My head

Mortal enemies – the freelancing single mum and the mortgage

May 20, 2015

single mum mortgage

Every year I’ve despised doing my taxes.

That doesn’t make me unique by a long shot. Doing taxes sucks balls, and for a freelancer it’s particularly laborious (because no one really does it as they go, do they?)

I’ll be tardy, I’ll be petulant and I’ll drag that chain until the very last second and I’ll get onto it begrudging every second spent doing expenses and income and tallying those figures in columns until my eyes are crossed.

Not so this year, because this year my tax return means something entirely different.

When my marriage ended I’d been a stay at home mum for 5 years, and had earned no money of my own in that time. The mortgage was paid by my husband out of his wages that he earned at his job.

My lawyer argued that I worked in the home and that the money is ours and the house is ours and all of that, which is how a court sees it….but still, after no tax returns for 5 years, on paper I don’t look like a very financially viable option to take over a mortgage after a separation.

I dressed nicely, shit, I think I even dusted off the iron and IRONED CREASES OUT and on a rainy morning when the kids were at kindy I went and sat in the manager’s office of the bank I’ve been banking with since I started my first account at 8 years old.

I thought that if I just explained my situation they’d understand.

He was a gently spoken Indian guy with kind eyes, who wanted to help, but banks are not renowned for kindnesses bestowed upon the heartbroken and desperate.

I tried a few different financial institutions, all the same. I was starting a new career as a freelancer sand I had no financial record.

No money, no honey.

Without delving into the very personal ins and outs of our financial settlement, I will say that with the help of my dad, and a mortgage restructure I’ve been able to keep the home that I and the children love… but still, the mortgage is in joint names. Which means it can be taken away from me, or if I die it goes to someone who has has sold their portion of the house to me.

This year, my tax return, was going to prove to the banks that I am financially viable. That I can take it over entirely in my name and own my home independently.

I’ve worked my chops off this year, I don’t think I could have juggled one more ball or chainsaw but as I sit here doing my taxes super responsibly, 6 weeks early, in anticipation of my triumph I’m realising that the figures aren’t adding up to enough.

The banks don’t care how hard I work, or that I rendered my own front wall wearing a green scarf, or dug the garden with until my nails were filled with mud. They care about the cold hard figures on the paper, and unless I pull a miracle out of my butthole I just don’t think it’s going to happen.

single mum mortgage

Wow, where did those cans disappear to?

I’m not going to lose my home, or anything dramatic. I know I’m incredibly fortunate to be in this situation.

I get that the concept of owning your own home is a distant dream for many, and many are slaving away to pay the banks with whom they’ll be in bed for the next 30 years all for the ideal of owning your own castle.

That’s all I wanted.

My castle to be mine, shared pleasantly with the bank until kingdom come, however I’m sitting here feeling deflated as I gradually punch those stupid number keys harder and harder in my frustration as I realise that maybe that dream won’t be mine this year.

That same bank manager called me a few months later to see how I was going. I don’t think he was fishing for business but he actually gave a shit. I told him I found a Band Aid solution that would buy me time until I had a strong year of work behind me, and that I was working my tush off to make that tax return sing.

Maybe July 2016 I’ll be able to sit back in that office of his and give him a good story to tell his kids one day.

A story about tenacity, and resilience, and someone who achieved independence even though the system worked against her.

Yeah, maybe next year.


single mum mortgage




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  • Reply Bunny Eats Design May 20, 2015 at 8:15 am

    I’m rooting for you girl! I alway thought the hardest part of getting a house was entering. I never really thought about the part where we have to keep working to keep it.

    We’re a couple with OK jobs (we make more than most of our friends, but less than the average Aucklander), no children and we can’t afford to buy in Auckland. Not somewhere that we could be happy for a few years. I guess the problem is that I’m not willing to work a full time job and run a business and do up a house at the same time. I’m also not willing to commute an hour to/from work each day.

    We crunched the numbers and a mortgage for somewhere we could see ourselves living in (city fringe, 1 or 2 bedrooms, not a do up) would be $1000NZ per week. Our rent is currently $300NZ per week (city fringe, 1 bedroom). We couldn’t actually afford to buy our place if it came on the market.

    I’d love to own my own space, I really would, but the idea that huge debt and paying $1000 per week for the next 30 years makes me ill. We would also need $100k for a deposit. I don’t have $100k floating around.

    Are weekly mortgage repayments where you are generally 3+ times rent payments?

    I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, mostly because we keep looking at what’s on the market and trying to figure out how the numbers can work. We’re not desperate, I just tell myself we can be happy renting.

    The other option is to move to the countryside but then we have the issue of finding work.

    • Reply Danielle May 22, 2015 at 1:58 pm

      Nah man, renting in Sydney is through the roof too.I often hear what a friend is paying in rent and wonder why they don’t get a mortgage in a slightly different suburb but I guess you pay to live in the funky places. I guess it depends where you want to live but you need to go FAR to get cheap housing. And then you’re looking at apartments. Renting a house is exxy. I’m lucky, there’s not much left on this house as we had a mega deposit due to inheritances and stuff otherwise I’d have lost it for sure.

  • Reply Kate May 20, 2015 at 10:33 am

    I’m sending a big hug your way! What a challenging year you’ve been through and it seems like you are really trying hard to make everything work and be independant. Keep up the great work we are all here for you x

    • Reply Danielle May 22, 2015 at 1:55 pm

      Thanks Kate. It’s great to know my team is rooting for me!

  • Reply Sonia from Sonia Styling May 21, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    That home WILL be yours. Of that I’m certain. x

    • Reply Danielle May 22, 2015 at 1:54 pm

      and we will drink champagne…..

  • Reply San May 21, 2015 at 9:40 pm

    faaaarrrrcccckkkkkk…. don’t get me started Girlfriend. I have positive gut feelings for YOU tho’ babe…. I really think youse are gunna’ make it!!!

    • Reply Danielle May 22, 2015 at 1:53 pm

      *cue Rocky soundtrack*

      • Reply San May 23, 2015 at 5:00 pm

        Yeah baby…. point me to Brett!!!

        • Reply Danielle May 23, 2015 at 8:41 pm

          I know, right? Brett seems tense. Maybe his mortgage is stressing him out??

  • Reply Brett May 21, 2015 at 11:16 pm

    So you live in your very nice home and complain because it’s not entirely yours or the banks? Most people have to pay a full mortgage that takes the wages of both patents working full time jobs and if you don’t pay the bank their mortgage they will sell the house for you. Yet you are sulking that you don’t have to carry that burden? How can you pay for that place anyway? Last time I checked blogging and free lance writing is not a gold mine that can pay for a whole house in Sydney. Also you had the opportunity to take care of your kids full time when they were babies and you make it sound like a bad thing. I think you need to take a good long look in the mirror and be grateful for what you have instead of complain about it.

    • Reply Danielle May 22, 2015 at 6:57 am

      Hi Brett, I am incredibly grateful for all that I have and I understand that comparatively speaking I have it great, however as you shoot your mouth off about my financial situation I must say I feel you missed the point.

  • Reply Zanni May 23, 2015 at 11:41 am

    Oh hon that is tough. Having a [small] joint mortgage is tough enough for us, but we only got it because I applied for the loan when I had a full time contract job in Melbourne, which I had had for years. And that was before the GFC. I know for certain that even though between my husband and I we have no days off a week – we work our butts off, and I don’t earn a bad hourly rate – we would still not be eligible for a mortgage, just because of the nature of my contract employment. I am lucky to have work week to week, and next week it may not be there, but luck isn’t enough security for banks.
    So we’ll be stuck [happily] in our modest abode until the tides turn. Good for you being a strong role model not just for other women, but also for your kids. Rock on xx

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