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Choosing a financial planner

The two of us: Natalie and Peter

28 February 2019

Money & Life team

Money & Life contributors draw on their diverse range of experience to present you with insights and guidance that will help you manage your financial wellbeing, achieve your lifestyle goals and plan for your financial future.

The journey to financial independence after leaving a marriage can be a tough one. Hear Natalie’s story and how working with Peter Foley CFP® from thirdview gave her a head start with getting back on her feet financially.

Natalie

Leaving a marriage takes courage, whatever the circumstances. In a relationship like mine, where abuse was involved, including financial abuse, it’s even harder because your confidence is at rock bottom. I’d been kept completely in the dark about money by my ex-husband so I thought I couldn’t go at it alone and make a decent home for my kids.

I always worked full time but my salary went to my ex-husband and he gave me an allowance to cover things like my petrol and phone bill. I never had choices about how we spent the rest of our money and the same was true for our financial future. As a married couple, we were advised on things like super by our financial planning firm. The way they explained things wasn’t clear, so I just signed things and left them to it. After the divorce, I received some paperwork and went to talk to them. I left with no understanding of how they would help my situation so it was definitely time to look elsewhere for advice.

I went to school with Peter’s wife, so when I asked around to see who could help, she suggested I meet with him. And from that very first meeting, I knew this was someone I could talk to, trust and understand. I walked in there full of doubt and confusion about everything to do with money. His passion for making a difference to his clients is so infectious, you can’t help but feel positive about the future. The confidence he gave me to make changes in my finances has been a gift beyond value. It was like I could finally breathe, knowing I would find a way to get on top of my money with his advice and support.

Peter’s advice is effective because he keeps it simple. He gives you the tips and ideas to keep you on the right track and I just follow through with everything he recommends. And that’s just how it should be as my money situation isn’t complicated. I have just enough coming in to cover my essential bills for groceries, rent and things like new shoes for the kids. But when it comes to big expenses like replacing an appliance when it breaks down, I have nothing in reserve. So borrowing has always been the only way to cover these unexpected bills.

It’s also been my way of trying to give my kids the kind of life they deserve. My older son is doing really well in rugby and had the chance to go on an international tour. I think most parents would do anything they could to make something like that possible, even when it means paying it off for years to come. But thanks to Peter, the debt is disappearing fast and I’m starting to save an emergency fund for the next time I need extra money in a hurry. I’m even managing to put a little away for a family holiday in the next year or two.

Leaving my husband meant taking a chance on my ability to build a better life for my family. That was the light at the end of the tunnel for me. Thanks to the tools and tips Peter has shared with me, it’s a light that’s becoming closer and brighter by the day. Managing money is never going to be easy because I don’t have a lot of it. But my outlook on money and my whole life has changed because I feel in control now. I know that I’m capable of looking after myself and my kids now, as well as preparing for whatever comes next.

Peter

At my first meeting with Natalie, I immediately saw she was very savvy about financial management. She’d just made changes to her health insurance to get services she needed and pay a lower premium. But her lack of confidence was holding her back from taking similar action in other areas. Natalie couldn’t see the potential she so clearly had to take control of her money and work towards a more secure financial future.

We started by taking care of the more routine areas of Natalie’s financial affairs like her super nominations and insurances. Having these boxes ticked helped her feel less overwhelmed and made space for the long term goals of managing cash flow and paying off debts. I often find clients have more energy and creativity to apply to these more complex money tasks when they’ve decluttered their finances. Marie Kondo must be onto something, as I’ve definitely seen people find more joy in their money when they’re no longer feeling inundated by financial responsibilities.

Natalie never hesitates to follow the advice I give her which creates this very positive feedback loop. We both see the difference her actions make to her life’s purpose, which is doing all she can to provide for her family. And we’ve made discoveries along the way that have boosted her determination to get debt-free and save. When you plug figures into the MoneySmart credit card calculator and discover that paying the minimum on a $5,000 balance costs you $17,000 in interest over 33 years, that’s a jaw-dropping moment. We all know credit cards work this way, but being confronted with those numbers is a powerful reminder.

Natalie is an inspiration and being her planner has been a really satisfying experience for me. She is so capable and motivated, I know I can always trust her to take my advice and follow it to the letter. Seeing her confidence and financial wellbeing go from strength to strength is a great reminder of why we do the work we do as planners. And the fact that her personal growth and actions are having a positive impact on three young lives, makes these outcomes even more important and rewarding.

Research from RMIT shows 15.7% of women and 7.1% of men in Australia have experienced financial abuse. If you think you could be experiencing financial abuse in your relationship, support is available. Visit the MoneySmart website to learn more about the signs of financial abuse and get help.

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