Cash flow and Budgeting News

Your income serves as the foundation for your lifestyle and financial goals. All of your income and spending must be identified, quantified, and tracked.

Read our insights on the latest news, trends and changes related to Cash flow and budgeting.

My thoughts on Pocket Money

Just like any other parenting choice, the topic of pocket money is one that chocks up the online forums, and everyone has an opinion.

Our kids are now at the age where pocket money has entered the chat, and the extra pressure to get it right as we are both financial advisers always weighs heavy! I thought it would be worth sharing my thinking about this, and maybe you can take some ideas away for your own family.

It is essential to first form your family philosophy—the actual mechanics can be very simple, but as we know, the emotional and psychological underpinnings of money are far from it. Some questions to think of as a family:

  • Does pocket money need to be earned, or is it a UBI style set amount per week?
  • If earned, how is it earned?
  • How much is appropriate?
  • How will your children know the value of money once received?
  • Will your children be required to purchase some of the ‘extras’ normally purchased by parents?
  • Will you set incentives for the use of money, e.g. extra dollars if it is saved, invested or donated rather than spent straight away?
  • Are there lessons you want to impart on trading time for money, or producing something of value for money? For example, you may say, ‘Do X job for the household for X dollars’, or something like ‘Can you figure out a way to save X in electricity/groceries? And if you do, then you can have half the difference per month’.

On the topic of kids starting an income producing business, I would put it outside the realm of “pocket money”, but it is also worth discussing.

I know personally, I would like my kids to learn they need to put in work to be able to earn money, but I also don’t want them asking for each basic household task, ‘Will I get money for this?’ (This actually happened, and it horrified me).

 

I love the bucket strategy of spend, save, invest, donate – as this mindset can carry them right through to adulthood and spawns many subsequent lessons along the way. I will also try to mimic the different real life implications of saving, investing and donating—the earnings and tax deductions—that the dopamine hit of extra money or helping people can be just as strong as the instant gratification of spending immediately.

Another concept I love is getting older kids involved in your household budget to help look for savings that they can get a piece of/benefit out of. I have heard a great story about a teen shopping around the internet and utilities and creating a family meal plan that saved enough for them in bills and groceries to take a family holiday. Great lessons in budgeting, but also saving money on commodity-style items to direct to things that bring you joy.

Would love to hear any tips from readers as to things you felt work with your kids or grandkids or something maybe your parents did that sticks with you, and please email them through to rhiannon@pekada.com.au!

 

 

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Financial moves to make in your 30’s

I recently turned 30. It’s a strange age. Some of your friends have settled down and have children, whilst others are backpacking around southeast Asia. Some are looking to purchase an investment property, whilst others are hosting big parties in their shared house of ten. Regardless of which stage you are at, the thirties are an excellent chance to take some of that ‘grown-up medicine’ and to look to start to get our finances in order; here are some places to start.

 

1. Set some goals:

Money is just the vehicle towards helping you live your best life. Everyone will have different goals, so your financial plan should be different. If you’re the type of person who wants to live overseas, then buying a house because you feel like you should and others are telling you to may not be the best option. Once we have goals, it’s easier to know what we must do to achieve them. Otherwise, we can continue on a road to nowhere.

 

2. Review what you currently have: 

Personal finances are usually left or pushed into the too-hard basket. You may not be as passionate about it as I am and, therefore, lack the motivation to think about it (completely normal). Simple things like reviewing what you currently have can pay big dividends.

Review your superannuation and make sure that your fund is appropriate. Check about how your fund has been performing compared to others. Please have a look at your investment options within your super and make sure that it’s appropriate for you. Think about whether or not you would like to be invested in an ethical and environmentally friendly manner and see if your current investments align with that.

You should also review what insurance you have. If you have young children or some debt with a partner, such as a home loan, then life cover could be critical. If you’re working and rely on your income to live, then you need income protection. Insurances aren’t sexy, and not many people like paying for them, but if something goes wrong and you don’t have them, it can create financial pain that can be hard to recover from.

 

3. Build an emergency fund:

Life is unpredictable, and unexpected expenses can arise at any time. Aim to build an emergency fund with three to six months’ living expenses. This financial cushion will provide peace of mind and help you avoid dipping into your savings or investments during tough times.

 

4. Look towards the future:

Investing is a powerful tool for building wealth over time. It can be slow to start with, but compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world; the earlier you start, the more rewards you reap. Putting some surplus cash towards investments that have growth potential can help you fund some future goals you may have as well. There are options for all different starting balances, so you don’t need to wait and put it off any longer.

 

5. Stop paying the lazy tax:

Only some people love to have a strict budget in place, and if that’s you, there are things we can do to get our cash flow under control. Reviewing your expenses is essential; a lot of little savings can add up, especially when everything is getting more expensive.

Have a particular look at your subscriptions, whether they be streaming services or gym memberships and make sure you’re using them and getting value out of them. If not, look at ending them or looking at alternatives.

The lazy tax can also apply to your banking. We often choose a bank early on in life and stick to it. Review your interest rate and ensure that what you are getting stacks up. This can also apply to your home loan if you have one. It can pay to do some research, as there are often no rewards for loyalty in this area.  

 

7. Estate Planning:

It’s never too early to think about estate planning, especially if you have dependents. Setting up a will now can last until your situation changes and doesn’t need to be too difficult or costly. It will mean that your wishes will be carried out if something happens to you.

 

8. Reach out if you’re unsure:

For some people, discussing personal finances is like speaking another language, but seeking guidance from a good adviser can help simplify the situation. A good adviser should also be able to educate you along the way. Using your money in the best way possible is important, so don’t let it fall by the wayside just because you’re unsure where to start.

 

As always, we are here to help. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at zac@pekada.com.au

 

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Big hat, No cattle

 

Most of us don’t like being asked how much money we make.

We’ve gotten really good, however, at building a material world around us that implies great wealth, even if the reality is something else entirely.

With our cars, our houses, and the clothes we wear, we are constantly signaling what we want the world to think about the very question we hate to answer.

And while we often treat these material things as a sign of our success, in reality, they’re usually just a front. In fact, most of us would be better off (financially speaking) buying a less expensive car and putting the leftover money into mutual funds.

Ironically, if we all just walked around with a big sign around our necks saying how much we make, we wouldn’t have to do all this posturing and pretending. Our relationship with money would change considerably if our financial decisions were transparent to the world.

For instance, what if the home in which we live could no longer hide that we’ve saved nothing for retirement?

Maybe then we would find it easier to focus on the financial choices that help us instead of hurt us.

 

 

 

 

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Retirement Villages explained

Whether you or a loved one is considering a move into a retirement village, it can be a lot of information to process. Below, I run through some of the main things to know and consider when transitioning to a retirement village, including:

  • Occupancy and ownership structures,
  • Fees and charges payable, 
  • Homeownership rules for Centrelink,
  • Moving from the retirement village into residential aged care.

 

What is a retirement village?

Retirement villages are communities that generally provide accommodation, facilities and services to people over 55 and retired from full-time employment. Accommodation varies from independent living in self-contained units to assisted living in serviced units.

 

The occupancy and ownership structures

There are a variety of occupancy and ownership structures. Still, it is important to know that the most common form of occupancy and ownership structures are:

 

Leasehold and loan and licence arrangement (84%):  

  • Leasehold where the resident leases a unit from the village operator, is usually via a lease for 99 years or more. It is registered with the Land Titles Office.
  • Loan and licence arrangement where the resident provides the village operator with an interest-free loan in exchange for a license to occupy a unit (mainly offered by not-for-profit organisations). The licence is not registered with the Land Titles Office.

 

Strata title (11%) 

  • Strata title where the resident purchases a unit from the village operator or previous resident (mainly offered by for-profit organisations). The resident is the registered owner with the Land Titles Office.

 

Company title and unit trust (3%).

  • Company title structure is where the resident purchases shares in a company that owns the retirement village. These shares give the resident the right to occupy a unit in the retirement village.

 

Other structures

  • A unit trust where the resident purchases units in a trust, and the trustee owns the retirement village.
  • Rental arrangements where the resident rents a unit from the village operator under a residential tenancy agreement.

 

What are the costs, fees and charges?

What you have to pay and when varies based on the structure and agreement you choose, so always be sure to fully understand these before making a decision.

It can be confusing with different names/labels for all of the costs, but in a nutshell, they can be categorised as:

  • Entry price/Contribution,
  • Ongoing costs,
  • Departure/Exit fee.

 

Entry price/contribution

  • Simply the initial entry price paid when the resident moves in. 
  • It is a one-off payment negotiated between the resident and the village operator or previous resident.
  • A common entry contribution is under a loan-lease arrangement where a zero-interest loan is paid to the retirement village on entry.
  • Another type of entry contribution that non-profit organisations may charge is a donation payable on entry. 

 

Ongoing cost/fees

  • Residents will pay fees to contribute towards ongoing maintenance and management of the retirement village. This amount varies and is usually based on a budget for the entire village and spread across the residents. 
  • Ongoing fees may also include contributions to a ‘works fund’ for major improvements to the retirement village. 
  • Depending on the structure, residents may also pay for the cost of separately metered utilities or a shared cost divided among the residents.
  • Additional services, which are usually charged on a user-pays basis, can include things such as cleaning, meals, laundry and other personal services. These additional costs are a variable where a resident would only pay for what they use. 
  • Note that residents may have to continue paying for ongoing maintenance costs after they move out of the retirement village until a new resident moves in. There are limits that apply to these amounts.

 

Departure/exit fees

  • These can be referred to as departure fee, departure refund, deferred entry fees or deferred management fees. 
  • The exit fee is usually calculated as a percentage per year of either the entry price or resale price up to a maximum percentage. The fee is then often deducted from the money the resident is to receive back. 
  • The refund of the resident’s capital is determined by the type of legal and financial arrangement.

Homeownership rules for Centrelink purposes

This table sets out the homeownership status, asset test assessment and eligibility for rent assistance which is determined by whether the amount paid as an entry contribution exceeds the extra-allowable amount

To determine whether a resident is considered a homeowner for Centrelink purposes, the entry contribution (EC) is compared with the Extra Allowable Amount (EAA). The EAA is the difference between the homeowner and non-homeowner lower assets test thresholds (currently $242,000).

 

 

 

How can we help?

If you want to discuss your planning strategy to transition to a retirement village, then please get in touch and book a chat with one of our advisers.

 

 

 

Note: The information in this article is current as at 2 October 2023 unless otherwise specified.

 

 

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Making travel part of your financial plan

Whenever I sit in front of a client, one of the things that we try to do in an initial meeting is to scope out what is important to them. This can be goals such as retiring, upgrading the family home, ensuring children are financially cared for, etc. One desire that often pops up is travel; it forms many people’s wants’ when discussing what is important to them. 

Having just returned from six weeks in Europe and still coming to terms with this Melbourne weather, I can understand the importance of getting away and having a break, along with the joy that can come from the memories you create. Travel isn’t necessarily cheap and is something that needs to be planned for so that we can ensure that it happens. In this blog, I will outline ways to make travel part of your financial plan so that these holidays happen!

 

Set Clear Goals

The first part of any sound financial plan is working out what is important to you and defining your goals. You can determine where your spare cash flow needs to go by sitting down and working out what is most important to you. When you spend money on travel, it’s money that you could have allocated to other areas, such as debt reduction or retirement planning, so it’s essential to understand what goals you have and what impacts spending money on things such as travel can have on your future financial plans. 

In life, we may have many goals and competing priorities, so it becomes crucial to sit down and work out your non-negotiables and areas you are willing to compromise to ensure that the non-negotiables happen. This is where financial modelling helps to see the opportunity cost of spending money on specific goals and preceding others so you can make an informed decision. 

 

Create a Travel Fund

To make travel part of your financial plan, establish a dedicated travel fund or savings account without the potential for capital loss. Set up automatic transfers from your main account to this fund regularly; I like to do this each day I get paid so the funds fly out of my account immediately. This “pay yourself first” approach ensures you prioritize your travel goals and build your fund steadily over time. Having the funds sit somewhere separate with a specific function makes you more likely to hit your travel goal. 

 

Create a Travel Budget

When planning a trip, create a detailed travel budget. This budget should include all anticipated expenses, such as flights, accommodation, meals, activities, and travel insurance. Research your destination thoroughly to get accurate cost estimates. Having a clear budget will help you save and plan for your trips effectively and ensure that your holiday doesn’t cost you more than expected. 

 

Use Travel Rewards and Loyalty Programs

Make the most of travel rewards and loyalty programs from credit cards, airlines, and hotels. These programs can significantly save flights, accommodation, and other travel expenses. Credit cards may even include travel insurance, which can be a good saving if you are a regular traveller. However, it’s always essential to use them responsibly and avoid racking up a big credit card bill travelling. It is also vital to ensure that any fees associated with these cards make sense and provide value for your travel type. 

 

Travelling the world doesn’t have to be at odds with your financial future. With some planning and specific actions, you can easily make travel an integral part of your financial plan. As I often speak about in my blogs, we preach lifestyle-focused financial planning. Travel is important to me, and while it may cost money, money is just the vehicle to help you achieve your goals. With the right financial plan and strategy, you can achieve travel and still be able to hit future goals you may have. 

As always, if you have any questions or need help to make holidays happen, feel free to contact me via email at zac@pekada.com.au

 

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What is the government super co-contribution?

If you’re making less than $58,445 in the 2023/24 financial year, and at least 10% of that comes from your job or a business, consider putting extra money into your super after taxes. 

If you do and meet specific criteria, the Government might chip in with up to $500 into your super account—which is a fantastic percentage return on investment! 

 

How the super co-contribution works

You get the full co-contribution if you make a voluntary non-concessional (after-tax) super contribution of $1,000 and earn $43,445 a year or less. If you put in less than $1,000 or earn between $43,445 and $58,445 a year, you might still get something, but only part of the amount. 

Just remember that what you earn, including regular income, certain benefits, and employer super contributions, counts here. 

 

Things to consider

  • Remember, once you put money into your super fund, you can’t take it out until you reach a certain age or meet specific conditions. 
  • If you claim a tax deduction for your contributions, you won’t get the government co-contribution, so confirm which is a better outcome for for you.
  • For more details, check out the ATO website at ato.gov.au. 

 

How can we help

If you’re considering putting more money into your super, let’s chat. Our experienced advisers can help you figure out which superannuation strategies make sense for you.

 

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2023-24 Federal Budget summary

In what is always an exciting night to settle down in front of the TV, Treasurer Jim Chalmers handed down the 2023-24 Federal Budget and we have summarised what we feel are the key measures announced from a financial planning point of view.

For our ongoing service package clients, your adviser will be in contact to provide guidance on changes which may impact your strategy.

 

Cost of living measures

Relief on power bills

The government has put forward a comprehensive $14.6 billion relief package to ease the cost of living. This includes $3 billion to help with the cost of energy, which will be provided in the form of credits of up to $500 and offered to approximately 5 million eligible households and targeted to pensioners, Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders, and family tax benefit recipients.

 

 

Super changes

Minimum pension payments set to revert

The minimum amount that was required to be paid to a member from their pension was halved in 2019-20. This was legislated to revert to the full amount from 1 July 2023. There was no announcement of an extension to the reduced minimum in the Budget, so the amount is likely to revert to 100 per cent of the standard minimum from 1 July 2023 unless an extension is announced. This means the payments you receive from your pension may need to increase from 1 July this year.

  

Increase to Transfer Balance Cap

In February 2023, it was announced the Transfer Balance Cap would increase by $200,000 to $1.9 million on 1 July this year due to indexation. This is the amount you can transfer from super to start a tax-free super pension, such as an account-based pension. Although there has been some speculation as to whether this would remain at its current level, the fact that it wasn’t announced in the Budget suggests it will increase as expected.

 

Pay day super

From 1 July 2026, employers will be required to pay super at the same time they pay salary and wages. Many employers have already adopted this approach even though, currently, super is only required to be paid quarterly.

Additional funding will also be provided to the ATO in 2023-24 to improve its ability to identify and act on any cases of Super Guarantee underpayment by employers.

 

$3 million super cap

 As recently proposed, the government reinforced its plan to increase the tax on earnings on super balances over $3 million by 15%. The tax would only be payable on earnings over this threshold.  

The additional 15% will apply regardless of whether they are in the accumulation phase of super or have retired and commenced a super pension.

 

 

 

Personal taxation

‘Stage 3’ tax cuts

There were no new announcements regarding stage 3 tax cuts which remain legislated to take effect 1 July 2024.

As a reminder, the stage 3 tax cuts will change the income tax rates and thresholds (for resident taxpayers) as follows:

 

Medicare levy low-income thresholds

The Medicare levy low-income thresholds for singles, families and seniors and pensioners
will be increased from 1 July 2022.

  • The threshold for singles will be increased from $23,365 to $24,276.
  • The family threshold will be increased from $39,402 to $40,939.
  • For single seniors and pensioners, the threshold will be increased from $36,925 to
    $38,365.
  • The family threshold for seniors and pensioners will be increased from $51,401 to
    $53,406.
  • For each dependent child or student, the family income thresholds will increase by a
    further $3,760 instead of the previous amount of $3,619.

 

 

How can we help?

If you have any questions or would like further clarification in regards to any of the above measures outlined in the 2023-24 Federal Budget, please feel free to book a chat with your adviser.

 

Until next time.

—Pete

 

 

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How to talk about finances with your partner

Talking about finances with your partner can be daunting, but it is an important conversation. As a financial advisor, I often encounter couples who struggle with managing their finances together and can often be used as a mediator in these scenarios. In this blog, I will provide some tips on how to talk to your partner about finances and hopefully help you if this is something that you need help with.

 

Set a time and place

The first step in talking to your partner about finances is to set a time and place that works for both of you. We often talk about having a financial date night, and it’s great to discuss the following. Choose a time when you are both relaxed and not likely to be interrupted. According to a study by the Financial Planning Association of Australia, only 26% of Australians feel confident managing their finances. This underscores the importance of taking the time to have an informed discussion about your finances. Ensure you are both comfortable and in a private space where you can converse honestly without distractions.

 

Start with your financial goals

Start the conversation by discussing your goals as a couple. For example, do you want to buy a house, go on a holiday, or plan for retirement? Understanding each other’s goals will help you make decisions together and stay on the same page. Make a list of your short-term and long-term goals, and discuss which are most important to each of you. 

The goals are exciting as well. Having something exciting to work towards can create extra incentives to work together on your finances. For example, at Pekada, we do a Values & Goals session where each couple member has a chance to talk without interruption about their values and what is most important to them, and then we start to work on some joint goals together. This can be a great starting point for working on common goals together. 

 

Be honest about your financial situation

Being honest about your financial situation with your partner is essential. This includes your income, debts, and expenses. Be open and transparent about your finances, and encourage your partner to do the same. It may be uncomfortable to discuss your debts, but it’s essential to get everything out in the open to work together to address any financial issues. For example, one particular partner’s debts may stop you from doing things such as purchasing a home together, so it is crucial to have everything out in the open. 

 

Create a budget together

Creating a budget together is an excellent way to manage your finances as a couple. Start by tracking your expenses for a month or two to understand where your money is going clearly. Then, create a budget that includes your income, expenses, and savings goals. Finally, please ensure you are both on board with the budget and committed to sticking to it.

 

Discuss your spending habits

Everyone has different spending habits, and it’s essential to understand how your partner spends money. According to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, many Australians struggle with credit card debt, with an average balance of $2,577. Discuss your spending habits and concerns about each other’s spending. It’s essential to be respectful and non-judgmental during this conversation and work together to find a compromise that works for both of you.

This is often where a ‘yours, mine and ours’ approach can work well. Each partner has a separate bank account for their discretionary spending. Free to spend those funds on whatever appeases them whilst maintaining a joint account for joint expenses and future goals you may have. This can stop a lot of arguments around what the other may be spending. Having an account where you can spend guilt-free and maintain some form of financial independence is also essential. 

 

Plan for emergencies

Emergencies can happen at any time, so it’s crucial to have a plan in place. Discuss what you would do in an emergency, such as a job loss or a medical emergency. Make sure you have an emergency fund set aside to cover unexpected expenses.

It is also a good idea, especially if you have a mortgage together to review your insurances. Discuss what would happen in the worst-case scenario if one of you were to pass away. Would you want the mortgage covered? Decisions like this are essential to ensure that no one is left with financial stress in the event of a loss.

While discussing depressing things, having a good estate plan and will in place also be essential to ensure that your wishes are carried out in the event of your passing. 

 

In conclusion, talking to your partner about finances can be challenging, but it’s essential for a healthy relationship. Setting a time and place, discussing your goals, being honest about your financial situation and planning can alleviate many of these potential issues. If you ever have any questions or are interested in doing a Values & Goals session as a couple, please reach out!

 

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What you should do with rising interest rates

Today the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) increased interest rates by 25 basis points. The RBA also warned that it would do whatever it takes to bring down inflation and warned homeowners to expect more pain after their ninth interest rate hike since May. This means that those on variable rates are feeling the extra pinch nearly every month, and those fortunate enough to fix their rates will start to feel the pain soon when their fixed rate expires.

With this in mind, I wanted to run through a few things you could be doing to minimize the financial pain that can come with rising interest rates.

 

Review your loans

Step number one. Banks don’t give you loyalty bonuses for sticking around. It’s usually the opposite. They’re always trying to attract new business with better interest rates and cash-back offers but don’t offer these to existing clients. Therefore if you stick with your bank without reviewing, you will pay the loyalty tax.

The first thing you can do is contact your bank and see what they will offer you. They may be able to reduce your interest rate a little bit. However, when you only talk to one bank, you are ruling yourself out of several other potentially lower interest rates or cash-back offers. This is why I think it’s always prudent to have a good broker on your side.

A good broker will be able to assess all the different lenders in the marketplace and get back to you with what they think is the best offer for you. They’ll be able to help you with the paperwork, and usually, they are paid a commission via the lender, so there are no direct out-of-pocket costs to you. In times like these, where interest rates are constantly moving, having an excellent strategic broker on your side can save you thousands.

 

Look at your expenses

Along with these extra loan repayments, we have high inflation. Things are costing more. It’s always prudent to budget and keep your budget updated, but even more during these times. Areas such as insurance are an excellent place to start. Again, there are brokers for general insurance such as home and contents and car. It can be helpful to find a good broker who has access to many different options and can help you find the best one for very little work from your end.

Personal insurance has also seen massive price increases over the past couple of years. Life, Total and Permanent Disablement, Trauma and Income Protection are all insurances you should review. You may no longer need the same amount of coverage if your situation has changed; therefore, you could be paying extra for insurance coverage you do not need. A good financial advisor should be able to help you with this as it’s crucial to only cancel these insurances after fully understanding the consequences.

It is also a good idea to do a full review of your expenses during times like these. A lot of little savings here and there can add up. Are multiple members of your household paying for Spotify each instead of having a family account? Can you piggyback off another family member or friend’s streaming service? These are just little examples of common expense areas that people become lazy with, and these smaller or micro expenses that are automatically directly debited from our accounts can add up.

 

Update your financial plan

As times change and your circumstances change, so too should your financial plan. One of the main parts you should review is where you allocate your surplus cash flow. For example, if you set up your strategy over a year ago when interest rates were lower, you may have assigned your surplus cash flow to things such as investments or superannuation. Not saying you shouldn’t keep doing these things, but you should be looking at whether or not some more of that surplus could go towards paying down some of your loans or building your offset account to provide a little relief.

If you have any questions, feel free to message me at zac@pekada.com.au.

 

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Links we Like – February 2022

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