Five ways to Stick to your Resolutions

Did you set a financial goal for the New Calendar Year? Did you take steps to make it work?

Is your New Year’s Resolution now a dim, distant memory?  If you’re like most, chances are, it’s now in the too hard basket, life got in the road and you’ve really moved on…

But how can we boost our chances of sticking to our financial resolutions? Here are five practical tips to help you get back on track…

1. Was it an attainable goal?

It’s good to be ambitious, but you may have a better chance of sticking to your resolution if you have a smaller, and more reachable goals along the way.

Using the well-established and well-known SMART formula may help.  SMART stands for:

  • Specific – make your goal as clear as possible.
  • Measurable – specific goals are usually more measurable
  • Achievable – can you reach your goal in the foreseeable future
  • Relevant – do you really want this goal and you’re sure it would benefit you?
  • Time – set a timeline to achieving your target

2. Having a plan

Creating a plan that can help you take small but regular steps toward reaching your financial goal is vital. The key is to set specific milestones and a time frame for each. You may wish to talk to a friend who will keep you accountable, or your financial adviser about setting a plan for your financial situation and goal/s.

3. Announce it

Tell your family or friends about your resolution, or post it on social media. Shout it from the rooftops!  By making your resolution known, you may feel more responsible for sticking to it.

4. Track progress

Record and analyse your progress against milestones. Are you reaching those smaller goals along the way?  It could help to get your financial adviser to check your progress every so often.

5. Enjoy the process

Enjoying the process of reaching your goal may help you stick to your financial resolution. Give yourself a small reward or high-five every time you hit one of your milestones.

Whether you want to boost your savings, pay down debt or up your retirement fund, your financial adviser may be able to help you stay on track to achieve your resolution.  We’d be happy to be your accountability buddy!

Four ways to manage the rising cost of living

Be smart with your spending.

The increasing cost of goods and services is a reality most Australians have to deal with.  It’s certainly not getting any easier to ‘make ends meet.’  Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows that living expenses for employee households were up by 2% in September 2018 compared to just a year ago.1

But there’s no need for panic! By being organised and smart with your finances, you could manage rising costs without draining the savings… provided you have any!

1. Cut back on major expenses

Trimming your expenses is one of the easier ways to manage the high cost of living. But rather than taking a piece-meal approach, it may be more effective to cut back on some of the large drains on your earnings, such as food and transport costs.  Take those leftovers to work!  Compare the costs of major must haves like energy bills and be sure to review insurance expenses.  There’s many comparison sites, brokers and advisers who can help you get a better deal or ensure what you have is right for you.

2. Reduce lifestyle costs

It may be worth auditing your lifestyle costs to see if these too could decrease. While you don’t have to give up all the things you enjoy, cutting down on, for example, your overseas holidays or dining out could go a long way in reducing your costs.  Maybe instead of a meal out every week, you cut that to fortnightly.  Perhaps every second year you go off-shore rather than every year.  Check for those cheaper vouchers or groupon deals before heading out to the movies, shows or restaurants.

3. Create a budget

Having a budget and sticking to it may also help you minimise unnecessary expenses. As boring as it sounds, a budget tracks your weekly or monthly spending and may help ensure you have enough money to cover essentials, build up your savings and handle unexpected or increased costs. You may wish to consider working with a professional financial adviser or using software that links with your bank accounts to create a budget that factors in your income, expenses and financial obligations.

Knowing your numbers is vital to staying on top of it all.  Being frugal has a whole new lease of life – check out those dedicated to keeping on top of it all online.

4. Supplement your income

Increasing your income may be another way to ride out the rising cost of living.  Go ahead and ask for that pay rise!  You could take on extra work in your spare time or start a side hustle.  Perhaps you could become a private tutor in your field of expertise, rent out your spare room sometimes or pet sit.  Even selling old unused clothes, sporting equipment or items no longer needed could assist.

If you have enough savings on top of your contingency fund, you may want to invest to grow your capital and earn interest. Your financial adviser may recommend strategies to help you generate an income from your investments.

The high cost of living may affect your savings and lead to money-related stress. But if you’re smart about your finances, you can still keep your cost of living in check and remain financially secure.

 

1. Australian Bureau of Statistics, September 2018, ‘Selected Living Cost Indexes, Australia’. Accessible at: 

http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/PrimaryMainFeatures/6467.0?

Five financial moves to make in your 40’s

In your 40’s? Here’s 5 moves to make so you can get financially ahead.

Being in your 40’s can involve balancing many different responsibilities and it becomes easy to neglect your own financial well-being. But it’s not too late to secure your future. Here are 5 tips that may help you financially make the most of your 40’s.

1.      Create a plan

If you don’t have a financial plan, then it’s totally time to get one. Ensure that it’s based on your needs and priorities. By working with a professional adviser, you may be able to tailor a plan that can help you maximise your ability to save and invest.

2.      Grow savings

Your 40’s could be your peak earning years, so it may be a good idea to ramp up your savings and funnel some of your income into superannuation or investment accounts. Be sure to do your homework and consult with a professional financial adviser about your options and reducing debt.

3.      Check your superannuation

A quick super health check may help you optimise your retirement savings. For example, by choosing a different investment option or type of risk, you may be able to earn better returns on your super. If you have a few funds, consolidating your accounts may help save on fees. Again, seek advice from a professional adviser before acting as you may leave yourself open to losing some important benefits.

4.      Avoid lifestyle creep

People usually have a tendency to inflate their standard of living as they earn more and can then afford more things, such as a better car or house. While it’s natural to want the finer things in life, you’ll likely end up with little to no financial gain if your spending rises as quickly or more quickly, than your income. Try stick to your long-term financial goals and remember the big picture.  You lived on your income until you got the pay rise or bonus, so chances are, you still can, and stash the difference.

5.      Invest more

Your 40’s may be a good time to invest more – or diversify your investments – to help you grow your long-term savings.  Keep in mind that it’s important to choose instruments that suit your risk appetite and time horizon. Developing a strategy with your financial adviser might make it easier achieve the return required to reach your financial goals.

The Federal Budget for Accumulators

Are you an Accumulator?

That is someone who is still stashing their wealth prior to retirement?  Chances are, you may have kids, debt and be pretty time poor!

So what did the Federal Budget 2019 include for you?

We’ve summarised the key takeouts so you can understand the tax cuts, social security and superannuation issues that may impact you.

It’s only two pages tops, so if you’d like to know more, check it out here:

Federal_Budget_2019_Accumulators.

We’ll Make sure you Win, Unopposed!

Sitting cross legged (awkwardly on my part) on thin mattresses on the cold tiled floors of the unheated Hotel Harshikhar, in Bhimtal, Northern India, we heard from 15 Elected Women Representatives or community leaders who traveled many hours to share the issues within their communities and the wins they’d had during the last four+ years of their time in office.

The Business Chicks with me had traveled from all over Australia to hear their stories, and one that stood out for me, was Hema.

“First and foremost,” she said, “women were not taken seriously.  Their voices had not been heard, and this caused fear and anxiety when they wanted to express their opinions.”

She thanked the women of the organisations who partnered with The Hunger Project to teach women their rights, and how to be heard.  She was grateful for the assistance to build her own confidence to fully be her best in her role.

Hema fought for water issues and is now proud that every house in her village has access to water and that tanks have been constructed for families who need them.

She’s received an award from the State Government for having a modern panchayat (village council) where all basic services were covered.  This resulted in an award of 200,000 rupees (AU$4,000) for her village.  She also received an award for cleanliness and sanitation from her district.  This lady is a winner!

In her spare time, she’s chosen to fund education for 2 very poor girls in her village whose parents are unable to meet the costs of schooling.  There was also no land for a creche for the smaller children, so she donated part of her own property for that too.

Hema is also a bit of an entrepreneur and now has 5 women in the village making paper packets that can be sold at market to provide them with an income.  Her passions are teaching others about animal husbandry and ensuring that women understand about savings and being able to provide for themselves.

Domestic violence fueled by alcoholism is also a problem in her area and many women don’t know what their options are but come to her for advice.  Bravely, Hema has confronted the husbands to have a discussion about their behavior prior to escalating matters to the police.  One man objected to her interfering with belting his wife and even went to strike her, but she managed to grab his arm.  Strongly, she stood her ground telling him that she was here for a conversation and if he chose to also abuse her, the matter would go to the authorities.  What a powerhouse!

Some men in the area work away at companies or serve in the army to financially assist their families, but some just choose not to contribute to the financial upkeep of their homes.  This is why Hema is so passionate about ensuring the women can earn a living and put away savings for when needed.  (Sounds like she’s also a part-time financial counselor!)

Hema still has more work to accomplish.  She wants to again contest the elections later this year and be back to serve and make a difference for the next five years.  It’s no wonder the women in her village have assured her this election year, that they’ll make sure she wins again, unopposed.

“May all our Wishes be Granted”

Our field visit on my Business Chicks Leadership & Immersion Program with The Hunger Project, today took us back to Bhimtal where Elected Women Representatives traveled for 6-8 hours stuffed into Jeeps to join us and share the work that they’d accomplished in their local areas during the course of their service.

For some context, the area we’re staying in Nainital, the capital city of Uttarakhand in Northern India is at an altitude of 2,084m.  Australia’s tallest mountain, Kosciusko stands at 2,228m and Everest at 8,848m.

Little Pushpa sat by me cross legged in the unheated hotel room we met in.  And, she may have looked like the quiet retiring type when we first met, but as turns out, she’s hard to keep quiet once you get her started.

She was married at 19 and 31 years later, is still going strong.

She’s currently president of her local panchayat (council/community area) having worked with local self-help groups for 15 years prior.  She’s always been very community aware but was unable to do more before quotas were introduced for women to be elected.  She wanted to take on a political role and make a real and bigger difference.

She’s proud of having constructed a Marriage Hall in her area as there was no facility for weddings, and 7-8 local marriages have already taken place there.

She’s also managed to have water supply brought to her village from over 6 kms away to stop women doing the trek daily.  In the mountainous area she lives, this is incredibly difficult and often extremely cold, as you’d expect in the far north of India by the Himalayas.

Apart from that, she’s lobbied for a local creche and now around 26 children attend daily.

There’s a small river that also runs by her panchayat and she’s worried about flooding in the monsoon season, so she’s determined to have a retainer wall erected to protect the village.

After training with The Hunger Project’s local partners in Uttarakhand, she now has the confidence to head off to her local capital city and petition for help.

Pushpa has been in her role and accomplished much in the past 5 years and is hoping to stand again for re-election later this year.  Her request?  “May all our wishes come true.”

And, if you were worried that she really hadn’t done enough to qualify again, she’s also had 110 toilets constructed, but needs 15 more, along with a safer method of sewerage disposal.  She’d determined to be back to finish her work!

As she beautifully put it, “I will do this work to my dying breath.”

What a beautiful lesson in humble leadership she was for us.

Milk is Meant for Boys

So now all the lovely ladies, Business Chicks representatives and THP Australia team have arrived.

This brilliant opportunity ahead of me, commences with The Hunger Project India and Australia teams welcoming us all to amazing India and to further introduce the work done by the elected women representatives, some of whom we’ll have the privilege of meeting on our travels this coming week as we head to Naini Tal in the Himalayan foothills.  It’s also lovely to have two representatives from the THP Swedish office joining us on this trip.

Firsthand, we will be able to witness the courage of the Elected Women Representatives as they bring about much needed change in their communities in spite of the daily obstacles that arise, and continued resistance from those who fear change.

This visit will be a milestone for us as we witness the work they do, and also for them as they understand that what they’re achieving is amazing and significant and worthy of us learning from them

India remains at number 103 out of 119 countries on the Global Hunger Index behind even Bangladesh and Nepal, yet is the third largest economy in the world following the USA and China.

The India Times yesterday was highlighting the reduction of child marriage and teen pregnancies in India, shaming the areas lagging behind and noting that much work was still to be done.

We sadly heard that infanticide is still practiced against baby girls and is considered acceptable by many.  Child marriage and the rape of girls as young as three continues.  If my blood could curdle, I think it just did.

The expression ‘milk is meant for boys’ crossed my radar and angered and surprised me today.  Even grandmothers won’t nourish their granddaughters as it is so ingrained that the men and boys are worth more and come first in the family, community, and beyond.  Yet, families don’t even let their animals sleep without food…  Over half of all rural women in India are malnourished and anemic,  and 39 crimes against women are committed every hour.

For someone who has grown up in middle class Australia in a family that had enough, and daughters had the same opportunities as sons, it’s a world I understand very little of.

As the horns continue to blast in the streets around me, I’m looking forward to learning from the experiences we’ll all have in the coming days and how for some, the tide is slowly turning.

In the past, I know that the lessons learned can inspire each of us to be a catalyst for change in our own personal and business lives.

Signing off… and eagerly awaiting my latest immersive experience despite, the 3.30 am wakeup call ahead.

A little bit of life… according to Amanda