Could You Survive On The Pension?

The aged pension is in the political spot light – again. Arguable its never been out of the spotlight. Fewer issues are more emotive or shrouded in more hysterical dialogue.

Last year Joe Hockey caused a ruckus when he attempted to increase the eligibility age from 65 to 70 by 2035. The the government also provoked outrage when it proposed changes to the way the pension is indexed. It is currently adjusted in line with average wages. The government wants change it so its linked to inflation instead, which they assume will be lower. This means the aged pension will increase at a slower rate leaving recipients worse off. The government claims it has not ‘cut’ the pension but its all semantics and weasel words.

Recently Fairfax got a bit cheeky.  The Financial Review ran a story proposing that the family home be included in the asset test for pension eligibility. Currently it is not, leading to the absurd situation where a couple living in a $2m house can still receive a part pension if their other assets are below $1,145,500.  As you can imagine this ruffled a few feathers and caused the Social Services Minister Scott Morrison to issue an unequivocal denial. We all know that when the Governments says they it going to do something it wont. As the GST, carbon tax and just about everything TA promised leading up to the last election clearly demonstrates.

Our pension system is like a byzantine labyrinth. Its subject to both income and asset tests and rates vary for homeowners and non homeowners. It also varies according to your family situation. Valuing assets is whole other circle of hell.

The pension system

The pension system

Basically a home owning couple is eligible for the full pension if their other assets are below  $286,500.  Couples with combined assets valued between $286,500 and $1,145,500 can receive a part pension which reduces as the value of the assets increases.

The full pension rate is $1,288.00 per couple per fortnight including an energy supplement. That’s an annual income of $30,912. If there’s anything we can agree on its that its not a princely sum.

I conducted a  thought experiment to see how Dadabs and I would go living on the pension. Mind you its a moot point. Barring a major catastrophe we wont be eligible.

Anyhow I’ve donned my analyst hat and guessimated our yearly expenses at Chez Abulous.  This was a tricky task in itself. I’ve assumed that the kids are off our hands (not a safe assumption) and that we’ve consolidated down the one car.

Expenses 2

I’ve reduced our actual water rates by 20% because of the absence of kids. The electricity figure is based on average usage for a 2 person household as indicated on our electricity bills. Our actual electricity bill is unusually low because Dadabs installed solar panels.

After these expenses we’re left with $21,298 or $409 per week between the two of us.

Could we live on this? Its amazing what you can do when you have to. I’d imagine we probably could. It would not be a lavish existence. We would have to keep a track of every cent. My $30 per week coffee habit would have to die as would those indulgent $14 bento lunches.  The repair jobs that occasionally whack you around the head could wreak havoc. Holidays would be a rare indulgence. However they are now – mainly because Dadabs can’t afford the time away from the business.

I would be waving Sayonara to my gym membership and buying my clothes from (shudder)Target.  A night out at the movies followed by a cheap and cheery meal at the local Thai would have to be meticulously planned and accounted for.

My weekly shop at Colesworth would be an exercise in restraint rather than the party it is now. Most sadly of all I’d have to swap out my NZ Pinot Noir for goon. It would be like going back to University.

These would have to go.

These would have to go.

This exercise has taught me two things;

1) My lifestyle is far more lavish and indulgent than I had imagined. Just because we don’t dine out at Quay every week or take ski holidays in Aspen doesn’t make us frugal.

2) The pension issue is one of the most difficult problems Australia faces. Whilst we are not experiencing a budget crisis, the country has some long term issues that need addressing. Revenues are falling and the aging population is putting increasing strain on the public purse. Something has to give.

This year the total spend on the aged pension is estimated at $42b – which is 9% of the total budget.  Discouraging reliance on the pension can only be a good thing. On the other hand work is becoming increasingly fragmented and many people (particularly women who have taken career breaks) simply won’t have adequate super. Its a lose-lose situation.

What’s the answer blog fans?

Could you live on the pension?

Are you worried about retirement?





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Shower Interrupted

Follow me over to Mother & Baby

Men often lament that women are complicated creatures and that they can never figure out what we want.

The good news for guys is that once we reach motherhood, women’s needs become very straight forward.

Whilst we might still covet designer shoes, Tiffany boxes and a holiday house in Byron Bay complete with a resident pool boy (irrespective of whether there’s a pool or not), these things are merely adjuncts to the main game.

What we really desire, more than anything else, is ten minutes per day to attend to our bathroom business ALONE.





You know you are middle aged when…

There’s some conjecture as to when middle aged actually kicks in these days. Forty is the new thirty and sixty is the new forty yada, yada, yada. I’m not greatly concerned by these arbitrary boundaries. To me middle age is a state of mind, one in which I have been proudly ensconced for quite a while. Having said that there are occasions when middle age has every thing to do with ones actual age. Like for example when my gorgeous teenage niece didn’t know who Alanis Morissette was.  I consider Alanis to be well after my hey day. It wasn’t ironic. I just felt really, really old.

Here is a list of signs 31 signs that you are middle aged in mind, body and attitude.

1) Pinot biatches! – Noir, gris or grigio it matters not.

2) This is not an unflattering garment. It’s sun smart. Nigella doesn’t keep her perfect peaches and cream complexion solely through botox and hoovering up cocaine you know.

This keeps wrinkles at bay

This keeps wrinkles at bay

3) Meanwhile this is your husband’s sun hat. You can’t believe that your interior designer friend thinks its a bad look and calls your husband a dag.

Middle aged crumpets be sun smart.

Middle aged crumpets be sun smart.

4) You prefer your shoes built for comfort than for speed. Exhibit A – the Loafer.

The gold detail gives them a touch of pizazz.

The gold detail gives them a touch of pizazz.

Exhibit B – the classic Ballet Flat.

The snake skin detailing is too subtle doncha think?

The snake skin detailing is too subtle doncha think?

But your husband still thinks you have a closet full of impractical foot wear.

5) Your primary school aged kids are into Adventure Time. More like pass the bong time. Seriously is watching this stuff the slippery slope to drug use? Don’t get me started on The Regular Show. Perhaps these shows circumvent the need for drugs – who needs them when you’ve got Jake and Finn to blow your mind?

Does watching Adventure Time lead to drug use?

Does watching Adventure Time lead to drug use?

6) Lingerie? What’s the point? Who wants lacey floss up their butt all day? Especially when for a few dollars comfort can be purchased from Best & Less.

7) Kaftans on the other hand.. you can’t have too many kaftans.

8) You quite enjoy your weekly sojourn in Colesworths because 1) its quality me time and 2) the music is really on point. When you’re in the frozens aisle and they play Hall and Oates ‘Maneater’ there’s a little more spring in your step and grunt to your trolley pushing. “Boy here she comes. Watch out boy she’ll chew you up. Boy here she comes. She’s a maneater.”

9) When it comes to sunglasses either go big or go home and too much bling is never enough.

10) These are the ultimate pants. They combine the glamour of leopard skin print and black lace with the comfort of an elasticized waste band. Every one’s a winner baby. (Also a favorite Colesworths hit)

I've got my cougar pants

I’ve got my cougar pants

11) You find yourself on the Hugzilla blog involved in a discussion regarding the relative merits of the One Directioners. You write something like “Have Harry Styles washed and sent to my tent”. You then feel filthy in a way that no amount of showering will remove because THAT’S DISGUSTING. You are old enough to be Harry’s mother. Prince Harry by contrast is fair game because he is 30 and you are only old enough to be his MILF.

This is off limits you dirty old perve.

This is off limits you dirty old perve!

12) Meanwhile did you hear the rumor that Prince Harry is dating Emma Watson? Who’s that again? You get your Emma Watsons, Emma Stones, Emma Roberts and Emily Blunts mixed up.

13) However there’s no confusing a Tom Hiddleston for a Tom Hardy. You are well studied in that matter.

14) You only listen to talk back radio. The divine Richard Fidler is on your ideal dinner party guest list. There is one mentally stimulating man.

15) You only watch the ABC, SBS and selected HBO dramas purchased through Google Play or Apple iTunes (whichever is cheaper).

16) You are post status. You can afford designer labels but choose not to go there. To you, spending USD 2,195 on a Burberry bag demonstrates a person’s stupidity rather than their station in life. That said you are kind of crushing on the this green trench coat at a mere USD 8,195.

I want, I want, I want.

I want, I want, I want.

17) A flow chart of your husband’s tax affairs looks like this.

A controversy to match the Prince Phillip knighthood.

A controversy to match the Prince Phillip knighthood.

18) Talking about Blue Poles, you can remember your parents’ outrage when Gough Whitlam approved its purchase for $1.3m by the National Gallery. It’s valued at over $20m now. The art world is insane.

19) At one time you could never have imagined that George Michael was anything but straight.

Of course George was straight and he was so going to marry you.

Of course George was straight and he was so going to marry you. BTW: Andrew is straight and is married to one of the Bananaramas. Can you imagine anything more 80s?

20) Whatever happened to Andrew McCarthy? He was meant to be the next big thing.

RDJs still here.Where's Andrew?

RDJ is still here.Where’s Andrew?

21) You wonder why people get nostalgic for the 1990s. It’s hardly retro, it wasn’t that long ago. Wait a minute….

22) There are clothes in your wardrobe that date back to last century.

I celebrated my 30th in this. (back in the dark ages)

I celebrated my 30th in this. (back in the dark ages)

23) There was a time when you danced along to the Village People’s You Can’t Stop The Music blissfully ignorant of the subtext. You had no idea why its fun to stay at the YMCA and thought Milkshake really was about a tasty dairy treat.

Do the milkshake? For the love of good hygiene NO!

Do the milkshake? For the love of good hygiene NO!

24) Robert Smith – the original emo.

Some might say the original emo was Lord Byron. Nuh-uh!

Some might say the original emo was Lord Byron. Nuh-uh!

25) The fall of the Aussie dollar the most exciting thing that happened last year.

26) You give a crap about dividend franking and an even bigger crap about capital gains.

27)  Reports that Gwyneth Paltrow wears spanx fill you with delight and this has eased your troubled mind ALOT.

That gust you feel is a million middle aged women sighing in relief.

That gust you feel is a million middle aged women sighing in relief.

28) Your husband gave you Photoshop for your birthday. You love it more than all the Tiffany boxes in the world.

29) But you’d still love a Tiffany box.

30) Hawt Damn. Are the cricket players getting hawter?

31)  You are not and atheist. DAVID BOWIE IS GOD.

Are you nodding along with these? You’re middle aged baby. Do you have anything to add to the list?









About Face

Regular readers will know this isn’t a body image blog – unless we are talking about gratuitous images of men’s bodies (and even then I aim to be delightfully cheeky rather than exploitative – I do my reverse sexism with class baby Yeh). The reason as I have repeatedly tried to explain, is that there is simply too much in the media about female bodies. The Daily Life section of the Sydney Morning Herald has at least one positive body image or anti body image shaming type article every single gosh darn day. Other popular women’s websites serve these posts up like supermarket eggs – by the dozen. ( I’m not mentioning any names as I am still trying to suck up to the popular women’s websites. It’s questionable strategy – alas).

I’m a singular voice in the wilderness saying “Pssst. Positive body image is great but women (and men ) are more than our bodies. Lets focus on women’s minds and hearts. Lets show the world what women are doing  in the home, workplace and community at large.” However I feel like I’m trying to deflect a tsunami with my bare hands. As long as body image articles continue to attract clicks by the millions the media will continue to reel them off with alarming frequency.

Today I’m contradicting my own stance. I don’t feel quite right about it but whilst Mumabulous claims to be many things “pure of heart” has never been one of them. At the risk of sounding like a hypocrite, I am weighing in on the Renee Zellweger/ Uma Thurman face debacle. I’m doing an ‘about face’ as it were.

Even if you are not a fan of the tattle rags and gossip sites you probably know that these two actresses have recently come under much scrutiny over their radically altered appearance. Renee no longer looks like herself. Uma looks like Uma but with oddly stretched skin.  Whatever she had done was overdone.

Debate raged for days (which is an eternity in social media time) but the politically correct consensus was that these women have the right to do whatever they like with their face and bodies and the rest of us should simple butt the hell out and shut the f^*k up.

Bridget Jones no more.

Bridget Jones no more.


Yes – they do have the right to do whatever they like with their bodies and personal attacks upon these individual is abhorrent. BUT why can’t we discuss the forces behind these choices? To me, that women (and increasingly men) are turning to radical cosmetic surgery in droves is symptomatic of a messed up society. People age. We can’t prevent people from aging. Nevertheless society can’t seem to accept aging as a natural part of life.

Uma had a dangerous liason with Botox.

Uma had a dangerous liason with Botox.

I doubt that Renee or Uma would have chosen expensive, painful and risky procedures if they didn’t think believe careers depended on it. Ironically having alot of work done doesn’t make a person look young. Cosmetic work simply looks like cosmetic work. The roles that are available for more mature women go to actresses like Meryl Streep, Judi Dench and Helen Miren – women who are believable. By contrast I can’t think of the last part (the beautiful but cosmetically assisted) Demi Moore played other than aging beauty dumped by toy boy husband for a much younger woman. Oops that was IRL.

People will always want to gaze at young attractive types. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with that. However there is more to life than beauty and sexuality. It would be refreshing if our entertainment could reflect life across all its stages.  I hate myself for agreeing with Russel Crowe but I was nodding along when he said “The point is, you do have to be prepared to accept that there are stages in life. So I can’t be the Gladiator forever.” It would be nice if the Hollywood machine, the media at large and audiences shared Russell view.

In the meantime there’s an non retouched photo of super model Cindy Crawford currently floating around the interwebs. As one of the original set of supermodels Cindy Crawford was the standard to which mere mortal women could never live up to. Even Cindy a symbol of unearthly beauty has aged.

Even supermodels age so there's no hope for the rest of us.

Even supermodels age so there’s no hope for the rest of us.


If Cindy Crawford can’t hold back the years forever there’s no hope for any of us. Aging is part of life. Get used to it.

I don’t wish to criticize Renee, Uma or even Bruce Jenner for choosing cosmetic help but I do question the values of a society where people feel they need to do it to keep their careers.

Aging? Can you deal with it on screen and in real life?









The Unexpected

“Expect the unexpected” is a cliche more deeply entrenched than “known unknowns” and “unknown unknowns”. Yet over the last couple of weeks things on both a personal and national scale haven’t panned out in the way I imagined.

Let’s start with the BIG one. (‘The BIG what?’ you may well ask)

There was a minor ruckus in Canberra last Monday morning. It was a mere blip on the radar, largely ignored by the press. Just kidding. The press precipitated the LNP leadership debacle. Once it catches a whiff  Mal-content in the back benches (see what I did there) the media pushes relentlessly until a challenge becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. The government then looks stupid if they do and stupid if they don’t. Bottom line, they look stupid.

You’ve probably gorged on thousand different opinions but remain nonetheless hungry (like the wolf) for more. I imagine you are bursting to know what Dadabs thinks about it. Here is a verbatim quote from my husband.

” I think he (Abbott) will survive ya know”. 

Once again its Dababs: 1, Mumabs: 0.

I thought TA was going down like a domino. I posted this on Facebook and people liked it.


It would seem he’s a dead man jogging in banana hammocks.

A hashtag that was started with the aim of supporting the embattled Prime Minister is trending first on Twitter for entirely the wrong reason it was intended.
With all the derision on the virtual brick wall for electronic graffiti that is Facebook and Twitter, you’d think TA was a goner. Some commentators even likened Tony to the nation’s ultimate political joke – Billy McMahon*. He’d lost the public’s respect (if he ever had it in the first place) and keeping him seemed like  electoral suicide for the LNP.  Yet despite the expectations of many so called experts, most of social media and myself, TA hung in there like a banana in a hammock.
The election isn’t due until the end of next year. If a week is a long time in politics, two years is an eternity. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that TA could be re-elected.   I am reminded of John Howard’s  “Lazarus with a triple bypass” comments.  Like Howard, Hawke and Menzies before him TA could well be here for the long haul. Hope his banana hammock has some durable elastic. (Sorry for that unpleasant mental image.)
TA is still hanging around.

TA is still hanging around.

Valentine’s Day
If your significant other is a male chances are the only passion he feels on Valentines Day is a passionate loathing of the whole thing. Dadabs freakin hates it. Like many males he doesn’t hate showing affection, he hates being dictated to as to how and when. Moreover its a rip off. I hesitate to call Dadabs a tight arse but he does have keen sense of value for money. He will not tolerate price gouging by florists, purveyors of fine chocolates or restaurants.
This year he typically forgot all about the significance of Feb 14 and invited some friends over for a BBQ. A few days later it struck him – “Shit -I forgot. Saturday is Valentines Day they might have hawt date.”
“They might be doing the thing that married people do.” I added.
“What rootin’ like rabbits?”
 What a quaint, old fashion view of marriage he has. “No. They might be going out for dinner and having romance.”
 “We can do ours on the Friday?” trying to dig himself out of the hole.
“Don’t worry about it.”
Then unbeknownst to me Dadabs arranged for his mother to baby sit so that we could indeed have “romance” on the Friday evening. We had the Valentines Special at a local tapas bar washed down with a champagne cocktail. We followed up with coffee at our favorite patisserie and a moonlit stroll along the beach. Well played Dadabs. It was a sweetly unexpected touch.
Romance in a glass

Romance in a glass

Did you know that the FSOG movie has hit the cinemas? Seriously is there anything else on your social media feed. FSOG is the most remarkable literary work of this century and predictably there has been a rash of opinion pieces on it. Every aspect of it has been filtered through a feminist prism. Popular websites bulge with headlines like “All Feminist Must See FSOG” or “All Feminists Must Boycott FSOG”. Seriously?
Why should seeing or not seeing this movie impact upon your feminist credentials? It is escapism. Most people realize that Christian Grey would make a shitty real life partner. I enjoy watching the Vikings but that doesn’t mean I recommend plundering, pillaging and experimenting with guyliner.
I love the Vikings but I dont want Dadabs to take up this look.

I love the Vikings but I dont want Dadabs to take up this look.

Whilst I found all this FSOG related chatter irritating, I realized something important. Thanks to the FSOG fallout domestic violence is centre stage. As a society we’re actually having a conversation about it – the first step in bringing about lasting change. I can’t remember a time when this issue was so prominent in the public mind. If a banal movie helps put  scourge of domestic violence into the spot light, its an unexpectedly good thing. Oh and Rosemary Batty helped a bit too.
Has anything unexpected happened in your world lately.
* For all people took the piss out of Billy McMahon he had a hawt wife and a hawt son.
Julian McMahon - not as funny as his Dad.

Julian McMahon – not as funny as his Dad.

 (Well Julian appeals to some people’s tastes – not my own but I’m Fassbent)


On Balance

When I talk about my old (pre-kids) career I feel as pathetic as Al Bundy.  You may recall catch cry “I played  High School football!”

Al bundy 2

Like Marlon Brando in On The Waterfront, I too could have been a “contender”.

I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am.

I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am.

I was an equity analyst. I used to interview CEO’s, chair investor presentations and pump stock valuations out of my wazoo  spread sheets on a daily basis. Sure I wasn’t in the orbit of say Gail Kelly or even the chick who headed up resources research at Merrill Lynch.  Nevertheless it was the peak of the economic boom and I had an opportunity that many an ambitious graduate would kill for.

meme med

So what did I do with this gift? I listened to my aging ovaries, had a sprog and tossed the whole career thing away. Then I got married and had a second (surprise) sprog, in that order.

At the time of my resignation an older, wiser colleague suggested that I should keep my options open. However the company was only offering 12 months maternity leave and I simply did not think I had the energy levels to perform on the stock market and look after a toddler. Having it all means doing it all.  I didn’t believe I could do it all. I bypassed the maternity leave option and quit. At that stage my CV wasn’t looking too shabby and I reasoned I could slot back into the corporate world when the time was right.

That was eight years ago.  My plan of slotting back into paid work hasn’t worked out so well. The time has not yet magically come “right”.

Many working mothers speak about “mummy guilt”.  I guess I am fortunate that its not a cross I’ve had to bear. My guilt is perhaps a lessor one – the guilt of not contributing financially to the household and of letting team feminism down. Feminism is struggling to give women an equal footing in the work place and I willingly trashed a my career path because I couldn’t handle the pace.

I have a thousand sniveling excuses. The finance industry is not family friendly and the stock market doesn’t care if you have to leave early to collect a sick child from kindy.  My husband was earning orders of magnitude more than I and it made no sense for him to step back.  He had a serious business to run. Dadabs taking up the caring role was NOT an option.Nor was using my parents as unpaid childminding serfs.  The cost of a nanny was unjustifiable.

Still where there’s a will, there’s a way. Thousands of women are doing it all without much support. In my particular case the will was notably lacking.

Now my youngest has started school I am on a crusade for the holy grail of work/life balance. This means either finding a part time role which is flexible enough for school pick ups or working from home. In reality these opportunities are as rare as hens teeth. The serious jobs are still overwhelmingly full time. The part time positions are in areas where I have little experience. Breaking into freelancing is like piercing the deep, Antarctic ice sheet.  You have to invest in some heavy duty equipment.

An attempt to break into freelance writing.

An attempt to break into freelance writing.

I don’t regret spending time with my girls when they were small. I hasten to add that I am exceedingly grateful that I had the option of being a stay at home mum. Many people simply don’t have that choice. However I’m starting to doubt the wisdom of the decision I made eight years ago. Perhaps I should have listened to my former colleague and kept my options open. That way there would be more paid work in my work/life balance. And I wouldn’t have to feel like I’ve dropped the baton for Team Feminism.

Have you found your work/life balance Holy Grail?

How did you cope returning to work after maternity leave?

Did you find it tough to get back into the workforce after some time out?

Why am I bothering anyway?




Its not like I’m completely idle. I work as a bookkeeper/admin support withDadab’s business but its hard to get a suntan when you’re living in your spouse’s shadow. Just ask George Clooney.


Cafe Culture & Kids

I’m over at Mother & Baby discussing the perils of eating out with kids. Venture over if you dare.

In response to poor reviews, Ms Morris declared via Facebook that her establishment was “not child friendly” unless the children were “happy to sit at a table with you, while you enjoy a coffee, and are well behaved”. That disqualifies my family.

The Facebook post instantly went viral and polarised the café-going public (which is just about everyone).

Many congratulated Ms Morris on her position. Her supporters seemed relieved that there was at least one oasis of calm where coffee drinkers could enjoy their favourite brew without interruption from screaming, undisciplined children. This comment on the Café’s Facebook page sums up the mood:

“Bottom line is your kids will ruin the dining experience I PAID for. So if you want to join me, GET A BABY SITTER.”