The CBR Gals Network Empow(her)ed Workshops
Kicking off the first in a two-part series in financial literacy, Merissa Little, a principal and one of three women owners of the ITP income Tax Professionals (ACT), took the floor for our third Empow(her)ed workshop: Financial freedom for the everyday gal.
Enabling women to be more, financial literacy is of great importance to us as research shows that women are statistically more likely to struggle to achieve financial independence across their lives. So, we wanted to provide the CBR Gals with the fundamental tools to take control of their finances in an informed way.
As with all CBR Gals events, attendees first mingled over grazing platters and a glass of bubbles (in accordance with COVID-19 regulations) at Proximity, a legal, commercial and professional services firm in Barton, before moving into the boardroom as the sun began to set.
Accompanying Merissa was George Eljouni – Principal of Financial Planning at ITP and Jason Wheeler, CPA. The session began with a few words of advice from George: “If you have the time to do it now, do it. If you have the ability to do it now, do it. If you’re at the age to do it now, do it.” Much like Nike’s famous slogan, this set the tone for the evening’s discussion – “just do it”.
“Financial freedom means different things to every person,” says Merissa. “When people ask themselves what they need to make them happy, they will often respond with a million dollars or to win the lotto. But it is not these specific things they want. They want what these things represent, and that is financial freedom. The financial freedom to live their lives the way they want to live them. To give themselves choices”.
“Financial freedom means different things to every person.”
There is a common misconception amongst the gals we chat to, who tend to think they don’t require a financial plan simply because they don’t earn enough or save enough money. But having the lifestyle that you want isn’t about making all the money in the world. It’s about having a plan to enable you to have the lifestyle you want, based on what you have right now. This is what true financial freedom is, and the workshop helped pave the path in getting there.
Set out as a 3-step plan, Merissa imparted her wisdom of over 20 years within the tax industry, coaching attendees through strategic financial planning, goal setting, and accountability.
1. Set your goals.
First, we focused on goal setting. To assess whether you are achieving financial freedom, you must first determine the destination. So, to begin, we each completed a questionnaire on our specific life goals, which was used as a base point to navigate through the rest of the session. The crucial takeaway here was to know your income inside out by ensuring you are receiving the correct entitlements at work including being paid under the correct rate, award and increment (and any other sources of income you may be entitled to i.e. government assistance). Not to forget superfunds and knowing how your contributions are being utilised.
2. Analyse your income and expenses.
Using this information, we were now able to set out the path. Through use of the ‘gap analysis’ model, we analysed our current financial situations determined by money in vs money out. Here, attendees were able to identify the gaps in their finances and whether their expenditure aligned with their goals, the changes required to enable this and a realistic spending plan moving forward.
3. Futureproof with realism.
The workshop concluded with futureproofing, where Merissa advised on the crucial checks and safeguards vital to any successful plan. These ranged from emergency funds and strategies for debt management to methods of investing and useful insurance policies.
Whilst wholly interactive, with handouts to be filled in at each stage, questions answered throughout and even a game of “true or false” which saw attendees up on their feet, there were minimal refills of snacks and bubbles as the attendees remained in place, listening intently. After Merissa’s closing words, the room erupted almost instantaneously as attendees dispersed across the floor engaging in highly charged conversations, seeking further advice from the ITP team and back to the nibbles, of course.
I, for one, noticed an immediate sense of confidence in being pointed in the right direction, armed with a wealth of knowledge that I didn’t possess two hours prior. “It’s crazy how you don’t know, what you don’t know” one attendee remarked. This resonated with many as we proceeded to share our experiences of attempting financial self-education by delving into the depths of the internet, trawling through stacks of information and trying to make sense of industry specific jargon which can be daunting for many. Luckily for us, the ITP team talked us through with ease.
If this sounds like the event for you then we’ve got you, gal. We will be holding a second financial literacy workshop early into the new year – watch this space! In the meantime, we’d love you to join us at one of our upcoming events.
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is the current Secretary (2019-2020) of the CBR Gals Network Board. She is a regular contributor to the Network’s blog.