Tag Archives: budget

Tips to manage your money when in a relationship

It may sound bleedingly obvious, but couples can reach their shared goals by keeping their finances healthy.

Whether saving for a house or holiday or seeking to grow or preserve wealth, couples can reach their common goals by managing money well. Here are some practical tips for managing your finances together.

Talk about it, talk about it, talk about it, yeh…

At the risk of sounding like a lyric, it’s important for couples to talk to each other about their finances and how to manage them, to avoid any potential conflict. Discuss your financial situation and goals, and any concerns you may have.  Chances are, you may have grown up with wildly different parenting styles when it comes to money, and your personal ideas about money are brought to the joint kitchen table. The American Psychological Association also suggests talking about your beliefs about money to help you better understand each other and set the stage for healthy conversations.[1]  You may hold the ideas your parents instilled, or have vastly different beliefs about money.

Set goals

Couples often have wide ranging and different priorities, but this doesn’t mean you can’t set common financial goals and work together to save for them. Keeping an open line of communication about your aspirations may help you adjust personal priorities to achieve shared goals.  Everything from big ticket household items, new cars, holidays and babies can be covered here.

Divvy up responsibilities

Sharing responsibilities for paying joint expenses and building savings may help ensure you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to finances. You can opt to split those responsibilities equally or put the main breadwinner in charge of most of them. Whatever you choose, it’s important both are happy with the decision.  Some enjoy maintaining their own personal accounts and contribute a set amount to a ‘family account’ to cover all joint expenses and debts.

Create a budget

A budget usually tracks your spending on a weekly or monthly basis, but often the very mention of the word can make eyes glaze over and you suddenly find that doing the ironing is actually more interesting. So, if a budget isn’t your thing, simply agree on how you will spend – and save – your money.

Build your funds

If you are married or in a de facto relationship, you may want to consider helping each other build retirement funds. You might explore contributing to your partner’s superannuation account if your partner is not working or earns a low income.

Before you make such an arrangement, it is wise to get professional advice on how it works. Your financial adviser may talk you through the rules of spouse contributions and the requirements to become eligible for a tax offset.

Bet we can help with some other stuff too!

 

[1] The American Psychological Association, ‘Happy couples: How to avoid money arguments’. Available at http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/money-conflict.aspx.

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!

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.

Create a great financial new year

New Year’s resolutions are easy to make but often hard to keep. But there are real benefits to making financial resolutions. Here are some helpful suggestions to get you started.

Chances are by now, you’ve forgotten what you wanted to achieve last New Year’s Eve, but a new financial year is also a great time to reset.

Get back to basics

If you find it near-impossible to reach your financial goals, you may need to revisit the basics: sticking to a budget. Does temptation usually unravel all your good saving intentions? Consider opening a locked savings account that you can’t deduct money from for a period of time, and automatically transfer funds into it each payday.  Automating everything in your life that can be is truly a gift!

Plan for large purchases

Whether you need a new fridge or are considering placing a deposit on a home, the earlier you start planning for these purchases, the more manageable they become.

If you know you’ll need a new item in 6 months that costs $1,000,  that means you need to set aside around $40 per week to make it happen… that’s a few sneaky coffees that may need to go!

Set up an investment plan

If you’re considering investing this year (instead of someday,) developing a sound investment plan is essential for your success. This may include working with your financial adviser to identify clear financial targets, calculate how much you can afford to invest and determine how much risk you’re willing to take on. 

If you’d like to have a small nest egg before you sit down with someone, again, automate the process so every week you’re setting aside an amount to put towards that portfolio.  Everyone started somewhere!

Review insurance policies

Knowing you are properly insured provides peace of mind if your circumstances change unexpectedly. But identifying appropriate insurance policies and levels of coverage for your unique situation can be difficult – and getting it wrong is risky… as you’ll likely find at claim time. This is why it’s important to regularly review your insurance policies with your financial adviser, especially if your situation changes.

You may be able to find that funding via various structures frees up cash flow to invest in personal insurances you may not have otherwise been able to afford.  Good advice is worth every cent!

Check your super

If you have multiple superannuation accounts – or have forgotten where your super is – you’re not alone. According to the Australian Taxation Office, there’s $18 billion of lost super waiting to be claimed nationally.1

Effectively managing your super is vital for building your retirement nest egg. Contact your financial adviser who may help you manage your super.  It’s also worth seeing what insurances are covered in your fund so you aren’t paying extra for cover you don’t need.

Set retirement goals

The earlier you set clear goals for your retirement, the more options you’ll have. Work out what assets you have – from your home to superannuation – and review your current spending patterns, then determine your goals for retirement and what lifestyle you’d like to enjoy. This will help you calculate how much you’ll need.

Remember, we’re now living a lot longer, which means our money may now need to last 30 years in retirement, or we may choose to work longer.  Our health is also an issue that needs consideration as we age and this too will impact our retirement years.

Create an estate plan

Estate planning involves more than writing a will. It outlines what you want done with your documents, contacts, debts, bills and assets, making the process easier for your beneficiaries after you’ve passed away.

Whatever your financial New Financial Years’ resolution may be, seeking professional advice may help you make it reality this year.

 

Note:
1 The Sydney Morning Herald, 2017, ‘Almost $18b in lost super waiting to be claimed’. Accessible at:

http://www.smh.com.au/money/super-and-funds/tax-office-holds-records-of-almost-18-billion-in-lost-super-20170920-gylo3z.html

A money-wise wedding

Creating a budget for the big day

Whether you’re planning a large, luxurious, lavish and luscious wedding or a small, intimate affair, smart budgeting could help free you from financial worries, so you can enjoy your special day even more.

Following these steps may help ensure no one’s worried about debt on the honeymoon.  And remember, even if you only plan on doing the walk down the aisle once, it’s just a day… and the rest of your life is what it’s all about.

Starting with massive debt and stress about money is a less than ideal way to continue your life together.

1. Plan early

Given that the average (is there such a thing?) Australian wedding costs $36,200[1], the sooner you start saving, the sooner your dream wedding can become a reality.  (I hope your parents are all over this stat!)

The day after the engagement is fine… tho some do start even before that… like while you’re watching the latest episode of Batchelor in Paradise and dreaming about finding Mr or Mrs Right.

2. Create a budget

Take stock of your income and calculate the maximum you can afford to spend on the wedding – and your ideal cost scenario. Will your parents be pitching in and what can you expect from them?

Knowing what you can spend in each area means that you’re all over it when negotiating with suppliers.  If you don’t have room to move, you can play hard-ball or find someone else who is willing to come to the party.

No-one will remember if you had the world’s largest bouquet or the best tablecloths or the food you serve (unless the oysters are dodgy,) it’s all about celebrating your love and new life.

3. Talk to your family

If you’re part of the bride’s or groom’s family and want to contribute, let them know. You could contribute a set figure or fund a specific part of the ceremony, such as the flowers, drinks (very brave move!) or venue.

If you’ve got friends in the right places, make sure you include them in your planning.  Chances are, they may also know some others who are happy to help.

4. Prioritise

What must you have at the wedding and what can you compromise on? For example, do you want a live band but aren’t fussed about fancy table decorations?  Do you want the Disney fairytale carriage experience, or your mate’s EH Holden will do the trick?  Agreeing on your priorities up front can help you clarify which aspects to save for and which to downplay or skip altogether.

Do you want the amazing Vera Wang frock that you can rock on the day and hang in the cupboard for the rest of your life and drag from home to home; or would you rather spend it on the honeymoon or save for a housing deposit?  Life’s full of compromises!

5. Start a spreadsheet… if you must!

Once you have an idea of your budget and priorities, it’s time to dive into the details.  OK, not everyone loves this part, but it is really necessary!

If you’re an excel nerd, use a spreadsheet to list a maximum cost for every wedding-related item from bouquet to band and compare it with vendors’ quotes. Don’t forget to take into account hidden costs like insurance, corkage and the marriage licence or celebrant as well as costs related to the rehearsal dinner and honeymoon.

Otherwise, a wedding planning notebook is fine… as long as you have something to track it all in.

6. Stay accountable

Avoid blowing out your budget by keeping your spreadsheet (or Kikki K notebook) up to date, setting up a wedding-expenses-only bank account, and sticking to your guns as far as your limits and priorities are concerned.

If you’ve created your budget and despair of affording your dream wedding any time soon, don’t worry. Here are some tips to help you reign in your costs.

  • Limit your guest list to your favourite people: At $100 per head, every 10 guests cost you $1,000.
  • Think outside the box when picking a wedding venue: A park, garden, art gallery or friend’s house may be more affordable than a hotel, and the natural ambience can save you money on decorations.
  • Book an out-of-season wedding: It can be cheaper to schedule a wedding in winter, on a week night or a Sunday morning.
  • Keep your menu simple: Stick with the specialties of the season and region, consider canapes or buffets over three-course meals, and ask for house spirits (not top-shelf varieties) or beer and wine.
  • Investigate hiring over buying: If there’s some items you don’t need forever, like suits or gowns it may be worth hiring for the day and giving back.  No dry-cleaning necessary!

Call in an expert

While you may call upon a wedding planner to help you organise your special day, a financial planner may be just as important.

A professional financial adviser may help you create and stick to your budget as well as stay accountable – so you can focus on the important things, like celebrating with the people you love!

If all that just sounds too hard, run off to the Registry office and have a party when you make the announcement!

And hey!  Congratulations!!

 

[1] Australian Securities and Investments Commission, ‘How much can a wedding cost?’. MoneySmart. Available at: https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/managing-your-money/budgeting/simple-ways-to-save-money/how-much-can-a-wedding-cost

Six ways to ease your debt burden

Debt is one of the fixtures of modern life for most people but if you feel it’s getting out of your control, it’s time to act.

Fortunately, there are straightforward ways to regain control of your money.

Start a debt management plan

This will mean prioritising your debts in order of urgency, setting a budget, cutting expenses, consolidating, and planning ahead.

1. Set a budget

Work out how much you spend each week on your debts and discretionary spending and how much income you have. It’s vital that you are honest. From this you can work out how much you need to service your debts to bring them down to manageable levels.

2. Save on easy things

The most obvious way to reduce debt is to cut down your spending on non-essential items. Simple ways include doing things yourself that you previously paid others to do, such as cleaning your house. Eat out less. Cook at home and eat your leftovers at work. Don’t buy things you don’t need at the supermarket and turn off lights and computers when they are not in use. Walk more or take public transport.

3. Stop using your credit cards

Pay cash. Put your credit cards away. The simple logic is that you won’t be tempted to overspend if you only have cash.

4. Pay the minimum on each debt

Service each debt, be it phone, mortgage or credit card each month. Pay off as much as you can but at least pay the minimum, which will protect your credit score.

5. Consider a consolidation loan

You may be able to reduce your interest charges by consolidating your debts into one low-interest loan.

6. Talk to a professional

Your Adviser will work with you to develop a debt management plan that’s specifically tailored to you.

But if you are feeling really overwhelmed, seek help from your doctor.

Money hacks for teens

Help your teens and young adults manage how they spend and save.

So your teenagers and young adults know how to spend, but do they know how to budget for the things they really want? Learning good money management should be an essential life skill.

A reason to save

For many teenagers and young adults with part-time jobs, spending their entire pay each week is easy if they don’t have pressing financial obligations. This is why it’s important to discuss a long-term goal and find a reason to save.

Perhaps this goal will be a car, a holiday with friends, higher education – or even a rental bond if they want to move out. Just make sure you emphasise that they will still need money after the purchase, either for running costs or to enjoy their social lives, so they shouldn’t blow the lot.

Budget benefits

The envelope method is a great way to learn about budgeting. Label real envelopes – or use tags in an app – with categories such as clothes, nights out, transport, phone, food, and university or school supplies. These should cover all their current expenses. Then allocate money to each envelope every pay day.

They can also use MoneySmart’s Budget Planner and apps such as TrackMySPEND to help them work out their goals and how much to allocate to each envelope.

A handy budgeting formula is the simple 50/30/20 rule. Urge them to dedicate 50 per cent of their pay to bills (if they don’t have many, they could reduce this amount), 30 per cent to fun activities and purchases, and 20 per cent to savings. This will get them into the habit of planning their spending and eliminate the habit of living from pay day to pay day.

Learning budgeting and savings skills early will help them build a solid nest egg for their future.

Get advice

Young adults face many big decisions, but helping them get serious about money management early can make life easier as they get older.

A visit to your financial adviser with your child may also help them develop good money management skills from an early age and avoid some of the mistakes we made along the way.