Hello, my name is Carlatina Urquhart and I am 21 years old and I used to be in foster care.
I believe that the hardest part about having a foster care experience is the transition from care and one of my biggest troubles has been finances.
This year has been the most stable I have been with money since living independently but I thought I might start with discussing my journey from when I finished foster care and talk about how I overcame these and some tips to ensure that you are ok with your finances and how to live on low income.
I started to live on my own when I was 18 years old, I moved out four months after I had finished foster care. I had a casual job where I would earn $50 a week and I was studying my Certificate III in Children Services at Launceston College. One of the advantages of living with a care experience is you receive money until your 25 years old to assist with finances. However my issue was that I used the money for furniture for my new place and it didn’t arrive until four months after I had moved in. However there are people who are not fortunate enough to have funds for furniture or white goods and these are few things that I did until my furniture arrived that may help you.
*I slept in a sleeping bag on the floor
*I hand washed my clothing
*I kept my food in an esky.
Because of the struggles over moving out on my own, I was unable to perform to the best of my ability and I was getting behind at school and work and I lost a job opportunity. By this time I was living on $200 a fortnight, I was young and foolish I would spend $50 on myself a fortnight for groceries and then I would waste it on DVDs, and clothing because I had started this habit when I was living with my foster mum and I didn’t have to worry about anything else.
I would beg all my friends for money for the bus, but other than that I would not beg for food because I was too proud.
Because of my spending habits I had put myself in a bad position. When I obtained a vacation job in a vacation care centre I spent $200 on birthday dresses and again the $50 on my groceries. This left me starving a week before my 19th birthday and I was forced to eat play dough because that was on the only ingredients that I had in my house and I was broke.
It was disgusting, but from this I had learnt my lesson and since November 2013 I have not starved or have been broke since. I learnt the hard way.
On a chilly winter’s morning recently, four people who came to get emergency relief supplies from the Launceston Benevolent Society kindly shared their story about why they were there. Their experiences highlight the different reasons why people on low incomes run short of money, and the extra challenges that winter brings to managing a budget. Their names have been changed for privacy.
Sean has lived in a housing department house since he got out of jail 18 months ago. He has worked in many different jobs during his life, but had to finish up due to an injury. He has had difficulties controlling his alcohol use, and has had depression and anxiety problems for a while. He has come into the Benevolent Society today because he has bills to pay that won’t be covered by his DSP. He’ll be taking a box of food and a supermarket voucher. They have also helped him in the past with furniture and clothing. He comes every 3 months because it makes his money go further if he can get some assistance. He puts $20 a week aside for his hobby, restoring an old motorbike – Sean says, “It’s better spending it on that than alcohol, and it gives me something to do. When I’m finished I’m going to take my 80 year old Mum for a ride on the back”.
She does not normally come to the Benevolent Society, but they have run out of money because two people in the household are unwell with respiratory problems and they wanted to buy wood for the winter to heat the house better.
47 year old grandmother Heather, says has had a hard life. Her mother died at a young age, and it was very difficult to live by herself with her Dad. She left home and school at 16 and now she and her partner have 3 kids and 5 grandchildren. She has worked as a cleaner for years, but recently became unable to work due to health problems. Her family of four live in a private rental, any pay $380 per fortnight. She arranges for Centrepay to pay her rent, her payments for a new washing machine, and some driving related fines that have built up over the years. She currently pays $50 a fortnight toward getting rid of these. This leaves her with $119 per fortnight spare. Her partner has intermittent work, and he pays the hydro bills and all the car costs. She does not normally come to the Benevolent Society, but they have run out of money because two people in the household are unwell with respiratory problems and they wanted to buy wood for the winter to heat the house better.
John has come for emergency relief today because his power bill has “knocked him out”.