ARE YOU ASSET POOR AND DROWNING IN DEBT?
There was a time when Australians bought a family home and used the capital gains to set themselves up for their retirement. People didn’t borrow to fund their lifestyle, instead they lived within their means and looked forward to a nice nest egg later in life. Even better, they made sure to leave their kids a little inheritance to help them get ahead later in life.
Now however, due to escalating property prices, young people have problems getting a foot on the property ladder. They can’t even look forward to an inheritance because their parents are jaunting off around the world and spending all their money!
Young people are drowning in debt
Saving a deposit for a home can be a monumental task for many young people, who often must rely on their parents to help out. The problems don’t stop there however, because with the rising costs of property across Australia and low interest rates, young people are taking on massive mortgages with monumental repayments each month.
When interest rates increase, as they will over time, the younger generation are going to find themselves in serious financial strife and unable to pay their mortgages. Even more problematical is when they dip into their equity to fund new cars, boats and holidays, increasing a debt that is already putting them in financial trouble.
The bigger the debt, the less likely it will be paid off by the time they retire and the more likely they will default as the interest rates rise. Of course, we know that many young people can’t afford to climb the property ladder, which means that they won’t be able to benefit from capital gains in their retirement. Faced with far bigger mortgages than their parents and with wages not keeping track with these increases, home ownership seems a long-lost dream for many young Australians.
The writing is on the wall - many of the younger generation will find that renting becomes a lifelong commitment, something that they will have to continue right into their retirement. All of this means that the wealth gap between retirees and our younger generations continues to grow with even the baby boomers finding that their long-awaited inheritance is now a distant dream.
Closing the wealth gap and empowering young Australians
One of the solutions for young people to secure a better financial future for themselves is to talk to an expert in financial planning. Unfortunately, many young people don’t even think about their retirement at their age, let alone start planning for it!
Financial planning isn’t all about securing your retirement however, it can also help you to manage your budget, save for a deposit on a home and help you to manage your expenses effectively so that you don’t get deeper in debt. If you have a string of credit card debts or personal loans, a financial planner can help you to clear these debts and start saving for your own home or another financial goal. You might be surprised at how little time it can take to organise your finances, once you have the right advice.
HOW TO DEAL WITH FINANCIAL ISSUES IN BLENDED FAMILIES
Blended families are no longer a rare occurrence with lots of people remarrying in Australia. A characteristic of these blended families is that they can have lots of children at different ages with even more added over time! Bringing all these young adults, teenagers and children together in one household can be a monumental task, creating financial chaos, even in the best of times.
Managing money in blended families can take a lot of juggling, particularly if you have school fees, teenagers wanting their own cars, mobile phones and a plethora of other family expenses.
It is not just the day to day costs but what if the unthinkable happens and one partner passes away for example. If you haven’t discussed this and put your wishes in place, this can create an absolute nightmare for those left behind.
The best strategy is to be honest and broach the subject of money head-on, and don’t avoid it and hope it will all go away.
Honesty is the best policy
In a new marriage with a blended family, discussing your financial commitments and on-going budget is just about essential to a happy marriage. These discussions have to include ‘maintenance’ obligations for both a previous spouse and children from the prior marriage (or marriages), as well as any unwritten obligations to help pay school fees, private education, holidays etc.
Previous and ongoing debts must also be acknowledged and a plan put in place to pay them off as quickly as possible. Another discussion that is very important is how each of you deals with money – do you like to save or spend? If one of you is a serious spender and can’t keep a dollar in their pocket, you may well struggle to keep a handle on your finances without a solid plan in place.
Older children also need to be brought into the discussion, understanding that whilst you will do your best to give them everything they need, everyone must stick to the family budget, which can only stretch so far. Having to support a large blended family and even a previous partner and children can be a huge drain on a family, so everyone pulling together is essential.
Set up a Will just in case
With blended families, it is crucial to have the discussion about money and ‘what if’ especially when there are children involved. If you don’t take steps to separate matters of money and guardianship in your estate plan, your kids and assets can become a mind field as to who gets what. This is just one example. In the unlikely event that you do lose a partner, you do not want to be having these stressful things to deal with on top of grieving.
GETTING TO KNOW YOUR FINANCIAL PLANNER - AMANDA McCALL
Whenever you need to talk to an expert in a particular topic, it’s always a good idea to know a little bit about them, even if it’s only their experience and qualifications. With a financial advisor however, you need to feel that they are on the same page as you, as far as understanding your financial goals are concerned, without feeling that they have their own agenda.
Tips on getting to know your financial planner better
One of the ways you can have confidence in your financial planner is to get to know them better. This doesn’t mean that you ask them around to dinner, but asking about their qualifications and experience is a good start.
You really want to know that this person is a good match for you and your financial goals and that they see the world in the same way. When you are both on the same page, you can work together easily to achieve your goals, instead of butting heads every time you get together for an appointment.
In some instances, you can gain a better understanding of a financial adviser on their website, simply by reading their ‘About Us’ page. Some people are more forthcoming than others, because unfortunately, some people don’t reveal much about themselves on their website.
Who is Amanda McCall?
I am a good example of someone who has ‘been there, done that’ and knows how to make her clients feel comfortable in her presence. Friends tell me that one of my best attributes is helping clients to understand a complex subject by explaining it in simpler terms, so that my clients don’t feel overwhelmed with too much information.
I am not made from the usual Financial Planner’s mould. In a field where dryness, confusion and mystery abound, I like to take an innovative approach to financial planning. I am passionate about financial planning and thrive on creating wealth for my clients. My mission is to ‘make finance fun’.
Born and bred on the north side of Brisbane, I am a local girl with a passion for helping my clients make money and achieve financial freedom. As a certified financial planner, I have successfully operated my own business for nearly 20 years and love educating my clients, so that they can make their own financial decisions about their future.
On a personal level, I am quite fond of champagne and cocktail evenings with family and friends, and a love for shopping in Brisbane. I have recently got involved in aqua aerobics and have now set myself the goal of doing 50 new things before I turn 50!
If you feel that I can help you to achieve your financial goals, call me (Amanda McCall) on 07 3356 6926 or send us an email to make an appointment.
SIX OF THE BEST APPS TO HELP MANAGE YOUR MONEY
Nowadays, there seems to be an app for everything and many of us take advantage of these apps to monitor our fitness and health. Apps however, can also be used to help monitor your financial health as well, so here are six of the most popular, easy to use and free apps available on the market that are good for both Android and iOS devices.
- Pocketbook: This Australian budgeting app allows you to track your expenses and calculate how much you spend each month. You can even set limits to your spending and connect the app to your online bank accounts, automatically tracking your income versus your spending.
- TrackMySpend: This app is fairly basic and easy to use and lets you set up categories for your spending, so you can see where most of your money is spent. You can set categories for regular expenses, groceries, clothes, fuel etc., all of which helps you to keep an eye on your budget. You can also download this data to a spreadsheet or accounting software, making it a very versatile app indeed.
- Good Budget: If you still yearn for the days of saving money in different envelopes to help organise your budget, then this might be the app for you! You can create lots of different categories or ‘envelopes’ to track your spending, even syncing with your partner’s app to give you a complete view of your family’s spending.
- YNAB: The latest version of this app can now sync with your online bank accounts, as well as your credit card accounts, downloading all your transactions into the app for a complete picture of your spending each month. This helps you to keep track of your budget and you can even split transactions into different categories, which is a great bonus!
- Mvelopes: Another app that uses the old envelope strategy of budgeting, Mvelopes also syncs with your bank and credit card accounts, helping you to manage your monthly budget. You can split your transactions into different categories, schedule regular payments and reallocate funds if a transaction puts you over-budget in one or more categories.
- Wally: This is another basic app that lets you keep track of your spending with minimal details, giving you a pie chart with colour coded expense categories. You can track all your expenses and incomes, geotag purchases and export your data to a spreadsheet or accounting software.
There are other apps available, so it might take you some time to find one that suits your needs. Depending on how well you understand apps, some people will find one or more of these easier to use than others, as well as preferring one because it has all the features they need.
The essential feature of all these apps is that they let you keep a running total of your spending on-the-go, so you know before you make a purchase whether or not you have the funds in your budget to pay for it. This can be enormously helpful for many of us who have problems keeping track of our spending, only finding out at the end of the month that we are in trouble!
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.