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For better or worse …

When I met my husband, he had been through a costly divorce six years earlier and had clawed his way back to financial health, through hard work and sacrifice. Remarrying was not on his agenda. He was also paying a large percentage of his earnings in child support and continues to support his child through university. We met some 11 years ago when I had newly immigrated to Australia from the UK and had used most of my savings to settle here. Luckily, somewhere back in the late 80s, I had heeded Thatcher’s advice and set up a private Super, opting out of the Government scheme, as it was known then. The UK Government gave tax relief on any contributions I made and matched a percentage of what I paid in. I was able to transfer those funds to an Australian super fund after a few years residence here. Other than that, I was broke and certainly not a good financial prospect for anyone. I wasn’t overly concerned; I had only myself to worry about. As I settled here, I got work and started to build up some savings. In my 30s at this point, I knew I was not where I wanted to be financially but what could I do? Marriage and having children was not something I had factored into my life. Even if I did, my husband would take care of me, right?

My husband understood my situation when we met and saw beyond my financial handicap. He had not had to start afresh in a new country. In another two years, I was to be taken out of the work force again when we had our daughter. I had grown up in a family where my father supported my mother completely. It was what I knew and expected. I was wrong. While my husband was generous to a point, he had been burnt financially and was reluctant to support me in the way I had assumed he would. For the next four years while I cared for my daughter, I could not contribute into my super or save money. I was running at a deficit dipping into what little savings I had. My husband gave me a weekly allowance and I was grateful I could be at home with our daughter. It was difficult to return to work as my husband took FIFO work in WA and outback QLD. When our daughter turned four, I found part time work and have been working ever since. My husband continues to work away.

The amount I was earning was not enough to save or invest, let alone pay into my super, or so I thought. My husband no longer paid an allowance since I was working so I was now using my part-time salary for living expenses. While he met the major overheads, it was down to me to meet other costs. My monthly salary was being smashed every month. Could I be so bad at saving? 

My financial situation started to change when I started working at Hudson. There’s nothing like hanging around financial planners to improve ones financial acumen.  I began to see the seriousness of my financial situation and needed to act quickly. I could not rely on my husband as my mother had done on my father. Given his costly divorce, my husband was protective of what he had scratched back in the aftermath of his marriage break-up. My sympathy and understanding were making me poor. I did not think a financial planner would take any notice of me given that I had so little money but I was wrong. My planner understood that I had to start somewhere so we looked at where I was at and went from there.  We looked at ways I could become financially secure. A tough budget was the starting point. I discovered that my husband could split his super contributions into my super and I started to salary sacrifice into my super. He now also pays into my managed fund. With as little as $1,000, I opened a managed fund and pay into this on a monthly basis. We updated our wills to reflect our current situations. When I put my needs to him as an investment strategy, he was listening.I have learned the hard way not to believe the ways my parents did things will work for me. I do not live in that day and age. My husband expects me to take care of what I can for myself but he does contribute fairly. I have taken a crash course in finance through the University of Hard Knocks; I learnt that no matter how little money I had, I could start investing thanks to my Hudson adviser. The moral of my story, is do not marry a divorced man who is scared you will run off with all his money. Only joking, don’t think you can’t do anything about your finances because you work part-time or are supported by your husband or other benefactor. Speak confidentially with a financial planner no matter where you are at financially

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