“I was in debt and I was in bad money, but I reversed the situation”

Caroline Szellemes

“Experience has taught me that no matter where you start, you can change your relationship with money and your financial situation,” she says.

Caroline admits she didn’t learn the basics of money when she was young. “I never had a particularly good relationship with money, and I just sort of accepted it as a fact of life.”

Eventually she found a new partner, with whom she lived, but he died in a car accident last year. It was a tough time, with the pandemic also forcing her into self-isolation.

“I had to deal with my grief with greatly reduced income and uncertainty,” she says.

She was also recently laid off from her full-time marketing position and is now looking for work.

“Right now, we’re in survival mode, hoarding our expenses until our situation improves,” she says.

The good news is that her rent hasn’t gone up during the pandemic. She lives within her means most of the time and has a financial buffer. However, she admits she feels the pinch as the cost of living continues to rise. “Gasoline prices really worry me,” she says.

Caroline is expecting a payment from the car insurance company following the death of her partner, which she says will help cover living expenses.

Despite her difficulties, she is proud to have always paid her rent on time, no matter what.


“I’m also happy to be able to teach my children how to budget, even if they have little income at this stage in their lives. Hopefully these lessons will prepare them for life.

Caroline Szellemes

Location: Brisbane
Salary: $115,000 a year, until recently. She is looking for work
Lifestyles: Rental with two sons

The advice given in this article is of a general nature and is not intended to influence readers’ decisions regarding investments or financial products. They should always seek professional advice that takes their personal circumstances into account before making financial decisions.

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John A. Bogar