Tag Archives: financial advice

Do you have a valid will?

Creating a valid will is one of the most important things you can do to protect your loved ones.

Here we explain how to go about it.

1. Seek legal advice

While DIY will kits can seem like an easy and inexpensive way to make a will, they can be fraught with pitfalls.

Your affairs are probably more complex than you think – your family home, other properties, business assets, superannuation, investments and personal belongings.  You may be surprised to learn that not all assets are covered as standard in a Will and stay outside of your estate.  Having a properly drawn up will helps to determine who gets what and can save your family time and stress when you are gone.  And not all assets are automatically included in your estate and may need separate provision made to ensure their distribution.

Your lawyer or financial planner will also be able to provide insights into how to best structure your will, both to protect assets and to minimise tax. Examples include setting up a testamentary trust to provide for minors or protecting your estate from creditors.

2. Safeguard your children’s future

Probably one of the most important reasons to make a will is to ensure any dependent children are well cared for should the worst happen.

Sydney wills, probate and estate specialist, Graeme Heckenburg of Heckenberg Lawyers, says generally parents should make separate rather than joint wills, as they are likely to die at different times.

Heckenburg says a will should also appoint a guardian to take care of the day to day living and housing arrangements for the children and a trustee to execute the will and make any financial decisions. This can be one person or two different people.

“If you don’t appoint a guardian and there are young children, ultimately the decision will be made by the Guardianship Tribunal [in NSW]. If the guardianship is contested, the matter could even end up in the Supreme Court,” he says.

If you have adult children, you also need to consider their circumstances.  If they’re caught up in a divorce or bankruptcy issues, any inheritance can form part of their assets, which may not be what you wish.

Vulnerable adult children also need to be considered as receiving a large lump sum may not be in their best interests either.

3. Keep your will updated

Once you have made a will, don’t leave it in a drawer gathering dust.

Circumstances change over time, and often quickly, so ensure your will reflects your current situation, particularly if your spouse has died, you have married, re-married or divorced or you have become a parent or step-parent.

We’d love to help or put in touch with our legal experts who can assist with your estate planning.

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.

Returning to work? Four things to think about

There are many reasons for taking a break from the workforce: to have a baby, look after family members, or recover from a redundancy or illness. Whatever the reason, returning to work can be challenging. Here are some tips that may help give you the confidence you’re after.

1. How are your finances?

Before starting a new job, or returning to a previous role, take the opportunity to review your financial situation. Are all your bills paid? How good is your debt management? You should also update your budget to account for your new income, keeping in mind any changes in expenses such as child care, and ensuring you have savings in case of emergency. This is also a great time to think about income protection insurance.

2. Check your superannuation

Your superannuation savings may have stalled from lack of employer contributions. If you’d like to try to catch up, there are options. For example, you can salary sacrifice part of your pay or you may be eligible for the government’s co-contribution scheme.

Spouse contributions may also help, and under the superannuation reforms that came into effect on 1 July 2017, anyone with a partner who earns less than $40,000 can contribute to their super and may receive a tax offset in return.

3. Stay in touch

While you’re still on leave, there are a few things you can do to give yourself the best chance of transitioning back into the workforce successfully.

If you plan to stay in your industry or role, make sure you are up to date on the latest trends and insights. Keeping in touch with colleagues and your network is also a great way to show you are engaged in your area.

You may also take the opportunity to learn a new skill, gain experience or take a course. This may indicate to potential employers that you’re eager to continue learning. Remember to update your resume afterwards.

4. Talk to your employer

Many people returning to work will require flexible workplace arrangements, such as the ability to work from home or only for certain periods of time. Talk to your employer about this early on, then you can create an arrangement that works for both of you.

If you are seeking a new position and know you will need to work from home some days, research employers’ workplace flexibility arrangements. Is there a work-from-home policy? Is work–life balance encouraged? Seek out companies that offer these policies and keep an eye out for organisations with a return-to-work support program.

Some people find that slowly easing back into work sets up a stronger foundation for long term employment. This may mean going back one day a week, then increasing this to two, three or four days. If you think this may work for you, discuss a trial arrangement with your employer.

Return to work with confidence

Returning to work after extended leave can be daunting – but it can also be a great opportunity to develop your skills, connect with a community and achieve new goals.

Reach out to your networks and see how others managed the transtion.  There’s great groups available like Busines Chicks who offer fabulous support to their members.

There are also many financial aspects to consider, so speaking to a financial adviser who understands the latest reforms and your unique situation may give you peace of mind.  I’d love to help!

Look for help to get into the housing market

Governments across the country are offering incentives for first-home buyers. You just have to know where to look.

Buying your own home is the largest purchase most people will make in their lives.

However, a long run of low interest rates has fuelled spectacular dwelling price growth, record housing debt and phenomenal asset values, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne. According to the Reserve Bank of Australia, housing prices nationally have increased 7.25 per cent a year, on average, over the past 30 years.

In its Perceptions of Housing Affordability Report 2017, financial analysis and advisory firm CoreLogic says it now takes 1.5 years of household income to save for a 20 per cent deposit on a dwelling compared with 0.8 years 15 years ago.

Nevertheless, there are government incentives to help prospective first-home buyers. Last year’s Federal Budget proposed allowing individuals to make voluntary contributions to their superannuation to save for a deposit.

Super contributions and earnings are taxed at 15%, rather than higher marginal rates. Contributions are limited to $30,000 per person in total and $15,000 per year and both members of a couple could take advantage of the scheme.

Currently, the NSW and Victorian governments are offer first-home buyers:

  • no stamp duty on all homes worth up to $650,000 in NSW and $600,000 in Victoria
  • stamp duty relief for homes worth up to $800,000 in NSW and $750,000 in Victoria
  • a $10,000 grant for builders of new homes worth up to $750,000 and purchasers of new homes worth up to $600,000 in NSW
  • no duty on lenders mortgage insurance in NSW

Most states have first-home buyer grants, and some are making it harder for foreign investors by increasing duties and land taxes and introducing other measures to reduce competition for first-home buyers.

SEEK ADVICE

There are many investment options that can help you build a deposit, but you don’t have to make financial decisions by yourself.

Chat with your Adviser today… or I’m more than happy to help!

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.

It’s Finally Here!

My latest baby has now arrived… and ok, it’s been 19 years between births and this one didn’t hurt quite so much, (or weigh over 4 kgs) but my first book has now hit the shelves!

Financial Secrets Revealed hit bookstores just before Xmas and features interviews with 20 pretty amazing people.

I’ve interviewed 8 amazing ladies who are kicking goals as business owners and asked the best advice they’ve ever been given.  I’ve spoken with Financial Advisers from Australia and the UK about their back stories, how they got involved in financial services, and the top tips they like to leave their clients.  I’ve also found four amazing everyday heroes who are happy to go about their daily lives, and also make a difference, whether to their families or globally.  I ask how they manage – on Centrelink pensions,  running an international charity or heading into space for NASA.

If you’d like to learn about the setbacks suffered by entrepreneurs and how they’ve recovered, how our beliefs around money affect our behaviour, if budgets are all they’re cracked up to be, then Financial Secrets Revealed  may just be the book you’ve been looking for.

A New Year is often the time we swear that this is the year we’ll finally get on top of our financial situation, so maybe this is the incentive you need to stay motivated and on track with your money goals.

If you’d love to get your hands on a copy, you can let me know directly, or find the book locally or on Amazon.com  Booktopia.com.au or Barnes & Noble.  Also available as an e-book.  I’d love to hear your key take-outs from the book and what you learnt from the interviews.  Stay in touch!

PS  If you’re in Sydney, I have my book launch coming up at Business Chicks HQ on Feb 7 from 5.30 and would love to see you there.  Get your tix here.

Book Chapter Teaser! Meet Amy Neeson!

So my new book Financial Secrets Revealed covers off financial tips from Business Gurus and Financial Geniuses, and that may interest you… but what about the everyday battlers?  Those heroes who go about their lives trying to make ends meet and make a difference…

I’ve included the amazing story of Amy Neeson, who’s had more than her fair share of ‘tough luck’ thrown her way and ask how she handles her finances.  I’m talking family cases of open heart surgeries, hernia, melanoma, intellectual impairment, broken bones, flesh eating amoebas, heart disorders and more…  Seriously!

I delve into her (ok, our) family life growing up (she is my sister!) and how she’s handled financially all the massive hurdles thrown their way.

She also lets us know what advice she’d love to leave for her children to follow and the best financial tips she’s ever been given.

Financial Secrets Revealed is in it’s final stages of edit and will be ready to order in the near future.  I hope you’re excited to get your hot little hands on a copy when they’re available!  Not long now!

 

Now availabe on Amazon, Booktopia, Barnes & Noble, as an e-book and at all good book stories.