Tag Archives: women

We’ll Make sure you Win, Unopposed!

Sitting cross legged (awkwardly on my part) on thin mattresses on the cold tiled floors of the unheated Hotel Harshikhar, in Bhimtal, Northern India, we heard from 15 Elected Women Representatives or community leaders who traveled many hours to share the issues within their communities and the wins they’d had during the last four+ years of their time in office.

The Business Chicks with me had traveled from all over Australia to hear their stories, and one that stood out for me, was Hema.

“First and foremost,” she said, “women were not taken seriously.  Their voices had not been heard, and this caused fear and anxiety when they wanted to express their opinions.”

She thanked the women of the organisations who partnered with The Hunger Project to teach women their rights, and how to be heard.  She was grateful for the assistance to build her own confidence to fully be her best in her role.

Hema fought for water issues and is now proud that every house in her village has access to water and that tanks have been constructed for families who need them.

She’s received an award from the State Government for having a modern panchayat (village council) where all basic services were covered.  This resulted in an award of 200,000 rupees (AU$4,000) for her village.  She also received an award for cleanliness and sanitation from her district.  This lady is a winner!

In her spare time, she’s chosen to fund education for 2 very poor girls in her village whose parents are unable to meet the costs of schooling.  There was also no land for a creche for the smaller children, so she donated part of her own property for that too.

Hema is also a bit of an entrepreneur and now has 5 women in the village making paper packets that can be sold at market to provide them with an income.  Her passions are teaching others about animal husbandry and ensuring that women understand about savings and being able to provide for themselves.

Domestic violence fueled by alcoholism is also a problem in her area and many women don’t know what their options are but come to her for advice.  Bravely, Hema has confronted the husbands to have a discussion about their behavior prior to escalating matters to the police.  One man objected to her interfering with belting his wife and even went to strike her, but she managed to grab his arm.  Strongly, she stood her ground telling him that she was here for a conversation and if he chose to also abuse her, the matter would go to the authorities.  What a powerhouse!

Some men in the area work away at companies or serve in the army to financially assist their families, but some just choose not to contribute to the financial upkeep of their homes.  This is why Hema is so passionate about ensuring the women can earn a living and put away savings for when needed.  (Sounds like she’s also a part-time financial counselor!)

Hema still has more work to accomplish.  She wants to again contest the elections later this year and be back to serve and make a difference for the next five years.  It’s no wonder the women in her village have assured her this election year, that they’ll make sure she wins again, unopposed.

Milk is Meant for Boys

So now all the lovely ladies, Business Chicks representatives and THP Australia team have arrived.

This brilliant opportunity ahead of me, commences with The Hunger Project India and Australia teams welcoming us all to amazing India and to further introduce the work done by the elected women representatives, some of whom we’ll have the privilege of meeting on our travels this coming week as we head to Naini Tal in the Himalayan foothills.  It’s also lovely to have two representatives from the THP Swedish office joining us on this trip.

Firsthand, we will be able to witness the courage of the Elected Women Representatives as they bring about much needed change in their communities in spite of the daily obstacles that arise, and continued resistance from those who fear change.

This visit will be a milestone for us as we witness the work they do, and also for them as they understand that what they’re achieving is amazing and significant and worthy of us learning from them

India remains at number 103 out of 119 countries on the Global Hunger Index behind even Bangladesh and Nepal, yet is the third largest economy in the world following the USA and China.

The India Times yesterday was highlighting the reduction of child marriage and teen pregnancies in India, shaming the areas lagging behind and noting that much work was still to be done.

We sadly heard that infanticide is still practiced against baby girls and is considered acceptable by many.  Child marriage and the rape of girls as young as three continues.  If my blood could curdle, I think it just did.

The expression ‘milk is meant for boys’ crossed my radar and angered and surprised me today.  Even grandmothers won’t nourish their granddaughters as it is so ingrained that the men and boys are worth more and come first in the family, community, and beyond.  Yet, families don’t even let their animals sleep without food…  Over half of all rural women in India are malnourished and anemic,  and 39 crimes against women are committed every hour.

For someone who has grown up in middle class Australia in a family that had enough, and daughters had the same opportunities as sons, it’s a world I understand very little of.

As the horns continue to blast in the streets around me, I’m looking forward to learning from the experiences we’ll all have in the coming days and how for some, the tide is slowly turning.

In the past, I know that the lessons learned can inspire each of us to be a catalyst for change in our own personal and business lives.

Signing off… and eagerly awaiting my latest immersive experience despite, the 3.30 am wakeup call ahead.

Returning to work? Four things to think about

There are many reasons for taking a break from the workforce: to have a baby, look after family members, or recover from a redundancy or illness. Whatever the reason, returning to work can be challenging. Here are some tips that may help give you the confidence you’re after.

1. How are your finances?

Before starting a new job, or returning to a previous role, take the opportunity to review your financial situation. Are all your bills paid? How good is your debt management? You should also update your budget to account for your new income, keeping in mind any changes in expenses such as child care, and ensuring you have savings in case of emergency. This is also a great time to think about income protection insurance.

2. Check your superannuation

Your superannuation savings may have stalled from lack of employer contributions. If you’d like to try to catch up, there are options. For example, you can salary sacrifice part of your pay or you may be eligible for the government’s co-contribution scheme.

Spouse contributions may also help, and under the superannuation reforms that came into effect on 1 July 2017, anyone with a partner who earns less than $40,000 can contribute to their super and may receive a tax offset in return.

3. Stay in touch

While you’re still on leave, there are a few things you can do to give yourself the best chance of transitioning back into the workforce successfully.

If you plan to stay in your industry or role, make sure you are up to date on the latest trends and insights. Keeping in touch with colleagues and your network is also a great way to show you are engaged in your area.

You may also take the opportunity to learn a new skill, gain experience or take a course. This may indicate to potential employers that you’re eager to continue learning. Remember to update your resume afterwards.

4. Talk to your employer

Many people returning to work will require flexible workplace arrangements, such as the ability to work from home or only for certain periods of time. Talk to your employer about this early on, then you can create an arrangement that works for both of you.

If you are seeking a new position and know you will need to work from home some days, research employers’ workplace flexibility arrangements. Is there a work-from-home policy? Is work–life balance encouraged? Seek out companies that offer these policies and keep an eye out for organisations with a return-to-work support program.

Some people find that slowly easing back into work sets up a stronger foundation for long term employment. This may mean going back one day a week, then increasing this to two, three or four days. If you think this may work for you, discuss a trial arrangement with your employer.

Return to work with confidence

Returning to work after extended leave can be daunting – but it can also be a great opportunity to develop your skills, connect with a community and achieve new goals.

Reach out to your networks and see how others managed the transtion.  There’s great groups available like Busines Chicks who offer fabulous support to their members.

There are also many financial aspects to consider, so speaking to a financial adviser who understands the latest reforms and your unique situation may give you peace of mind.  I’d love to help!

The Gift of a Story!

If you believe in romance, then Ann-Marie’s story may take your fancy…

From a private airline hostess in Australia to the Amalfi Coast, Ann-Marie’s saga started the way of most fairy tales!  Swept off her feet by a German Count, she said goodbye to Australian shores, moved to Germany and proceeded to deliver luxury cars around Europe for her new father-in-law’s dealership.

A Champagne lifestyle followed as she jet set her way through Europe living it up as part of the Von Douglas Clan, the European branch of the Scottish Black Douglases.  Life was good, the Douglas women didn’t work… and travel to exotic locations was an integral part of the life she now led.

However, it turns out that not all fairy tales end with ‘and they all lived happily ever after…’

Anne-Marie has been kind enough to share her story with me in my book of how she went from the jet set, moved back to Australia to raise her daughters and to living on a much more modest ‘beer sized’ budget today.  She shares the best financial advice she’s ever been given and how to prepare for the unexpected.

And if you want to find out how Annie and I stay connected, I guess you’ll just have to pick up a copy of Financial Secrets Revealed.  I have plenty of stock on hand (just in time for Xmas) or good book stores and online shops all have copies.

 

Women’s Money Toolkit

I’m a big fan of ASIC’s MoneySmart website and love their Women’s Toolkit.  Have you had a chance to check it out as yet?

The women’s money toolkit has been designed with tips and tools to help you manage your money, gain an edge on your finances and deal with life’s ups and downs.  And we know there’s plenty of them!

The kit was developed because women face unique financial challenges such as having less super than men, living longer and taking time out of paid work to care for others.

It’s designed to have you answer some simple questions and receive a tailored list of topics that may include having a baby, relationships and money, sorting out your super and many more.

Create a personalised to-do list of the actions you need to focus on right now to make the most of your money and enhance your well being.

Remember, you can always:

Do yourself and favour and check it out here: ASIC Women’s Toolkit

Women & Superannuation

I’ve met plenty of people skeptical about our superannuation system over my years as a planner and I get it.  Believe me, I have to devote hours ever year to keeping up with the annual federal budget, managing legislative changes and getting my head around constantly changing tax and super laws.  It can be a drag!

It’s also true that we retire with about half the retirement savings of most men, and some women retire with no super at all!  But the reality is this, women live longer than men, making it even more essential that they accumulate enough superannuation to last them through retirement.

Having said that, women also face unique challenges when it comes to putting away retirement savings. Chances are, you’re still on lower pay than your male counterparts, you’ll take more time out of the workforce to raise the kids or care for your parents, and for those running a single-parent household, it can make it even more challenging to build a reasonable amount of super savings.

However, there are some simple strategies make it possible for women to overcome some of these hurdles, or make them less of an issue anyway…

Try and remember, that superannuation is actually your friend.  It is a very tax-effective way to save retirement. Your super fund pays a low rate of tax on contributions and investment earnings while growing your nest egg.  From age 60, you can withdraw your super tax-free.

Without any superannuation savings, many women are forced to rely solely on the age pension in their senior years.  Remember, the pension is designed as a safety net and won’t provide at all for a comfortable old age.  I’m not sure I could go back to a lifestyle that’s funded on around $23,000 per annum and you probably don’t want to either!

Firstly, don’t let your super funds get ‘lost.’  Try and ensure your funds are consolidated – this can help save on fees, but make sure you’re not losing valuable insurance coverage when doing so.  When possible, try to put extra away into super.  The ATO and website MyGov are making it easier than ever now to stay on top of your funds.

Affording an extra $20 – $50 per week now may not take food off the table but the additional money, plus years of compound interest will add up, and after all, your investing in your future self.  Sounds like a win to me!

Understand your fund and make sure your employer is putting your full entitlements in regularly on your behalf.  At the time of writing, this was 9.5% of your gross wage. Mostly now, we have super choice meaning that we’re able to choose the fund we want, and then check where your money is invested within the fund.  Is it in line with your investment profile?

To grow your fund, you’re often able to make pre-tax contributions (Salary Sacrifice) or even post-tax contributions where no tax is charged.  Depending on your circumstances, your partner may also be able to make contributions on your behalf and receive a tax offset for their efforts.

However you go about it, remember that you’re investing in your future and that superannuation is your money.  It certainly pays to be savvy with your super!  Sitting down with your financial adviser may reveal new and innovative ways you can make the most of your retirement savings!

The Truth about Investing

Plenty of people tell me, “I’ll come and see you when I have money to invest!”  Great!!  (Mostly, I’m still waiting…)

So how much does it really take to start investing?

Truth is, you really don’t need a lot.  Some start with a small lump sum and others put small amounts away regularly.  It’s really what’s best for you.

The best advice I can give you for free… is to start!  Then keep adding to your investments regularly.

You’ve probably heard it before, but remember – don’t put all your eggs in one basket! And, the higher the earnings or return you expect from an investment, the more risky it’s likely to be. Investments that offer lower returns are generally less risky.

A financial adviser can assist in working out your risk profile – that’s the level of risk you’re comfortable with, and that can depend on what you’re investing or saving for.  You may have a much higher tolerance for volatility for your superannuation or retirement funds than you would when saving for the deposit on a home.

Advisers are also qualified to assist when you’ve had an inheritance, lost or divorced a partner or had a major change in circumstances.

Sit down and work out your personal budget and see just what’s left each pay period that you can use to either bring down debt or start your savings plan today!  If you don’t know where to start, an adviser can definitely assist.  So stop putting it off and waiting for the magic to happen… chances are you’re more likely to get ahead by starting, than waiting.