A mother of two has revealed how in five years she went from being homeless and borrowing money for baby food to running a successful business and buying her own home.
In 2016, Cat Tyler only had two garbage bags of clothing and an old car to her name. She was broke, scared and was raising her almost two-year-old daughter on her own.
The clinical nurse, now 37, remembers rocking her sleeping toddler in her arms while sitting terrified on the corner of a single bed they shared in a Sydney homeless shelter.
In 2016, Cat Tyler, now 37, had only two garbage bags worth of clothing and an old car to her name
Pictured in her home in Canberra, the clinical nurse has gone through five turbulent years
Cat says she is now finally looking forward to the future, financial independence, and teaching her daughters how to get ahead
Originally from the UK, Cat had pulled the chest of drawers over the door and listened as some of her new neighbors screamed all night. She shivered through her threadbare sweater and knew she had hit rock bottom.
‘I felt like my guts were being ripped out before my very eyes, you associate homelessness with drugs and mental illness,’ she said to FEMAIL.
‘You don’t think it could happen to someone like you, not so quickly and without warning. But it did and in that moment I lost everything I was, my identity was lost and I knew I would never get it back. ‘
Despite a job and a master’s degree in clinical nursing from the University of Sydney, Cat became homeless after her relationship with her first daughter’s father broke down.
Fast forward five years and she knows it was a blessing to lose herself because it gave her the push she needed to become the best version of herself.
“I probably would have just kept going and never realized how capable I am otherwise,” she said.
She is now married to ‘an incredible and emotionally supportive man’, has bought a house, runs two skin clinics and has given birth to a second daughter.
Pictured left is the house the cat now lives in, right is the one-bedroom apartment she was going to rent for $ 550 a week after being homeless for six weeks
Cat received a call from an old colleague and moved to Canberra to start a good life
But the road to her ‘better life’ was difficult and forced Cat to constantly look within herself for more strength, persistence and love to survive.
The then 32-year-old mother lived in the shelter with her daughter for six weeks before she found a ‘small, filthy flat’ in Sydney that she could rent for $ 550 a week. It was the cheapest offer and all she could afford.
The day she signed the apartment lease, she got a call from an old colleague in Canberra asking if she wanted to move to the country’s capital.
“I threw my daughter in the car and we drove right down,” said Cat.
The call was the lifeline she needed to be on her own two feet – but her freshman year in Canberra was difficult, and the success came at enormous emotional and physical costs.
“I paid $ 600 a week for daycare and working long hours to end up having less disposable income than people on benefits,” she said.
“I wasn’t prepared for how cold it would get in Canberra, so to add to the psychological trauma of my situation, there was extreme financial trauma.”
After buying her daughter’s winter clothes, paying the bills, and furnishing their modest apartment, there was almost nothing left.
Cat now has a second daughter, pictured, a husband and two skin clinics
She spent her free time with her daughter, visits to the park and fun but free family adventures.
When Cat moved from Sydney, she left all her old friends behind.
In Canberra, the mother was exposed to a whole new ‘type of woman’. These women were empowered and helped her learn how to take charge of her own finances.
“I was so defeated by life that I thought I was unable to do anything,” she said.
But her new friends helped build her up.
And then Cat met her now husband who helped with emotional support and helped her believe in herself.
In a few short years, the sacrifices involved in working 60-hour weeks as a cosmetic nurse and building a strong customer base were worth it.
The mother said she worked hard to rebuild herself after losing everything when she became homeless
After realizing that she was the person who brought the money into her old clinic, Cat decided with the help of her husband to learn as much as possible about the ‘business side’.
“When the time came to go out on my own, I had not only developed incredible clinical skills, but now I was also a business person,” she said.
While developing her skills, she married, bought a house, and welcomed her second daughter into the world.
“Buying a house was a big one, now I know my daughters will always have somewhere – they will never end up totally penniless like me,” said Cat.
“I never thought I would have a house.”
In February, Cat opened its first clinic, a franchise of SILK Laser Clinics, and a second will open in June.
She plans to open a third next year.
“ When the time came to hit the road alone, not only had I developed incredible clinical skills, but I was now also a business person, ” she said
In February, Cat opened its first clinic – a franchise of SILK Laser Clinics – with a second due to open in June
Cat plans to teach both of her young daughters to be financially and emotionally independent so they don’t have to work things out the hard way, like she did.
“I’ve learned how to be a hard worker, never how to get ahead,” she said.
“All the horrible things I’ve been through were for the common good.
‘It taught me to appreciate myself and be ruthlessly determined in business.
“I also don’t think I would have pushed this hard if I hadn’t fallen so hard – and I would probably just live a very normal life,” she said.
Cat believes all women should have a solid understanding of money, including rights and super.
The 37-year-old only told her mother about the magnitude of her financial problems five years ago.
“She was pretty sad,” said Cat.
Cat hadn’t wanted to bother her mother about her sad turn of events because she is ‘very religious’ and wouldn’t have been able to help her from the UK.
“It would only have upset her,” said Cat.