Planning for Aged Care Webinar

Planning for Aged Care Webinar

Don’t miss our exclusive “Planning for Aged Care” seminar, specially designed to help you secure a comfortable future. With medical advancements increasing longevity, aged care is becoming a reality for more Australians. Over one million people currently receive aged care, and planning ahead is crucial for ensuring the best possible outcomes. Join us to discover: Take control of your future and make informed decisions. Secure your spot today! Speakers:

ATO flags 3 key focus areas for this tax time

ATO flags 3 key focus areas for this tax time

Australian Taxation Office As ‘tax time’ approaches, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has announced it will be taking a close look at 3 common errors being made by taxpayers: • Incorrectly claiming work-related expenses• Inflating claims for rental properties• Failing to include all income when lodging ATO Assistant Commissioner Rob Thomson said the ATO is focused on supporting taxpayers to get their lodgment right the first time. ‘These are the areas that people are most likely to get wrong, and while these mistakes are often genuine, sometimes they are deliberate. Take the time to get your return right.’ Work related expenses In 2023 more than 8 million people claimed a work-related deduction, and around half of those claimed a deduction related to working from home. Last year, the ATO revised the fixed rate method of calculating a working from home deduction to broaden what is included, increase the rate, and adjust the records you need to keep. These changes are now in full effect this financial year, meaning you must have comprehensive records to substantiate your claims as you would for any other deduction. To use this method, you need records that show the actual number of hours you worked from home (like a calendar, diary or spreadsheet), and the additional running costs you incurred to claim a deduction (like a copy of your electricity or internet bill). ‘Deductions for working from home expenses can be calculated using the actual cost or the fixed rate method, and keeping good records gives you the flexibility to use the method that works for you, and claim the expenses you are entitled to.’ ‘Copying and pasting your working from home claim from last year may be tempting, but this will likely mean we will be contacting you for a ‘please explain’. Your deductions will be disallowed if you’re not eligible or you don’t keep the right records.’ Mr Thomson said. Remember, there are 3 golden rules for claiming a deduction for any work-related expense: Rental properties Rental properties continue to remain in the ATO’s sights. Our data shows 9 out of 10 rental property owners are getting their income tax returns wrong. ‘We often see landlords making mistakes when it comes to repairs and maintenance deductions on rental properties, so we’re keeping a close eye on this.’ ‘This year, we’re particularly focused on claims that may have been inflated to offset increases in rental income to get a greater tax benefit,’ Mr Thomson said. Performing general repairs and maintenance on your rental property can be claimed as an immediate deduction. However, expenses which are capital in nature (like initial repairs on a newly purchased property and any improvements during the time you hold the property) are not deductible as repairs or maintenance. ‘You can claim an immediate deduction for general repairs like replacing damaged carpet or a broken window. But if you rip out an old kitchen and put in a new and improved one, this is a capital improvement and is only deductible over time as capital works.’ ’We encourage rental property owners to carefully review their records before lodging their return and take care to ensure they are claiming deductions correctly,’ Mr Thomson said. As reporting rental income and deductions can be complex, many individual rental owners choose to use a registered tax agent to help them prepare their income tax returns. ‘Ensuring you provide full and complete records to your registered tax agent allows them to prepare your tax return correctly, so you claim everything you’re entitled to and nothing that you’re not,’ Mr Thomson said. Get it right – Wait to lodge The ATO is also warning against rushing to lodge your tax return on 1 July. If you have received income from multiple sources, you need to wait until this is pre-filled in your tax return before lodging. ‘We see lots of mistakes in July where people have forgotten to include interest from banks, dividend income, payments from other government agencies and private health insurers,’ said Mr Thomson. For most people, this information will be automatically pre-filled in their tax return by the end of July. This will make the tax return process smoother, save you time, and help you get your tax return right. ‘By lodging in early July, you are doubling your chances of having your tax return flagged as incorrect by the ATO.’ ‘We know some prefer to tick their tax return off the to-do list early and not have to think about it for another 12 months, but the best way to ensure you get it right is to wait for just a few weeks to lodge.’ ‘You can check if your employer has marked your income statement as ‘tax ready’ as well as if your pre-fill is available in myTax before you lodge. That way, an amendment doesn’t need to be made later, which could result in unnecessary delays,’ Mr Thomson said. Source: Australian Taxation Office The information provided in this article is general in nature only and does not constitute personal financial advice.  

2024-25 Federal Budget Recap 

2024-25 Federal Budget Recap 

In his 2024 Federal Budget speech, treasurer, Jim Chalmers, announced that ‘The number one priority of this government and this Budget is helping Australians with the cost of living’.  But what exactly does that mean?   Let’s take a closer look at what the 2024 Budget proposes –   An average tax cut of $1,888 in 2024-25  The budget proposes significant tax relief for ALL Australian taxpayers to alleviate cost-of-living pressures, including reduced tax rates, adjustments to the income thresholds, and increased low-income thresholds for the Medicare levy.   This measure aims to boost disposable income and encourage economic activity by allowing Australians to retain more of their earnings.  $300 back in the pocket for ALL Australian Households  To combat rising energy costs, the government has allocated $3.5 billion for a one-time $300 energy bill rebate for all Australian households, designed to directly reduce headline inflation by about 0.5 percentage points in 2024-25 without adding to broader inflationary pressures.  This initiative also extends to one million small businesses, receiving a $325 rebate.  Superannuation contributions on paid parental leave  The 2024 budget integrates enhancements to parental leave and childcare into comprehensive support for families. It includes a $1.1 billion investment to extend superannuation contributions to government-funded Paid Parental Leave, improving financial security for new parents.   Additionally, the budget boosts childcare support, aiming to make childcare more affordable through increased subsidies, reducing the financial burden on families and supporting parents’ return to work.   These measures are part of a broader effort to provide more robust support for families and promote gender equality.  $3 billion in student debt… wiped  In an effort to alleviate the burden of education costs, the budget proposes a change to the way the government calculates HELP debt indexation, erasing $3 billion in student debt for over 3 million Australians.   An investment in education for Australians  The budget commits to reforming tertiary education and increasing vocational training funding, aligning skills training with market needs.   Specifically, it allocates $88.8 million to provide 20,000 new fee-free TAFE places, including pre-apprenticeship programs relevant to the construction industry.   Additionally, the government is introducing Commonwealth Prac Payments to support students undertaking mandatory placements, offering $319.50 per week to more than 73,000 eligible students, which includes those in fields like nursing and social work.   This investment is part of a broader effort to align skills training with labor market demands and support sectors critical to economic growth.  Supporting small businesses  To aid small businesses, the 2024 budget extends the $20,000 instant asset write-off for an additional year, enabling continued investment in necessary business equipment. This extension is designed to enhance the cash flow of small enterprises and encourage further economic activity among local businesses.   Additionally, the budget includes investments to support the mental and financial well-being of small business owners, recognising the unique challenges they face and bolstering the resources available to them for sustainable operation.  Access to affordable medicines  The budget allocates up to $3 billion to reduce the maximum PBS co-payments. This includes a one-year freeze on the maximum patient co-payment for everyone with a Medicare card and a five-year freeze for pensioners and other concession cardholders, ensuring that no pensioner or concession card holder will pay more than $7.70 for PBS-listed medications until 2030.  … And an increase to health funding  The budget allocates $888.1 million to expand mental health services. This includes funding for new and existing programs that provide critical support for individuals facing mental health challenges.    An additional $2.2 billion is directed towards improving the aged care system, and investments are made in strengthening Medicare with a focus on urgent care clinics, reducing hospital admissions, and supporting regional and remote health services.  This expansion aims to provide wider access to necessary health services, significantly improving health outcomes and making healthcare more affordable and accessible to more Australians.  A 10% increase to Commonwealth Rent Assistance  In response to the housing affordability crisis, the budget increases Commonwealth Rent Assistance by 10%, benefiting nearly 1 million households. This follows a 15% increase from the previous year, marking a substantial boost to aid renters, especially given the rising rental market costs.  Housing affordability  The government is investing $6.2 billion in new housing initiatives to tackle affordability and accessibility.   This funding supports the construction of more homes, including affordable and social housing options, addressing critical housing shortages and supporting community infrastructure development.   The 2024-25 Federal Budget is strategically focused on alleviating financial pressure through targeted support measures. By understanding and applying these benefits, Australian households can better navigate the challenges of rising living costs.  For tailored advice on how to adjust your financial plan in light of the new budget measures, consider consulting with a financial adviser or accountant. They can help you understand the specific impacts on your personal finances and strategise accordingly.  The information provided in this article is general in nature only and does not constitute personal financial advice.  

Investment Market Update

Investment Market Update

Join us as we dissect the current investment market, analysing recent trends, discussing the surge in market values and what it means for our investment portfolios. Who determines if things are overvalued? And can we time the market effectively, especially in the short term? With US equities yielding less than 2%, and giants like Microsoft, Apple, Meta, Alphabet, Amazon, Nvidia, and Tesla dominating the S&P500, what’s on the horizon? Is a correction imminent?   Robert Goudie, CFP, GradDipFP (ASIC Reg 235974) and Amy Lehmann, BBus (FinPlan), BBus (Acc) (ASIC Reg 1292710), are authorised representatives of Consortium Private Wealth Pty Ltd | ABN 74 616 250 965 AFS Licence 495401. 

Get ready for June 30 now!

Get ready for June 30 now!

When it comes to getting the most (money) from your annual tax return, there is usually a lot to think about, so we’ve identified a few options that could open the door to some opportunities to save on tax. The key here is to plan ahead. Deductions — lower your tax liability If you have some spare cash available, paying for certain expenses before June 30 could mean you get your tax break back from the ATO earlier. Expenses paid in July could leave you waiting more than 12 months for the return. A popular expense in this category is prepaying interest on an investment loan, but be careful because not all expenses qualify for a tax deduction in advance. This year the ATO is focusing on work-related expenses. If you are planning to claim expenses for things like a home office, mobile phone, tools and equipment, etc, make sure you claim only eligible expenses and have the paperwork to substantiate them. You can claim the premiums you have paid for your income protection insurance as a tax deduction. Note that you can only claim the portion of the premium that covers you for loss of income, not for any benefits of a capital nature. Premiums for other personal insurance cover such as life, critical care or trauma cannot be claimed. You also can’t claim deductions for premiums that are paid from your superannuation contributions if your policy is held in your fund. Super contributions — don’t waste the limits June 30 is not just about deductions for expenses. It’s also a good time to review your superannuation contributions to date and take advantage of the annual caps. The annual limit for these types of tax-deductible contributions is $27,500 per annum, regardless of age. If you’re an employee, this limit covers both employer super guarantee and salary sacrifice contributions. How much has your fund received in contributions so far this year? Do you need to review and adjust your current arrangements? Anyone under 65 (whether working or retired) can contribute $110,000 each year to super as after-tax or non-concessional contributions. You can also contribute $330,000 in a single year by bringing forward the limit for the following two years. But – when it comes to super there’s usually a ‘but’ – check your total super balance to ensure any extra contributions do not exceed the general balance transfer cap which is currently $1.9 million. And one final point on super contributions – the total contributed is based on how much is received by your fund, not when you sent it to the fund. Another reason why planning ahead is crucial. These are just a few ways to manage how your money is taxed. Depending on your circumstances, other options may be available. Your licensed adviser can work with you to help you achieve what is best for you this financial year. But please don’t leave it too late. The information provided in this article is general in nature only and does not constitute personal financial advice.  

Investing for Minors

Investing for Minors

Unlock the secrets to investing for minors in our latest episode! From adult-managed trusts to tax rules, we’ve got you covered. Discover strategies to mitigate tax impact and explore alternative investment options like Listed Investment Companies (LICs). Learn how to give money to children at certain ages and delve into the benefits of education bonds. Plus testamentary trust options for added protection and flexibility. Don’t miss out on valuable insights for securing your child’s financial future!   Robert Goudie, CFP, GradDipFP (ASIC Reg 235974) and Amy Lehmann, BBus (FinPlan), BBus (Acc) (ASIC Reg 1292710), are authorised representatives of Consortium Private Wealth Pty Ltd | ABN 74 616 250 965 AFS Licence 495401. 

Phases of Retirement: Go Go, Slow Go, No Go!

Phases of Retirement: Go Go, Slow Go, No Go!

“Increase the memories to reduce the regret” – Rob Goudie From the adventurous “Go-Go Years”, to the reflective “Slow-Go Years” and the contemplative “No-Go Years,” we explore the three phases of retirement, ensuring you get the very most out of every stage of retirement. Tune in for expert advice on navigating your golden years with financial confidence and zero regrets.   Robert Goudie, CFP, GradDipFP (ASIC Reg 235974) and Amy Lehmann, BBus (FinPlan), BBus (Acc) (ASIC Reg 1292710), are authorised representatives of Consortium Private Wealth Pty Ltd | ABN 74 616 250 965 AFS Licence 495401. 

Regaining financial control after a scam 

Regaining financial control after a scam 

A year before retirement, Tess’s superannuation plan was on track, and she was imagining her post-work life. With savings of $34,000 at the bank, she was looking to park it somewhere it could earn better interest while rates were rising.   Considering herself reasonably savvy with money, she began investigating her options.  After hearing about someone who’d made a fortune with cryptocurrency, Tess was intrigued and decided to look into it.   Tess researched crypto-companies and compared what was on offer. When eventually she made her decision, she believed she’d chosen the right investment – how wrong could she be!   Within hours Tess realised she’d been scammed.  Shocked and feeling ill, she reported it to ScamWatch, but over the following days the self-blame settled in.   How could she be so gullible? So naïve?  What was she thinking?! How could she have fallen for such an obvious fraud?   Who knew that financial shame was a thing? But there it was in the form of an empty bank account.  Deeply embarrassed, her financial security shattered, Tess lay awake every night berating herself; through her foolishness she’d lost all her cash savings! She became withdrawn, declined social events and refused to unburden herself, even to close friends.   Finally, in desperation, she decided to speak with a counsellor. Tess discovered organisations like Beyond Blue, ScamWatch and Lifeline offered advice and emotional support. She chose one that felt right for her.  Initially, it was difficult to open up and acknowledge her mistake, but the counsellor explained that part of her recovery was confronting her feelings head-on and realising that victims came from all cultures, backgrounds and levels of education. Feelings of humiliation and shame were normal, although unjustified, as the crooks were highly skilled criminals with access to the latest technology.  Heartened by the counsellor’s words, Tess learned to stop blaming herself and confided in her daughter Louise.  What a relief that was! Louise was gentle and supportive, and introduced Tess to her friend Jarrod, a financial adviser.  Throughout Jarrod’s career, he’d assisted innumerable people who’d fallen victim to scams. Most felt insecure and vulnerable, so his approach was to assist them with practical advice around getting their finances back on track.  He believed that Tess would benefit from a temporary, part-time job. She could rebuild her cash savings, and staying busy would distract her from her worries and help her move on.   When discussing her interests and skills, Tess mentioned she loved animals so Jarrod suggested she consider pet-minding or dog-walking, adding that he could setup the necessary insurance.  Then, Jarrod explained, that while her superannuation was on target, there was a difference between investing for retirement and investing for wealth.  Retirement investing was about saving to fund an income stream that met post-work lifestyle goals. Complying retirement funds offered tax advantages and focused on generating returns.   Conversely, investing for wealth involved accumulating assets beyond what is needed to provide retirement income.   For Tess, financial security was critical, so Jarrod considered her risk tolerance and structured a tax-efficient portfolio of growth assets to support capital appreciation and wealth accumulation.   It also meant that Tess could leave something behind for Louise – a legacy she hadn’t felt was important, until she realised how financially exposed the scam had left her.  Tess’s recovery wasn’t without its challenges. It took time and sacrifice, but along the way she developed a greater sense of independence and resilience.   She delayed retirement by a year, so she could recoup her lost savings and contribute the money from her new side hustle to her wealth portfolio.   In the end, Tess’s Dog Minding and Walking Service continued well after Tess’s retirement, for the sheer enjoyment she derived from hanging out with dogs.  The information provided in this article is general in nature only and does not constitute personal financial advice.  

How to feel financially secure

How to feel financially secure

Explore the keys to securing your financial future in our latest podcast episode. From gaining clarity and direction to sidestepping costly mistakes, we delve into the transformative benefits of professional financial advice. Tune in to discover how expert guidance can bolster your confidence, ease stress, and optimise your resources. Join us for an insightful discussion on prioritising what truly matters for your financial well-being. Take the first step towards a more secure financial future with us today!   Robert Goudie, CFP, GradDipFP (ASIC Reg 235974) and Amy Lehmann, BBus (FinPlan), BBus (Acc) (ASIC Reg 1292710), are authorised representatives of Consortium Private Wealth Pty Ltd | ABN 74 616 250 965 AFS Licence 495401. 

Avoid passing bad money habits on to your children

Avoid passing bad money habits on to your children

Generally speaking, we Australians are pretty financially savvy, that is, we understand the how and why of effectively managing our money. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean we’re actually putting that know-how into practise and making astute financial decisions.   According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the average Australian household debt has risen by 7.3% (over $260,000) in the 2021-2022 financial year. As of July 2023, Australians were paying $18.4 billion – that’s billion with a B – in credit card interest every year.  As parents, we’re role models, integral to shaping our children’s values and beliefs. Like little sponges, they absorb our behavioural patterns, pick up on signals and mimic our actions.  For us to replace bad money habits with good ones may be a big ask, particularly as they’ve evolved over the course of our lives. But the trouble is that kids are a cluey bunch, eager to learn from us, and not surprisingly, our money habits are among many characteristics we unintentionally pass onto them.  Of course, we all want the best for our children. But in this busy world, we’re pulled in so many directions at once that sometimes it’s all we can do to juggle our daily work, family, school and social lives. Who has time to consider the inadvertent messages we could be giving out?   Yet, when it comes to ensuring our children are equipped to build themselves a secure financial future, it’s worth the effort, right?   The table below shows a list of good and bad money habits that are commonly passed onto children.  Poor money habits  Good money habits Impulse buying We regularly make spur-of-the-moment purchases. Additionally, we tend to indulge our kids – we want them to be happy.  Impulsive or indulgent behaviour can inadvertently foster in children an attitude of instant gratification, normalising impulse buying.  Lead by example As a family, we discuss the difference between needs and wants. When we see something we want, we walk away and give ourselves a cooling off period to determine whether we genuinely need the item. We encourage our kids to wait for things they want, and suggest that delaying the purchase can lead to smarter choices and savings. When shopping we compare prices and identify items that offer better value.   Not budgeting  We don’t have a household budget, preferring to manage our money as it comes in. But even though we know what bills are due we often seem to have trouble getting the money together. Sometimes we run out of money before pay day.   Not budgeting can engender a culture of living pay-to-pay and children can grow up not understanding the importance of tracking spending and living within their means.  Family budgeting  We involve our children in creating and monitoring our household budget. We discuss decisions around allocating money for different purposes so that when our kids receive pocket money or gift money, they can practise budgeting by setting amounts aside for saving, spending, etc.  Credit card misuse  We rarely use cash; using a card is fast and convenient. Although occasionally we max the card out we make sure we pay off as much as we can every month. Some months, depending on expenses, we can’t manage the full balance. Cards, while useful, can cause children to perceive them as a source of unlimited money.  No free money  We have taught our children how to read our card statements. They know how to check purchases against receipts and understand how interest adds to the card balance. We involve our kids in making card payments and explain the consequences of not paying the full balance each month.  Not saving  We’ve never set up a structured savings plan so have little-to-no savings. We’d like to take a holiday or have a nestegg for emergencies but there never seems to be any money left over at the end of the pay cycle. Children seeing parents struggling to save may not learn the value of saving or setting goals.  Set goals, save We stick to our budget and always try to allocate a portion of income towards savings, and encourage our kids to do the same. We get them to set short-term goals like saving for a new toy or book, and long-term goals like an outing or a larger purchase, and then help them create a savings plan to achieve their goals. We make it fun by using a visual chart to track progress and when they reach their goal, we celebrate the achievement, making a special occasion out of buying the item or attending the event.  Failing to discuss  We never talk about money with our kids. They have a limited understanding of how money is earned and how we use it. Failing to discuss how money is earned can lead to children not grasping the concept of money as a finite resource, and appreciating its value. Widespread use of credit cards or taking cash from ATMs suggests that money is readily accessible.   Have the conversation  We have always been open with our kids about the household finances. We want them to understand that money needs to be earned, and if not used wisely and allocated appropriately, it can run out. We have also provided the opportunity for them to earn pocket money for doing age-appropriate household chores.  If we can make time to examine the way we view and use money, and replace poor habits with good ones, we can positively influence our kids by:  As parents we have a limited opportunity to equip our children with tools like, knowledge, confidence and forward planning skills – before they decide they know more than us!   So, by modelling good financial behaviour ourselves, we can instil the habits that will set our children up for a life of financial freedom.   I don’t know about you, but if I can achieve that, I’ll know that I’ve done what I can to enable the next generation to succeed and thrive.   What a legacy!  The information provided in this article is general in nature only…

Couple Goals: Making money work in a relationship

Couple Goals: Making money work in a relationship

Join us for a candid discussion on managing finances as a couple… We explore the dynamics of handling money when there’s a single breadwinner, aligning financial goals, and seeking advice when needed. Discover the keys to understanding each other’s money stories, navigating crucial conversations, and tackling tensions in relationships caused by finances. Tune in for insights on building financial harmony in your relationship!   Robert Goudie, CFP, GradDipFP (ASIC Reg 235974) and Amy Lehmann, BBus (FinPlan), BBus (Acc) (ASIC Reg 1292710), are authorised representatives of Consortium Private Wealth Pty Ltd | ABN 74 616 250 965 AFS Licence 495401. 

Is Worker’s Compensation Enough? 

Is Worker’s Compensation Enough? 

No matter what kind of job you have, there is always a possibility of falling sick or getting injured, regardless of the type of work you do.  That’s why every Australian workplace has a health and safety obligation to provide a safe work premises, assess risk and have workers compensation insurance.   What is worker’s compensation?  Worker’s compensation is a form of insurance payment paid to employees if they are injured at work or become sick due to their employment. Payments may cover:   The injury or illness must be work-related to receive worker’s compensation benefits.   Protection at work   A report released by Safe Work Australia in 2023 showed:  Whilst worker’s compensation offers some level of protection, it still only protects you for injuries or illnesses that occur at work or as a direct result of work – and then any claim made must meet eligibility requirements. Entitlements and eligibility for payments vary from state to state in Australia.  If you suffer from an injury or illness that does not qualify for a workers’ compensation payment, there’s a real possibility that you could be left without income to support yourself and pay for the costs of the medical condition.   (An important side note – If you’re self-employed, a sole trader or an independent contractor, you may not be covered under any worker’s compensation scheme, in which case you will need to organise your own protection.)  The best way to cover the gap  While worker’s compensation is beneficial, it may not provide enough financial support for you and your family, even if you have a successful claim.  Considering that the vast majority of Australians suffer from injuries and illnesses not related to work, relying on worker’s compensation alone may leave you short on financial protection.   So, how can you ensure you have the best safety to protect yourself when you can’t work?   Income Protection  Income Protection goes to work when you can’t and can cover you for well beyond what worker’s compensation may provide.  Although worker’s compensation might provide some coverage for injuries and illnesses sustained at work, including Income Protection in your personal protection plan can give you peace of mind knowing that you’re covered in various situations, both at and outside of work. This way, your ability to earn an income will be secured.  If you want to explore your options for Income Protection, get in touch with your financial adviser today.  The information provided in this article is general in nature only and does not constitute personal financial advice.  

From Budgets to Bliss: Tips for Aussie Families

From Budgets to Bliss: Tips for Aussie Families

Join us as we explore the financial journey of a typical Australian couple, late 30s, with two young children and an annual income of $150,000. With expenses at $70,000 annually, we discuss strategies for asset allocation, personal insurance, estate planning, inflation considerations, and children’s future needs. Tune in for insights that will help any Aussie household aiming for financial security and peace of mind. Robert Goudie, CFP, GradDipFP (ASIC Reg 235974) and Amy Lehmann, BBus (FinPlan), BBus (Acc) (ASIC Reg 1292710), are authorised representatives of Consortium Private Wealth Pty Ltd | ABN 74 616 250 965 AFS Licence 495401. 

Charting a course to financial recovery 

Charting a course to financial recovery 

Australian Bureau of Statistics, (ABS) figures indicate that between 2017-2018 and 2019-2020 total average household debt rose from $190,000 to $204,000.  That’s an increase of over 7% in two years!  The reasons why would make for an interesting study, however a more pressing question might be what can we do about it?   Combine high levels of debt with rising interest rates and a cost-of-living crisis, and it’s no surprise that Australian households are reaching out to Debt Management (DM) companies to help regain control of their finances.  DM companies are private organisations that can assist by:  Sometimes, DM companies repay your debts – to a specified limit – and you repay them under a single loan arrangement. Terms and payment amounts can be negotiated, offering a beacon of hope and a sense that you’re taking back control.  If this sounds like the perfect solution, remember that for every pro, there’s usually a con. For example:  While weighing the pros and cons of a DM service, here are a few do-it-yourself strategies for consideration.  Budgeting  Creating a budget is a 3-step process.  The government’s Moneysmart website lists easy ways of cutting back everyday spending.  Negotiating  Rather than customers defaulting, most banks and utilities companies prefer to negotiate repayment terms, sometimes even offering assistance programs.    The key is to reach out before it’s too late. Be upfront about your situation and willing to arrive at a mutually beneficial arrangement.   Remember, nobody wins when debts are not paid.  Government assistance  The Australian government provides a range of financial assistance packages and interest-free loans depending on circumstances. These include crisis payments for unexpected situations, and income support payments for cost of living expenses.  Of course there are conditions, but further information, including application criteria, is available from the MyGov website.   Financial counselling   Financial counsellors help you understand your financial position and assist you to navigate your way out of difficulty.  Some local communities offer free, or low-cost, financial literacy programs, aimed at providing education about money and debt reduction.  Everyone’s financial position is unique. There’s no one-size-fits-all, so it’s important that your action plan is specific to your needs and that you’re 100% comfortable with any decisions you make.  If you’re uncertain, seek the assistance of a qualified financial planner.   What’s crucial is that you do something; being proactive is empowering and sets you on the path to financial recovery.   The information provided in this article is general in nature only and does not constitute personal financial advice.  

How to retire on $650,000 as a couple

How to retire on $650,000 as a couple

Unlock the secrets to retiring comfortably as a couple with $650,000 in superannuation and savings. From determining spending limits to optimising tax structures, we cover it all. Learn how to maximise your Centrelink pension benefits while safeguarding assets for the surviving partner, including leveraging exemptions and exploring the Home Equity Access Scheme. Dive into estate planning considerations, including wills and superannuation strategies, and gain practical tips for navigating income and assets tests to maximise pension entitlements. Don’t miss out on expert insights to help you retire confidently.   MyValues website: https://www.myvalues.org.au/ Robert Goudie, CFP, GradDipFP (ASIC Reg 235974) and Amy Lehmann, BBus (FinPlan), BBus (Acc) (ASIC Reg 1292710), are authorised representatives of Consortium Private Wealth Pty Ltd | ABN 74 616 250 965 AFS Licence 495401.   

Achieving financial freedom 

Achieving financial freedom 

What does financial freedom mean to you? The ability to travel the world and build a dream home? Or to be able to enjoy a simple but active retirement, and support some good causes?   We all have different desires and goals in life, but most of us share the dream that one day we would like to achieve our particular version of ‘financial freedom’. The challenge is that most of us don’t really know what it takes to turn our goals, be they vague wishes or burning desires, into reality.   However, with just a little bit of forethought, some expert advice, and by acting on that advice, we are much more likely to reach that goal of financial freedom.  Making the list  Your key ally in achieving financial freedom is your financial adviser, and amongst the most important things your adviser will need to know is what your goals are. So make a list and prioritise it. Which of your goals are essential, and which ones are you willing to compromise on?  Reality check   Just as we have different goals, so do we have different financial resources. One of the first things your adviser will do is run a reality check. Given your income and expenditure, job outlook, health and family situation, are your goals realistic and achievable?   Your adviser will also check if key goals are missing. For example, life insurance can be an essential tool for protecting your family’s future financial freedom, yet many people overlook it.  With the big picture now clear, your adviser can develop strategies that will bring that goal of financial freedom closer to fruition.   Perfect timing  When’s the perfect time to start your journey to financial freedom?  Today.   Because the sooner you get started, the sooner your goals will be achieved.   So think about your goals and desires. Importantly, write them down. Then make an appointment to sit down with your financial adviser, and take those critical first steps towards achieving your financial freedom.  The information provided in this article is general in nature only and does not constitute personal financial advice.  

Smart investing: Strategies for 1K, 5K & 50K budgets

Smart investing: Strategies for 1K, 5K & 50K budgets

Join us as we explore practical investment strategies for budgets ranging from $1,000 to $50,000. Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned investor, we offer actionable advice on fund allocation and risk management. Discover low-cost options, diversification techniques, and insights into market dynamics. Learn how to navigate the investment world and achieve financial success… Robert Goudie, CFP, GradDipFP (ASIC Reg 235974) and Amy Lehmann, BBus (FinPlan), BBus (Acc) (ASIC Reg 1292710), are authorised representatives of Consortium Private Wealth Pty Ltd | ABN 74 616 250 965 AFS Licence 495401.   

What 2023 taught us about Investing

What 2023 taught us about Investing

Join us as we unravel the key lessons, insights, and market trends that shaped the investment landscape over the past year. We’re breaking down the important stuff—what worked, what didn’t, and what we can learn from it all. Whether you’re a seasoned investor or just starting out, this episode is packed with easy-to-understand insights that can help you make smarter money moves. Tune in for a simple, practical guide to what 2023 taught us about investing.   Robert Goudie, CFP, GradDipFP (ASIC Reg 235974) and Amy Lehmann, BBus (FinPlan), BBus (Acc) (ASIC Reg 1292710), are authorised representatives of Consortium Private Wealth Pty Ltd | ABN 74 616 250 965 AFS Licence 495401.   

Building financial resilience 

Building financial resilience 

Resilience is the ability to quickly recover from setbacks, and while setbacks can come in many forms most of them will have a financial component. So what can you do to build financial resilience?  Expect the unexpected  Rarely do we get advance warning that something bad is about to happen to us, so the time to develop your resilience strategy is now. And while we don’t know the specifics, we can anticipate events that would throw our finances into disarray. A house burning down or a car being stolen. Not being able to work due to illness or injury. The death of a breadwinner or caregiver.   With some idea of the type of threat we face we may be able to insure against some of them. If you have taken out any type of insurance policy you’ve already made a start on your resilience plan.  Create buffers  You can’t insure against every possibility, but you can build financial buffers. This might simply be a savings account that you earmark as your emergency fund that you contribute to each payday. If your home loan offers a redraw facility you can also create a buffer by getting ahead on your mortgage repayments.   Buffers can be particularly important for retirees drawing a pension from their super fund. Redeeming growth assets for cash in order to make pension payments during a market downturn can lead to a depletion of capital and reduction in how long the money will last. By maintaining a cash buffer of, say, two year’s worth of pension payments, redemptions of growth assets can be deferred, giving time for the market to recover.  Cut costs  The Internet abounds with tips on how to cut costs and save money. In difficult economic times cost cutting can help you maintain your financial buffers and important insurances.   Key to cost cutting is tracking your income and expenditure and yes, that means doing a budget. Find the right budgeting app for you and this chore could actually be fun.  Invest in quality  There are many companies out there that have long track records of consistently pumping out profits and dividends. They may not be as exciting (i.e. volatile) as the latest techno fad stocks but when markets get the jitters these blue chip companies are more likely to maintain their value than the newcomers.  This is important. The more volatile a portfolio the more likely an investor is to sell down into a declining market. This turns paper losses into real ones, depriving the investor the opportunity to ride the market back up again.  The other key tool in creating resilient portfolios is diversification. Buying a range of investments both within and across the major asset classes is a fundamental strategy for managing portfolio volatility.  With a well-diversified portfolio of quality assets there is less need to regularly buy and sell individual investments. Unnecessary trading can create ‘tax drag’ where the realisation of even a marginal   capital gain triggers a capital gains tax event and consequent reduction in portfolio value.  Take advice  Building financial resilience can be a complicated process requiring an understanding of a range of issues that need to be balanced against one another and prioritised. Your financial planner is ideally placed to assist you in developing your own, personalised plan for financial resilience.   The information provided in this article is general in nature only and does not constitute personal financial advice.  

Active or Index Funds: What’s Your Best Bet? 

Active or Index Funds: What’s Your Best Bet? 

Ever glanced at a list of different managed funds and wondered why some have remarkably low fees compared to others? Chances are, the ones with lower fees are index funds, also known as passive funds.   Over the last couple of decades, index investing has become increasingly popular, with big players like Vanguard and Blackrock managing trillions of dollars in assets (as of 2022).  Before we dive into the reasons and consequences of this trend, let’s break down the two main investment styles:  Active Investing:  Index Investing:  So, why has index investing gained so much ground?  1. Lower Fees: 2. Performance Challenges:  For instance, at the end of 2022, 58% of Australian General Equity funds returned below the index. Over 5-, 10-, and 15-year horizons, the underperformance proportions were 81%, 78%, and 83%, respectively. Similar trends are observed in international equity markets.  While choosing index funds may seem logical, it’s essential to consider their underlying premise. Returns come from income (like dividends) and changes in capital value over time. However, for the latter to happen, there must be market activity—investors trading securities. If everyone exclusively invested in indexes, the market would cease to exist.  Index investing doesn’t screen shares, meaning investors get exposure to both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ companies. Also, there are no exclusions based on environmental, social, or governance (ESG) criteria, which some investors prioritise.  In the active versus index debate, there’s no clear right or wrong. Many investor portfolios combine both approaches. Index funds or ETFs are often used for broad exposure, while active investment may be reserved for specialised exposure, such as smaller companies, property, or infrastructure.  Regardless of your choice—active, index, or a mix—the fundamental principles of investing still apply: diversification and time in the market are key to building long-term wealth.  The information provided in this article is general in nature only and does not constitute personal financial advice.  

Nailing your job hunt: A guide for school leavers

Nailing your job hunt: A guide for school leavers

Every January, countless school leavers across Australia embark on their job-hunting journey. A NSW Government survey conducted in 2021 found that of 42,388 secondary school leavers, approximately 50% continued to higher education, while the remaining 50% chose to seek employment (14% apprenticeship; 13% part-time work; 8% full-time work; 7% looking for work; 5% traineeship; 3% other). That’s roughly 21,000 job-seekers – in NSW alone – hitting the employment market all at once! Extrapolate that across all of Australia, and you see where this is going. Given that a single job advertisement might attract scores of applicants, how can you stand out from the crowd? Drawing attention to your resume is easily achieved with little effort. Consider these points: Soft skills Don’t think you have experience? Think again! Perhaps you’ve done volunteer work, played a team sport, performed in a school play or fed the neighbour’s cat while they travelled. A positive attitude, ability to articulate an idea, reliability, problem solve or work in a team are considered soft skills – and they’re highly prized. Your activities and hobbies tell employers a lot about you. Showcase them on your resume and talk about them during interviews. Resilience and EI Employers value candidates demonstrating emotional intelligence (EI) and resilience. EI behaviours include: taking constructive criticism, displaying empathy and patience with others, resolving conflicts, awareness of cultural sensitivities, etc. Characteristics of resilience include: bouncing-back from setbacks, willingness to change, etc. When you provide examples of these attributes, potential employers gain an insight into how you communicate, develop relationships, support others and motivate yourself and those around you. Digital literacy Get familiar with the corporate software and tools specific to your chosen industry. Study advertised position descriptions to understand what companies are using and their expectations of candidates. Resources like LinkedInLearning have literally thousands of online courses. There may be a subscription fee but – huge tip – many local libraries include free LinkedInLearning access as part of your library membership. Prospective employers will be impressed with your effort to upskill yourself and your commitment to ongoing learning. Your brand Conduct a self-audit of your digital presence. Employers often check social media profiles so it’s important your online views and attitudes align with your professional image. Get active on business platforms like LinkedIn, and share and comment on industry content. Build a network by connecting with professionals in your chosen field and attending business events or workshops. Don’t be afraid to reach out for guidance – most people will be pleased to help. Write a schmick resume Check out the government’s Job Jumpstart website (www.jobjumpstart.gov.au) for hints and a whole lot more on writing effective resumes and cover letters. And here’s another big tip: never underestimate the value of correct spelling and punctuation. If you don’t know the difference between their, there and they’re, or your, you’re and yore, polish your grammar skills and don’t rely on spell-check. And finally… Get interview ready. Anticipate questions and practice responding. Remember that there are very few opportunities in life where you’ll be encouraged to talk about yourself and your achievements. So, without being arrogant or braggy, relax and enjoy the moment. If you’re not successful in securing the job, handle it with professionalism and think about where you might improve. Consider it a learning experience rather than failure! Entering the workforce, applying and interviewing for jobs, can be daunting. But when you do land that gig, there’s no buzz to compare with earning your own money. You’ve made it and you’re announcing to the world: I’m on my way, just try and stop me! The information provided in this article is general in nature only and does not constitute personal financial advice.  

Quarterly Economic Update: Oct – Dec 2023

Quarterly Economic Update: Oct – Dec 2023

Global growth is forecast to slow and remain below its historical average in 2024, reflective of tighter monetary policy in advanced economies, as well as a soft outlook for China. Australians can expect higher prices, higher interest rates and higher population growth, with economic growth and unemployment decreasing. Inflation continues to bite With a new Governor at the helm of the RBA, and inflation tracking down since its peak in the December quarter 2022, public sentiment hoped that rate rises would be paused. However, the RBA delivered another rate hike at the November 2023 meeting, bringing the official interest rate to 4.35% – the highest level since 2011. It is likely that an increase in the monthly CPI indicator was a key trigger for the RBA to raise rates, as the monthly indicator rose to 5.2 per cent in August, and then rose again to 5.6 per cent in the September data. However, the next monthly data point, for October (which came out after the November rate rise) had inflation decreasing to 4.9 per cent. Services inflation remains high and was the primary driver of stronger-than-expected underlying inflation in the September quarter. Interest rates – will they or won’t they? The RBA continues to be cautious about the inflation outlook for Australia for several reasons: high and sticky inflation in the services market, house prices recovering sooner than anticipated, a tight labour market and increasing population growth due to migration. A survey of 40 economists by the Australian Financial Review shows that the median forecast is that the RBA will start cutting rates in September 2024, whilst the bond market is projecting an easing of rates by mid-2024. The RBA will meet only eight times in 2024, reduced from 11, beginning in February – following an independent review ordered by the Treasury. Coupled with the RBA governor’s commitment to return inflation to the target range of 2-3%, more rate hikes may be on the cards. Holiday spending to remain flat A survey by Roy Morgan forecast shoppers to spend $66.8 billion during the pre-Christmas sales period, only up 0.1% from the same period in 2022, likely as a result of cost of living impacts. Sales spending for the Boxing Day period to December 31 was expected to be about $9 billion, including $3 billion on Boxing Day itself, as retailers prepared larger discounts than usual after a slow year. Hot Property House and unit prices grew steadily in 2023, with a national annual growth rate of 5.42% (6.54% in capital cities). The main drivers include the highest net overseas migration levels ever recorded, few vacant properties and stronger demand for established homes due to the construction industry facing capacity and cost issues. This growth forecast is expected to continue as most experts believe demand for housing will continue to outstrip supply. However, Australia’s cost of living increases and interest rate uncertainty will keep biting—leading to weaker price growth than previous years. The rental market remains in a critical shortage of available dwellings according to SQM Research. Due to the ongoing supply and demand imbalance, the market is expecting capital city rental increases of 7-10% for 2024, on top of an average 10% market increase in 2023. The information provided in this article is general in nature only and does not constitute personal financial advice.  

Post Christmas Sales – A Survival Guide 

Post Christmas Sales – A Survival Guide 

We’ve all experienced it… the undeniable allure of post-Christmas sales.   No sooner has Christmas wrapped up for the year than the frenzy of Boxing Day Sales descends upon us.  Every store window beckons, and our inboxes overflow with promises of unbeatable discounts.  But before you indulge in some festive leftovers and make a beeline for the air-conditioned wonderland of sales, let’s take a moment to pause and ponder…   Is that shiny, discounted gadget truly a necessity?   Do those new outfits genuinely add value to your wardrobe?   Or might there be a wiser way to allocate your hard-earned money?  The Allure and Reality of Post-Christmas Sales  The holiday season often leaves our wallets feeling lighter than usual.   Australia’s festive spending reached an eye-watering $74.5 billion in 2022, marking an 8.6% increase from the previous year, according to the Australian Retailers Association.   And Boxing Day? A whopping $1.23 billion was spent in just 24 hours!   These figures aren’t just numbers; they paint a picture of our collective weakness for a good holiday sale.  But here’s the other side of the coin: while sales can offer genuine bargains, they also come with pitfalls. The risk of accumulating more debt is a very real reality for many shoppers, especially with credit cards already stretched thin from holiday shopping.   And let’s face it, impulse purchases can often lead to buyer’s remorse and an overstuffed home.  The Merits of Post-Christmas Sales  While the post-Christmas sales period often comes with warnings of overspending, it’s not all doom and gloom.  When approached with a well-thought-out strategy, these sales can be a great opportunity to secure essential items—be it electronics, clothing, or household goods—at a fraction of their original prices.   But how can one truly benefit without falling into the common traps? The key lies in being discerning.   With a bit of planning and restraint, the post-Christmas sales can be both enjoyable and economically rewarding.  Smart Money Moves Beyond Sales  It’s easy to forget about your bigger picture goals when there are neon signs screaming discounts of 50% OFF or more!  But remember, every dollar spent is a dollar less saved… or put towards those bigger picture goals.    Before you fall prey to the post-Christmas sales, consider these alternatives:  Save for a Rainy Day: Life is unpredictable. Having a safety net can make all the difference.  Debt Reduction: Free yourself from the burden of debt, by paying down your credit cards and/or any loans you have.   Invest: Think stocks, bonds, or other avenues to grow your wealth. (Hello Financial Freedom!)  Financial Goals: Would you rather a new outfit?  Or to be one step closer to that dream holiday, new car, or first home?    Post-Christmas sales can be both a treasure trove and a minefield. The choice is yours.   This festive season don’t succumb blindly to the allure of holiday sale discounts. Instead, either purchase your “need to have” items (remember, be discerning here!), or skip the sales completely and opt to put the money towards your financial goals!   Here’s to spending wisely, and a financially savvy new year!  The information provided in this article is general in nature only and does not constitute personal financial advice.  

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