Financial Planning for Australians: Balance Today and Save for Tomorrow

Financial Planning for Australians: Balance Today and Save for Tomorrow

Key strategies to manage your finances effectively, ensuring both a comfortable present and a secure future

Managing your financial situation always involves tension between how you live your life now and preparing for your future – whatever that looks like.

The worry about not getting the balance right and making unnecessary sacrifices now – or not having enough money for the things you want to do in the future is a common and valid concern we hear when we talk to clients. You want to be living your best life now which means not living too frugally or worrying about your future. At the same time, you don’t want the choices you are making now in how you live your life to impact or make impossible the wonderful life you envision for yourself down the track.

Balance whatever your stage of life

We all have financial goals - whether you are saving for your children's education, working towards that once in a lifetime round the world trip, freeing up finances for a gap year, or setting yourself up for a wonderful retirement. It’s important to balance your ‘now’ with your ‘future’ when it comes to spending, saving, and investing to make sure you can achieve those goals. You don’t want to regret your spending – or on the other hand live a frugal life and look back on opportunities you missed while you were squirrelling it away.

The tension between the ‘now’ and your ‘future’ with respect to your finances can be even more heightened when you have retired. It can be a strange adjustment suddenly not having a wage coming in and living off your savings, super and investments. It’s common, and quite understandable, to worry about not having enough to last the distance, particularly given that a 65-year-old today may live well into their 90’s and could spend up to three decades in retirement.i No one wants to outlive their savings.

However, many retirees live unnecessarily frugal lives as evidenced by a 2020 Retirement Income Review which found that most people die with the bulk of their retirement wealth intact.ii Those that live frugally do so often not from necessity but because they don’t have an understanding of their financial needs, including how these will change over time, and how much they can afford to spend.

How the balance changes over time

That balance is hard to hit. It is different for different people, and your approach to saving and spending will change at various stages of your life.

If you are paying off a difficult to maintain level of debt or in the final stages of scraping together a deposit for a home, making sacrifices now in the way you live life your life might feel OK. Equally if you have spent much of your life building wealth, letting loose the reins a little and going on that cruise might be something you are extremely comfortable with.

Certainty now and confidence in the future

Whatever your stage of life, achieving the right balance comes from having an in-depth understanding of your financial situation now, and establishing and maintaining a personalised plan that takes into account all aspects of your financials – your earning capacity, level of debt, assets and very importantly, the life you want to live today and your goals for the future.

The importance of receiving support with financial planning is reinforced in a recent report which indicated advised Australians are significantly more likely to say they feel confident in achieving their financial goals (71 per cent) compared with those who are not receiving support (55 per cent).iii

The same proportion said that they were living well now, stating their finances allow them to “do the things I want and enjoy in life.” And those receiving advice are also balancing the “now” with their future needs. Those accessing financial advice also indicated they were more likely to be financially prepared for retirement and have a higher savings balance.

This confidence that comes from receiving personalised advice also means being more prepared when people leave the workforce (and a wage) behind. Advised Australians are significantly more likely to feel very or reasonably prepared for retirement (76 per cent), than those without advice (45 per cent).iv

The key to achieving a balance between living your best life now and being financially secure in the future is knowledge. If we know that tomorrow is shaping up well for us, we may worry a little less today, feel a little less guilty when we spend today and be less likely to have regrets about spending - or about missing out - further down the track.

i https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/life-expectancy-deaths/deaths-in-australia/contents/life-expectancy
ii https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2021-02/p2020-100554-ud00b_key_obs.pdf
iii https://www.netwealth.com.au/web/insights/the-advisable-australian/understanding-australian-advice-clients-better/#download
iv https://www.netwealth.com.au/web/insights/the-advisable-australian/understanding-australian-advice-clients-better

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


Loud Budgeting: Is It for You?

Loud Budgeting: Is It for You?

Think of loud budgeting as having a frank chat about your finances with friends. It’s about sharing financial goals openly, getting everyone on board and excited about your financial journey.

It's a trend that may have started as a joke but is being embraced by those who want to share their financial goals and priorities and in doing so, also improve their chances of achieving them.

It was comedian and writer Lukas Battle who bought the term “loud budgeting” to the world in a TikTok post, presenting it as an alternative to “quiet luxury” as loud budgeting represents a move away from spending to impress or conform.

As is the way with trends, the idea resonated with people, was picked up and run with by a growing group of budgeters. The spirit of the trend is about saying a loud “no” to what doesn’t align with your values. But there’s more to it than that, and there is also a right way to go about loud budgeting that will enable you to keep your finances on target – and your friendships intact.

The benefits of loud budgeting

But before we look at how to get it right, let’s explore why loud budgeting can be such a powerful tool to put you in control of your financial journey.

The fundamental reason it works is because talking transparently about your finances and sharing your reasoning behind how you want to spend your money gives you power and lets you decline invites in a way that is less likely to offend others.

Being open about your challenges can create a sense of community and inclusion. By sharing and acknowledging that it is normal to have limited spending capacity and that it can be a juggle to manage our short-term spending with our long-term savings goals, helps everyone understand each other’s pressures.

Once things are out in the open you are also more accountable. When you have shared your financial hopes and dreams with others, you are more likely to do what is required to stay on track and get support from those who care about you.

Making it loud - and successful!

Think of your goals
Before you start sharing your financial goals with others you must be clear on what they are. Think about what is important to you and what you are working towards. Don’t just have figures in your head - do a proper budget of what you have coming in, what you need to save to meet your targets and what you have left over to spend, so you can make educated decisions.

What matters to you
When you have decisions to make about how to spend your money it can help to think about what is important to you and make intentional choices. That ensures you are not living unnecessarily frugally, but being selective about what you choose to spend your money on, taking into consideration what matters most to you.

Eye on the prize
It’s important to keep your eye on the prize (or prizes) whatever form they may take. Looking to the longer term, this can be smaller goals, like saving up for a special occasion or bigger ones, such as a home deposit. It could also be prioritising payments such as mortgages, student loans and other kinds of debt. Check in from time to time to track your spending and savings against your goals.

Careful communication
Being careful in your phrasing will help make sure feelings aren't hurt when you decline an invitation. Part of loud budgeting is not saying ‘no’ outright – it's about explaining what’s going on for you and offering an alternative that works for you. For example, if you’re invited out for a dinner that you know will blow the budget, you could say “I’m trying to get enough together for a deposit to buy a place so I’m on a tight budget at the moment, can we catch up for a BYO barbeque at my place instead?

Making financial choices that are in line with how you want to live your life and prioritising long-term goals over temporary indulgences is a great way to set yourself up for a fantastic future. So why not speak up and try making your budgeting loud?

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


Securing Your Finances for Retirement in Australia

Securing Your Finances for Retirement in Australia

Secure your retirement with the right financial planning. Learn about managing costs and maximising superannuation in Australia.

If you’re nearing retirement age, it’s likely you’re wondering if you will have enough saved to give up work and take it easy, particularly as cost-of-living increases hit some of the basic expenses such as energy, insurance, food and health costs.

Fortunately, someone has already worked out what you might need.

The Association of Superannuation Funds in Australia (ASFA) updates its Retirement Standard every year, which provides a breakdown of expenses for two types of lifestyles: modest and comfortable.i

Based on our average life expectancy - for women it is just over 85 years and men 81 - if you are about to retire at say age 67, you will have between 14 and 18 years in retirement, on average and depending on your gender.ii

ASFA finds that a couple needs $46,944 a year to live a modest lifestyle and $72,148 to live a comfortable lifestyle. That’s equal to $902 a week and $1387 respectively. The figure is of course lower for a single person - $32,666 for a modest lifestyle ($628 a week) or $51,278 ($986) for a comfortable lifestyle.iii

What does that add up to? ASFA estimates that, for a modest lifestyle, a single person or a couple would need savings of $100,000 at retirement age, while for a modest lifestyle, a couple would need at least $690,000.iv

A modest lifestyle means being able to afford everyday expenses such as basic health insurance, communication, clothing and household goods but not going overboard. The difference between a modest and a comfortable lifestyle can be significant. For example, there is no room in a modest budget to update a kitchen or a bathroom; similarly overseas holidays are not an option.

The rule of thumb for a comfortable retirement is an estimated 70 per cent of your current annual income.v (The reason you need less is that you no longer need to commute to work and you don’t need to buy work clothes.)

Building your nest egg

So how can you build up a sufficient nest egg to provide for a good life in retirement? There are three main sources: superannuation, pension and investments/savings. Superannuation has the key advantage that the money in your pension is tax free in retirement.

Your superannuation pension can be augmented with the government’s Aged Pension either from the moment you retire or later when your original nest egg diminishes.

Your income and assets will be taken into account if you apply for the Age Pension but even if you receive a pension from your super fund, you may still be eligible for a part Age Pension. You may also be eligible for rent assistance and a Health Care Card, which provides concessions on medicines.vi

Money keeps growing

It’s also important to remember that the amount you accumulate up to retirement will still be generating an income, whether its rentals from investment properties or merely the growth in the value of your share investments and the accumulation of money from any dividends paid.

You can also continue to add to your superannuation by, for instance, selling your family home and downsizing, as long as you have lived in the home for more than 10 years.

If you are single, $300,000 can go into your super when you downsize and $600,000 if you are a couple. This figure is independent of any other superannuation caps.vii

Planning for a good life in retirement often require just that – planning. If you would like to discuss how retirement will work for you, then give us a call.

i Retirement Standard - Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia
ii Life expectancy, 2020 - 2022 | Australian Bureau of Statistics (abs.gov.au)
iii https://www.superannuation.asn.au/media-release/retiree-budgets-continue-to-face-significant-cost-pressures
iv https://www.superannuation.asn.au/resources/retirement-standard/
v https://www.gesb.wa.gov.au/members/retirement/how-retirement-works/cost-of-living-in-retirement
vi Assets test for Age Pension - Age Pension - Services Australia
vii Downsizer super contributions | Australian Taxation Office (ato.gov.au)

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


Support and Resources for the Sandwich Generation in Australia

Support and Resources for the Sandwich Generation in Australia

Struggling to manage dual caregiving responsibilities? Explore essential support and planning tips for Australia's sandwich generation juggling children and aging parents.

If you are feeling a bit like the meat in the sandwich you are not alone. The ‘sandwich generation’ is a growing social phenomenon that impacts people from all walks of life, describing those at a stage of their lives where they are caring for their offspring as well as their elderly parents.

The phenomenon is gathering momentum as we are tending to live longer and have kids later. It even encompasses royalty - Prince William has been dealing with a sick father while juggling school aged kids (as well as a partner dealing with serious health issues).

A growing phenomenon

The number of people forming part of the sandwich generation has grown since the term was first coined in the 1980’s, as we tend to live longer and have kids later. It is estimated that as many as 5% of Australians are currently juggling caring responsibilities which has implications for family dynamics, incomes, retirement and even the economy.i

Like many other countries, the number of older Australians is growing both in number and as a percentage of the population. By 2026, more than 22 percent of Australians will be aged over 65 - up from 16 percent in 2020.ii It is also becoming more common for aging parents to rely on their adult children for assistance when living independently becomes challenging.

The other piece of bread in the sandwich is that as a society we are caring for kids later in life. The median age of all women giving birth increased by three years over two decades.iii

And with young people staying in the family home well into their twenties, we are certainly supporting our children for longer. Even after the kids leave the nest, it's also common for parents to become involved in looking after grandchildren.

Taking its toll on carers

While we want to support our loved ones, when that support is required constantly and intensively for both parts of the family, it can mean that something has to give and that ‘something’ is often the carer’s well-being.

Even if you are not part of the sandwich generation but being squeezed at either end – caring for kids or parents, acting as a primary care-giver often requires you to provide physical, emotional, and financial support. It’s common to feel it take a toll on your own emotional and physical health, and sometimes your finances as you sacrifice some of your savings or paid work to help your loved ones.

Support for caregivers

It can be difficult to acknowledge you need assistance but there are a number of ways you can access help.

Deciding what to get help with
It can feel like there is not enough hours in the day and that’s overwhelming. Try to think about what you really need to do and where your time is best spent and consider if you can get assistance with tasks or duties you don’t have to do. This may mean outsourcing things like buying a healthy meal instead of cooking or getting a hand with gardening or lawn mowing.

Think about what others could assist with to lighten and share your load.

Accessing support
There are also support networks out there that exist to take off some of the pressure. Reach out to local support networks via Carers Australia for help identifying mainstream and community supports.

You or your loved ones may also be entitled to government support, under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) or My Aged Care. These programs provide funding and resources to help pay for essential care; from domestic assistance with cleaning and cooking, to home modifications, to 24-hour care for those who require more support.

The importance of self-care
It’s vital to take some time out for yourself and make your own wellbeing a priority. Don’t feel that it’s selfish to take care of your own needs as that’s an essential part of being a carer. Resources like respite care and getting support when needed is an important gateway to self-care.

Managing your finances
Caregiving can put financial pressure on the whole household and has the potential to impact retirement savings. The assistance of a trusted professional can help, and we are here if you need a hand.

Raising kids as well as supporting parents to live their best lives as they age is becoming more common and can be a challenging time of life. While the act of caring is the ultimate act of kindness - the most important thing to remember is to be kind to yourself.

i https://info.careforfamily.com.au/blog/sandwich-generation
ii https://www.sydney.edu.au/news-opinion/news/2023/10/09/confronting-ageing-the-talk-australia-has-to-have.html
iii https://www.abs.gov.au/

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


Beyond Numbers: Embrace Emotional Financial Planning for Success in 2024

Beyond Numbers: Embrace Emotional Financial Planning for Success in 2024

As we step into 2024, your journey to financial success is intertwined with your emotional well-being. Mastering the practise of Emotional Financial Planning is about looking beyond numbers and budgets; it's about understanding how our feelings impact our financial decisions. This quick guide will help you along the path towards building a harmonious blend of financial savvy and emotional intelligence. It discusses financial strategies but also delves into the nuances of Emotional Financial Planning.

“You must create space in your life to let new things in. Sometimes the things you're holding onto are the very things that are holding you back." – Anon

Letting go of something that no longer serves you can be challenging at the time, but in doing so you are not just removing negative habits, thought patterns or physical things that you do not need any more, you are also opening your arms to new possibilities.

Why do we hang on?

Letting go, a core principle in emotional financial planning, can be easier said than done. Recognising that we are all creatures of habit and gravitate towards 'sticking to what we know', is a key part of Emotional Financial Planning.

We tend not to like letting go of the familiar to venture into the unknown, but just because things are comfortable or familiar does not mean they are working for you.

As we move through life, we change and it’s common to find that some of our beliefs, habits, or existing goals, may not work for us anymore. If that’s sounding familiar it might be time to let go.

Liberate yourself

In emotional financial planning, it can be tricky to identify what needs to go, but trusting your gut is essential. Think about what you are hanging onto that is not serving you well any more – be that a goal that no longer suits where you now see your life going, a job you once enjoyed but that is now not making you happy, or a way of thinking or behaving that does not help you move your life in the direction you want it to take.

Everyone is different, but with a bit of self-examination you can decide how to best lighten your load for the New Year.

Breaking those bad habits

In emotional financial planning, recognising habits and behaviours that don't serve us well is crucial. You might recognise that you are prone to procrastination and it’s interfering with your ability to get things done. Making a conscious effort to address this and develop the discipline to work through a to-do list could be the best move you make to start the new year afresh.

Or you might decide now is the time to address your spending habits and get on top of your finances – ditching the unnecessary purchases and being more mindful in your spending.

Lightening the load

If your emotional baggage is starting to feel like a literal weight on your shoulders, it is time to actively address some of these emotions and lighten the load. Be it past failures, or even previous successes, unresolved anger, hurt and regret, this baggage can weigh us down.

Talking to a trusted friend or seeking professional help can help you identify what’s going on and unpack some of that baggage.

Cutting through the clutter

Of course, letting go might be more about your physical environment rather than your emotions and habits. It’s easy to accumulate ‘stuff’ but often harder to let it go.

It can be a wonderful start to a brand-new year to go through your things and get rid of anything that is not serving a purpose, letting go things that are not useful or don’t give you joy.

Letting go is a process not a destination, once you’ve made your decisions about how you intend to move into the New Year, make the commitment to create space in your life, allowing you to grow, achieve your goals and move forward with your life in a positive way.

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


Celebrate Christmas Without the Financial Burden: Smart Planning for the Holidays

Celebrate Christmas Without the Financial Burden: Smart Planning for the Holidays

Celebrate the festive season without breaking the bank. Our article provides essential tips for cost-effective holiday planning, helping you enjoy Christmas festivities without compromising your financial health.

Overspending on gifts, parties, and decorations can quickly add-up, leaving us with unwanted debt in the New Year.

In 2022, Australians spent more than $66.7 billion during the pre-Christmas sales in preparation for the festive season. The rising cost of goods and services mean that even though many are trying to curb their spending, it is expected that we will spend a little extra this year.

5 ways to rein in Christmas spending

1. Create a Christmas budget - A budget is an effective way of controlling spending. It may not sound like fun, but it helps you to understand what you would like to spend and how much debt you are prepared to live with. List all of the costs you can think of (gifts, decorations, food, travel and entertainment), then set limits for each category and stick to them diligently. Consider using budgeting apps or spreadsheets to track your expenses and ensure you stay on track.

2. Embrace the spirit of giving - Instead of buying individual gifts for every family member or friend, organise a Kris Kringle or Secret Santa gift exchange. This not only reduces the financial burden for everyone, but it adds an element of surprise and excitement to the holiday festivities.

3. Take advantage of sales and discounts - Begin your Christmas shopping early to take advantage of sales and discounts. Stockpiling non-perishable food items and other essentials before prices rise closer to Christmas can deliver big savings.

4. Online shopping - You can often find better prices by shopping around online and various third-party websites offer cash back or rewards not available in store.

5. DIY and personalised gifts - Tap into your creativity by making your own gifts. Handmade gifts can be a welcome and thoughtful way of giving. Consider creating homemade cards, photo albums, or baking treats for loved ones.

Tackle any debt now

With many household budgets feeling the pinch due to rising housing, power, petrol and other costs, debts may already be increasing. But if you are feeling burdened with debt, don’t decide to leave it until after Christmas. The time to tackle it is now before it gets out of hand.

One option to consider, is to consolidate your high interest debts into a single more manageable loan. This approach can simplify repayments and potentially reduce interest rates, making it easier to eliminate debt over time. But it is important to do your calculations carefully to make sure it is worthwhile for you and then to be vigilant about watching spending.

Another option is to take a cold, hard look at your expenses. Is there something that can be cut back, and that money diverted to repaying debt? Any reduction of your debt load will help, no matter how small. Some people like to implement the snowball method in tackling their debts: while continuing to make the minimum repayments on all your debts you pay a little extra on the smallest debt to pay it off faster. Getting rid of debts can help to inspire you to continue.

Taking control of Christmas spending and debt is crucial for starting the New Year on a positive financial note. So, start planning early, know what you can afford to spend and prioritise your financial wellbeing for a debt-free and stress-free holiday season.

If you are struggling with post-Christmas debt or need assistance to manage your finances, we are here to help. Contact our team of financial experts today to discuss strategies to regain control of your financial future. Make this Christmas season a time of joy and financial empowerment.

i Pre-Christmas spending forecast to tread water as uncertainty looms for discretionary retailers | Australian Retailers Association

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


The Aussie Financial Paradox: When More is Never Satisfying

The Aussie Financial Paradox: When More is Never Satisfying

Money talks, especially in Australia. But when does the pursuit of wealth become an obsession? Explore the Australian financial landscape and learn how to find the sweet spot between ambition and satisfaction.

Given it is something that has such a strong influence on how we live our lives it’s unsurprising that money, or the pursuit of it, can develop into somewhat of an addiction.

The million-dollar question is how do you know if you are developing an unhealthy relationship with money and what can you do if you, or someone you know, is heading down that path?

The love of the dollar

When John D. Rockefeller, who has been widely considered the wealthiest American in modern history, was asked how much money is enough, he famously stated: “Just a little bit more.”

It’s a common approach to money - that it's not possible to have too much of a good thing. However, we can become addicted to the act of growing our net wealth to the detriment of our daily lives. If you’re only interested in seeing your account balance go up, you might miss opportunities to put your money to work in other ways and enjoying what life has to offer.

If you can relate to the words of Rockefeller, it might be time to do some self-examination and see whether your relationship with your finances could be healthier.

Common feelings about acquiring money

Competitive
“Keeping up with the Joneses” is embedded in our culture. As a society, we’re constantly comparing ourselves to those who earn more or are wealthier than ourselves. The danger is there will always be someone better off than you (unless you are Rockefeller!). Gratitude can serve as an antidote to competition, so try shifting your focus to what you have rather than what others possess.

Of course, for many the focus is not outward but inward. The competition can be an internal struggle to meet and exceed continually shifting self-imposed financial objectives. If this is moving beyond a healthy drive for success, it might be time to celebrate your successes and focus more on enjoying your wealth.

You are what you possess
Compulsive saving can be a need to find self-worth, defining yourself by what you possess and accruing the trappings of wealth to feel whole. Recognising your self-worth goes beyond possessions and how much money you have in the bank is a key step in breaking the hold money may have over you.

Fear of loss
Being afraid of losses can keep you from making smart decisions with your money that could improve your financial situation. For example, you might be so fixated on accruing wealth and so afraid of losing money that you never invest. Having an appreciation of the relationship between risk and reward can help you make healthier decisions.

Scarcity mindset
An extreme focus on your financials can be driven by a fear of not having enough. The underlying cause of anxiety around money might be traced back to a time when you struggled. The key is to review your financial situation and let go the past to manage your finances in a way that is appropriate to your present circumstances.

Breaking money habits

That sounds easy but it can be difficult in practice. Whatever the driver of your approach to money, if you’ve been operating in a certain way for a long time, habits can be hard to break.

If you've been saving furiously for a home deposit it can be hard to step out of the frugal behaviour, take a breather and feel Ok about spending money again. Alternatively, if you've spent a lifetime building your wealth to have a wonderful retirement it can be difficult to flick the switch from saving to spending - especially if you suddenly have no wages coming in.

Recognise that old habits can be hard to break but that it is possible to change.

One thing that can help is having a financial plan, so you know how you are tracking to meet your financial goals. That’s where talking to a third party who is not so emotionally involved can be of benefit.

We are here to assist if you need assistance with any aspect of your financial life.

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


Mastering the Costs of Child-Rearing: An Australian Perspective

Mastering the Costs of Child-Rearing: An Australian Perspective

Raising a child in Australia is a rewarding journey, but it can be financially challenging. This article offers insights into managing these costs effectively, leveraging government support, and planning for your child's future.

Of course, there is a real cost – raising a child is expensive, particularly now as the cost-of-living spirals higher. Estimates vary widely from the few studies completed but it is fair to say that over a child’s lifetime families can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on living, medical and schooling expenses for their children.

So, having a financial strategy in place to cover the costs and taking advantage of government support where available can make a big difference.

Taking care of the basics

The first step is updating your Will, ensuring you've nominated guardians for your children should the unthinkable occur. You may also consider life insurance and income protection to ensure your family is protected.

Next, establishing a savings and investment plan provides financial certainty as you navigate the journey of parenthood. Adding small amounts of money regularly to an account for education and other expenses can help to ease financial stress. The MoneySmart savings goals calculator shows what can be achieved. You could consider fee-free high interest savings accounts or your mortgage offset account as a way to save cash for short-term needs.

Consider longer-term investments like shares, exchange-traded funds, or listed investment companies for future financial support. They can offer the possibility of capital growth and diversification for a relatively low cost.

Super splitting

Future-proofing your finances also involves careful consideration of your superannuation. If one partner is staying at home to care for the children, the other partner can split their super contributions with them. You will need to check if your fund allows it, whether they charge a fee and complete some paperwork.

There are also some tax considerations, so it is important to make sure you understand the implications for you.

Government support

Investigate the various government payments and supports available to Australian families. For example, the Paid Parental Leave Scheme provides support for mothers for up to three months before the birth.

A recent change to Parental Leave Pay and Dad and Partner Pay sees these two payments combine into one payment that is available to both parents for up to two years after the child’s birth.

You will need to meet income and work tests and claim within certain timelines.

Even if you are not eligible for parental leave pay, you may still be able to apply for both the Newborn Upfront Payment and the Newborn Supplement.

Then there is the Family Tax Benefit, a two-part payment to help with the cost of raising children. To receive the benefit, you must have a dependent child or a full-time secondary student aged 16 to 19 who is not receiving any other payment or benefit such as a youth allowance, care for the child at least 35 per cent of the time and meet an income test.

Grandparent gifting

Grandparents eager to provide financial assistance can consider gifting money to their children or grandchildren. Be aware that Centrelink has gifting rules for those receiving an age pension. You can give $10,000 in one year or up to $30,000 over five years without your pension being affected. If you give more, the amount will be treated as though you had retained it in your own accounts.

However, gifts and inheritances are generally not considered as income for tax purposes. The ATO says neither the donor nor the receiver will pay tax on a gift if:

  • it is a transfer of money or property.
  • the transfer is made voluntarily.
  • the donor does not expect anything in return.
  • the donor does not materially benefit.

Tax may apply in some cases where property or shares are gifted.

Raising a child is a joy-filled journey, and with a solid financial plan in place, you can focus on the moments that matter. Get in touch with us to create a plan to secure your family’s future.

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


Strategies for Financial Success in the New Aussie Financial Year

Strategies for Financial Success in the New Aussie Financial Year

Welcome the new financial year with fresh financial strategies. This article offers Aussie tax residents some actionable tips on budgeting, investing, and superannuation planning.

The start of a new financial year is the perfect time to get your financial affairs in order. Whether it's tidying up your paperwork, assessing your portfolio or dealing with outstanding issues, there are plenty of practical actions you can take.

Here are some strategies for starting the new financial year on the right foot.

Organise Your Financial Documents

Dealing with the paperwork is the task most of us love to hate. But taking a day to trawl through the ‘To Do’ pile and the growing mountain of filing could be a good investment in yourself. What’s more, you might identify some savings.

Crafting Your Budget For The New Financial Year

A lot can happen in a year, so it makes sense to review your budget to ensure it still works towards your goals in the new year. This will help you track your changing expenses and ensure you're not overspending. And if you haven’t got a working budget, now’s a great time to start. There are plenty of budgeting apps and tools available online that can help you get started.

Investment Portfolio Assessment: An Excellent New Year's Resolution

Another important step to take as you start the new financial year is to assess your investment portfolio.

Some important questions include:

  • Why did you start investing and have your circumstances changed? For example, you may have started investing to receive a better return than your term deposits but now that term deposits rates have increased and share markets are challenged, should you revisit that goal?
  • What is the investment performance? Is it in line with your expectation and the benchmark?
  • Should you consider diversifying into different asset classes?
  • Is dividend reinvestment the best option for you or should you take the dividend income into cash?
  • Is your risk appetite still the same, or should you be aggressive or more conservative?

Insurance Review: Ensuring Your Coverage Matches Your Needs

Now is a good time to examine your insurances closely and to consider whether they match your needs and risks. It is also a good reminder to take note of policy renewal dates so that you can shop around to make sure you get the best price.

Decoding Federal Budget Changes: What They Mean for You

Keeping up to date with the commentary about Federal Budget initiatives may be useful.

The measures aimed at easing the cost of living will provide a boost to some. They include energy bill relief for concession card holders and energy saving incentives. Meanwhile those with chronic health conditions will benefit from a number of changes announced in the budget.

The Budget also included support for families with cheaper childcare and a more flexible Paid Parental Leave scheme, and incentives for some types of new home building projects.

Superannuation Review: Maximising Your Retirement Savings

A review – at least annually - of your super account is vital to make sure that:

  • Your investments and risk strategy are still right for you
  • The fees are reasonable
  • Any insurance policies held in your super account are appropriate
  • Your employer contributions are being made
  • Your death benefit nomination is relevant
  • You don’t have multiple accounts incurring unnecessary fees

You might also consider a salary sacrifice strategy, where you ask your employer to make extra super contributions from your pre-tax salary. These additional contributions are taxed at 15 per cent within the super fund, plus an additional 15% if Division 293 tax applies to you (income over $250,000).

Meanwhile, it is not too late to top up your super balance for this financial year using either concessional contributions (from your pre-tax income) or non-concessional contributions (after-tax income). Don’t forget the caps on payments, which are $27,500 for concessional contributions and $110,000 for non-concessional.

It is a good idea to get some expert advice regarding your super contributions, we can assist with the best ways to manage your contributions.

So, set yourself up for a fresh start to the year with some simple strategies to help you achieve your financial goals.

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


Emergency Funds 101: A Quick Guide for Australian Families and Business Owners

Emergency Funds 101: A Quick Guide for Australian Families and Business Owners

Financial uncertainty can be a heavy burden for Australian families and small business owners alike. An emergency fund can be the key to weathering unexpected financial storms, offering stability and peace of mind. Discover the benefits and strategies for building your own emergency fund in this article.

When life tosses up an unexpected event – such as retrenchment, a medical emergency or even just a big bill to fix the car – it can be nerve-wracking having to worry about how to deal with the crisis. And, if funds are short, that just adds to the stress.

But imagine that you have a secret cash stash – an emergency fund – that will cover the costs, giving you the mental space to deal with the problem.

In fact, an emergency fund is the basis for a strong financial strategy and provides a crucial safety net. It makes sense regardless of your age or income because the unexpected can happen to anyone.

Without a cash reserve, you may have to rely on credit cards or loans, which can put a further strain on your financial situation and your mental health.

An emergency fund gives you the peace of mind to be able to weather the storms that come your way without racking up unwanted debt and interest payments.

Determining Your Emergency Fund Amount: Tailoring to Your Needs.

Of course, it can be tough to save when inflation is eating away at your income. Rising interest rates, rents and the cost of groceries is putting a big strain on households. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that household savings have been declining for more than a year as people contend with increased mortgage payments among the other rising costs.i

Nonetheless, by putting aside even a small but regular payment into a separate fund you will slowly accumulate enough to cover emergencies.

The size of your emergency fund depends on your own circumstances but an often quoted target is enough to cover between three and six months of living expenses.

It may differ if say, you are planning on starting a family and need funds in reserve to cover the difference between parental leave payments and a salary; you have children in school and want to be able to cover school fees for a year or more, no matter what happens; you need to take time off work to care for a family member; or you need to make an unplanned trip.

On the other hand, if you have retired, it can be helpful to have a buffer against market volatility. If there is a downturn in the markets and your superannuation is not providing your desired level of income, a year’s worth of living expenses in an emergency fund can make all the difference to your lifestyle.

The main thing to remember is that if you need to raid your emergency fund, start work on rebuilding it as quickly as possible.

Building your fund

Putting together a budget can help you to analyse how much you can afford to put away every week, fortnight or month. Then, consistently saving until you reach your goal is the key, no matter how small the amount.

It is best to keep your emergency fund separate from your everyday transaction account to reduce the chance of you using your saved funds for regular expenses. One option is to pay yourself first by setting up a direct debit, so your emergency fund grows automatically with no extra action needed from you, and to avoid the temptation to withdraw your savings.

The type of account you choose for your emergency fund is important. It should be readily available so, while shares and term deposits may offer higher returns, they are not quickly accessible when required. Shop around for a bank account that offers the highest interest to get the most out of your hard-earned income.

Building an emergency fund is an essential component of a strong financial plan, providing a safety net should something unexpected arise. If you are unsure of the best way to set up an emergency fund, we encourage you to reach out to us. We can provide guidance on the best options for your unique financial situation and help you take steps towards

i https://www.abs.gov.au/media-centre/media-releases/economic-activity-increased-05-cent-december-quarter

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.