planning

There is one small activity I do on a regular basis that makes a huge difference to my self-belief. It is the act of noting down, in one place, all the tasks I have accomplished during the previous week – both on a personal and professional level. A Week In Review!

For so many of us the weeks fly by and when someone asks us what we’ve been up to we draw a blank…Can you relate? Sometimes you may even beat yourself up because you feel that you’ve not achieved much during the last seven days.

This simple activity will only take you about 10 minutes a week and is one that makes such an impact. It helps:

  • build momentum;
  • gives you a moment to reflect on the week;
  • helps you remember what you have actually done;
  • see if you’ve done the tasks that bring you closer to your goals and aims;
  • gives you a boost to do more in the upcoming week;
  • reminds you that you do have the capabilities to do what you need to (self-belief and self-confidence);
  • and inspires increased productivity.

How To Do Your Week In Review

  1. Put aside 10 minutes at a regular time during the week. I prefer to do it on Friday afternoons.
  2. Have your to do list and diary on hand. It helps if you use some sort of scheduler to remind you of some of the bigger things you did this week.
  3. Choose a place to write up your list. I write mine on my blog. You may just want to keep a document on your computer. Write it down though! It doesn’t have as much impact if you just keep in in your head.
  4. Write down your dot points. Keep it short and sweet – it is easier to maintain. You may have things that are quite big or things that are quite small. For example:
  • Caught up with the girls
  • Cleaned the house
  • Completed website copy draft
  • Went to the gym x3
  • Cooked 4x healthy dinners
  • Read a book
  • Spoke to boss about raise
  • Counselled colleague
  • Sold couch on ebay
  • Volunteered at school
  • Browsed bookshop

5. Read over it one more time. Pat yourself on the back and see what the process has done for yo

Go on, give it a go and make it part of your routine.

Arienne is the content manager for 10thousandgirl and head she at Savvy Sassy She where she muses about life and wants to help everyone wake up to the lives they love and start living it now. A lover of lists , she is one of those people that does something that wasn’t on the daily to do then goes and writes it on just so she can cross it off.

Photo Credit

When the call went out asking for women into organisation went out, Nadine Zrinzo answered! She’s taken part in our 10thousandgirl written interview series and shares her experiences and how she stays on top of a busy life. Thank you Nadine!

Name: Nadine Zrinzo
State: Queensland
Occupation:
Conference Director

10TG: So Nadine, tell us a little bit about yourself!
NZ:
Where to start – I grew up in Malta (a tiny island in the Mediterranean), moved to London after uni and a few years after that hoped on a plane to sunny Brissie, which is where I call home at the moment. Most of my day is dedicated to Bright Conferences, which is a conference management company I set up and run. The rest gets shared between friends, family, yoga, food and general life tasks!

10TG: How and why did you start your business Bright Conferences?
NZ:
I was always one who loved managing people and projects, even when I was at school. One thing led to another and one day I got the opportunity to freelance on some events so I took the leap. Eventually the freelancing got turned into a proper business, which is when Bright Conferences was born.

Bright Conferences is constantly morphing and I love playing with new projects and testing ideas out. We run a number of activities, some are client based i.e. we plan, create and execute conferences on behalf of our clients whilst others are our projects such as Bright Learning which focuses on fun adult courses.

10TG: You’re a very busy woman, how do you manage to stay organised?
NZ:
Lists! I have lists for everything, each project at work and my personal life at times. It helps me stay on top of what needs doing and it means that I do not get stressed out trying to remember things. I love investing in good stationery (pens & notebooks), which makes the process of organising and planning a bit more pleasant!

10TG: What are some tools, systems or resources that help you manage your projects/personal life?
NZ:
Aside from the lists mentioned above, I love drawing and mapping out tasks. I am quite a visual person so mind maps, arrows, colours – all help me with any planning.

For the bigger work projects I use software such as ConceptDraw  Project, which helps me build Gantt charts and other project management charts. Excel is also a good simple tool to use when you need to draw up plans or lists quickly.

10TG: How do you organise your different tasks to keep the business successful?
NZ:
Towards the end of the week, I outline the tasks, per project that need to happen during the next week. It is generally a brain dump though I tend to refer to project plans for the bigger conferences or events we are working on.

Once I have the list, I then go through it and write down how long I estimate every task will take, and when it needs to get done by.

This allows me to estimate how many hours I need to spend on each project per day and gives me the flexibility to move things around if one day is too packed or I need time off. It also means that when I get to work on Monday I know exactly what I need to be doing and get stuck right in it!

10TG: What are some tips that could help others stay organised while juggling multiple professional and personal projects?
NZ:
Separate your professional and personal tasks and make sure you give yourself enough time to do both. Divide your days into projects – one or two per day – and stick to the timelines you set for yourself.

I love the half day per project approach as it gives you enough time to get immersed into it, however not enough to get bored.

10TG: What are you learning about yourself through your experiences?
NZ:
Everything changes, all the time and so do we. What worked yesterday isn’t necessarily going to work tomorrow so it is very important to be aware of what you are doing and whether it is effective both personally and at work.

One learning point I keep having to remind myself is to listen to my gut (or sixth sense), as it will often tell you whether you are on the right path or not.

10TG: What are some of your short term goals?
NZ:
My focus at the moment is on a new project we are launching called Bright Learning. It consists of a series of short, fun courses for adults and is running in Brisbane – www.brightlearning.com.au. So the short term goal there is to get Bright Learning up and running and to eventually grow it into a sustainable business.

10TG: What are some of your long term goals?
NZ:
It might be a cliché but my long term goal is just to build a life I am happy leading and that extends to all aspects, whether they are financial, personal development, family or friend related.

10TG: Is there anything else you would like to bring to the attention of the 10thousandgirl community?
NZ:
Everything worth doing takes time, practice and a lot of hard work. It is very rare (in any business) to become successful overnight. Even the people you think have done it, have generally been struggling for years. A bit of luck always helps, however you need to be actually doing something for the luck to happen.

10TG: What is the best financial tip you’ve ever received?
NZ:
Always work to a budget – otherwise you just don’t know how much you are spending and on what. This also applies to your personal finances.

10TG: Are there any resources related to organisation/time management you’d like to share?
NZ:
There are plenty of tools around that can help you get organised particularly if you look at any of the App Stores. Tools such as Time Doctor, Wunderlist, Project, ConceptDraw Project, Excel – the best thing to do is work out what you need first, then go out and look for it!

Find out more or connect with Nadine:

Web: www.brightconferences.com.au or www.brightlearning.com.au
Twitter:
@nadine_zrinzo
Facebook:
www.facebook.com/brightlearning

Several people suggested I write about my experiences of working towards what I wanted – both to share my story with others and to take the opportunity to reflect and actually appreciate what has brought me here.

So often, we are working towards things, whether they be personal projects or work goals, that when we achieve them, we might do a quick ‘yay’, and then continue with the next to-do. We regularly don’t put it in perspective and take the time to appreciate and recognise the time, effort and occasional sacrifices we made to get there.

I was having a bad day and my great friend Chloe sat me down and actually made me recognise what I had achieved. Her belief in me made me look at why she felt that way and why I didn’t. She told me about what I had said to her when I first met her (basically that I had left my marketing job, was currently working in admin, but what I really wanted to do was work with young women), and then what she had seen me do over the last two years and to see where I was now and what I was doing. They were linked and there was action I had taken to bring me here. Taking the time made me reconsider and appreciate my position and actually see what I had done and the positive consequences that had resulted. I had to congratulate myself. More on this later.

4 years ago, people probably looked at me as having a great life, with almost everything I could ask for, at least on the surface – a partner, a job, a car, friends, loving family, enough money to get by without too many worries. But something was seriously wrong…

I did well at school, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I thought that a business degree with a marketing major would be able to give me a bit of a balance between creativity and a guided direction. It was okay…I really did learn a lot that was practical for the real world. Marketing is really just creative logic. Though, in hindsight, I think I would have preferred interior design!

I worked pretty much full time at my mother’s business while studying full time as well. I went on to become the marketing manager at mum’s growing business when I graduated as it was the natural next step. Unfortunately, the pressure of being looked at as being there only because of nepotism, and not actually because I knew the product and the business inside out and had a degree, was there, though whether it was my own projections or people’s actual feelings I’m not sure (another hindsight insight was that I was really pretty good at it!).

I was living a life that people thought I should live – not in a bad way – but I had many opportunities that would come up, especially with work and they would say ‘wow, you are so lucky to be in that position, take it and do it, it’s so amazing’ and I’d plaster a smile on my face and go ‘yes, it is isn’t it, I should do it’ so I did. I guess I was just sitting back and letting things happens rather than being part of the design of my future and consciously seeing what I wanted and going for it.

What I didn’t realise at the time was that the strange feelings inside of me were warning signs that I wasn’t living authentically with who I was. I was living what other people thought was good for me.

The wake up call happened out of the blue, actually while I was on an amazing trip with my sister and Dad. I got hit with crippling anxiety.

To cut a very long story short (and I’m trying to work on brevity actually becoming a strong point) it lasted a really, really, really long time. It was not okay with me and I worked really hard to reinvent myself because I had to. I did a myriad of healings and therapies, I’m not really sure what worked, but I’ve realised that it has so much to do with the mind and what and how you think. I’m still on the journey out, but I’m 95% better than I was and I believe I’m almost there!

I decided to explore a lot about myself and really did a lot of self-analysis and excavation. I made a lot of changes during that time. My relationship with my partner came to an end, I moved homes, I took up journal writing, I started dating, I partied a lot, I blossomed socially and made some great new friends. I was going on new adventures as I was healing and looking for a new path.

During that time I realised what my main passion was and still is – working with young women just like me who are looking at improving their lives – inspired females, resourced women, girls who enjoy some of the nice things in life but also want to give back. I didn’t know how or what to do, but I knew I wanted to work in that direction.

I decided to leave the marketing role at Mum’s work and take on something that could give me more time to work out what I really wanted to do. Something that I consciously decided to do, rather than just fell into. So, I decided that I could probably go in to an administrative role where I could work 9-5 and not take home any responsibility. I temped for a little while and ended up being offered a Senior Administrative role in a university which I accepted. Little did they know this senior admin person had no idea how to fix a printer or use the laminator. I am proud to say I am now and expert in both. I received less income, but it was worth it because it gave me the opportunity to do so much more that was priceless – time to spend on myself.

I planned to stay a year while I decided if I wanted to join an organisation or start my own business to do with working with young women. I did a lot of planning and dreaming, trialling and experimenting, reading and researching in my spare time. The job was a good gap filler and I created some amazing relationships, and learned both good and bad things about myself, but I also learned that my personality type took this role seriously and it wasn’t 9-5 for me. I was getting stressed about situations, working long hours and it wasn’t what I wanted to do. Something had to change again.

In late 2009, I connected with Anneli Knight and then Zoe Lamont through a friend. I got an email and asked a small but significant (to me) question to Anneli and through a series of events, it led me here. If I didn’t have the guts to ask the question (it was basically if she was interested in working together on a business idea I had), what would have happened? Sometimes you just need to reach out. One of my favourite lines is from a Coldplay song – ‘if you never try, you’ll never know’.

What Zoe, Anneli and I were discussing was so aligned. They were just starting 10thousandgirl out of Zoe’s initial project High Heels and a WIG. We were trying to find a way I could become involved and I ended up volunteering to be their Steering Committee Chair.

I loved the girls I was coming in contact with. To be honest, it was hard pouring so much energy into it while working full time at the University (and starting a new relationship, having a social life, working on a few more personal goals and spending time on what I had finally learned the hard way was important – myself), but I knew 10thousandgirl, the people involved and the concept was really resonating in me so it was worth it.

10 months later, Zoe offered me a role at 10thousandgirl and I jumped at the chance. The chance to become involved in this amazing community of like minds. The chance to be involved in working with young women who wanted to learn more. The chance to help be part of a ripple effect and empower individuals and communities. The plan to stay one year at the university turned into 18 months, a little longer than I originally planned, but that was ultimately fine.

This is nowhere near the end of the journey, I still have dreams and aspirations that I am working on and figuring out. But with the discovery of a passion and from a vague idea of what I wanted to do, with some proactive actions and jumping on opportunities that presented themselves, I’m Manager Girl at the 10thousandgirl Campaign, working with inspired young women. This is a massive milestone in my journey.

The way I’ve done things is probably not the ideal way. But it’s the way I had to do it. We are all individuals with different contexts surrounding us. These are my lessons learned. If this gives you an idea of one person’s experience – good. If it inspires you – great. If it’s just a story of a girl – fine.  If it does nothing – no problem! These realisations probably aren’t the right ones for everyone – take what you want and leave the rest.

Lessons learned:

  • Do what you have to for yourself first. Live your own life. It doesn’t have to be selfish. After all you are the one that you answer to in those quiet moments. Make yourself happy with your decisions, that way you make the others around you happier in the long term.
  • Listen to the feelings you have. They are often signs that you are either on the right path or not.
  • Have at least an idea of the direction you wanted to go in. If you have a really clear outcome, write down all the details, you’ll probably get there quicker.
  • Ask the question. Send that email. Make that phone call. Even if it puts you out of your comfort zone. That action could lead you to a path that is so rewarding.
  • Take the time to appreciate what you have done to get you to where you are. Really reflect, give thanks and contemplate it so you can recognise and acknowledge that your actions brought you there. You weren’t just sitting back and waiting for things to happen like I was initially.
  • Have plans beyond the big ones in your short and medium term sights, because when you get there it will be amazing, but you still want to have a bigger purpose in life.
  • Listen to your friends. They often have better insights into our lives than we do.

Happy journeying!

Arienne


With the silly season well into swing what are some things you can start doing to start the 2011 without a financial hangover.

The first phase should be around what you want to achieve in 2011.  As silly as it sounds write it down!  What are Your Goals for Life in 2011.  Get your list of things you want to achieve, both the big and the small.  Make sure if there are big things that you can break them down into achievable actions.

Your Cash Matters.  If you are in business or an employee cash flow is the key!  Take the time to review your 2011 cash flow plan and make cash flow your key priority for 2011.  If you have not planned as well this year, set up a Christmas club savings account to get cash on the ready for Christmas 2011 – we know when it is going to fall, the 25th of December 2011 will be a Sunday! 

Once your cash flow is in order the next phase is to look at your ability to create wealth and or put more money into superannuation each have benefits and limitations depending on your stage in life.

Use of strategies such as dollar cost averaging to take advantage of movements in the market can cause a better outcome.  If your cash flow will allow it and you want to manage your tax position you could also look to use someone else’s money to invest (welcome to the world of gearing strategies). See table above


The final phase is to look at Your Back Up Plan.  What do you have in place as a protection strategy if things don’t turn out how you planned?  Check out the insurances you have and work out what you do and don’t need.  Insurance through superannuation can be a more cost effective way to access protection.  You can also check out your private health insurance options online at www.privateheath.gov.au.

Aunty Scotty AKA Scott Malcolm (scott@money-mechanics.com.au) is Director of Money Mechanics, a fee for service advice firm who are authorised to provide financial advice through PATRON Financial Advice AFSL 307379.

Aunty Scotty AKA Scott Malcolm (scott@money-mechanics.com.au) is Director of Money Mechanics, a fee for service advice firm Scott Malcolmwho are authorised to provide financial advice through PATRON Financial Advice AFSL 307379.

Some of us are very clear on what they want in life.  While others of us can be a little more carefree in nature and have only sort of an idea of where they are heading.  Then there are those who the thought of planning is not even on their radar.

No matter where you are at, my money challenge for you this month is to take a moment to think about what ‘wealth’ or ‘financial independence’ means to you and create your definition.


For me being wealthy means: ________________________________________________

For me Financial Independence means: _________________________________________

Wealth, financial independence and there meaning can be a very personal point of view and perception.  What does wealth really mean to you?

Do you believe you are wealthy because you no longer worry about money because you are able to pay your bills on time?  Or is it more about having enough money to choose whether or not you work?  Or would you only consider being wealthy if you live in a very expensive house and travel regularly?  Do you not believe in the concept of wealth at all or is wealth to you more about lifestyle and less about money?

We can sometimes take elements of our wealthy lifestyles for granted.  I feel wealthy because I have love, happiness, shelter, safety, food and education in my life as well as an income and ability to help and empower others.

Setting your goals and working out what it means for you and your partner is a major part of the financial planning process.  Setting SMART or SMART-ER goals can be a challenge in itself as is taking the action to make them happen.

Specific – You know exactly what the goal is with as many details as possible.
Measurable – You are able to measure how far you have progressed towards the final goal.
Achievable – The goal takes account of your particular situation at the time.
Realistic – The goal reflects your skills, resources and ability to achieve a specific outcome.
Timeframe – There is a definite time frame against which progress towards the goal can be tracked.
Extra Realistic – The what, where, when and how of your goal in a high level of detail so much so you can almost touch it!

A financial planner can assist with helping you to document your plans and get you on track to achieving your financial goals as an individual or a couple.   We can also offer a reality check to see if the numbers stack up and your goals are achievable in the timeframe that you are planning.

A result of this of this could be getting investment advice which can open up a whole new world of jargon and new experiences for you such as buying an investment product.

A good adviser will take you on this journey with them rather then talking at you about the products and strategies they will implement for you.  My advice is that this process should be a partnership and you should be educated and informed throughout it all.

As education and information can ad a further depth of wealth to your life.

Check out the Government resources at FIDO.gov.au about getting advice and start your journey today to create wealth through understanding.


The information provided on this article is of a general nature only. It has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs.  Before acting on this information you should consider its appropriateness having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs


Scott MalcolmAunty Scotty AKA Scott Malcolm (scott@money-mechanics.com.au) is Director of Money Mechanics, a fee for service advice firm who are authorised to provide financial advice through PATRON Financial Advice AFSL 307379.

This week I caught up with Zoe Lamont, one of the brains and inspiring energy forces behind the 10thousandgirl campaign.  We were having a coffee and chatting, among other things, about goal setting and the complexity and challenge that can occur with putting a dollar amount around your goals.

We both agreed that going through this process can either be a supporting influence or could cause you to realise that your goals may not be as realistic as you first thought!  For example, saving $100,000 for a house deposit might be a little unrealistic in a two-year timeframe, depending on your income level, however extending this out to five years might be more achievable.

Once you have set your SMART goals or the goals that INSPIRE you, the next phase is doing some financial planning to work out how to achieve your goals and if your goals and timeframes are realistic.

Shorter-term calculations can be pretty easy.  For example if you wanted to save $5,000 in 12 months time, you can divide the $5,000 by 12 to work out what you need to set aside each month to achieve your goal.

Medium and longer terms goals might be a little harder as rates or return and other elements come into play.

I have put together a couple of calculations you can use as tools to see how much you need to set aside and what the effect of different rates of return can have on the outcomes.

Some points to note are that this is not an exact science.  It can be a helpful way to cross check that your goals are on track and achievable and also a great negotiation tool if you need to review the timeframes on your goals.

If your goal isn’t achievable in your initial timeframe, don’t loose hope.  Instead be inspired that you now have a more realistic timeframe on your goals and more clarity on what is required to achieve your outcome.

Tool 1: The Rule of 72

This is a financial rule of thumb that is used to estimate the number of years an amount will take to double assuming a specific rate of return.  This formula dates back to an early Mathematician Luca Pacioli (1445–1514).  Roughly translated from Wikipedia: “In wanting to know for any percentage, in how many years the capital will be doubled, you bring to mind the rule of 72, which you always divide by the interest, and the result is in how many years it will be doubled.”

For Example: When the interest is 6% per year, dividing 72 by 6 gives you 12.  This means at a 6% rate of return, the capital will double every 12 years.  So if you had $1,000 in a cash account earning 6%, without adding any further capital it would take 12 years for this to become $2,000.

A summary of different returns is here.

Here is an exercise for you to work with some of your own goals or plans for life.

Determine your goal and when you want it _____ number of years.
= $______________ lump sum required.

What rate of return do you need to achieve your goals? Is it realistic?

Your Starting Lump Sum $___________
Your Goal Lump Sum $__________
When do you want it? ____________ (A) # of years.
Number of times your money has to double? ___________  (B)
Number of years to double?  ________ (C) = (A/B
Expected Rate of Return ______________%  (72/C )

When you look at the rate of return you need on your capital does it feel realistic?  Does it seem too risky?  Do you feel comfortable with that rate of return?

The Rule of 72 is all about having a lump sum but what if you have a regular savings plan for each payday or each year?

Tool 2: Regular savings calculator

ASIC’s www.fido.gov.au has some great online savings calculators but if you wanted to play around with the figures yourself, the table below makes the calculation a little easier. It assumes some different rates of return, time frames and takes into account inflation (or the annual increase in the cost of living):

Years to Goal

Assumed Rate of Return (after inflation)

2%

4%

6%

8%

10%

12%

14%

5

5.31

5.63

5.98

6.30

6.72

7.12

7.54

10

11.17

12.49

13.97

15.65

17.53

19.65

22.04

15

17.64

20.82

24.67

29.32

34.95

41.75

49.98

20

24.78

30.97

38.99

49.42

63.00

80.70

103.77

25

32.67

43.31

58.16

78.95

108.18

149.33

207.33

30

41.38

58.33

83.80

122.35

180.94

270.29

406.74

35

50.99

76.60

118.12

186.10

298.13

483.46

790.67

40

61.61

98.83

164.05

279.78

486.85

859.14

1529.91

This table was adapted from Barbara Smith & Dr Ed Koken’s “Superannuation in a nutshell”.

Look at the first column to determine the number of years to your goal. Example: achieve financial freedom in 20 years.

Now look along that column to determine your expected rate of return, for 8% per annum the figure is 49.42.

Take your required capital amount and divide it by this number. $1,000,000 / 49.42 = $23,573.79 per annum. This is the annual investment amount you need to put aside to achieve the outcome at an 8% return. You can then turn it into a weekly, fortnightly or monthly amount as needed.

Try this for yourself with one of your goals; it could be buying a house in 5 years and needing a certain deposit, or saving enough money to set up your own business, or even the goal of financial freedom depending on your needs.

Your capital requirement = $_______________________ (A)
Estimate of years to reach your goal = ___________________ (B)
Estimated rate of return from your fund = ____________ (C)
Factor from table above = _________________________ (D)
Required amount to save each year = (A) / (D)= ________________

If you need assistance in exploring these further talk to a professional but most importantly, start your journey to creating wealth with understanding.

The information provided on this article is of a general nature only. It has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs.  Before acting on this information you should consider its appropriateness having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs.

Victoria Craw has a degree in Political Science and English and is currently based in Sydney as a finance writer. Victoria has also worked as a foreign exchange writer in London, a journalist in Samoa and at a winery in a small corner of New Zealand. Described as a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ she occupies her time reading, writing and thinking about how to finance the next trip overseas. Read her personal blog at http://www.victoriacraw.blogspot.com/

On a swirling winter’s day in the heart of industrial Alexandria, I blustered in from the rain to the HQ of Napoleon Perdis, for my first introduction to the 10thousandgirl project.

Not knowing what to expect, I was amazed to stumble upon a hive of feminine activity. Part boardroom, part boudoir, the Napoleon office was filled with warm chatter, smiling women, soft music, and the smell of hot coffee. The large table was strewn with make-up, copies of Flirting with Finance and plates of dainty biscuits, with not a man or a briefcase in sight!

Led by the effervescent and positively charming Zoe, we all made our introductions and I was amazed at how open and individual everyone was. The aim of the day was to paint a picture of where we wanted to be, and create a road map to get there.

Firstly, Zoe asked us to look at our value systems, our beliefs, and habits – that when trotted out like a pair of well worn slippers, can become inhibiting. ‘I never have enough time’ or ‘I’m terrible with money’ immediately sprung to mind.

We looked at why we held these beliefs and if we wanted to, what we could replace them with. By saying ‘what’s the worst that could happen? Or ‘trust your instinct more’, it suddenly seemed easier to find a sense of empowerment to move forward, rather than stay in a rut.

We made vision boards, ate sushi, had makeovers and in my favourite part, painted a picture of our lives in 10 years time. By creating a story that involved living by the water, kids, pets, rustic furniture, a library full of books and for some reason, fruit trees, it made it easier to imagine this as a reality. We did the same thing for five years time, one year and eventually, broke it down into specific steps to take away.

One of the ‘light bulb’ moments I had was the feeling of connectivity in a society where people seem innately competitive. Where furtively checking out a women’s outfit can be more common than giving a compliment, it was great to meet people in an environment where everyone was open about their dreams and desires. Any bad decisions, relationships or work environments were obstacles to be overcome, not secrets to hide away.

I came away energized, positive and inspired. It’s easy to be ‘too busy’ or ‘too broke’ and I was happy to have spent time shutting off the background noise and thinking about what I really want. My goals include more writing, building a website, paying off my student loan and eventually owning my own home.

Since I’m a firm believer that to be inspired and positive you should surround yourself with positive and inspiring people, I’m going to embark on a series of interviews of inspiring women who have turned their passion into a day job.

Stay tuned to see how they did it!

Scott MalcolmAunty Scotty AKA Scott Malcolm (scott@money-mechanics.com.au) is Director of Money Mechanics, a fee for service advice firm who are authorised to provide financial advice through PATRON Financial Advice AFSL 307379.

For finance geeks like myself, the last month has been pretty exciting in the media with the Henry Tax Review, Federal Budget, Greece debt crisis and, my favorite, commissions on financial products and services, which have been splashed all over the place.

These events all got me thinking about financial accountability:

  • accountability of our Government to the people;
  • accountability of Greece to the European Union and the rest of the World;
  • accountability of Financial Advisers to their clients; and
  • accountability to ourselves when it comes to our own money!

My first port of call was to do a Google search to see what others had been writing about financial accountability.

“Financial accountability and management refers to the rules that businesses must follow to be accountable to their shareholders, stakeholders and the general public”

Government and Global Financial Accountability

Accountability of government’s can be guided every election cycle. If the general feel is that they are doing the right or wrong thing then the vote will prevail, we hope!

In the case of the ‘Greece debt crisis’ the whole truth about the situation from Greece was not disclosed to the world until it was too late.  This is slowly being resolved within the European Union however the damage has been done with more fear and lack of trust being spread into the global markets again.

Financial Adviser Accountability

Accountability in the Financial Adviser space is in my opinion one of the most important, as this is one of the most privileged areas someone can work.  My personal and professional view is that commissions tarnish the advice process and should have been removed years ago.

Unfortunately the rest of the industry is still trying to catch up to this idea and many are still reliant on commissions to retain their bottom line and stay in business.

I practice true and transparent fee for service financial advice. I use a fixed fee agreement with clients rather than a percentage or trailing commission arrangement.

The outcome in my view is that this creates an agreement with transparency where the adviser is in business for their clients not for the product providers.

If you are looking to engage the services of a financial adviser, shop around and ask the hard questions, after all it is your money and your future!  Demand pure fee for service advice (no commissions) and make sure you understand what you are paying for and what to expect from the engagement with your financial professional, including the risks you are taking.

Accountability to ourselves

When it comes to our own money, it can be easy to trick ourselves or be creative with the outcomes.  I was with a client last week talking about cash flow.  Sue was talking about putting her spending plan together for the next 12 months.

“What about an area for incidental expenses?” she asked.

Now don’t get me wrong, having a buffer in your budget is a good way to ensure you can stick within your means but it is also important to be clear on what these incidental expenses are.  When I asked Sue a little more about what type of things she would consider as incidental expenses she replied, “you know coffee, lunches, snacks – those sort of things.“

“Great!” I replied.  We are now getting more specific in what these expenses really are.

The next step is to allocate an amount to each of these areas.  It is your cash flow plan so there should be no judgment from anyone (except yourself) when it comes to how you spend your money, as long as it is within your means.

One of my good friends has recently gone public with her accountability of her spending and has set up a blog to ‘justify her buy’ and help her save for a Christmas in the UK.  Check out what Steff has to say  www.justifymybuy.blogspot.com

I was excited by her honesty and creativity to keep on track to reach her savings goal.  My message here is to be true to yourself and set up some form of accountability; be it with the world through a blog or social media; with your partner; with your BFF (best friend forever!); or with your financial adviser.

This is a journey and not a destination and may require support along the way.  A journey that I like to say is about creating wealth through understanding!

The information provided in this article is of a general nature only. It has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs.  Before acting on this information you should consider its appropriateness having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs.

Whilst it’s important to have times without a plan, exploring possibility, an overarching plan gives you a sense of direction and evokes an excitement and newfound energy to get where it is you want to be.

I have a day a week I call ‘I don’t wear a bra on Fridays’. Whilst it’s not always a Friday, it’s a day where in each moment I decide what I wish to do next. On this day often magical things happen, interesting people come into my life and I come across new ideas and ways of doing things.

I am sure though, that it is having an overarching vision, some long term goals and a sense of directed curiosity, which makes this day so rewarding.

We’d be mad if we thought we knew now, all the answers and best ways to achieve our goals. The most important thing is that we’re super clear on our outcome.  Even if it starts broad, for example;

It’s June 2013, I am healthy, surrounded by great people, doing what I love and am contributing productively. I have my own home and have enough financially to live comfortably as I wish. I live each day to be extraordinary.

Now define further what this means.

‘healthy’ - what does this mean to you? Is it weight? Fitness? What you eat? Time you spend walking in the park? Swimming in the sea? Playing a team sport?

‘great people’ – how many, what kind, who, when do you see them, how did you meet? What do you do with them?

‘doing what I love’ – write down 60 things you love doing. Is there a pattern? Are you currently being paid to do what you love? How could you work somewhere, start a business or create an opportunity to get paid for doing what you love? Get creative!

‘contributing productively’ – often we are happiest when we know what we’re doing is making a small difference in some or many lives. Just by appreciating what you are good at, what you do and how it fits in the bigger picture, we can allow ourselves to feel a sense of satisfaction, increasing our drive to want to do and help more. Just as a nurse makes patient smile, a teacher helps a child to read, a PA allows a leader to shine and a marketing consultant spreads the word about a new service, place, person or product – we all have our roles. We can do small regular things too like donate blood, clean out our wardrobe and give old clothes to charity or pick up a piece of rubbish laying on the beach.

‘own home’ – what does it look like, is it a house, apartment, open plan, with a kitchen, garden, painted white, green, yellow? Is it in the country? Near shops? On the coast, inland, which country? With definition, you can then start researching availability, the financials and work out the best savings and investment plan to get there. With a clear financial goal in mind, it is easy then to speak with financial professionals who can assist you getting there.

‘enough financially’ – what is enough? Draw up a mock spending plan for 2013 (or the timeframe your goal is set to). What will you need to be generating to live on? What will you need to be putting away into super/savings/investments for the future? Often when we nut out the detail, it is less than we think and with time on our side and clear goals, we can build a team of professionals and a system around us and let compound interest work it’s magic.

‘extraordinary’ – what does this word mean to you? Who do you know who lives an extraordinary life? It may be your best friend, always thinking of others. It may be someone you read about, who’s written a book, started a club, climbed a mountain, travelled the world… It may be to continue just how you’re living right now.

Now your goal is clear and specific, identify the mini-milestones so you can be happy and feel satisfied with your progress along the way.

When did you last review your plan? Consider and articulate what it is you’d like to be doing and where it is you’d like to  be 5, 10, 20 years down the track?

Think of someone who inspires you. Are they following their passion? Do they take risks? Have a plan?

I read a media release this morning in which Simon Griffiths made a comment around how Gen Y’s are typically labeled as the disengaged, financially irresponsible youth of today, and how he looks at the choices made by today’s youth and sees instead creativity, confidence and a yearning to follow passions.

“The willingness of Gen Y’s to rethink and step away from work and business traditions is inherently beneficial for society. They’re following the basic economic principle of comparative advantage – following their passions and producing what they’re most efficient at. As a whole, society will be better off,” believes Simon, 27 year old Melbourne University Tutor and social entrepreneur.

More on Simon’s initiatives on http://www.shebeen.com.au/, http://www.ripple.org/ and http://www.whogivesacrap.org/.

When I was going through a bit of a lost phase, I used free career assessment tools I found on the internet. A good one was the MAPP Assessment http://assessment.com/

So go out and find your passion, what it is you’re meant to be doing. Surround yourself by inspiring people, visit new places, read books about the future and new ideas. Create a plan.

If you feel it’s time for a review, come along to a 10thousandgirl Life Planning Workshop to spend a day reflecting, planning, exploring and meeting like-minds. Workshops are coming up in Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra.

All you need is the outcome, you’ll know then the questions to ask, and the rest will follow.

Ida Ng is a blog contributor for the 10thousandgirl project, and has worked in various communications and marketing roles. She learnt the hard way that her crazy spending habit was the only thing keeping her from her dreams.

Ever had one of those stressful mobile phone conversations because the person on the other end is on a pay phone? And short on coins? And stranded at an international airport?

One day in the office I answered a ten second long-distance emergency call from a friend: “IDA it’s me!! Missed my flight!!! #$@ I’m hung over! Broke! Stranded! Credit card maxed out!!! Can you lend me $700 bucks?!  Please check your – beeeeep [dial tone].”

Every once in a while, life catches us off guard, and we’re unprepared for life’s inconveniences; like missing a flight because of a hangover and not having enough funds to buy a new ticket home. The reality is, often there is no Prince Charming to save us from a nightmare, and there is no backup plan.

You may be able to relate to some of these scenarios; like the time you caused a car accident and had to pay $800 in premiums plus take unpaid leave from work due to injury.

Or when depression hits and you simply can’t get out of bed and be a functional part of society.

Or at 29 years of age, a doctor delivers the terrifying news that you’re now a breast cancer statistic.

Or the boss announces you are redundant, and in the same week, discover you’re pregnant.

Or when Prince Charming actually turns out to be a dud and it’s time to call it quits.

All of the above scenarios happen often enough to everyday people who thought “nah – that will never happen to me.” Life’s no fairy tale and sometimes when reality bites, it sinks its teeth in and leaves you… well, bleeding.

Survival of the fittest – can you adapt?

It was in biology class when I first learnt the phrase coined by Charles Darwin as “survival of the fittest”.  It was Darwin’s theory that species adapt and change by natural selection, and those with the best suited mutations will survive.  The fittest of the species being those better adapted for the immediate and local environment.

Last year’s global financial crisis taught me a huge lesson. When circumstances change for the worse, am I able to adapt and survive financially speaking?  As redundancies in the workplace became common place, I was forced to look at my own finances.

For example, in one instance my bank balance was zero, cash in hand was $3.10, and I had eight days till payday. If I was to lose my job would I survive? Would I be able to feed myself, have a social life, and pay my mortgage? Clearly I was chronically financially unfit and would not survive.

The eight month emergency slush fund

Preparing for the worst case scenario is often not that inspiring. But in today’s environment it would be unwise not to be prepared.  That’s why this year I’ve decided to start saving for an emergency slush fund. I sat down a few months ago and calculated about eight months worth of expenses and set a goal to save that amount. It will be a buffer for me for times when something unexpected and inconvenient occurs.  My fingers are crossed though that it will never happen, but my emergency money is there to give me peace of mind. Until I’ve achieved this goal, all the other things on my wish list are temporarily put on hold.

When life’s not a walk in the park and things don’t go as planned, do you have an emergency fund to keep you afloat?

‘Financy’ draws on her experience in the world of finance. She writes financial education articles, presents online finance, real estate and business news reports for the Finance News Network and produces training videos for Kaplan Professional. She writes regular blogs for her own website Financy – where she aims to present finance information a bit ‘fancy’.

It wasn’t until I was 28 that I realised I loved my own money. I still didn’t really understand much about it or what to do with any surplus cash I had – other than to keep on spending it until the next monthly pay day came around.

I’m sure I could defend my spending by saying it was part of a broader view to get the economy moving again from the depths of the global financial crisis (GFC) that started to unravel in Australia in 2008, but it really wasn’t good for my own financial well-being.

Two years on – I’ve hit the big 30 – and have started to get my money in order by actually learning from what I do as a financial journalist and writer of education material for financial planners; and as such I have hired a financial planner.

Now financial planners are often called a number of things, from sharks that prey on those with plenty to invest and little financial knowledge, to nothing more than well-paid salesmen who get commissions and kick backs from most of the products they sell to investors.

To the contrary, most financial planners that I know personally are focused on getting to really know their clients and offering a more complete service, rather than a one size fits all pre-packaged deal. So it’s with a degree of confidence that I have finally bitten the bullet and employed a planner.

When it came to choosing a planner, I opted for someone that I connected with, someone who could explain complex material and also someone who uses a lifestyle planning approach. Lifestyle planning is basically where my personal lifestyle goals have been taken into account when formulating investment strategies.

I’m happy to try the increasingly popular life-planning investment style after purely investment style planning lost favour during the GFC.

My biggest concern with employing a financial planner relates to their fees and the risk that I may lose all of my money.  So what I needed to ask myself, and what I would suggest to anyone before meeting a financial planner is:

  • How much am I prepared to pay for the financial planning advice?
  • And, how much risk am I prepared to take for a return on my investment?

When I look at job ads for financial planners, I can see that they typically earn anything from $80,000 to $150,000 upwards per year. Some of the most successful planners earn around $200,000 to $500,000 per year due to their fees and commissions.

My planner is charging me $2,640 in fees to get my investment package up and running, but I think it is important that I meet with him again to find out if there are any hidden fees that I need to be aware of.

If this amount is all I am going to be charged for the construction of a simple portfolio, which consists of stocks and managed funds, then for me this sounds reasonable – however I still want to know what the expected annual investment return is in percentage terms.

If you study any sort of finance you’ll be taught that you can’t achieve a return without taking a degree of risk – thus risk and return are related. It’s just like buying pair of sexy six inch heels – sure they look great and you can usually justify a couple of hundred dollars on the purchase, but the risk is that you will only be able to walk so far in these heels before your feet start to cramp and your toes go numb (trust me I go through this daily).

So in essence if I want high returns, I have to be prepared to take risk, and the important question to ask yourself with all investing is how much risk am I prepared to take to get those returns?

Again this is another thing that I have paid my financial planner to explain to me and when I meet with him next week, I plan to make him work for that $2640 in fees.

To be continued…

Scott MalcolmI bet you never thought Lily Allen could teach you about money…  But as I was walking over to the gym the other day her song “The Fear” came on and well it got me thinking about what I do professionally and what Lily was singing about…

What are your goals for life?  Do you “want to be rich and want lots of money”? Or maybe you want “loads of clothes”?  And I think there is mention of my favorite, “diamonds”?

If you don’t have the musical talent of Allen or getting your gear off doesn’t appeal (yes that is a line in the song!), what strategies do you need to have in place to achieve these goals?

Do you know what your outcomes are, or is it all too hard and you are overtaken by ‘the fear’ or other emotions? “Are you a weapon of massive consumption?”
 “Is this how you’re programmed to function?”

Debt can be a great way to get what you want or get ahead but if your debt is out of control and your plastic is too full for consumption how can you get on top of things?  Ignoring it won’t make it go away, list it, repay it and if it is a little too much remember you are not alone.

So what I am getting at is that we need to examine our current financial life, our goals and strategies regardless of where we are at.  The “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality can be an avoidance technique that works really well, until the wheels fall off’, we’re stuck on the side of the road, in the rain, at night, on a long weekend, 100 k’s from nowhere…. So, let’s take a step back see what’s working and what might need a little bit of a tune up.

I’ll wait here while you get yourself something to write with so you can try this little exercise:

1. What are your earliest memories about money?

2. As a child, what was the most important lesson you learned about money?

3. Growing up in your family, was money used to reward, punish, help others, impress, control, have fun, buy love, reach goals or ___________?

4. Thinking about today, do you see any of these childhood messages in your current beliefs, behaviors or habits?

5. If so, do they support your goals or do the sabotage your success?

So how was that for you? Any ‘a-ha’s’?  If so, it’s time to begin to wrestle with the concept of change.  In order to achieve meaningful change, it is helpful to start with reality; firstly about your current financial situation and an understanding of what got you there.  Then the next step is to consider what success means and what you are willing to do to get there.  For example, are you willing to change your spending habits or make changes to other aspects in order to achieve your desired goals?

Once you know where you have came from and where you are going, the following question may assist in moving through some of life’s financial challenges and choices:

Is this decision bringing me closer to or further away from my dreams?

Unfortunately change isn’t quite that simple.  It is a process with bumps, bruises and sometimes scars to remind us of these lessons.   However as you challenge your beliefs, you are able to move in a positive direction by implementing a system of small steps and small victories.  This leads in time to behaviors, attitudes and outcomes changing.

Sounds exciting doesn’t it!  But it is definitely a journey and not a destination and requires support along the way.  A journey that I like to say is about creating wealth through understanding!

Scott Malcolm (scott@money-mechanics.com.au) is Director of Money Mechanics (www.money-mechanics.com.au) a fee for service advice firm who are authorised to provide financial advice through PATRON Financial Advice AFSL 307379.

The information provided in this article is of a general nature only. It has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs.  Before acting on this information you should consider its appropriateness having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs.


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