There’s more to Julia’s story than debt

29 May, 2024

When Julia first met Jo, she was in the thick of financial distress.

Julia was a hard worker, taking whatever job she could to provide for her kids. But after a series of complex issues in her life, she was faced with a significant debt and no way forward. What made it even more distressing was that she was dealing with it on her own. But then she connected with Jo, a CAP-trained Money Mentor at Overflow Church Medowie.

If you sat down with these two women, you’d witness a special friendship that extended beyond debt. You’d see how Julia confides in her Money Mentor and the way Jo champions Julia in her journey.

As you read this conversation with Julia and Jo, you’ll see the power of walking alongside someone, so they don’t have to face financial distress alone.

Julia & Jo

Can you tell us a bit about what led you to reaching out to CAP, Julia?

Julia: I was going through a hard time. When my marriage fell apart, I didn’t have a job and I had to pay the bills and the house mortgage. I was like ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do’. My mum said you get out and you get any job you can. And she was thrilled when I got a cleaning job because I was cleaning and picking grapes and she’s like, “That’s good. It’s a good start.”

But I needed help sorting out how to do taxes. My brain just would not work. Plus, I was in a lot of debt. That was really playing on me. I was going to a Christian counsellor, and she gave me CAP’s number and said “Call these guys up. I’m sure they’re going to be able to help you.”

So CAP then connected you with Overflow Church in Medowie, and you met Jo. What was your first meeting like?

Julia: Our first meeting was in person. It was great. I just felt comfortable enough to open up and talk about my situation. Sometimes, depending on who you’re talking to, you don’t feel comfortable. But Jo makes me feel so comfortable and welcome.

Jo: I remember you walking out of the first session, and I was like, ‘I don’t know if she’s going to come back’. Just because at that point in time, you were really struggling with the anxiety of taxes and debt.

But you’ve been just incredibly courageous from the moment you stepped into the Overflow Care office. You were so vulnerable in sharing your story and continued to open up as the sessions went on, telling me so much about your life and past experiences.

Part of your Money Mentoring journey together has been fighting an unfair debt. Can you share about how you worked through that?

Jo: In the past three years, Julia’s created her own cleaning business from scratch, and so she was in no position to fork out a large amount of money on a debt that was actually no fault of hers. She also wasn’t in a position to fight the debt, or to know how to fight it at that point in time, so the interest continued to increase the bill. When we got in contact, we went through a process where we wrote an appeal and then we had a meeting where we went through about 800 pages of court documents.

Julia: And I tell you, I could not have ever done that. Oh, it still scares me.

Jo: Because you had a very real and very significant amount of anxiety.

Julia: You helped me come up with the right words to put into the letter to go to them. You know, that was really good.

Jo: Fighting the debt is really the main thing we overcame [in Julia’s financial situation] because she actually came to me with quite a few skills already in terms of her finances. She came from quite a poor background, but she grew up with a good example in her mum and quite a good knowledge of how to manage her money in terms of saving.

What has it been like having Jo come alongside you as a Money Mentor, Julia?

Julia: It has been a great support. I don’t think I could have done it by myself. But I think that Jo’s given me the confidence to feel like if something like this happened again, I’ve got the skills to go through it.

Jo: I would 100% agree with that. I have seen you grow so much with your confidence. You’ve come an incredibly long way.

I think the biggest shift that Money Mentoring has made in Julia’s situation was just helping her to kick start some financial goals, because for her, that really alleviated a massive weight off her mind. And because it was so overwhelming at that stage with the debt, having someone to talk about it with and to just walk through the journey and the process with her made it that much more achievable.

What’s special about Money Mentoring to you, Jo?

Jo: The whole concept of Money Mentoring is where you get to share your story and your faith as well. So, it’s not a coaching process where it’s one-sided, it’s really a joint collaboration and relationship. And faith is a big part of that.

One of my favourite things about our sessions is we probably spend half an hour talking about financial stuff, then the other hour talking about spiritual stuff. Julia has always been really open to us praying together and we certainly saw the power of that.

It’s stories like this that make you understand the importance of community and relationship. Without a church and a CAP-trained Money Mentor, without someone willing to see beyond debt, people like Julia face financial distress alone.

You can be a part of someone’s story today. Your tax-deductible donation can help equip God’s Church to come alongside those feeling isolated in their struggles, meeting people where they’re at with compassion, empathy and the love of Jesus.

Words and interview by Cassie Holland, photography by Aemon Beech.