Doing your own taxes can save you money and help you feel confident that you’re in charge of your own financial planning. The process will also shed a lot of light on where your money is going. You’ll come out of it much more aware of how it all works.
Are you ready to do your own?
If you have a straightforward situation, you’re a good candidate to do your own taxes. If your income comes from salary and wages, bank interest, dividends and government payments, the ATO’s MyTax program is made for you. If you have other types of income, or have lots of deductions, you still may be able to file yourself via the ATO site, using their more detailed eTax option
When to pay someone:
If things are more complicated, you might do better to seek out a professional tax preparer. They’ll make sure you don’t miss any deductions and potential savings. And they’ll ensure everything is done correctly and on time. Most importantly, they can take a lot of stress out of the situation for you.
What are some signs that you might have a more complicated situation on your hands?
If you’ve made major changes in the past year like starting a business or an overseas move, that can be a sign that a tax professional should be helping you. Or if you have lots of investments or multiple sources of income. Or if you’re really short of time. Your return is due on October 31! Taxes are something that should never be done in a rush.
SO you’re ready to take the plunge and prepare your own return? Here’s what you need:
You will need a little time and some patience to prepare your tax return.
It’s important to organise yourself first – gather your summary of income from your employer, along with any tax invoices or other documentation. Be sure you check the ATO website to know what expenses are deductible – they have an easy-to-use checklist . Set aside at least a couple of hours on a quiet afternoon or evening and be prepared to work through it one step at a time.
One last tip:
To do your own taxes, it does help if you’re comfortable using online programs and have a little comfort with basic maths.
Rest assured, you don’t need a higher level maths degree, just the basics and the patience to check your work. You should also feel confident doing basic research on the ATO website should you have questions. Not to worry, it’s all in plain english, with plenty of online resources for help. If you’re willing to give it a go, check out the ATOs MyTax service and take control this tax season!
Everyone likes making money but when it comes to investing some people are more comfortable taking risk to earn a higher return than others.
If you’re a member of a super fund, you’re an investor. The money in your super account is invested with the aim of growing your balance.
All investing involves risk. Typically, the higher the expected return an investment could earn, the higher the potential risk. Just like some people enjoy living on the edge — going skydiving or bungee jumping — some people are more comfortable taking investment risk.
Before you invest, understanding your goals can help you choose the investment strategy that best suits your needs. Deciding how comfortable you are risking the money you plan to invest, how long you want to invest for and the return you’re targeting will help you make an investment choice.
An investor aiming for higher returns over the long-term might choose a more aggressive investment strategy. They’re generally less worried about short-term changes in the value of their investments because they’re focused on achieving growth over the long term (10 years). An investor more focused on protecting their money as they could need it soon — rather than earning a higher return — may adopt a more cautious investment strategy.
Find out if you’re super is on track to meet your goals, using the Government’s MoneySmart Superannuation Calculator
Issued by H.E.S.T. Australia Ltd ABN 66 006 818 695 AFSL 235249, the Trustee of Health Employees Superannuation Trust Australia (HESTA) ABN 64 971 749 321. This information is of a general nature. It does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or specific needs so you should look at your own financial position and requirements before making a decision. You may wish to consult an adviser when doing this. Third-party services are provided by parties other than H.E.S.T. Australia Ltd and terms and conditions apply. H.E.S.T. Australia Ltd does not recommend, endorse or accept any responsibility for the products and services offered by third parties or any liability for any loss or damage incurred as a result of services provided by third parties. You should exercise your own judgment about the products and services being offered.
THE FINANCIAL BARRIERS WOMEN FACE
Women earn less than men, are more likely to have interrupted careers because of child raising and caring responsibilities and statistically live longer so need to save more for retirement. Women in Australia can expect to earn $1m less than men in their working lives. The financial impact of this is that women in Australia are 2.5 times more likely than men to live in poverty in their old age. There was an interesting feature on the ABC on 9th January, 2015 on older Australian women becoming homeless at increasing rates – and what young women and families can do right now in their lives to avoid this. Check out the video.
ADD TO THE MIX AN AGEING POPULATION
Current policy settings, including the projected increase in the Superannuation Guarantee contribution to 12%, will not of themselves deliver the level of lifestyle to the majority of those retiring over the next 20 years that we, as a nation, are aiming to achieve. The population is ageing. The number of Australians over the age of 65 will increase by 75% over the next 20 years (from 3.3 million in 2012 to 5.8 million in 2032), and at a much faster rate than the working population and with Australians are living longer, there will be proportionately fewer working Australians available to fund those in retirement.
A HARSH REALITY: WOMEN & THE FINANCIAL SERVICES SECTOR
In the BCG study Women Want More the financial services sector was identified by those 12,000 respondents as the sector they feel most dissatisfied with, of all those sectors that affect their daily lives. The BCG survey results revealed that 73% of respondents were unhappy with the service level received and 71% were dissatisfied with their provider’s product offering. According to the BCG research, women are exasperated at how financial services firms serve them, offering up disrespect, condescension, poor advice, contradictory policies, endless red-tape and a one-sizefits-all approach based on the false assumption that men and women’s needs are the same.
Some said “I’m scared of money”, some said “I’ve never touched money, I don’t know what to do with it.” When they say that, I always think, this is not her voice. It is the voice of history. She is the product of this history. So we have to be very patient. We have to pull off the fears which are created around her, and after a while she says, “Maybe I will try”. If a woman tries and if she is successful, then her neighbours become very interested and they say, “If she can do it, then maybe I can do it too.” And if they are successful, that will open up the snowball effect.
An excerpt from March 2010 speech by Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Founder, Grameen Bank
THE OPPORTUNITY FOR THE WORLD: WOMEN AS AN ECONOMIC POWER FORCE
The world has been undergoing a silent revolution over the last few decades. Women have been growing their status, capabilities and control of financial assets. So much so that in 2008 there were 1 billion working women, a figure targeted to grow to 1.2 billion by 2013, by 2005 women controlled 51.3% of the US’s personal wealth or US$14 trillion, a figure expected to grow to US$22 trillion within the decade. Globally, in 2008 women controlled consumer spending worth US$20 trillion, a figure expected to grow to US$28 trillion by 2013.
“When individuals and family units have clear long and short term goals and a solid understanding of the simple principles behind saving, debt management, insurance, superannuation and investing – there’s a new confidence, a peace of mind and a sense of independence, gratitude and generosity that floods over them, naturally influencing their family and those they touch in their communities.”
Zoe Lamont, Founder 10thousandgirl project
 Australian Financial Literacy Foundation, National Centre for Social and Economic Modeling (NATSEM), International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)
 Julie Reilly’s 2013 publication Gender-Wise Philanthropy: Strengthening Society by Investing in Women & Girls 17 published by Women Donors Network
 Deloitte Dynamics of the Australian Superannuation System, The next 20 years: 2013 – 2033
 Boston Consulting Group, Women Want More, 2008
 Steve Macdonald, Investing Like A Woman, A White Paper, 2012
 Fara Warner, Power of the Purse: How Smart Businesses Are Adapting to the World’s Most Important Consumers – Women, 2005
 Boston Consulting Group, Women Want More, 2008
So join us to embrace women as an economic power force and provide the solutions to the barriers they face – Join A Money Makeover Program or Become A Supporting Partner. Alternatively contact us for more information.
Did you know that from 1 July, you will be able to do this using the newly launched myGov online service?
Once you set up an account with myGov, you essentially gain access to a secure online inbox. Here you will be able to receive online letters, statements as well as other important information from various government bodies such as:
- Veterans’ Affairs
- eHealth Resources
- National Disability Insurance Scheme
- Child Support
The ATO’s Steve Vesperman said “You’ll be able to update personal information, keep track of your superannuation, pay any tax debts and keep tabs on the processing of your tax return…you can be confident that your personal information and records are secure.”
Full article on LifeBuzz. Here’s the highlights – we’ve added an exercise for each idea to get your started. What # rings true for you?
#1. Stop spending time with the wrong people.
EX: Identify someone you spend time with who drains your energy. Unless they need your help, cut your time with them back a little.
#2. Stop running from your problems. – Face them head on.
EX: Identify your #1 problem at the moment. What’s one thing you can do about it?
#3. Stop lying to yourself.
EX: What do you need to be more honest about?
#4. Stop putting your own needs on the back burner.
EX: Do something for yourself today! Just do it!
#5. Stop trying to be someone you’re not.
EX: Identify someone who you want to be like. Do you really want to be them?
#6. Stop trying to hold onto the past.
EX: Think of a memory in the past you hold onto. Take a deep breathe, fill your belly. Breathe into the memory. Now exhale, say out loud ” I let it go”.
#7. Stop being scared to make a mistake.
EX: Do something you think you’ll fail at. See what happens!
#8. Stop berating yourself for old mistakes.
EX: Repeat similar exercise from #6. Identify something you are constantly berating yourself about. Take a deep breathe, fill your belly. Breathe into the idea. Now exhale, say out loud ” I let it go”.
#9. Stop trying to buy happiness.
EX: What have you bought lately because you thought it would make you feel good? Next time you make a similar purchase, ask yourself ‘why?’. What feeling are you trying to buy? What else can you do to create that feeling?
#10. Stop exclusively looking to others for happiness.
EX: Identify a person that makes you happy? What makes them that way? What quality do they have? Mmm yes you have it too!
#11. Stop being idle.
EX: Get up today and DO something you’ve been putting off.
#12. Stop thinking you’re not ready.
EX: START. Start investing, start a conversation with a guy you like, start negotiating a career progression… just START.
#13. Stop getting involved in relationships for the wrong reasons.
EX: Focus instead on the relationship you have with yourself, all other relationships are a bonus.
#14. Stop rejecting new relationships just because old ones didn’t work.
EX: Repeat similar exercise from #6 & 8. Identify something you have experienced in a relationship in the past. Take a deep breathe, fill your belly. Breathe into the idea. Now exhale, say out loud ” I let it go”.
#15. Stop trying to compete against everyone else.
EX: Set a goal around improving yourself. About making an improvement on your efforts last week or last month, or yesterday or last year.
#16. Stop being jealous of others.
EX: Identify someone you’re jealous of. Pay them a compliment – call, email, text or in person.
#17. Stop complaining and feeling sorry for yourself.
EX: Identify something that’s great in your life.
#18. Stop holding grudges.
EX: Repeat similar exercise from #6 & 8. Identify a grudge you have. Take a deep breathe, fill your belly. Breathe into the idea. Now exhale, say out loud ” I let it go”.
#19. Stop letting others bring you down to their level.
EX: Next time someone brings you down, look them in the eye and tell them you don’t agree. And that actually… you rock at that!!
#20. Stop wasting time explaining yourself to others.
EX: Next time you find yourself explaining yourself, stop. If they get you they’ll get you.
#21. Stop doing the same things over and over without taking a break.
EX: Take a sporadic break – a walk around the block or a week away!
#22. Stop overlooking the beauty of small moments.
EX: Smile deliberately at something beautiful that catches your eye. Enjoy it for a minute +.
#23. Stop trying to make things perfect.
EX: Laugh out loud at an imperfection.
#24. Stop following the path of least resistance.
EX: Do something that CHALLENGES you.
#25. Stop acting like everything is fine if it isn’t.
EX: Ask someone for help.
#26. Stop blaming others for your troubles.
EX: Next time you catch yourself blaming someone else, bring it back to you? What could you have done differently? What can you do better next time?
#27. Stop trying to be everything to everyone.
EX: Pick your battles a friend once said to me. It’s the same with helping others. Pick a few people to support in your life, and support them well.
#28. Stop worrying so much.
EX: Jump up and down 10 times, waving your hands around above your head. Keep going till you burst out laughing – what were you worrying about again?
#29. Stop focusing on what you don’t want to happen.
EX: Life’s like a garden, you need to fertilise the plants not the weeds. Identify one of your plants (key goals) – water it!!
#30. Stop being ungrateful.
EX: No matter how good or bad you have it, wake up each day thankful for your life. Someone somewhere is desperately fighting for theirs. Say thank you for something out aloud.
What can you stop doing?
Actually two women’s lives.
Last night a group of 30 inspiring women around Australia gave two micro loans. These 30 women came from all walks of life – a mum from a farm in north west NSW, an artist from Melbourne, a mining consultant from central Queensland…
Over the last 6 weeks this powerful group of women completed the 6 Step Challenge, 10thousandgirl’s new ‘Michelle Bridges’ style online personal finance program. And they blitzed it!!
They documented their life plans, tracked their spending, worked out their net worth, negotiated rates on home loans, high interest savers and utility bills. They reviewed their insurance, consolidated super. They discussed investment principles and the behaviour of cash, property and shares. They opened super letters for the first time and made calls to their super fund to change their investment mix to fit with their age and stage. In week 4 they documented their personal investing plans, asking themselves:
- What are my #1 financial goals?
- How much money do I need for each goal?
- When do I need it? What’s my timeframe?
- What investment options suit that goal and timeframe?
- What are my next steps?
And last night they wrapped up by mapping out their personal and professional support networks. They discussed the different professional support roles, how to find trusted advisors and learnt good questions to ask when approaching and engaging an adviser.
Then they wrapped up with an INSPIRATION FEST. Discussing what inspires them, who do they inspire? How do they stay inspired?
Well, wonderful women. You certainly inspired me. Thank you for your Ripple Effect. May it be felt across your life, among your family and friends lives, in your work and community life and as part of your program fee, you each donated $10 into a pool and were able to donate two micro loans, one to Merelita Marama and one to Linita Ponitini.
So thank you for your globally felt Ripple Effect…
Merelita Marama, Nasautoka Fiji
Loan Use: Sewing
Term: 26 Week
Some people are born with a natural talent. Merelita Marama (47) is one of them. She loves sewing for the people in her village and is a skilled seamstress. Merelita has built a steady client base among her friends, neighbours, office workers and church members. With her loan, she intends to buy more sewing equipment to help expand her business. Merelita is certain she will make greater profits, which will improve the lives of her four children.
Linita Ponitini, Tonga
Loan Use: Farm produce
Term: 52 Week
Linita Ponitini has three children under twelve. Her goal is to build a house for her family. She and her husband grow a range of crops, which Linita sells in the local market. But their profits are insufficient to cover both family and business expenses. So Linita is seeking a loan to buy seeds and seedlings to increase the farm’s production and yield.
Want to provide micro loans? Sign up http://www.goodreturn.org
Want to do the 10thousandgirl 6 Step Challenge? Sign up http://www.10thousandgirl.com
Just read a blog on the MoneySoft site that made me go ‘yeah, that’s me too!’ Have you hit that age or stage where dreams of marrying a prince are slipping away and you’re finding yourself thinking about money??
Here’s Amy’s story… ‘Before I was a mum, I was a woman who enjoyed shopping for myself, being out with friends and family, paying for Foxtel to make sure I was update with every show and movie available on this planet. I enjoyed manicures, pedicures, facials, dinner parties, brunches, shopping online, spending summer days at the beach and having a quick drink before heading home. I drove everywhere, not really stressing about the cost of parking meters, or parking stations. Late nights splurging on food and drinks was not an issue as I could most probably sleep in the next day and if not have a quick nap before meeting up with friends for dinner. Everything seemed simple. Life was simple. What I wanted I did with no care in the world.
Something happened between my twenty’s and my thirties. I would always put it down to “well that’s what happens when you start having kids”…but in actual fact it’s just that my priorities shifted. I woke up one day thinking hang on (and that’s a PG version of what I was really thinking) why has everything changed? At what point did I become so money conscious and when did I start loosing sleep over this matter?
I can’t tell you exactly when or why but it happened. I found myself regretting a lot of my decisions from my younger days. What if I didn’t live paycheck to pay check, what if I saved a bit here and there, maybe just maybe I wouldn’t be in the predicament that I’m in now. When friends were all putting deposits on their investment properties I was that hippy saying “Enjoy life, life is short, we have plenty of time to work our a$$’ off and worry about money” then I would laugh and go home and think how I have got it so down packed this thing called life…. Just quietly I think those friends are now laughing.
Something had to be done it was getting ridiculous, having twins, a husband and all the pressures of life I no longer craved the ‘what I wanted I did with no care in the world’ kind of approach. My husband who is equally if not more a little ‘whatever’ with our finances came up with a great idea, pretend like we don’t have money. The first few months was great, we set up separate accounts to which our income was assigned to and another account for all our bills to come out of. We did the whole take food from home for lunch, put our left over coins in a jar at the end of the day, started selling a few bits and pieces online for some extra income, but slowly slowly our spending demons started resurfacing and scratching through the few months of hard work we had put in. In the end we looked at each other and..’ READ FULL ARTICLE >>
There’s a new money tool for women just launched. I’ve been loving their blog the last few months and now they have a comparison site.
Here’s an excerpt from their last newsletter with links to a few great blogs:
Tax expert, Jasmine Kidd, shares seven tax deductions commonly missed by landlords. For those of you working and paying a packet for childcare, Tracey Sharah helps you get the most relief from childcare allowances.
And with winter coming, Veronica Foale suggests how to you stay warm without burning money.
So if you’re looking to compare super funds, health insurers, home loans or savings accounts, add this one to your list of fun comparison sites: http://moneycircle.com
We all know Christmas is a festive time and it’s pretty easy to let our spending go astray.
Here are our favourite MoneySmart Top Tips and Tricks for Christmas.
Track your Christmas gift, food and decoration spending this year with the TrackMySpend app. This app is free and easy to use. The new version of the app allows you to categorise your expenses and set spending limits for each category. You can also use the app to keep track of other expenses such as holidays and Boxing Day sales shopping, as well as your daily expenses.
Make a List. Before you start shopping, make a list of who you’ll buy gifts for along with how much you plan to spend on each one. Remember, the longer you spend in a shop the more you are likely to buy, so having a list will help keep you focused and stop you from frivolous spending you can’t afford.
Shop online. You can more easily compare prices and products to get the best deal possible. Keep an eye out for free shipping and gift wrapping too. See MoneySmart’s tips on shopping securely online.
Make a ‘No Unnecessary Gift’ pact with your family and friends. Agree to not buy each other gifts this year, or make other arrangements instead of a gift, like setting a lunch date for January or helping each other out with a goal or task.
Embrace the real Christmas spirit this year by donating money to charity. Many charities have items you can buy as gifts in the recipient’s name. Remember, any donation you make of $2 or more is tax deductible. See MoneySmart’s donating page for more information.
Often one thoughtful gift is more useful than 10. If you can’t abstain from gift giving altogether then follow the savviest Christmas tradition of all – Secret Santa (some people call it Kris Kringle). Set a gift cost with a group of friends or family, draw a name out of a hat for each person and buy just one gift.
A gift for the future. Instead of wasting money on an unnecessary gift, you might think about making an investment on someone’s behalf. For example, you could start a bank account for a child in your family and add to it each Christmas. They will thank you when they are 21 and you have saved a couple of thousand dollars for them.
Start saving for next year. Open a high interest savings account now and start saving for next Christmas. See the magic of compound interest at work with our compound interest calculator. If you put away just $18 a week for 52 weeks, you’ll have the average Christmas spend of over $900 saved for next year’s celebrations.
Thinking of putting a few gifts on your credit card? Use the MoneySmart credit card calculator to see how much your gifts will cost you if you don’t pay them off quickly.
10thousandgirl’s personal favourite? Make your Christmas gifts. There’s no better gift than one that’s taken time and love.
Enjoy being resourceful! Xx
We all want the best deal, this is the value of comparison sites. Here’s our picks!
What we like about MOZO
- General web layout and usability
- MOZO Answers – a forum to ask and answer questions, check it out http://mozo.com.au/answers
- Their blog and infographics
We met with the Finder guys the other day and here’s what we found!
- Great young team who really care about people’s financial literacy and empowerment
- Home loan calculators – lots of them! Ones to help calculate property buying costs, savings with split loans, stamp duty, difference a lump sum payment can make to a loan and of course, loan comparisons
- An interactive site with loads of info to explore and use to help make your financial decisions
HOW DO COMPARISON SITES WORK?
We also liked how Finder were quite upfront with how how comparison sites work in a section called Free? What’s the Catch? Here’s a good explanation of how comparison sites work:
Someone has to foot the bill, but it’s not our customers. Instead, the providers on the site pay.
When you click through to or apply with a financial institution, broker or retailer from our website, that provider will pay us a small referral fee for sending you to there. We don’t mark up the products just for listing them on our website, and we don’t get ongoing or trailing commissions.
We also sell some ad spaces on our sites, although we try to limit those so you don’t feel too cluttered.
WHAT’S AROUND THE CORNER?
Keep your eyes out for new comparison site for women, Money Circle. Great blog posts and social media commentary to date so we’re looking forward to seeing their next steps and what they’re going to offer in 2014.
Happy comparing! Xx
The fun bookclub-like GIG (Girl Investment Group) program supports you and girlfriends, workmates or new 10thousandgirl friends to complete the 10thousandgirl Personal Finance Program. The aim is to learn the principles behind personal finance and investing in an engaging, supportive and light-hearted environment.
GIGs are all about learning the life and finance skills we need to know but often didn’t learn at home or at school. Supported by interactive webinars, videos and beautiful workbook materials, 10thousandgirl supplies the Personal Finance Program with an agenda and learning materials for each meeting, and you let your group know what time and who’s bringing tea, treats or wine.
Financially empower yourself while 10% of your program fees go toward providing a microloan for a woman to start a new business and lift herself and her family out of poverty. Pretty inspiring!
Want to find out more?
Here’s an overview of GIGs (Girl Investment Groups) and the NEW 10thousandgirl Personal Finance Program.
Interested and want to find other like-minds in your area? Register your interest.
Already decided this is for you? Here’s the Steps to Getting Your GIG Started.
Currently a financial services professional looking for opportunities to financially empower women in your local area? Interested in a Mentor opportunity? Read on…
Did you know the average credit card debt in Australia is $3500? And paying minimum repayments at the average interest rate of 21.5% could take over 90 years to pay off?
Shocking but true.
In a recent article in The Sydney Morning Herald ‘Plot a path to turn red into black‘, some basic tips to get yourself out of a credit card pickle were shared along with case studies which show it can be done.
Here are some other tips and resources to help get on top of debt and back into black:
- Managing debt
- Creating a Debt Repayment Plan (video tutorial)
- Reaching your savings goal
- Credit Card Calculator
TIP!! If you are consolidating debt, make sure you are careful of your credit rating, making multiple applications for credit cards etc can impact your ability to apply for a home loan etc. at a later date. Talk to your bank manager/s but don’t let them log any applications for you unless they’re 100% sure you will get it. You can check your credit history by getting a free copy of your credit report from these credit reporting agencies:
TIP!! Paying a little more than the minimum repayments on your credit card can mean the difference between having the debt for 90 years or 2!
Start small, be strategic, keep on it and you’ll get there in no time.