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TIPS ON ORGANISING YOUR FINANCES FOR VALENTINE'S DAY SWEETHEARTS

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, maybe it’s a good time to look towards your financial future as a couple? Many couples don’t give their finances enough thought before they live together or get married, often resulting in complications further down the track. So, if you have found the love of your life, here are a few tips to keep your finances running smoothly as a couple.

Financial common sense

Everyone deals with money differently – some people are avid savers, others spend as if there is no tomorrow and others are in between. It definitely pays to discuss your spending and saving habits before you move in together, otherwise your finances could become a problem, sooner than you think! For example, if one of you has mounting debts due to poor spending habits and the other has a sizable saving account and abhors debt, you can imagine that something will need to change, pretty soon!

Not all debt is ‘bad’ debt, but you both need to be on the same page about ‘bad’ debt and ‘good’ debt, because regardless of the definition, too much of any type of debt can be stressful to a couple. Examples of ‘bad’ debt, where the ‘asset’ doesn’t appreciate over time are car loans, boat loans and credit card debts.  Even though a mortgage is generally considered as ‘good’ debt due to capital gains, combined with too many other debts, it all puts pressure on a relationship.

As you can appreciate, trying to pay down a large mortgage and two car loans can just about cripple a couple financially, increasing their stress levels and putting undue pressure on their relationship. If one person then looses their job, the debts can become overwhelming and the couple can be in real trouble

Discuss your debt behaviour

Your current finances and how each of you deals with money (your spending vs saving behaviour) needs to be addressed sooner rather than later in your relationship. If you don’t come to some sort of agreement about your finances, you could end up with one partner spending heavily and increasing your debt, while the other struggles to pay the bills every month.

The best approach is to agree on a savings plan for both of you and with a specific goal in mind. This might be a deposit on a house, a new car, boat, holiday, paying down credit cards or an investment plan. Your goals will partly depend on your ages and whether or not you have children, but planning for your future is important for your financial security, regardless of your age and family circumstances.

Discuss your incomes and create a financial plan

You both need to be transparent about your incomes and decide on a financial plan as a couple. You might decide to live off one income and save the other or allocate certain bills to be paid from each income, as well as having separate savings accounts. Whatever works for you as a couple is right for your relationship, but you both need to understand each other’s ‘money behaviour’ and agree on a financial plan together as a couple.

When you both agree on a financial plan, you can look forward to your future together, safe in the knowledge that you are both working towards the same goals.

For help organising your finances as a couple, call Amanda McCall on 07 3356 6926 or shoot us an email.

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A SHORT OVERVIEW OF INVESTMENT BASICS FOR BEGINNERS

Whenever you talk to someone about financial security and wealth building, invariably the topic comes around to investments. For most of us however, we just hope to pay the bills, let alone find money for investments!

It’s not such a hopeless topic however - you might be surprised how easy it is to put together your own investment portfolio by reshuffling your budget. So let’s take a look at some of the basics of investing, by identifying the four different types of investments that you might want to investigate further: fixed interest, shares, property and cash.

Fixed interest investments

These are usually issued by governments, corporations and financial institutions to raise money for their own investments. In return for you ‘lending’ your money to these financial bodies, you receive a fixed rate of interest that does not change over the life of your investment. Australian fixed interest investments are considered low risk, giving investors a regular income and helping to diversify investment portfolios.

Share market investments

You can buy shares in Australian or international companies either directly or via a managed fund, where you enjoy the benefits of the company’s profits in the form of dividends. Unfortunately, you can also suffer from the vagaries of the share market, resulting in substantial losses if you are not experienced in these types of investments. Your best option might be to invest using a managed fund where you rely on the experience and skills of a fund manager to make your investment decisions. These can be high risk investments, but if you are in it for the long term, they can be a valuable part of your investment portfolio.

Property investments

You can invest in commercial, residential or industrial properties, but if you are new to property investing, it might be best to utilise a property managed fund, where just as with share market investing, you rely on the skills of a fund manager to oversee your investments. On the other hand, many Aussies own investment properties themselves, benefiting from both negative gearing and capital gains. It all depends on your experience and your comfort level, as to whether you join a fund or manage your own property portfolio. In the long term, property investments tend to be low risk and some can deliver very high returns indeed.

Cash investments

These types of investments include bank term deposits and savings accounts in financial institutions where you receive interest on your savings. Many Australians have these types of accounts and whilst the interest rates you receive on your money at the moment is very small, it is a move in the positive direction. Cash investments can also include gold and other precious metals, as well as precious stones. Whilst these can’t be used as cash themselves, you can liquidate them very quickly and turn them into cash.

A diversified investment portfolio usually includes at least two or more of the above types of investments, but the percentage split can change depending on your needs and your returns.

If you need help to create an investment portfolio for yourself or your family, call Amanda McCall on 07 3356 6929 or complete our online enquiry form.

investments

HOW TO MANAGE LUMP SUM PAYMENTS

Not many of us are lucky enough to win the Lotto, but some of us do receive a sizable inheritance or redundancy payout at one time or another. The problem is knowing how best to handle this large sum of money, because if mismanaged, it can soon be whittled away, leaving you with nothing.

I am sure that you have heard of lotto winners who have won millions of dollars and a few years later have lost everything. Well, if you come into a large sum of money, you don’t want to be in the same boat – do you?

The solution is to ask yourself some key questions, before you start writing cheques for that brand new 4WD, enormous yacht and Jet Ski you have always wanted! Of course, it’s fine if you want to splurge a little at first, but for the bulk of the money you need to have a plan, that’s if you want to benefit from the money for the long haul and not blow it overnight.

What are your financial goals?

This is the first question you need to ask yourself – how can this money help you to achieve your financial goals? Once you know what you want to achieve, then you can start to put things in place to achieve these goals.

For example, if you have always wanted to work for yourself and open your own business, you need a solid business plan, a gap in the market and a product or service that people will buy. There is no point is going at it gung-ho and losing all your money on a business that was not thoroughly researched. You may as well have spent the money on the 4WD and Jet Ski, because at least that would have been fun!

Like most people in Australia, you will most probably want to achieve a number of different financial goals with your lump sum. For example, setting aside an emergency fund, paying off the mortgage, personal loan, car loan or credit card, taking a well-deserved break from work or a long holiday, creating an investment portfolio or topping up your super.

Your age and family circumstances will also play a part in setting your goals. For instance, a young couple might want to use some money for a deposit on their own home, buy a reliable car and set money aside for their children. An older couple who are empty nesters, might give their children money for a new home deposit, buy a 4WD and caravan for themselves, and invest the rest in their super.

The one essential step you need to take, if you don’t want to end up with nothing in a few years, is to seek professional financial advice. Someone trained in the financial world can help you to put together a solid plan to achieve your financial goals. They can even help you to sort through your wants, needs and must-haves, so that you can get the most out of your lump sum.

If you need help to achieve your financial goals, call Amanda McCall on 07 3356 6929 or complete our online enquiry form.

money savings

6 WAYS TO ORGANISE YOUR FINANCES FOR THE NEW YEAR

With the New Year on top of us, it’s time for you take a long hard look at your finances, so that you can set yourself up for 2018. Hopefully, you didn’t overspend at Christmas and you don’t have a big credit card debt to pay off in the New Year.

If you want to move your finances in a positive direction this year and stop worrying about living through each month, here are our top 6 tips that will help you to organise your finances for a better future.

Tip 1: Create a budget: It goes without saying that you won’t know where you need to cut down on your spending if you don’t know where you overspend! A budget is one of the easiest ways to see where your money goes, but it is one of the hardest actions to take. So, decide to create a budget this year, identify where you can save some money and stick to it!

Tip 2: Budgeting apps: Some of these personal finance apps are free and others cost very little each month. Some of you might love the idea of a budgeting app and others will throw their hands up in horror. Whatever your feelings on using apps, it pays to check them out because they can help you to reduce your spending: YNAB (You Need a Budget), Mvelopes (for people who love putting money away in envelopes) or Mint (perfect for identifying where you can save money).

Tip 3: Pay off debts: Why not focus on either paying off your smallest debt or the one with the highest interest rates this year? Credit cards and personal loans have pretty big interest charges, so paying these down and then cancelling the credit card account is one of the best and fastest ways to get yourself out of debt. Tip 3A: Don’t take on any more debt this year!

Tip 4: Plan your EOFY tax: Everyone, not just business owners and sole traders can benefit from organising all their receipts and statements, so that they are ready to go in July. Receiving a tax windfall is awesome, but if you submit your tax as soon as possible in July, you can use it to help pay off your debts faster than you might originally have anticipated.

Tip 5: Hard copies: In this day and age of computers and the internet, we tend to forget to keep hard copies of our essential financial information. If you don’t backup your hard drive and your computer crashes, you could lose all your records. So always backup your PC’s hard drive regularly and keep a hard copy of statements, receipts and passwords.

Tip 6: Meet with a financial planner: Good financial advice is worth its weight in gold, so it pays to talk to a reputable financial adviser so that you can put together a plan to achieve your goals. Whether these goals are to pay off your debts, buy a house, new car, boat or plan for your retirement – getting good advice is important to your financial success.

If you need help achieving your financial goals in 2018, call Amanda McCall on 07 3356 6929 or complete our online enquiry form.

2018 PLANNING BUDGET FINANCES

HOW TO SPEND YOUR MONEY WISELY THIS CHRISTMAS

Too many of us spend money we can’t afford at Christmas and then spend the rest of the New Year saying that we will never do it again! If this sounds familiar to you and you would love a few tips on spending your money wisely this Christmas - here are 12 ways to save money and not overspend this year.

1.      Make a list: We all know that if we shop without a list, we always overspend, so avoid impulse buying by making a list and sticking to it this year.

2.      Garage sale: Earn some extra cash for Christmas by selling all the unused items that have cluttered up your home and garage.

3.      Check online: Take some time and surf the online stores, because you can quite often find a similar item online for a cheaper price, but don’t forget to include the shipping costs.

4.      Cards & wrapping paper: The best time to buy Christmas cards and gift wrapping paper is during the post-Christmas sales, when they are going for a song!

5.      Gift cards: If you have unused gift cards that are about to expire, you can use them to pay for this year’s gifts and save yourself a bunch of money.

6.      Buy during sales: Check the sales for gift items on your list during the year or even substitute a listed gift for an item that is on sale prior to Christmas.

7.      Spending limits: It’s always best to agree on a dollar limit with friends and family, so no-one is caught out and everyone feels comfortable. Even better, agreeing to buy gifts for just the children helps everyone save money at Christmas.

8.      Buy cheaper items first: This way you will have the bulk of your Christmas shopping completed quickly with only one or two expensive items left to buy.

9.      Shopping locations: Make your gift list with one eye on the location, so you can do all your Christmas gift shopping in just one or two locations, saving you a lot of time.

10.  Look for grocery discounts: Grocery shopping is different to gift shopping, because you need to compare prices in various supermarkets and be prepared to shoot in for the advertised specials or discounts.

11.  Pare back the groceries: Don’t buy enough to feed a football team and don’t buy junk food you will never eat or wish you hadn’t! Instead, be sensible and buy enough food for a few special meals and treats over Christmas.

12.  Share the costs: If everyone is coming to you this year, ask people to contribute to the meals, snacks, soft drinks and alcohol. This way you won’t have to blow your budget feeding everyone.

You can also shop in the evening when the shops are open later during the Christmas period. This cuts down on the crowds and gives you more time to carefully consider your purchases, instead of feeling rushed and harassed, and spending more money on gifts than you had intended, just to get home quickly and away from the crowds.

For help organising your household budget in the New Year, call Amanda McCall on 07 3356 6929 or complete our online enquiry form.

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