Category Archives: Women

What does Financial Abuse Really Look Like?

Economic abuse is a form of abuse when one intimate partner has control over the other partner’s access to economic resources, which diminishes the victim’s capacity to support him/herself and forces him/her to depend on the perpetrator financially. …Financial abuse applies to both elder abuse and domestic violence.

– Economic abuse – Wikipedia

 

I’ve spoken out about financial abuse in the past, but it’s hard to imagine for a lot of people.  We know it’s out there, but what does it look like?  How does it affect people?  What’s the fallout?

I spoke to one survivor who is brave enough to speak out, and I want to share her story.

I met Tanya when I wanted to know more about media and publicity and enrolled in one of her courses to learn how to write a Media Release correctly and we stayed in touch via social media after the event.

I recently interviewed Tanya on learning she’d be a victim of financial abuse and she was kind enough to reveal her story to me.

Tanya had been an investigative journalist back in the day and has also gone on to run businesses.  When she met and fell in love with the man who would become her husband, she was quite well off.  She had a successful business, property and cash in the bank.

At the end of the relationship, there was nothing left in her own name.  All had been transferred into a company and trust of which he was the director and signatory of.  She remained just a shareholder, so all decisions could be made without consultation.

The belittling had by then been going on for years.  She was told she was bad with money, and obviously, she thought, it was true.  Everything she had was no more.  All her decisions were wrong.  He was right.  The emotional abuse was there too, alive and well.

Friends and family hardly recognized the frail shell that eventually did leave the relationship, the one she’d been told that she’d never be brave enough to do.  The relationship by then was twelve years old and Tanya had wanted out for the last six.

Her health was broken.  She had a stroke and a series of seizures brought on by the stress and she was financially at ground zero and emotionally bankrupt.  But she had a good reason to soldier on, her daughter.

Now, I’ve never been in a situation anything remotely like Tanya’s and we often hear now about ‘victim blaming’ statements.  Onlookers may make comments like ‘she should have gotten out earlier.’ ‘Why would you stay with a guy like that?’ ‘What was keeping her there?’ ‘Why did it take so long?’  And I guess unless we’re there ourselves, we’ll never really, truly know.

So, to ask the question everybody seems to want the answer to… why did you stay? 

“It was the frog in the pot scenario. If you throw a frog into boiling water it jumps out, but if you put it in warm water and slowly turn up the heat it will be boiled alive before it even knows it.

“I was isolated by the time I realised I needed to get out, cut off from my family and my friends, I felt there was no out. But then one day, I realised I couldn’t risk being a bad role model for my daughter any longer. I wanted her to know that she could get out, should the cycle repeat, and that she could have an amazing life in doing so.

“One day my husband gave me an ultimatum…. stop ‘playing around with the media’ and get a job in a supermarket. When my daughter heard this, she burst into tears and said ‘that’s not you mummy’.

“In that moment I realized I’d failed her and we had to go.”

And how did you finally manage to get out?   

“I started putting $20 per week onto a grocery card so that we’d have funds to last us for food once we’d gone.  I managed to have three months saved when we left and had squirrelled things away with a close friend.  The timing had to be right too.  It’s not an easy thing.  If I had advice for anyone looking to move on from an emotionally and financially abusive relationship is that if possible, put aside whatever you can to tide you over for when you’re out.  That may not work for everyone, but it sure made a huge difference to me.”

It took a lot of time and the rebuilding is ongoing, of Tanya’s health and finances.  She’s used all of her experience in media and small business to build a success business today and her personal and business growth continues.

I’d like to thank her for being brave enough to speak out and let others see the real face behind financial abuse and it’s very frightening reality.  And also, to know that there’s hope.  No matter how broken, we can rebuild.

 

Disclaimer:  Please note that these are Tanya’s recollections and story and as such cannot be verified for accuracy.

Mother’s Day

Most of us wouldn’t doubt for a second the love and advice of our mothers.

From when we were very small, they’ve watched over us, with those eyes in the back of their head, and given us the wisdom of their guidance (which we may now have passed on to our own children… or view as incredibly bizarre!)

And whatever you do to celebrate Mother’s Day, we hope it’s a good one for you.  For those who’ve lost their mums or a having their first Mother’s Day without mum around, it’s going to be a tough one.  Try and remember all the wonderful times you had, the love and smiles and great moments you shared.

I came across one very special gift that i think mums of young ones everywhere would approve of:

  • Celebrate your kid’s mother this year by giving her a time machine – that is, a return to a life before diapers, sleepless nights, and the pressure to always be thinking of everything at once.

Sounds like a winning idea to me!

And whether you get breakfast in bed, a pasta necklace or something amazing, I don’t know too many mums who won’t value the greatest gift of all, your time.

Are you an Amazing Unleashed Woman?

I’m so excited!  I’ve just found out that I’ve been approved for a grant from the Million Dollar Round Table in the United States for UDS$1,000 to support my work with The Hunger Project.  Woohoo!

After my visits to Uganda and Malawi, I’ve become even more passionate about the empowerment of women in global communities and the drive to end hunger.  It frustrates me that so many of us have so much, while so many struggle with so little.

Did you Know?  A donation of even $50 can help give 3 women a micro-finance loan to start or grow a small business to create further income for their families.  We drop that no problem on a meal out or a few drinks with friends.

And here’s an example of what a couple of weeks groceries,  just $500 is able to achieve:

  • Train 400 mothers on feeding their children locally available nutritious food, so their children grow up healthy; or
  • Give 30 women a start-up micro-finance loan to start or grow a small business, to create income for her family; or
  • Empower 15 women to become local volunteer leaders and train their fellow villagers on issues such as education and sanitation.

But, if you’d rather spend your hard-earned dosh on a table at a fabulous restaurant spoiling your loved one on Valentine’s Day, I completely get that too.  So why not bid on A Table to End Hunger and empower others to put food on theirs.   Get in quick!

I’ve been so amazed by the incredible people who’ve supported my journey to date and those who’ve jumped on board and joined the movement.

I’d love to welcome you to become Unleashed with me again for the coming year!

And it’s still not too late to donate – if you’d like to help others to help themselves, please donate here: Unleashed Amanda’s Fundraising Page

Get your finances baby-ready

A pre-baby financial checklist can make all the difference to new mums, writes Sally Patten.

For the majority of women, having a baby is one of life’s magical moments. It is also a moment that brings new responsibilities, including those of the financial variety.

Ideally, planning for a baby in financial terms should start a year, or even two years, before birth to ensure there is enough money tucked away to cover maternity leave and that other arrangements, such as life insurance, are in place.

Being prepared will help mothers to revel in their newborns as they should.  “If you are stressed about money, the experience is not as enjoyable as it should be,” says Kellie Payne of RI Advice Group Caloundra.

In the early planning stages, it is important to investigate how much money you can expect to receive through work entitlements and the government’s parental-leave pay scheme. Taking into account your expected income, the amount of time you plan to take off, your current expenses and any additional expenses that come with having a baby will enable you to figure out what the shortfall might be and how much you need to save ahead of time.

“Be prepared for additional medical and pharmacy costs for both you and the baby,” warns Payne.

Adele Martin of Firefly Wealth recommends opening a separate bank account for parental expenses, or better still, put the money into a separate mortgage offset account.

Check your insurance levels

In the case of health insurance, not all contracts cover pregnancy and baby-related services and if you do need to raise your level of cover, a 12-month waiting period will typically apply.

If you want to be covered by private health insurance for pregnancy “you’ll need to be on a health cover that includes pregnancy at least three months before you start trying to fall pregnant”, warns health insurer nib health funds.

Having a child is also an ideal time to look at your life insurance, which may pay a sum of money in the event of death, and income-protection policies, which may pay a regular sum of money in the event of serious illness or injury. Both can be critical when there is a baby or child who will need providing for if something happens to you.

Finding the right life insurance and income-protection policies is no mean feat and advice is recommended.

Strategies for Life Queensland financial adviser Tanaya Bendall says in terms of income-protection policies, would-be mothers should consider whether the policy will pay an agreed amount without having to show proof of income.

Martin notes that many insurance companies won’t insure pregnant women after the last trimester because they are viewed as higher risk.

A convenient way to increase insurance levels may be through superannuation, because this won’t have any impact on your cash-flow levels.

Finally, Martin believes women should not ignore superannuation during this time. She suggests investigating whether they are eligible for various super contribution allowances, such as the government co-contribution and spouse contributions while they’re not working or working part-time.

How a baby changed Emily’s financial outlook

A lot changed for Emily Shields when she had her first child, not least her financial outlook.  The embryologist knew she did not want to go back to work full-time.

“I wanted to be able to spend that time with Evie. But it also makes you think about being able to provide for her,” says the 37-year-old.  “We were lucky when we were kids that we never had to want for anything, and I want to be able to provide that for Evie.”

Shields was in a fortunate position: her partner Sam could support them. He had just started his own financial-planning company when Evie was born, and Shields was able to take a year’s maternity leave from her position at one of Melbourne’s leading IVF clinics.

She extended this leave by becoming a home-based sales rep for a health and beauty company for six months.  Now back at work two-and-a-half days a week, Shields is pleased to have resumed her career, knowing Evie is well looked after.

“All I knew was that I didn’t want her going into childcare,” says Shields. “It’s been easy knowing she’s going to family and Sam’s aunt can work around us with times and dates.”

The immediate financial plan is to continue working part-time while keeping a long-held investment property “ticking over” until they are ready to buy a house.

“We’re quite happy with a public primary school but I’d like Evie to go to a private school for high school if we have the money.”

Case study: Natasha Hughes

This article is part of a series published in the Sydney Morning Heraldand The Age called Her Money, that aims to help women take control of their financial futures. This series has been created in partnership with ANZ.

Time for a financial clean up?

When we think of giving something a good clean, we usually think of a room in our home, the pantry, our laundry or some cupboards and drawers…

The de-cluttering fad has taken the world by storm and experts and converts and hooked on the new levels of simplicity.  Just check with Pinterest!

But what about cleaning up other parts of our lives?  For example, cleaning up your relationships or your health?  There may be friends that you really no longer need to be in touch with, family members who never leave you feeling good or other relationships that it’s in your best interests to move on from.  Is it time to get serious about your health? Can you leave behind the daily lattes?  Lose the chocolates?  Maybe get that blood test to see why you’re feeling tired?  Book in for that overdue pap?  Or see to that dodgy freckle you’ve been meaning to have checked?

What part of your life most urgently needs you taking the broom to it and having a good clean up?

From what I see, many leave their finances in the ‘too hard basket’ for too long and find it a bit overwhelming to get started.  So, it’s time to get out the broom!

You may have lowered your standards and made up fantastic reasons for why it’s still acceptable in some form or another to not have your act together financially. Excuses have come first… until now!  But what if that all changed today? How can you start cleaning up this one area of your life?  It’s totally up to you!

Remember, everything great always starts with really small steps in the right direction.

Which will you tackle first?  A basic budget?  Consolidation of your super funds?  Paying off the credit cards?  Making real dents to the Mortgage?  Starting a savings plan for the kids’ eduction?  Putting away for the dream holiday?

You will be amazed how much progress you can make in a matter of weeks and months if you put some serious focus on this area of your life.

So pick something, anything!  And take the Domestos to it!  I’d love to hear what you’ve decided to tackle head on and how you’re going to go about it!

Check in with your “Want Levels”

Try and spend the coming week noticing your level of want… and for what.

Do you always need to get ‘stuff’ whenever you head out?

What do you want and will not stop until you get it: coffee? wine? snacks? checking your email… again?  looking at social media notifications? a treat? shoes? buying something?  buying anything?

Try and really notice how the mind has you hooked in it’s little clutches, until it gets what it wants.  It can be a bit addictive really!

Each time this week, stop and ask:  Do I need the coffee?  Or the wine? Will this end up in an charity bin in a year?  If I wait 24 hours, will I still want it?  Can I go without?  What if I directed the funds for that purchase somewhere else?  Will the earth rotate off it’s axis if I don’t check Twitter for 24 hours?  Isn’t 493 pairs of shoes enough?

Sometimes, the answer will be “yes, I still want it.” and that’s ok.  This is about starting to question our wants and be in control.

But, getting to a stage where there is a feeling of ‘no-wanting’ is truly liberating. Then we feel free.  After all, it’s ‘just stuff.’   Try and set yourself free from the mind bossing you around on a daily, even hourly basis.  You’ll ultimately get to a place where you can instantly spot what your mind has decided it needs for its latest fix.

Choose to deny the mind today.  In fact, give it the bird!

It’s highly likely your finances, health, well-being and waistline will thank you!

Women, Money & Shame

Most women I know are pretty excited to show off a new purchase – the fabulous new handbag, a great new pair of shoes, a piece of jewellery or that amazing dress – but when it comes to sharing our true financial status – that’s something that rarely gets a mention!

Being honest about what we have or don’t have, is part of cleaning up our financial lives.

If there’s levels of personal debt that we’re uncomfortable with, it’s not often we speak of it,  Shame tends to come in first place.   When we’re invited out, we’d rather not tell someone we can’t afford that particular restaurant or outing.   At times, our need to fit in is greater than our financial circumstances, and so we lie both to others and ourselves and go anyway, placing ourselves further into debt.

It’s time to own what is the truth. There’s nothing embarrassing about saying, “I’ve put myself on a budget these days, I want to save for a holiday and I’m watching what I spend.”

Have you even got a goal to work on that’s more important than your immediate want to spend?  It’s much easier to say, “I’ve got a trip to Europe lined up, so I don’t want to spend that kind of money.”  “I’m paying off the credit card…”  “I’m trying to get the mortgage down…”

The story we often tell ourselves, is that ‘we can’t afford it.’

It’s actually all about how you choose to spend money. Your friends are highly likely to respect you more and some may even start watching where their money is going too.

You might just start a savings revolution amongst your buddies!  Why not give it a shot?