Unintended Consequences of the ‘Stress Sickie’

Lee Nickelson is an Authorised Representative, GWM Adviser Services Limited, Australian Financial Services Licensee

The term ‘take a sickie’ has been part of the Australian vernacular for generations, with many thinking it is their god given right after a big weekend to take an extra recovery day or two before heading back to work. Since employers have cottoned on to this phenomenon, many now request a medical certificate forcing a trip to the doctors and a medical reason for the absence. No harm.. surely?!

What many of us have been slow to realise is that these medical certificate trips are recorded on our medical history, which are commonly requested by insurers to make assessments both when applying for insurance cover and at the time of a claim.

A few trips to the doctor citing stress in order to get some time off work could result in an insurer putting an exclusion on all mental health conditions when they offer you cover. Or worse, a group insurer could use these doctor’s visits as proof of a pre-existing condition and then knock back a legitimate mental health claim in the future.

Another interesting learning I have come across when implementing insurance plans for clients are the instances where doctors’ reports do not match with the recollections of the patient. Many doctors are unaware of the consequences of writing ‘discussed feelings of depression’ when it could have been a more general conversation without a medical diagnosis. An insurer underwriting again may infer this as evidence of a pre-existing or recurring condition when it could have been a discussion of state of mind at the time.

It is all the more important to pay attention to how we interact with our medical records, including what we see our doctor’s for, what notes they actually write down during the consultation and who has access to those records going forward, because of the Governments new My Health Record initiative.

A My Health Record will be created for every Australian after 31st January 2019 unless you opt out. The record is designed to be a central place medical professionals can view your medical conditions, treatments, medicine details, allergies and test or result scans.

I encourage all Australians to take charge of your medical history, be aware of the implications of seeing a doctor on future insurance applications, and head to the My Health Record website before 31st January 2019 to make a decision for yourself whether a digital health record is right for you. https://www.myhealthrecord.gov.au/for-you-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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Benefits of Advice

Lee Nickelson is an Authorised Representative, GWM Adviser Services Limited, Australian Financial Services Licensee

In the wake of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuating and Financial Services Industry, it is important that we continue to focus on the benefits of receiving expert Financial Advice.

SunSuper commissioned CoreData to investigate the benefits of advice in their 2017 Value of Advice report which produced some interesting results. Overwhelmingly, those surveyed who receive financial advice are more ”well” in life.  They are better equipped to deal with unexpected expenses, more prepared for retirement and have more confidence in making financial decisions (1).

80% of those currently advised believe advice has given them more confidence in making financial decisions

Financial literacy is an important benefit and outcome of an advice relationship. Whilst we don’t expect clients to follow the movements of the NASDAQ, having an understanding of investment characteristics such as income versus capital values, the importance of asset allocation and investing for the long term gives clients greater confidence when making financial decisions.  This in turn brings a greater sense of financial security and less worrying about money.  After all, our definition of wealth is an absence of financial worry.

79% of those currently advised believe advice has given them more control over their financial position

Planning for the future is so important as it gives you confidence you can achieve your immediate and future financial goals.  Whether it is setting aside funds for a rainy day, increasing your savings, or contributing to a retirement plan, having an advice relationship allows you to map out your own path to financial freedom.

77% of those currently advised believe advice has helped them feel prepared for retirement

Many of us think that retirement is so far away that it doesn’t warrant planning now – this couldn’t be further from the truth.  Einstein’s 8th wonder of the world is compounding returns, earning interest on your interest, so paying attention to your retirement nest egg early, no matter how small, is well worth while.

67% of those currently advised feel advice has made them more equipped to handle sudden, one off costs

Through accountability, information and support, receiving financial advice can help people establish contingency plans, insurance and debt management strategies to deal with unexpected events and life’s twists and turns.

80% of those currently advised believe advice has given them more peace of mind.

Financial security is important for everyone, to know we are on the right track and not borrowing from our future to live the life we are currently.  A staggering statistic from the report is 39% of those unadvised felt they had enough money to pay for recreational activities compared to 79% who were advised.

Financial stress affects people’s lives in quantifiable ways.  It can affect your health, relationships at home, and both your productivity and attendance at work.  This is why we continue to believe in the value of financial advice; knowing that it improves lifestyle outcomes and overall wellbeing.

If you are interested in your own financial health check, please don’t hesitate to contact an Financial Adviser at Income Solutions.

 

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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How to kill a conversation – ‘lets talk about super’

Gareth Daniels is an Authorised Representative, GWM Adviser Services Limited, Australian Financial Services Licensee

Driving home from work last night there was a conversation the radio relating to super funds and how they perform relative to each other.

Many people would reach for the dial or press the button to change channels but the nerd in me resisted.

The item was a simple one; a firm has compiled independent research into the performance of super funds every year for the last five years and rates them accordingly on an annual basis.

The cynic in me listened intently for the criteria by which they had categorised the funds, but I had a bit of a ‘Wow!’ moment when they stated that they had looked at performance net of all fees and charges and had reached the overall conclusion that funds that charge lower fees typically outperformed funds that charged higher fees!

Further, in most cases, Australians would see a better performance from their super fund if they selected a low-cost index option that tracked the broader market rather than paying performance fees to active fund managers who fell short of the bench mark over the long-term.

Now I know I can be a bit sarcastic, but that ‘Wow!’ moment was genuine.

Simple, common sense advice can sadly be lacking in the superannuation space, frankly in financial planning in general. So when I hear it from an external source it jumps out at me and I realise that maybe we are not alone in our philosophies.

I downloaded the report that the firm produced, and a couple of key comments shouted at me from the pages;

Our research shows there is a clear correlation between high fees and long-term underperformance in super (The Fat Cat Funds Report Super Fund Guide 2018 page 3)

Poor fund performance comes predominantly from active management fees as well as higher administration and operating expenses than necessary (The Fat Cat Funds Report Super Fund Guide 2018 page 3)1

The funny thing is this information probably doesn’t surprise you. It is logical; it is common sense. So why don’t more of us follow it?

Like superannuation itself, the concept at the heart of following an index approach is BORING! We don’t want to talk about so its sits at the back of our minds. Over time we might not fully remember

why we are following that strategy anyway, particularly with the drip drip effect of other people’s opinions impacting on us. The reality is, what is there to talk about anyway?

Imagine the barbeque conversation;

“Yeah so I er um yeah paid no attention to my superfund again this year but as I track the broader Aussie market I got a nice steady long-term average return and I er um received a good level of fully franked dividends and I didn’t have to manage or worry about anything to get that…”

Well, that’s not very interesting is it? Not compared to the person who runs their self-managed super fund and trades shares daily and has a no recourse loan for the residential unit development that they are building up there in wherever and they had to meet with their accountant for three hours last week because there was some problem with the audit and now it seems like they might have to take that piece of art off the wall an put it storage because it “doesn’t really meet the sole purpose test after all”…. What?

Superannuation is an investment vehicle for you to set yourself up for the retirement lifestyle that you want. Research shows that a lower cost fund with an indexing approach will typically provide better long-term result than any other investment option. The point is that the more you pay in fees through more complex investment options the more likely that the long-term returns will be lower.

Our research shows that 96% of balanced super funds underperformed a simple low-cost index strategy after fees and taxes. This is consistent with research from Finalytiq4 which found similar results in the UK, and S&P Dow Jones whose SPIVA research shows that 80% of active Australian share fund managers have underperformed the index over 15 years. (The Fat Cat Funds Report Super Fund Guide 2018 page 35)

Why does superannuation need to be an interesting conversation anyway? Why does managing money have to be at all? Far more interesting is what you do with the time you have to enjoy life rather than worrying about money and what you spend your passive income on!

So how does any of this impact you? If you have made it this far through the article, then you have already met more than half of your required quota for paying attention to superannuation this year. Well done!

From here, check in with your adviser and (subject to your risk profile) determine your level of exposure to growth assets which should come via an index approach, balance that with your need for defensive assets and then ensure that you are on a fee favourable platform.

Simple but not easy I know; but it is common sense!

 

1 The Fat Cat Funds Report Super Fund Guide 2018 is produced by by Stockspot Stockspot Pty Ltd ABN 163 214 319 is a Corporate Authorised Representative (No. 453421) of Sanlam Private Wealth (AFS License No. 337927). They are a Robbo Advice firm and have no affiliation or connection to Income Solutions. We still believe that personal relationships are at the heart of quality financial advice, and have referenced the The Fat Cat Funds Report Super Fund Guide 2018 as an opinion piece.
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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Your home – the best investment you will ever make

Gareth Daniels is an Authorised Representative, GWM Adviser Services Limited, Australian Financial Services Licensee

It has been said before and it will be said again, “your home is the best investment you will ever make!”

Those of you familiar with our philosophies on wealth creation (being income focussed and the fact that the best investment that you will ever make is in yourself, your career or your business) will know that we do not subscribe to this mantra about the family home.

Recent legislative changes however, have created an opportunity to make the home you have loved, cared for and put money into over the years pay a little something back.

The downsizer

As people settle into their retirement it is common for them to realise that the home they have enjoyed for so many years is in fact now a bit too big, the garden a bit too much work, and the level of maintenance needed is now a bit too daunting. The decision to downsize is therefore made.

Moving to a smaller, more manageable property can result in substantial funds being left over from the transaction as the bigger family home is of a higher value than the new property. So, what to do with those funds?

Superannuation

Super has many rules about the amount of money that can be contributed to it, before tax contributions (concessional contributions) capped at $25,000 pa and after-tax contributions (non-concessional contributions) capped at $100,000 pa or $300,000 under the draw forward rule.

Legislative changes that came into effect on the 1st of July 2018 now mean that when the source of funds are identified as coming from the sale of the primary residence, money can be added to super as an after tax contribution above and beyond the normal annual limits; up to $300,000 per member.

Having additional money inside the superannuation environment as a retiree could provide a significant boost to the provision of passive, tax-free income to support the lifestyle that you want to live.

Eligibility

There are criteria that must be met, a summary of which includes:

* 65 years of age or older when the Downsizer Contribution is made

* You or your spouse has owned the home for 10 years or more

* It is a home in Australia (not a caravan, mobile home or houseboat)

* It is your main residence and so exempt or partially exempt from CGT

* The contribution to super is made within 90 days of receiving the proceeds

* The maximum contribution is $300,000 per person and the contributions must not exceed the total sale proceeds of the house

Next Steps

To determine if the strategy is relevant and beneficial there are some steps to work through:

* If you have determined to move, ensure the house that you are moving to meets your long term needs and that you are not ‘cutting your nose to spite your face’ by purchasing a cheaper place to boost what you can get into super only to find after a few years you are unhappy in that property

* Work with your adviser to determine what is genuinely ‘spare’ as a result of the sale of the family home. Most people incur some lump sum expenses when they move to a new house; new couch, new blinds, changing that ugly carpet in the spare room.

* Once the total available funds are known, again, work with your adviser to ensure that the correct Downsizer Contribution into Super form is completed and submitted with the contribution

* Also work with your adviser to be clear on the how the funds should be allocated within super in regard to your risk tolerance and goals and when to use the super monies to purchase an income stream.

In the truest sense of the word it may be hard to call the family home an investment. Hopefully it has been a space that has created many happy memories over the years; and now with the right implementation of strategy it may prove to be a boost to enjoying the retirement you have dreamed of.

 

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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Who is making your Financial Decisions?

In January 2018, women marched in all 50 American States, in 92 Countries, on all 7 continents in protest of the policies and positions of the Trump administration. Women worldwide are channelling their energies to articulate their right to take up equal opportunities, with respect, safety and dignity. Women worldwide are becoming outspoken and active political participants.

The #metoo movement has broadened the global dialogue on the widespread prevalence of violence and sexual assault. Women are demanding accountability and beginning provocative conversations. Women are becoming more outspoken, more educated, and the opinions of women are being represented politically and socially. Women are becoming publicly progressive in their endeavour for gender equality.

In light of the current political and social climate, I was surprised to read in an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald by Georgina Dent, where Financial Coach Julia Sotas stated that ‘56% of married women leave investment and financial decisions to their husbands…because they believe their husbands know more’.¹ In a world where women are progressive, and willing to actively participate in the global political and social dialogue of gender equality, it is interesting that women still believe that they are incapable of making investment and financial decisions.

In your partnership is your partner taking control of your financial future?
Curious to discover what motivates financial decisions of the women around me, whether they be married, in defacto relationships or single, I decided to ask some questions. I am overwhelmed by the responses I received from these educated and determined women. There is a trend, indistinguishable from cultural traditions, that most women are influenced financially by the men in their lives.
Empowered and progressive women, I urge you to become eager for not only political but also financial freedom. I urge you to take up equal opportunities and to stop underestimating your capabilities to manage your investment and financial decisions. It is time to become financially aware, involved and secure.

 

At Income Solutions we run regular Income Solutions for Women seminars. If you would like to register for an upcoming event please contact us or go to www.incomesolutions.com.au/events for more information.

 

  1. Dent, G. (2018). More women will end up alone and managing their own money. Sydney Morning Herald. [online] Available at: https://wwwsmh.com.au/money/investing/more-women-will-end-up-along-and-managing-their-money-by-themselves-20180614-p4zlfy.html [Accessed 3 Aug. 2018]
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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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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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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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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