You have expertise that no one else can get, it becomes valuable for companies, "she knows.

You have expertise that no one else can get, it becomes valuable for companies, “she knows.

I was sick all the time because it didn’t work mentally." So at some point the 29-year-old stopped working through the competition calendar – and still stayed with her sport. Instead of dueling, she is now almost exclusively on the road with her kite on behalf of sponsors.

The story of Susanne – called Susi – Mai fits in with the fate of so many athletes whose sports do not go beyond the popular and often ridiculed trend sport image. Most wakeboarders, freerunners, freeskiers, skate- and snowboarders can only earn something if they are the absolute number one in their niche sports and have developed a unique selling point over the years. Which of course very few manage – not even kitesurfer Susi Mai.

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Only the first place counts in the Kitesurf World Cup

Until 2010, she tried her hand at the kite surfing world cup, which is organized by the world association PKRA, for eight years. Most of the time she ended up among the top five in the world at women’s events. But that was simply not enough to become wealthy and happy. "At some point there was a girl who won for the first time at the age of 14. Then I knew: I’ll never be first. When I was in my early twenties, I was already grandma" says May. Then she stopped.

With the kite surfers there is hardly anything to earn for second and third places. The sponsorship and marketing income for the events is not distributed centrally, the national associations are usually small and weak, and of course there is usually no sports aid money or the like. What remains is the great dependence on sponsors. But if you don’t win and can hardly draw attention to yourself, you have fixed financial problems, because trips to the picturesque and often remote surfing locations cost a lot of money.

From athlete to advertising icon

The blonde Susi Mai can at least bet on the pound of her appearance, she poses for her sponsors in all kinds of advertising photos and videos. She is now much more of an advertising figure than an athlete – mainly because it is more lucrative. "If someone wants me and wants to do something with me, they just pay my costs" says the 29-year-old. She also moderates kite tour events for the internet. "The sponsors were very happy. One said: Cool, that brings us a lot more than if you only finished fourth or second, nobody cares."

Ultimately, says Mai, they are just trend athletes "Employees of our sponsors – we try to market the products and drive sales". Now she travels around the world full-time – for picture taking and moderation. Ten flights a month are almost always on schedule, in Germany she is almost never, but everywhere else on all continents. Sometimes quite spontaneously.

"A colleague calls and says: I’m going to Argentina and do this and that, do you want to come with me? And I say: Yes, of course." That’s how it works. And the sponsors like to pay. "Once you have a name in the scene, it’s pretty easy to move around. One of them calls the sponsor and says: Susi wants to come too. Then nobody says no." The main donor for many trend athletes is Red Bull – the energy drink manufacturer also advertises with Susi Mai.

"Freesports are all about style"

The Austrian group does not want to comment in detail on the reasons for its commitment, nor are there any figures on sponsored athletes or the scope of the fees. It is clear that companies like to decorate themselves with a youthful touch. "Freesports are all about style, who looks cool, who looks cool?" says Susi Mai – and hopes for job security in her business. Last year she developed the first women’s line for kites. "You have expertise that no one else gets, becomes valuable for companies" she knows. "It wouldn’t be far-fetched if I started somewhere later as an athlete manager."

What if it all goes wrong? "Then I’ll just go back to my island." The parents emigrated with their daughter to the Dominican Republic, and 25 years ago they bought a hotel there – right on the beach. Susi Mai says: "You can live there too."

Parents-to-be should carefully check their taxation data from the previous year. Otherwise they might get less parental allowance in 2012 than they are entitled to, says Uwe Rauhöft from the New Association of Wage Tax Aid Associations. Due to the failed conversion of the tax card to an electronic procedure, some data could be incorrect.

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Electronic income tax card only from 2013

Originally, the data comparison between employers and the tax authorities was to be carried out electronically from January 2012. However, due to technical problems, the introduction of the electronic wage tax deduction procedure has been postponed to 2013. This is why the previous cardboard income tax card will continue to be used in the coming year. "Due to this hiccup with the changeover, you may pay too much wage tax and thus have disadvantages when calculating the parental allowance" explains Rauhöft.

Has the cheapest tax class been chosen?

If the wage tax bracket or the individual exemptions have changed compared to 2011, every employee must inform the tax office and submit a certificate to the employer. Parents-to-be should make sure that the cheapest possible tax bracket is entered, because the parental allowance is calculated on the basis of the previous net wage, says Rauhöft.

The most important tax tips for families

With a few tips and tricks, families can save taxes. The tax office participates at least to a small extent in the everyday costs that arise with children. Childcare costs in particular have been better deducted since 2006. Some costs for children can also be stated in the tax return. But the terms are often confusing. We have put together the most important tax tips for families

After several tragic cases of abused and neglected children, the youth welfare offices get stricter conditions. The Bundestag decided that every guardian must, as a rule, personally visit a child they care for once a month. To enable him to do this, he will in future only be responsible for a maximum of 50 children and no longer – as is currently the case – for 120 children.

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Caused by: Death of a two year old

The background are cases such as the death of two-year-old Kevin from Bremen. The little boy’s body was found in 2006 in the refrigerator of his drug-addicted foster father with severe signs of abuse. Kevin’s guardian at the youth welfare office was responsible for 240 to 270 children.

Regular visits to youth welfare offices

Imminent dangers for the so-called ward are now to be recognized at an early stage through regular visits. In individual cases, however, the rule of the monthly meeting can be deviated from. The law states that if the circumstances so require, the intervals between visits could be shortened, but also lengthened. One does not want to squeeze the youth welfare offices into too tight a corset, explained the FDP legal expert Stephan Thomae.

Opposition: Often measures cannot be financed

The opposition did not vote against the law, but abstained. For example, the family-policy spokesman for the left-wing parliamentary group, Jörn Wunderlich, spoke of an improvement – but for many municipalities the measures were not financially viable.

Are 50 children too many?

The Social Democrats advocated raising the maximum childcare limit for a guardian at 40 and not just 50 children. The SPD MP Sonja Steffen criticized that with 50 wards and one visit per month this means two to three visits per day for a guardian with a full-time position.

Thomae said, however, that some federal states had already had good experiences with the limit to 50.

A child from a previous relationship meets the new partner of the father or mother: In this constellation, conflicts can easily arise. For example, if the child rejects dad’s new girlfriend, the father gets into a loyalty conflict between the child and his partner. "This creates feelings of guilt. At first this is normal, but when the partner always takes their child’s side, things get complicated" explains Rüdiger Wacker, a psychologist from Essen. Instead, the offspring should be made aware of the advantages of the new situation: "So dad can make it clear that he is much happier with the new girlfriend."

Sympathy cannot be forced

If the child continues to corrode against the girlfriend, the father should take a clear position: "The child has to learn that the new partner is present. And you can make it clear, ‘She can also give you instructions, otherwise there will be trouble with me’" advises Wacker. However, one cannot force mutual sympathy. If your own child and the new partner don’t come up with a common denominator, you have to accept that.

The ZDF documentary is about children who have to look after themselves to a large extent due to their parents’ work "Pascal – home alone": The film from the ZDF documentary series "37 degrees" accompanies three key children through their everyday lives and shows how children find their way under today’s living and working conditions, what their parents trust them and where their limits are.

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Child-hostile working hours

The term "Key child" comes from the 50s and 60s, when there were no childcare offers in the afternoons and you could tell from the lanyards whose parents were double earners. Today there are all-day schools, day care centers and youth clubs, but by no means complete care. Childcare places are scarce and the parents’ working hours are often not child-friendly. Experts agree: our working life produces many modern key children. There are more and more single parents who are fully employed, mini and multi-jobbers who also have to do their jobs at night and on weekends. Or commuters who cover long distances every day and only get home late in the evening.

Pascal has to cope alone

When Pascal comes into the kitchen in the morning, there is a note there: "Pascal, call me when you’re awake, then eat something and get dressed. No nonsense. Please skip the TV. Mummy. We’re playing Uno tonight." Pascal’s mother has been working shifts in a hardware store for 14 years. If she comes home late or leaves for work at 5:30 a.m., Pascal has to cope on his own – also if the shift falls on the weekend.

Pascal (10) is "Key child" since he was in school. After class he goes home, unlocks himself with his apartment key and structures his afternoon alone while his mother works. After homework, Pascal vacuums the apartment, takes away the garbage and takes care of his rabbit.

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