Category Archives: Finance Chats

A little on making or saving money

Managing the cost of Insurance

You don’t have to cut corners on your insurance or sacrifice the adequacy of your cover to make your policy more affordable.

A necessary evil?  A must have?  Love it or hate it, you’re likely to need insurance in your life!  But how do you get the most bang for your buck?  This article deals with options available for personal insurances like Life and Total & Permanent Disability, Trauma Insurance and Income Protection cover.

Choosing a payment structure

Choosing stepped premiums in the first few years of your life insurance policy may help you keep the cost of cover low in the beginning. Stepped premiums allow you to start paying your insurance at a lower rate, which then rises as you grow older. Your insurer calculates your premiums on each policy anniversary based on your age, and sometimes with CPI too.

You may consider moving to level premiums as you become more capable of paying your insurance. Although they’re more expensive in the beginning than the stepped structure, level premiums generally offer a good long-term savings because premiums are calculated based on your age when you first take out level premiums.

Using your super

Taking out life insurance through your superannuation fund may lower the cost of insurance because premiums may be paid using concessionally taxed contributions paid from your employer or sacrifices into your super. Premiums can be cheaper because super funds bulk buy insurance policies and can negotiate discounts (group insurance.)  Individually, some offer a 15% discount or rebate off premiums due to the concessionally taxed structure of Superannuation.

But keep in mind that super funds may offer limited cover. Talk to your adviser on how to ensure you have enough cover.  And make sure you don’t constantly erode the value of your retirement savings with large premiums.

Waiting for a longer period

When taking out income protection insurance, you can choose a waiting period. The longer you wait before receiving income benefit payments, the lower your premiums.  Make sure you have enough in savings or an offset account to tide you over – and remember, payments are made 30 days in arrears – so a 30 day waiting period may still mean 60 days before you get paid!

You can also choose between an indemnity policy and an agreed value policy. Taking out indemnity cover may help you keep the costs down because premiums are generally lower than those for agreed value cover.

Income protection premiums are usually tax deductible if you fund your cover outside super, helping make this policy affordable. If you pay your insurance through your super, premiums are generally tax deductible to the super fund.

Getting advice

With so much to consider, seeking advice from a professional financial adviser is important to help make insurance affordable – and manageable – for you and your circumstances.  Give us a call if you’d like some help.  07 5593 0855.

Beating the stress of Redundancy

Don’t let losing your job throw you into deep difficulty. Sort out your finances early.

Being made redundant doesn’t have to throw you and your family into financial trouble, although it’s likely to knock you about to start with.  Stay on top of your finances by planning and setting a budget with the help of your financial adviser.

Know your financial status

So, why an Adviser?

Firstly, you need to know where you stand financially.  Your adviser can help you do this by looking at your savings, the size of your redundancy payments and your total expenses over the coming months.

Your adviser can also take you through the types of redundancy payments you may be eligible for and help you understand the tax implications they may have.  Some  may be best directed into superannuation to help save on tax and for retirement.

Once you have a final figure of your available funds, you and your adviser can see how it stacks up against your total expenses for the next two to three months.  This will give you clear insight into whether you’ll be in the money… or out.

Work with your adviser to set a budget

With a clear idea of your financial standing, your adviser can help you set an appropriate budget or offer suggestions on how to make ends meet.  Alternately, there’s plenty of online templates available if you want to DIY, one of my favourite sites is the ASIC MoneySmart Budget Planner.

This may help you avoid any shortfall, assuming you don’t earn any income in the next two to three months.  It may also trigger you to think of areas you can cut back on while things are tough.

Think of other ways

If cutting back on non-essential expenses is not enough to make up the shortfall, your adviser may suggest other ways you can manage your finances, including getting a part-time job.  Others decide to turn hobbies into careers, or investigate driving with Uber, doing deliveries or hiring out a room or two on Air BnB whilst looking for full-time work.

Perhaps a chat with the bank or your loan providers will be in order.

Check if you’re eligible for government assistance. Talk to your adviser about the income support payments available to you.

Get back on your feet

Look at your job loss as a temporary setback and aim to get back on your feet as soon as you can.  Maybe there’s a silver lining and things will be much better for you moving forwards.  Reach out to your financial adviser for support.  Opportunities to rejoin the workforce might be waiting just around the corner.

Try using online platforms like Seek or Indeed to job hunt.  And make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date.  Many agencies now look at that rather than ask for a resume.

And good luck!

You can save through Super for your First Home!

new scheme may help you make your dream of owning a home come true!!

Ongoing high property prices have made owning a home unattainable for lots of prospective first‑time home buyers.  The First Home Super Saver scheme, passed by the Australian Government in December 2017, may help keep the dream of buying a first home alive and well.

The new scheme helps you save for your first home by allowing you to use the concessionally taxed superannuation environment to build your housing deposit.  Eligible voluntary contributions are limited to $15,000 in any one financial year and $30,000 across all financial years.  They include both voluntary concessional and voluntary non-concessional contributions.

You are able to withdraw these eligible contributions and associated earnings from 1 July 2018 to buy or build a first home. You may be allowed to withdraw 100% of eligible non-concessional contributions and 85% of eligible concessional contributions.

Are you eligible?

To have your contributions released, you must be at least 18 years of age and not have owned property in Australia previously, or have already asked the Commissioner of Taxation to release funds under the scheme.  As a bonus, if you have owned property in the past, you may still qualify if the Commissioner determines that you have suffered a financial difficulty that led to the loss of your property.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will assess eligibility to withdraw contributions on an individual basis.  This basically means that you and your partner or a family member can each apply for a release of contributions to buy the same property!

Once your super fund releases your contributions, the Commissioner of Taxation will withhold tax. This will be calculated at your marginal tax rate less a 30% offset.

You have up to 12 months from the time you receive the first amount to sign a contract to buy or build a house. (But, if you still really need more time, you may apply for an extension of up to 12 months.)

Get advice too!

It’s important to seek professional advice before you consider making or withdrawing voluntary super contributions to buy your first home.  Talk to your adviser to see how the scheme can work for you.  Or we’d be happy to help walk you through it if you still have more questions.

Lost Super?

There are about 14.8 million Aussies with a superannuation account, 40% of which hold more than one account.

Some of that 40% make up the $18 billion in ‘lost super’. Is some of that yours?

Find it

Moved home? Changed your job? Don’t quite remember where your teenage self stashed your super? It’s really pretty easy to track it down.

Combine it

Save on fees, reduce your paperwork, keep track of your hard earned money, grow your retirement fund.  But maybe get advice first!  If your health has changed and getting new insurance is problematic, it may be worth keeping more than one account open.

Get online

Many websites and super funds offer to help find and combine your super. It is quick, easy and free. You can check with your known superannuation provider/s, your MyGov site or the Australian Tax Office.

Grow it

A qualified financial adviser can help you find an appropriate superannuation fund that will grow your hard-earned income ready for your retirement – and the sooner you get on top of this, the better!

Fees are just part of the story, do you also know how your fund has performed?  Are you able to choose your own insurance levels?  Or opt-out of insurance if not required?  Do you know your investment risk profile and which style of investing is best for you?

Truth is, most of us get excited when we find $20 in a pocket or an old handbag… your superannuation is likely worth thousands, and it is YOUR money!  Take care of it!

 

Source: https://www.ato.gov.au/About-ATO/Research-and-statistics/In-detail/Super-statistics/Super-accounts-data/Super-accounts-data-overview/

What should I expect when seeing an Adviser?

What should I expect at my first meeting?

Your initial consultation with a financial planner will give you a chance to get to know each other.  Most provide an initial consultation at their own time and expense.

Your financial planner will explain how their service works, and how it can work for you.  You should receive a Financial Services Guide and an Adviser Profile and have these documents explained to you.  You’ll have the opportunity to talk about your current financial situation and your financial goals.

Some questions to consider before your first meeting:

  • Reflect on what you want in life. Start with the next few years. Are there any changes you’d like to make, or things you’d like to do? What about 5, 10 or 25 years from now? Where do you want to live? What do you want to be doing?  Is retirement on your radar?  Are there specific goals you’d like to meet in the near future?
  • Consider your attitude to money.  Are you a spender or a saver? A risk taker or someone who prefers more certainty? When it comes to spending and managing money, what do you enjoy and what keeps you awake at night?  You can complete a Risk Profile questionnaire that can provide you with you personal risk profile in relation to different investments.  You might be much more aggressive when investing your superannuation than you would be if saving for a home deposit.
  • Think about the financial issues you find most challenging.  Where do you think you could be making better decisions?  What do you think you need to better understand?  Do you know you have downfalls in specific areas?

Talk to your spouse or partner about these issues too. When you visit a financial planner, you’ll want to discuss what it is you want to achieve together as well as your individual dreams.

Many people also neglect to educate their children about money.  What issues did you wish you knew about when you were younger.  Is there something you could pass on to make their life a little easier going forward?

What to bring along

To help your financial planner gain a clearer understanding of your current finances and the services that could be right for you, a little preparation can go a long way. If possible, try to gather the following information before your first consultation:

  • Your income. If it’s easier, feel free to bring in tax documents, especially if you have income from multiple sources or you’re self-employed.  Otherwise, a recent payslip is helpful.
  • Your assets. Including property, superannuation, savings and investments.  Do you also have different structures like Trusts that hold assets?
  • Your budget.  An estimate of where your money goes each month, including your mortgage or rent, personal or business loans and credit card debt will be helpful.
  • Insurance covers. Especially life, disability and income protection policies, if you have them.
  • Questions. In addition to a list of your short and long-term financial objectives, bring any questions or concerns you may have.  And write them down so you don’t forget any!

Your first meeting is informal so don’t worry about gathering all the details if you can’t lay your hands on everything.  The important thing is to get started thinking about your financial future.  If you choose to proceed with your Adviser, you can nail the details in subsequent meetings.

To find out more, contact us and we can guide you through the process.

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.