Educate yourself on financial advice

You might be surprised to know, that working out how to achieve your financial goals is easy and you don’t have to earn a high income to do it.

Whether you’re looking to get your financial affairs in order, buy a first or subsequent home, start a family or prepare for your retirement, seeking quality advice from a qualified financial expert can help you achieve your goals sooner, and with more confidence.

So just what is financial advice?

Financial advice is about much more than just making money. It’s about creating new opportunities to help you achieve whatever you desire in life. A financial planner can help work out what’s important to you. They can help develop a plan that aligns your financial decisions to your lifestyle goals.

Priorities can change over time, as can economic conditions, government legislation and investment markets. Advisers can help re-focus your plan, track your progress and keep you accountable along the way, whether you’re starting out, building wealth or planning for retirement.

Seeking financial advice will help you identify solutions to important questions like:

  • Will I have enough income to live comfortably in retirement?
  • Is my family protected should something unexpected happen – what do I need to know about life insurance?
  • How can I make sure I have enough money to fund my children’s education?
  • How can I invest and structure my finances in the most tax effective way?
  • How can I manage my debt and pay off my home sooner?
  • How can I make my money work harder for me?
  • What’s the best structure to protect my investments and assets?
  • How can I maximise my entitlements to government benefits?
  • How does estate planning fit?

At its best, financial advice is an ongoing long-term partnership centered entirely on your goals.

If you’re weighing up whether financial advice is right for you, consider booking an initial complimentary obligation free appointment.  We’d be happy to help!

Stay on top of your business finances

As you know, your finances can make or break your business, so it’s vital to keep them in check. Here’s some tips!

Don’t miss out on entitlements

Take advantage of recent tax and regulatory changes, such as:

Also, the lower 27.5% tax rate for businesses with a turnover under $25 million came into force starting in the 2017–18 financial year.

Brush up on basics

Have a clear idea of your where your income streams are coming from and where your funds are going in expenses. It’s a good idea to always overestimate business expenses and to keep an emergency fund in case something goes wrong… simply becuase it can. Constantly review your budget as it will keep changing over time.

Cash flow is the fuel that keeps a business running smoothly and you need to keep a close eye on it.  Do you understand your break even point?  How many sales are required before you cover costs and then turn a profit?

Get help with bookkeeping

You might save money by doing your own bookkeeping, but seriously, do you want or need to?  If you aren’t good at it or have trouble finding the time, it can actually hurt your business. Hiring a bookkeeper or accountant with the expertise to dissect your numbers, help you calculate deductions, organise your cash flow and keep your records in order might just be one of the best investments you’ll ever make.  I know it was for me!

Despite being a finance chick myself, it’s not what I love doing or am especially good at.  I’d rather be sitting with my clients and assisting them any day of the week!

Also, if you’re tech savvy, consider using a finance app or cloud accounting solution that provides real-time insights into your finances and saves you even more time.

Be proactive

Don’t be afraid to shop around for new suppliers or to negotiate better deals.  Loyalty is lovely, but not when it hurts your bottom line.

Encourage clients to pay quickly and email invoices as soon as you complete a job.

Most importantly, take time off to work on your business, rather than just working in it.  It might be ‘easier said than done’ but it’s a fabulous and worthy investment of your time.

Get Retirement Ready!

Planning is key… and so is getting advice!

Avoiding pinching pennies in retirement because you haven’t saved enough means serious planning.

First, figure out how much you’ll need!

Find out how much income you will need by answering a few simple questions:

  • What are your perosnal retirement goals?  Do they include climbing mountains, lawn bowls, sky-diving or spoiling the grandkids?
  • What kind of lifestyle do you want?  Are you quite frugal or want to live it up?
  • What is your life expectancy?  Do you have good genes and are likely to outlast your cronies?  Or have you lived a little harder than most and might not see the great-grandkids arrive?

While it’s relatively easy to set goals and have some lifestyle expectations for retirement, estimating how long you’ll live can be tricky, but is crucial to your retirement decisions. It can help decide your own asset allocation or when to stop working to ensure you have enough funds for your retirement.

Although there are tools and calculators you can use for working out life expectancy, your financial adviser can help guide you through the process too. Your adviser can also help you come up with an estimate of your required retirement income based on your lifestyle expectations, risk profile and life expectancy.

Second, ensure you’ll have enough income!

With an estimate of how much you’ll personally need, your adviser can make recommendations to help you meet your required retirement income. These strategies may include transition to retirement or contribution strategies, growing your retirement fund by investing some or all of it or even growing wealth outside of superannuation.

Most investment products carry some sort of risk, so it’s important to choose ones that suit your risk appetite and need for returns.

If you want a regular flow of income in your retirement, there are options available for you, as well as ensuring you won’t outlive your funds.

Always seek professional advice and how you can get appropriate outcomes for you.  And of course, I’d love to help!

Sticking to it!

I’m seriously not a New Years Resolution kind of girl, but definitely like to set goals… and preferably ones I know I can achieve.

One year, it was Eat Slower. Being a bit of an inhaler of food, that was a good one… and I’m much better at it now.

Another time, it was Do Something you Love, so I took up singing lessons.  (I clearly note the distinction here between What you Love and not What You’re Good At!) See, it’s not epic like Do Base Camp or go Diving with Whale Sharks… they’ll come later! They’re on the To Do List, but can hardly be considered Resolutions!

At the start of this year, I decided Move More was achievable.

I HATE exercise… and I’ve tried a lot… I don’t like to sweat and I’d probably only run if I was being chased…with an axe!

I’ve never had an endorphin rush in my life from working out and certainly have never felt that I’d improved my life by struggling through a personal training workout or gym session, and truly, I’ve tried!

A woman told me today she feels ‘holier than thou’ when she’s worked out in the morning, meaning she can go enjoy the rest of her day knowing she’s already done herself a whole lotta good. I guess I get that!

And I have persevered in trying to find something, anything that I don’t mind doing and may have just finally found what does the trick!

Well, I’ve been going for 8-9 months now, so that’s pretty epic for me.

A girlfriend asked if I’d try Deep Water Running with her and like you, I immediately said ‘what’s that?’

Basically, it consists of pretend running, cycling and cross-country skiing your way up and down an Olympic sized swimming pool with a few other exercises thrown in and trying to ensure your buoyancy belt doesn’t ride up under your boobs or armpits for much of the time to blaring music while being told what to do by your perky instructor for an hour.

The weightlessness is completely brilliant for anyone who has ever had an injury, dodgy hip or a bad knee.  Consequently, I’m one of the youngest in the class of gorgeous old chooks and a few brave men… and quite considerably too. Bless!

(I rarely admit to having had three compressed discs in my lower back these days as it totally ages me… and it also means that cobra pose in yoga is totally out of the question.) Usually now, you’ll find me on Saturday and Sunday mornings at the local pool in my cozzie and ready to jump in with anywhere between 15 and 35 regulars, weather dependent.

It’s a bit of a social outing for many and you’ll be pleased to know that oversized sunglasses and floppy hats are out in full force! As is hot pink or red lippy (occasionally running into the wrinkles,) tennis visors, serviceable caps and some who, bless them, thought it was an Easter bonnet parade.

Apparently even chewing? smacking? gum open mouthed for the hour is also completely acceptable.  As you see, anything goes!

Nearly all appears serene on the surface as we leisurely coast up and down, sticking diligently to the left of the lane. Underneath however, there’s a frenzy of frenetic activity as our legs and arms pump, shuffle, scoot and paddle us up and down.

My freckle to flesh ratio is on the increase and my motley Celtic completion may be said to almost be approaching light tan.  I think I’ve even freckled in new places never before terribly exposed to the Aussie sun!

Anyhoo, it’s been pretty fun and allowed me to consistently meet my Move More goal, which is a great thing.

On Sundays we also get the added bonus of the gents of the Beer Belly Brigade who pop by early in their short shorts with their buoyancy belts and pool noodles to watch the last of our gyrations before jumping in themselves.

Brilliant!

Also assisting with the Move More Mantra is that we’ve had to rent a flat while renovating our future classroom in the country and walking up and down four stories in heels every day also counts… even if I’m heavy breathing at my front door of an evening, or more so if I head up to my bedroom… five floors!

So, whoever said New Years Resolutions were a waste, just didn’t set the right ones.  Why not try again yourself sometime?  I’d love to hear how you go… oh and yes, I’m still singing (warbling) regularly too!

Now, where are those Latin Dance classes held?

A couple of questions for your adviser

With all the drama currently surrounding the Royal Commission, banks, financial institutions and advisers are heavily in the spotlight.

Whether you have an adviser, or you want to start looking, what are a couple of questions you should ask before you get started?  Remember, you’re looking for the best person to fit your needs.

1  What is your background? What formal qualifications do you hold?

In dealing with any professional, it is important to have an understanding of their professional background and qualifications.  Doctors and Lawyers usually have their certificates proudly displayed on the wall.  But how can you be sure?

All financial advisers in Australia must meet minimum educational requirements and these standards are constantly being raised, soon to a degree level minimum as the Industry works toward becoming a Profession.  That said, there’s already many professionals working in the financial advice space.

And, the more qualified and experienced your adviser is, the better for you. Your Adviser should also show a commitment to continual ongoing education. When looking at an adviser’s qualifications, consider their formal education and their life and business experience:

  • What degrees, diplomas or post-graduate qualifications do they have? Do they hold a basic diploma or a Masters Degree?
  • Do they have professional designations that have been earned or paid for?
  • What specialist accreditations do they hold? e.g. life risk specialist, SMSF specialist, estate-planning or aged-care specialist etc.
  • What is their experience as a financial adviser?  How many years have they been advising or in the financial services space?  And how long do they plan on continuing to give advice?
  • Are they a member of any industry associations or professional bodies that adhere to a code of ethics, such as the Association of Financial Advisers or the Financial Planning Association?

If you think someone might be fudging the certificate on the wall, you can always check an adviser’s qualifications through the financial advisers register on the ASIC MoneySmart Website.

2 What is the scope of your advice?  What can you advise me on?

In a similar way to lawyers or medical professionals, not all financial advisers provide the same services.  Some offer holistic advice, covering everything, others offer advice in limited areas such as insurance or superannuation. It is important to ask a potential adviser if they are capable of providing all of the services you require. It’s no surprise that an adviser that suits one individual may not suit another.  These areas should all be explained on the Adviser Profile that accompanies their Financial Services Guide.

Some advisers may not have the experience or qualifications to advise on a particular specialist areas that you require, such as self-managed superannuation funds, direct shares or gearing and margin loans.

Have a think about your long-term needs and objectives and make sure the adviser you choose can meet them all.

This is a person you will be trusting to shape your financial future and have a long-term relationship with.  Also ask your adviser what actions they will take to implement, update and maintain any plan you devise together.  How often will you meet with your adviser? Do you have access to a team of experts or just the adviser?  If your adviser is on leave or uncontactable, who can they turn to?

 

These are just a couple of questions at the start of any conversation you can have.  And the beauty of the internet means that you can even do some snooping before you meet to qualify your potential adviser before you arrive.

There’s lots more to cover, like fees and charges, whether the adviser is ‘aligned’ or ‘non-aligned’ with a large institution or how long they’d like to keep practicing for…  But, you might just get a feel of whether or not they’re the one for you from these couple of questions.

 

Are you a Key Person?

Key-person insurance is Protection for your business

How would your organisation cope if something happened to a key person?

Unexpected events can play havoc not only with people’s lives but also with businesses.

However, business owners are often so busy they don’t stop to consider the true cost of the loss of a key employee, business partner or even themselves.  Eeeek!

The knock-on effects may include disruption to other staff, missed opportunities, delays or penalties for late delivery of projects, lost revenue, increased expenses, significant costs to find and train a suitable replacement, loan repayment and even loss of the business.  Ouch!

What is key-person insurance?

Key-person insurance protects a business’s financial position against the significant impact of a traumatic event such as the death or disablement of a key person.

A key person may be an employee, owner or an individual whose contribution to the business is significant.

This cover is not a specific kind of insurance but the application of life insurance to protect against key-person risk. It can be used with buy/sell life insurance (also known as business succession insurance) which covers the change of ownership if an owner dies or becomes incapacitated.

The benefits

Often a cash injection to an affected business may keep a bad situation from becoming worse or even catastrophic. The insurance proceeds may be used to:

  • minimise or eliminate the potential loss of revenue, sales or profits
  • help cover the often significant costs of finding or training a replacement
  • service or repay any debts that are called in
  • cover the impact of a writedown in the goodwill of the business
  • provide needed liquidity
  • help keep staff and maintain essential supplier relationships.

Are there alternatives?

A business may have other strategies to help manage their risks, including asset sales, promoting staff or reallocating workloads even temporarily, using profits, borrowing more, or drawing down existing loan facilities.

However, insurance is the only practical alternative where a business doesn’t have the capacity to cover its risks.

If you want to know more and see if it can apply to your business, why not give me a call? 07 5593 0855.

Planning a holiday? Here are some tips

With the summer holidays now behind us, it’s not too late to do your financial planning for the next holidays – or 2019. Here’s how to minimise your financial stress for a well-deserved break.

Plan ahead

OK, at the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious, the earlier you start planning, the more money you can save. And when it comes to peak travelling times such as December, typically the earlier you book your flights and accommodation the better your account balance will be.

Create a budget

Whether you choose Bali, Barcelona, Brazil or the bush, create a budget. Account for expenses such as flights, petrol, food and activities, such as visiting museums or a spa. Research activities at your destination and see if you can book early – or if there’s some great free ones. The more you can book and pay for beforehand, the less you’ll need to worry about overspending. 

I’m counting down until my 25th Wedding Anniversary next year and we’ve always dreamed of a trip around the Greek Islands.  I’m already in overdrive looking at airfares and cruises… extensions and adventures.  And ok, it’s dearer than any trip we’ve ever done, but hey! how many make it to their 25th?  That’s got to be worth a splurge!

Start saving

When you’ve worked out how much you will need, start saving. Even putting a small amount aside each week can add up, so you could enjoy some amazing experiences you may not have thought you could afford. A good tip is to open a high-interest savings account and set up an automatic transfer on your payday.  Alternately, offset the funds against your mortgage to save interest on your loan and draw them back as needed.

I also use a travel money card that I transfer my spending money into each week as I’m preparing for a trip.  It means I average in to the account depending on what the dollar/euro/ringgit/pound/kwatcha is doing on the day and means I have funds available in the local currency when I travel.

Hunt for bargains

There are lots of useful websites that compare deals on everything from flights to tours. Sometimes, a package deal is more effective – make sure to research well.

Just make sure you turn on private browsing when researching online. Warning!! Some travel sites track users and raise prices on the things you are researching if you return repeatedly.  (The cheek!)  I’m a bit of a fan of Trip Advisor and have made a few bookings via booking.com for hotels and Viator for adventures.

And don’t worry if you have left things to the last minute – there’s a website for that too: lastminute.com.au.

While you’re on holiday…

It can be easy to splurge – you’re on holidays after all. But to avoid spending the rest of your life paying it off, keep track of your finances while you’re away.  And seriously, do you really need that Sombrero and yard glass?

Set yourself a daily spending limit – or use a travel app to help you stay on track.

But if that’s too much of a buzzkill, you can transfer the exact amount you’ll need into a bank account just for your holiday. This may help you stay out of your other accounts unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Talk to your adviser

Your adviser may help you create a financial plan tailored to help you achieve the holiday you want.

I’d love to help and as a travel junkie myself, may even have a few tips for you… so give me a call today to reach your financial goals for your holiday.