Tag Archives: spending

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?

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.

My Top Financial Tip

If there’s one tip I’m constantly asked for, it’s what’s the best way to get on top of your finances?  And for me, that’s easy to answer – “Live Within Your Means!”  Good money management boils down to harnessing the cash flow and getting on top of debt – with the biggest gremlin being credit cards.

If the word ‘budget’ annoys you and has you running for the door, try ‘spending plan’ instead.  A budget/plan should be divided between fixed regular costs (those you MUST meet) and discretionary spending (the WANTS and nice to have stuff.)

Work out first what it costs for mortgage or rent payments, food, clothing, utility bills and loans.  This means you’ll have a much better idea of where you stand and how much you are spending on fun stuff like entertainment and non-essentials.

Losing the credit cards should be a top priority.  Learning that if you can’t afford it now, you can’t have it, is a great skill to take through life.  That’s not to say lay-buy or payment plans can’t work, but we need to move on from the ‘I want it now’ mentality.

Learn what you’re capable of when you’ve got less commitments like interest payments for items you’ve forgotten that you’ve even bought.  You may be pleasantly surprised at what you can achieve with better spending and saving habits.

Did you know, that if you’re 25 and have a nest egg of around $5000 and you’re able to save $50 – $75 a week at around 7% average interest (compounding over the long-term) you could have yourself a cool $1 million by retirement at 65?  It might be a while off, but it does highlight the opportunity cost of spending around $200 to $300 a month on eating out, movies, drinks and ‘stuff.’  Add that to your compulsory super and that’s not a bad way to enjoy post-work life.

Most however don’t really start thinking about retirement until they’re 40 plus and suddenly realise they’re half way through their working life and have been wasting the ready for over 20 years.  It’s time to analyse those poor financial habits now!

Reducing debt and saving as much as possible is imperative if you want to maintain a certain standing of living both now, and when you retire, and living within your means makes life a lot easier.  Life without ongoing financial stresses also helps you sleep easier now. Chances are, the Centrelink age pension will be harder and harder to come by and eventually disappear.

It’s up to us to take charge of our financial future, and the sooner, the better.  Living within your means from now, is vital.  Are you?

What does an Adviser really do?

The term financial adviser or financial planner has been around for a long while.

When I left school though, I’d never heard of a Financial Adviser and certainly didn’t know it was a career path, or that it was the one I would take.

I knew about Life Insurance Agents or Brokers, Accountants, Economists and not much else.  So if you’re like I was, and not really sure what a planner did, allow me to enlighten you…

Advisers are Authorised Representatives of an organisation that is licensed by ASIC (the Australian Securities and Investment Commission.)  Some choose to hold their own license, some are through non-aligned companies and others are through big corporates that you may recognise such as AMP, MLC (NAB) or ANZ.

The upshot is, you need to be licensed to give advice and that’s a role we take pretty seriously.  People pay us for what we know, meaning we’re in a very trusted position and one that we don’t take for granted.

When you initially meet or research an Adviser, chances are you’ll be provided with their Financial Services Guide and Adviser Profile.  This outlines what your Adviser is allowed to provide advice on.  Some are very limited and choose to specialise in a particular niche, such as Insurance or Self-Managed Super Funds (SMSF.)  Others are educated in many areas and are called ‘generalists.’  Additional accreditation may be achieved in areas such as Aged Care and SMSFs.

Most covered areas include investments, finances, budgeting, insurance, superannuation, retirement and pre-retirement planning, estate planning, risk management, business risk mitigation and taxation.  Advisers are usually only too happy to let you know the areas that they’re qualified in and can offer advice on.

Chances are, seeing an adviser can add value to your personal financial situation, so why not consider a meeting with a planner real soon!  Most offer their initial consultation at their own time and expense, so what have you got to lose?

Why chat with an Adviser?

With only around 20% of Australians thinking it’s worthwhile seeking professional financial advice, it begs the question – ‘what’s in it for me?’  ‘Why would I see a financial adviser?’

And I can give you 6 pretty good answers to that question!

Firstly, seeing an adviser can help you set and achieve personal financial goals.  Sure, you can do that on your own… but do you?   Most of us fare much better when we share our goals and feel accountable to someone for achieving them.  But then, some never think to set financial goals or have a clue about achieving them.  This is where an adviser can provide much value.

Secondly, we can help you make the most of your money.  Chances are, if your like most you live first and save last… if there’s anything left over.  Advisers can assist with salary packaging, planning, tax minimisation and ensuring you get paid and get to save.

We also know a bit about Centrelink, and have helped some who didn’t even know that they were entitled to the Pension or an Allowance to be able to claim what they’re entitled to.

One of my favourites tho is assisting you to feel more in control of your financial situation.  Knowing that you’ve got a plan, someone to keep you on track and that each year you can see that you’re getting ahead, is priceless!

We all make mistakes, it’s a part of living and learning.  But some of them can be extremely expensive.  Being able to run business, investment and financial deals past an expert who knows their numbers can potentially save hundreds or even thousands of dollars in expensive mistakes!

And finally, we know all about protection.  Having a brilliant financial plan is no good if all that you’ve already worked so hard for isn’t protected.  Ensuring that your own life and the wellbeing of your loved ones is taken care of means real peace of mind.

Now, aren’t they 6 good reasons to make an appointment today?

 

Keeping up with the Jones

Do you have a little envy going on?  These days, everything from Order Envy (your friend’s meal choice looks way better than yours) to outright covetousness over their assets seems to be in vogue.  You may know it as that feeling when their gleaming new ride pulls up next to your perfectly operational and completely reliable, but 2005 model Corolla, and suddenly you feel a little lame.  Or you’ve been toting that fabulously comfortable, but rather battered handbag around a bit longer than most, while your friends have had a few sparkling new upgrades.  The Kardashians have even decided that you should really emulate them and based an empire on it!

It may not even be that you have a desire to actually  have what your friend or Kim or Khloe or Kourtney has—but what some behavioural economists call “image motivation,” which in layman’s terms, is simply the desire to be perceived as successful by others.

Basically, there’s nothing wrong with this—unless of course it encourages you to spend and live beyond your means. And that’s where there’s a problem.  It’s also always good to remember, that just because someone has it, doesn’t mean they can actually afford it.

You’ve likely heard the very common expression that someone may be trying to “keep up with the Joneses.”  Neighbours outdo each other with bigger and better renovations and newer and sportier vehicles while other look on and giggle.   You may however like to see where it’s all at for the original Jones…

The fabulous Wyndclyff Mansion built in 1853 in Rhinebeck, New York by Elizabeth Schermerhorn Jones originally inspired the phrase, and it’s now a crumbling ruin in total disarray.  So if you have a touch of the green-eyed monster over some of your friends places or belongings, perhaps you could hang a picture of what the Jones estate looks like now to give you a little comfort and perspective.

The house ended up with a number of owners who couldn’t afford to maintain or repair it, and it has now been abandoned for years.

So the best advice I can give, is to take the home’s fate to heart and use your desire for a little prestige as the fire to aid you in making your own individual, solid financial decisions.

Funnel the money you would have spent matching your mates into a savings or investment plan instead.  Chances are, by investing instead of spending, you’re way more likely to end up ahead!

Are you feeling Lucky?

Is it time to take “Luck” Out of the Financial Equation?

It finally happened!!  You got the promotion you wanted and the salary is better than expected.   Congratulations! Must be time to celebrate right?  That new handbag has totally been calling to you and you really deserve the splurge!   Then you find $50 in a pair of jeans before heading out for the night and think, time to buy myself a lottery ticket!

Feeling like luck is on your side is a big-time confidence boost—but on the downside, it can also cloud your judgement and lead to not-so-hot financial consequences… if you aren’t careful.

As an example, an older Ohio University study found whenever the State’s football team won a game, local lottery ticket sales surged.  I’m guessing that even though the fans are obviously into football, they also knew the odds of hitting the jackpot were the same as they had always been.  It seems though, that the excitement, even euphoria of the victory on the field, then made them feel as though they could triumph over anything, including turning the win into a financial windfall too.

If you’re more comfortable with footy tipping than an investment on the stock market, evaluate how much you rely on luck versus good money sense.

Obviously, the splurge of a few dollars won’t negatively impact your bottom line over the long term, that’s a given!  But jumping into bigger financial decisions—like, finally scoring that renovator’s delight that you’re totally sure you can flip quickly for a profit, just because you’re on a lucky hot streak, certainly can have a much bigger and longer-lasting impact.

So what’s the best way to keep wishful thinking from clouding your judgement?

Basically, just think things through.  Do the due diligence you would on making any investment and thoroughly research the pros and cons.  Seek professional help if you need to – investing a few hundred on advice early, can save you the heartache of the loss of tens of thousands later.  Remember also, that a professional adviser isn’t clouded by the same emotions you are, and may also have an idea of a few other things you hadn’t thought of.

Sometimes, you can have a win because you were brave enough to finally act instead of coming from a place of fear.  But when you’re weighing up that big money decision, seek help ensure you’re not acting out of a misguided, “can’t-lose, I’m on a roll” gambler’s mindset versus a positive, well thought-through plan.

Ask any successful person and they’ll tell you, the harder they work, the luckier they get!