Cash flow makes or breaks your business, so safeguard it!

According to a recent survey by research firm East & Partners for lender Scottish Pacific, nearly 80% of owners of small and medium enterprises said cash flow issues caused them the most sleepless nights.[1]

Which then begs the question, what might you do to improve your cash flow and sleep better at night?  Here are five tips you can take that can help!

1.   Build a cash reserve

We’ve often heard “Cash is King” but the truth is, it’s really Cash Flow!  Cash flow is the true lifeblood of any business. To ensure that it makes, not breaks, your business, it’s important to build a robust cash reserve. This may help you meet your financial obligations in difficult times and allow you to take on opportunities to grow your business.  Sometimes, that’s easier said than done, but worth working towards.

2.   Separate business & personal money

Keep business and personal expenses separate!  It makes it so much easier to understand your business’s cash position at any given point. It also ensures that you don’t use money meant for your business on personal expenses; like that holiday or your mortgage.

3.   Get paid on time

If your business hasn’t been actively pursuing unpaid invoices, you may want to make it a practice – and have a strategy – to regularly chase up payment. Finding ways to encourage prompt payment, such as offering a discount to early payers, can help.

And if that’s something that you find cringe-worthy – outsource it.  Ask your book keeper if they’ll make those calls you hate for you each week to stay on top of things.

4.   Control business costs

Controlling costs might help you to maintain a healthy cash flow. Experts suggest taking stock of your business expenses regularly to identify where you can cut costs without sacrificing growth. This may include reviewing your suppliers and negotiating better rates with them.  Review whether they’re items that you can’t avoid (like taxes) to items that you probably should do (like marketing) to the ones that you can go without (like sponsorship.)  Even if it’s just until things turn around.

5.   Protect your business

By taking out business expenses insurance and/or key person insurance, you may help ensure your business can meet its running costs if you or a key employee is too ill or injured to work. Both insurance plans provide a monthly benefit if you or a key person in your business become incapacitated.  Absolutely vital if there’s key people you just can’t do without!

Work with a professional

Your professional financial adviser tailors insurance plans to your business’s cash flow protection needs, safeguarding what you’ve worked so hard to build.  Is it time you had another look at your strategy?

Note

[1] Scottish Pacific and East & Partners, October 2018, ‘SMEs flag higher revenue growth, but prospects could be dampened by declining property market and cash flow issues,’ accessible at: https://www.scottishpacific.com/media-releases/smes-flag-higher-revenue-growth-but-prospects-could-be-dampened-by-declining-property-market-and-cash-flow-issues

Successful Investor Secrets

The investment world can change dramatically from one month to the next.

These secrets of successful investors never go out of style!

Successful investing can be one of your biggest allies in the quest for long-term financial security. Unfortunately, unsuccessful investing can leave you wishing you’d kept your money in the bank, or under the mattress!

So what are the secrets to making your investments achieve what you want them to?  Here are some of the tactics used by successful investors around the world.

1. Start with a plan

Smart investors don’t just look for ‘good’ investments. They look for investments that will help them achieve specific goals.

Are you interested in income or growth or a combination of both from your funds?

You may be seeking a return above that available on term deposits.  There are other investments such as shares and fixed income, which may generate higher returns than cash over the long term, however, they are usually more volatile too, so investors need to consider both the risk and return components of their portfolio.

2. Diversify

One of the main goals of investing may be to ensure you have a mix of assets that are likely to perform well at different times – helping you survive any downturn in a specific market or industry sector.

While many Australian investors are heavily exposed to Australian shares, a well-diversified portfolio will generally hold assets in each of the major asset classes (e.g. Australian and international shares, property, fixed income and cash)And can drill down further, across sectors and industry types.

Even if you want to stick with just one asset class and be a guru at that, diversification still helps.  e.g. Property: considering where you invest (location! location! location!) along with the type of property (land, residential, commercial or industrial) also can make a difference.

3. Watch costs

It’s easy to get fixated on the returns your investments can generate. But successful investors always keep track of, and seek to minimise, fees and taxes associated with owning them.

A ‘buy and hold’ strategy can help avoid transaction costs like brokerage, or buy and sell spreads from managed funds. It can also help you reduce capital gains tax, which generally decreases by 50% when you’ve held an asset for over 12 months.

4. Market Timing

Despite periods of significant volatility on a daily basis, over the long term, investments in assets such as Australian or International Shares have generated strong returns.

Holding when everything is going pear shaped is difficult, but you’re more likely to recover stronger then pulling out and trying to work out when to get back in.

5. Don’t panic!

When share markets retreat (which they inevitably do), smart investors don’t hit the panic button and sell long-term investments based on short term volatility – this is made easier by following Step 1 “Start with a Plan”.

Instead, if you continue to invest during a market downturn, you may be able to buy high-quality investments at a lower price than you could if you waited for markets to recover.

Following the GFC or Global Recession, when the stock market bottomed in early 2009, many investors sold out of equities and held large proportions of cash in their portfolios. The opportunity cost of this decision has meant that some investors have missed a significant rally over the past decade.

6. Protect your assets

Even a carefully constructed investment strategy can come unstuck if you need access to your money in an emergency.

A smart strategy is to ensure you still maintain a sizeable cash reserve (even if it’s offsetting your mortgage), and put in place appropriate risk mitigation insurance plans such as income, TPD and life insurance. Having appropriate insurances in place can help prevent the need for a ‘fire sale’ of your investments if you suffer a serious illness or accident.

Tip: Income protection typically replaces up to 75% of your income if you can’t work due to an illness or accident. 

Your Super is too Important to Ignore

Superannuation is the one thing you could do for your financial future this year, that could make a big difference to your retirement income. But how much do you really need?

That’s the million dollar, half a million dollar…? question.

Everyone’s needs are different.  Unexpected expenses just crop up, life gets busy and none of us have any clue how long we will actually be in retirement.

Of course, we’d like to think that the safety net of the age pension will still be around in years to come, but just how generous the country can afford to be with this payment, and who will be eligible, is also unknown as this may change year to year.  Sadly, none of us have a crystal ball, and we know it isn’t a lot!

So what exactly are some of the big expenses in retirement we need to budget for?

  • Healthcare
  • Aged Care
  • Food and Beverages
  • Utilities
  • Travel
  • Entertainment
  • Planned or unplanned expenses, i.e. a new car or home renovations

What major impacts could affect our superannuation?

  • How long you live
  • Your health
  • The rate of inflation
  • How much you earn on investments
  • Whether or not you have dependents – yes some retirees still have dependents!

It is wise to have a plan when it comes to your retirement income and a professional financial adviser can help you get a plan in place that is easy for you to manage now, and meets the needs of your ideal retirement.

If you want to start to get your super sorted this year, give me a call on 07 5593 0855.

5 Tips to manage with a Large Family

Take the pain out of managing your family’s finances.

Large families these days are often the exception rather than the rule.  But having said that, I do have a few friends who have decided that their families weren’t complete without four or more!

Taking care of household finances can be taxing for any family, but especially so if you have a large brood. With proper planning and budgeting tho, there’s no need to stress!

Here are some tips to help you effectively manage your family finances.

1.      Give them the once over

Sitting down as parents first and figuring out how much money is coming in and going out may help you gauge the state of your family’s finances. A clear picture of your household income and expenses could set you up to manage your cash flow better.  It’s vital to know your numbers and figuring out what your minimum cost to live is, is vital!

Then, depending on the age of your kids, include them in a family discussion about what it takes to make ends meet.  This doesn’t mean you need to burden them with your ‘we’re broke stories’ but can be great training in their financial literacy journey about what’s involved in running a household.

2.      Rein in the spending

Keeping expenses under control can be rather tough in a large household. But if you’re spending as much or more than you’re earning, you might want to consider limiting your family’s discretionary costs by buying only what you can afford.  This might mean curbing some extra-curricular activities or eating out.

Ask the kids for suggestions on what they’d like to do in place of other paid activities.  Maybe games days, puzzles, hiking, riding or picnics can substitute for movies and theme parks.  They might even surprise you with their ideas!

3.      Set financial goals

Setting financial goals as a family may help you work towards future aspirations instead of simply meeting current expenses. Whether it’s buying a bigger house or going on a dream holiday, having a financial goal may help your family set priorities and stay on track financially.  It also provides a common goal for everyone to work towards.

4.      Keep a budget

Keeping track of spending may help you to better manage your family’s finances. By working with a professional financial adviser, you could create a budget that factors in not only income and expenses, but also your financial obligations.  Some advisers may recommend an App that you can keep handy on your phone to track things daily if needed!

5.      Build up emergency and retirement funds

Unplanned expenses such as medical bills and replacing that poor burnt out washing machine, can put a dent in family finances. But, by growing your emergency fund to cover six months’ worth of expenses, you may be better positioned to handle unexpected events.

While it’s easy to neglect your own financial future when providing for your family, saving for retirement should not take second place. Keep in mind that the earlier you start saving, the better chance you have to grow a sufficient nest egg.

Working with an adviser

Managing finances for a big family need not be a painful exercise. By working alongside a financial adviser to keep track of your spending, and discussing money matters and setting financial goals as a family, handling household finances is a task you can achieve.

Checklist for new Parents

Congratulations on the arrival of your new little bundle!

If it’s your first, there’s a veritable litany of emotions going on… and yes, nothing will ever be the same again.  If it’s another new addition to your family, guess what?  Same applies!

But amongst the joy, happiness, sleepless nights, never ending nappies and the finding of a semblance of normality again, it’s easy to overlook some important things that need to be taken care of.  Here’s a few that you may want to work through…

1.  Add bub to your Medicare card.

You’ll need to complete a Newborn Child Declaration form (usually provided by the hospital) or complete a Medicare Enrollment form with supporting docs including proof of birth – and no, the stretch marks don’t count!

2. Add bub to your Health Insurance

If you have private health insurance, you’ll need to call your provider to let them know about your new addition.  They’ll let you know what’s needed to add baby to your cover.  It’s also a good time to review your levels of cover and see if you have what you need.  The couples cover that was just right for the two of you, likely wont cut it for boisterous toddlers.

3.  Review the Life Insurance!

It’s probably the last thing you want to think about, but reviewing your levels of cover is pretty important.  You may have previously taken care of debt with a bit left over for your partner, but now you have twenty years worth of health and education expenses to also account for should something happen to a parent.  Chat with an adviser if you’re unsure of how to work it all out.  Cover can be funded personally or via your superannuation plan – the options are worth considering, especially if there’s only one working for a period of time.

4.  Adjust the budget

If you haven’t already made adjustments for the loss or reduction of income, now is a really good time to review that.  With only one income or reduced cash flow it may be time to cut back on some expenses, but others will be going up.  Your fried brain may not want a reality check, but it could stop some reckless or unnecessary spending.  Babies don’t actually care if they have the latest cot or pram, but your budget should!  You may also be surprised at the level of love and hand-me-downs that head your way too.  And for those who ask what you need, be practical!  Nappies, wipes, consumables or a prepared meal all go a long way to helping out.  Family may even want to help and pitch in for the bigger ticket items.

5. Childcare expenses

At some stage, the new little love of your life will likely need care and it’s good to be prepared and know what’s on offer.  Are you happy with the services in your neighborhood?  Is family day care available?  Ask some parents with older kids in care and see if they’re happy with the centres they use… and try and get your head around the Centrelink offers if you’re eligible.

6. Education costs

And guess what, the expenses don’t stop when you’re out of childcare and heading to school.  Even if you choose state based education, you still need to fund books, uniforms, excursions, donations and tuck-shop treats.  It’s good to start stashing away for this early.

If you’re wanting a private education, you may need to put the future Prime Minister onto a waiting list from birth.  Starting to save for the costs early is vital.  Knowing what the fees are, and add ons can help you plan from now.

And do you want to mix it up?  Public school for the early years and private school later?  Who knew there was so much to prepare for?

7.  Estate Planning

And don’t forget the Will.  Chances are you might want to include the little people if something were to happen to you and your partner.  Speaking with a professional can be vital if your situation is a little complicated too.  If you’re no longer with the parent of your children but want to provide for them, make sure your Will takes care of your wishes.  That way, your voice from the grave will have a much greater chance of being heard… and acted on.  But then, there’s also assets that don’t go through the Will such as superannuation or your jointly owned family home, and you need to understand where these assets will end up too.  You also likely need to appoint a guardian for your wee bairns should something happen and that’s a decision that needs careful thought.

But don’t let it all overwhelm you.  One thing at a time and it’ll all get done… eventually.

In the meantime, enjoy every smile, treasure every cuddle and know that it’s completely ok to regularly fall apart.  Nobody else has it completely together either… despite what their Insta feed says.

Punch and Judy do Super Splitting

This one is for our Aussie readers and a great strategy for some couples to help manage their retirement savings.  If you’re an international reader, does your government offer something similar?  I’d love to hear how it’s done in your country.

A spouse contribution split can help reduce a member’s total superannuation (retirement savings) balance below a trigger point or, when used as an ongoing annual strategy, can help achieve a measure of account equalisation between spouses.  It can also be helpful to reduce a super balance where one spouse is somewhat older than another.

Firstly, to be eligible, the receiving spouse must be under 65 and, if over preservation age, not retired. (Where the receiving spouse turns 65 during the year of the split, action will need to take place before their birthday and is paid as a rollover super benefit.)

Too much jargon right?   So what does it look like?

Punch and Judy are married.  Punch is now the sole breadwinner as Judy wants to stay home for a couple of years while The Baby is still cute.  She’s not earning and her Super retirement savings will be impacted.

Punch is on a good wicket and gets a hefty amount paid into his Super fund by his employer.  Because Judy is amazing, and doing a brilliant job with their kid, Punch wants to make sure she’s not disadvantaged and chooses to split his super with her.

Punch has a sufficient account balance and as his boss has put in a $25,000 contribution, he can pass over up to 85% or $21,250 to Judy’s fund.  Happy wife, happy life!

Punch is a good partner, be like Punch… (ok, he’s usually a tosser, but this time he’s nice!)

Contributions splitting does not reduce the contributions originally made for the member for reporting and contribution caps purposes.

If you think Super Splitting could be beneficial for your family, it’s worth chatting with an adviser to find out more to find out the tips and traps and whether it’s right for you.

A little bit of life, travel and money… according to Amanda Cassar