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The Devil is in the detail

The Devil is in the detail

A few weeks ago I listened to a presentation about the different types of way we take in and process information. In the past I have read several books on similar topics, but this particular information was new to me but made oh so much sense.

I recognised instantly that I was what one terms a “global thinker/communicator”. That is, I only like to take in high level pertinent information and do not like to get bogged down in the minute details. On the other side of the spectrum are of course the detailed thinkers, who for them, it’s all about the smallest details.

In the presentation, the speaker highlighted the importance of our ability to first recognise our own communication style and then recognise others we are dealing with. Once identified, we can then adjust our communication style to greater enhance our ability to communicate with someone who may not be the same as us. In this particular case, it was how to apply it to our customers.

What I didn’t think to do was apply it to my home life.

Last night, my eldest son and I once again had a blow up about him not listening, resulting in me disconnecting the WIFI from the wall. This scene was a oh so familiar (usually without the extreme measures of disconnecting the WIFI). I’m always perplexed how my youngest and I rarely have this mis-communication issue, but with my eldest, it seems to be a weekly occurrence.

It wasn’t until he came into me about half an hour later (after sulking in his room) and asked if we could have a chat, that another light bulb moment would highlight where we had been going wrong all these years.

Wyatt’s first words to me were, “Mum do you think when you’re asking me to do something you could be a bit more specific and give me more details”. Suddenly it hit me like a ton of bricks. I had completely been misreading my son’s ability to understand the instructions I was giving him.

I’ll give you an example here, in case you’re not following. Our blow up was over the fact that he was playing on his iPad after I had told him to stop playing on the iPad.

Our conversation went a little something like this:

Me: “Wyatt, what are you still doing playing on the iPad?”
Wyatt: “I’m not playing Mum, I’m just looking for something”
Me: “I don’t care Wyatt, get off now”
Wyatt: “But Mum, I’m not playing, I’m just looking”.

After this I walked behind him and saw he was in a game called Terraria and that’s when I lost it and walked over and pulled the WIFI connection out of the wall.

Later on, in our little chat, Wyatt brought it to my attention that in his eyes, he wasn’t ‘technically’ playing, so he didn’t understand why he was getting in trouble. We’ve had this argument before when I’ve told them no Xbox and then half hour later, I catch him in a game collecting daily rewards.

You see, in my eyes, when I give an instruction like “No Xbox” I’m talking about all things encompassing that can be played or done on the Xbox because I am a global thinker. When my son hears “No Xbox” he thinks I only mean physically playing a game on the Xbox because he is a detailed thinker.

I now understand that if I don’t want him to do anything on the Xbox, I have to list out ALL of the potential things he could do on the Xbox eg. Playing a game, watching YouTube, Netflix etc.

This got me thinking, how many times do we have a blow up with a friend, colleague, partner, family member etc. over a mis-communication issue. At the time, we of course always think we are in the right and the other person is in the wrong. But how many of these issues could be resolved if we just understood that the other person just truly did not fully understand the point we were trying to make because they process information different to us.

I hope you enjoyed this article. If you want to read my other blogs, click here for my general blog or here to read my personal blog “Sh*t they don’t tell you when you get divorced”.

Love and Gratitude

Leisa
Child Support Change of Assessment – The Outcome

Child Support Change of Assessment – The Outcome

Two months ago, I wrote about the 5 major lessons learned  when it came to dealing with Child Support (CSA) Change of Assessment (CoA) process. As previously mentioned, it was this process that eventually led me to have a wealth of knowledge about all things Divorce and the birth of my business The Financial Divorce Chick.

Finally, all that accumulated knowledge was put to use in my most recent experience with a CoA process.

And boy, what a difference experience, when applied correctly, can make.

This time, I felt calm, composed and most importantly in control, no longer was I on the back seat feeling blindsided by this process. I knew I had a good cross-application, backed up by fact, referenced to the relevant sections of the Act. Don’t get me wrong, my emotions did kick in a little, but this time I was able to keep them at bay and not colour my response and cross-application with them.

After submitting my response, I did not hear from CSA for weeks, so eventually I called to follow up and discovered they had sent a further response from the Ex three weeks previous. I don’t know where these documents eventually ended up, but 6 weeks later, I’ve still never received them.

So here I was having to respond to the Ex’s cross-application to my cross-application without any documents to go by. I requested to respond once the documents were received, but as they have a certain number of days to make a decision I was fresh out of luck.

I’d be lying if I told you my heart wasn’t pounding during this phone call with the Senior Case Officer (SCO – who was really lovely by the way). Apparently, the Ex was still insistent that I should be assessed as earning in excess of $120k because “that is what an average Financial Consultant earns”. At least this time he had a vague report from a recruitment company to back up his claim. Ummm was he forgetting that I have had our children full-time since they were babies and building my business part-time to work around the needs of our kids? I was more than happy to disclose my business earnings that clearly showed my revenue could not support such ridiculous claims.

I won’t bore you with all the details but the one funny part of this conversation I would like to share with you all was when the SCO told me the Ex’s response to where the $400k he made on the sale of his house went. Apparently it went to renovating his new 6 bedroom house to give the kids their own rooms! I had to hold back the laughter as I appreciated the irony of this statement.

Anyway, about a week later I received a call from the SCO whilst out having a business lunch. Normally I would not take a call during a luncheon, but I’d been hanging out for this call, so I politely excused myself to take the call. I’m ever so glad I did, for this call just made my day. In short, the outcome of the decision was this:

• The Ex’s application regarding my income was denied (good to see common sense still exists)
• My application regarding his income was approved
• CSA have now set the Ex’s income approx. $50k higher than his 2017 taxable income for the next two years
• My Child Support has been increased as a result

If I take you back to 2012 when I received my very first CoA decision, this is almost an exact replica of that outcome. Instead of being happy with the current assessment, the Ex sought out a major reduction in his payments and ended up having his income set at a rate approx. $50k higher. Obviously, some people just don’t know how to learn from their past experience.

I have no doubt an objection to this decision will be made and if unsatisfied with the decision it will be taken down the Appeals Tribunal route – yet again. But this time I’m no longer that scared newly Single Mum worried he will take my kids away from me. I do this sh*t for a living now and know that I have the strength to take on anything he throws at me.

Recently I was approached by two clients to assist them in writing CoA applications and it made me smile.  Because of this experience, I now have additional resources to draw upon in order to assist these clients.

In closing, I’d like to say that these days, I see all experiences, good or bad, as just that, an experience. I give gratitude for them all and know that it’s these experiences that shapes our lives.

If you or someone you know is going through a similar experience and needs some guidance, please feel free to have them contact me for a complimentary Insight & Empowerment call.

The perils and cost of modern day birthday parties

The perils and cost of modern day birthday parties

I was talking with my youngest child today who has his 10th birthday coming up next month and of course we got on the subject of birthday parties. Internally I was already groaning because I just knew what was about to come next.

Recently he went to a Ninja Warrior Birthday party and of course this is now what he has been begging me to have for his party. But at a cost of over $300 I was thinking “Hell No”, you’re turning 10 not 21.

But this got me thinking, when did it become the norm for parents to go all out and spend upwards of $300, $500 and sometimes nearly $1,000 on a kid’s birthday party? Will a two year old really remember when they are an adult that you threw them an expensive party complete with Jumping Castle? And what if you have more than one child? Let’s say on average you spend $350 per party for three children every year, that’s nearly $1,000 per year. This is, of course, excluding the super expensive birthday present you got them.

Can the average family really afford nearly $1,000 per year on birthday parties?

What’s worse is that if parents can’t afford it, modern day habits (and guilt) find them putting it on the credit card and worrying about it later.  If you’re like one of the 16 million credit card holders in Australia with an average outstanding balance of $3,181*, then have you considered the compounding impact of putting another $1,000 onto that debt? Especially if you’re like many households who do not pay out their credit card in full each month.

So, if you’re like me and want to find a better way to reduce the Birthday Party spend, here are my top tips:

1. Chat to the kids about having 1 or 2 friends over and taking them to the movies, bowling etc. instead of a party.
2. Have a BYOD party for Xbox/PS3/Nintendo. These days most kids have some kind of electronic device. We recently had a party where everyone BYO’d their device and battled each other right there in the living room.
3. If you have a pool or a friend with a pool, have a pool party and buy some cheap water pistols, noodles etc. from K-Mart
4. Head down to the local park or water park (if you’re lucky like Townsville) and have a BBQ utilising the free council BBQ’s.
5. Utilise vouchers sent home from school for the local bowling alley, movies, etc.
6. Purchase an Entertainment Book for your local area and utilise vouchers for activities, food and drink.
7. Utilise vouchers for Domino’s Pizza, Pizza Hut etc.
8. Stock up on Home Brand chips and lollies. Once they are out of the packet the kids won’t know the difference.

With the savings I make each year, I put towards our annual holiday fund. This way my kids still get to celebrate their birthday with friends and we as a family get to make even more memories on a family holiday.

If you plan on taking a leaf out of my book and putting your savings toward a family holiday, make sure to read my other blog “Holidays don’t need to leave you in debt”.

Until next time,
Love and Gratitude,

Leisa Quagliata
Freedom & Financial Life-Stylist

To read more blogs please CLICK HERE

*statistic taken from finder.com.au 2018 Credit Card report

5 Lessons learned when dealing with Child Support Change of Assessments

5 Lessons learned when dealing with Child Support Change of Assessments

A few years ago, at probably the lowest point of my Divorce, I was subjected to multiple Changes of Assessments (CoA), Objections to those CoA decisions and subsequently Appeals Tribunal hearings when the Objection decisions didn’t go my Ex’s way.

What I didn’t know at the time, is that this process would eventually lead me to what I do now as The Financial Divorce Chick.  After all, when asked at age 10 what I wanted to be when I grow up, my answer certainly didn’t involve the world of Divorce.  Actually, I think my response was that I wanted to get married and become a housewife – Good heavens, what was I thinking!!!

Anyway, back to the point of this article and that is, back when I received my first Change of Assessment notification I felt completely blindsided.  Firstly, I didn’t even know such a thing existed and worse, I didn’t feel I was getting enough child support to begin with and here was my Ex attempting to reduce it even further.  As fulltime carer of my children I (mistakenly) thought there was no way I could end up with even less child support.  Boy was I in for a rude awakening.

I won’t go into the specifics (you’ll get to read that later in a new blog I’m working on), but what I wanted to share with everyone is the lessons I learned from that part of my journey.

  1. You can’t make your argument one based on emotion: Feeling raw and emotional from the legal battle I was still embroiled in, there was no way my emotions weren’t going to be front and centre in any case I was about to make.  Child Support works on a formula that is dictated by the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989, in particular Section 117.  Unless your emotions are in line with the sections of this Act, your argument won’t make any difference.

 

  1. Your definition of logic is probably not the same as CSA: Since separation, I’ve had the children fulltime, whilst the Ex lives on the other side of the country.  We also had very expensive Court Orders in place which I believed already addressed the issues my Ex was now raising.  So naturally I figured there is no way I could end up with a reduction for stuff we’d already sorted.  Boy how wrong was I (you’d think spending $10k on Consent Orders would give you some level of protection).  The average person’s definition of logic seems to have little relevance when it comes to how the Act is written and interpreted.  Just because it makes sense to you, doesn’t mean you’ll win your argument.

 

  1. Accusations without basis of proof aren’t likely to win you any favours: This one applies particularly to Reason 8 relating to a parents’ earning capacity and financial resources.  If you’re going to claim that your Ex should be assessed on their earning capacity, it’s not enough to just throw a figure out there claiming this is the industry standard.  You need to back it up with factual evidence and relate it back to what the legislation says regarding how to assess and substantiate capacity to pay eg. A credible industry report and that person’s ability to obtain such employment (ie qualifications, experience, unemployment in that field and region and non-financial obligations such as raising the kids). The Agency looks at a three-part process and a condition from each subsection must apply before any consideration for a departure from the administrative assessment can be made.

 

  1. Your claims must satisfy the applicable sections of the Act: This was probably my biggest mistake. First time around I made it all about what I thought was fair and equitable, but I didn’t know to relate my arguments back to the relevant sections of The Act.  Once I learned how to do this, I found my arguments had strength and a solid base for being taken more seriously.  Whatever your basis for response, make sure you’ve researched which section of the Act can substantiate your claim.

 

  1. Don’t think you’re so special you can have the rules bent just for you: Most recently I was amused how my Ex thought he was so special that his nights of care should be assessed on ‘an average number of nights over the past 6 years’ instead of number of nights in a calendar year.  Child Support have their formula’s and unless you’re the King of England it’s unlikely they will change the legislation just for you.

You may have noticed a bit of a theme in this blog and that is, you need to be able to relate your argument back to the relevant sections of the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989, in particular Section 117.  This Act is lengthy and confusing to the average person, and believe me, it’s probably more fun to watch paint dry (or the Ashes), take your pick.  I sincerely hope you never find yourself on the receiving end of a Change of Assessment.  But if you do and you’re feeling lost and confused, please feel free to contact our office and we will be happy to help.

I hope you found this article useful, I’m Leisa Quagliata and have a fabulous day!

 

How to make sure you get it right Second time around

How to make sure you get it right Second time around

Over the past 7 years I have tried and failed miserably at trying to meet another long-term partner.  Lately though, I noticed I’m not alone in my pursuit of another long-term loving relationship with not so long-term results.

You see, I’m part of a single mums and dads Facebook group and there seems to be a common thread amongst us ‘Divorcees’, in particular those who are raising their children on their own fulltime.  It is not uncommon, in particular to see the women beating themselves up about not meeting someone for years.  Often these comments are followed by “I’m scared of messing up another relationship” closely followed by “I just can’t find anyone decent”.  Believe me, I can completely relate to these sentiments.  After Divorce railroaded my life for nearly 5 years, I’m certainly in no hurry to repeat that exercise again.

But this got me thinking, how can you make sure you get it right second time around.  After all, the statistics for failed marriages is actually higher than first marriages.  WTF?  You’d think people would learn from their mistakes the first time but apparently not.

So here is what I think you should be on the look out for when you think you’ve met that special someone again:

  • When out on a date, watch how they treat the waitstaff and others around you. Wanting to impress you, they will surely treat you right, but their default personality will show in how they treat others.  As you get more comfortable in a relationship, they will most likely default to treating you how they usually treat others.  Things to watch for: Are they polite to the waitstaff?  Do they use their name, say please and thank you?  Do they offer you to order first?
  • Ladies, if a man asks you out and makes no attempt to offer to pay, DO NOT, I repeat do not go on a second date. I know there’s a few women out there who will disagree with me here, but when a man asks you out and offers to pay, what he is paying for is the privilege of your time.  If he is too stingy to pay on a first date, then chances are he’s going to be stingy your entire relationship.  There will be plenty of time for you to go Dutch when you’re actually in a relationship.
  • Pay close attention to how they talk about their Ex and how much they talk about their Ex. If conversation is dominated by talk of the Ex or talk derogatively about their Ex, be wary, clearly they’ve not unpacked baggage from their past relationship.  This also goes for yourself, if you find you’re bringing up your Ex all the time, then maybe you’re the one who’s not ready.
  • Are their words congruent with their actions? Do they act with Integrity or do they say one thing and do another?
  • When you get to the stage of introducing them to your kids, watch how they interact with your kids or other people’s children. Do they make the effort to do stuff with your kids?  Are they polite, considerate, understanding and patient with them?  Or do they always want to do stuff without the kids or get upset because the kids are around?  Remember if you’re a single parent, you’re a package deal.
  • Take note of how they make you feel and follow your intuition. If they are ticking all the right boxes but your gut is telling you something isn’t quite right, follow that gut feeling.  Intuition is your internal guidance system trying to warn you when something is not quite right so listen to it.

Lastly, I’d like to wish you all the best in future endeavours to find love and remember, different people bring out the best (and sometimes worst) in others so don’t judge a person based on their past.  Like the Share market, past performance is no indication of future performance.

What I wish I could tell my Twenty something year old self

What I wish I could tell my Twenty something year old self

The other evening I was having a quiet drink in a local pub chatting to a friend when suddenly this young attractive lady walked by and nearly got knocked over by my friend’s waving arms as he animatedly told me a story about how his ex-girlfriend and Mum got into a punch up.  Rather than be upset, this young lady was intrigued by the story and ended up joining us for quite some time.  You see, this young lady, let’s call her Jill was 25 years old and recently separated from a 3 year relationship and now felt like she was 3 years behind, especially financially, where she should be in life.  Jill went on to tell us that she felt like there was a lot of pressure on her to meet ‘The One’, get married and have kids.

I could hardly blame her, I remember being 25 wondering if I was ever going to meet ‘The One’ especially when all my cousins and friends had somehow managed to meet ‘The One’ and settle down.  Jill went on to tell me her year had been filled with going to her friends’ weddings and it was starting to get to her.  She asked me if I had any words of wisdom for her and it got me thinking, “What advice would I have given my 25 year old self?”

And this was my response:

  • Always ensure you have access to your own money. Make sure your pay is paid into your personal bank account and any contribution to a joint account is paid from here
  • Any contribution to joint monies in a relationship should be an agreed percentage. Oftentimes the man earns more than the woman so is it fair that if you each put $300 per week into a joint account this might represent 5% of his weekly wage but 10% of yours?  By making it a percentage, it will always be fair and relevant to your actual earnings.
  • Invest early, small amounts invested regularly to take advantage of compounding interest will make a big difference in the long run. Especially with your superannuation.
  • If you bring assets into a relationship make sure you have them valued before you begin living together, this includes Property, Superannuation and Shares etc.
  • Consider a Binding Financial Agreement if you bring major assets into a relationship. No-one enters a long-term relationship thinking about splitting up but it’s like insurance, better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

Lastly, I told her not to be in a rush.  When you consider the average man and woman live to age 82 and 84 years respectively, there is plenty of time to tie the knot and have the privilege to annoy someone for the rest of their life.

So next time Aunt Gladys asks you why you’re still single tell her you’re still working on laying the foundations for a truly great relationship that will stand the test of time.