How to best prepare for court to get the best outcome
Heading to court is scary, especially if it involves your safety or your kids. Yesterday, I went to court for the hearing of our IVO (also known as an Intervention Order/Violence Order/Protection Order/Restraining Order). As I sat there and watched people come, speak to the judge and go, I realised many people simply don’t know a few minor things that can make a big difference to your day in court.
I was given advice back when I got divorced and more when I had to do the protection orders. These tips mostly don’t cost you anything but have a significant impact, whether we want to admit it or not. We like to think all judges and magistrates are fair and impartial but certain things about how you look and speak do have an impact.
1. Dress Corporate
Every single time I have been to court I have been the best dressed non-lawyer there. In fact, I am usually mistaken for being a lawyer or similar. When you think of dressing for court think corporate or Sunday best. Think conservative, modest, neat and tidy from your head to your toes.
I always wear a skirt and heels, my shoulders are covered and often some of my arms. My skirt comes to my knees and my heels are not platforms, they are modest nude or black matt heels (not patent/shiny ones).
If you don’t have any suitable clothes or cannot afford them, borrow some or reach out to a charity. There are numerous charities offering clothing for court and job interviews.
Why does it matter how you dress?
It takes years to become a magistrate or judge so most are over 40 before they are appointed and can work into their 70s. Also, there are significantly more males than females. If you want to make a good impression, think about how grandparents or a church priest would expect you to dress and go for similar. Be conservative.
Dress however you want anytime you want, it’s your body, your choice. However, people make snap judgements in a split second based on how we appear. You are appearing in front of someone who is going to make decisions for your life. Dress to impress and appeal to them.
2. Wear blue
This is based on the psychology of colour. Blue conveys loyalty, trust, dependability, all things you want to represent when in court. Look at our police, uniforms for firefighters (when not fighting fires), ambulance officers, doctors, nurses and similar. The majority wear blue for this reason.
Think about it, you want to align yourself with that side of the law. Sky blue shirts, navy suits, navy skirts and dresses or royal blue all work well. Add the black shoes and the immediate impact is you are similar to law enforcement.
3. Have all your documentation
Be prepared with dates, times, locations, facts and any relevant documentation to provide evidence. Depending on your case, this may have needed to be submitted already. You cannot turn up to court on the day and be all over the place.
Respect the courts time. Be prepared, have a timeline, have your proof and if necessary, lodge it before you go to court. Take copies with you of anything and everything on the day. It might not be needed but it is better to have it than to not.
4. Be conscious of how you speak and act
Firstly, when you enter the courtoom, bow to the crown. It will look like you are bowing to the judge/magistrate but it is to the crown and a sign of respect. They notice who does and who doesn’t. Do it every time you enter or exit the room. When the judge enters or exits and everyone stands, make sure you do too! All these things seem minor but they make a difference.
Next, the judge, magistrate or registrar is the one making the decisions. Even if the lawyer asks the questions, direct your answer to the judge/person at the front making the decision. The questions are being asked for their benefit. Our courtrooms are not all like the ones you see on most TV shows. Often the witness box is positioned so you can see both the lawyer and the judge. Address them properly and if you are unsure what to call them, pay attention to how the lawyers speak and copy them or ask your lawyer. Your honour, Your Magistrate and similar are most common.
Next, speak clearly and concisely. They don’t need your life story. Answer questions in a simple manner. If it is a yes or no question, answer yes or no. You do not need to spend 5 minutes explaining why. When asked to explain something, keep to what they have asked you to explain, not everything that has happened to you at every point in your life. Be factual and have evidence to back up your claims.
Be honest and genuine and things will go much smoother.
5. Get legal help
I know lawyers can be expensive, some things you can do yourself, others are better with a lawyer. It is up to you to decide. However, in my experience, a good lawyer is worth it and will make things go much smoother. For starters, they know what needs to be lodged, they know what different magistrates/judges are like and how to best appeal to them, they know what to ask for and can remove the emotion.
Get referrals, get pricing structures and an idea of how long things will take, how expensive it will be, then plan for it. You can go to legal aid and community legal centres. If the matter is more complex, you are better off with a private lawyer though.
Rebecca Neale of Bedford Family Lawyer suggested on my Facebook page: “If representing yourself, I suggest you develop a short narrative, like an “elevator speech,” to start your argument and then focus on the facts that support your argument that you’re in imminent fear of serious physical harm. To identify the most potent facts, I suggest sharing your story with a friend and seeing what she responds to the most. Frequently, survivors are used to certain atrocious behaviors, that they can lose perspective on what is the most egregious.”
This is fantastic advice in my experience!
How can you afford legal help?
Your lawyer could cost anything from $300 through to $700 an hour and they charge for everything. Every email, every phone call, draft, all of it. Get the costs agreement so you know what you are paying for. Whenever you need to talk to them, do all of it at once rather than 5 different phone calls. Also, ask about pro bono work, looking into legal aid and all your options.
When it comes to actually having to pay for a private lawyer, do everything you can. Online surveys might not pay much but something is better than nothing. Take on extra shifts or a second job. Sell off anything you can, mow lawns, do babysitting. Check out these 43 ways for single mums to make money or how I made over $33,000 on the side last year.
How I overcame major obstacles in my life and you can too
Domestic violence, homelessness, robbery, rape, divorce, paralysis, cancer, surgeries, the past few years have had a lot of obstacles. At the same time, a lot of opportunities and abundance with awards, international speaking, buying and selling businesses etc. Life has been a rollercoaster.
Back when it was all happening I was in survival mode and while I did get through it, there are things I know now which mean I would handle it all differently. I feel now, if I were to face huge obstacles again my focus and mindset would be different as would my plan of action.
Here are 5 things I did which helped me flip my life around back then and tips to do it differently. Disclosure – this post contains affiliate to products I use.
1. Look For Ways To Make More Money
It is amazing how many ways there are to make money now. My first thing was to look at online surveys (you’ll find the best ones for Aussies here). I bought things to resell online and in 2017 got to be making over $10,000 a month doing that. I reached out to all my networks for more freelance writing work, I increased my blogs (find out how to set up a blog and make money with it here) plus I took any opportunity to make money I could.
While it meant I made more money, I was also stressed because I wasn’t consistent or focused on one thing. I was in survival mode and grabbing at anything. This set me up for numerous failures over the coming years because I remained in the ‘do it all’ mindset rather than shifting to one of abundance.
2. Market Without Money
One advantage I had at the time was I already had a blog, a book published with Wiley and connections. This meant I was able to reach out to let people know I was available for work. I was a little too proud to let them know how much I needed the work and instead focused on marketing what I had and what I could do.
The marketing steps I took enabled me to focus on my business more and in 2014, found a company, buy more websites and win more awards. These steps have become a popular keynote presentation of mine and now I have turned them into a course which will launch on March 1, 2019.
We live in a time where there are more options than ever before to market without it costing you a cent. It will cost you time though. I cover social media, how to set up each platform properly and what to do on them. Creating a social media policy, marketing strategy, how to get into mainstream media and more without blowing your budget. In fact, I have done it all without spending a cent on ads. You can find out more about the course here and follow me on Facebook where I will be sharing tips live about marketing and what I do in life in general.
You can see one I did for an event in January here
3. Worked On Goals And Mindset
I’m still working on this and it will be a work in progress forever, which I am ok with. As humans, we need to grow and progress continually. Back when I had major obstacles it was hard to think clearly at times and focus on where I wanted to be. Many days it was too difficult to actually face work at all so I needed to put systems in place to help me.
Firstly, having an attitude of gratitude. Listing out things to be grateful for and looking for the lessons or opportunities in everything. When I dwell on how bad something is, it seems to get worse. When I focus on the positives or even potential positives of whatever is happening, things remain doable and even become better than I could have imagined. Don’t let negative experiences define your life.
Next, goals. I have a 10 step method to success with goals here. It includes working out your values, what you want in life, creating a vision board, writing down the goals and more right through to celebrating success.
Realise we all have good and bad days. When you are working on your goals you will have setbacks and will need to change your tactics to achieve what you set out to do. It doesn’t mean you need to give up but you do need tools to help you get through it. Create a supportive community for yourself. Ask for help when you need it including looking for mentors or coaches. I had a few who helped me so much and I offer this service here. Meditate and visualise. Increase your confidence (find 20 ways to do that here). Create systems such as a miracle morning and you will find life works easier.
4. Self Development
This term made me cringe back then but I read everything possible. Podcasts play regularly on my phone, especially at the gym now and we often watch documentaries as a family. Self development is part of life and something worth carving out time for. Back then I neglected my health, now, as part of my self development, I am learning more about nutrition, health and my body. I know it pretty well but there is always more to learn.
Some of the books which have helped me the most are The Big Leap, Lucky Bitch, 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People, The Richest Man In Babylon, The 5 Love Languages and Unf*ck Yourself. I essentially went through the self help section at the library and read everything they had. If they didn’t have a book which was recommended I got it from Book Depository and now have a collection of books others regularly borrow from me. If I loved a book, I bought it.
5. Focus On Others
Honestly, one big step that helped was volunteering. It got me out of my own head, connected me with amazing people and gave me a sense of purpose outside of myself. I needed to practice self care but I found I did that better and had a better attitude after volunteering. Find a cause that resonates with you and get involved.
What I Would Do Differently
All of the above are important, however, there are a few key things I would do differently. We all learn from our past and here are my tips.
1. Get A Better Handle On My Money
Yes, I write about money at The Thrifty Issue and did at other sites I own. Typically, my knowledge with money was pretty good but I did allow myself to be used a few times and was a bit of an emotional spender at times.
Learn to budget. Save money. Invest and be smart with what you have. Don’t lend money you cannot afford to lose and recognise when someone is using you. They might be your closest friend but it doesn’t mean they have your best interests at heart.
Read The KickAss Single Mom, Unleash Your Inner Money Babe and Lucky Bitch. They will help you get in a better mindset with money. Then if you want more for an actual plan paying off debt and to budget, The Total Money Makeover or The Barefoot Investor are both good.
2. Focus On Health And Self Care
I put everyone before myself and it nearly killed me. Paralysis and level 10 pain is not something I wish on anyone. It was traumatic for everyone in my life and myself. Especially since the doctors couldn’t tell me what was wrong the first time it happened.
Listening to my body, eating healthy, exercising and taking time out when I need it are things I had to learn. Do what you need to do for yourself to take care of yourself. This includes romantic relationships. Be clear about what you want and need in one before getting involved with anyone.
3. Learn About Myself
Even with all the self help books it has taken until more recently for me to learn enough about myself that I feel comfortable standing up for myself, setting boundaries and doing what I need for me. I knew freedom was important but it wasn’t until the last 6 months I realised it is one of the most important things to me. If I feel trapped or locked into something my whole being shrinks and I will reject whatever is happening. It’s been fascinating to learn this about myself and to see how it applies to my life from relationships through to business.
Take the time to learn about yourself, what is important to you, what your values are and how it all fits into your life to make it the best one possible.
Take some time to think about what you want and create a plan for yourself. If you want help doing this, sorting through your finances or what steps to take next, I have opened up a limited number of one on one sessions here. You completely a questionnaire for me to review, we have 1 hour online together to discuss it then you get a copy of the video or audio to refer to whenever needed, along with a document with any resources or tips we discuss. Book your session here.
How to make 2019 your best year and create a life you love
The past year was a rollercoaster and I decided to step off for a while. Meaning, I scaled right back, stopped speaking at events, wrote less and totally changed direction. Or at least, I attempted to.
My life felt like a hot mess and I needed time for me and to focus on my family. My daughter was officially diagnosed with autism at the end of 2017. At the start of 2018, my boyfriend of 3 years and I broke up. Custody with my abusive ex-husband was meant to be finished last year (it’s not) then towards the end of the year I had to get another IVO (violence order against my ex-husband to protect my daughters and I).
In April 2018 I turned 33, enrolled myself in a Diploma of Counselling, a course I had always wanted to do and set about trying to work out what I wanted in life. Yes, I have had an amazing life, won awards, been goal oriented and things were great. However, at some point, I realised I was living the life I felt was expected of me, not so much the life I truly wanted.
What happens when you live for everyone else?
The break up was hard on myself and my daughters but it taught me so much. I realised I had lost myself in him, in motherhood and the Mormon idea from my upbringing of being a stay at home mum. I felt I was supposed to be and do everything for them – my boyfriend and kids. Over the few years we were together I went from being a successful award-winning CEO to putting aside everything for him and my kids. It’s not that I didn’t love him or don’t love my kids but putting everyone else first isn’t healthy.
Because of the breakup, I was able to reflect on my life, my behaviour and work out what I really wanted. I read Women Who Love Too Much after it was recommended to me and it changed the way I think about relationships and parenting. My kids are everything to me but when I stopped being myself and doing things for myself I also stopped being the best mum I could be. With my relationship, I stopped being the strong, confident, feminine woman I truly am and instead became someone I look back at now and wonder about. It wasn’t him, it stemmed from my idea of what I should be like and be doing in a relationship rather than doing what I wanted and what worked for us.
Long story short – when you live your life on everyone else’s terms you aren’t living your life.
How do you stop being ‘just a mum’ or ‘just a wife’ and be you again?
First, decide to change. With all those realisations in 2018, I had to make changes. On top of the diploma I went to a dance class, I read every book I was recommended. I spent a lot of time alone journaling, reading, thinking and trying new things. Learning to be happy on my own, happy with my life and learning what I enjoy.
Think back to your childhood – What did you enjoy? What did you want to become? How did you spend your time? Which hobbies and interests brought you joy? Start doing some of them again.
Take action. Write a list of things you want to try or do and go do them. Carve out time for yourself. Make yourself and your happiness a priority.
At first, I felt guilty. As women we are supposed to be able to do everything, be superwomen and sacrifice everything. As a mother, your kids should always come first at the detriment to yourself, right? No.
If your kids are fed, clothed, sheltered, taken care of, healthy and happy, you’re doing well. Many kids are spoilt, entitled and have way more than anyone could possibly want or need. Let go of the societal pressure to be, have and do everything. Decide on the life you want for you and your kids then make it happen.
My Year Of Me – Your Year Of You
I’ve decided 2019 is the year of me. This is the year I actively learn the things I want to learn, read the books I want to read, travel the places I want to travel and live my life to the fullest. It’s about being the healthiest I can be, having the skills I’ve always wanted and showing my daughters that being a mum doesn’t equal being a slave. Being a mum or an adult woman to me means being confident, happy, pursuing my interests and having people in my life I want and love. As a mum, I know when I take care of myself I am more patient, understanding and fun for my kids. We have higher quality time together and life is smoother.
I want to invite you to decide what you want in your life or at least decide to take the time this year to do more for you. Choose a class you’ve always wanted to do. Read books. Go on a holiday. Spend time with you. Learn to say no and realise it’s ok to quit.
What does my year of me include?
What doesn’t it include might be a better question! Having spent months already working out what I want to do and learning about myself, I have a pretty clear direction for 2019. I’ve broken it into categories – books to read, things to learn, places to visit and experiences to have. My usual goal areas of travel, finances, career, health, personal development, relationships etc all still apply. It’s just being done a little differently. And yes, I have already enrolled in a lot of what I will be doing or I have things in place to make it happen.
Books To Read
My aim is at least a book a month but my stretch goal is one a week. I don’t always know all the books I plan to read at the start of the year because obviously, new books come out all the time. Here are the ones I am starting 2019 with:
Recommended by a few people, I am pretty excited to get stuck into it. All about small changes, systems and how we can improve our habits, it is exactly the kind of book I like to read.
A book on how to achieve more while doing less is something I will love. I know when I am focused or in the flow I can achieve so much so I’m curious to see what tips are in here.
So many people love it and I have had it for 6 months yet still haven’t read it! I can’t wait though as it contains so much valuable information to transform your business.
Another highly recommended book with the aim to “release the beliefs that hold you back from living a better life.” I’ve enjoyed other work of Gabrielle Bernstein and am sure I will love this one.
I’ll be reading more books which I will add as I decide on them.
Things To Learn
As a high school drop out (I left school in year 11), learning is a big deal to me. While I don’t believe our education system is for everyone, it does have its place for certain occupations. I feel I have learnt more outside of school than I ever did in it. As such, I strongly encourage my daughters to keep learning things they want to learn and never stop. Here are the things I am learning in my year of me.
Despite doing French, Indonesian and German in school, I remember none of it. Spanish is a language I feel will be beneficial for travel plus it sounds amazing! I downloaded DuoLingo and have already started my lessons. In 20 minutes a day, I am already recognising more than I thought possible in a short amount of time. My pronunciation has improved drastically and I get reminders from the app to do my daily lessons. You can spend less time, I chose to go aggressive with it.
Learning a language has been on my list of things to do every year. Duolingo is a super easy to use app which I feel has helped me more with language than any other method I’ve tried.
Complete My Diploma Of Counselling
On average it takes 18 months, mine will be completed in 12 months from when I enrolled. It has been interesting learning everything and doing a course I have wanted to do since I was 16. Whether I work as a counsellor in my life or not doesn’t matter. Learning this was important to me.
Learn to sail
It’s a dream of mine to sail around the South Pacific and other locations. You can’t follow your dreams unless you take action to make them happen! Living in Melbourne there are a few places I can learn to sail and I start in February.
Learn A Style Of Dance
I’ve chosen which style of dance and where to do it already. It’s one I’ve done before but only completed 3 terms. This year I have a better routine with it, love the studio and will be learning a variety of routines.
Get My Diving Certification
On the best trip of my life, I tried scuba diving and cannot wait to go back to get my full certificate. I wrote about the trip in detail here. The team from Solomon Islands Discovery Cruises were incredible and I felt so comfortable with them.
Places To Visit
Ok, I travel a lot and in 2018 went to the Solomon Islands, Cairns, Fitzroy Island, the Daintree Rainforest, Canberra, explored more of Melbourne and its surrounds including staying in a fairy house in Warburton. Most years I get a few trips in. This year I have some specific ones planned and here are 3 of them.
Despite having just been, I cannot wait to go back. This is where I plan to get my diving certificate. Hopefully, I will be able to do Dive Munda and be able to explore more of the islands plus I’d like to do some specific volunteer work over there. Read my article about why everyone should take this trip here.
I’ve been numerous times but my kids haven’t and I want to take them to the theme parks etc. We are going up in July and I have a speaking event the week we are there. They can’t wait, it was something we hoped to do recently but postponed it.
In 2015 we swam with dolphins, rode horses and went to a cool little school fete down there. Yet there is so much more there I want to see with my kids. It’ll be happening over a weekend within the first half of the year.
Experiences To Have
Aside from the travel, there are other experiences I want and will have this year.
Run A 10km
Register for and do a run properly. I did the Color Run with my sister a few years ago and loved it. This time, I want to run 10km faster and stronger than I have ever been able to run. Training has already started because I can barely run at all right now! Follow me on Strava to see what I am doing if you want.
At the end of 2017, I bought a certificate for this for a friend and have meant to do it for myself since then. Why is it so much easier to do things for others than it is for ourselves? I’ve bought the certificate on Groupon for myself and am doing it once school goes back.
The feeling of free falling is the most awful feeling in the world to me but I have wanted to skydive since I was a kid. This year is the year of me and the year I am going to do it. There are beautiful places all around me to do it such as Torquay or the Yarra Valley. I have no excuses and will be doing it. Adrenaline has great deals for skydiving and similar.
This photoshoot has been booked in and cancelled multiple times since 2013. Why? Because I was never fully happy with my body. With the yoga, dance, run and everything else locked in I have decided come July, I am getting it done. I cannot imagine being in a healthier state and don’t want to keep putting it off.
A Variety Of Sports And Activities
Archery, golf, kiteboarding, stand up paddle boards (I did this a little in the Solomons but want lessons to do it better), skateboarding. All of these are things my daughters and I have talked about doing. Now I have a car, they are all easy to get to and do plus Groupon has amazing deals for them all the time.
Outsource Everything I Can
At different times in my life, I have outsourced things in business and my personal life. I’ve found I struggle to outsource things in the home because of guilt. While the travel and experiences will take priority, I have income goals and as I hit each one I will outsource more at home. Living in a unit cleaning was simple and cheap when I outsourced. Where I live now it is not. Plus we have a massive yard which takes me hours to maintain and I hate it. I want my life and my time back. Thus, outsourcing is key to my year of me.
I know many people feel they can’t outsource anything but once they finally do, it is such a relief to have someone clean. I grew up with the belief it’s a waste of money and mums should stay at home to maintain the home. As a single mum, I’ve learned that is not practical. Women are exhausted, relationships failing and the pressure mounting because we’re expected to do too much. Scale it back. Pick the lifestyle you want then do what you can to make it happen. Take it one step at a time.
Changes To Work And Career
What does this all mean for all the work I do here and at The Thrifty Issue? The Thrifty Issue will continue with more of it being outsourced throughout 2019. For Kylie Travers things, I won’t be offering one on one sessions anymore and more of the content I share will be around motivation, what I am doing, travel and life resources and advice. My motivation is to empower women through financial independence and help you live life for you. I’ll also be doing this through a lot of public speaking, creating a few courses and other resources.
What are your plans?
Not just plans, what action are you actively taking to live life on your terms?
Recently, I went on the most amazing trip of my life to a place everyone questioned both before I left and since I’ve been home, the Solomon Islands. This is one trip I think everyone should take. Picture pristine islands, amazing culture, wonderful experiences and a tropical paradise which hasn’t been commercialised or overrun with tourists. It’s unique, friendly, happy, full of adventure and relaxing all at the same time.
In 2018, I took a massive step back from everything I do and took the time to re-evaluate all aspects of my life. Interestingly enough, right when this trip happened, I had a lot going on in my personal life which meant that right up until the morning of the trip I was still questioning if I should go or stay home. Going was the best decision ever!
This video is from our trip. Right at the end, I am snorkelling in the red shirt.
Where did we go?
Upon arrival in Honiara, we were picked up at the airport and transported to Coral Sea Resort to await our boat – The Taka. Usually a dive vessel, for this trip it was transformed into an adventure boat with a little taste of everything the Russel Islands and Florida’s have to offer.
Our itinerary changed a little due to weather but it did not disappoint! We travelled through the Florida’s and West Russel Islands which are incredible.
Surfing, stand up paddle boarding, snorkelling, water skiing and wake boarding were on offer at Maravaghi which was stunning. Here I got a taste of the stunning marine wildlife swimming below the surface.
During out trip we also visited Tulagi, Mane Bay, Olevugha, Roderick Bay and more. Roderick Bay is the location of the MS World Discoverer, the German cruise ship which crashed and has been left there. This spot brought me close to tears as I watched the kids playing in the water, swinging in the hammocks, jumping out of trees and using the zipline. My kids are forever telling me they are Islanders (they are part Tongan, part Maori) and watching these kids I could see my own. It was at this point I decided I must bring my kids with me on a trip here.
The Leru Cut is one of the most magical places I have ever snorkelled into. It’s a cut in the side of the island you can snorkel or dive through and the sunlight shines through the canopy as you can see below
You can find the specific cruise we did here and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
What I learnt
Being able to try scuba diving was possibly the most incredible experience I’ve had! I didn’t expect to be able to do it and while it did my head in trying to breathe, change my mask and go through all the safety things, I managed to do it. Chevone was my scuba instructor and she was fantastic. We went through everything on the boat first, then in the water and she made sure we were confident with what we were doing.
I tried stand up paddle boarding for the first time which is harder than it looks but I enjoyed it. Even though I’d been snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef a few months ago, I got some great tips from the crew here and they ensured I saw everything I hoped from clams closing to clown fish, sharks and World War II wrecks including a bomb.
During my trip, I managed to get stung by jellyfish (on two different days), black bruises all over my legs, sunburn on my upper thighs/lower butt area despite copious amounts of sunscreen, had nausea, got covered in a rash and learned Chevonne and her crew have more patience than anyone I know as a result! I felt like I was coming to her every day with a new thing and was a walking disaster but she was always so lovely about it. And despite those issues it was still the best trip of my life. Little tip which I knew but many I have spoken to don’t – vinegar is your best friend! It is brilliant for jelly fish stings and other issues.
Around the 4th day when I got out of the water and was covered in bites or a rash or something, Rob (one of the crew who is hilarious and so happy) basically hosed me down with vinegar, rubbed it in and made sure I was fine immediately. I’d been warned before going medical treatments can be an issue in the Solomons but realisitically if you take precautions, alert crew as soon as something is wrong, most issues are minor and can be sorted quickly. And of course, I also used a cream for the stings and rashes, along with some antihistamines and nausea tablets thanks to their medical kit.
One of many stunning sunsets on The Taka in the Solomon Islands
Why did I love it so much?
Obviously, the water activities, snorkelling, scuba, scenery and wildlife were incredible. There was more to it though.
1. The staff were amazing!
Seriously, they clearly love what they do, are passionate about their culture and sharing it with the world. I have never been on a trip where the staff went so out of their way to help in every way possible. When snorkelling I went with different staff each time and each time they did everything they could to show and explain everything plus get amazing shots and help when needed.
2. Dietary needs were not an issue
Being coeliac, food can and has been a huge issue on numerous trips. Elsewhere I have been made to feel like an inconvenience, simply not catered for or worse, they ignored it and I got extremely ill or I recognised it before I ate and went without.
Not with Solomon Island Dive Cruises. Our chefs were Freddy and Charles, who went above and beyond! I love them so much. They were so happy to cater to my needs, even prepping a few things for me to taste to see if I liked them before doing a full batch. I had individual salads each night (because I also don’t have raw tomato or cucumber) and they checked with me every step of the way.
While dietary requirements aren’t an issue for most, when it is an issue for you it is amazing when you are on a trip where not only is it catered for strictly but they are happy about it and want to please you.
3. It is an untouched paradise
The Solomon Islands isn’t usually the first place people think of when they want to travel to a beautiful island paradise. Having travelled a bit, I can tell you this has been by far my favourite location. Hardly any tourists, a focus on eco-tourism, amazing wildlife including whales, sharks, dolphins and manta rays right next to our boat and some of the most beautiful scenery.
I’ve done remote parts of Indonesia, Halong Bay in Vietnam, New Zealand, Hawaii, grew up in Tasmania and been to many other areas deemed paradise, pristine or stunning. The Solomon Islands is something else!
4. The History, Culture and People
With a unique Melanesian history, combined with World War II history, it is something of a wonder. Shipwrecks, Japanese u caves from the war and numerous locations around the Solomons will show you part of their history along with part of the world’s history. As someone who loves learning about the past and the culture of everywhere, the Solomons was a treasure for me.
The culture is unique and the people were so friendly. Our crew were outstanding and I loved getting to know a little about each one of them. A few I am now friends with on Facebook and honestly, the cruise director, Chevone, is a gem. She is so lovely, has a beautiful presence and she has the most incredible team working with her I have ever come across. They all seem to get along really well, work together, hang out after work hours and are almost like a family.
5. It taught me about myself
Never before have I had such issues coming home and settling back into my old life. In fact, I don’t want to come home. This trip changed me in many ways and upon returning home I have already set in motion so many things. While on the cruise, I mentioned some of the things I used to do and love to one of the crew members but that I no longer did them. Their opinion/advice was so simple and inspired me into action.
On top of that, talking with other men and women over there about their culture, their lives and the differences we have between here and there I was inspired. A lot is going to change in my life now.
This is the spot and the moment at Roderick Bay I knew I needed to bring my kids
Frequently Asked Questions
Since I have been back, I’ve had a few FAQ’s. Here are the main ones:
How far away is it?
3 hours and 15 minutes from Brisbane makes the Solomon Islands extremely accessible. Coming from Melbourne I had an extra flight but not by much.
Why go there?
Ok, it wasn’t top of my list of destinations initially but it is now! This trip had everything you could hope for – stunning islands, friendly people, amazing culture, delicious food, water skiing, wakeboarding, snorkelling, scuba diving and more! It came at the perfect time for me and I cannot wait to take my daughters later. In fact, after seeing what I did on this trip, they begged me to take them once we have custody sorted.
So really, why not go there?
What about the crime?
I have heard about crime issues in Honiara and since I didn’t spend much time there, I can’t comment as to that. However, with everything else we did, I have never felt safer. Be smart, as you would with any travel. Be aware, read up on anywhere you want to go etc. Since I was always with men (either crew from the boat or in a group waiting at the airport etc) I felt fine. Not saying you need a man, I simply know I relax a little when travelling with men because they always do what they can to make me feel safe and have always been gentlemen with me. This goes for everywhere I have travelled from conferences to media trips. I have always been fortunate to travel with wonderful people.
Where were your kids?
As a single mum, I get this question every time I do anything. I come from a huge, supportive, fantastic family. As one of 9 kids, I have a few options. My neighbours are community minded and I have some wonderful friends. For this trip, my kids went between family and friends, with most of the time spent at our home with friends from Canberra who they have known their whole lives.
If you are a parent (and I know most who read my content are) there are options. Do childcare swaps, at our school parents have each other’s kids when parents have to travel so it’s not an issue. Get to know your neighbours or even look at vacation care camps. Better yet, if your kids are allowed out of the country (mine are not yet), take them! This will be the best trip ever for them.
Was it expensive?
Everything was included in the trip, as it will be for you if you book the same one. Other than a few drinks and knick knacks for my kids, there wasn’t anything to pay for. That said, you could easily spend more and stay longer. Our dollar is really strong against the Solomon Dollar so the conversion is good for you.
What about vaccinations and other prep?
If I am honest, I am usually rather hopeless at this. To prepare I did get shot recommended by my doctor for typhoid, Boostrix which lasts 10 years (both of these hurt for a few days), malaria tablets (get the more expensive ones. The cheap ones will make your skin burn like you will not believe!) and there are other shots you can get. It’s easy to sort out and really, I didn’t need much preparation. Also, I tend to be one throws my stuff into her suitcase the morning of the trip and will wing a lot of it.
Remember to tell your bank you are travelling. ALWAYS have travel insurance (I never travel without it) and have emergency contacts for others. I put more prep into ensuring my kids were ready, had their schedule, everything for their swimming lessons and all taken care of than I did for myself going on the trip.
The Solomon Islands now has a special spot in my heart. If all goes well, I will be doing my dive certification there and hopefully visiting a few times in the coming year. There is so much to see and I cannot wait to take my kids. And it’s not just me who loves it, I have a friend who served in the Army there and speaks of it fondly too (in the comments on this post).
Where will you travel to next? Have you been to the Solomons? What did you think?
What if you could achieve everything you set out to do without being stressed?
Earlier this year I learnt about a book called The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. Hal was declared dead for 6 minutes and not supposed to walk again. He now is a keynote speaker, fit and absolutely walking, running and jumping around. Not at all how the doctors predicted. The Miracle Morning is his best selling book and method to change your life. The best bit, it doesn’t need a lot of time, but you can spend longer on it if you want!
What is a miracle morning?
The Miracle Morning will help you set one goal and focus on it, stack your habits so life becomes a system and you achieve more. On top of that, it provides great mental clarity, reduces the mental load (which is a huge issue for women) and enables you to do those things we all think we ‘should do’ but rarely do.
Hal has 6 habits for the morning – Silence, Affirmations, Visualisation, Exercise, Reading and Scribing (writing) which he calls his SAVERS. He recommends spending 10 minutes on each, so 60 minutes in total, but you can shorten it to 1 minute each or anywhere in between if needed.
How it changed my life
Since practising The Miracle Morning my mood, productivity and energy changed so much that my daughters can tell if I’ve done it or not. At first, I thought I would really struggle since I have always been a night owl, but since doing this and committing to it, it’s become easy. A huge part of why it’s easier is because I have decided before I go to bed this is what I am doing.
After reading the book “Unfu*ck Yourself” by Gary John Bishop I added the mantra “I am willing”. Everything I choose to do has to have my full mind and force behind it. By saying “I am willing” in my head when I make a choice, it seems to solidify it more.
In The Miracle Morning, the word ‘will’ is used a lot with habit stacking. For example, after I read, I will meditate. Saying ‘will’ makes it definite and solid.
What does my miracle morning look like?
I do mine slightly differently to some others. It is generally recommended you read before because you are unlikely to later. Reading is something I love and make time for so I moved exercise to the front. After I wake I will do 30 minutes of yoga.
A typical morning looks like this:
6:00am – Wake, go to the bathroom, make my bed then get straight into yoga.
6:30am – Other exercises such as pushups, situps, kettlebell swings etc.
7:00am – Affirmations, review my goals and visualise. My goals are written in permanent marker on my mirror for easy reference, as are my affirmations.
7:10am – Meditate. I aim for at least 10 minutes here. I also meditate for 20 minutes of an evening.
7:20am – Do my Most Important Task, whatever it is for that day. Alternatively, if it is quite big, this is scheduled for 9am as soon as my kids are at school.
7:30 or 7:45am – Kids get up and we get ready for the day.
You’ll notice I don’t have reading or scribing/writing here. This is because I have a solid evening routine which includes screens being switched off. I read with my kids then once they are in bed, I read for myself. I write down my tasks for the next day, review my goals, write in my journal, get ready for bed, meditate then go to sleep.
If I know I won’t be able to do my proper evening routine because I am at an event or something, I aim to get up at 5:30am to ensure I can include it in The Miracle Morning so it is done every day.
How did I switch from night owl to early bird?
For starters, I made the commitment. I decided the night before that I will get up at 6am and I will do yoga. No excuses. Under no circumstances could I hit the alarm. One you commit and get into the habit it becomes easier.
By setting myself up the night before, I was more determined to ensure I slept well. My evening routine had to change to accommodate my morning routine. Now, I wind down more in the evenings instead of working until I collapse an exhausted heap in bed. I sleep with an eyemask and ear plugs to ensure I am not disturbed and sleep soundly instead. A deep breathing method is used to help me drift off to sleep quickly. Also, I sleep alone which has had a huge impact on my sleep.
With adequate sleep, getting up in the morning is easier. It took a few days to really get into it, but now I miss it if I don’t get up.
What does your miracle morning look like?
Why it’s ok to quit and how to do it
Have you ever hit a wall, felt like your life was going in the wrong direction or simply not working? The past few months I spent time focusing on myself, my needs and the direction of my life. After overcoming all I have in the past few years, combined with my achievements (I went from homeless single mum to CEO which you can read more about here, here and here), I love my life, but something was missing. I no longer felt I was living the life I wanted, instead, I was living the life expected of me and a lot smaller because of issues in my personal life.
How to know when to quit
Pushing through, looking for the opportunities in obstacles and creating a life you love are what I am all about. Is what you are pushing through for still serving you? Is it still your purpose?
When everything you are doing is draining you and feels like it’s too much, it’s time to reevaluate your choices. Look at your reason why. Why did you start this journey, this goal, business or whatever you are doing? What motivates you? What do you want to see?
If your reason why still resonates with you, look at the other elements of your life to see what the cause of exhaustion or frustration is. Check you are getting enough sleep, the food you eat is fuel instead of junk and if you have proper systems in place to support your goals (more on that below).
The reason why you are doing something generally won’t change, how you do it or if it still aligns with your life might. Once something no longer fits, or doesn’t align and it’s not just the systems you have in place, it is probably time to move on.
My ‘aha moment’ for my reason why
When I was going through my own wanting to quit moment recently, I realised my reason why hadn’t changed. I am still as passionate as ever about ending homelessness plus helping Australians make and save money. My idea of how wasn’t working though and as a result, it drained me.
Doing a strategy session for my site, The Thrifty Issue, we uncovered my core motivation is empowering women through financial independence. It’s why I write about ways to make and save money, why I speak publicly about homelessness and share my story. Under this comes my goal to help Australians get off Centrelink. Knowing this helped me redirect my energy and reach more people in a short period than I had in a long time. This was one piece of the puzzle for me – solidifying my true thy.
How Do You Quit?
How you quit will depend greatly on what you are quitting. Quitting a job is extremely different to quitting a hobby. Work out what it is in your life you want to remove then decide on the best course of action. Some things such as a business can have an exit strategy such as hiring someone to do your job in the business or sell it. Other options such as changing jobs can be done with practical steps including updating your resume and applying for other jobs. Learning to quit or remove toxic people from your life, quit putting everyone else before you and options like that are harder and take more time.
Quitting your job
Who doesn’t dream of quitting their job at some point? Why do you want to – is it the workplace, the culture or the actual work? Defining why you want to quit will help your mindset. Try to go to work with a positive attitude, list out 3 things you love about the place and each time you have to engage with a colleague you don’t like, quickly think of 3 good things about them. This small mental shift can help keep you positive, grateful and improve your work life.
Update your resume, get on LinkedIn to create a great profile (or update yours and let recruiters know you are looking), actively seek out other work and let your networks know you want to switch jobs. Complaining and hating on everything won’t change your life, taking action will.
Next, work towards FIRE – Financial Independence, Retire Early. Decide on the age you want to retire, how much you need, how you can invest, reduce your living expenses and make a plan to make it happen.
Quitting toxic people
At some point in your life, you will cross paths with toxic people. Jim Rohn said “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” which is a belief held by and reiterated by all successful people. Everyone in your life counts and impacts you as a person. If you hang around people who complain all the time, it will bring you down. I’m not saying you can’t volunteer and help those who need it or you should only spend time with super successful people. Be aware who you spend time with will influence who you are as a person.
Just because you live in a certain area or are related to someone, doesn’t mean you need to spend time with them. Toxic people are those who will bring you down, suck you of all your resources, leave you feeling depleted and usually are narcissistic. Read The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck to help with some of this.
Quit living a life you don’t love
Do you constantly say yes to everyone and everything, leaving no time for yourself? Learn to say no. Take time for yourself. Decide what you want in your life then learn the strategies you need to stop doing all the stuff which drains your energy. For some tips on this and getting more time, check out this post.
How do you know what you want?
On holiday in Geelong. Photo by www.travislongmore.com
Sometimes when we think we want to quit everything it is more we lost our way or lost ourselves. So how do you get back on track, know yourself and know what you want?
Know your personality
Do the Myer-Briggs test or 16 Personalities (my preferred one) and learn more about yourself. I paid for the premium option and have read it over, printed it out, highlighted relevant parts and learnt a lot. Anyone who is close to me has not been surprised to learn I am an ENFP or “Campaigner”.
Your personality and these profiles give great insight into why you think the way you do and do the things you do as well as offer advice for relationships, career and your life.
Define your core values
This is something I have done before and each time it is pretty much the same. Family comes first to me, always. Health, integrity, independence and financial stability are all important to me. Read this to work out more about your own core values.
Create a morning routine
The Miracle Morning is a great book about Hal who was officially dead for 6 minutes, changed his life and created an amazing routine.Ok, it is way more than that, but essentially, having the right morning sets up your whole day. I know when I do my proper morning routine I am more productive. My morning routine looks like this:
Get up, brush teeth, drink water, make my bed then exercise and meditate (currently this is yoga and I use YouTube for the sessions).
Read, write in my journal, do my affirmations, have breakfast then get my kids up and ready, walk them to school, listen to a podcast on the way home then once home get stuck into work.
Fix the areas that need fixing
Which areas of your life need help? Do you need to take up exercise and focus on your health? Could you do with a financial overhaul? When is the last time you read a book?
Do a proper evaluation of your life, what is working, what isn’t then look at how you can fix anything you feel needs fixing to maximise your life. For me, I have found health and finances go hand in hand. When I am in control of both, the rest of my life works well. When either one of them slips out of control, the rest of my life struggles.
Set some goals
Are you working on any goals at the moment? If not, why not? I have my 10 steps to success with goals here. One of the things I realised was missing for me in the past few months was lack of direction with my goals. Since getting clear on them again, writing them in permanent marker and redoing my vision board I am achieving more each day and feel fulfilled.
Take it one day at a time
Do not try to tackle everything at once! You will overwhelm yourself and fall in a heap. Pick one thing and focus on strengthening that habit for a good 21 to 30 days first. Add more as you feel you can. Say you want to get healthy and lose weight but the idea of joining the gym and going hard out is too much. Start with 10 squats and 10 pushups or simply walking each day instead of taking the care. Then the following week walk further or add in squats etc. Take baby steps.
While you are doing the actions, read books, blogs and listen to podcasts relevant to what you are trying to achieve to help you stay motivated. Some of my favourite books are here.
What life do you want?
Despite all the quotes out there about not quitting, in my experience, if something is detracting from your life or is no longer the right goal for you, it is ok to quit. Generally, a change of direction is more likely.
Don’t quit things just because they get a little hard. Pushing through, developing resilience and striving for something builds character, but you need to be doing it for the right reasons.
What am I quitting?
I reached a breaking point, listed my sites for sale and was going to be done. After going through the above steps I realised what I need to quit is taking a backseat and being scared. Since I moved to Melbourne I had scaled my life back, I had reduced the volunteer and activism I was involved in heavily in Canberra and I lost myself.
Being in court with my ex-husband over custody (which is still going), I shrunk myself. I was scared about what I was doing online because I didn’t want him to use anything I wrote or did against me in court, even though none of it is bad and it impacted every area of my life. It’s been going on for a while and it isn’t going to end anytime soon.
So right now, I am quitting fear. Being scared has stopped me living the life I want. This year will be a year of new. Trying new things such as a dance class I always wanted to, attending Moomba, doing tourist things here in Melbourne, trying dishes from different countries and saying yes more.
Volunteering, speaking at events, doing consulting and mentoring work I love. Focusing on the things which bring me joy and are missing from my life. I won’t let fear hold me back anymore.
You’ll find me mostly at www.thethriftyissue.com.au sharing ways to make and save money, but I’ll also be speaking at events, doing consulting, mentoring, getting back into volunteering and other work.
With my site, The Thrifty Issue
What are you quitting?
One of the most common questions I get is how I set and achieve my goals. I like to set big goals and work hard to achieve them. It can be hard finding balance, or even knowing what goals to set, so here is everything I do, from the idea right through to completion.
1.) Know yourself
Take the time to work out your values, create a personal mission statement, and know what you want in life. Setting goals because they sound good but go against your personal value system or goals that everyone else is doing is setting yourself up to fail. You need to know yourself, what you want and what your values are to be able to set and achieve meaningful goals. Find your passions and focus on the life you want when setting goals.
2.) Clear your head
I get out a few pieces of paper and ‘brain dump’. I write down all my ideas, aims, desires, goals and anything I think I want to do. I generally have a piece of paper for the following life categories: health, finance, career, community, relationships, travel/life experiences, home and so on.
Which goals are most important or most urgent? Making decisions is not easy. I have posted here some of my methods for making decisions. When it comes to setting my goals I write down each goal on its own piece of paper, the timeframe I want to achieve it in and the pros and cons of the goal to help establish goals to achieve first.
4.) Plan of action
When I set goals I make sure they are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Bound. I write down exactly what I want to achieve, how I will do it and the steps I need to take to achieve that goal. Sometimes this means creating mini goals, other times it is a simple 3 step process. This is crucial. A goal not written down and without a plan is just a wish.
I love this tip by Glen at Free From Broke “If you want to be successful with your goal then you have to make it easy to work on it. You have to know yourself and eliminate as much friction as possible. For example, if you want to save more then set up automatic transfers for when you get paid. This way you don’t have to think about putting the money into savings.” He also has a great post on 5 reasons your goals fail and what you can do to make yours succeed.
Todd R. Tresidder, of Financial Mentor, who also has a great goal setting system on his site here says: “The key to converting your goals into tangible results is to reverse engineer the goal into action steps. For example, weight loss is a common goal everyone understands. You might convert the goal of losing 35 pounds into something more tangible like 2 pounds per week for the next 20 weeks. Then you further break the goal down into regular exercise habits and eating healthy. Then you break it down one step further into a daily accountability structure of exercising a minimum of 5 days per week allowing for two off days every week and eating healthy 6 days a week allowing for one unhealthy day. The objective is to create a daily/weekly habit that you can actually follow through on that will produce the desired goal.
You then create a 20 week implementation schedule that might start with daily walks around the block and progressively increases each week into longer walks at a more aggressive pace punctuated with brief runs as your conditioning improves. Notice how this process converts the intangible goal of losing 35 pounds into daily action steps that are totally realistic that you can be held accountable for and know exactly how to take action on every single day. You never have to wonder if you are on track or not. You know exactly what to do and by when. The key point is to take any large goal and reverse engineer it down to realistic daily actions that will produce the desired result then create an accountability system to help keep you on track. That is how you convert goals into results.”
5.) Create a motivation wall
Once I know the things I want to achieve and want in my life I get visual and create a motivation wall. It includes a vision board, my calendar, motivational quotes or affirmations, saving graphs and anything I am working on. It’s on my bedroom wall so it’s the first thing I see every morning and last thing I see at night. The image below is an old vision board of mine.
Peta of Great Googa Moogas has a vision board too. Her goal setting tip is “don’t just pick a general goal, be specific and then outline how you will achieve that goal, break it down into bite-sized steps and pin it up where you can see it. Crossing off the steps will help keep you motivated and including a vision board will help make the goal more real.”
To help me stay focused and remember what I am working towards I create reminders. I write my goals in permanent marker on my mirrors, I change the background and screensaver on any device to match my goal along with changing passwords to match my goals.
Tracie from Penny Pinchin’ Mom says “My BEST tip is that you have to write it down and put it where you are reminded by it daily. I recommend putting it on your refrigerator or your bathroom mirror so you can’t help but see it many times a day. We did this when we were working our way out of debt. We’d update our goal with the amount of debt remaining and that just kept us pushing to drop that number to zero – and it worked!”
Lance Cothern from Money Life and More recommends an accountability partner. “Whenever you’re setting goals that you actually want to get accomplished, I always suggest finding an accountability partner for that goal. What’s an accountability partner? It is someone that you can share your goal with that will be interested enough in it to continue to ask you how you’re doing. In essence, by telling someone else you’re going to complete a goal, you’ll feel like you’re letting them down if you don’t complete it. That’s some great motivation when you need it most!”
I have a private Facebook group with my sisters where we discuss our goals and other topics. Being accountable to someone pushed you to stick to your goal.
My vision board, reminders and accountability are all great motivators. What motivates one person is different to what motivates another. I have stacks of posts on motivation here. My motivation has been the life I want for my daughters and I. Whenever I am faced with a choice or a goal gets too hard I think about my daughters, the life I want for us and go spend some time with them or I use tools such as motivational books, podcasts, webinars, courses, friends, anything which motivates me to get back on track.
MF Dasko of Stapler Confessions has a great method for motivation. “I believe two things must happen. You have to plan for something bold to happen in the future and you must work up to this slowly… I use a calendar in my room to track my daily progress. I give myself an X every single day that I work towards my goal. After a few Xs it becomes addictive and you want more. Creating accountability through sharing your goal with the supportive people in your life can be a great way to stay on track. Whether it’s quitting smoking or paying off debt, it always helps to celebrate successes with a cheerleader and discuss challenges with a confidant.”
Life changes and sometimes the plan of action you had for your goal is not the best course of action to help you achieve it.
Andrea Travillian from Take A Smart Step suggests: “The biggest mistake I see when working on goals is setting them and never reassessing how it is going and if that goal is still right. I recommend that at a minimum you review your progress once a quarter and at the same time determine if you need to revamp your approach to achieving that goal. The way we think we will achieve a goal, might not actually end up being the best approach in the end. You only know this and can adjust to stay on track if you are taking the time to analyze your results. For example, when I was writing one of my books I was struggling to get it finished (more so than the others) so I sat down did a review of how I was going about it and why that was not working and then came up with a new plan. Finally, after doing this two times, I finished the book!”
Celebrate goals as you achieve them. Revel in your success. You don’t have to jump straight into the next one. Sometimes completing the goal is reward enough, but sometimes it is nice to go out to dinner/buy some new clothes/have a party/go on a holiday as a reward for achieving your goal. Recognize and celebrate your achievements.
Along with the method I outlined above, I also have specific tools and things I do every day to ensure I achieve my goals.
1.) Say my goals. I look in the mirror and repeat my goals, with conviction, as if I have already achieved them.
2.) Write them daily. I write them in my journal each night and what I did to get closer to my goals.
3.) Use a planner. While many people love to plan everything online, I love physical pen and paper. This year I am using a bullet journal. You can get the exact one I use here .(affiliate link).
4.) Self-care. Make sure you look after yourself, sleep well, exercise and eat properly. Going hard after a goal while neglecting everything else is a recipe for disaster!
I would love to hear what tips you have for setting, focusing on and achieving your goals. What goals do you currently have?
Living in debt is an extremely stressful experience, especially for people who didn’t realize the magnitude of the consequences signing up for a debt may carry. Many people end up with a large debt burden on their shoulders just by making some of the most common mistakes when borrowing money.
Getting out of debt is doable, especially if you are a disciplined and consistent person. Knowing how to deal with debt collectors is a valuable skill also. Sometimes it means you must restrain from certain little indulgences here and there, but remember – the end justifies the means.
Check out these neat tricks on how to change your spending habits in order to save a little extra to pay off what you owe.
Plan ahead and cut costs
No magic wand here really. In order to save your money, you need to break down how much you earn and how much you need for decent living. Put fancy things aside, be selective with treating yourself and aim for a ‘no spend month’ by only spending on necessities.
It’s not survival, it’s presenting a little bit of discipline into your consumerist habits that brought you where you currently are.
The reasonable thing to do is make a list of all the things you need when you go shopping, or all the bills you will have to pay by the end of the month, then stick to it. If you make realistic plans and you stick to them there is a lower possibility you will spend more than you actually need on a monthly basis.
Don’t hesitate to reach out for help
Financial advice is everywhere and many will try to influence you without knowing your full situation. Seek help from professionals instead. They will help create a financial plan, can give proper advice plus sometimes negotiate on your behalf. If you are on a limited budget and struggling to repay all your debts, sometimes a debt agreement can be a viable solution for your budget. That way you will be available to pay the same amount of money on monthly basis no matter the size and duration of the loan. You can read more about debt agreements here.
Multiply your savings
All of the above will only result in you saving a little bit more from your salary. But what if there is a way for you to actually make more money out of what you’ve saved?
Finding ways to make more money is one of the best things you can do in conjunction with the tips above to improve your finances. Plus, if you put that extra money into your debt, you will pay it off faster.
Look for things you can do on the side such as freelance work, renting out a room or selling things online to help make more income. Then once your debt is clear, look at ways to invest and increase your money further.
Debt is crippling and once you have some, it can be hard to pay it off and get back on track financially, especially if you are reliant on Centrelink.
When I was a kid, my dad was a debt collector, so he has offered some tips. I have spoken to a few others about dealing with debt collectors and helped various people pay off exteme amounts of debt.
Tips to pay off debt:
1.) Know how much you owe
Don’t bury your head in the sand and deny how much you owe, it only makes it worse. Write down all your debts with their full amount, interest rate and how long they have left to pay off. In the case of interest free loans, write down when the interest free period expires because once that hits, the interest is intense.
Also, make a note if any have massive fees for paying them off early, as you will need to factor them into your payment plan.
This should be part of your budget, but many miss it. (For tips on creating and sticking to a budget, check out this post).
2.) Prioritise your debts
How you pay off your debt is up to you. Some people prefer to start with the smallest debt first and psychologically this works. It makes you feel you are paying off your debt faster when you clear a small one. Dave Ramsey recommends doing it this way.
Financially, it is better to pay off the debt with the highest interest first. Sometimes those debts are so huge it feels like you will never pay them off though. If you are disciplined and can pay them off despite it possibly taking longer to clear your first debt, you may save more interest this way (depending on the interest with your debts).
3.) Debt snowball
Once a debt is paid off, put all the money you were throwing at that debt onto the next debt. Both it’s monthly repayment and any extra you put on it. You pay off your debt much faster this way. Once your second debt is clear put all the money onto your third debt and so on.
Keep making minimum repayments on all your debt, but select one debt to be the one you put any extra money on to get rid of it quickly.
Resist the temptation to splurge or treat yourself once the first debt is clear if you have more to pay off. Focus on getting the debt clear.
4.) Find ways to make extra money
Chances are you’re in debt because you couldn’t afford things, then it got out of control. Many people struggle to make ends meet, let alone pay off debt.
To pay it off, you need to find ways to make more money. I have a few articles on my other site, The Thrifty Issue which might help:
51 ways to make money from home
10 ways to make $10,000
10 ways to make $1,000 this month
5.) Reduce credit limits
As you pay off your debt, you can request the credit limit be reduced. For instance, say you have a $5,000 credit card. Once you pay off $500 you can request to drop the limit to $4,500 and do this until with each step until the credit card is gone.
By reducing the limit, you can’t spend on it again.
Be aware, opening and closing credit cards and other debt will impact on your credit score and borrowing capacity. I still recommend living debt free though. You can check your credit score for free and track it monthly with sites such as https://www.creditsavvy.com.au/
Why care about your credit score? Every application for credit such as a loan or credit card goes on your file. Any bank or company lending you money checks your score and will offer an interest rate based on the credit score. A good score gets you a better rate. A bad score means a higher rate. Each application lowers your score, makes it less likely to get approved and makes it harder to get credit.
Start with your current lender. Asks for a better deal such as reduced interest, no bank fees or similar. Do some research and start comparing providers, then if needed, switch. Be aware though, this will impact your credit score, which in turn impacts your interest rate. Check before applying how likely you are to get the loan and what a likely interest rate is. If you cannot switch, don’t apply.
7.) Save in every area possible
Go over your budget and look at every area you can make cuts, then start transferring those savings onto your debt. For tips on ways to save money, I have 31 ways to save $200 or more here, plus loads of saving articles here.
8.) Save an emergency fund
Dave Ramsey recommends $1,000. Personally, I have usually needed $2,000 in an emergency. This can be difficult to save when trying to pay off debt at the same time. Try to save this emergency fund first before smashing the debt. This way, when you pay down the debt if an emergency happens, you don’t need to put it back on the credit card. It helps break the debt cycle and the mentality that you need a credit card.
9.) Change your thinking
Debt is not essential. Many think you cannot live without a credit card or personal, but you can and you will feel so much better for it. Get used to spending with your own money instead of borrowing money.
Check out 6 ways to easily reduce debt.
How to deal with debt collectors
If you can negotiate with the people or bank you owe money to before it goes to debt collectors, it is better for everyone. People and companies just want to know they are getting their money back. Work out a payment plan, do not miss payments and do everything you can to show you want to pay the debt off and will. Ask to go to the financial hardship section of the bank if you need and get a brief pause or do whatever is needed to ease up the finances temporarily before it ends up with debt collectors. Your interest will continue to accrue but you will be helped.
If it ends up with debt collectors, here are a few tips.
1.) Get all your paperwork in order
Have all your debt paperwork in one file which is easy to access so you can see at a glance what the terms and conditions are, what can be expected and how much you owe.
2.) Talk to them
Don’t avoid the phone calls. You need to get is sorted and if you ignore it, it will get worse. Debt collectors try to catch you off guard, so when they call, ask for a moment to get your paperwork together or request to call them back (or have them call you) at a specific time when you are available and ready to discuss it with them. Do not do this then avoid the call. You must take it. They will push to get their answers and an immediate payment on the spot. Be calm, clear and keep repeating you will discuss it when you have your paperwork and are ready.
3.) Make a payment on the spot if you can
This is a gesture of goodwill and shows you are willing to pay. If you cannot afford what they push for, don’t agree to it. Agree only to what you can afford to pay. If you can afford to make a larger payment which is close to the total amount, you may be able to negotiate the payment down to the amount you have and get it cleared completely.
4.) Arrange a payment plan
A debt collector will push for the highest amount possible. Do not agree to it if you cannot afford it. If you can afford $20 be firm and say it will be $20 a week for as long as it takes. They can’t get blood from a stone and some money is better than no money.
5.) Get the amount reduced
As mentioned in tip 3, you may be able to get the total reduced. This is often offered when a debt has been outstanding for a long period or you are closer to the end of the debt. I have managed to knock thousands off debts for friends by offering the debt collector a lower amount in full today or asking what the lowest total they could pay would be if they paid in full today. This doesn’t always work and ultimately, you did accrue the debt, so should pay it in full. However, for them, most of the money is better than no money.
What tips do you have for dealing with debt?
You might also like these real stories of paying off debt
$3,000 debt cleared in 1 month!
How we cleared $90,000 (I know these guys personally and they started unemployed on their debt journey. But they prefer to remain anonymous).
“How do I budget for large, irregular expenses?” is a question I get a lot. As part of my goal to help 1,000,000 people survive, thrive and where possible, get off Centrelink, I am working with experts to answer these questions and more. You can find all posts relating to Centrelink here. Today, Cath, the founder of Get Money Wise shares tips to budget for irregular, large expenses. Note, there is an ‘affiliate link’ if you use the code contained in the post to get the bonus money.
Budgeting for irregular and large expenses can be a tricky balancing act, especially when on a low income. Most of us, at least once, have had that one bill which snuck up on us when it arrived in our letterbox.
Something we had forgotten we need to pay each year. Like car registration, an insurance premium or our annual check-up at the dentist.
With the day to day outgoings associated with our weekly or monthly budget, these irregular large expenses can be easy to overlook.
The pay check to pay check cycle
I recall a time about ten years ago now when I first moved in with my now husband. He received his car insurance renewal and registration yet had absolutely no money in his account to pay them.
This was a fairly regular occurrence for him. As a part-time chef who got paid in cash, he was stuck in a pay check to pay check cycle.
He wanted to be better with money and not need to ask his parents for a loan when these big expenses came up. He was one of the lucky ones though, not all of us are fortunate enough to have a backup plan of someone else being able to help us out when our income falls short.
He was suffering from overwhelm about how he could possibly afford to pay these large bills on his small wage.
Around this time we had decided as a couple we wanted to get married and save for our first place. So we needed to make sure we were being wise with our money. I was only on a very low entry level wage and my now husband only worked part time as a chef so money was tight.
I had always been relatively good with my money so went to work creating us a yearly budget.
Predictable yearly costs
I knew I needed to include the weekly costs like groceries, petrol and rent or the mortgage. I needed to come up with a way to make sure I also had money set aside for the bigger periodic costs.
These are expenses you know will occur, but only happen once a year or perhaps once a quarter.
They fall into two categories – mandatory and non-mandatory.
Mandatory expenses include such things as insurance premiums, car registration, electricity and water bills.
Non-mandatory expenses are those you do not have an obligation to pay but are things you know you are likely to need money for. Christmas or birthday gifts and kids clothing are what come to mind for me in this category.
How to budget for predictable expenses
Since some of the yearly bills are less memorable ones, to ensure you don’t let one slip through the cracks go back in time one calendar year. Look at all your bank records and note down what the bill was and what month it was paid.
Put in some thought into if you think you will have any new expenses you didn’t have last year but you will incur in the next twelve months. People often overlook this and it can catch you off guard.
I treat my non-mandatory expenses like Christmas and birthday gifts as one-off expenses too, so I save a little bit each fortnight for them. Rather than being left short when the time comes.
Once you have your total yearly expenses, divide it by how often you get paid. I am paid fortnightly so I divide all of the yearly costs by 26 and ensure I put this money aside straight away on payday.
Whilst this can take a little bit of time the first time you do it, it is a total game changer for your money management so it is worth the investment of time. The following years budget becomes a lot easier as you already have a template to work off.
Where to keep your bills money
It’s a good idea to keep a separate bills bank account. I set up an automatic direct debit after pay day with the exact amount I have worked out I need automatically transferred each fortnight.
A high-interest savings account is usually a good place to keep the funds. Whilst the interest rates aren’t amazing, they are higher than your day to day transaction account.
Choose an account which allows you easy access to your funds and includes a BPAY facility to make it easier to pay your bills when they come due.
Find out what works best for your needs in terms of account set up. I have one general savings fund and track what is assigned to each category via a spreadsheet.
Other people find it best to open several savings accounts, one for bills, one for a holiday fund, one for emergencies and so on.
My best advice is to find the approach that makes the most sense to you. That way you are most likely to stick with your goals by following what comes more naturally to you.
(Note from Kylie, I use ING for this banking and split it into a couple of accounts. If you use the code CNW116 we both get a bonus, usually $50 or $100, if you sign up to ING Everyday banking, which is a great kick start to your bills account or savings.)
In addition to your bill account, it is always a good idea to establish a separate emergency fund.
This account should remain untouched except for unexpected events such as managing through a job loss or to pay for a new appliance if one breaks.
Avoid dipping into this fund to pay for your irregular large expenses.
There are different schools of thought as to how much of a buffer you should have in this account. Some suggest starting with building it to $1000. Others say you should look to have at least 3 months living costs saved up.
My approach is to contribute at least a small amount to this account each pay period. But I make sure my bills account is topped up first.
(Note from Kylie – I started with $1,000 and have lots of tips on making money quickly here. My preferred minimum recommendation is $5,000 as that is enough for bond on a house and advance rent if you suddenly have to leave your home, it would cover a decent second-hand car if needed, a few months living expenses for most people etc. Then build it to 3 or 6 months).
Adapting your plans
Even if you implement all of the information above, this won’t necessarily mean you never have an unexpected expense come up again.
We are all human, so be gentle with yourself when things crop up.
If you are armed with a bills and emergency account, you will be much better prepared than you were a year ago.
Cath is the founder of Get Money Wise. She writes about personal finance which focuses on helping others to change their money mindset and create a path to financial independence. The Resources section of her site has some great tools to help with budgeting, as well as some kids activity books to teach your children about money. Find out more at https://www.getmoneywise.com.au