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Kate's story: Growing up without money

Kate Rushton, 18, has had to grow up quickly—and go without. Her dad left when she was nine, a failed business leaving the family broke. From living in a nice house in the Blue Mountains, Kate found herself with her mum and four younger siblings in a Department of Housing home in a tough Western Sydney suburb. The daily struggle to make ends meet began—and goes on to this day.

“I’ve always felt a bit different at school,” Kate says. “There have been heaps of times when I haven’t been able to afford to go to the movies or the shops with other kids. It’s hard when you can’t fit in with everyone else.” Kate has also had to shoulder more responsibility than many adults.

“Mum works nights at Woolies and I was trying to juggle studying for my HSC with looking after my four brothers and sisters, one of whom is disabled and needs a lot of medical attention. It was—is—tough.”

Fortunately, Kate’s mum saw Wesley Financial Counselling last year when her debts were spiralling out of control. Together they have worked out ways to make her debt situation more manageable and, more importantly, to avoid being evicted from their home. “I am so proud of my mum and feel honoured to be her daughter,” Kate says. “She works so hard to look after us despite having to worry constantly about money. I’m so proud that she got some help with our financial situation.”

Kate’s learned some valuable lessons. Budgeting is one of them. “If we didn’t budget like crazy each week, we wouldn’t survive,” she says. “More importantly, however, I’ve learned that money isn’t everything. It’s what you share with your family that really counts.”

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