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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WHAT DOES A FINANCIAL PLANNER DO?

A financial planner helps you to organise your money and assets to suit your needs both today and in the future.  You can use their advice to get yourself out of debt and save for a deposit on your first home, to recover financially after a divorce or to set up a plan to secure your retirement.

Whatever your current financial situation, a financial planner can help you to achieve your goals. Financial planning can be described as simply being sensible with your money and knowing how to navigate the best roads through all the available options to reach your goals.

A financial planner doesn’t just talk about investments and buying stocks however, this is simply one of the options that might be available to some people. The basis of good financial planning is all about savings and cashflow, because if you don’t have enough cashflow for your daily needs, you can’t save enough to plan for your future.

So, in general, a financial planner can help you with managing your budget, loans and debts, buying insurances and investments, and sorting out your superannuation. Let’s take a look at these topics right now.

  • Budgeting and cashflow: Your financial adviser will look at your income and your debts and discuss how you can achieve your gaols. This might be paying off your debts, saving for a new car, a deposit on a home or even a holiday or investment portfolio. Your adviser will then create a workable plan to achieve your goals in a given time frame
  • Loans and debts: If you have multiple credit card debts or personal loans, even a mortgage, your financial planner can help you to organise your finances so that you can comfortably pay these debts and still have a life! On the other hand, if you need to consolidate your debts and take out one loan to pay them off more easily, your adviser can also help you to achieve this outcome.
  • Buying insurances: Most financial planners also act as insurance brokers and can help you decide which insurances are the most suitable for your personal, business and financial situation.
  • Buying investments: If you are at a stage where you want to create an investment portfolio, your financial planner can help you to explore these options, deciding which type of investments might be the most suitable, as well as managing your portfolio.
  • Superannuation: Taking control of your super is important to your financial future, so it’s vital that your super fund is the best one for your needs, helping you to achieve your financial goals for when you retire. A financial planner can help you to change super funds and to decide whether it is best for you to increase your payments or if some other investment is more suitable to achieve your go
  • If you need help managing your finances, why not book a free 30-minute appointment with Amanda? Your age, marital status, occupation or current financial situation are not important, what is important is managing your finances, so that you can successfully achieve your goals, despite any negatives or setbacks in your life.

Call Amanda on 07 3356 6929 or complete our online enquiry form and take advantage of our free 30-minute financial assessment.

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DO YOU HAVE AN INVESTMENT STRATEGY?

Investment means something different to everyone, from saving to buy a new car or a deposit on a home to buying shares or investing in real estate. We all have different opinions, needs and experiences and we base our investment strategy on what works best for us as individuals. So if you are new to investing and are in the process of putting together a financial plan for your future, here are five questions to ask yourself.

1.     What do you want to achieve?

Do you want to save a deposit for a new home, a holiday or a car? Maybe you want to set up an investment portfolio for your future retirement or create a real estate investment plan? Without a clear goal in your mind, you can’t build a strategy to achieve this goal, so your first step is to set up one or more financial goals.

2.     How much money can you save each month?

This is where you need to become realistic and decide how much money you can save or invest each month. The best way is to examine your budget and find areas where you can cut down on expenses. Of course, you still have to live and enjoy your life while you are saving, but it helps to write down all of your essential bills, including money for an emergency fund, so you can clearly see how much you can save or invest.

3.     What are your time frames?

These will depend on the goals you want to achieve, so for example if you want to save a deposit on a new home, you might give yourself two years to reach your goal. In this case, you might have to back track to step two – particularly if you realise that you can’t save enough money in two years, and readjust your expenses to ensure that you achieve your goal within your ideal time frame. On the other hand, if you want to invest in your retirement, then you will be looking at longer time frames with a number of achievable goals along the way.   

4.     What’s your risk tolerance?

Some people don’t like to take much risk with their money and others are far more risk tolerant. How much risk you are willing to take will determine the type of investments you make, for example if you want to save for a deposit on a new home, you could put your money in the bank each month or you could buy shares. Knowing that the share market is quite volatile, your risk tolerance will determine whether you prefer the security of a bank or are willing to trust your money to the market.

5.     How will you invest your money?

Saving your money in a term deposit is a low risk option and suits many people, but there are other possibilities which might work for your situation and your level of risk tolerance. At this point, it might be sensible to discuss your options with a financial planner who can help you craft a plan that is tailored to your needs. Always remember however, that diversification helps to spread your risks, so it pays to consider including shares, property, fixed interest or a superannuation fund in your saving portfolio. 

For help creating a customised saving or investment plan that suits your needs, call us on 07 3356 6929 visit our our Contact Us page.

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THE EFFECT OF DIVORCE ON A WOMAN'S FINANCIAL FUTURE

Divorce has many financial impacts on a family and is a problem that many women find pretty much unsolvable. Trying to maintain the same lifestyle, giving the kids everything they need, paying bills and even finding employment can have a terrible impact on your finances following a divorce.

All of this is true for a large number of women, regardless of age, income or motherhood. Financial hardship after divorce is simply a fact of life for many Australian women, particularly when you have spent years raising your children and have lost track of your career.

You can’t even rely on your superannuation in later years, because with no form of employment, your super has been unfunded for years. In fact, even without divorce, most women retire with half the super compared to men, so if you don’t own your own home outright when you retire, you can enter a never-ending cycle of financial hardship.

Then along comes divorce and you need to find a job that usually pays less compared to a man, and you need to put a roof over the kid’s heads, pay all the bills, and the list goes on.

Managing your finances after divorce

Of course, if you knew in advance that divorce was in your future, you might have put a few financial safeguards in place, but hindsight is always a pain, isn’t it? As many divorced women will tell you, losing your home and splitting all your assets leaves you in a financial trap, because you don’t have enough money to buy a house – half a house yes, but not a whole house.

Saving for a deposit can take a lifetime and even if you walk away with enough money for a decent deposit, a single person trying to pay a mortgage on one income is just about impossible. That’s not even thinking about taking on a 30-year mortgage at your age, because if your super won’t pay off your mortgage when you retire, making the repayments on a pension is just about impossible.

Taking control of your finances after divorce

Your first step is to know the value of your assets, how much child support you will be receiving and how much of your partner’s superannuation you will be able to access on retirement.  Once all the debts from the marriage have been paid, you will know the state of your financial affairs - even if you haven’t paid much attention to the family’s finances during your marriage.

At this point, you need to find a financial adviser who can sit down with you and take stock of your financial position, including any unpaid debts, insurances, assets, investments and your superannuation. Even women who are single can benefit from a financial adviser, as well as women in a solid relationship or marriage, because illness or bereavement can occur suddenly, leaving many married women in financial hardship. So, it doesn’t matter whether you are single, married, divorced or widowed, all Australian women can benefit from talking to someone who understands their situation and knows how to help secure your financial future.

Why not online enquiry form and start to look forward to a brighter future?

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FINANCE CONSIDERATIONS FOR SOLE TRADERS

There are a lot of benefits to being your own boss, such as the increased flexibility you can build into your life and the freedom to make your own decisions. On the other hand, you also have to take control of your business finances and this is where many sole traders drop the ball.

As a sole trader, you need to assess your need for income protection, personal accident insurance and business insurance, as well as giving due consideration to superannuation for your retirement.

Let’s take a quick look at each of these financial considerations for sole traders.

Income protection:

If you are ill or injured and are unable to work, income protection can give you up to 75% of your income, so that you can pay your mortgage and bills, until you are able to work again. You can also take out a total and permanent disability insurance, in case you are unable to work again. As a sole trader with no employees to carry on the business if you become ill or unable to work, your income will stop immediately, which is why income protection is a vital part of planning for your future. 

Personal accident insurance:

Depending on your situation, some sole traders prefer to take out personal accident insurance instead of a total and permanent disability cover. This type of insurance only covers accidents, not illnesses, but since it is cheaper than income protection, you might find it more suitable for your needs. It might also be more appropriate for people who are ineligible for income protection insurance, particularly since there are no medical questions or tests needed to apply for personal accident cover.

Business insurance:

A sole trader doesn’t have the same protection as a company, so you are liable for all business debts and risk losing your personal assets if you can’t pay these debts. This is why it is important to consider taking out insurances to cover your financial obligations, if the operation of your business is interrupted by floods, fires, storms etc. You can also investigate professional indemnity to protect you from legal claims by customers, as well as public & product liability insurances.

Superannuation:

Another very important consideration is your retirement, which is where superannuation becomes essential. As a sole trader you don’t have to pay into a superannuation fund, however when you retire you will have to rely on the government pension. It makes financial sense to organise your own superannuation, particularly since you can claim a tax deduction on your contributions.

If you are a sole trader and want to discuss securing your financial future, call us on 07 3356 6929 or complete our online enquiry form.

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