Mariam Mohammed (pictured) arrived here from Pakistan as a 19-year-old with just $300 in her pocket. Since then, she co-founded a social enterprise that educates young women in Australia about money and finances. Here she talks about the important connection between money and health, and shares her top tips for financial fitness.
Being educated about money boosts your physical safety and your emotional wellbeing."Mariam Mohammed
What Mariam lacked in money on her arrival to Australia, she more than made up for in determination. “I was a new migrant, and it was a challenge to land any kind of job”, she recalls. “I was determined to not go back [to Pakistan] or drop out of university in Sydney. I was extremely stubborn.”
It took a few years to get out of the trenches and land on her feet, but the juggle to survive and to study shaped her life. “It became so clear to me how much of a role money places in the choices we make”, says Mariam. “Being educated about money boosts your physical safety and your emotional wellbeing.
“When you feel more in control of your finances, you will take better care of your physical health because you have better mental capacity. You can afford your health check-ups because when you are not in survival mode, you have the capacity to do that.
“Good financial health results in better mental health, and the reverse is also true. Better mental health results in better financial health because when you are not in survival mode, you are able to make more sound long-term financial decisions.”
Empowering others to become financially independent was the rationale behind MoneyGirl, the social enterprise she co-founded in 2019 which educates young women and non-binary people on money basics. Mariam is passionate about providing women with choices around finances because of its impacts on their lives.
Sometimes that choice is simply between poverty and violence... I want all people to have a third choice."Mariam Mohammed
“Sometimes that choice is simply between poverty and violence”, she says. “I had a friend who moved to Europe to study, and she was abused by a family member she stayed with. I chose poverty and she chose violence. I want all people to have a third choice – the freedom to safely make a decision that is good for them.
“This is a lifelong journey, and many may never truly have that third choice but it’s the choice I want to put my weight behind.”
Mariam encourages young women and non-binary people to create a healthy and active relationship with their finances. Here are some of her top tips to get started:
Photograph by Gabriella Sukkar