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Get to know: Anja Livingston

Anja is a Program Manager

She is a qualified teacher with over 10 years of secondary school teaching experience. For the past 15 years Anja has been working with schools, business and community sectors in developing partnerships, career development programs, event and project management, and delivering training and workshops to students, teachers, parents and community.

What is your favourite sport to watch?

Unlike the other members of my family, I am not really a sports junkie, but I do like to watch AFL football. It is fast moving, action-packed, with a bit of biff! I love watching it live, being part of the action, feeling the mood of the crowd and getting into the cheering and sometimes the booing!! It’s a great stress reliever! And who do I love to watch? The GWS Giants of course.

What is one word that you would use to describe your team?

2 words – Absolutely Awesome

The longer answer: They are a bunch of very smart, highly dedicated, kind, generous, loyal and hard- working individuals who certainly keep me on my toes! And they make coming to work a pleasure as they also know how to have a laugh!

What fictional place would you like to visit?

Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory – although I couldn’t guarantee that I would keep out of trouble.

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How to stretch your marketing budget

As a business owner you have to do everything yourself; the banking, sales, marketing and budgeting, and it can become overwhelming.  There are never enough hours in the day, and in the first few years, generally never enough money in the bank; but you persevere, you have too!  The buck stops with you and I’m sure you ask yourself many times a day, why you started this business in the first place?

It’s Ok, I know, I’ve been there. The reason I went into business was to have more control over my finances and create a lifestyle I wanted!  Well, that was the plan!  But how many times have you as a business owner, as I did, found yourself out of control, reacting, rather than being proactive?  Become subjective rather than objective?  You know it when it happens, but circumstances seem to be against you, and you’re always too busy.

We all find ourselves, working in the business rather than on the business.  So how do we change this cycle?  How do we look outside, increase our business profile, and grow?

Every business is different, based on individual needs and long-term goals, but the first step for everyone, is to take a long, deep breath; get out of your head, sit down and write a to do list; prioritise at least two years of goals with three monthly timeframes; make them SMART, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely, don’t try and do everything in the first twelve months.

Then, open your mind to new ideas, step outside of your comfort zone to get a fresh perspective, and there are many ways to do this; some cost money and others don’t.  One that only costs you time is collaborating with like-minded business owners.

Whatever business you are in, you work with suppliers, network with other business owners, maybe spend what leisure time you have at a sporting club or in a yoga class.  How many people do you meet daily, that have common interests? Have businesses of their own? Work for a known brand?

Everyone has different life experiences, skillsets, contacts and imagination.  Just one new idea could be the one that skyrockets your profile on Social Media.  So, organise a coffee catchup and brainstorm ideas for a joint promotion with those acquaintances that have a product or service that fits with your own.  Their participation will inspire and enable you both to think bigger picture with your marketing ideas.

Collaboration from a marketing perspective can save you money; it could halve your marketing budget as you share in the costs.  Working with another business towards achieving the same promotional goal, will motivate you and enable you and them to get maximum impact for the promotion and more bang for your marketing dollars.  It’s a Win, Win for everyone!


Deborah Sams

Business Advisor

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Get to know: Helena Newman

Helena is our Administration Manager

With a strong customer service background Helena’s career moved to Administration Management in 2002. Helena is the program manager for the AusIndustry Small Business Advisory Service (ASBAS) and is experienced in the financial management and reporting of government contracts. She is currently completing a Diploma in Business Administration.

If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go?

I would love to visit my father’s birthplace, Finland. My must-see list would include Santa’s workshop in Lapland, a husky dog sled ride and staying in glass igloo witnessing the magnificent Northern Lights display.

What do you enjoy doing to relieve stress?

My any time stress reliever would be a Hatha yoga session. However when appropriate, a lovely glass of champagne while enjoying the view with good company would almost certainly suffice.

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How to save and manage your money

In recent years I have spent most of my life travelling, living overseas, going on holidays, buying most things I want/need and having the money up front to pay for it. People always ask, how can you afford to do that? Especially those that know me and know I live on a fairly modest income, especially whilst I was living overseas.

The answer is simple; create a savings plan (and stick to it), live within your means and don’t spend money on unnecessary things you don’t really need E.g. buying coffee and lunch every day, a new car, laptop or subscription tv etc. Don’t use a credit card, this way I ensure I can’t get into debt and I am not buying things I can’t afford. I also shop around to get the best deals to save money. Spend a little time doing some research or asking for a discount or a better price can save plenty of money in the long run.

To start building savings, you need to know where you spend your money. The easiest way to do this is to put a budget together and track your spending. Budgeting helps you manage your money day to day. You can stay on top of bills and work out what expenses you can reduce. Also by learning to check your bank statements and check your bills, you can improve how you manage your money day to day.

I follow a pretty simple guideline when managing my money and it seems to have worked. This can be used on nearly any income and suit to most persons financial needs.

Firstly, I set up six accounts with one or two financial intuitions. I shop around to ensure there are no extra fees for the extra accounts, no ATMs fees or withdrawal fees and that three of the accounts accrue monthly interest. Talk to your bank or credit union to find the best product for your situation.

For information on savings accounts that don’t charge fees – find out which Australian banks offer basic bank accounts on the Australian Bankers’ Association website:

You can also obtain a fee-free account from your credit union or building society.

ASIC’s MoneySmart website Savings accounts helps you to find the best possible product for you:

I use the accounts in the following ways:

  • Every day spending
  • Bills
  • Car/Home
  • Short term savings/interest account
  • Long-term savings/interest account
  • Holiday/interest account

Secondly, I then look at my weekly wage, I work out how much needs to go into each account, set up an automatic transfer on the day I get paid and commit that money to each account. I have my wage paid to my bills account so that I don’t accidentally spend it from my everyday account.

I organise my money in the following format.

  • Everyday spending – Food, groceries, petrol, daily essentials, entertainment. Work out what you would spend each week on these items and have this money transferred to the spending account. If you run out of money before weeks end, don’t buy anything else and don’t use money from another account, especially your bills or Car/home account.
  • Bills – Phone, internet, electricity/gas, health insurance, credit card repayments, loan repayments, superannuation etc. Work out from past bills what the average weekly amount is (always overestimate) and leave that money aside in the bills account. Pay all of these bills directly from this account. You can set up direct debit/deposit, this way, you always know you should have the money in the account to cover your essential bills
  • Car/Home – All money related to these items put into a separate account, as these two items are your big spends and some of the most important assets to keep functioning. E.g. Rent/mortgage, car repayments, insurances, car registration, rates, repairs and car services. By working out the average weekly amount (again overestimate) you need to spend on each of these items (including putting as little as $20 aside each week for unforeseen car or house repairs/services), paying these bills from this account and setting up a direct debit/deposit will ensure that these bills are covered and you have some money set aside in case you need repairs.

Now that I’ve covered the basics and you have your groceries and bills paid, your car is running and you have a roof over your head. Whatever money is left, I prioritize where I need to put the most money (depending on your stage of life) and split three ways into the savings accounts, where they can accrue interest. Most banks have some sort of internet-based savings account where if you deposit each month your will accrue interest.

  • Short term savings – I use this for things like saving for birthdays, Christmas, new clothes, entertainment, concerts, sporting events, new appliances, sporting goods, medical/dental etc.
  • Long-term savings – I use this account for things like saving for a housing or car loan deposit, retirement savings account, caravan, rental property, housing extensions or pool etc.
  • Holiday – This includes, costs for accommodation, transport, activities, food, general spending money etc. I pay for all costs related to the holiday from this account. This is to ensure that when I get my four weeks annual leave each year, I can afford to go somewhere and do what I enjoy.

Tip: I find that if you want to go somewhere on holiday (within your financial means of course), book it first, then you have put money aside or pay it off for it each week to go.

You can, of course, combine some of the accounts E.g. have only one bill and one or two savings accounts depending on your personal circumstances and financial situation. But is important to have at least one account each for everyday spending, bills and savings to ensure that you get the best results and can manage your money.

Make sure you write down your savings goal and plan. A few tips for successfully achieving your goal are:

  • save regularly and stick to your plan
  • track your progress
  • tell your family and friends about your goal so they can help you stay on track
  • if you fall short one week, try to make it up the next
  • Those who regularly review and remind themselves of their goals are more likely to achieve them

This is all just general advice and of course speak to a financial professional if you have specific financial queries, however, this has helped me by using this format to save money, travel the world and do the things that I want to do. However as previously mentioned, one of the best ways to save money is to cut back on the things you don’t really need, don’t use a credit card, shop around and look for a better deal and monitor your bills and bank statements.

Hopefully, you can use this as a guide to help you achieve your financial goals.

Jae Lear

Pathways Coordinator

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QUPCAKES: updates 6 and 7

Update 6

At this week’s session, we got back to basics. Each student was given a folder in which there were handouts covering what we had covered so far in QUPCAKES. It was good to go back and have a look at all the different topics, but the best thing that came out of the session for me, was that the students are taking ownership of QUPCAKES. In a practical sense, this means that next term, the students will take over the planning of QUPCAKES. They will decide what support they will need, in the way of guest speakers, practical demonstrations and the like.

We have another 3 sessions before the end of this term, and at the Week 10 session, the students will do the planning for  Term 2.

But for now, we’re looking forward to next week – we have a taste testing event. At our Thursday afternoon session next week, students will be cooking 4 different cupcake recipes.

On the Friday morning, QHS students will have the opportunity to taste these four different recipes, and give us feedback on specially provided survey forms.

The QUPCAKE team will be running this event, and it should be interesting to see which recipe is voted the favourite!

Update 7

This week’s session was very busy! The students decided that they would like QHS students to choose their favourite cupcakes recipe. In an earlier session, students had decided that there were four recipes that they wanted to choose from. So, this week, the group made two dozen of each recipe.

The recipes were: the Ultimate Cupcake Recipe, Yogurt Cupcakes, Vanilla Cupcakes, and the QHS Recipe for cupcakes.

They then had a taste testing event on the Friday: students were asked to pay $2, and for this they got to taste a quarter piece of each recipe.

The QUPCAKE team organised this event well: they had four recipe stations, and survey forms for the students to fill out when they had tasted each recipe.

The winner was the Ultimate Cupcake Recipe, which was really tasty!

The only negative for the event was that the participation was not what we expected – at the end we had around 15 survey forms, and all but one had chosen the Ultimate recipe!

However, all was not lost, because the students sold the leftover cupcakes at the lunch break. It should be interesting to hear the feedback at next week’s session. And after that, it’s onto the frosting!

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QUPCAKES: updates 4 and 5

Update 4

This week’s Session 4 turned out to be very interesting. We had a guest speaker, Germaine Muller, who is the Marketing Officer at SRBEC. Germaine talked to the students about marketing QUPCAKES. After over an hours discussion about logos, taglines, colours, social media and branding, all the students realised that the cooking part of QUPCAKES was in fact a fairly small part of the setting up of the business!

It was terrific to see everyone come to the same conclusion: setting up a business is a process which involves a lot more than the products you sell.

Anyway, this means that we will be spending our time in the near future addressing many other aspects of our business so that we make sure that QUPCAKES has a solid foundation!

Update 5

This week in QUPCAKES, we once again found ourselves talking about the business, and what we wanted to make of it. This week’s guest speaker was Janine Linklater, who is a business consultant at SRBEC.

Janine talked about the importance of setting up your business model properly. She covered such issues as values, having a good strategic plan, business objectives, and also the importance of continuously looking at your business to make sure that you are following the model that you have set up. The session was challenging, and it gave the team an opportunity to really think hard about what they wanted to create with the QUPCAKES business.

A great big thanks to Janine for her wonderful contribution to the QUPCAKES program!

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QUPCAKES: the second and third updates

Update 2

The second session of QUPCAKES was interesting and informative for everyone – the first thing the students asked when they arrived for the session was “When can we cook some QUPCAKES?” and when I replied “Right now!” there were smiles all around. The kids got on with it, and  soon, that lovely smell of cooking QUPCAKES was everywhere! When the cakes cooled down, they were frosted and ready for sale the next day.

A great big thank you must go to everyone at Queanbeyan High School, who bought our QUPCAKES! The kids made $66 from the sales, which was a terrific result from their very first QUPCAKE event! It’s onwards and upwards from now on. Check out our  QUPCAKES next week for the next exciting instalment Cheers, Paula.

Update 3

This week in our third session, we had as our guest speaker Frances Moore, who is the Equity Officer from the Australian Catholic University, Frances spoke to our group about Multiple Intelligences.

The best part of this session was that all the students realised that they all had different strengths, and that these strengths could be used in the various aspects of the QUPCAKES business.