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Have oil prices peaked?

Australian motorists are not the only ones hoping that global oil prices have peaked after reaching four-year highs in 2018. Not only do high oil prices flow through to the price of petrol at your local service station, but they also increase the cost of doing business for everyone from farmers to airlines and push up the cost of living for households.

On June 22 the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) plus Russia agreed to increase output by one million barrels a day, or about 1 per cent of world supplies, to relieve global shortages and lower oil prices. Even so, the price of Brent Crude rose to US$75.60 a barrel immediately after the announcement amid concerns the target may not be met. As at June 29, the oil price had surged 64 per cent in 12 months, but if OPEC and Russia succeed in lifting supply prices should begin to fall.

There are several international oil prices quoted in the media, but the price of Brent Crude is considered the major global benchmark.

What’s going on?

OPEC’s latest turnaround follows four years of determined efforts to limit oil production and boost prices. The price of Brent Crude crashed from US$115 to US$30 a barrel in 2014 as cash-strapped producers including Russia and Venezuela increased supply. At the same time, the US expanded production from fracking.

Then early this year the freezing northern hemisphere winter pushed up the price of oil as demand spiralled. Brent Crude was trading at a sustained high of around US$80 a barrel until May, when US President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal.

Under the 2015 deal, nations including the US, France, Britain, Russia, Germany and China agreed to lift international sanctions on Iran’s oil exports in return for OPEC’s third largest producer winding back its nuclear capability.

The first sign that oil prices may have peaked came on news that Saudi Arabia and Russia were discussing a possible increase in oil production. In late May the price of Brent crude eased back to levels around US$76 a barrel before settling at US$77 after the June 22 meeting sealed the deal.

Who’s affected?

Holidaymakers may feel the pinch after Qantas chief executive, Alan Joyce warned airfares could rise in response to this year’s oil price hikes. Jet fuel costs have climbed 50 per cent in the past 12 months which will eat into airline profits, depending on how much of the cost they are prepared to absorb before lifting fares.¹

Rising oil prices also erode profits of transport companies and businesses that rely on the movement of goods or the use of heavy machinery. Australian farmers face the double-whammy of rising fuel costs on top of the effects of drought.

Consumers ultimately pay for higher oil prices as they flow through to the cost of food and other goods.

There are some winners from constrained oil exports though. Australian gas producers stand to gain from increasing demand and high prices as they ramp up production and exports.

Relief ahead for motorists

Rising oil prices have inevitably been passed on to local motorists, although there is relief in sight. The national average price of unleaded petrol rose by 14.7 per cent in the three months to June to a four-year high of 153.3c a litre. Prices edged lower towards the end of June in response to the downward trend in crude oil prices.²

Rising oil prices have been exacerbated by the weaker Aussie dollar which has fallen from US81c earlier this year to recent levels below US74c.

Petrol prices vary enormously between regions, cities and even within suburbs. Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman, Rod Sims has urged motorists to use fuel price websites and apps to shop around (you could try MotorMouth or Compare the Market.)³

 

¹ IATA, http://www.iata.org/publications/economics/fuel-monitor/Pages/index.aspx

² Australian Institute of Petroleum as at June 24, 2018, https://aip.com.au/pricing/pump-prices

³ ‘Petrol prices stable to March but now hitting four year highs’, ACCC, 5 June 2018, href=”https://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/petrol-prices-stable-to-march-but-now-hitting-four-year-highs

 

Any advice in this publication is of a general nature only and has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Please seek personal advice prior to acting on this information. The information in this document reflects our understanding of existing legislation, proposed legislation, rulings etc as at the date of issue. In some cases the information has been provided to us by third parties. While it is believed the information is accurate and reliable, this is not guaranteed in any way. Opinions constitute our judgement at the time of issue and are subject to change. Neither, the Licensee or any of the National Australia group of companies, nor their employees or directors give any warranty of accuracy, nor accept any responsibility for errors or omissions in this document. Before making a decision to acquire a financial product, you should obtain and read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) relating to that product. Past performance is not a reliable guide to future returns. The information in this document reflects our understanding of existing legislation, proposed legislation, rulings etc as at the date of issue. In some cases the information has been provided to us by third parties. While it is believed the information is accurate and reliable, this is not guaranteed in any way
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Managing Family and Finances

Elise Ryan is an Authorised Representative, GWM Adviser Services Limited, Australian Financial Services Licensee

Everyone leads a busy life, but it’s important to take time out to think about your current finances and your financial future.

When you are planning or have a young family, there are a lot of important tasks that are on your mind. It is easy to let every day things like managing your finances fall to the wayside.

Paying the bills is quick and easy, but thinking about the big picture in 10, 20 or 30 years down the track can feel like a daunting task. Many people think retirement is so far away and that they have plenty of time before they need to start looking at planning for that phase of their lives. There is also the belief that it will just work itself out.

But you are reading this, so take the time now to think about your life in 30 years’ time.

You don’t want to regret not planning for your future.

By engaging an advisor, it forces you to take time out once or twice a year to chat about your goals and strategy and make adjustment where needed. This helps you to not only be aware but also re-evaluate what’s important to you and what your goals are year to year.

Research shows that by writing down your goals, you are more likely to plan and work towards achieving them.

By having a trusted financial advisor to look at your goals and create a tailored strategy, you will have to spend less time thinking about your financial future, and you will be in a much better position in the future.

At Income Solutions, we place a lot of time educating our clients on our investment philosophy so that they walk out of their meetings with complete understanding of what their strategy will be and how it will help them reach their financial goals.

It’s never too late to re-assess your financial position and change your strategy, and it’s never too early for your teenage children to start understanding their finances.

We run 4 events each month that will help you start making a plan, no matter what stage you are in for planning your finances:

Common Sense Investing

Common Sense Estate Planning

Kickstart: Your Financial Future

Pivot: Choose Your Financial Direction

We urge you to have a look at our website – www.incomesolutions.com.au/events or have a chat to one of our financial advisors to see which event would help you to achieve your goals, for you and your family.

 

Any advice in this publication is of a general nature only and has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Please seek personal advice prior to acting on this information. The information in this document reflects our understanding of existing legislation, proposed legislation, rulings etc as at the date of issue. In some cases the information has been provided to us by third parties. While it is believed the information is accurate and reliable, this is not guaranteed in any way. Opinions constitute our judgement at the time of issue and are subject to change. Neither, the Licensee or any of the National Australia group of companies, nor their employees or directors give any warranty of accuracy, nor accept any responsibility for errors or omissions in this document. Before making a decision to acquire a financial product, you should obtain and read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) relating to that product. Past performance is not a reliable guide to future returns. The information in this document reflects our understanding of existing legislation, proposed legislation, rulings etc as at the date of issue. In some cases the information has been provided to us by third parties. While it is believed the information is accurate and reliable, this is not guaranteed in any way
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Cultivating a growth mindset

Ever had a plant die on you, and wonder where you went wrong? “But I watered it every day!” “There’s plenty of sun in that bit of the yard!” The simple truth is that there are lots of different elements that need to come together for plants to thrive. Even the hardiest species will struggle if something’s missing.

You can apply the same thinking to your personal growth. To learn and develop, you need opportunity and motivation. Depending on what you’re aiming for, you might also need specific resources. If you feel like you have access to the elements that support growth but you’re still stuck in a bit of a rut, there’s one vital thing you might be forgetting – the right mindset.

Two mindsets, two very different outcomes…

When it comes to self-esteem and self-improvement, there are two ways to look at yourself: with a fixed mindset, or with a growth mindset. It’s a psychological theory developed by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, over 20 plus years of research.i

People with a fixed mindset believe that intelligence and talent are pre-determined. They believe that they’re gifts you’re born with and can’t be changed. On the other hand, people with a growth mindset believe that abilities can be developed, changed and improved upon over time.

When someone has a fixed mindset, they’re more likely to avoid challenges, give up easily, and ignore constructive criticism. They’d rather shape the world around them than try to change themselves. For example, someone who doesn’t think they’re good at sports might decline an invite or opportunity to get active, because their mindset says they’re more of a ‘sitting at home with a good book’ type of person. As though the two are mutually exclusive.

Successful people, on the other hand, embrace challenge. They don’t see failure as the end – instead, they see effort (no matter the result) as part of the pathway to improving. And they find inspiration in others’ success – so they seek out people who challenge them, rather than just those who make them feel comfortable. It’s a pattern of behaviour you can see in all kinds of successful people, from famous entrepreneurs who’ve built their businesses from the ground up, to ordinary Aussies who’ve changed their diet and exercise habits mid-life (and kept it up).

Changing your path

One way you can start cultivating a growth mindset is to think of a time you tried to do something new and it didn’t work out. Ask yourself what really stopped you from trying again, and try to think of the lessons you learned from your experience. What are the elements of growth that you were missing? This will help you reframe it as a stepping stone, not a failure. For example, if you’ve tried to pick up a new language but dropped out after a few lessons. Did you really make time in your schedule for practice? Did you work on forming social bonds with your class mates?

The other trick is to try naming something you’ve always done the same way. Ask yourself why you do it that way, and whether there could be a better way. Don’t worry if what you’ve got in mind seems a long way off. Focus on cultivating the skill or ability and your triumphs along the way, instead of fixating on an outcome.

Think of it this way; you wouldn’t be disappointed with a sunflower seed for failing to sprout and grow into a six foot sunflower overnight. Enjoy each little stage of the growth process. Find quiet satisfaction in ‘getting it right’ – no matter how marginal the progress. Who knows; you might surprise yourself. And the people who matter most to you.

i https://profiles.stanford.edu/carol-dweck?tab=publications

Any advice in this publication is of a general nature only and has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Please seek personal advice prior to acting on this information. The information in this document reflects our understanding of existing legislation, proposed legislation, rulings etc as at the date of issue. In some cases the information has been provided to us by third parties. While it is believed the information is accurate and reliable, this is not guaranteed in any way. Opinions constitute our judgement at the time of issue and are subject to change. Neither, the Licensee or any of the National Australia group of companies, nor their employees or directors give any warranty of accuracy, nor accept any responsibility for errors or omissions in this document. Before making a decision to acquire a financial product, you should obtain and read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) relating to that product. Past performance is not a reliable guide to future returns. The information in this document reflects our understanding of existing legislation, proposed legislation, rulings etc as at the date of issue. In some cases the information has been provided to us by third parties. While it is believed the information is accurate and reliable, this is not guaranteed in any way.
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Peace of Mind is King

We have all heard both sides of the argument between owning a home and renting a home. You would have all experienced loyalists to both sides of the argument passionately lecturing you about why their side is superior to the other. It all comes down to what it is you want to achieve, and above all else, peace of mind.

It is an interesting phrase, peace of mind, often referred to as a sleep at night factor. The Collins Dictionary defines it to mean ‘the absence of worry’.¹ Whenever making a decision in life – financial or not – I believe the criterion we should give the most weighting to is whichever option gives you the best sleep at night. There is no point making a decision and lying in bed at 2am every night worrying if you made the right one or not. That is not what life is about.

Circling back to the argument of renting a house versus buying a house. Each side has its own logic and merit, there is no doubt about that. A house is a lifestyle asset so we need to be prudent in ensuring the costs associated with owning or renting one does not adversely affect our lifestyle too much. Let’s break down some advantages and disadvantages of the two, and I will focus on living in the Geelong area as a reference point.

When you own your home, the first thing people realise is a sense of stability. The home is now yours, and provided you have no issues repaying the mortgage, it is very difficult for anybody to take it off you. Although, it can be done², think ‘The Castle’.

What’s more than the sense of stability is the emotional attachment you have with your home. This is often deemed priceless. Most people would have memories of their family home growing up. Because you own it, you can do what you like, such as drawing a height chart on the wall that you add to on your children’s birthdays, renovating, putting picture frames wherever you like, and if you’re lucky, you could even put a pool in.

Arguably, the most valuable aspect of home ownership is the opportunity to use the equity you potentially own to invest for the future. For this opportunity to become beneficial, you have either got to paydown the principal of your mortgage significantly, or are lucky enough to own a home in an area that has experienced large capital growth. The lifestyle on offer in the Geelong area is envied all around the world, which has lead to capital growth in recent years. So much so, they have developed a new estate in Armstrong Creek. The demand for homes in this area is so strong, that the average time a home listed by local agent, Armstrong Real Estate, spends advertised on the market is just 16 days. This estate is situated only 10-15 minutes from the Geelong CBD and numerous coastal beaches, what a great lifestyle that would be? If owning a home and having this sort of lifestyle sounds decent, at Income Solutions, we can help assist implementing the strategies necessary to ensure you can lead your desired lifestyle and still get a sound nights sleep without any worries.

Of course, as Gary Ablett now knows, the value of your house can just as easily drop³. There are risks. They do not always go up in value, and, as the owner of a mortgage, you are a slave to interest rates. Interest rates are an obvious issue and can affect your peace of mind. They’re currently quite low, however, they are on the increase. This can cause severe financial stress (4) and is something you’re unlikely to experience whilst renting. On top of rising interest rates are the costs of owning a home. Rates, insurances, maintenance, stamp duty when buying etc. These all add up and it is mandatory to allow for these kinds of costs in your annual budget before making the decision to buy a home. Remember, planning for these can still give you great peace of mind.

Alternatively, there is the option of renting. Viewed with a lot of unfair stigma in this country, renting can be seen as ‘dead money’. I agree, to an extent. In most cases, it can be cheaper to rent a house than it is to buy it. You can live in an area that best suits your lifestyle at a cheaper price. The demand for rentals in the Geelong area is also booming due to the lifestyle on offer; the supply of homes cannot keep up with the demand. Armstrong Real Estate lease out advertised homes in an average of 7 days, such is the popularity of this area.

A prudent renter should use the cash they save on their dwelling and invest this for their future. It is when this cash saving is simply squandered on lifestyle that rent does become dead money. Everybody’s favourite finance commentator, The Barefoot Investor, says in his book that if a person rented the same house their friend had bought, invested the difference in their associated costs, the renter would be in a better financial position in 20-30 years time. True, for the most part.

Another aspect of renting is the flexibility. This can also be seen as uncertainty. If the freezing winter’s of Geelong become too much to handle, it is very easy to simply sign a new lease and move to a place like the Whitsunday’s, not needing to worry about the extremely lengthy time it can take to sell your home. The other side of the same coin is also very real. A family of 5 receiving a letter from their property manager telling them they have 30 days to vacate the premises is surely going to cause a few sleepless nights. If the potential of this happening to you as a renter causes you severe angst and little-to-no peace of mind, then renting is probably not for you.

Personally, I understand that owning a home will cost me more money than renting one. Unfortunately, this country does not offer 10-20 years leases like other countries of the world(5). Therefore, I currently rent, with the goal to own a home in the near future for two reasons. Primarily, I would like to buy a nice little acreage around Geelong. These types of properties are hard to come by as rentals, and I would like to have full control over it. I am aware of the opportunity cost and it is a risk I am willing to take. Secondly, I plan to use the equity I build in my house to invest in my capital base. I will turn my bricks and mortar into an asset, and have it earn me some cash, rather than force me to spend cash on it.

The basic thing is I have a plan. This plan is what gives me peace of mind. At Income Solutions, we can help you create your plan, and, with a bit of luck and forethought, some decent peace of mind as well.

 

1 https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/peace-of-mind
2 https://www.afr.com/real-estate/residential/cancelled-east-west-link-houses-are-being-sold-to-the-public-with-conditions-20150416-1mmedq
3 https://www.news.com.au/finance/real-estate/melbourne-vic/geelong-star-gary-ablett-caps-off-homecoming-with-sale-of-gold-coast-home/news-story/017f13105e10ae150a73b0b8215497a0
4  https://www.yourmortgage.com.au/mortgage-news/nearly-one-million-households-are-in-mortgage-stress/248566/
5 https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/renting-property-dont-hold-your-breath-for-a-long-lease-20141104-11eftx.html
Any advice in this publication is of a general nature only and has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Please seek personal advice prior to acting on this information. The information in this document reflects our understanding of existing legislation, proposed legislation, rulings etc as at the date of issue. In some cases the information has been provided to us by third parties. While it is believed the information is accurate and reliable, this is not guaranteed in any way. Opinions constitute our judgement at the time of issue and are subject to change. Neither, the Licensee or any of the National Australia group of companies, nor their employees or directors give any warranty of accuracy, nor accept any responsibility for errors or omissions in this document. Before making a decision to acquire a financial product, you should obtain and read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) relating to that product. Past performance is not a reliable guide to future returns. The information in this document reflects our understanding of existing legislation, proposed legislation, rulings etc as at the date of issue. In some cases the information has been provided to us by third parties. While it is believed the information is accurate and reliable, this is not guaranteed in any way.
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Do you want it? Or do you need it?

Even those of us who have been paragons of responsibility for 51 weeks of the year can be tempted to take a budgeting holiday when holidays roll around. Unlike overindulging at the Christmas lunch, this has more than short-term consequences.

Last December, Australians spent $25.6 billion in retail stores. A survey conducted at the time by peer-to-peer lender SocietyOne found shoppers planned to put over half the cost of the presents they bought on credit or store cards. SocietyOne’s research also found that while shoppers believed they’d pay off their festive splurge by April, most actually wouldn’t.

If you don’t want a painful debt hangover, it’s worth taking a moment to sort your needs from your wants. Separating wants from needs can be one of the toughest aspects of budgeting, particularly around the festive season.

Needs are not the same as wants

The line between needs and wants can be a little blurry but a good rule is to ask yourself ‘Do I absolutely need to have this?’ If the answer is no you’ve probably identified a want.

You may want to serve French Champagne at your Christmas lunch but you don’t need to. Nobody’s suggesting you shouldn’t splash out, but your lunch guests are likely to be more than satisfied with a sparkling wine. You don’t need to spend money you don’t have on extravagant gifts and entertaining to express your love for, or try to impress, friends and family.

This is no time to take a budgeting holiday

Your wants are very much driven by emotion. We all want to shower the people we love with gifts, an abundance of food and other treats. However this can lead to impulse spending we did not originally plan for. Focus on the essentials and plan how much you’re going to spend before you head to the shosps then stick to that budget once you get there.

Avoid buying now, paying much more later

Just because you want something but don’t need it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy it. Make sure you’ve got enough to cover your needs or basic day to day expenses, then with what’s left over, prioritise your wants.

It’s also important to consider how you are paying for the little luxuries. Watch out for the temptation to put them on credit. The average credit card balance is $3,130 with interest being paid on $1936 of that amount. The amount of interest varies, but at a time when interest rates are at unprecedented lows, Australian credit card users typically pay 10-15 per cent interest. The interest rate for most store cards hovers around 20 per cent.

Credit cards are not even necessarily the most expensive form of retail debt. If you enter into one of those ‘pay nothing for 6, 12, 18 or 36 months’ deals you’ll be looking at a much higher interest rate once the interest-free period ends.

A more recent market entrant called Afterpay – a type of reverse layby where you get the product now and pay it off afterward – has rapidly gained traction in Australia. A big part of Afterpay’s appeal is that no interest is charged on the amount owed. But fees are levied if repayments aren’t made so it’s possible to end up paying $68 in fees on a $100 purchase.

Avoiding debt

The simplest way to avoid pricey debt is to avoid spending money you don’t have. Wherever possible, limit yourself to using lay-by, cash or a debit card to cover holiday expenses.

With a bit of planning you can manage to take care of your day to day needs and still afford some luxuries – without copping the credit card hangover.

 

Any advice in this publication is of a general nature only and has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Please seek personal advice prior to acting on this information. The information in this document reflects our understanding of existing legislation, proposed legislation, rulings etc as at the date of issue. In some cases the information has been provided to us by third parties. While it is believed the information is accurate and reliable, this is not guaranteed in any way. Opinions constitute our judgement at the time of issue and are subject to change. Neither, the Licensee or any of the National Australia group of companies, nor their employees or directors give any warranty of accuracy, nor accept any responsibility for errors or omissions in this document. Before making a decision to acquire a financial product, you should obtain and read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) relating to that product. Past performance is not a reliable guide to future returns. The information in this document reflects our understanding of existing legislation, proposed legislation, rulings etc as at the date of issue. In some cases the information has been provided to us by third parties. While it is believed the information is accurate and reliable, this is not guaranteed in any way.
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Are you prepared for the end of Financial Year

The end of the financial year is the cue for most of us to look at our financial position heading into tax time. Hopefully you’ve made progress towards your goals. But if you find that your expenses are trending higher than you’d like or—shock, horror!—higher than your income, this could be the perfect time for a fiscal makeover.

The starting point is gathering up as much information as possible, beginning with the household budget.

Take a budget snapshot

You can’t set realistic financial goals and savings targets without knowing how much money you have at your disposal. If you don’t already track your income and spending, then take an annual snapshot as you go through your records to prepare your annual tax return.

Deduct your total spending from total income and what’s left is what you have to work with. Any surplus could be used to kick start a regular savings plan. If you discover a budget black hole, identify areas where you are overspending and could cut back.

Pay yourself first

Did you manage to save anything this year or are you are constantly counting on this month’s income to pay last month’s bills? Do you spend first and hope to save what’s left?

Instead of making saving an afterthought, pay yourself first and allocate a percentage of your income to a regular savings plan. Setting up a weekly or monthly direct debit will remove temptation and encourage you to live within your means.

Review your mortgage

If you have a mortgage this is likely to be your biggest monthly expense so it’s a good idea to check your progress at least once a year. Why not use some of the savings you’ve identified and increase your repayments to save interest? If your mortgage has a redraw facility you could use this to create a cash buffer for emergencies.

While you’re at it, go online and compare interest rates. If your rate is no longer competitive ring your lender to negotiate a better deal and consider switching loans if they won’t budge. Just beware of any exit fees.

Negotiate better deals

Your home loan is not the only expense worth haggling over. These days if you want to get the best deal on your electricity, phone, internet or insurance you need to ask. Before you do, ensure you understand what your current plan/policy covers and research what’s on offer elsewhere.

Make a practice of doing this once a year, when your plan or policy is due for renewal. The savings can be substantial and can be put to much better use reducing debt or growing your wealth.

Check your super

Do you know how much you have in super and how it’s invested? When you retire superannuation is likely to be your biggest asset outside the family home, yet almost one in four Australians don’t know which risk profile their super is invested in.i This can cost you thousands of dollars in retirement savings and takes only minutes to correct.

Go to your fund’s website or call the helpline to ask for your current balance and where it’s invested. As an example, a 25-year-old woman on $80,000 in a conservative option until she’s 70 could improve her retirement balance by $294,000 if she switched to a risk profile more in keeping with her age and circumstances.¹

Protect your wealth

Reaching your life and financial goals is not just about growing your wealth but protecting it.

It’s important to review your insurance policies annually—or as your circumstances change—to make sure you and your family have adequate cover. Insurance can be a significant cost for families, but the income it provides when accidents or illness strike is worth every cent.

So why not go beyond the usual search for last-minute tax deductions this June to do a thorough review of your current position. If you would like us to help you make the most of the year ahead, give us a call.

¹ MLC Wealth Sentiment Survey, 5 April 2018,
https://www.mlc.com.au/personal/blog/2018/04/how_to_add_thousands
Any advice in this publication is of a general nature only and has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Please seek personal advice prior to acting on this information. The information in this document reflects our understanding of existing legislation, proposed legislation, rulings etc as at the date of issue. In some cases the information has been provided to us by third parties. While it is believed the information is accurate and reliable, this is not guaranteed in any way. Opinions constitute our judgement at the time of issue and are subject to change. Neither, the Licensee or any of the National Australia group of companies, nor their employees or directors give any warranty of accuracy, nor accept any responsibility for errors or omissions in this document. Before making a decision to acquire a financial product, you should obtain and read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) relating to that product. Past performance is not a reliable guide to future returns. The information in this document reflects our understanding of existing legislation, proposed legislation, rulings etc as at the date of issue. In some cases the information has been provided to us by third parties. While it is believed the information is accurate and reliable, this is not guaranteed in any way.
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Success: A Relative Term

How often have you been asked what you want to get out of life? How many times has the answer been something like ‘I want to be successful in…’

Let’s take the word success and break it down, shall we? The Oxford Dictionary defines success as an accomplishment of an aim or purpose¹. I Like the last 3 words in that definition; aim or purpose. In fact, I think we perceive the term success to mean something entirely different to the Oxford Dictionary definition, with is wrong and unfair. Too often we seem to measure our own success against somebody else’s. We forget the true way to be successful is to accomplish an aim or purpose. Our own aim or purpose, not somebody else’s.

Let’s look at a broad example. Take 2 Real Estate Agents. Agent A has sold 50 properties in the financial year at an average price of $500,000. Agent B has sold 25 at the same average price. Who would you deem more successful? At first thought, you could be forgiven for saying Agent A. However, we do not know what either agent’s aim or purpose was. If Agent A had aimed to sell 70 properties at $500,000 average, and Agent B had aimed to sell 20, which agent would be deemed more successful? One did not meet their aim, and one not only accomplished their aim, they managed to exceed it by 25%. I would say Agent B would have had a more successful year because they accomplished their own personal aim.

The clearest way to know whether you are successful is to have distinct KPI’s to meet. Your own KPI’s. If you aim to earn $100,000 in a year, this will be easily measured; you have cracked the tonne or you haven’t. If you don’t and your mate did, it is imperative not to consider that year unsuccessful because we do not know what your mates aim was. They may have earned $50,000 under budget. All we know is that your own KPI was not met, and rather than stew on it, the pragmatic approach is to put in place provisions to increase your chances of accomplishing your goal the next year.

Humans are notorious for comparing themselves against their peers. It is in our nature. A lot of us attempt to achieve certain goals that are not organic, and the main reason we want to achieve them is because ‘that is what we are meant to do’ or ‘so and so are doing it, why shouldn’t I?’

That is the first mistake.

Attempting to achieve something that is not organic, and you are not passionate about is setting yourself up for failure before you have even started. If you fail attempting to achieve something you are passionate about, you will have learned from the experience and will be better in the long run. Even the most widely ‘successful’ people in the world have failed along the way², most say they would not have achieved what they have without failing along the way. It keeps them grounded.

At Income Solutions, we regularly help our clients articulate what it is they truly want to accomplish. This forms part of your Purple Box; your goals. An individual’s own goals should be used as the main barometer to measure their success. Everybody is different. Everybody has different reasons. Most people want to retire financially secure, which again, has a different meaning for everybody. It is your personal goals that need to be drilled down upon and identified.

These accomplishments almost always deliver far greater satisfaction, and more often then not, will lead to the common goal of financial security.

Personally, I do not really care if I am the wealthiest person in my friendship group when I retire. I will not measure my success using this metric.

A good client of our has a great saying: “I do not want to be the wealthiest man in the nursing home, or the cemetery.’ He and his wife managed to retire at an age most would consider quite young, now they have a wonderful life accomplishing the retirement goals they are passionate about, not somebody else’s. Therefore, I would call them very successful.

I have numerous personal goals I would like to accomplish; living abroad, continued charity donation, living on a modest acreage, the list goes on and on and will be different for everybody. My main goal or aim I am striving to accomplish is being able to choose whether or not I need to go to work or not by the age of 55 – or earlier – and donate my time to a couple of charities I hold dear, as well as ticking off some international destinations. At this point, I will need a capital base invested soundly enough to provide me with a passive income stream that will support mine and my family’s lifestyle, without earning a paycheck.

We can help you with understanding what this capital base should look like at Income Solutions!

The income stream that I deem enough will be decided by me, and I will not compare this income stream to any one else’s when determining it. If I use the various personal goals I have as stepping stones to reach my ultimate goal, I will be comfortable enough to call myself relatively successful.

 

1. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/success
2. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/295312

 

Any advice in this publication is of a general nature only and has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Please seek personal advice prior to acting on this information. The information in this document reflects our understanding of existing legislation, proposed legislation, rulings etc as at the date of issue. In some cases the information has been provided to us by third parties. While it is believed the information is accurate and reliable, this is not guaranteed in any way. Opinions constitute our judgement at the time of issue and are subject to change. Neither, the Licensee or any of the National Australia group of companies, nor their employees or directors give any warranty of accuracy, nor accept any responsibility for errors or omissions in this document. Before making a decision to acquire a financial product, you should obtain and read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) relating to that product. Past performance is not a reliable guide to future returns. The information in this document reflects our understanding of existing legislation, proposed legislation, rulings etc as at the date of issue. In some cases the information has been provided to us by third parties. While it is believed the information is accurate and reliable, this is not guaranteed in any way.
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Changes To Superannuation From 1 July 2018

Australians buying their first home or downsizing in retirement are about to receive a helping hand thanks to new superannuation rules which come into effect on July 1. From that date, first home buyers will be able to contribute up to $30,000 into their super fund towards a home deposit while downsizers can put up to $300,000 of the proceeds of selling the family home into super.

This new measure has been devised to assist first home buyers, many of whom have struggled to save a deposit as rising prices put even entry level properties out of reach.

At the other end of the scale, the change is envisaged to help older homeowners who frequently find themselves in large houses while trying to survive on a modest super balance or the aged pension.

Here’s how the Federal Government hopes to improve the situation at both ends of the property market.

Buying a home

Under the new First Home Super Saver (FHSS) scheme, individuals can arrange for up to $30,000 to be deducted from their pre-tax income and put in their super account. They can then withdraw 85 per cent of that money ($25,500), plus any interest they’ve earned on it, to use for a home deposit. In the case of a couple, both partners can save $30,000, meaning a deposit of $51,000 (i.e. 85 per cent of $60,000) plus interest can be accumulated.

So what’s the catch?
It’s complicated.

For starters, individuals can only contribute $15,000 into their FHSS account in any one year. What’s more, the compulsory 9.5 per cent super contributions made by employers can’t be accessed; additional voluntary contributions need to be made. The annual contributions cap of $25,000 cannot be exceeded; this includes all voluntary contributions plus employer’s Super Guarantee contributions.

When the money is withdrawn, it is taxed at the individual’s marginal tax rate minus a 30 per cent tax offset. Effectively, that means most people will pay little or no tax although higher-income earners on high marginal rates will still pay some tax.

Selling a home

Under the Downsizer Super Contribution Scheme (DSC), homeowners who are 65 or older can put up to $300,000 of their home sale proceeds into their super provided it’s their place of residence and they’ve owned it for at least 10 years. In the case of a couple, both partners can deposit $300,000 (collectively $600,000) into super.

What’s the catch?

Unless you’re a wealthy retiree looking for a tax break there doesn’t appear to be one. For those who already have more than $1.3 million in super, adding a $300,000 downsizer contribution will breach the $1.6 million balance transfer cap which is the maximum balance that can be held in a tax-free super pension account. Given the current generation of Australians have been retiring with average super balances of well under $300,000, that is unlikely to be an issue for most downsizers.

What do you do now?

If you are looking to purchase your first home, you will need to check your super fund allows FHSS contributions and, more importantly, withdrawals. You’ll then need to arrange for your employer to deduct voluntary contributions of up to $15,000 a year. When you want to access your money, you will have to acquire a ‘FHSS determination’ (essentially a balance statement) from the Commissioner of Taxation before requesting your super fund to release the money.

Following approval of this request, your super fund deposits your FHHS money, minus any tax you’ve incurred, into your account. You then have 12 months to sign a contract to buy or build a home.

If you are looking to downsize your home, you will first need to check your super fund accepts downsizer contributions. If it does, you can deposit up to $300,000 within 90 days of receiving the proceeds of the sale. You’ll have to fill in and send your super fund a ‘downsizer contribution form’ before, or when transferring the money into your account.

If you’re hoping to either buy your first home or downsize, call us to discuss how the changes to super can save you money.

 

 

Any advice in this publication is of a general nature only and has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Please seek personal advice prior to acting on this information. The information in this document reflects our understanding of existing legislation, proposed legislation, rulings etc as at the date of issue. In some cases the information has been provided to us by third parties. While it is believed the information is accurate and reliable, this is not guaranteed in any way. Opinions constitute our judgement at the time of issue and are subject to change. Neither, the Licensee or any of the National Australia group of companies, nor their employees or directors give any warranty of accuracy, nor accept any responsibility for errors or omissions in this document. Before making a decision to acquire a financial product, you should obtain and read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) relating to that product. Past performance is not a reliable guide to future returns. The information in this document reflects our understanding of existing legislation, proposed legislation, rulings etc as at the date of issue. In some cases the information has been provided to us by third parties. While it is believed the information is accurate and reliable, this is not guaranteed in any way.
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Handling Financial Stress

You’ve probably heard of social stress – fear of fitting in, feeling anxious about meeting new people. Or you might have experienced stage fright – the stress of public speaking, performing, or presenting in front of people. But there’s another form of stress on the rise that’s potentially affecting Australians much more regularly and seriously than getting butterflies before giving a speech. It’s a different type of stress to… well… stress about.

According to some researchers, close to one in three Australians suffers from significant financial stress. The consequences can be a lot worse than momentary embarrassment from tripping over your words. Alarmingly, nearly 35% of people experiencing financial stress have used drugs or alcohol to manage their negative feelings about money.i Chronic stress – something that’s experienced over a long time – can lead to physical symptoms, including sleep problems.

What is financial stress?

The definition of stress is ‘mental/emotional strain/tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances’. Financial stress is when those circumstances have to do with money. As with other sources of stress, money problems can make people prone to withdrawing or lashing out at their loved ones. This in turn, detrimentally impacts family dynamics.

One regular report series by an Aussie bank discusses a few types of financial stress that affect most of the population. The main one is housing payment stress, which is expected to worsen in the future. Then there’s bill stress; sadly, about 16% of households can’t always pay their power bill on time.ii Some families always have to work to make ends meet; they’re experiencing low level but constant financial stress, which can also be damaging.

How to reduce financial stress

It’s all too tempting to say that the solution to financial stress is ‘more money’. In fact, many studies on financial stress talk about how participants pin the blame for their stress on other people. On partners not telling them about joint account activity, or kids needing things they can’t say no to. And therein lies an important clue on tackling financial stress.

Sometimes (not always), arguments over financial matters – a cause of financial stress – are themselves caused by miscommunication. That said, talking about money is never particularly easy. Even when it’s with a partner or loved one. That’s why it can help to create parameters for these conversations. One common ‘rule’ that low-financial-stress couples have is that they agree to discuss purchases from the joint account over a certain amount. Some also like to set ‘free spending’ limits for each family member (taking the form of pocket money for kids) so everyone feels like they’ve got a bit of both accountability and freedom. This is basically a function of household budgeting.

Some other simple ways you can reduce your financial stress levels as a household include:

    • Revise your budget regularly. Every time your income or expenses change, it’s time to review your discretionary spending.

 

    • Thinking about large amounts of money and longer time spans can be overwhelming. If budgeting is stressful, try breaking it down to a daily or weekly calculation.

 

    • Sometimes, anxiety can be caused by thinking about the same things over and over. Get it out of your head and write down the financial problems you’re worried about.

 

    • Can’t keep up with which bills are due when? If you’re not already on direct debit (but could be), consider making the switch.

 

    • See how long you can go without buying anything non-essential. Introduce a bit of friendly competition with your partner or older children.

 

    • Approach each financial ‘problem’ as something that can, in fact, be solved. That’s the first step towards making an actionable plan.

 

  • If you have several different debts, make a plan to not take on one more debt unless you’ve paid off at least two. We can also assist you to decide whether debt management or consolidation is appropriate for your circumstances.

If you or a loved one are experiencing financial stress, let us help. Make an appointment today to discuss how you can tackle the source of your hassles head on.

https://financialmindfulness.com.au/personal-financial-stress-devastating-australian-lives/

ii https://www.mebank.com.au/getmedia/ce8faccb-4301-4cf7-afd7-871f9c45305e/13th-ME-Household-Financial-Comfort-Report_Feb-2018-FINAL.pdf

Any advice in this publication is of a general nature only and has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Please seek personal advice prior to acting on this information. The information in this document reflects our understanding of existing legislation, proposed legislation, rulings etc as at the date of issue. In some cases the information has been provided to us by third parties. While it is believed the information is accurate and reliable, this is not guaranteed in any way. Opinions constitute our judgement at the time of issue and are subject to change. Neither, the Licensee or any of the National Australia group of companies, nor their employees or directors give any warranty of accuracy, nor accept any responsibility for errors or omissions in this document. Before making a decision to acquire a financial product, you should obtain and read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) relating to that product. Past performance is not a reliable guide to future returns. The information in this document reflects our understanding of existing legislation, proposed legislation, rulings etc as at the date of issue. In some cases the information has been provided to us by third parties. While it is believed the information is accurate and reliable, this is not guaranteed in any way.
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Federal Budget 2018

The Federal Government has turned the spending tap back on, signalling the end of the revenue drought since the GFC and the end of the mining investment boom.

As widely anticipated, Treasurer Scott Morrison’s third Budget has cut income taxes, boosted support for senior Australians, delivered $24.5 billion of new infrastructure spending and promised a return to surplus by 2020. That’s a year earlier than previously thought possible and would be the first surplus since 2007-08.

In a call to arms, in what is likely to be the last Budget before the next federal election, the Treasurer urged Australians to ‘stick with this plan for a stronger economy and more jobs because it’s working’.

The Big Picture
The Government expects this year’s budget deficit to shrink to $18.2 billion, down from a forecast before Christmas of $23.6 billion. The deficit is forecast to fall further to $14.5 billion next year before returning to a small surplus of $2.2 billion in 2020.

Net debt is expected to peak at 18.6 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) this year and fall to 3.8 per cent of GDP in a decade. Importantly, the budget surplus is not expected to top 1 per cent of GDP until 2026.

The Budget’s major spending promises reflect a stronger economic outlook, with growth of 4.25 per cent now expected this financial year compared with 3.5 per cent in the last Budget update. GDP is set to rise $73 billion this year, fuelled by higher tax revenues, record job creation and fewer people on welfare. The government is assuming wages growth of 3.5 per cent a year from 2020, despite it currently tracking at just 2.1 per cent.

The Treasurer has pledged to limit taxes to no more than 23.9 per cent of GDP, but with spending running at around 25 per cent of GDP, that still leaves a gap between money flowing in and flowing out.

Major tax overhaul
In an attempt to win over middle Australia, the Treasurer announced major tax reform which will cost $140 billion over a decade.

Ten million low and middle-income earners earning up to $90,000 a year will receive up to $530 in tax relief per year beginning on July 1. Wealthier Australians will have to wait a bit longer under a sweeping 7-year plan to create a single income tax rate of 32.5 per cent for workers earning between $41,000 and $200,000 a year.

As a result, 94 per cent of taxpayers will pay no more than 32.5c in the dollar income tax compared with 63 per cent today. This would effectively eradicate bracket creep for millions of workers, so an increase in salary or overtime would not push people into a higher tax bracket.

At the same time, the Treasurer confirmed that the government no longer needs to increase the Medicare Levy from 2 per cent to 2.5 per cent to fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme. This will avoid further pressure on family budgets but remove a significant boost to government coffers.

The second phase of company tax cuts for big business remain in the Budget but face a rocky passage through the Senate. Meanwhile, small business will applaud the extension of the popular $20,000 instant asset write-off on new equipment purchases for a further 12 months.

Tax cuts will be partially underpinned by a $5.3 billion crackdown on the black economy. Also, the ATO will receive a $260 million funding boost from July to pursue taxpayers who over claim on work-related expenses.

Healthcare and support for seniors
Aged care is set to get big injection of funds as baby boomers move into retirement. The Treasurer announced an increase in aged care funding over four years, including $1.6 billion for 14,000 additional home care packages to help older people stay in their own home for longer.

An extra $1.4 billion for listings on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme will also be added to assist Australians with serious illnesses to afford necessary drugs.

There’s also $1.3 billion over 10 years to a National Health and Medical Industry growth plan, which included $500 million for genome research.

The Pensioner Work Bonus will be extended so retirees can earn more money without affecting their pension. Retirees and now self-employed seniors will be able to earn up to $7,800 a year before reducing their pension payments.

The Pension Loans Scheme, a type of government-backed reverse mortgage, will also be expanded to include full age pensioners and self-funded retirees to the value of $17,787 per couple. The scheme is currently restricted to retired home owners who are too wealthy to qualify for a full Age Pension.

Money for roads and rail
The Government’s $24.5 billion infrastructure spend, designed to alleviate transport bottlenecks will provides a revenue boost for companies involved in the planning and construction as well as job creation for locals.

In Victoria, major projects include $5 billion for a Melbourne Airport rail link and 1.75 billion to build Melbourne’s North East Link and new tunnels and lanes for the Eastern Freeway.

In Queensland, there’s $1 billion for the M1 between Brisbane and the Gold Coast and $390 million to upgrade the Sunshine Coast rail network. In NSW, $971 million is earmarked for the Coffs Harbour bypass and $400 million for the Port Botany rail duplication. And in West Australia, $500 million to upgrade the Ellenbrook rail line.

Education and family support
There are no new announcements on funding for schools and universities, although the government will break its freeze on university funding by granting around 2000 new places across three regional universities.

The controversial school chaplains program will also be funded permanently at a cost of $61.7 million a year.

The national agreement on childcare for 4-year-olds has been extended to 2019 and an extra $54 million has been allocated to tackle sexual assault, domestic violence, cyber safety and elder abuse.

While there is no increase in the Newstart allowance for the unemployed, regional students will have easier access to Youth Allowance with a lighter parental income test.

Science, innovation and the environment
As previously announced, $500 million will be allocated over 7 years to protect the Great Barrier Reef from climate change and pollution.

Savings will be made by tightening the Research and Development (R&D) tax incentive amid mounting concerns the scheme is being rorted. Savings of $2 billion are pencilled in over the first 4 years.

Ongoing focus on national security
The government will invest $294 million to strengthen aviation, air cargo and mail security. This includes enhancing security at regional airports, increasing the number of officers, dogs and full-body scanners at major airports and boosting high tech screening of inbound cargo and mail.

Defence spending is on track to reach about 2 per cent of GDP by 2021, with $36.4 billion earmarked for Defence next financial year.

The foreign aid budget will be frozen. A large portion of this will be spent in the Pacific region as security concerns grow in the area.

Looking ahead
Australia is in a much stronger economic position than it was a year ago, but question marks remain over the sustainability of new spending promises and whether business tax cuts will make it through the Senate.

If the Turnbull Government chooses to call an election this year, voters will want to be satisfied that business conditions that underpin spending promises reaching a decade into the future are more than a temporary phenomenon, and that a recent lift in tax revenues is not a passing trend.

 

Any advice in this publication is of a general nature only and has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Please seek personal advice prior to acting on this information. The information in this document reflects our understanding of existing legislation, proposed legislation, rulings etc as at the date of issue. In some cases the information has been provided to us by third parties. While it is believed the information is accurate and reliable, this is not guaranteed in any way. Opinions constitute our judgement at the time of issue and are subject to change. Neither, the Licensee or any of the National Australia group of companies, nor their employees or directors give any warranty of accuracy, nor accept any responsibility for errors or omissions in this document. Before making a decision to acquire a financial product, you should obtain and read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) relating to that product. Past performance is not a reliable guide to future returns. The information in this document reflects our understanding of existing legislation, proposed legislation, rulings etc as at the date of issue. In some cases the information has been provided to us by third parties. While it is believed the information is accurate and reliable, this is not guaranteed in any way.
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