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Managing life on a single income

If you are adjusting to life on a single income, the following guide can help you with steps to start taking care of your financial and mental health.

October 2021 – 4 minute read

Key takeaways from this article:

  • How to take care of your finances
  • How to take care of yourself
  • Know you are not alone


It can be difficult to know where to begin when life throws you an unexpected moment. If your circumstances change and leave you to manage life on one income, the following guide can help you make a start with practical and simple steps for taking care of your financial and mental health. Whether you are experiencing bereavement, separation or, job loss, we are here to help you adjust to life on a single income.

How to take care of your finances

Gather your financial documents

Whether the papers are sitting in a bottom draw somewhere or saved digitally, collecting all your information can show you what you are working with. Gather your bank statements, super details, insurance policy documents, bills, tax records and property paperwork. You can easily and securely access your bank statements at any time with Westpac Online Banking. Access to copies of tax documents can be requested via the ATO website.

Keep or open a bank account in your own name

Having your own transaction account in times of uncertainty such as separation or bereavement minimizes the stress and inconvenience if joint funds are frozen, even temporarily, and is an important first step in gaining financial independence. If you need to open a bank account in your own name, take the next 3 minutes to open a Westpac Choice everyday bank account.

If you plan on moving, request a property report

If you are a home-owner who is adjusting to life on a single income, you may be thinking about selling your property and down-sizing. If that is the case, we can provide you with a comprehensive property report so that you are well-equipped to sell your home. With Westpac’s partner OpenAgent, you can also find the best real estate agent for you.

Set a new budget

When your net income changes, so will your budgeting needs. Re-evaluate how your funds will be divided between living expenses and ensure your spending habits are appropriate for your cash flow. You may find there are areas where you can cut back or perhaps or tweak your money allocation to align with your priorities for this specific life moment.

If you do not already have one, creating an emergency fund or rainy-day-fund within your budget can prepare you for whatever the future holds. Adjusting to life on a single  monthly income could be considered a  ‘rainy day’ in itself, so dipping into this fund to cover any unexpected expenses that pop up before payday is more than reasonable.

Identify your wants from your needs and draw up a budget that is appropriate and specific to your personal financial situation. If you need a budget refresh, use our budget planner tool to get started.


Check out our cost cutting checklist for avoiding overspending as well.

Cost cutting checklist (PDF 191KB)


Set smart financial goals

Whilst this may be a stressful time it is also a time to start afresh and clean the slate. Looking to the future can be exciting and setting financial goals can be too. As your circumstances change, so may your financial goals. Whether you want to plan for your retirement, pay off your credit card debt or save for enough money for a house deposit, With a Westpac Life account you can set up to 6 savings goals in just the one account. If you have the motivation and the preparation, you can make progress in no time. To learn more, read our guide to setting SMART financial goals and how to achieve them.

Know your personal loan options

In certain circumstances, you may find that applying for an Unsecured Personal Loan could provide you with an amount of money for covering monthly expenses during this time. Receive an estimate of your borrowing potential by using our Personal Loan Borrowing Power Calculator. If you have children and are going through a separation or bereavement, single parent loans are also something to take into consideration. You may also be eligible for special assistance from The Federal Department of Human Services. Always speak to a financial professional about any loans you are considering. One of our friendly Priority Assist team members can talk you through money management on 1800 063 509.

How to take care of yourself

Maintain your routine

Whether you are recently unemployed, separated, or grieving, it is beneficial for your mental and physical health to maintain your daily routine, where possible. Walking the dog, going to the gym, buying a coffee or even just making the bed are all little things that provide consistency in our day. Keep doing the things you love but be gentle with yourself during this time. Perhaps just start with waking up at the same time each morning.

Keep up your social life

Much like your daily routine, it is helpful to maintain your social life during times of uncertainty. Calling, visiting or doing an activity with your friends can help you relieve stress, keep busy and stay connected. There will be times when you may not feel like talking but when you do, your friends will be there to listen.

Talk to someone who can help

On that note, if you ever feel stressed or overwhelmed by your situation and would like to speak to a professional, you can call Lifeline anytime on 13 11 14. If you are a parent, the Family Relationships Advice Line on 1800 050 321 is a great resource for navigating stressful situations. Other reputable organisations to reach out to include HeadspaceBlack Dog Institute and Beyond Blue.

Know you are not alone

Lastly, we understand that this is a difficult time and there are so many additional ways that we can assist you on your journey towards financial independence. Give us a call on 132 032 to find out more or drop into your nearest branch today. We are here to help.

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Things you should know

Read the terms and conditions available at before making a decision and consider whether the product is right for you. This information is general in nature and has been prepared without taking your objectives, needs and overall financial situation into account. For this reason, you should consider the appropriateness for the information to your own circumstances and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice. Credit criteria, fees, charges, terms and conditions apply. Credit provided by Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 AFSL and Australian credit licence 233714.