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,
Freedom & Financial Life-Stylist
To read more blogs please CLICK HERE
*statistic taken from finder.com.au 2018 Credit Card report
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!