you to chase your dream job without putting yourself under financial pressure. I’m the first person to say 'follow your passion' , but I’m also passionate about reducing financial stress. After all, if your career change comes with a load of financial pressure, it’ll feel like a nightmare, not a dream."

Tammy stressed that it was also important to think about how your current skills will transfer to your new career and create a case around that when negotiating your new salary.

"Remember that every dollar counts—not only towards your take-home pay but also your superannuation," she said.  Speaking of super, if your career change involves self-employment or freelancing, it’s really important that you pay yourself an income and superannuation. This means you’ll need a personal budget and a business budget.

"Set yourself up with a savings safety net before you quit your job and then give your dream a deadline. It was possible for me to make the leap to self-employment because I had the equivalent of six months of income in savings.

"So, before I quit my job, I knew that I had six months to prove the MyBudget business concept.

"This is what I mean by 'give your dream a deadline'. Create an action plan based on the facts of the situation, set yourself a realistic time-frame and targets, and then, if it all stacks up, go for it!"


No matter what your goal is—to save money, tackle debt, stop living week-to-week, sort out your finances or simply free up time—MyBudget is here to help. Visit to find out more