7 Ways to Invest in Your Future Posted on: January 16, 2019

One fact of life is certain, we don’t stay young forever. As we grow older, everyday tasks can become tiresome; we suffer inevitable aches and pains and often have difficulty remembering things. But the ageing process should be seen as a privilege. We have retirement to look forward to, access to good healthcare and the opportunity to spend more time with the people we love. To ensure we’re able to enjoy a long and happy retirement, it’s important to plan for this future..


Here are 7 ways to plan for what’s ahead:

1. Write a bucket list

It’s never too late to write a list of everything you’d like to do before you die. Always wanted to skydive? Eat in a top restaurant? Learn to play the guitar? Start a vegetable patch? Then start by making a list of everything you want to do so you can plan for which ones you want to tick off first. 


2. Invest in your super

With monthly bills and debts to pay off, investing extra money into your super is the last thing on most people’s minds. According to the ATO, ‘since July 1 2017, most people, regardless of their employment arrangement, will be able to claim a full deduction for personal super contributions they make to their super until they turn 75.’ If you have more than one super fund, the ATO offer a free consolidation service through myGOV. Alternatively you can speak to a financial adviser about how to roll them into the one fund whose risk policies most align with your needs. 


3. Start a holiday fund

Always dreamed of a big trip overseas? Use free online budget calculators to work out how much you need to save each month so you can plan for that once in a lifetime holiday. 


4. Write a will

According to ASIC, nearly half of all Australians die without preparing a will. For many people death is a difficult topic to discuss but it’s important to plan for the inevitable so your family are not burdened by financial hardship and legal issues. Having a legal will in place reduces the risk of leaving your estate in the wrong hands. Furthermore, it gives your loved ones time to grieve rather than contesting the distribution of your assets. 


5. Create a budget

Taking control of your money and income streams is the most effective tool there is to getting your finances under control. Many people think we need to earn more but really we need to spend less. Understanding what you are currently spending your money on and making small changes to these habits can instantly improve your financial position. 


6. Consider life insurance

Whether it’s a separate policy or through your super, the right cover provides peace of mind in the event of death or a serious illness. Most people have default life insurance through their superannuation. Super funds also allow you to purchase additional cover inside your super. We can help you ensure you have adequate life insurance for your lifestyle. 


7. Better health

Improving your health and wellbeing will give you more energy (and time) to focus on doing the things you enjoy most. Kick start a healthier lifestyle by making small changes to your day like introducing a five minute morning meditation to reduce stress, walking for 20 minutes on your lunch-break or introducing a green smoothie to get your daily intake of fruit and vegetables . Regular health checks will also help you stay on top of any health issues that arise. 

So start positive planning and look forward to your future.


https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals/super/in-detail/growing/super-co-contribution/ 
ii https://www.ato.gov.au/super/ 
iii https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/life-events-and-you/over-55s/wills-and-power-of-attorney 

Credit Card Changes in the New Year Posted on:

How you manage your credit card account and credit limits are about to get easier. The Australian government is rolling out four credit card reforms which are designed to protect cardholders over the next financial year. These changes kicked in with a ban on credit limit increase invitations from banks on 1 July 2018, and will also impact how cardholders can cancel their cards, change their credit limits and are charged interest.


Ban on credit card limit increase invitations

Card card issuers can not contact customers to offer credit limit increase invitations. This includes all forms of communication (including email, phone and in-branch). This applies even if customers have previously provided consent to receive these invitations.


The following Reforms will take place from January 1st, 2019.

Credit card limit assessments

If you’re applying for a new credit card or requesting a credit limit increase, the card issuer must assess your application based on your ability to repay the entire credit limit within a three-year period.


Online card cancellations

Credit issuers must give customers the option to cancel their accounts or reduce their credit limits online. When a customer makes a request, the credit issuer must take reasonable steps to help the customer meet their request. This means that card issuers can no longer offer contrary suggestions when you’re trying to close your account or reduce your credit limit.


Ban on back-dated interest charges

Banks and credit card providers can not retroactively charge interest on credit card balances. This will impact on the interest-free days feature many cards offer. Previously, if you didn’t pay the full amount listed by the due date on your statement, interest would be back-dated based on when purchases were made. This will not be the case from 1 January 2019.


How these changes affect you?

Previously, the 2012 credit card reforms stopped card issuers from making unsolicited credit card limit increase invites. So cardholders had to opt to receive credit limit invitations either at the time of applying for the card or by contacting their bank directly. Opting out of these invitations didn’t stop banks from contacting cardholders electronically or over the phone.

However since 1 July 2018, credit issuers can no longer invite cardholders to increase their limit over any form of communication and the consent exemption has been removed. If you have assessed your finances and decided you do need to increase your credit limit, you’ll need to contact your bank to do so. You can check out our guide to increasing your credit limit for the steps you’ll need to take.

The stricter eligibility assessments during the application approval process could also impact how much credit you can access. This means that you may be approved for lower credit limits than you have been in the past. This is especially important to remember if you’re planning to apply for a balance transfer. If you get approved for a credit limit that’s lower than the balance you’re transferring, the remaining amount will stay in your old account and continue to collect interest.

Household Debt Review Posted on: January 14, 2019

Fuelled by rising house prices and low interest rates, the level of personal debt in Australia is relatively high compared to many other countries.i

The largest proportion of this debt is often used to purchase a valuable asset – the family home. With careful planning, you might be able to control your household debt and use it to grow wealth and secure your future. 


Multiple factors drive debt levels

The debt to income ratio of Australian households recently reached 200%ii – the highest in history – and is expected to peak at around 205%iii

The level of debt has been driven by several factors, largely the record housing prices reached in the property market, a period of low interest rates and relaxed lending standards for home loans. As this chart from the Australian Bureau of Statistics demonstrates, the vast majority of household debt is in property loans. 

Mean household debt by type of liability, 2009-10 to 2015-16

*In 2015-16 dollars, adjusted by the Consumer Price Index 
Source: ABS Survey of Income and Housing

The level of debt is also becoming more challenging due to household income failing to increase at the same rate. 


Keep stress to a minimum

Low interest rates have been a boon for the housing market and a blessing for those who aspire to own their own home. This has seen average household mortgage debt-to-income ratio rise from 120% to 140% between 2012 and 2017.iv

While housing prices are starting to slow down, interest rates are expected to increase which means that some may start to feel the pinch of mortgage stress. By getting ahead of the trend, you may take control of your household debt and minimise financial stress in the future. The key to achieving this is understanding which debts are good and which are bad. 


Not all debt is bad

There is a common misconception that all debt is bad, but this isn’t true. Good debt allows you to invest in assets that could increase your wealth. Loans to purchase shares, student loans for education that increases your income-earning potential, and home loans all fall within the category of good debt. 

Bad debt is incurred to purchase items that decline in value or do not contribute to your wealth. This may include credit cards and personal loans, particularly if you’ve used them to purchase, holidays or a motor vehicle that declines in value the minute it’s driven off the lot. 

Regardless of the type of debt you have, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Debt in any form carries a level of risk. Losing your job, borrowing beyond your means and interest rate hikes can all place your household in financial stress and make it difficult to meet repayments. 


Keep your debt in check

There are some things that you could do now that may help you get your household debt under control. These include:

  • Create a budget: Understanding what money you have coming in and going out each week is the first step in understanding debt.
  • Identify and categorise debts: You may have some debts that have gone under the radar – like that credit card you make the minimum monthly repayment on. Identify all the debts that you have and then classify them as either good or bad debts based on their potential to increase or decrease your wealth.
  • Prioritise debts: Trying to manage multiple debts at a time can be overwhelming; prioritising your debts will provide direction and keep you on track. Initially, you could try and reduce the level of bad debt, taking into account the nature of your loans including applicable interest rates and relevant fees.
  • Consolidate debts: Sometimes it may make sense to roll all your debts into one facility. This could make them more manageable because you only have one debt to pay down and can potentially reduce the number of fees or the amount of interest you’re paying.

Controlling your household debt is not always easy but it could generate great rewards. Talk to us if you’d like a hand managing your household debt. 


https://www.bis.org/publ/qtrpdf/r_qt1712f.htm
ii http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-18/household-debt-extremely-elevated-and-tipped-to-grow/9340880
iii https://www.businessinsider.com.au/australias-household-debt-is-now-one-of-the-highest-in-the-world-2018-1.
iv https://www.rba.gov.au/speeches/2018/sp-ag-2018-02-20.html


October Global Equity Market Update Posted on: November 9, 2018

October was a challenging month for global equity markets with most market indices posting negative returns.

There was no one clear contributor to the volatile market conditions, but rather a combination of higher bond yields in the US, concerns surrounding the US Federal Reserve increasing interest rates, ongoing fears related to US and China trade agreements and downward revisions to US corporate earnings.

Future Assist has a range of equity investment options available, ranging from ‘set and forget’ static portfolios through to actively managed portfolios. If you want to know more or simply want to review your investments then please be sure to touch base.


How to handle the sharemarket rollercoaster

by DAVID & LIBBY KOCH

The shine is quickly being rubbed off our long-running share market rally.

Tech stocks are getting thumped, a trade war is brewing and globalisation is slashing prices.

Traditional business models are being challenged, global interest rates are rising and consumers are scared of the uncertainty. After one of the longest bull markets, investors are being jolted back to reality. We hate October, because it seems to be the most common month for share volatility.

But just like a year has four seasons in its cycles and there is night and day every 24 hours, investment markets operate in cycles as well.

It’s a time to take a deep breath and assess your position. It’s all about perspective in times like this. So what’s behind the sell off that started all this?

Investment markets hate surprises and they hate uncertainty. The problem is there are plenty of both.

TRUMP’S TRADE WAR

Economic history tells us protectionism is terrible for global economic growth. It stifles trade, it promotes inefficiencies and actually costs jobs rather than saves them.

Currently we have the two most powerful economies in the world, China and the US, embroiled in a tit-for-tat trade and lifting tariffs against each other, and neither is backing down.

In the past, such as lifting steel tariffs, US president Trump has played to his electoral base with grand statements to protect jobs and then quietly watered down the initiatives to something more sensible and workable later.

But with midterm US elections due next month he is holding firm on his rhetoric against China to attract votes. Hopefully, once the elections are over, he’ll return to a more rational stance.

Remember, China is America’s banker. It holds more US Government bonds than any other country so if they want to play tough it could be really ugly.

THE ERA OF CHEAP MONEY IS ENDING

Many investors have been seduced by access to credit at record low interest rates as countries have tried to recalibrate their economies in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis.

That meant investment assets were able to be acquired and financed cheaply. It has underpinned the growth in the global economy at a time of very low interest rates because inflation has been so low.

But as economies have recovered, interest rates are rising. The reason is that, if they stayed low, economies would overheat, inflation would rise substantially and force interest rates even higher.

It’s a real balancing act. Keep interest rates low enough for the economy to grow and create jobs, but adjust to avoid overheating.

The US economy is strong, unemployment is low and inflation is starting to creep up. So they are lifting rates.

Other countries will follow but at different times to match their individual cycles. Here in Australia, the Reserve Bank governor has said the next move in our interest rates will be up, but not until at least well into next year at the earliest.

TECH STOCK SUCCESS ATTRACTS REGULATORS

The darlings of the sharemarket, particularly in the US and to a lesser extent here in Australia, have been technology stocks.

Corporate juggernauts like Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple have been changing the world and making fortunes for investors. For many they’ve been operating in a regulatory environment which hasn’t understood the power of these tech beasts … until now.

Government inquiries on issues like tax, data security and abuse of market power are being staged around the world which is putting a spotlight on whether these companies will face restrictions in the future.

Closer to home, the Federal Government is closely examining the amount of tax the multinationals are paying and have announced a Senate Inquiry into online lenders.

Investors in these stocks start to worry whether profitability can be maintained into the future.

DISRUPTION AND GLOBALISATION

Traditional business models and sectors are being challenged.

Look at how retail departments stores are under pressure from online shopping, or how car manufacturing has shifted offshore. Look at the plunging costs of everything from TVs to cars and international airline travel.

The world of business is changing dramatically and competition comes from all corners of the globe rather than around the corner or across the country.

That intense global competition is creating fortunes for those adjusting to the changes but also ruining those that aren’t as flexible.

For investors the challenge is backing the new winners and dumping the laggards.

WHERE TO NOW?

For those that have been caught badly by the market slide, it’s important to revisit investing fundamentals. Remember also that we faced a similar situation in February and markets recovered.

In buoyant markets and bad, many investors lose their discipline and almost become emotionally attached to rising prices or anchored to entry prices when values fall. But no matter the state of the market, it’s important to stick to your individual strategy and to bank profits and cut losses.

Unfortunately, as investors we find it incredibly easy to buy a stock but exceptionally difficult to sell it, whether that’s to make a profit or realise a loss. Most seem to marry their stocks and ride them up, then down.

But good investors take the emotion out of the process by setting rules. So if you’ve been burnt by this ‘unexpected’ dip in asset values, use it as a reminder to revisit your investing strategy.

The best strategies are always to get good advice and keep yourself well informed, but there are benefits in developing a strict investment approach using specific disciplines or formulas.

The key then is to follow the plan, however nervous or frightened you may be that the market could drop further.

Remember the last thing you want to be doing right now is making rash decisions you’ll regret later. So stop checking your online account, check-in with your adviser or broker and revisit your strategy so you can make those unbiased orders with a clear head.

Search for Lost Super Posted on: October 29, 2018

Have you kept track of all your super? If you’ve ever changed your name, address, job, or done casual or part-time work, you may have lost track of some of your super.

Look after your super because it needs to look after you in retirement.

You can check your super by registering for the Australian Taxation Office’s online services via myGov. This will allow you to:

  • see details of all your super accounts, including any you may have lost or forgotten about.
  • find ATO-held super, held on your behalf when your super fund, your employer or the government couldn’t find an account to deposit your super to.
  • consolidate your super into a single fund.

If you have recently opened a super account, it may take up to 6 months to appear on your MyGov account.

You can still consolidate your super by completing a balance transfer form for each super account you want to transfer from and mailing it to your new super fund.

Originally posted by: ASIC

Credit Score Battle Posted on: October 26, 2018

Header: Credit Score Battle

Why your credit score may be lacking… and why it may improve.

By Anthony Keane

You’ve been a responsible borrower your entire life, never missed a bill or made a late repayment, but your credit score still only ranks you slightly above average.

What the heck is wrong with you, you might wonder?

The good news is there’s nothing wrong, because perfect credit scores are almost impossible to achieve. And better news is that responsible borrowers are now starting to see a spike higher in their scores as big banks become involved in Australia’s new comprehensive credit reporting regimen.

Your credit score is used by lenders when considering loan applications, and some offer lower interest rates to people with high scores. They are compiled by credit agencies such as Experian, Equifax and Illion, and free reports can be obtained directly or through websites including creditsavvy.com.au, getcreditscore.com.au and creditsimple.com.au.

A perfect credit score is either 1000 points or 1200 points, depending on the agency, and lender MoneyPlace’s CEO, Stuart Stoyan, said less than 1 per cent of consumers had a perfect score. Credit Savvy has not seen one.

“It’s kind of like a unicorn… it doesn’t really exist,” he said.

A score rated “excellent” – in the top 20 per cent of all scores – could still deliver borrowers the best interest rates.

ANZ this month started sharing comprehensive credit data – both positive and negative repayment histories – which has moved millions of people’s credit scores. NAB was already doing it and the other big banks go live later this month.

“It’s more important to pay your bills on time. Set up direct debits and reminders because this is now being recorded,” Mr Stoyan said.

Stuart Stoyan – MoneyPlace CEO

“If you don’t pay your bill for two months but you begin paying on time again, your score will recover over next 12 months, but would take an immediate hit of potentially hundreds of points.”

Recent research by Experian found that two-thirds of Australians have never checked their score. The numbers are improving slightly but a majority of consumers don’t know that more of their personal financial data is now being shared.

Australian Retail Credit Association general manager Rebecca Murray said credit scores were trending up for the majority of people as more repayment information landed on their credit files.

“I would expect once we have 24 months of ticks people’s credit scores would go way up,”

Rebecca Murray

“There wasn’t enough information before, but now we could see people with good repayment histories continue to get higher scores. People who are struggling will get lower scores.”

Ms Murray, who is also a consumer education specialist at creditsmart.org.au, said people could push towards perfection by making all repayments on time, checking their files to make sure there were no errors and close unnecessary loans.

HOW TO CHASE A PERFECT SCORE

  • Always pay bills on time.
  • Only apply for new loans when you really need it.
  • Don’t make multiple credit inquiries while shopping around.
  • Avoid high-interest payday loans
  • Avoid increasing your credit card limit
  • Don’t apply for multiple credit cards to chase reward points.

Source: MoneyPlace    Originally posted by: News Corp Australia Network

Spring Cleaning Posted on:

Steps to Start Your Spring Cleaning

Start with your clothes.

Every 6 months to a year, it’s a good idea to have a quick scan of your wardrobe to see if there are old clothes in there that you should throw out. It may be hard to get rid of those clothes you’ve had forever for no other reason than “I’ve had this for a long time”, but you know it’s just useless clutter. Below is a handy little flow chart to help decide.

Desk and Office Space

Is your home office beginning to look like Einstein’s Desk?

It might be time to go through and file away those documents and receipts, or recycle some old unimportant letters you forgot to get rid of. You could also use this time to manage your digital files on your computer, and create an efficient folder system instead of saving everything to the desktop. 

Kitchen

It is almost guaranteed that at the back of the cupboard or bottom of the fridge, there is some old food that definitely needs to be thrown away. Not only that, you might have some mugs you never use or odd-one-out glasses that sit at the back untouched.

You don’t need to go as far as pulling out all the Tupperware and utensils, but even a quick look through the cupboards might remind you to finally throw out that container that has no lid. 

While you’re at it, properly clean your stainless steel appliances, inside and out.

Before you really start cleaning however, it’s best to grab some microfiber cloths, because we’ve all had cleaning days were we go through tonnes of paper towels (which is no help to the environment), so by reusing those machine washable (and incredibly soft) cloths, you’re helping yourself and the planet.

How to properly clean your stainless steel appliances.

Dusting

A quick dusting of all surfaces, top to bottom, then giving the floor a good vacuum will make any room feel brand new and fresh. Start with the ceiling and ceiling fans, light fixtures, then the walls and lastly the baseboards.

Wash those windows

Every once in a while, it’s recommended to give your windows a good, thorough clean. Add it to your spring cleaning list if required.

The bathroom

This is a massive task in itself. From throwing out those old empty bottles of shampoo and broken hair-ties, cleaning the shower and scrubbing the grout (or using a bleach pen to restore the original white grout colour). If you can’t get this done along with the other tasks, set aside one day in a coming weekend to buckle down and get it done.

Greenery and Scents

Buy some new indoor plants to put around the house, and while you’re at it, buy a nice candle (or two, or three). The indoor plants below are great for high oxygen production. 

 

Referral Gifts & Adventures Posted on: October 25, 2018

A Plain English Explanation Of Terms And Conditions

As is the spirit of Future Assist’s Referral Program, we wish to thank our valued clients with fun and enjoyable experiences. However, as with most things in life, to ensure the system is fair and safe for everyone there need to be some guiding rules.
These are as follows:

  • Rewards and gift cards cannot be exchanged or swapped once selected.
  • Rewards and gift cards are not transferable, cannot be sold or exchanged for cash.
  • Activities will be booked by Future Assist. Any amendments, rescheduling or cancellations are the responsibility of the recipient of the reward.
  • Rewards will be activated within 7 days of the referred party purchasing a financial plan. A longer time period may be required during the Christmas holiday closure.
  • In the event that activities are fully booked, if it is not time restrictive you may choose to take part in the experience in the following month, or you may take the gift card.
  • If the experience is cancelled by the experience provider due to weather, it will be rescheduled by the booking company.
  • If the experience is cancelled by the experience provider for any other reason, it is suggested that you contact the experience provider directly, and then the booking company. 
  • By choosing the adventure over the gift card, you acknowledge that activities involve some personal risk, such as horse riding, hot air ballooning and so on are undertaken at your own risk.
  • Gift cards and activities may have expiration dates, it is the recipients responsibility to ensure gift cards and activities are consumed before these dates.
  • Experience providers have their own terms and conditions which Future Assist has no authority over.  These may include weather restrictions, height, weight, age, group size or experience level restrictions.

Style Guide1111 Posted on: September 4, 2018

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New Zealand Bans Sea Exploration Posted on: April 12, 2018

Moving Checklist Posted on: April 11, 2018

Moving Checklist

Below is a comprehensive moving checklist that covers you from two months before the big day, right up until the day you move in.

Moving to a new location is a big task, whether you are moving around the corner or interstate. There is pre-planning, packing and transportation stages to think about to ensure that moving goes as smoothly as possible.

1-2 months from moving

  • Pick your moving date and work backward from there. You can start to set small milestones to plan your move in increments.
  • If you plan to use removalists, book the service and choose carefully. Establish your budget and get a written quote.
  • Think about the floor plan of your new home for furniture placement. Will large items be able to fit through the doors (e.g. your fridge/couch).
  • Create an inventory of everything you own
  • Note down any individual items that will require special care when moving
  • Detox your belongings and donate anything you don’t need
  • Does your washing machine have moving instructions? If in doubt, check with the manufacturer
  • Start using up the food you have in the freezer
  • Sort out the items you have in your garage, garden shed or under the house
  • Keep aside a folder for all your useful moving documents
  • Arrange with Australia Post to have your mail redirected or held from the date of moving in
  • Redirect or cancel your newspaper subscriptions
  • Return any outstanding borrowed or rented items
  • Do you need repairs done at your rental? Now’s the time to get them actioned
  • Research a storage facility if required
  • Obtain copies of your family and pet medical records, as well as school and dental records
  • If needed, book a cleaner to do your exit clean before your rental inspection
  • Arrange to have your utilities disconnected and reconnected when you move

 

2-3 weeks from moving

  • Begin contacting all relevant authorities and notify them of your change of address
  • Gather packing materials like boxes, packing tape, labels and bubble wrap for padding.
  • Devise a suitable box labelling system. You could number your boxes or colour-code.
  • Start packing. Safe and secure packing is time-consuming, so allocate longer than you expect.
  • Organise contents insurance to ensure you’re covered for any damage that takes place during your move
  • Return all library books and DVDs that you still have
  • Have kids? See if you can arrange family and friends to look after them on moving day
  • If necessary, arrange the transfer of internet, telephone, gas
  • Have a boat or trailer? Arrange the move of these items
  • Service your car – especially if you will need to drive long distances for your move
  • Fill any prescriptions you may need the week before and after the move
  • Service your car if required and drain your mower
  • Discontinue any delivery services and local memberships if no longer relevant
  • Arrange time off for your moving day
  • Make sure you’ve made time for your rental to be thoroughly cleaned before you move
  • Disassemble any outdoor items or children’s play equipment
  • Make up a box with handy items (screwdrivers, light bulbs, nails, Allen keys, etc.) for the move
  • Start shopping smart. Start to use up your perishables and create a meal plan that will empty out your fridge, freezer and cupboard by moving day.

 

1 week from moving

  • Keep a box aside for bed linen and sheets to use on the first night – everything else can wait.
  • Lightly water your indoor plants and pack them into plastic-lined boxes.
  • Any outstanding services to contact? Consider your babysitter or cleaner.
  • Back up your computer and prepare your printer and scanner for travel.
  • How’s all that packing going? Finish packing and check that it’s all been done correctly to protect your belongings.
  • Re-confirm all moving details with a removalist, your landlord or real estate agent. Make sure your removalist has all contact numbers and detailed instructions.
  • Arrange access and parking for the removalist on the day of the move.
  • Visit your local second-hand store and donate any unwanted goods, sell items online or have a garage sale to help pay for the move.

The day before the move

  • It’s time to defrost and empty out your fridge. Find a portable esky that you can use to transport light food and drinks for the day of the move to keep everyone hydrated.
  • Drain any liquid from washing machines, irons and icemakers.
  • Charge your mobile phone and place your chargers in a safe place.
  • Pack any personal items that you want to have with you on the day
  • Using professional packers? Leave out essential things for that night and the following day
  • Unplug and then tie up any appliance cords
  • Keep money on hand for last-minute costs
  • Will your old rental be vacant for a while? Let your trusted neighbours know you’re leaving
  • Say goodbye to your neighbours!
  • Consider your action plan for moving day

 

Moving day

  • Gather your essentials and valuables, so they’re on hand for the day
  • Give your removalist the parking information for the new place
  • If you want your kitchen items as a priority, ask the removalist to load them last, so they’re first off the truck
  • Keep all pet needs on hand
  • Check off all boxes as they go into the truck or your car
  • Lock all your doors and windows and turn off the power at switchboards
  • Check along the tops of your cupboards, the garden, garage and sheds
  • Return your keys to your real estate agent. Lock the house, turn off the power and tighten the taps
  • If you had an electric/remote garage opener, remove it from your car and return it to the real estate agent

 

Moving into your new home

  • Give clear directions to your removalist (or partner!) as to where all the furniture needs to go.
  • Take your Property Condition Report from your real estate agent and document the condition of your property and any included furnishings. Consider taking photos for your records.
  • Check for items left behind by previous occupants.
  • Spot any poisonous or toxic substances around the house? Make sure they’re removed and that the garden is safe for your kids and pets.
  • Check that all your utilities are now connected, and the hot water is turned on
  • Do a quick sweep of the property – is the security satisfactory?
  • Make up the beds as soon as you can
  • Settle in the kids and pets
  • Is anything missing from your move? Get in touch with your moving company
  • If you have cats, keep them inside for a few days to acclimatise to the new surrounds
  • Check that you have all keys and relevant instructions for your new rental
  • When is your rubbish day? What about your watering days? Contact your new council for this information and welcome packs
  • Introduce yourself to your new neighbours
  • Enjoy your new home!

 

CREDITS

www.rent.com.au

Apple: Renewable Energy Posted on: April 10, 2018

Apple Completely Powered by Renewable Energy

Apple has announced its global facilities are powered with 100 percent clean energy. This achievement includes retail stores, offices, data centers and co-located facilities in 43 countries — including the United States, the United Kingdom, China and India.

Apple has always been committed to renewable energy, and still continue to have the goal of having 100 percent of their suppliers using clean energy too.

On June 1st 2017, United States President Donald Trump announced their withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change mitigation. Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, was extremely frustrated and disappointed by the announcement, and sent an email to all of his staff stating,

quote-left

Climate change is undeniable. Earth’s resources won’t last forever. And technology must be safe for people to make and use. We don’t question these realities — we challenge ourselves to ask what we can do about them in every part of our business.

Apple even has the goal to eventually stop mining the earth, moving towards a closed-loop supply chain. This means that all new products would be built using recycled materials and older versions of their products. They are also currently running 25 other clean energy projects, while also buying enough renewable energy to cover their energy consumption worldwide. They also has 15 more projects in construction. Once built, over 1.4 gigawatts of clean renewable energy generation will be spread across 11 countries.

Leading by example, this should convince more of their suppliers to shift to clean energy, already having 23 of their suppliers on board. Other companies will follow in their footsteps, which will lead to cheaper solar panels and wind turbines, as they pump more money into technological advances and increase global production.

To read more about their commitment to clean, renewable energy, click here.

City Commute Posted on: April 9, 2018

City Commute Times Passing Our Natural Travel Limit

The average total daily commuting time should only be an hour, but Sydney and Melbourne commuters are driving 70% longer than that.

If done daily, a long commute will take a serious toll on an individuals health and well-being, from an increase in depression, obesity, and damaged productivity levels.

The one thing about commuting that is strangely stable.

By Matt Wade

It is a trying time for commuters in Australia’s two biggest cities. Years of strong population growth in Sydney and Melbourne have put road networks and public transport under relentless peak-hour pressure. At the same time, the big infrastructure projects being built to cater for the increased demand themselves cause disruptions and can reduce existing capacity.

The hours of traffic gridlock caused by a police operation on Sydney Harbour Bridge last Wednesday morning was a reminder of how unpredictable our big city transport systems can be.

Yet one aspect of commuting is oddly constant. The average time people spend commuting one-way in both Melbourne and Sydney has averaged around 35 minutes for some time.

It suggests many people are prepared to change where they work, where they live or what mode of transport they use rather than putting up with longer and longer commutes.

At the same time, businesses change where they locate, so they are within reach of their workers and customers.

Marchetti’s Constant

Our apparent daily “travel budget” has a name: the “Marchetti’s Constant” after Italian physicist Cesare Marchetti. His theory is that people have a natural daily travel threshold of around an hour which they choose to spend in different ways, picking transport options that fill up that time (the idea is also attributed to engineer Yacov Zahavi).

The results of a new study which looked at commuter behaviour in Sydney were in keeping with this pattern. The analysis, completed by Deloitte in past few months, found the city’s average one-way trip to work was 37.5 minutes.

Grattan Institute study made a similar finding for both Melbourne and Sydney late last year.

Studies in other parts of the world have also come up with results consistent with Marchetti’s Constant.

recent publication by the Federal government’s Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics listed Marchetti’s Constant among “five facts about commuting in Australia”.

It said said a recent study of millions of phone records “shows that this is the case everywhere from the Ivory Coast to Boston”.

The Cost: Financially and Psychologically

According to the bureau this shows how the “perceived costs of commuting rise steeply after a one way commute exceeds around 35 minutes”.

Many workers put up with much longer travel times than that, of course.

The Deloitte study found workers tolerate much longer travel times to work in a CBD than elsewhere. The average one-way commute for a Sydney CBD worker was 63 minutes, nearly 70 per cent longer than the city-wide average.

That shows many CBD workers are prepared to trade off more time travelling in return for one of the well-paid (and possibly satisfying) knowledge jobs that cluster there, such as banking and professional services.

The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics estimates about 2 million Australians commute for 90 minutes or more each day in 2016, many of them in Melbourne and Sydney.

But there is a big downside – a swag of evidence shows that long commutes take a toll on wellbeing.

A well-known study of German commuters in 2007 by economists Alois Stutzer and Bruno Frey found the longer the drive to work, the less satisfied with life people were. They estimated that a person with a one-hour commute had to earn 40 per cent more money to be as satisfied with life as someone who walks to work.

Happiness and Marriage Effected

A comparable British study in 2014 found that people’s happiness and sense of life satisfaction declined with each successive minute of daily commuter travel.

Long trips to work can also put relationships under stress – a Swedish study in 2011 showed couples have a 40 per cent higher chance of getting divorced when one partner travels at least 45 minutes to work each day.

No wonder people try to limit their commuting time.

But this understandable preference for a short trip to work has economic consequences.

Terry Rawnsley, a leading regional economics expert, warns well-trained workers can disregard high productivity jobs in far away employment hubs and settle instead for jobs close to home that don’t fully utilise their skills.

“That’s a real concern because you might begin to starve key economic hubs of workers they need,” he says. “Those CBD jobs are very important to the economy.”

The challenges posed by commuting in a big city can be especially constraining on the economic prospects of women. Since mothers typically have primary responsibility for the care of young children and aged relatives they often need to be within a short journey time of home.

Social researchers have called this a “spatial leash” that limits the distance many women can travel for employment.

Well-educated mothers may choose to work in a lower-skilled job close to home rather than take a more distant job that utilises more skills. Some might leave the workforce altogether.

The economic gains would be huge if more workers across our biggest cities could travel to suitable jobs within about 30 minutes.

Deloitte’s analysis found shorter commute times in Sydney could deliver a $10 billion annual economic dividend.

CREDITS

Matt Wade

The Sydney Morning Herald

Australian Suburbs: Cheapest vs. Most Expensive Posted on: April 6, 2018

Australia’s Cheapest vs.Most Expensive Suburbs

Click the tabs below to see what the cheapest vs. most expensive suburbs are (by median rent price p/w) by state. The most expensive suburb is Frenchs Forest in NSW at $990, and the cheapest is Whyalla Norrie in SA at $130.

  • QLD
  • NSW
  • VIC
  • TAS
  • NT
  • SA
  • WA

April RBA Cash Rate Decision Posted on: April 5, 2018

A summary of the official monetary policy statement is below. It covers Australia’s economic status, both the positive aspects, and the negative aspects. The Board decided to leave the cash rate unchanged at 1.50 per cent, for the 18th consecutive time in a row. This was to be expected.

“Taking account of the available information, the Board judged that holding the stance of monetary policy unchanged at this meeting would be consistent with sustainable growth in the economy and achieving the inflation target over time.”

If you wish to read the full statement, click here.

Job Opportunities Posted on: April 4, 2018

Job Opportunities Opening For Australians

The number of job vacancies in Australia has continued to climb, with new official data showing a concerted rise in job opportunities in both the private and public sectors.Employers were seeking to fill 220,900 positions in February, up 4.4 per cent from November in seasonally adjusted terms, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday.

Job vacancies in the private sector rose 4.2 per cent from November, to 201,500, led by rises in the construction, financial services and the professional, scientific and technical industries.In the key construction sector, job vacancies have now lifted for four of the last five quarterly measurements, while in the three months to February, 3,300 new science and technical opportunities arose.In the public sector, vacancies also lifted in the three months to February, up by 5.8 per cent to 19,500, after falling in the November reading by seven per cent.Total job vacancies in Australia have now climbed a seasonally adjusted 19.4 per cent on the previous corresponding quarter, with most of those opportunities coming out of Victoria and NSW, as well as West Australia where vacancies have lifted for six consecutive quarters.

SOURCE:

SBS News

Protecting Your Online Privacy Posted on: March 26, 2018

Protecting Your Online Privacy

When it comes to your privacy online, there are hundreds of tips and tricks in order to protect yourself, but it can get a little bit technical and complicated.

It’s important, especially in light of Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, where 50 million Facebook users had their data exposed to the political consulting firm, who worked on the Trump Campaign. Your privacy is important, and it should be a priority to protect it.

Follow these tips to protect your privacy and identity:

Take proactive measures to protect your information

  • Use strong passwords and don’t share them with anyone. Ideally use a random combination of numbers, letters and punctuation over eight characters long.

  • Use a separate email address for shopping, discussion groups and newsletters. If you need to, you can then change this address without disrupting online business activities.
  • Only share your primary email address with people you know.
  • Adjust your privacy settings on social networks to control the amount and type of information you want to share.

 

Moderate your activity online and monitor for signs of compromise

  • Check your billing and account records carefully to detect signs of potential identity theft early.
  • Be careful when signing up to mailing lists – spammers sometimes use the unsubscribe button to validate addresses.
  • Only make online purchases from companies that have a clear privacy policy and secure payment pages.
  • Think before you fill out online forms and be careful with whom and how you share your information. Ask yourself: do I really need to give my information to this site?
  • Keep a record of what information you have given to whom.

 

Know what to do if your identity is stolen

  • Notify your financial institutions.
  • Change your passwords.
  • Notify the relevant websites.
  • Request a credit report from a reputable credit reference bureau. 

 

CREDITS:

StaySmartOnline.gov

Bank Accounts to Disappear Posted on: March 23, 2018

Banking process picture with title, "Bank Accounts Could Disappear in 15 Years"

Bank Accounts Could Disappear in 15 Years

  • One of Deutsche Bank’s most senior executives said that bank accounts could be obsolete within 15 years.
  • Marcus Schenck, Deutsche’s co-head of corporate and investment banking, said that a recent trip to China had opened his eyes to the fact that the retail banking sector is rife for disruption.
  • “There’s a thesis that at some stage in 5, 10, 15, 20 years – who knows – accounts will disappear, and be replaced,” he said.

Marcus Schenck, one of the most senior executives at Deutsche Bank, believes that bank accounts as we know them now could disappear in as little as five years.

Schenck, who is co-head of corporate and investment banking at the German lender, told Bloomberg’s European Capital Markets Forum that a recent trip to China had opened his eyes to the fact that the retail banking sector is ripe for disruption from new technologies.

Asked by an audience member how he and fellow panel members – Barclays CEO Jes Staley and Societe General Chairman Lorenzo Bini Smaghi – were preparing for technological disruption, Schenck told an anecdote about visiting a company manufacturing computer chips.

Profile of Marcus Schenck

 Marcus Schenck 

quote-left

“The week before last I was in China, and saw a company that is producing microchips that are used for bitcoin mining, or any type of blockchain technology,” he said.

“There’s a thesis that at some stage in 5, 10, 15, 20 years – who knows – accounts will disappear, and be replaced.”

“That would be a game changer to what we’re doing,” Schenck said, adding that financial firms “have to monitor what’s happening.”

Schenck’s argument concerns the creation of individual wallets for cryptocurrencies – whereby people are able to store their money digitally but without the need for a third party like a bank. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency wallets are already widespread, but many believe their usage could spread even more rapidly in the future as cryptocurrencies themselves are more widely used.

“Technology is impacting the different businesses we are operating in in different ways,” Schenck said, noting that in retail banking “there is a completely new normal evolving.”

“The vast majority of activities are going down the path of being a more electronic interaction with your client. We have that in our trading business, in FX. The vast majority today, there are no human beings involved when we do business,” he added.

As well as changing the way banks themselves operate, technological advances in the financial sector are also changing the skills that people looking to work in the industry need to possess to get ahead.

Bitcoin Eftpos Machine

CREDITS:

Will Martin

Business Insider

The Basics: Property vs. Shares Posted on: March 19, 2018

Text: "The Basics: Property vs. Shares" with a shares stocks trends chart, and a property.

Property vs Shares 101

In times of boom and bust, it’s hard to have a rational discussion about different assets. Opinions tend to move to the extremes.  It’s a bit like asking whether you’re a dog or a cat person, most people pick a camp and will explain to anyone who will listen why their chosen camp is the right one.

Around the office water cooler we often hear statements like “shares are too risky but you can’t lose with property” or “the property bubble will burst soon” but most of these opinions are just that, opinions.

There are undoubtedly shares that are risky and property that will be sold at a loss, but before putting any of your hard-earned money into any type of investment, always take the time to stop and revisit the fundamentals of each asset class with you adviser to see how it fits into your overall wealth creation strategy.

To help work out what works for you, here’s a short comparison.

Buy In

Getting started with either type is vastly different. Shares can be bought and sold very easily and within a small amount of time, while property takes a much longer time to acquire, requires more paperwork and a lot more costs. Overall shares are a much more straightforward investment and are easier to buy into.  

Winner: Shares

Gearing

Regardless of how easy it is to get started in shares, there aren’t many options regarding gearing (borrowing to invest). For property, banks are much more likely to offer a loan, and through property ownership, you can use equity which can be deposited for further investment. Keep in mind however that while gearing allows the investor to have greater exposure to the asset class of their choice it also brings with it greater risk.

Winner: Property

Growth

Investment returns should be measured in 10-year time frames, and here property is a clear winner. Our sharemarket is still valued 10 per below its record high reached a decade ago, but in the same period the average national property price has climbed 68 per cent. Winner: Property

Diversification

Property is a high value asset class and as such it is harder (and more expensive) to build a diversified portfolio.  This is where shares really shine. Building a diversified portfolio of shares is not only less expensive but it is also easier to implement. Investment structures such as ETF’s (Exchange Traded Funds) already exist with diversification in mind, popular ETF’s include SFY which tracks the top 50 Australian companies and IVV which tracks Americas top 500 companies.  The winner of this category is a no-brainer.Winner: Shares

Volatility

We all worry about making a loss on our investments. Share prices are published daily and volatility makes investors jittery. It is sometimes hard to avoid the temptation to sell.  On the other hand, house prices are not visible and you only know the value when you put your house up for sale. Because you can’t see the value of a property every day, it doesn’t feel so risky. However, the higher entry and exit costs, lack of liquidity and the costs of maintaining the asset make property risky in a different sort of way. Winner: Property

Income

Regarding income, we are referring to dividends from shares and rental income from property. Interestingly, on average slightly more income has been earned from dividends than rental income in Australia over the last 10 years.

Dividend yields paid by Aussie shares averaged 6.2% over the last 10 years to 19 December 20172  and for popular stocks such as the banks the average was about 6 per cent. Rental returns from investment properties Australia Wide averaged 5.3% over a similar 10 year period ending 30 November 2017

Winner: Shares

Liquidity

Finally, if you’re ever planning to sell your investments, you’ll find it to be much easier when it comes to shares. Shares can be traded with the value in your pocket within a couple of days, while property can take much longer to sell, often requiring a real-estate agent, inspections, all of which may take weeks or even months to execute.

Winner: Shares

Conclusion

There are also other important things to consider that can greatly impact the total return on investment.  These include: the legal entity and structure of ownership, the way gearing is structured, your tax strategy, investment time frames, existing resources and attitude towards risk, your exit strategy and of course your goals.  

Each investment type comes with a variety of benefits and considerations. Overall, its a good idea to diversify your investments between a variety of asset classes, and many people find comfort in an investment strategy that includes both shares and property. For more information relating to your specific circumstances tailored professional advice is always recommended.  If you would like to speak with a licensed Adviser you are invited to call Future Assist on 1300 118 618.

Thinking of building an investment portfolio? Speak with an Adviser today.

1 Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Source: AMP Capital, CoreLogic. Year on year to 30 November 2017.2 Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Source: Bloomberg, S&P/ASX 200 Accumulation Index . Year on year to 19 December 2017.

Lunch Break Posted on:

How to Utilise Your Break Time

We can all agree on one thing; our lunch breaks are important to us, but why don’t we utilize them to their full potential?

We are usually guilty of either; hiding in a dark corner while we munch on some last minute takeout, or eating in our work-spaces with one hand holding a fork, and the other typing away finishing off that last thing on our to-do list.

“How is it that one hour flies by in 10-minutes?”

​It’s because we aren’t being strategic about our breaks and making the most of it.

Take a breath.

As soon as your hour break starts, begin by taking a deep breath in, holding it for a few seconds, then dropping your shoulders as you breathe out. From the moment you’ve began your commute to work, the stress has been piling up. Take a few seconds to let that stress go.

Leave your work-space.

There are a couple of reasons as to why you should do this. First of all, if you have an office job, you’ve been sitting down for 3-4 hours already, your body probably needs to stretch. Secondly, sitting in a place that your brain associates with stress and deadlines is not good for when you want to relax.

Take the whole break.

If you are given an hour break, take the whole break as often as you can. This will give you more time to do the things you want to do in the middle of the day, as there are things that you can’t get done before or after work, when places you need to go are generally shut (like booking an appointment, or dropping something into the post office etc.).

Try to actually eat food.

We as humans need the energy to work, and you get your energy from food. If you’re the type of person to lose concentration early and get headaches before the afternoon hits, and you’ve noticed you skip lunch often, that’s probably your body telling you to eat.

Go outside.

If you’re cooped up in an office all day, you’ll end up seriously lacking vitamin D. By taking a quick walk outside and getting a breath of fresh air, you’ll be doing your body a ton of favours.

Recharge

Once your break is over, take a second to look back at the day you’ve had so far, and assess what you need to prioritise for the rest of the day.