For some women, it’s a feeling that builds over time. For others, it comes like a bolt out of the blue.
I’m talking about the realisation that you’re unhappy in a relationship and you want out. But what if you don’t have the financial means to walk away?
The first thing you need is an action plan. This doesn’t have to be in writing. If your partner is likely to become suspicious that you’re thinking of leaving, just keep the plan in your head. But do think carefully about how you’ll manage financially, where you’re going to live and how you will pay for everything.
You really need to take a good, hard look at your expenses and what you will need to pay for when you’re on your own. That means groceries, gas and electricity, petrol, kids’ activities, etc. Download a budgeting app such as MoneySmart’s TrackMySPEND will help work out the costs.
Build a f*ck-off fund.
If you don’t have a bank account in your own name, open one as soon as possible. It’s not just about having somewhere to stash away survival funds. Having a bank account of your own lets you build your personal financial identity – something that will be needed if you want to apply for a loan at some stage. Having your own account is also essential if you plan to receive government support payments – be it Newstart if you’re looking for work or Family Tax Benefit if you’re raising kids.
If you already have a separate account in your name be sure to change your PIN and online passwords.
Once your account is up and running, use it to build a personal f*ck-off fund. Think of it as a financial safety net that’s your ticket to freedom.
Where will the money come from?
Yes, it can be hard to stash cash away but having even a small amount set aside will help to cover essentials like rent, utilities, food and transport until you’re on your feet.
Or get an extra $20 out each time you pay for groceries by card – it may not show up on your bank statement as an extra transaction. A slow but steady approach may be your best bet if you’re worried that your other half will get suspicious about large sums of money going missing.
If you’re not working and don’t have any income, then you will need to look for ways to make some extra money to stay afloat until any settlement is finalised. Consider selling any unwanted items laying around the house to boost your kitty. If finding a full-time job isn’t an option, then look for ways to make extra money when you can.
You might be eligible for crisis cash.
If your f*ck-off fund is a little lean, rest assured that crisis money is available. If you’re already receiving payments from the Department of Human Services (DHS), a one-off “crisis” payment may be available. It’s worth calling the DHS support line (132 850) to know exactly where you stand. It can take several weeks for any support payments to come through, so make this an early priority. Charities such as the Salvos (phone 1300 371 288) may also provide emergency financial assistance.