Category Archives: Travel

Exotic India Tripping!

Well, you may know from former blogs, that my trips to Malawi and Uganda with The Business Chicks Leadership & Immersion Program in partnership with The Hunger Project in the past few years have changed me in so many ways.

I’ve learned incredible lessons in resilience, leadership and mindset from possibly, not one of the first places I’d  look.  Yet, seeing the amazing work of providing a hand-up, rather than a hand-out has been inspirational.  I’ve learned new perspectives and totally not to sweat the small stuff.

I’ve loved it so much, that I’ve signed up for Round 3 and will be heading to India with THP in February, 2019 with an amazing and new bunch of ladies.  We all need to raise a minimum of $10,000 each and my latest journey is just beginning.

Having seen firsthand the impact that just small amounts can make, and knowing that over 81% of the funds provided to directly to where they’re needed, rather than funding the CEO’s learjet, I’m reaching out for your support.

If you can please assist in my journey, I’d be amazingly grateful, as I know are those in receipt of the education, literacy classes and micro-finances loans supported by THP.  Please donate here!

India is also ‘in my blood’ so to speak with my grandparents meeting there and my father and uncles all being born there.  A few of us are looking to extend for a couple of days to see Delhi and the Taj Mahal before heading home and I can’t wait to share my adventures of empowerment and success over adversity with you all.

Stay tuned for more!

Retirement Goals!

For some, retirement is a long way off!  For others, it seems to be creeping up a lot more quickly than expected.  The years have flown by and it’s time to start taking stock.

Many who visit me in their late 40’s to mid 50’s sometimes realise that they’ve put retirement on the back burner for a little too long.  With taking care of the Mortgage and the kids… retirement saving was a long way down the list!

But for those ready to hang up the boots, whether at 65, 70 or beyond… what can you expect?

Many advise that a new kind of balance is required, one that takes a bit more planning than expected.

It’s good to start thinking about your vision for your retired life and the values you have that may drive those goals.  Have you been planning travel? volunteering? hanging out with the grand kids? visiting more with elderly parents? taking up a hobby?

Strange tho it may seem, retirement and pure leisure hours only, can impact your health.  Everything you’ve ever known has suddenly stopped.  Routine, income and your network is no more which can have a big impact on mental health especially.  Choosing to be optimistic about your future options is incredibly important.

Family relationships can also come under scrutiny.  Suddenly spending 24/7 with your life partner may not be what either of you expect.  Learning how to communicate what both of you need, while maintaining some sense of independence is vital!

Are you looking to replace the hours you spent working with something else?  Some enjoy volunteering, others enjoy researching the family history or writing that book that you always put off, even learning a new skill or going back to school can be considered.  Travel plans also need consideration – those who’ve traveled extensively during their work life may not wish to venture so far from home, others can’t wait to become intrepid explorers!

Often, what to do with the family home also needs consideration.  Some empty-nesters love keeping their family home and it’s memories, others like to move on and downsize for less maintenance and possibly availing themselves of additional funds.  Moving interstate to be near the family or a group of friends also needs consideration but taking on too many things at once can be a little overwhelming… it’s good to learn to pace yourself.

Managing the finances also requires careful consideration.  Some find that their immediate spend in the first few years following retirement is much higher than they’d previously thought it might be.  Funding travel or new gadgets may be fun, but if they haven’t been budgeted for, can impact the long term value of savings.  Longevity risk is gaining a lot of exposure now, with many living well into their 90’s and hoping they don’t outlive their savings.

Who knew that ‘hanging up the boots’ could be so complicated?

It’s a great idea to sit down with your adviser and talk through your options.  What works for one, won’t work for all, so setting and achieving what’s important to you is vital.

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.

Women & Retirement

Seeing there’s actually no fixed aged when you can retire, it’s really completely up to you.  What it does come down to usually is, can you fund it?

Most start thinking in their’s 50’s about how it’s all going to work, as entitlement to the Age Pension is somewhere between 65 and 67, depending on when you were born.

Often a gradual transition is the way to go, slowly cutting back on days at work, going part time before finally exiting the work force for good.  Other conditions to consider when approaching retirement and leaving the work force for good are the loss of social interaction provided by work and the mental stimulation that’s provided.

Do you have hobbies that can take the place of your usual schedule or will boredom quickly creep in?  Exiting slowly can help you keep a hand in, whilst transitioning slowly, giving you a taste for what lies beyond work.

Some may choose to continue working part-time towards their 70’s as life expectancy moves forward.  Others have always wanted to volunteer for a local school or charity and now enjoy giving back to their local community.

If you still have a partner, discussing expectations and plans for life after work is essential to ensuring you’re on the same page.  Suddenly being together 24/7 isn’t everyone’s ideal start to their retirement years.

For others, it’s time to buy that caravan or Harley (or both!) and join the multitudes of Grey Nomads touring the country!

For others it’s not so easy.  Forced retirement may be brought on by having to assist in caring for aging parents or unwell children or grandchildren.  This can seriously impact your ability to put away additional funds to help in your retirement years.

And still, financial considerations remain top of mind.  How much you’ll need in retirement is completely dependent on the lifestyle you’ll be living…  And what you have saved to boost your pension will often dictate that lifestyle.

You might want to sit down with your planner long before retirement is on the horizon and discuss strategies that may suit your circumstances.  If your debt is low, it may be time to give your superannuation funds a boost by implementing salary sacrifice strategies.  For those closer to retirement, it might be worth considering a Transition to Retirement strategy.  Those on a lower income may be able to take advantage of the Government’s Co-Contribution strategy.

Getting the right advice for your situation is likely the best investment you can make in your future.  So how does retirement look for you?

Is Travel Insurance really necessary?

Travel is a whole lot of fun!  And as we know, it can also be a little expensive!  Sometimes, travel insurance may seem like that one last item that tips we scales and we say no, it’s too much!

But firstly, what does it even cover?

Typically, you’ll be protected for:-

  • Loss of luggage and personal items, like cameras and phones
  • Disruptions to travel plans, like flight cancellations
  • Theft of your goods, and most importantly…
  • Medical expenses from injury or illness.

If you’ve never had the privelege of being sick in the USA, I hope you never are.  Medical teatment in some countries can cost a fortune if you don’t have travel insurance! According to the National Business Group, you may be out of pocket up to $1,000,000 for a heart attack!

But, it’s also Buyer Beware!  Usually, you won’t be covered for extreme sports, pre-existing medical conditions, acts of terrorism and some natural disasters, loss or theft of unattended baggage, travel to areas where there is an official travel warning issued, financial failure of a provider or pregnancy related issues after around 22 weeks.  If you’re likely to be affected by any of these, take care!

Top Tips!

Usually, you’ll find out the cost of the cover pretty quickly, but be sure to enquire about the excess applicable to any claims; what’s included and what’s not; dollar limits for your more expensivce items and total values covered; what proof you need at claim time and how to contact you’re provider if you’re overseas.

Be honest when completing the forms.  You don’t want your claim denied because you failed to mention a health condition!

Once you’ve purchased cover you’re happy with and stashed the details, pack light and enjoy the flight!  And if you’re a frequent traveller, ask about a coporate or annual travel insurance plan

I’d never leave home without it!

Holiday Tips Time!

So, you’ve waited all year and finally it’s here! Your time off is sorted, bags are packed, and you’re ready to go! It’s holiday time!

Most people love their vacations and look forward to them for a long time. But instead of coming back to a maxed credit card, what are some ways you can ensure things run smoothly – and return home debt free, with great memories?

Usually, you’ve got a fair idea of when you can travel, where you’d like to go and how long for. With the internet now, it’s easy to work out how much everything will cost, far in advance.  Sites like TripAdvisor and Booking.com amongst many others mean you know what you’re getting, and just how much you’ll be paying.

It’s always a good idea if you can pay off all your travel, flights and accommodation prior to heading off to take advantage of lengthy booking time discounts, and also work out how much you’d like to have as a daily budget. If I’m heading to the USA, I like to average around $250 per day spending money, if it’s Asia, I’ll likely need a lot less. (This is to cover meals, transfers, sight-seeing and day-to-day activities outside of travel and accommodation costs.)

It’s then easier to work out your total spend based on your research. As an example, you might allow for the following if heading to Asia:
Flights $1,500
Accommodation $2,000
Spending Money $2,000
Total trip cost: $5,500

If you have a year to plan, this means you’ll need to set aside $106 per week. Break it down into how often you’re paid. If it’s fortnightly, that’ll be $212 per pay period.

This is also a great way to work out whether or not what you’d like to do is affordable. If you can’t take the appropriate amount each pay period out to cover costs, and still make ends meet, it’s time to rethink. Can you wait for happy hour or a sale on flights? Do you need to rethink your accommodation options or planned experiences? Should you go for a shorter amount of time? Or find somewhere else to head to altogether?

Also, if you’re going overseas, send your spending money to a Travel Money card where it can store your funds in the appropriate currency. Most banks offer this service, as do Virgin and other providers. Make sure the card is chipped too, so it’s accepted in more places and that you can take cash withdrawals of your funds at ATM’s when you’re on the move.

It’s also a great way to average out the ups and downs of currency fluctuations instead of waiting for ‘the right time’ to buy. Even if you’re travelling domestically, this is still a great way to keep funds segregated just for your holidays.

And if you’re someone who has to buy gifts and ‘stuff’ and often need to grab an extra suitcase before you head back, my top travel tip is to throw in a large vacuum storage bag. This way you can suck the air out of all your clothes, and leave room for those extra items, without the last minute cost of excess luggage or another new suitcase!  Most hotels are happy to supply the vacuum!

And never, ever leave home without your travel insurance! I hope you’ll never need it, but for the peace of mind, it’s totally worth it.

“I wonder what are the poor people doing?”

If you’ve ever made that throw away comment whilst floating around a resort pool with a cocktail waiting for you on the side… I can now give you an answer…

For a complete change of pace, we headed to Majete 5.  A new community for The Hunger Project bordering a game reserve in southern Malawi (and yes, it’s the 5th surrounding the reserve.)

This area has been working with The Hunger Project for only a short while on their mindset change, and have just had their first Vision, Commitment, Action (VCA) workshop.  Their communities surround a reserve for tourists, now hosting the Big 5 and was once the source of their food and income.  Now, relocated on the outside of the fence, life is harder than ever before.

This means that what we’re seeing is pretty much real Malawi and the lives people lead faced with chronic, persistent hunger.  Many who are fortunate, eat twice at day.  At the moment, there is no Epicentre building, and the work has just begun.  They are skeptical that any real changes can be made in their lives, resigned to the lives they lead and yet hopeful that change can be made by partnering the THP.

We witnessed history in the making during the morning, when locals expressed their hesitance and reluctance to engage, believing that life had always been ‘this way’ and that it probably always would be.  They were also cautiously optimistic that maybe this time, real change could be made, but hardly convinced.   And before our eyes, after a rousing talk by the THP Director of Malawi Rolands Kaoatcha and THP employee Grace shared their passion, changed their minds, so hopeful for their children, that change was indeed possible.  It made us reflect later on how much our own limiting beliefs keep us imprisoned to the ideas we ‘choose’ to partner with.

Maternal and infant health is a huge issue in the area, with women in labour having to walk for 27kms (around 7 hours+) to the nearest health facility to give birth.  Many are too tired to make the full journey and give birth along the way.  Any complications mean possible death for the mother, infant or both.  To say the tears were flowing on hearing their stories is the understatement of the trip so far.  Knowing that I would have died trying to have my daughter without medical assistance made the stories more poignant for me and we were moved to tears with one man begging for a health service and ambulance for their women during our visit.

We were soon divided into four groups and braved epic Malawian heat as we were each welcomed into the homes for four local families who shared their personal stories with us.  One family married their daughter off at 12 (apparently she was willing) so that the dowry could feed the remaining family for the rest of ‘the hungry season.’  Others shared their stories of love and loss, of saving 10 years for iron sheets for their roofs and their struggle to feed their families at least twice per day.

To not be moved by such every day battles, and put our own ‘first world problems’ into stark perspective, we’d have been heartless indeed to have not been touched.

Malaria is still a huge issue, and the Majete Malaria Project is working in tandem with THP to improve the lives of those in the villages.

Despite the confrontational day we had, we too were optimistic about their future based on the Epicentre we have seen reach self-reliance and knowing that the work ahead can make positive and real change in their lives.

Their vision that their children may one day end up as President, or even doctors or nurses is more possible right now they could ever believe.

My question for myself as I settle in to bed with a full belly tonight is, as ever, “what’s holding me back?”