General Tips and Treasures

early retirement plan

By AMP financial adviser Justine Back

We know women generally live longer than men, but new research shows the majority of Australian women are unlikely to work past the age of 65, making it more important than ever for them to take control of their finances early and plan appropriately for life after work.

The latest AMP.NATSEM Report ‘Going the Distance: Working Longer, Living Healthier’, has revealed the gender gap in the Australian workforce widens with age, with women experiencing increasing barriers to work in their sixties.

Future modelling in the report shows that even 20 years from now, when the pension age is proposed to rise to 70, significantly more women than men will be forced to give up work by the age of 65, mostly because of family or health reasons.

More than 64 per cent of men currently aged 40-44 years and who have excellent health are expected to still be working in 2035 when they are 60-64 years of age. In stark contrast, as few as 5.6 per cent of women who are aged 50-54 years today and consider themselves in poor health would be expected to be able to remain in the workforce in 2035.

Here’s what women should start thinking about if they want to defy the odds and enjoy the fruits of their labor with an enjoyable, self-funded retirement:

Take super seriously

A comfortable retirement isn’t about fancy cars and expensive meals out every night of the week, it is simply about maintaining the lifestyle you are working hard for now. It’s estimated a comfortable retirement costs around $58,326 a year for a couple.
Salary sacrifice is one of the most tax-effective ways to boost your super. Most people can pay up to $30,000 into super (or $35,000 if you’re 50 or over) from their pre-tax salary at the concessional 15 per cent rate of tax. Even if you are self-employed, you can make personal contributions into super up to this cap for which you claim a tax deduction.

Start saving and investing

Think about how you can make your money start working harder for you.  The earlier you start putting money away into investing, the more time your investments have to grow. And the more regularly you add to your investments, the quicker they can grow.  You might even be able to use equity you already have in your home to buy another investment property. Down the track, good investments can add up to a comfortable retirement.

Diversify

As all investments carry some level of risk, it’s important not to put all your eggs in one basket. Having a diverse range of investments helps prevent losses during market downturns. These different types of investments are less likely to be adversely affected by the same market developments.

Protect your future

What underpins all your investments is the ability to earn an income that pays for investment strategies and lifestyle. Being adequately insured is extremely important for women and gives both financial security and peace of mind. The key personal insurances to consider are life, total and permanent disability (TPD) and trauma insurance.

Seek financial advice

Planning early and seeking professional advice can go a long way. A financial adviser can offer knowledge, expertise and guidance to help you to define your goals and work out a plan to achieve them.

More about Justine

Justine Back is an Authorised Representative of AMP Financial Planning Pty Ltd, ABN 89 051 208 327, AFS Licence No. 232706.  Justine is also one of 10thousandgirl’s Trusted Advisors and you can make contact with her and find out more, here.

Any advice given is general only and has not taken into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this, before acting on any advice, you should consult a financial planner to consider how appropriate the advice is to your objectives, financial situation and needs.  

Financial literacy events for women

Credit scores_ the importance of having and building your OWN credit rating

We’ve all been told it’s important to have a good credit rating. It’s true, it can set you up for a good financial future. So what determines your credit rating? Your credit rating reflects your financial history – if you pay your bills, if you’re current on loans and how often you’ve applied for credit.

Having a healthy financial history means a better credit rating, and makes you a much more attractive customer for banks. This means more options for you in planning your financial future. If you establish a good credit rating, you’ll have a much easier time obtaining a loan or credit card when you need one. And you may be able to access a much more favourable interest rate.

So how can you start building a good credit rating? Steps that you can take include:

  • Pay your bills and make your loan payments on time – always
  • Start small if you need to. Mobile phone plans, electricity accounts or internet service can be a place to start proving your reliability.
  • If you will be responsible with managing expenses, consider getting a credit card to build up even more of a track record. Always pay the bill each month on time.
  • Don’t take on more debt than you need. The number of loans and total borrowed can have a negative impact.
  • Limit how often you apply for credit. Only do so when you truly need it. Too many applications make you look unreliable and can damage a credit rating.
  • Avoid defaults and long-overdue accounts at all cost.
  • Keep bank accounts stable. Long-time relationships with banks help a credit rating.
  • Check your credit file regularly and address any errors quickly.
  • Be patient. Creating a credit rating, or improving a poor one takes time.

A first step can be checking your current credit rating. Providers Veda, Experian and Dun & Bradstreet all have ways you can do this for free via their websites. If it looks good, give yourself a pat on the back. If not, make it a priority to change your money habits to get back on track!

Financial literacy events for women

Each time a woman completes our 6 Step Money Makeover, $10 of her program fees go toward providing a microloan for a women to start or grow her small business.  Find out more about our micro loan program, here.

Mary Ann Arevalo is a Good Return borrower and has been taking out microfinance loans since 2006. She has started several small businesses and her increased income has allowed her to send her daughter to university — the first in the family to go!

Watch her story below:

How to reduce your home loan

Chopping years off your home loan should be on the to-do list for anyone with a long-term financial plan.

That’s because an extra five or 10 years mortgage-free will mean you’ll be able to put more energy (and funds) into other financial goals such as building up your superannuation.

While we all have to accept that a home loan is more like a marathon, than a sprint, there are some relatively simple ways to make sure you’re shortening the course as much as possible.

Here are some of the five easiest tips for reducing your home loan:

Go above and beyond

Making regular additional repayments over the course of your loan is one of the fastest ways to chip your mortgage down to that much dreamed about statement that says: ‘you owe: $0.00’. And the earlier you start the chipping, the less you’ll hand over to your bank because each payment will reduce the amount of interest you have to fork out.

The best way to make additional repayments is to formalise them through a direct debit. That way it happens every month, without you having to do anything except calculate the savings – and the years saved.

For example, putting $100 extra a month into a $300,000 home loan will save you a massive $36,829 and knock off almost 4 years from a 30-year mortgage.

Forking out extra might seem like a monthly punishment, but trust me, you’ll be congratulating yourself when you get that final letter from your bank confirming you actually own your own home outright.

Have an offset account

An offset account is an increasingly popular way to reduce the amount of interest your bank charges you on your loan. Simply put, an offset account is a savings account linked to your mortgage where the money in the savings account ‘offsets’ the balance of the loan.

The attractiveness of these products is that, unlike additional repayments, you can easily access the money in your account without having to re-mortgage your house. The downside? They’re not great for anyone who lacks financial willpower. If you’re likely to dip into the account on a shopping whim, best to stick with making additional repayments which are far harder to undo.

Almost half of all home loan products now offer offset facilities but a few do still charge a monthly account fee, so avoid those products if possible. Also, be aware that some offset accounts offer slightly higher interest rates, so compare what’s on offer and use the competition in the market to negotiate directly with your bank.

Shop around for a cheaper rate

With the cash rate at record lows, competition in the home loan market is ripe for borrowers. In 2016 alone we’ve seen over 20 lenders now offer rates under 4 per cent for owner occupiers, so if you are paying more than 4.5 per cent, it’s worth thinking about switching.

Half a percent might not sound like much, but the difference between a rate of 4 and 4.5 per cent on a $400,000 home loan is over $100 a month. And if you invest that money back in your mortgage than we already know you’ll be ahead on your loan by thousands of dollars and at least a couple of years.

A number of lenders are also favouring borrowers with sizeable amount of equity already invested in their home, so if you’ve had your mortgage for a while, make sure you take this bargaining chip to the negotiating table.

Pay more often

Paying off your home loan more frequently is another simple tip that won’t necessarily cost you any money but can save you thousands. While the savings might not seem obvious at first the genius of this tip lies in the fact that some banks calculate your fortnightly repayments as half of the monthly repayments. Because there’s 26 fortnights in a year, you actually trick yourself into paying an extra month of repayments. Even though you’re technically forking out a little more you will be reducing the life of your loan by three to five years and saving thousands on interest.

As an example, if you have a loan of $500,000 to be paid over 30 years with an interest rate of 4.5 percent it can be paid off four years and five months sooner if you opt for fortnightly payments. Not only will it be paid off in a shorter amount of time but the interest you will save on the loan amounts to $70,084.20.

Deposit lump sums

Slashing the length of your home loan can be as easy as committing to putting any unexpected windfalls back in to your mortgage. Things like your tax return, bonuses from work, Medicare rebates and gifts can contribute significantly to reducing your loan when stacked up over the years.

If you can’t bring yourself to forgo the money completely consider splitting it between your home loan and buying something for yourself now. Better yet, split it 50/50 with your superannuation account and you’ll really be thanking yourself in the future.

Another hot tip is searching to see if you have any unclaimed money sitting in a bank account or unused life insurance policy. With millions of dollars unclaimed around Australia you may just be lucky enough to have a couple of hundred that you forgot existed. If you are one of the lucky ones, while it will be tempting to celebrate your good fortune with a purchase, it’s a great chance to put some money you won’t miss towards your loan.

By Sally Tindall

RateCity.com.au Money Editor

Financial literacy events for women

PROPERTY OWNERSHIP

With the property market still relatively high, it’s a common question – if I buy, should I live the home, or should I rent it out? It depends entirely on personal circumstances and there’s no perfect answer.

If you are going to live in the unit or house you purchase, there may be first time home buyers grants that make it more affordable. It’s worth researching this in your state. It may also be easier to get a mortgage as the bank might see you as less risky. And of course you have the satisfaction and security that comes from being your own landlord.

But renting also has its upsides. You’ll be creating a future income stream and building up your personal assets. And you may be able to benefit from negative gearing, depending on the rental income, total costs and your personal situation. But there are also costs involved. You may end up paying more to prepare the property and handle basic repairs. A tenant usually won’t put up with leaky plumbing or old gray curtains. Finding and manging a tenant can also cost money, and you may have some ongoing expenses like garden care. You should also make sure any potentially risky features such as stairs, pools or fences are property dealt with.

There’s also the financial planning angle to consider. Before you decide, evaluate how much of your wealth and savings will be tied up in one property and one type of asset. It may be worth talking to an advisor to understand what this means for you. For more on the pros and cons, and lots of other great advice about all the financial and legal considerations, check out this from Moneysmart.

And don’t forget there may be compromise options. Plenty of buyers choose to live in their first home or unit for a year or two, and then decide to rent it out. This could get you the best of both worlds.

Financial literacy events for women

15 thrifty tips for your wedding

 

Getting married is a special day but you don’t want it turning into a day that signals the beginning of a debt fuelled life together!  Weddings can run up into the stupids of thousands – if you’re looking for ways to save, consider the following:

  1. Set Yourself a Budget
    This will give you boundaries so that costs don’t blow out of control.
  2. The Dress..
    ..can be a huge budget blow-out.  Opt for last year’s dresses off the rack that you can still get tailored to your taste.
  3. Keep your wedding an intimate affair
    Hundreds and hundreds of guests will be at a huge cost to you.  If you’re worried about offending folk, have a large super fun party at a local pub at a later date.
  4. Simple kids
    Kids love the simple things in life so don’t forget extravagances – opt for colouring in pencils and crayons and fun games.
  5. Presence not presents
    Keep costs down by inviting guests to contribute their skills to the wedding rather than gifting you presents e.g. they might play music, help with food etc.
  6. Flowers
    Go for flowers in season rather than expensive tropical flowers.
  7. Venue
    Have the wedding at your home or at a family member’s house to do away with mad venue costs.
  8. Bridal car
    Do you really need a super swanky ride?  Save yourself the money and go simple.
  9. Catering
    Do some or all of the catering yourself or, does anyone in the family have catering connections?
  10. Invitations
    Make your own invitations!  Invite some friends around, add craft supplies a few bottles of bubbles and away you go!
  11. Stock your own bar
    Bring your own kegs of beer and spirits – it’s always cheaper than buying it directly from the bar/restaurant.
  12. Favours
    You can spend hundreds on beautiful and thoughtful little able favours only to find half of them are left on the table at the end of the night.  Peruse Pinterest for the hundreds of homemade favours you could make yourself and save.
  13. You’re not having a wedding
    When you’re shopping around for quotes, try not to mention that it’s for a wedding. You’ll find that some businesses and services will charge like scrub bulls the moment they know it’s for a wedding event.  You’ll have to tell them in the end but preferably keep it to yourself until after you’ve got a quote.
  14. Decorations
    Shop around!  And if you can, consider buying them second hand.  Also, if you have decorations for the ceremony, have them moved to the reception area ready for the after party.
  15. Music
    Cut back on DJ costs by asking guests what their favourite party tunes are. Compile a playlist of everyones fave party tracks, hit play and enjoy!

The bottom line though is this is your special day and so personal; so our biggest tip to you is to channel your money on the things that are most important to you: the food?  Your makeup?

Financial literacy events for women

understanding insurance pds

Buying and reviewing your insurance is a bit like going to the dentist. It may not be a great deal of fun, but it’s important because otherwise we risk some serious agony down the track.

That doesn’t mean the process is entirely painless. Let’s face it – reading a Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) can be a pain.

For a short acronym, it’s such a long document. But don’t use that as an excuse to slide your insurance documents back into a filing cabinet; by not understanding your policies, you could be exposing yourself to major financial losses.

What is a PDS?

A PDS is a legally required document that gives a full description of the terms and conditions of the insurance policy. It explains what obligations you have to your insurer, and also what obligations your insurer has to you as the policyholder. It includes a description of the policy’s features, benefits, cost and exclusions – and, most importantly, how your insurer will help if you incur a loss covered by the policy.

Why should I read it?

The insurance market is highly competitive. Insurers differentiate themselves not only on price, but also policy features. Every policy is different in terms of its coverage and its exclusions.

For instance, it’s handy to know your comprehensive car insurance policy may not cover you in the event of an accident if your vehicle was not roadworthy.

It’s essential to understand your travel insurance policy excludes coverage for highly dangerous activities before you jet off to Pamplona to run with the bulls.

Some of the coverage features may also surprise you: did you know, for example, that most home insurance policies won’t cover damage caused by tidal waves but will cover tsunamis caused by an earthquake?

If consumers don’t understand the policies they’re buying, it can lead to major financial losses and angry customers. Indeed, the Financial Ombudsman Service reports that 50 per cent of the complaints it receives are due to consumer misunderstandings. However, insurers pay about 98 per cent of lodged claims

Reading and understanding a PDS helps give you the information you may need to compare policies. If you buy on price alone you may not get the policy that suits your needs.

So, set aside a few minutes with your insurance PDS documents, a highlighter and a cup of tea. Sure, it’s less enjoyable than watching My Kitchen Rules. But it could save you the pain of finding out too late that your insurance policy doesn’t match your requirements. And that might hurt a lot more than any date with a dentist’s drill.

Sound advice by our Supporting Partner: Understand Insurance

www.understandinsurance.com.au cuts out the jargon and explains in simple language what insurance is, how it works, the many types of cover available, and how Australians can physically and financially protect themselves from such threats as theft, accidents and natural disasters.

Financial literacy events for women

 

 

emergency budgeting

It’s not something we want to think about – how would you manage if the worst happens? It could be a job loss, major home damage or medical costs or other unexpected bad news. If you were suddenly in a tough spot, do you know what you’d do?

The best time to think about emergency plans is before it happens. Start with your existing household budget and take an honest look at essentials vs. non-essentials. Separate out everything that you really can live without. Most of us have money each month going to dinners out, entertainment, vacation savings or other non-critical items. Pay TV, cleaners or shopping funds can also be on the non-critical list. If it all starts to sound too bleak, remind yourself this is a temporary situation, perhaps a few months, to get over a crisis period. It’s not forever.

Then take a look at the essentials still on the list and consider where there’s room to cut those. Food spending often has room for savings, by eliminating takeaways or buying ahead and in bulk. Look at transport options and consider public transport or ride-sharing.

Think in terms of cash timing, not just total amounts. If you’re up against a big one-time bill such as an annual insurance payment, contact your provider about a monthly plan. Many companies will work with you if you’re honest about your situation.

Then lay it all out week-by-week and month-by-month, showing the cash outlays you absolutely have to make. With some discipline, this should be lower than your average monthly expenses and could buy you some well-needed breathing room.

Financial literacy events for women

buying a new car

Are you in the market for a new car? Before you head out for test drives, be sure to prepare a full budget including the cost of the car, all fees and insurance. If this gives you sticker shock or is over your budget, don’t despair. There are some smart ways to reduce the total cost, but still get the new wheels you want. Here are some of our top tips:

  1. Time the market: pay attention to the end-of-year runout sales. Often the updates from one model year to another are minimal, yet you can save a lot by taking an older car off a dealer’s lot. Listen for the ads on the radio or check out dealer websites for the best timing.
  2. Shop online first – and compare. Request pricing from dealers online. If you find the right salesperson within a dealer’s sales team, they’ll be motivated to do a deal with you. Don’t be afraid to play one off the other – let them know what others are offering and see if they’ll beat it.
  3. Ask about demos. A very lightly-used demo car can be a great value. You’ll want to ask questions – who has driven the car, and under what circumstances. It’s easy to search for demos on the major car websites.
  4. Do your research before you commit. Once you have a car in mind, research all of the costs including insurance. This may cause you to rethink your options or keep comparing.
  5. Be open-minded about options. There are more than 25 makes of cars in Australia. There are always other options out there. Often new or up-and-coming brands will be more willing to work with buyers on a budget. So keep shopping if you need to.
  6. No matter what, keep your cool. Don’t fall in love with the flashy new car until you know you can afford it!

Financial literacy events for women

 

toxic spending habits

Often we have money habits that are so embedded, we don’t even realise they’re there. A little self-examination can be very revealing! Bad habits can develop in your upbringing or your early days as a financially independent young adult. It’s worth an honest look at your money habits to see what bad behaviour is holding you back, sometimes without even realising.

  1.  We all love a little splurge but be honest if you’re going too far and using spending to make yourself feel better. If your go-to solution after a tough week or big achievement is to treat yourself, look at the impact on your budget. The sense of reward can be very short-lived, but you’re stuck with the cost forever. Before you indulge again, spend some quiet time listing and planning some non-financial rewards. An afternoon off at the beach, or time spent with a favourite magazine or book would be much easier on the wallet.
  2. Another form of toxic emotional spending is the urge to help. If you’re the one who always picks up the cheque, or helps the friend who needs a few extra dollars, think about whether it’s more than what’s really required. It’s okay to just pay your fair share when the cheque comes to the table. Or when the friend needs a quick loan, politely beg off saying you’re already over your budget this month. Find other ways to help out and be a good friend: pick the restaurant, coordinate group plans, make the booking, offer to drive.
  3. Using spending to support your own sense of confidence is also a money no-no. It’s hard not to compare ourselves to others, especially when it comes to income, spending and showy expensive treats. It can take some practice and focussed thought, but teach yourself instead to feel confident about who you are. Are you more organised? Working harder than most on your studies or career? Or a great source of support for your family? Think about what really matters and learn to see the expensive treats for what they are – a momentary treat and nothing more.

Financial literacy events for women

 

 

small changes this one

The potential for you to make big changes in the amount you are able to save might be under your nose every single day!  We can all get into daily spending habits, that all tolled, can really add up.

We’ve identified 15 to get you off the mark.  Did we miss any? Comment on Facebook or Twitter

  1. No more brand names in your weekly shop – no need!  Unless you’re really loyal with very good reason to a particular brand, opt for the home brand and save money on your weekly groceries.
  2. No more daily coffees – we know, this one hurts, but not as much as looking at how much you could save each year if you bypassed the exxy cafe cup o’ joe: $3.55(average cost of cup of coffee in AUS) per coffee x 5/week x 52 = $923 – what could you do with nearly a grand?
  3. No more spending before midday – this is really about setting yourself limits and learning self discipline.  You can take this further and say no more spending outside absolute essentials for a week or a month.  An interesting experiment maybe?
  4. Save all your $1 coins – for fun: save all your $1 coins from now on.  Pop them all straight into a savings box or a jar for a whole month.  See how much you save.  Then, keep going!
  5. No more browsing for items online – shopping online makes it very easy to shop from wherever we are!  Resist the temptation – just don’t shop online.
  6. No more buying food and drinks when out and about – we are paying a premium when we buy food and drinks from cafes and restaurants.  Bring food and drink from home and save heaps.
  7. No more music or video purchases for 365 days – save money and cancel those plans for a year.   Or, just have one.  Deal with what’s on for free instead and save.
  8. Pledge to make do with existing clothes.
  9. Meal plan – create a list for the week ahead, factoring in packed lunches for work, extra coffee (because you won’t be buying it form the cafes) and some bulk cooking ideas and don’t buy off-list.
  10. Review your bank accounts – are you being charged bank fees for everything? Go into the branch and see if you can get a better deal.
  11. Put that credit card away – pay with cash only and steer well clear of hefty interest rates
  12. Cook!  Pre-made meals and take-aways cost a premium. Learn to cook or cook more yourself.  Cooking in bulk on the weekend can give you meals to grab and take to work or to whip out of the freezer and reheat if you have had a huge day at work.
  13. Stop and think!  Before you buy that extra pair of shoes – just stop for a second and think about it.  How long did you have to work to be able to earn that amount?  8 hours?  Two days?  Looking at it like that, are they still really worth it?  What else could you spend the money on?
  14. Hot water and air con – check the settings on these – by turning down your hot water by only a couple of degrees can save you heaps on your electricity bill.    With your air-con, a tip that could halve your power bill is using DRY mode with your air-conditioning.
  15. Don’t shop when hungry – we don’t need to explain this one!

Financial literacy events for women

ways to cut electricity bill

Electricity bills can be chunky-here are some tips to help you reduce it.

  1. Remember to turn Off Your Lights!
  2. Fill Up Your Fridge.  Empty fridges cost!  They have to work harder.  If you find it’s on the empty side, fill it with full bottles of water.
  3. Consider solar panels
  4. Hang your washing out to dry – don’t use the dryer. If you must use it, use wool dryer balls and reduce drying time from 30-50%. Also, separate the clothes before putting in machine – it will be more efficient this way.
  5. Light Free Evenings – this could be fun!   Use candles, or just go to bed when the sun goes down.  Could be fun!
  6. If you do use a dishwasher, fill it up before you use it
  7. Keep Your Freezer Full: the frozen items will work to keep the inside of the freezer cold and mean the freezer uses less electricity.
  8. Review the temperature of your fridge and freezer.  Of course, it needs to do a job but does it need to be on the coldest possible setting?
  9. Unplug!  Yes, tune out and do yourself a favour.  Turn everything electronic off. Give yourself electrickery free days and go outside instead.
  10. Know when Off Peak is then run your dishwasher etc then if you can
  11. Compare energy plans to get the best deal
  12. Electric for hot water?  Try turning the thermostat down by 5 degrees.  (Needs to be minimum of 60 degrees Celsius to prevent bacteria build up in the system).
  13. Wash clothes in cold water
  14. Be mindful of your usage of the main offenders:   air con units, hot water systems, fridges, swimming pool pumps and electric heaters.
  15. Hand wash your dishes – lose the dishwasher!
  16. Use little lamps instead of the big room lamps – that way they light up just the area you are using.
  17. Shut off power on all appliances – TVs etc on standby  are still using power and therefore costing you money
  18. Keep the cooling vents clear and clean in your fridge and freezer – if they are blocked the appliance will have to work harder
  19. Unplug battery chargers e.g. iPhone, laptop etc when not in use
  20. When you’re cooking a meal, take all the ingredients out of the fridge at the same time. Less opening of the fridge = less electricity usage
  21. If you use a dishwasher, clean the drain regularly so you will not need to rewash dishes.
  22. Soak your dishes before popping them in the dishwasher.
  23. Get rid of unnecessary electric appliances such as electric can openers etc
  24. Rotate cordless phones in one charger only instead of having more than one charging at the same time
  25. If you have a microwave, disconnect the light in there.  Your kitchen is probably well lit enough.

Financial literacy events for women


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