Tag Archives: spending

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!

Time to Sweat the Small Stuff

What little habits do you have, that take up small parts of your wages each working day or week?

Most of us have something we love and really feel we just can’t do without!  That amazing frappe from the local coffee shop at $7 a pop?  That seriously healthy juice we need every day at $9 a slurp?  A fantastic bought lunch at $15 per day, because it’s so much nicer than a vegemite sandwich?  The latest glossy mag full of Kardashian butts to keep you enthralled at $10 a read?  That Bounty bar that we only ever get when we fill up each week at the servo at $3 a bite?  Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to be able to indulge in life’s little luxuries!

But sometimes it’s also good to take stock of just how much we pay out on ‘the small stuff.’

As an example, if you save the $7 per working day on the coffees ($35 per week at 48 weeks per year) you’re looking at a total annual spend of $1,680!  Didn’t that add up quickly!

Can you buy lunch once a week and bring in leftovers the other days?  Can you cut the magazine spend down to monthly not weekly?  What little incremental changes can you make, to make a big difference somewhere else?

Now, I’m not saying you need to go without – heaven forbid!! But what if you chose to cut it down – maybe a once a week treat – and every day, transfer those little bits you’d otherwise spend into something else?  Like, paying down those credit cards, chipping away at the mortgage, or finally putting it towards that holiday we’ve been dreaming of!

The benefits of the compounding interest (that you’re saving) may just surprise and delight you.

Let me know what little indulgences have run away from you?  And what you’re prepared to give up to focus on something else?  I’d love to hear your stories!

Check in with your “Want Levels”

Try and spend the coming week noticing your level of want… and for what.

Do you always need to get ‘stuff’ whenever you head out?

What do you want and will not stop until you get it: coffee? wine? snacks? checking your email… again?  looking at social media notifications? a treat? shoes? buying something?  buying anything?

Try and really notice how the mind has you hooked in it’s little clutches, until it gets what it wants.  It can be a bit addictive really!

Each time this week, stop and ask:  Do I need the coffee?  Or the wine? Will this end up in an charity bin in a year?  If I wait 24 hours, will I still want it?  Can I go without?  What if I directed the funds for that purchase somewhere else?  Will the earth rotate off it’s axis if I don’t check Twitter for 24 hours?  Isn’t 493 pairs of shoes enough?

Sometimes, the answer will be “yes, I still want it.” and that’s ok.  This is about starting to question our wants and be in control.

But, getting to a stage where there is a feeling of ‘no-wanting’ is truly liberating. Then we feel free.  After all, it’s ‘just stuff.’   Try and set yourself free from the mind bossing you around on a daily, even hourly basis.  You’ll ultimately get to a place where you can instantly spot what your mind has decided it needs for its latest fix.

Choose to deny the mind today.  In fact, give it the bird!

It’s highly likely your finances, health, well-being and waistline will thank you!