Written by Barbie Cail

Guest Ponderer & Social Enterprise Advocate


25 years ago, when I separated from my husband with two small children, I struggled to get a bank loan and finances were tight.

I realised to secure the future of my family; I needed to be smart about money.

My goal was to one day be in a financial position to retire early. 

Hard work and determination (and a lot of fun along the way) resulted in my retirement last year at 54. 

As the economy of our country and the rest of the world are impacted, financial care is more important than ever. 

My mindful budget tips during Covid19

Ok so you may be getting paid less than before. What now? 

This is the best time to look at your budget. It is either a priority or you may simply have a little more time to get all your expenses in order. Allocate a couple of hours and review all of your bills.

First, list all of your necessary expenses. This would include your mortgage or rent, car payments, insurance, rates, body corporate fees, energy bills, phone/internet contracts. 

Research online to see if there are any better deals available. I know this can take time, but you will be in a better position to negotiate if you have done enough research.

  • Talk to your bank and ask for a better deal after reviewing the offerings for new home loans. If you don’t ask you will not get the best rate. 
  • Make your repayments match your income, e.g. weekly, fortnightly. 

If you’re like me, you will be excited with the savings you can make by increasing the frequency of your mortgage repayments or just paying a little bit more.

Remember loyalty is NOT rewarded. Instead, you pay a premium for staying. Doesn’t seem fair, but that is the way it is.

  • Contact all of your suppliers to see if you can get a better price. Insurance agencies, energy and phone/internet suppliers will often give you a better deal if you ASK. 

  • Set up direct debits and make the repayments to match your income e.g. weekly, fortnightly. This will spread your bills over the year and avoid the stress of trying to find money all at once. 

Next look at your discretionary expenses.

This would include your car/travel expenses, groceries, streaming services like Netflix, Spotify etc., clothing, takeaway food/coffee/alcohol.

This is the most important area for you to review thinking seriously about the difference between a need or a want. 

Be honest with yourself about what is adding value to your life. 

  • When I think of groceries, all I want to say to you is PLAN, PLAN and PLAN. Write a shopping list and stick to it. 

Grocery wastage is crazy because the shops are open almost every day of the year. Only buy what you need. Buy in bulk only if it will save you money. 

  • Streaming services – be mindful of what you are paying for and whether you are getting value for money.


Swing in and out of the streaming services, but keep track of them. Can you get your music/podcasts in the same streaming service as your movies? Worth checking out. 


Finally, we get to my favourite topic – Superannuation. This is your pot of gold at the end of your rainbow when you retire!


  • The opportunity to withdraw money from your Super is tempting (more than one million have registered to do this during this current crisis). However, there is a high price to pay in your future. Promise yourself that if you do withdraw money from your Super, you will replace it when your finances improve!

Remember that your budget needs to suit YOU and your lifestyle.

If you do not manage your money, you will never be able to live the life you want to.

Make some tough decisions now that your future self will thank you for.

Written by Barbie Cail Guest Ponderer

Writer, adventurer and social enterprise advocate Barbie Cail gives us inside tips on saving some moula during COVID. Her career has included Small Business Project manager as well as field auditing roles. Her positive outlook on life and people is infectious and we welcome her to the Ponderings fold.

Related Articles


Follow Us


Subscribe For Updates & Offers

Support our mission to write and produce Positive Stortelling, it takes a tribe to build one. 

Is There A Dying Cat? No! It’s The Art of Singing

Is There A Dying Cat? No! It’s The Art of Singing

“Why doesn’t matter if I sound like a dying cat?” The power of music! 

It could be any kind of tunes from RnB, Hip Hop, Rap, Rock n Rock, Dance, Country or it might even be a bit of Opera that will take my fancy to break the silence. The black dog knows he has been beaten. As soon as I hit play, he will lay down to go to catch a couple of Z’s until the time comes for him to play again. Don’t take the chase of him howling to Classical, Jazz or Blues. It is not worth listening to his carry on. 

The fire in my belly comes alive. My vocal chords start to wake up by doing a little dance in my throat to say, let’s go and have fun. 

I come alive, the noise just follows out into the room. I have just let the cat out of the bag, and everyone comes running from everywhere to see if I need something. They realise that it is only me brushing up on my singing skills. 

They will crack jokes about waking up the dead because I sound like a dying cat, then my swearing will come out perfectly.

They say to me that we know that you are just putting on this Cerebral Palsy act on because you want someone to wipe your arse. We piss ourselves laughing. Off they go to turn up their music, so they don’t have to listen to the dying cat.

I don’t give a shit about how I sound to other people.

The music professional reckons that all singers have to be 100% perfect, but why? I can be any singer I want when I am in my world of my own and feel like a million bucks afterwards. 

The power of music can break many of hours isolation without having face to face contact with friends. You will find out who are your real friends from the ones are full of shit very quickly in life, but music will always be there. It doesn’t discriminate. It makes my world better because I can forget about everything that might be pissing me off. It doesn’t matter if I am non-verbal or not, I have a pair of ears to listen to the words in songs and a heart to feel the messages in the songs like anyone else.

Janelle McMillan



Click to watch a short film on Janelle by Small World Documentaries 


Or to buy her artwork



Janelle McMillan OAM is an artist and author living in Hobart, an incredible woman changing the world by helping to give her perspective about what it is like to live with Cerebral Palsy, getting around on wheels AND being a non-verbal communicator. She has a wicked sense of humour, and we welcome her contribution to Ponderings. 

If you liked this article, you might like our first introduction to Janelle, via the wonderful interview with Wendy Searle. You can read it here. 

Avoiding Financial Crisis for Tradies- A COVID Quest for Businesswoman

Avoiding Financial Crisis for Tradies- A COVID Quest for Businesswoman

words by Kirsten Macdonald


COVID19 is impacting health as well as businesses all over the world and a devastating cascade impact on the livelihoods of employers, sole traders and employees.

The Australian Government on Federal and State levels have announced a series of financial support benefits. These are intricate and can be somewhat tricky to navigate. Books4Tradies founder Genaya Hutchinson has written an e-book for Tradies to quickly and easily understand the rescue packages and what they entail.

A successful businesswoman, Hutchinson had an established bookkeeping business. But in 2018, outside of this business model, she witnessed people struggling financially and the mental health of a particular industry slipping. Tradies, the beloved Tradesperson, create an industry worth millions and yet they are the largest failed enterprise. Shocking but true.

” I saw so many brilliant master crafters, but an industry wrought with failings and a lack of business guidance. People needed to be able to work doing what they did best but with cash flow causing real problems for many small operators, packages budgeted for convenience and affordability meant a new model of bookkeeping. Seamless and easy for those on the go and to help improve and grow business rather than tear your hair out and watching it go down the drain.” 


The need for action led to the design of an additional business; Books4Tradies, a service carefully tailored with bookkeeping and administrative needs for the trade industry. 

The business flourished and is now a well respected and growing support system; one needed now more than ever. Its success story has been the saving grace for many SME, and now with the COVID crisis unfolding, businesses need all the help they can get. In 2019 ASIC reported the Tradie industry was in the highest default category in our country. This is due to a whole lot of issues. Residential building activity was on the decline last year, with the fall in house prices and deteriorating market conditions impacting domestic dwelling approvals. 

According to the Australian, Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman small businesses account for 35% of Australia’s gross domestic profit and employ 44% of Australia’s workforce. Of the 877,744 total employing businesses, 823,551 are small businesses (93.8%), and of those businesses, 627,932 are businesses that employ only 1-4 people, known as micro-businesses (76.2%). 

The business survival rates for small businesses enjoyed a growth from 59.6% in 2014 to 72.2% in 2018, however, with many businesses closing and people losing jobs, the impact on the trade industry may turn to be quite devastating. The construction industry alone equates to 57% of the small business share. 


The Australian Bureau of Statistics released critical information as the crisis unfolds showing Two thirds (66%) of Australian businesses reported that their turnover or cash flow had reduced as a result of COVID-19, according to results from the second Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) survey on Business Impacts of COVID-19

Nearly half (47%) of businesses made changes to their workforce arrangements as a result of COVID-19. For some businesses this included temporarily reducing or increasing staff working hours, changing the location where staff worked (including working from home) or staff being placed on leave. 

Two in five businesses (38%) have changed how they deliver their products or services, including shifting to online services. Over a third of businesses have renegotiated their lease and rental arrangements and a quarter have deferred loan repayments. 

Genaya says it’s more important than ever for business owners to be organised and have the books up to dates and understand the money they now may have access to via the funding release. 

With easy to read instructions, Books4Tradies COVID Business Rescue Guide is a quick 1 response to a concerning and unprecedented issue. Covering each category from employees, business grants and loans the guide is comprehensive. 

​”In times like these, it is so important that those of us who can be of service to others and help them need to step up and give what we can. When we think on our feet and bring a positive action mindset to the table, we can overcome and achieve anything” says the inspiring Geelong entrepreneur. 

For more information visit the website https://www.books4tradies.com.au 


The Wonder of Childosophy

The Wonder of Childosophy

In a world where children don’t often have a voice and one that can be filled with development and stresses we have not witnessed before; a fresh insight into children and self discovery is one we welcome at Ponderings. 


Dr Maxine Therese has spent her life dedicatedto helping children and adults.

Maxine is the founder and brains behind Childosophy; a recognised modality with a core structure combining energetic science and integrative philosophies of the self to support wellbeing in childhood.

Her book “The Wonder of You- A  Self Discovery Journal” helps parents and children unpack feelings, emotions, responses and discover their importance. With highly regarded results and remarkable success, we were thrilled to discuss the impact, hurdles and the future with Dr Maxine.

Maxine was inspired to help children, after becoming a mother. The realisation we don’t know much about children drove Maxine on to complete her Ph. D research into children’s well being. Her doctoral research proposed a new theory of the child as a soul (integrated body, mind and spirit) and a new model for children’s well being. Maxine calls this The Foundational Needs Model.  Maxine’s book The Push for a Child Philosophy: What Children Really Need You to Know outlines her research findings and is the basis for the therapeutic system that she has developed in her own clinical practice.

We asked Maxine what Childosophy was for her.

For me, Childosophy is many things, it really is an approach that values the wisdom of the child. The osophy, is wisdom. A lot of our approaches to children don’t value the child’s wisdom, we presume some adult wisdom is better and more advanced. I really think that’s what we are having to learn- we’ve had an idea that rational logical sequential wisdom understanding is better and as we move into more holistic understanding we really value children are this organic whole- then we correct “

“You can have an idea of what children need but until you learn to be present there’s an attitude to control and fix which is futile and stressful.”

Maxine describes the value of children being able to understand their own feelings and thoughts as shaping them. The things we can’t see- the thoughts and feelings are the most important aspect. Not the outcomes or the actions but why we feel the way we do.

How important is it for children to be aware of their energy? Why?

“I don’t talk about it in terms of energy for kids. It’s just ‘What are you feeling?’- If we can help them understand feelings and thoughts they won’t seek outside validation- they come to trust their own self. Their feelings and thoughts have important messages about what they need then they sort of naturally enquire why they are feeling x and  then you enter that dialogue where they make sense of things. We all need connection- we are all seeking validation from the other.”

If children don’t feel safe they’re going to have what we call anxiety. If they don’t feel like they can be in control of their emotions they might have a tantrum. Just helping them understand the drivers and helping them and us see there’s always a reason. A lot of caregivers have trouble holding the space for the feeling- to allow the child’s expression of thoughts without prohibiting, inhibiting, diverting or problematising. This stops the child’s flow.

What do you wish every parent knew about energy science?

I wish every parent knew energetically every child has exactly what they need for self development, even before it becomes apparent. We have been seeing the world through a lense of manipulating behaviours- manipulating energy. Now we are having to work with the fact that if it is present we have to work with it- so it’s changing from “let’s change that behaviour” and force it, forcing the energy, rather than saying “if it is arising then it is purposeful, and I wonder why it is present?”

Energetically from a bigger perspective whatever lays unresolved in me (energetically will naturally transfer) to my child.

What research has brought forth is the role of the parent from  the time we conceive- our body activates everything we need within ourselves to be the best parent and we revisit all of our parenting at the same time our children are growing.

So what that means is that spontaneously my body energetically regresses to my childhood whilst I’m mothering my children. My one year old child brings up my one year old unhealed, unresolved issues, and not just mine, but my mother’s and her mothers but genetically 7 generations can be now validated through the child.

Where do you see the future of childosophy going?

I have big visions for Childosophy. This year I am focusing on developing programs to go into schools where parents, teachers and students learn together. Like a parenting class done through the child. We still refer to education and those institutions to raise children.

Do you do inner child work?

It’s sort of embedded in the work, returning to your “inner child” constantly. I don’t see conceptually (inner work ). For me, Little Maxine is there all of the time. She is not an inner child she is within me. I am her. We are integrated. Inner child work is so important, we have to make peace with aspects of our childhood that we have not.

Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s not so good. That inner child is going to demand things! There are times we think really practically, and we think OMG stop acting like a 3 year old!  It’s important to ask -Why am I responding like this? Who’s the child? Knowing your inner child is going to resurface if it hasn’t been healed is a powerful tool for self realization and understanding. .

I facilitate the space for people to access their inner child through self awareness via the indicators of their children’s behaviours or what they are struggling with.

You don’t even have to have a child, because we have all been children. Awareness is generally the healing. When we have the confidence to say that this pattern of you feeling victimised in life is not going to go away until you heal it and because it’s coming up in your son whom you love more than anyone in the whole world, your heart is open to working on it.

Energy science is very different to religion and yet is often seen as a new age thing. What are your thoughts on this?

It’s not a new age thing. I guess the new age championed it. We now know neuropsychology is saying the same thing. Feelings and thoughts we have drive the physical body. The energy of our feelings and thoughts are shaping our physical body, our matter.

What is the most prominent problem you see facing children right now and how as parents and the tribe help that reduce?

We need to understand our role as parent or teacher as no better or worse- but as a guide that is going to check in and see how the child is travelling. We sort of presume in relationships to hold a role- and we don’t often check. Helping parents to understand patterns if the way they were parented in the past, and teaching that we can step into a different way and stop those cycles.

You can contact Dr Maxine Therese and find out more at https://www.childosophy.com/dr-maxine-therese

hello@childosophy.com or 


Facebook: @Childosophy

Dr. Maxine Therese

Instagram: Childosophy

We acknowledge the people of the Kulin Nation, on whose unceded sovereign land we work. We pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging.

Indigenous Australian Flag

The Land of “Doors must be closed, and lids must be on”. Let’s talk Triggers.

The Land of “Doors must be closed, and lids must be on”. Let’s talk Triggers.

On Planet Spectrum when we refer to a trigger, we are referring to something that creates a behavioural response.

It is ‘triggered’ by something.There are triggers that need to be managed because they are an everyday part of life, and then there are triggers that can be avoided or reduced.

Matson et al (2009) reported that 94.3% of children on the autism spectrum have been reported to display some form of Challenging behaviours. Many are based on sensory overload, reactions and anxiety.

Picture a crying new-born, a screaming and thrashing two-year-old, a dad standing there with bath stuff gobsmacked, and a mother distressed on so many levels. This was supposed to be a beautiful moment where the big brother bonded with his new sister by helping with the first bath. No bingo! The seriousness of how much distress and fear this created for our little boy was heart-breaking.

Every time a tap was turned on, the sound of the water running would result in an extremely distressed child. Screaming, terror and total distress made the simple task of turning on a tap a nightmare.

If you think about how often we use taps during the day- it didn’t take much for us to realise what a challenge this trigger was going to be. The irony- dad is a plumber.

So what did we do? We established that taps are essential for hygiene and daily life, so it was necessary that we assist our child in managing the trigger, reducing the stress it created and getting things under control.

We started with a warning, the words “Tap On”.

We turned the tap on for five seconds, and we counted 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and then we turned the tap off.

Slowly, very slowly, we built the time up. Mister hated the noise, and there was still lots of screaming, but with forewarning and counting, we were able to give this horrible ordeal some predictability.

Predictability was key.

His anxiety was lessened, as the process of the tap-sound wasn’t as much of a shock because he could anticipate what was coming, and he knew it would end.

Using anticipation with an end is a winner for Spectrum kids. First _____ then _______ formula reduces anxiety and prepares the child for what comes next. So first, we will turn the tap on, there will be a noise, and then it will end with a “shhhhh” sound. We started calling this preparation technique with noises’ noise control.’

We are happy to report that our household is using taps, running showers. Baths are very noisy, so we tend to still shut the door whilst we fill up the bath, but there are no tears or distress. Keeping in mind that we have not cured Mister’s sensitivity to the sound, but we have helped him gain some noise control.

There are times when we are out, public toilets, family and friend’s houses, and taps are on. The sound of gushing water is a fact of life, and although always wary, now we cope.

If you identify that noise is a huge trigger, offering “control over the noise can be a complete game-changer.

Examples include allowing your child to control the noise and therefore lessen the fear. For instance, turning on a vacuum; we give a warning and let M turn the vacuum on and off.

When trying to work out triggers, you take on the role of sensory detective. Are there too many devices going on in the environment you are in? What lights are going? What sounds can you identify? Ask these questions to assist in working out the spectrum environment.

If your little person has sensory issues; it is really important to consider each environment. I frequently and politely ask clothing store assistants to turn down their music for ten minutes while we shop- most are more than happy to oblige. Give warnings of sounds that are going to happen (starting the beaters, using a drill, banging a hammer, turning on music). Informing our little guy of where the noise is coming from, what it is and that it will pass evaporates the fear and allows us to participate in daily activities.

Ask yourself if there are any aides you can use for triggers noise-cancelling headphones, earmuffs, sunglasses and hats can be really useful to ward off lots of noise and the glare of fluro store lights.

Observation is the key to identifying triggers and the way in which to do this is ‘slow it down.’

When life is calm, and you can be truly observant, you can genuinely begin to assist.

Want to Ponder Autism more with us?

Stay tuned for our next article. Ponderings have managed to affiliate with Planet Spectrum and are pleased to offer you this link to the free resource The Flight Manual.

The Land of “Doors must be closed, and lids must be on”. Let’s talk Triggers.

On Planet Spectrum when we refer to a trigger, we are referring to something that creates a behavioural response. It is 'triggered' by something.There are triggers that need to be managed because they are an everyday part of life, and then there are triggers that can...

Special Interests- They’re Important!

Who knew threading beads and a trip to the laundromat could mean your kid would eat casserole? It is common for those on Planet Spectrum to be passionate about a particular subject or object..

Five Tips For Homeschooling

Homeschooling has always felt like more of an alternative option.
So what does one do when school is not an option, and they are left at home wondering and perhaps freaking out about where to start… Breath, we’ve got you covered!

Five Tips for Helping Families with Autism

Families with Children on the Autism Spectrum are a part of our community. If you are lucky enough to have a friend or family member with Autism, you may find yourself wondering how you can best help. In one of the largest studies of its kind, Ruth L. Fischbach PhD...
Special Interests- They’re Important!

Special Interests- They’re Important!

Who knew threading beads and a trip to the laundromat could mean your kid would eat casserole? 


It is common for those on Planet Spectrum to be very passionate about a particular subject or object. A less friendly term thrown around is ‘obsession’. Be it trains, cars, horses, clocks, washing machines, necklaces, dinosaurs… you name it!

There have been many connections, breakthroughs, learning opportunities and tricky situations navigated all thanks to embracing passions and as we lovingly refer to them as motivators!.

According to the National Autistic Society:

Autistic people often report that the pursuit of such interests is fundamental to their wellbeing and happiness, and many channel their interest in studying, paid work, volunteering, or other meaningful occupation. The interest can:


  • provide structure, order and predictability, and help people cope with the uncertainties of daily life
  • give someone a way to start conversations and feel more self-assured in social situations
  • help someone to relax and feel happy



My little guy’s first passion was clocks passion was ‘clocks’. He was infatuated! Mister would see clocks and be so excited and full of joy. His happy flapping could have powered a wind farm!


We used his love of clocks to get us through many situations. When we had appointments in town, we would look at clocks and we would use them to redirect when stress was starting to build- “Oh look M there’s a clock let’s go and see if we can find more.” Often this was just the trick to get an anxious and almost frozen child to keep moving and coping.


We would allow ‘extra’ time so that there was always enough to look at clocks, so that we could provide a positive experience in a less than positive sensory environment, like the shopping plaza. As mentioned, shopping centres and plazas can be a nightmare for people with Autism. They are a sensory powerhouse led with many sounds, colours, people, bright lights, smells and textures.


When we visited health professionals, we could have a hard time. In his early days, Mister could not stand anybody looking, talking or touching him. Again we used his love of clocks to coax him into calm, while providing an excellent distraction.


Preparation, like any social outing, was essential. We wanted Mister to be as amicable as possible with the health professional, so before we went in for a consultation we would prepare; “Hmmm M, I wonder if the doctor has a watch? When we go into the doctor’s room, let’s see if she has a watch or a clock in there.” This would have a child going from a level of anxiety that had shut down potential to excitement about the possibility of seeing a clock or watch-let me in! We would start the consultation with “Hi doctor, we were wondering if you have a watch or clock in your of office?”

By this stage, Mister would have already spotted a clock on the wall but be able to connect with the doctor as he searched their arm for a watch. This would be followed by whatever conversation needed to be had by the professional- but we would often use more detail if M was becoming distressed or anxious. We would redirect back to the passion. “Oh M, look it’s a blue watch! Can you see it ticking?” You get the idea…bring it back to the passion where possible. The special interest is so familiar and has the potential to provide calm.

We learnt to use Mister’s passions for motivation! Many a clock collection was found on YouTube and used for rewards.

After the clock phase, M branched out to necklaces and washing machines. Necklaces were brilliant. Shopping trips included jewellery store crawls and frequent stop ins to admire bling. It also meant a barrier breakdown between Mister and people, particularly therapists.

We used Mister’s special interests to engage anywhere and everywhere we could. During speech, via daily play and just living. Through showing an interest in Mister’s passion, we were able to engage with Mister like never before, even without words.

The few times I have had to be away for the day I have brought back cheap necklaces so we were able to build that association of when mum goes, it’s a good thing. You can see how I’ve used the love of necklaces to alter an anxious situation fraught with separation anxiety into acceptance.

When Mister was on a food strike, I’d sometimes set up beads and string for threading. He would be threading, and I would be spoon-feeding. Not an ideal eating situation, but this example reiterates how helpful it can be to use special interests, and how they can provide a platform to cope and get through.


So what happens if your Spectrum Kid doesn’t have a special interest?

Our other poppet doesn’t seem to have such special interests. What now? For Miss, it’s all about talking, drawing and craft. So I guess you could call this kind of style her special interest. If Miss has a task that has something to do with her hands, this equals a happy and content disposition. If not, then this equals a whole lot of anxiety and when she doesn’t know what to do it leads to panic. Trust me when I say there have been plenty of days where we have done more craft than Mister Maker.

When we embrace these passions and special interests, we are able to connect with individuals, motivate, value, share and engage.

I have heard it said by lots of people that the ‘obsession’ part of Autism drives them mad, and new distractions need to be found. But if the apparent ‘obsession’ isn’t harmful to anyone, it can be a beautiful doorway into your child’s heart and mind.

Want to Ponder Autism more with us?

Stay tuned for our next article. Ponderings have managed to affiliate with Planet Spectrum and are pleased to offer you this link to the free resource The Flight Manual.

The Land of “Doors must be closed, and lids must be on”. Let’s talk Triggers.

On Planet Spectrum when we refer to a trigger, we are referring to something that creates a behavioural response. It is 'triggered' by something.There are triggers that need to be managed because they are an everyday part of life, and then there are triggers that can...

Special Interests- They’re Important!

Who knew threading beads and a trip to the laundromat could mean your kid would eat casserole? It is common for those on Planet Spectrum to be passionate about a particular subject or object..

Five Tips For Homeschooling

Homeschooling has always felt like more of an alternative option.
So what does one do when school is not an option, and they are left at home wondering and perhaps freaking out about where to start… Breath, we’ve got you covered!

%d bloggers like this: