Money strategies for vulnerable women


Published on

The Australian Bureau of Statistics' Personal Safety report paints a painful picture: almost one in six women across the country has experienced economic abuse by a partner, with an estimated 1.6 million having their money and job opportunities either controlled or restricted.

This economic abuse occurs when a person is subjected to behaviours or actions that are aimed at preventing or controlling their access to economic resources, thus causing them emotional harm or fear.

Here are practical strategies that women in vulnerable situations can follow in the short, medium and long term.

money strategies for vulnerable women

Short-term money tips for vulnerable women 

Create a budget

This is the first step to take control of your finances and understand where all your money is going.

You can use a spreadsheet or app to track your income and expenses to identify areas where you can cut costs.

Build an emergency fund

Start saving a portion of your income for emergencies. Even if it's a small amount, setting aside money can provide a safety net.

Aim for at least $1000 to cover immediate needs and increase it gradually to three to six months of living expenses.

Seek assistance

There are a variety of Australian not-for-profit organisations, such as the National Debt Helpline and Good Shepherd, that offer free financial counselling, debt management services, financial resources and support (see page 57).

Explore immediate income opportunities

Part-time jobs or freelance work can provide immediate cashflow.

There are also many side hustles, such as user testing, completing online surveys and exam supervision, that can boost your income.

Use cashback platforms

Cashback platforms such as Cashrewards can help you save money on your everyday shopping. Cashrewards is free to join and allows you to earn back dollars when you shop from more than 2000 brands online.

You simply sign up, install the app and activate the cashback offer before you click 'buy'.

Once your transaction is approved by the retailer, the cashback will become available in your Cashrewards account and you can transfer it to your bank account (the minimum withdrawal amount is $10.01).

Medium-term money tips for vulnerable women 

Improve your financial knowledge

Take online courses, listen to podcasts or read books and magazines on personal finance to understand budgeting, savings and investing strategies.

There are also many communities on social media where you can interact and learn from like-minded people.

Reduce debt

Start tackling outstanding debts by making consistent payments. Prioritise high-interest debts first, such as credit cards.

Research the debt snowball and debt avalanche methods to see which pay-off strategy works best for you.

Consider career advancement

Consider upskilling or reskilling to increase your earning potential. This may be through online courses or certifications or in-person options such as attending 
TAFE institutes.

Long-term money tips for vulnerable women 

Plan for retirement

Begin contributing to a superannuation account. If you are employed, check that your employer is making the correct mandatory super contributions.

Consider making additional voluntary contributions to boost your savings. ASIC's Moneysmart website is a resource for more information on superannuation and retirement planning.


You can also invest in the sharemarket outside your superannuation. Investing is a great way to build wealth over the long term, but make sure you understand what you are investing in and the risks involved.

Create a will

Protect your assets and ensure they go to the right beneficiaries by drafting your will.

This can include setting up a power of attorney and advanced medical directives. Legal services offer assistance in creating these documents.

Embrace learning and education

Lifelong learning is crucial for adapting to the constantly changing job market.

Consider pursuing additional certifications or degrees to enhance career opportunities and stay competitive in the job market. Look into TAFE or university courses that suit your interests and goals.

Financial stability is a journey that requires strategic planning over time.

By taking immediate steps to secure your finances, expanding your knowledge and opportunities over time, and planning for the future, women in vulnerable situations can protect themselves financially and work towards lasting financial security.

Get stories like this in our newsletters.

Related Stories

Téa Angelos is the founder and CEO of the Smart Women Society, helping more than 500,000 women get smarter about their finances, career, wellbeing and relationships. Angelos is the author of Smart Moves: Simple Ways to Take Control of Your Life.
Robert Wigg
June 28, 2024 11.52am

Add to make out a will - do a binding nomination on your super fund . This will tell the super fund who you want to get your money if you pass away. It is also wise to check the nomination on your annual super statement.

Liz Tinney
July 1, 2024 9.49pm

First and foremost get advice from a Financial Counsellor to understand what options you might have regarding debt, especially as financial abuse is likely in most situations of domestic or family abuse. Financial industry standards may benefit the victim survivor to recover. Equally important is to complete a financial security check - the Centre for Women's Economic Safety website has good resources.