The transition from partnered mum to single mum can be a bumpy ride (my apologies if that is an understatement). Lots of thoughts come to mind. Emotional, stressful, hectic, demanding. But something that I personally never considered, was the financial implication of a separation.
Looking back, I sometimes wonder if this was a good thing! For had I thought too long about the monetary impact of being a single mum, it would have caused me further worry and made me question my decision.
Instead, I learnt very quickly, and in most cases, the hard way.
Needless to say, I got there in the end (she says with a slightly hysterical laugh).
And now I’d like to share with you five important money facts that all single mums should know.
Make the Centrelink call
Did I hear you sigh? I realise it takes a few lifetimes to get through to Centrelink, but MAKE. THAT. CALL. Explain your new circumstances and make sure you get everything you are entitled to. This includes the Single Parent Payment (depending on the age of your child/ren) and a possible change in Family Tax Benefit since your household income may have dropped considerably. And ask the question: ‘Is there anything else I am entitled to?’. This is the time when you will need government support most. Don’t be proud. See it as a temporary thing, until you get settle into your new single mum life.
Understand your concession card
When you make the above call, you will likely be sent either a Health Care card (green) or a Pensioner Card (blue). Both are fabulous concession cards you should have ultimate respect for. Depending on your income and location, where and how you use the cards will vary. Usual benefits include concessions on utility bills, healthcare costs, public transport costs and council rates. In some cases, the concession may seem minimal but it all adds up, so do your research and get your card working for you.
Get to grips with Child Support
Every situation is different, and in many cases Child Support is a necessity. Understandably, most single mums get registered with Child Support as soon as possible. It’s keeps everything documented, clear and has a third party (the government) involved. But remember, Child Support works both ways, so if you are a higher earner than your ex-partner and you are co-parenting 50/50, it may be that you are required to fork out. And it can get complicated if one of you is a business owner and the other an employee, as declared earning are shown differently. Like everything, take your time and get the facts before making your move.
Get a helping hand with your home
Whether you are renting or buying a home, as a single parent you need to do your homework. Did you know many lenders will accept some Centrelink payments as part of your income? And it’s advisable to use a mortgage broker as they will know which lenders to approach for a home loan as a single parent. And if you’re not in a position to buy, make sure you’ve researched your rental options. Rental Assistance is available in many cases. Plus, check if you contract allows you to sublet, in case you decide to get a tenant to boost your income in the future.
Find your local women’s legal aid service
Your local women’s legal aid service will be the jewel in your single mum tool box. They are a national network of community legal centres specialising in women’s legal issues. Whether during your break-up or with situations that arise later (and they often do) these highly-qualified ladies will give you sound legal advice for free or for a small donation. Always make women’s legal aid your first port of call when anything regarding family law or family violence arises. Get the facts and get educated before taking action.
Article written by Lucy Good from Beanstalk Single Mums.
Beanstalk is an online space which empowers single mothers to re-find their potential and re-build their confidence through a website that delivers targeted information and support.
Lucy works with hundreds of single mothers through the offering of her online course and her Facebook group. She is a blogger, podcaster and mentor. She also speaks regularly on a local radio station, writes articles for the online parenting community and continually hunts down resources of benefit to the single motherhood.