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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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LIFE INSURANCE

Life insurance is often forgotten or neglected when planning your finances.  However,  it is definitely worth consideration by every household.

Below I have prepared tips to consider and steps you can take to be more informed about life insurance. This may help simplify the decision-making process so you can make the right choice for you and your family.

CHECK YOUR SUPERANNUATION POLICY

Generally, your employer superannuation should include a life insurance component, as long as you haven’t chosen to ‘opt out’ of it when commencing with your particular superannuation fund.  Your first step is to check your annual superannuation statement and if you do have life insurance included, consider whether it is adequate for your needs.

DETERMINE IF YOU NEED LIFE INSURANCE

if anyone relies on you financially, you need life insurance i.e. a spouse or the parent of dependent children. You may also require life insurance if you are someone’s ex-spouse, life partner, a child of dependent parents, the sibling of a dependent adult, an employee, an employer or a business partner. If you are stably retired or financially independent, and no one would suffer financially if you were pass away, then you don’t need life insurance.

Life insurance does not simply apply a monetary value to someone’s life. Instead, it helps compensate for the inevitable financial consequences that accompany the loss of life. It helps those left behind cover the costs of final expenses, outstanding debts and mortgages, planned educational expenses and lost income. But most importantly, in the aftermath of an unexpected death, life insurance can lessen financial burdens at a time when surviving family members are dealing with the loss of a loved one.

CAN I AFFORD LIFE INSURANCE

Life insurance doesn’t need to be expensive.   Of course, there are expensive options that offer more.   

IT IS TOO CONFUSING

Deciding on a policy doesn’t need to be complicated. In the vast majority of situations, a household would be well cared for simply by buying enough life insurance to replicate all or most of the insured’s income for a term as long as the household expects to need that income.

I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT

It is a discussion we don’t want to have. We don’t like to talk about life insurance and death. However, open and honest discussions about planning for an unexpected death can be surprisingly life-giving. Purchsing life insurance is an important part of your long-term and comprehensive financial plan.

This is general information.  For more information or to schedule a 30 minute FREE consultation with Amanda, please do not hesitate to contact her via this link. https://www.amandamccall.com.au/financial-services-blog

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SUPERANNUATION SAVINGS HURDLES

It all sounds easy enough – put extra into super, put this much into super etc etc.  However, life isn’t always as black and white as that.  We often have obstacles with our plans for the future.  Here are a few of the potential barriers you could face so that you can at least be aware of them.

1. In a habit of living a ‘champagne’ lifestyle

You are young with limited financial responsibilities and quite frankly, cannot see the point of thinking about something that seems so far away into the future.  However, if you are that way inclined to enjoying the finer things, you’ll probably want to carry on doing so after you’ve stopped earning an income. Take time to look at what you’re spending now and then compare it with the income you can expect from your super balance when you retire. If you just rely on your employer contributions will you have enough? A financial planner can help you with a plan to build up your savings gradually and still keep enough day-to-day budget for the things you enjoy. It’s a great way to make sure you can keep living in the style you’re accustomed to in retirement.   The earlier you start the less impact it will have on your weekly income.

2. Tap away at your debt

Reducing the most expensive loans and liabilities first is a good starting point and saving on mortgage interest by getting ahead on payments runs a close second.  It definitely makes sense to pay off debt as soon as you can, particularly when interest rates are higher like credit cards and personal loans.

A house, unlike super, is not an asset you can earn income from, unless you rent it out. If staying in your home after you retire is important to you, selling it to give you an income won’t be an appealing option. Coming up with a plan that allows you to build up your super balance and work towards being mortgage free will give you the best of both worlds. You’ll have a comfortable, familiar home plus enough money to enjoy your time spent living there.

3. Kids

Kids will definitely top the list for expenses however, you wouldn’t have it any other way.  You want the best for them.   But all those golden opportunities for your kids will come at a high price if you can’t provide for your own needs in retirement. So saving for your super helps them as much as it helps you. A decent retirement income means you can remain independent as you grow older and pay for your own care.

4. The long haul

Saving enough to live on for a couple of decades is a big ask. Sometimes, when we’re faced with such an enormous commitment, it can be easier to just shrug it off as something that’s just too hard to be worth making a start on.

If running the numbers for your ideal retirement income and super savings plan is beyond you, consider salary sacrificing as a way to build up your super. Thanks to potential tax concessions on contributions from your gross salary, and the power of compounding returns, even a small monthly contribution can make a significant difference to your super over time, with much less impact on your current take home pay and cash flow. And the sooner you start, the better your chances of accumulating enough super for a secure retirement, with very little effort.

Whatever your priorities are, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional can offer valuable advice on getting the balance right between spending on your immediate needs and saving for the future.

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WEALTH FOR WOMEN

We are still a long way off equal pay for men and women unfortunately.  On top of that it is usually women who take time off full time employment for motherhood, sacrificing superannuation and wages along with it.  Awareness is improving, however as a woman, investing in a financial plan is an excellent way to help you bridge the salary and super gap and build your wealth. 

There are a number of ways women can move towards wealth creation, including:

1. WORK WITH A FINANCIAL PLANNER

A financial planner can, of course, advise you on a number of non-gender-specific financial issues, such as setting a budget, paying down debt, saving, investing, superannuation, planning for retirement and more.

But there are specific money matters, applicable to women only that a good planner can also address.  These include lower salaries resulting from gender pay gap and less superannuation due to time off work.

Financial planners will use their knowledge and expertise to help you develop a clear strategy for managing your finances and achieving your personal financial goals. They’ll work closely with your particular circumstances to help you create a financial plan.

2. INVESTING

Investing can be scary when you don’t know much about it.  Once again a financial planner can help in creating an investment plan.  They will make clear recommendations concerning investments; to outline both the potential risks and rewards of investing; and to communicate any changes that could impact your investments, such as spikes or slumps in the market. (Keep in mind, however, that financial planners – however good they are – cannot predict market behaviour or ensure a positive outcome.)

A financial planner can also help you figure out the level of risk you’re comfortable with when it comes to investing. It’s important to find a financial planner you have a good rapport with and who works to your comfort level.

You don’t have to have a lot of money to start investing. You can start with a small reserve of savings.

3. BOOSTING YOUR SUPER

The big obstacle here is the gender pay gap, as your super is determined on your salary.  However there are some things you can do to boost your super. 

  • Salary sacrificing - This involves deducting an amount directly from your salary; consequently, you’ll pay less income tax, too.
  • Super splitting - This enables husbands to divide their superannuation contribution between their own funds and those of their wives’.
  • Out-of-pocket contributions - Keeping in mind that you can’t access your super before you retire, you might want to contribute regular – affordable – amounts to your fund.

4. KNOW WHAT YOU’RE WORTH

Many professions have an independent guide to salary expectations based on factors like your qualifications and years of experience. If you don’t know whether you are being paid appropriately, check a salary guide site such as Hays or Live Salary.

Amanda McCall finance offers a FREE 30 minute consultation.  Please visit the contact us page via this link to arrange your consultation.  https://amandamccall.com.au/contact-financial-services-brisbane

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AUDIT YOUR PERSONAL FINANCES

Do you often ask yourself, “where does all my money go?” If you’re on a good salary, you could still find that you go through your money. You could be spending too much on goods and services you don’t need. Here is a guide to show you how to do an audit of your finances.

Get your credit report

To know where you stand with banks and lenders, you should get a copy of your credit report. This will be needed, if you ever decide to consolidate debts or take out a new credit card. Your credit report lists your last seven years of credit applications and defaults.

Defaults are failures to pay a bill or loan repayment after 60 days. This will also show you your habits when it comes to paying back debts in full or on time.  It is important to aim towards having a good, clean credit report.

Review current income and expenditure

Your bank statement is a good place to start, to look at and review your everyday spending habits. 

If you have a poor record of paying debts back, focus on shifting more income toward servicing debt. You should create a budget around utilities, transport, food, grooming, luxuries, going out, and so on. If you are spending too much on luxuries, rein it in. See where you can make savings eg.  If you don’t use all your calls or data per month, see if you can get a cheaper phone plan.

Consolidate or reduce debt

Australians have the highest ratio of debt to income in the world, at a whopping 212%! (source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). If you have high amounts of debt from credit cards, personal loans and other loans, talk to a financial professional about consolidating your debts into one loan. This puts you on top by paying off one loan instead of several at varying interest rates.

Budget and save

Once you’ve made all these changes, create a budget – and stick to it! This is the hardest part of your financial audit. Once you have made the changes, you can break free from debt and start saving your money!

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