Category Archives: money

Mother’s Day

Most of us wouldn’t doubt for a second the love and advice of our mothers.

From when we were very small, they’ve watched over us, with those eyes in the back of their head, and given us the wisdom of their guidance (which we may now have passed on to our own children… or view as incredibly bizarre!)

And whatever you do to celebrate Mother’s Day, we hope it’s a good one for you.  For those who’ve lost their mums or a having their first Mother’s Day without mum around, it’s going to be a tough one.  Try and remember all the wonderful times you had, the love and smiles and great moments you shared.

I came across one very special gift that i think mums of young ones everywhere would approve of:

  • Celebrate your kid’s mother this year by giving her a time machine – that is, a return to a life before diapers, sleepless nights, and the pressure to always be thinking of everything at once.

Sounds like a winning idea to me!

And whether you get breakfast in bed, a pasta necklace or something amazing, I don’t know too many mums who won’t value the greatest gift of all, your time.

How Budget 2017 may affect families

The announcements in this update are proposals unless stated otherwise. These proposals need to successfully pass through Parliament before becoming law and may be subject to change during this process. 

  • The Medicare levy will increase by 0.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent from 1 July 2019
  • The Government will spend $37.3 billion on child care over four years
  • Additional education funding has been set at $18.6 billion over 10 years
  • University student fees will increase by 7.5 per cent by 2021
  • University graduates will start repaying their loans when they reach an income level of $42,000 a year, down from approximately $55,000
  • Family Tax Benefit Part A payments will not be indexed for two years
  • Doctors will be encouraged to prescribe generic drugs to save the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme $1.8 billion over five years
  • No changes to negative gearing

Overview

Medicare levy

In health care, the Medicare levy will increase on 1 July 2019 by 0.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent of taxable income to help fund the $22 billion National Disability Insurance Scheme. Treasurer Scott Morrison says all Australians need to support the disability scheme, even if they aren’t directly affected.

Child care

The Government will invest $37.3 billion in child care over four years to help about 1 million families, including those that need before and after school care for their children. A single, simplified, means-tested child care subsidy will provide more support for the families who need it the most from 2 July 2018.

The subsidy will introduce hourly rate caps and remove unnecessary regulation to allow providers to offer more flexible hours of care. The child care subsidy will be payable only to families with incomes below $350,000 per annum (in 2017-18 terms) from 2 July 2018. The upper income threshold of $350,000 per annum will be indexed annually by CPI from 1 July 2018.

A further $428 million will be provided to extend the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to early childhood education for the 2018 school year to allow access to a quality preschool education.

Schools funding

This Budget will invest $18.6 billion in extra schools funding over the next 10 years, in accordance with the Gonski needs-based standard. Funding for each student across all sectors will grow at an average of 4.1 per cent a year.

However, university fees will rise by $2,000 to $3,600 for a four-year course and students will have to start paying back their debt when they earn more than $42,000 from July next year, down from the current level of approximately $55,000. A 2.5 per cent efficiency dividend will be applied to universities for the next two years.

First-home buyers

First-home buyers will be able to use voluntary contributions to their existing superannuation funds to save for a house deposit. Contributions and earnings will be taxed at 15%, rather than marginal rates, and withdrawals will be taxed at their marginal rate, less 30% tax offset. Contributions will be limited to $30,000 per person in total and $15,000 per year. Both members of a couple can take advantage of the scheme. Non-concessional contributions can also be made but will not benefit from the tax concessions apart from earnings being taxed at 15%.

The States will be required to deliver on housing supply targets and reform their planning systems and a $1 billion National Housing Infrastructure Facility will aim to remove infrastructure impediments to developing new homes.

In Melbourne, Defence Department land at Maribyrnong will be released for a new suburb that could cater for 6,000 new homes. A new National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation will be established by July 1, 2018, to provide long-term, low-cost finance for more affordable rental housing.

States and Territories will be encouraged to transfer stock to the community housing sector and managed Investment trusts will be allowed to develop and own affordable housing. The incentive for investors will include a capital gains tax discount of 60 per cent, and direct deduction of rent from welfare payments from tenants.

Australians over the age of 65 will be able to make a non-concessional contribution of up to $300,000 each into their superannuation fund from the proceeds of the sale of their principal home from 1 July  2018.

Family Tax Benefits

The current Family Tax Benefit Part A payments will not be indexed for two years from 1 July 2017. Indexation will resume on 1 July 2019. A 30¢ in the dollar income test taper will apply under Method 1 for Family Tax Benefit Part A families with household incomes above the Higher Income Free Area (currently $94,316) from 1 July 2018. Entitlements under Family Tax Benefit Part A may be worked out using two income tests, with the one giving the highest rate applying. Method 1 sometimes produces a higher result for larger families.

 

What’s next?

Most changes must be legislated and passed through Parliament before they apply. If you think you may be impacted by some of the Budget’s proposed changes, you should consider seeking professional advice. A financial adviser can give you a clear understanding of where you stand and how you can manage your cash flow, super and investments in light of proposed changes.

 

If any of these proposals raise questions, concerns or potential opportunities for you, please speak with your financial adviser today. These opportunities apply to Australian consumers.

How Budget 2017 may affect Wealth Accumulators

The announcements in this update are proposals unless stated otherwise. These proposals need to successfully pass through Parliament before becoming law and may be subject to change during this process.

  • First-home buyers have the opportunity to save a deposit through voluntary contributions to superannuation
  • No changes to negative gearing or capital gains tax
  • Accommodation and travel deductions will be disallowed for residential rental property
  • Small businesses with a turnover up to $10 million can write off expenditure up to $20,000 for a further year
  • Depreciation deductions for plant and equipment on residential investment properties will be limited
  • The Medicare Levy will increase by 0.5% to 2.5% of taxable income on 1 July 2019
  • Budget projected to return to balance in 2020–21 and remain in surplus over the medium term
  • Capital gains tax rules for foreign investors will be tightened
  • Foreign investment rules will be changed to discourage investors from leaving properties vacant.

 

Overview

To address the desire for many first home buyers to enter the market, the Budget proposes they will be able to use voluntary contributions to their existing superannuation funds to save for a house deposit. Contributions and earnings will be taxed at 15%, rather than marginal rates, and withdrawals will be taxed at their marginal rate, less a 30% tax offset. Contributions will be limited to $30,000 per person in total and $15,000 per year. Both members of a couple can take advantage of the scheme. Non-concessional contributions can also be made but will not benefit from the tax concessions apart from earnings being taxed at 15%.

The States will be required to deliver on housing supply targets and reform their planning systems and a $1 billion National Housing Infrastructure Facility will aim to remove infrastructure impediments to developing new homes.

States and Territories will be encouraged to transfer stock to the community housing sector and managed Investment trusts will be allowed to develop and own affordable housing. The incentive for investors will include a capital gains tax discount of 60%, and direct deduction of welfare payments from tenants.

There are no changes to negative gearing, but tougher rules on foreign investment in residential real estate remove the main residence capital gains tax exemption and tighten compliance. An annual Levy of at least $5,000 will also apply to all future foreign-owned properties that are vacant for at least 6 months each year. In addition, it is proposed that developers also won’t be allowed to sell more than 50% of new developments to foreign investors, which may make it easier for Australian residents to enter the market.

What’s next?

Most changes must be legislated and passed through Parliament before they apply. If you think you may be impacted by some of the Budget’s proposed changes, you should consider seeking professional advice. A financial adviser can give you a clear understanding of where you stand and how you can manage your cash flow, super and investments in light of proposed changes.

 

If any of these proposals raise questions, concerns or potential opportunities for you, please speak with your financial adviser today. This article is relevant for Australian consumers.

So, you’d like to be rich?

So, you’d like to be rich?

I hear you!  Like many, the lure of ‘enough’ in the bank is strong.  And ‘more than enough’ is even better!  That’s rich!!  But if you’re living in a developed nation, chances are you’re already wealthy.

Oxfam tells us that just 1% of the world’s population hold 48% of the worlds’ wealth!

But let’s get real, rich and wealthy certainly don’t mean the same thing.

Some might consider wealth as the amount of money you have in the bank, or your net worth when looking at the balance sheet.  But, others consider wealth in its many and varied ‘other forms.’

Do you have a roof over your head that you can afford?  Food available every time you open the pantry or fridge door?  Are you surrounded by happy, healthy loved ones?  Is affordable health care within reach?  Do you have enough, even too much ‘stuff?’  Are you able to afford transport costs, TV, a phone and wifi, along with little luxuries like movies, a night out or special entertainment treats now and then?

Some consider true wealth to be measured by what you have left if you lost your material possessions.  And it happens.  Australia especially is a nation dominated by extremes like floods, famines and fire.

Would you still have a loving family and fulfilling relationships if all else was lost?

From a very young age, marketers have bombarded us into thinking that we never have ‘enough.’  That last year’s fashions, bags, sunnies and possessions are so out of date and that we are continually told we need more… newer and better.  But as many find, striving constantly for the latest, and chasing labels is hardly the key to happiness.

Working out what makes us happy is a huge step forward in unlocking how we can discover wealth.

Do your children’s smiles light you up?  Do you have a hobby you find fulfilling?  Does your faith hold you steady when times are tough?  Is there one friend or partner you always enjoy spending time with that ‘fills your cup?’  Does holding a fulfilling job mean a lot to you?  Chances are when you work out what it is that truly makes you happy, you’ll find you’re pretty wealthy after all.

 

Diana Princess of Wales  “They say it is better to be poor and happy than rich and miserable, but how about a compromise like moderately rich and just moody?”

 

Mindset Matters

Mindset matters.  If I’ve learnt anything from my trips to Africa with The Hunger Project and helping people in abject poverty to turn their lives around, it’s the importance of our mindset.  Mindset drives every part of our lives from our wealth and happiness to achievements and relationships.

If the words ‘financial planning,’ ‘budget’ or ‘money and finances’ leave you feeling bored or disengaged, it’s time for a change of mindset.  You are the one who can change your financial future.  I’ve met many professional and successful people who put ‘money’ on the back burner and hope it’ll take care of itself somehow.

But, only you can decide to become interested in your finances.  It’s the first step in making any progress and can happen as quickly as you decide to become interested.

And it may not be suddenly being interested in ‘finances’ but again, working out what makes you happy.

If an annual holiday where you can ski, dive or relax with a good book in a hammock is really important to you, you will find ways to make it happen.  If paying down the mortgage or getting rid of credit card debt is important, then setting goals and taking an interest in their outcomes if the first step.

Goals based financial planning is much more effective as it’s tied to outcomes.  You’re getting to set the goals and constantly achieve them.  It’s much easier to give up a night on the town or drinks with your mates if you know that the $100 you spend now, will be a dive on your trip, or ski hire for a day.

Setting our intentions is paramount.  ‘I want to save $5, 000 for a week in Thailand or $10,000 for a driving trip down Highway 1 in the USA by this time next year means’ we have become very clear on what we want and when.  ‘Someday’ and ‘one day’ don’t cut it when planning.  Attention to detail helps us to reach our intentions.

Depending on our upbringing and thought patterns, money or the thought of it, can trigger emotions.  If the thought of doing a budget or having a certain amount set aside makes you happy, then great!  But if you are getting knots in the stomach at the thought of sitting down to examine your finances, it might be time to examine your thought patterns more closely.

If you do feel that you trigger a particular emotion when dealing when money or react to something when the subject comes up, take time out to examine your reaction.  Is what you think really true or could there be other possibilities?  Learning to insert ‘thoughts’ between triggers and emotions can take time.  Seek professional help if you’d like to understand more about your triggers and thought patterns and feelings.

Some are brought up to believe that ‘money is the root of evil’ yet the original text states that ‘the love of money is the root of evil.’  There’s a very clear distinction here between ‘having money’ and greed.  It may be worth examining some other strongly held views.

If debt is a problem, the same theory can apply.  “I want to eliminate my credit card debt entirely in the next two years” helps us to focus on an outcome that will make us happy and feel much more content.

What’s a goal that you’d like to start working towards today?  And when would you like to achieve it by? I’d love to hear from you!

Saving for the Kids’ Education

Preparing for higher education

Like most parents, you want your children to have the best education possible, yet school and university expenses and fees are undeniably costly. The money you spend on your kids’ education could be one of your family’s biggest expenses.  Depending on where you’re based, it may be right up there with your Mortgage repayments.

Not that many of us begrudge the spend, viewing it more of an investment in our children’s futures.

Some will need to decide whether 12 years of formal schooling will be undertaken in the private space or whether just the high school years will be funded.  Others are also happy to help with University costs and some allow Fee Help (formerly known as HECS) to pick up that tab.  Whatever you choose, there’s costs attached and it’s best to be prepared.

Once you’ve worked out your family’s preference, starting to save early will help your children have a high-quality learning experience.

It pays to do your homework.  Research what schools in your area charge each term so you have an understanding of what is required.  Will you need to move to be in the catchment area of your preferred school?  Do you know other parents or students of the school you can ask for testimonials about their experience there?  Do you need to register your child years in advance to get into your preferred school?  Knowing your costs early will give you greater time to save and help avoid disappointment.

The decision to send your children to public or private schools and then to university will determine just how much you need to put aside to start saving.  Despite your wishes, it’s also hard to know whether your children will want to go on to University until they’re some way into their academic career and begin to form some idea about what they’d like to do for a living.  Will a gap year needed to figured into the equation with money for travel?  Or will they fund that by working a part-time job from when they’re able.

What will you need?

As an example… if you send two children to private high school for six years each, which costs around $20,000 a year for each child, by the time they graduate you’ll have spent $240,000 on school fees. And that doesn’t take into account any extras like school uniforms, textbooks, trips and excursions, tutoring, extra-curricular activities, sporting clinics and the like.  This could see costs closer to $275,000 by the time they’re through.

If you only wish to save only for high-school years, you’ll have around 11 to 12 years to save for each child.  If the figures seem out of reach, you may need to rethink what you have to put aside, or review the schools your child will attend.

Public schools are much cheaper but there’s still no such thing as ‘free education.  There are extra fees for textbooks, uniforms, trips, stationery and school camps to pay for. These can easily add up around $1,000 per annum.

Trade Colleges are dearer than public schooling but for those looking to enter trade’s or take over dad’s business, these can be a great option for later high school years.  Often they’re around $4 – $7,000 and only two years is required.

The cost of going to university or college can also vary. If your child is eligible for HECS-HELP (a government loan available to tertiary students) they can choose to defer payment of university fees until they’re earning a living.  Entering the work force with large student loans may not be ideal, but in many cases is unavoidable.

Even if you (or they) aren’t paying upfront tuition fees, there’s still books, textbooks and materials, union and sports fees, lunches, accommodation and transport costs. Contact the university or college and find out how much each of these things will cost each semester, so you have an idea of how much money you will need to save.  And if you’re thinking ahead, don’t forget to allow for inflation too.

The earlier you start saving for your children’s education, the better. Education costs are usually a long-term goal that can take more than 5 years to achieve so stashing early is your best bet.

Then, once you’ve got a ballpark figure in mind to reach for, work out where you’ll put that money.  Are you happy with high interest, web based savings accounts and term deposits or want to invest in education funds or bonds for the longer term?  With interest rates at historical lows, it’s hard to find good returns on conservative styles of investments.

If there’s a top tip to getting set for education costs, it would be to research, plan, track and manage your savings goals on the go.  And be sure to review on at least a half yearly basis to make sure you’re on target.

Managing a Financial Windfall

We’ve all got that dream – we’ll have that massive lotto win, Great-Aunty Betty will die and leave us everything… or even that a spectacular tax return or bonus will come our way.

Although they’re aren’t regular occurrences, financial windfalls can come our way now and then… so instead of blowing it all, what’s the bet way to take advantage of a bonus or extra dollars that come our way?

The temptation to splurge can often be overwhelming, but your future self is hardly likely to thank you for replenishing a wardrobe or buying more “stuff” that is likely to end up in a charity bag in a year or two.  So what are some eminently sensible and grown-up ways of making that money work harder?

Here’s a few ways to spend this money that will give you long-term benefits.

  • If you have debt, especially non-deductible debt like credit cards or personal loans, pay them down first, followed closely by long-term debt like your Mortgage
  • If you’re really not sure what to do and everyone is putting their two cents worth in and confusing you ever more, put it in a high interest savings account until you can do some research and be comfortable with your decision
  • Can you put a bit extra in your super?  Retirement might be a long way off, but that means you have the benefit of long term compounding interest in your favour
  • Is there enough for you to start investing?  It may be worth kicking off a portfolio of shares, property or managed funds if there’s enough.
  • Getting financial advice can be of great benefit.  Financial professionals often have access to funds and research that are unavailable to many and they can ensure that you invest in line with your risk profile, not putting ‘all your eggs in one basket.’
  • Have you put off personal protection strategies like income protection, trauma cover or health insurance?  It may be worth investing in looking after yourself
  • Have you considered taking time out and learning new skills?  Maybe it’s time to invest in yourself and do that course.  Who know’s a career change might be just what you need!

And if you’d really like to still blow just a little of it – set a limit – maybe 10 – 20% and knock yourself out.  Have that splurge, but be smart too.

Do something that your future self with thank you for.