A helping hand just in time

Oh Lee Shan Stories

Illness, unemployment and a lack of knowledge about financial management led to a mountain of debt for Madam Sim Lee Hoon and her family. However, it was CDAC’s timely help which enabled them to survive these challenges.

In March 2017, Madam Sim Lee Hoon, 47, was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. Subsequently, she had two operations, and went through chemotherapy and diagnostic radiology treatments. At the time, she and her husband, Mr Tan Kok Kiang, 57, worked at the same logistics company. During her recovery, they both applied for no-pay leave, with Mr Tan taking care of her and their young daughter.

Even before Madam Sim’s illness, the family’s finances were not in good shape. Without much cash on hand, they relied on loans to make ends meet.

In July 2017, Madam Sim approached CDAC for help. From August to December of that year, the family received a monthly cash grant of $300 under the CDAC Workfare Programme, to tide them over that difficult period.

But to truly surmount their financial challenges and to clear their debts, the couple needed to get a firm grasp on the fundamentals of financial management, to better handle their household expenses. In May 2019, Madam Sim learnt about CDAC’s Support Group for Families with Debt. This five-month programme comprised talks and workshops that taught families with debt how to manage their expenses, and she decided to sign up for it.

Having learnt useful tips about financial management, Madam Sim says she is now more aware of her former imprudent habits such as making impulsive purchases and for not keeping track of her spendings. These days, she records every single expenditure, and curbs herself from buying unnecessary things.

While she was working hard to learn how to balance the family’s income and expenses, Mr Tan lost his job. CDAC assisted the family with a monthly cash grant of $600 from October to December 2019, under its Family Assistance Programme.

This February, Mr Tan secured a job as a part-time merchandiser at a supermarket. But one month later, he was issued a Writ of Seizure due to defaulting on credit card debt payments while he was unemployed. CDAC extended its monthly assistance for another four months. Madam Sim says she is very grateful for this repeated assistance, and hopes to save enough money to resolve the family’s debts.