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5 Tips For Getting On Top Of Financial Housekeeping

Remember the last time you did a good spring clean? It probably felt good. And guess what? Getting your finances in order feels just as good, and it’s even more rewarding.

The start of a new financial year is a great opportunity to clean up your act with your finances. Here are five tips to make this year your best yet.

Take a day

Set aside an entire day to do your financial housekeeping. If you can afford to take annual leave, choose a weekday when you can more easily make phone calls and work uninterrupted.

Make a fresh start

Ever calculated your net worth? Although daunting at first, it’s a helpful starting point to see where you’re at financially and to help you decide on some achievable goals. And it’s easy: subtract your liabilities (what you owe e.g. mortgage, loans, credit cards) from your assets (what you own e.g. home, super, savings).

Next, write your financial goal for the year. It might be to improve your net worth by a specific amount by this time next year, or to funnel money towards a specific debt so you can take a guilt-free holiday in 2019. Commit to it by marking a progress review in your calendar every three months.

Sort out your savings

Let your financial goal guide you here, and review your savings plan to make sure you can achieve it. Then shop around and take advantage of promotional rates that give you favourable interest. The same goes for debts.

But if you really want to clean up your act, challenge yourself to a spending fast. For one month you’ll purchase only essentials, putting all other income towards supplementing your savings or making a dent in your debt. Not only is it a fun challenge, it will teach you more about your spending habits (and why you may not be hitting those savings goals) than any spreadsheet can.

Get your bills in order

Review regular outgoings to make sure they still fit your needs. Open up your latest power, phone and internet bills and check the billing breakdown to see if you’re paying too much for services. Comparison sites like FinderGoSwitch, and WhistleOut will give you the numbers you need to start afresh or get a better deal with your current providers. While you’re there, save your sanity and the planet by requesting to go paper free — these days you only really need originals of legal or notarised documents in your paper filing.

Be good to your future self

Superannuation, mortgages and insurance might not be the most fun way to spend your money, but this last tip might save you quite a bit.

Aim to increase your superannuation contribution for every year you get closer to retirement.

Wondering whether to put more towards super or the mortgage? They’re both important, but don’t rush to put more money on your mortgage: salary-sacrificed super above your employer super guarantee is taxed at only 15%, and the returns could be greater than the interest on your mortgage. Do the sums to find the balance that works for you.

As with your savings and bills, assess your insurance needs against your goals. Many insurance policies can be tailored to fit, so consider choosing one policy to customise now. If you’re not in a hurry, mark your calendar for May 2019 to take advantage of EOFY insurance offers.

Getting on top of your financial housekeeping can save you stress and money. Make it easier by setting aside a day to work through, and by this time next year you’ll be rewarding yourself for getting closer to your financial goals. If your efforts reveal that you need more in-depth advice, a certified financial planner professional can help you develop a plan to get your finance back on track.


Article source here.

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Have Your Best Holiday Ever – at Home

Love where you live but can’t seem to relax and switch off enough to make a week at home seem like a holiday? Here are five top tips from business owner and mum of four, Cath Loiacono on how to make the most of spending a holiday at home. You’ll save a fortune and still go back to work feeling like a million dollars.

Cath and Paul Loiacono have been parents for 11 amazing years and now have four kids to keep them busy, plus their own businesses to run. As two people who are self-employed, it’s hard enough to find the time to hand over the reins for a week and just relax. And with the kids to entertain, there are few opportunities on a family holiday to enjoy time together as a couple.

“Paul has run his own company for more than 10 years and I started my online sports and active wear store Fibre15 in the last 12 months,” says Cath. “The last time we went away together was a long weekend in Singapore to see the Formula One Grand Prix and that was five years ago! It was great but took a big effort to organise everything so we could get away without the kids and we just haven’t had the time or energy to do it again.”

So when the couple were out for dinner and daydreaming about having a mini-break, Paul had the idea of taking a week off and staying at home as a way of having some couple time without all the preparation involved in leaving the kids with their grandparents.

Here are Cath’s five tips for making the most of holiday time spent at home, so you can benefit from the best of their experience.

1. Stick to term time

Having the kids in school every day gave us six clear hours to spend just as we wanted. When we holiday with the kids we dedicate most of our time away to doing things they’ll enjoy. The chances of having a five-minute conversation without being interrupted, or lingering over a coffee after lunch are non-existent! And knowing we’d see the kids after school everyday was great. Although we welcome the time alone together, it’s hard not to be thinking about them when we’re away, wondering if they’re OK and that’s not very relaxing either!

2. Get ahead on…

Laundry, shopping and housework etc. A little time spent the week before can spare you from some of those routine chores that get in the way of your holiday time. I did a big grocery shop and had clean school uniforms all hung up and ready to go for the week ahead. I also did a big push on the housework so there would be less to do in the week. Plus, I had Paul around to help in the afternoons when the kids got home so that really cut down on the time it took to stay on top of chores.

3. Be spontaneous

Life with a large family can be very routine. So the thing that made it feel most like a holiday was having the freedom to just make it up as we went along. We might chat about what we’d like to do the night before and depending on the weather forecast we’d decide to check out a movie, walk to the surf club for coffee or take a drive to a new restaurant. The day we went to Sydney was fantastic, because we could just take our time, stop for coffee en route when we felt like it, linger over lunch at the Opera Bar and take a long stroll in the Botanic Gardens. Nothing felt like a rush which made a lovely change from the norm!

4. Hit the road and explore

We had about six hours between sending the kids off to school and being there to welcome them home. So once we’d waved them off, we didn’t hang about and would make tracks for a lunch outing, beach walk or a trip to the city. We’re very lucky to be living in a beautiful part of the NSW Central Coast so being in nature was very easy to do without travelling far. But even spending time in the car talking, just the two of us, was a novelty and something to enjoy. When you take a long drive to visit somewhere special, the journey itself is a rare chance to be together and chat.

5. Make time for kids at the weekend

We rounded off the holiday week by enjoying a couple of nights away with the whole family in the Hunter Valley. It was the perfect way to share the holiday feeling with our four children and give them the best of ourselves and our full attention for an entire weekend. We’d spent the whole week reconnecting with each other so it was really easy to be relaxed. Exploring the Mega Creatures expo in the Hunter Valley Gardens made it feel like a special occasion for our little ones.

So was Cath and Paul’s experiment in holidaying at a home a success? “This is something we’ll be doing every year from now on,” says Cath. “The money you save on travel and accommodation is just the beginning of the benefits of taking a break at home. When you go on holiday, there’s a lot of luck involved in choosing the right location and accommodation that has everything you need. Holidaying at home takes away all that uncertainty and you don’t need to worry about packing enough of the right clothes for changeable weather or extra activities you might want to do. All in all, it’s a really easy way to relax and switch-off without all the stress and hassle that can be part of travelling with a big family.


article source here.

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5 Bookkeeping Tips For Your Small Business

Setting up your business is exciting and challenging, and will hopefully bring you the rewards you deserve, along with the autonomy you dream of. However, if your business is going to be profitable, it’s vital that you get the accounts right. That starts with making sure you set up the books correctly.

1. Comply with the law

All businesses must register for an ABN. If you turn over more than $75,000, you will also need to be GST registered. Registering for PAYG Withholding Tax is also essential if you employ staff.

In addition, it’s vital that you keep all records relating to income tax, GST, payments to employees, superannuation, fringe benefits tax, fuel tax credits and business payments. The law requires you to keep all these records for five years and have them accessible on request.

2. Know what bookkeeping is about

Bookkeeping is the process of organising, recording and reporting on the financial transactions of your business. This involves several different processes:

  • Keeping track of daily transactions.
  • Sending out invoices and managing accounts receivable, including chasing late payments.
  • Managing accounts payable, including payment of supplier invoices, expenses and petty cash.
  • Maintaining the balance of income to expenses, to make sure the business doesn’t run out of day-to-day money.
  • Making sure the books are valid and up to date whenever the accountant needs them.

Good bookkeeping will keep your business running smoothly day to day, and will make your accountant’s job a lot easier.

3. Choose what type of accounts you want to keep

There are two main types of accounting systems:

  • Cash-based accounting. This records transactions at the time the cash was paid or received, not when the transaction actually occurred. It is a relatively easy system and involves little paperwork, but it can be prone to errors. It is usually used by small businesses who mainly deal with cash transactions.
  • Accrual-based accounting. This records transactions at the time they occur, even if the money has not been paid yet. This is the most widely used method and is more accurate but can be more complicated, although it makes it easier to record transactions like wages and credit.

Some businesses use a combination of the two. If you’re not sure which would work best with your business, check with your accountant – he or she is the person who will be helping you out come tax time.

4. Choose your system

Most businesses these days use some form of electronic bookkeeping. There are a variety of options to choose from here, but all require you to be accurate on a computer and have a good backup procedure where information is stored off site. Options include:

  • These are the simplest electronic option and are ideal if you’re accurate at data entry and don’t want to spend out on a full accounting package.
  • Accounting software packages must be compatible with Standard Business Reporting. It’s also vital that you make sure you choose a package that meets the needs of your business.
  • Web-based. “Cloud” systems have the advantage of being able to be accessed from any location, and also solve the problem of off-site data storage. They are usually cheaper than standard software, but are thought to be slightly less secure at present.

5. Stay on top of it and have a great accountant!

It’s vital that you stay on top of the books in order to make sure your business is running as it should. Allocating a set time each week to devote to your books ensures that this habit becomes part of your work routine. It also should help you maintain your profitable business, without getting you too confused in the process.

Make sure you choose an accountant who you feel comfortable asking questions of, and who can guide you through the setup of your books. Great accountants can act as advisers and really make a difference to the success of your small business.


Article source here.

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Farmers Offered More Financial Flexibility

Australia’s biggest agricultural lender has admitted it lost touch with farmers as it moves to relax rules around loan repayments and make it easier to save for droughts.

National Australia Bank will allow primary producers to offset farm management deposits against loans, with other banks being urged to follow suit.

Farm management deposits allow farmers to remove money from their taxable income during good years to later use during tough times.

“The royal commission and other inquiries reveal that in some cases we have lost touch,” NAB chief executive Andrew Thorburn said in Wagga Wagga on Monday night.

The bank will also no longer charge penalty interest payments on farmers who fall into debt on loans.

NAB came under fire during the banking royal commission for charging struggling Queensland cattle farmers more than $2.6 million in default interest over more than five years.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud wants other banks to follow NAB, encouraging farmers to “vote with their wallets” and tell banks who refuse to “bugger off”.

Rural Bank has until now been the only lender to allow the FMD offset since it was introduced in 2016.

One in three farmers bank with NAB, meaning the other big banks will face increased pressure to join them in making the change.

National Farmers’ Federation chief executive Tony Mahar is hopeful other lenders will allow greater flexibility for primary producers.

“We need to make sure farmers get through these challenging times and are able to continue to produce food and fibre for Australia and the globe,” Mr Mahar told Sky News on Tuesday.

Mr Littleproud tore shreds off the foreign-owned Rabo bank for “turning up its nose” at Australian farmers last week by ruling out an FMD offset product.

“You have to ask how serious that bank is about agriculture in Australia. It’s fantastic an Aussie owned bank has shown a social conscience and led from the front,” the minister said.

Mr Littleproud also wants other banks to follow NAB on removing penalty interest payments for farmers in drought, urging lenders to reassess the practice more broadly.

“I don’t think the charge truly reflects the cost to the bank. It’s really a kick in the guts when someone’s down, which isn’t the Australian way,” he said.



Daniel McCulloch and Matt Coughlan

Article source here.


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The Relationship Between Saving Motives And Saving Habits

Before we dive in, take a moment to consider which of the following best describes you and your household in terms of your current saving habits?

  • Save regularly by putting money aside each month.
  • Spend regular income and save other income (such as investment income, bonuses etc.).
  • Save the income of one family member and spend the other.
  • Save whatever is left over at the end of the month (no regular plan).
  • Do not save.

Saving motives and saving habits 

When it comes to the saving habits of households, there are often three distinct camps, the regular savers, the irregular savers and those that do not save (the non-savers). Interestingly, there is often a relationship between saving motives and saving habits*.

Importantly, saving motives can include things such as, for retirement, for children’s needs, to buy a house or consumer durables (e.g. fridges, motor vehicles etc.), for holidays, for emergencies and to have funds in reserve for necessities.

Here are some interesting findings regarding the relationship between saving motives and saving habits:

  • Someone that has a motive around saving for emergencies and/or retirement is more likely to be a saver, whether regular or irregular.

Also, if we look at people that save regularly versus irregularly, regular savers have a more positive relationship with a retirement saving motive, a high income and/or a long-term saving horizon.

With the above in mind, it’s important to remember that the source of your wealth creation is you. For some of us, saving may be second nature or come easy due to circumstance, whilst for others, it may be more of a struggle. What is important is to enjoy life now whilst also taking the time to make sure this enjoyment flows through and is experienced by your future-self as well.

By having a clear picture of why you need (or want) to save, as well as the motivation and roadmap to achieve it, you might just find this makes all the difference.

The current climate affecting savers

Admittedly, the recent economic environment, namely slow wage growth and the rise in the cost of living may be disrupting the efforts of savers through the need to divert more of their disposable income away from saving to spending.

Unfortunately, the impact of this may be evident in the survey results from ASIC’s Australian Financial Attitudes and Behaviour Tracker (Wave 5). For example, of the Australians surveyed:

  • 23% saved money using a savings account that was automatically linked to their pay. This is down from 24% in the previous survey (Wave 4).
  • 31% saved money using a savings account that was not automatically linked to their pay. This is down from 38% in the previous survey (Wave 4).
  • 16% saved money but not through a savings account, for example, put money in an envelope or money tin. This is up from 13% in the previous survey (Wave 4).
  • 12% saved money by making voluntary contributions to their superannuation account. This is down from 13% in the previous survey (Wave 4).
  • 20% saved money by paying more than the minimum amount off their mortgage or other personal loan. This is down from 22% in the previous survey (Wave 4).
  • 21% did not save any money over the last six months. This is up from 19% in the previous survey (Wave 4).

Moving forward

When it comes to saving, it’s important to understand the positive effects associated with saving a portion of your income from employment each payment cycle. For example, saving can help with:

  • Your capacity to establish and build-upon an emergency buffer (e.g. for unexpected events, such as job loss, medical/dental emergencies, or home/car repairs).
  • Your capacity to utilise and rely on your cash/debit cards, as opposed to credit cards, to meet lifestyle expenses.

For those savers impacted by the current economic environment, some relief may be on the horizon if several of the Government’s 2018 Budget proposed measures are legislated and come to fruition, such as the 7-year personal income tax plan.

In the meantime, it’s important to take stock of your existing financial situation, goals and objectives. This may involve, a closer look at your household expenditure to see whether there are areas were surplus income could still be realised, as well as the continuation of tracking your spending and comparing the results to your budget planner.


Article source here.


Renovation jobs you can do yourself – and those you shouldn’t

When it’s time to renovate, everyone wants to save money. It’s fine to be hands-on for some tasks, but there are a few projects that are definitely not DIY friendly. Here’s a guide to what you may want to do yourself and what you should leave to the professionals.

What to do yourself


A fresh coat of paint can give you a strong return on your renovation dollar. Painting is a job almost anyone can take on themselves, although it can be messier and more time-consuming than you might imagine.

The key to a successful paint finish lies in the preparation. Take the time to clean, sand and tape as necessary. Also, choose the right paint for the job and invest in good-quality equipment. Don’t skimp on brushes and rollers – a professional job looks professional because they use the right tools.

Handy hint: a water-based paint can help make the clean-up more bearable.


You can lift the appearance of your home’s outdoor areas with new paving. Laying bricks or square pavers is a simple task, although you do need to set aside enough time to complete each step properly.

Paving is a multi-step process, from preparing the pathway and cement through to laying the pavers. Try consulting one of the numerous online paving tutorials, or visit your local hardware store for advice.


If your home has wooden flooring, you can bring it to life with a sand and polish. Hardware and equipment-hire stores rent out machines for home use. However, achieving a perfect finish is trickier than it looks. If you’re not confident on the tools, another DIY approach is to lay your own floating floor, or even stick down self-adhesive vinyl floor planks or tiles.

What to leave to the experts

Electrical and plumbing

Undertaking electrical or plumbing works can be illegal and potentially life-threatening if you’re not a qualified tradesperson. If electrical and plumbing works aren’t done by a professional, you’re risking personal harm, and exposing your home and family to the risk of fire or flood damage. Leave this to the experts.

Asbestos removal

Prior to 1987, asbestos was commonly used in Australian home construction. If your home was built or renovated before this date, there’s a strong chance it could contain asbestos.

Even minor home maintenance tasks such as drilling a hole into a wall or installing a light fitting can create a health risk by causing asbestos fibres to become airborne. Always engage a licensed asbestos assessor and remover to handle any asbestos concerns at your property.

Roof repairs

Many a DIY renovator has regretted the decision to try to repair their own roof. Falls from ladders are a common cause of injury. During 2011–12, 1,294 men (78%) and 374 women (22%) were hospitalised in Australia as a result of a fall on or from a ladder, and 62 per cent of these injuries happened in or around the home.

A DIY approach can be friendly on the wallet, but there are some jobs simply not worth tackling – your safety is far more important. If you’re considering home renovations, contact your mortgage broker first to find out how much you can borrow.


Article source here.

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Renovation Tips That Can Increase Your Home’s Value

Taking care of basic maintenance tasks before you sell your home is a no-brainer, but a quick and not-too-costly renovation can add a lot of appeal for potential buyers, and may boost the final sale price.

Basics first

Fix those little faults that you no longer notice – leaky taps, rusty gutters, broken window catches. They can make a huge difference to a buyer’s perception of value.

Landscape the garden

A well-kept garden can create a low-maintenance feel before buyers even step inside.

Bring the outside in

Opening living areas to the garden can be as simple as adding big bi-fold doors that create an inviting sense of flexibility.

Take the inside out

The garden is a place to live: a barbecue area, deck, pergola or even a plunge pool all invite buyers to imagine their future lifestyle in your home.

Let the light in

Brightening dark areas boosts a home’s appeal; you can install skylights quite economically, and swap solid doors in dark areas for glass-panelled ones.

Put some colour on it

Fresh paint makes a home look ready to live in. Think carefully about colours, and maybe seek some interior design advice – although neutral colours present some people with a blank canvas, to others those spaces just seem bland.

A solid footing

New carpets make a home feel new. Again, think carefully about colour. A step further? Look under the carpet – those timber floors will be lovely when sanded and sealed.

Green it

Installing solar panels or a solar hot water system can add value for potential buyers, who will see future energy cost savings.

Bathroom fix

A brand-new bathroom can cost a lot. Instead, think of replacing shower curtains with clear glass screens and installing new taps, a water-saving cistern and even a new toilet seat. Replace small tiles with big ones, and don’t forget to clean/renew the grout.

Add storage

Buyers are looking for places to store their stuff – cupboards in the garage and in neutral spaces such as hallways are always welcome. A butler’s pantry in the kitchen is great, too.

Some simple and affordable renovation moves can make your home more desirable to buyers, potentially adding to the final sale price.

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End of financial year tax tips for employees and small business

The end of the financial year is one of the busiest and most stressful times for businesses and employees. Are your financial records in order? Do you know how to take advantage of standard deductions? While many people only see their accountant once or twice a year, you’re much more likely to identify deductions and make necessary adjustments when an ongoing relationship is in place. Whether you’re a business owner or an employee, you need to understand which deductions are available and relevant to you so you can benefit from them.

Tax tips for businesses

If you run a home office, you may be able to get a significant tax break. Sole traders and anyone who is operating a business from their home may be able to claim a deduction for occupancy and running expenses. This includes things like your mortgage and rent, which can add up to a large sum over time.

Business travel expenses are another common deduction, whereby any expenses incurred by you or your employees can be claimed. If you’re away from home for six or more consecutive nights, you need to record all of your activities and expenses.

Auto expenses are another common area for deductions. Any motor vehicle expenses by your employees can be claimed as business-related expenses, with the fringe benefit tax (FBT) also relevant if the employer uses the vehicle for private use. The salaries and wages you pay to your workers can also be claimed as a tax deduction, including any super contributions that you make for them.

Repairs, maintenance, and operating expenses can also be claimed in some situations. The amount of these deductions can vary considerably and is dependent on the type of business that you run, which is why it’s so important to keep up a relationship with an accountant.

Tax tips for employees

With the end of the tax year quickly approaching, it’s time to educate yourself so that you can meet your tax obligations and reduce your tax liability. From vehicle and travel expenses through to self-education and tools, making the right deductions now could have a huge impact on your financial health going forward.

With different deductions available for work and private purposes, and many work-related deductions requiring stringent record keeping, it’s hard to keep on top of it all. Instead of waiting until the end of June to get your financial records in order, perhaps it’s time to set up an ongoing relationship with a qualified and experienced accountant.



Article source here.