I was freelancing away, growing a baby and waddling along the streets of North West London, happily posting Instagram snaps of flowers in winter, coloured doorways, cute bikes with baskets, café views and other Euro moments that made me happy.
I had been toying with the idea of the ‘business of being creative’, drawing, designing, writing and photographing my experiences and feeling inspired to help others who were also creatives, freelancers and solo-preneurs.
But right before I had my son, I did a complete 180 and said nope, I need to help women in general.
My personal story and the reason why I want to help these women so badly is one that I have been struggling to express, as I was trying to remain emotion-free in business. But here I am sharing it in the public domain even though it makes me feel queasy.
The short version:
I was this close to not having the life I have today.
Complete with loving husband, toddler son, Irish in-laws and many new friends in Australia and Europe – all because of my lack of financial literacy. More specifically because of my student debt, feelings of overwhelm and acceptance of things as they were, instead of holding a belief I was capable of making things happen for myself.
A few things my lack of belief in myself and limited financial knowledge almost got in the way of:
The long version:
Back in 2011, I was getting ready to graduate in Australia where I had moved from Canada a year earlier without knowing a soul. Over the past year, I had managed to obtain my Degree, an Irish boyfriend, Chris, and a mountain of student debt. But I was barely scraping by, my student visa was about to expire and I didn’t have job interviews lined up after graduation, let alone a future life plan. I thought the writing was on the wall: I would have to leave Brisbane, break up with Chris and head back home feeling like a complete failure, broke and alone.
But as well as being my boyfriend, Chris was also an accountant and had moved countries before. He reasoned with me that if Australia’s economy was similar to Canada’s, surely I could get a job, return on a temporary work visa and start paying down my student loans. In my eyes it was a risky strategy, but the other alternative was ending our relationship, packing my bags and starting back at square one. He helped me realize it didn’t need to be so hard and encouraged me to invest in myself, working with me to change my mindset around money and paying down my debt.
Fast forward to today, Chris and I have been married for over four years, have a wonderful son, Ethan, and just bought our first home in Canada. I paid off my student loans in Australia and married the one – that almost got away – before we spent the next few years living, working and traveling in Europe. We celebrated major life milestones and were present for moments that matter, without the financial burden I had been carrying around.
Since having our son in London, I became focused on the issue of financial literacy amongst women. I kept seeing and hearing from other women in debt experiencing a similar lack of confidence around their personal finances and holding self-limiting beliefs. “When I can afford it, some day when I don’t have as much debt, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to”…resigning themselves to accepting instead of changing their personal situation. I now have a better grasp on my own personal finances and have seen the impact financial freedom can have on your choices, your outlook and your life.
Why does this matter? I can no longer sit and nod blankly, smiling empathetically, as others describe their money dilemmas, frustrations with finances or perceived limitations. I don’t know everything and I’m committed to learning as I go for the long haul.
But I do know this: I want to share my experiences, encourage them to invest in themselves and start improving their situation. Because having someone who believes in you, supports what you’re doing and holds you accountable can make all of the difference in your life. It can change your current reality and your future plans.
I also strongly believe financial literacy and flexible work are for everyone but at the moment, I am focusing on designing a community for parents who would like to invest in themselves alongside their families.
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Thank you for reading, I’m looking forward to hearing what you have to say!