Anissa Cavallo was always good with money.
But when her seven-year-marriage ended she was left so broke she had to move back in with her parents to survive.
Anissa, then 43, was in shock – she had worked her way up the corporate ladder in financial services, owned two properties and a healthy share portfolio. By the time she was divorced she had nothing.
The mum admits she was hyper-focused on her corporate career, helping her clients get richer by day. And in the evenings she was busy looking after her kids.
This meant she wasn’t paying as much attention on her own family’s finances and had given up her trademark ‘total control’.
Speaking to FEMAIL, Anissa, 48, explained how she managed to claw her way back to financial independence and now has 15 properties to her name.
Anissa Cavello reveals how she rebuilt her wealth after her marriage ended
She recently took her family on their first real holiday since the divorce
The mum-of-two always considered herself a corporate woman – and that didn’t change when she met her now ex-husband at 36, or when she had her children.
‘I brought a degree of wealth into the marriage,’ she said.
‘While we were together we bought an investment home for our children. This was the only asset to make it through out divorce.
‘Everything I had before the marriage and anything else we’d made on the way was gone by the time the relationship was officially over.
‘As a family we were spending too much, always had the best and newest of everything.
‘Despite my healthy income, we had to sell off assets to pay off debts and survive.’
THE HARD YARDS
Anissa said she was still the family breadwinner and ‘parent one’ after having children, and described the mental load as ‘ridiculous’.
‘It was a really bad way to mother,’ she said.
The juggle started early when Anissa didn’t take any substantial maternity leave after either birth.
She was back in the office just weeks after her son was born with her bosses transforming the photocopy room so she could nurse him when needed.
She started dropping him off at daycare when he was only three months old.
‘I remember the educators cooing over him, he was the youngest baby they had ever had at that centre. And it ripped my heart out,’ she said.
Anissa went back to work even more quickly after her daughter was born.
‘I started work the day I had her. Everyone had come to visit, I had fed her for the first time and she was sleeping when I picked up my laptop.
Anissa’s whole life revolved around worked – she was the family breadwinner as well as the main caregiver
‘I saw an email and called the fund manager and he was shocked he said “didn’t you just have a baby”,’ she recalled.
But Anissa said she ‘didn’t think twice about it’ as she was the one ‘funding’ the family’s expensive lifestyle.
As the months turned into years Anissa began to worry about the time she spent away from her children.
And the cracks began to show.
‘I felt I had things together but I was burnt out. And I didn’t want to be the mum who didn’t see her kids,’ she said.
Her children started pleading for her attention.
‘They told me they didn’t want the toys, they wanted me,’ she said.
Anissa decided to take a break from work so she could see how she could improve her family relationships.
Anissa moved in with her parents where she was able to save money and rebuild her life. Pictured: Anissa and her mum
This is when she noticed the impact that her overwhelmingly busy life had wreaked on her family finances, which she ‘co-managed’ with her then husband.
She had hoped her assets would be mature enough to begin replacing her salary but realised she wasn’t even close to being able to go part-time or take a proper break from work.
Determined to build a better work-life balance she decided to start a business in property management after she noticed her properties were making more money than her other investments.
The mum-of-two knew she could negotiate the tough property market and being her own boss would give her the flexibility to be with her children.
‘Putting all of my focus back at home and on our dwindling family finances was the beginning of the end for the marriage’, she explained.
Anissa said her heart broke when she sent her son to daycare aged three months
MAKING THE MOVE
Anissa said she spent two years knowing she ‘had to get out’ of her marriage.
‘By the time I walked away there was nothing other than a property in my super left. It was quite a shock.’
Anissa was scared to end the marriage but said it ended up being the best thing for everyone involved.
‘I had moved out of the family home, into a rental and I was struggling to keep it,’ she said.
‘My mum came and found me in a café, and told me I had to move in with her and dad, with the kids.’
Anissa had been out of home and independent since the age of 16 – but swallowed her pride and took the help.
‘I had nothing left but in a way that was a good thing, because I had nothing to lose. Everything had been stripped away and I said to myself this is as bad as it can get, but it is fine,’ she said.
Anissa spent two years at her parents’ house getting back on her feet and started the ‘current version’ of her investment property business – EDA Property.
‘The key is to buy good quality homes at the right price,’ she said.
Anissa also praised the ‘rentvester’ model.
‘It’s financially a better option – to rent where I want to live, and own elsewhere,’ she said.
Anissa has recently purchased her 15th investment property.
She has also started going on family holidays with her children again.
Anissa said she learned the value of having ‘mood killing’ conversations about money when her marriage broke down – she is now with a new partner (pictured together) who is on the same page
‘The whole situation made me think twice about the old lifestyle. My family always has the best of everything. I don’t need the newest car, I have a 10 year old car and quite frankly can’t see the benefit of buying a new $150,000 car. Not when I can buy a $600,000 property instead with my equity,’ she said.
Though she still occasionally spoils herself
‘I love fashion, but instead of buying a new bag every few months, I’ll buy one really nice one every year, and I will still buy clothes just not as many. I am not as wasteful,’ she said.
Anissa, who is now with a new partner, said it was important to have tough conversations up front with your other half.
‘It can be a buzz kill but it is super important,’ she said.
‘There needs to be an understanding and it needs to be in writing. Both parties need to be financially literate and agree to certain goals.
‘I also recommend keeping any assets from before the relationship completely separate.
‘These conversations should be accepted in a healthy relationship.’
Anissa added she and her partner are on the same page financially, and have kept their assets separate.