Five ways to stick to your financial resolutions

Setting a financial goal? Take steps to make it work.

If its that time for you to set new goals or dust off old ones, how can we boost our chances of sticking to our financial resolution? Here are some practical tips.

1. Choose an attainable goal

It’s good to be ambitious, but you may have a better chance of adhering to your resolution if you have a smaller, reachable goal. Using the well-established SMART formula can help. SMART stands for:

  • Specific – make your financial goal as clear as possible.

  • Measurable – if your goal is specific, most likely it is measurable too.

  • Achievable – choose a goal that you can reach in the foreseeable future.

  • Relevant – ensure you really want this goal and that it would benefit you.

  • Time bound – set a timeline for achieving your target.

2. Have a plan

Create a plan that can help you take small but regular steps toward reaching your financial goal. The key is to set specific milestones and a timeframe for each. You may wish to talk to your financial adviser about setting a plan for your financial situation and goal.

3. Announce your resolution

Tell your family members or friends about your resolution, or post it on social media. By making your resolution known to others, you might feel more responsible for sticking to it.

4. Track your progress

Record and analyse your progress against your milestones. It could help to get your financial adviser to check your progress every so often.

5. Enjoy the process

Enjoying the process of reaching your goal may help you stick to your financial resolution. So give yourself a small reward every time you hit a milestone.

Whether you want to boost your savings or retirement fund, your financial adviser may be able to help you stay on track to achieve your resolution.

Cash flow can make or break your business, so take time to safeguard it

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According to a recent survey by research firm East & Partners for lender Scottish Pacific, nearly 80 per cent of owners of small and medium enterprises said cash flow issues caused them the most sleepless nights.[1]

So what might you do to improve your cash flow and sleep better at night? Here are five tips.

1.   Build a cash reserve

Cash flow is the lifeblood of any business. To ensure that it makes, not breaks, your business, it’s important to build a robust cash reserve. This may help you meet your financial obligations in difficult times and allow you to take on opportunities to grow your business.

2.   Separate business and personal money

By keeping business and personal expenses separate, you may better understand your business’s cash position. It may also ensure that you don’t use money meant for your business on personal expenses; for example, a holiday or your mortgage.

3.   Get paid on time

If your business hasn’t been actively pursuing unpaid invoices, you may want to make it a practice – and have a strategy – to regularly chase up payment. Finding ways to encourage prompt payment, such as offering a discount to early payers, may help.

4.   Control business costs

Controlling costs might help you to maintain a healthy cash flow. Experts suggest taking stock of your business expenses regularly to identify where you can cut costs without sacrificing growth. This may include reviewing your suppliers and negotiating better rates with them.

5.   Protect your business

By taking out business expenses insurance and key person insurance, you may help ensure your business can meet its running costs if you or a key employee is too ill to work. Both insurance plans provide a monthly benefit if you or a key person in your business become incapacitated.

Work with a professional

Your professional financial adviser could tailor your insurance plans to your business’s cash flow protection needs, safeguarding what you’ve worked so hard to build.

Note

[1] Scottish Pacific and East & Partners, October 2018, ‘SMEs flag higher revenue growth, but prospects could be dampened by declining property market and cash flow issues,’ accessible at: https://www.scottishpacific.com/media-releases/smes-flag-higher-revenue-growth-but-prospects-could-be-dampened-by-declining-property-market-and-cash-flow-issues

Four ways to teach children healthy money habits

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Set a good example for your children with just a few simple changes.

As a parent, you try to ensure your children have the skills to make smart financial decisions. For example, you tell them about the importance of saving or the power of compounding interest. But did you know that you could be sending them negative money messages without meaning to?

Here are four common ways you could teach your children healthy money habits.

1.     Revealing the magic behind digital money

Your children have likely seen you pay for hundreds of transactions without glimpsing cash changing hands. For small children, it can seem like money problems are solved with magic – just wave or tap a plastic card. This makes it important to discuss the value of money with them. A good way to start is to explain how your earnings get deposited into your bank account and how you use this account to pay bills. For older children, consider showing them how taxes are deducted from your salary.

2.     Spending wisely

Frequently buying things on an impulse could send the message that it’s fine to spend without planning. Sticking to a budget is key to avoiding impulse-buying. To set an effective budget, consider working with a professional financial adviser. Your adviser may help develop a budget that factors in your income, expenses and financial obligations.

3.     Teaching them independence

It’s convenient to do everything for your children. But by giving them a chance to have their own money and decide how and where to spend it, they could learn powerful lessons about budgeting. For adult children, always offering them financial help can create a cycle of dependency. Letting them make their own money decisions could help them develop financial responsibility.

4.     Including them in budgeting

Many parents keep household financial planning and budgeting to themselves. While you don’t have to fully involve your children in managing your family’s finances, giving them a role to play, such as getting them to do grocery shopping using a set budget, can teach them lessons about money. If your children are old enough to earn some income, why not get them to pitch in to help achieve a family goal?

Using your influence positively

You can strongly influence your children in relation to money, so it’s important to pass on smart money management skills. If you don’t know where to start, consider reaching out to your financial adviser to help you stay on top of your finances through proper planning and budgeting.

Insurance: Get insurance while you’re still bulletproof

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According to research by TAL insurance provider the cost of personal insurance soars after the age of 35. This is also the time in our lives that you may be going through significant change such as marriage, children, a bigger mortgage and more responsibilities.

In the previous 5 years to 2017, TAL paid out insurance claims to the sum of $66m to people aged up to 35, but this figure soared for those aged 35 – 46 to a total payout sum of $152m.

From our experience working with clients and insurance providers, it’s wise to get a personal insurance cover in place before you turn 35. If you are approaching your 35thbirthday now is the ideal time to think about this, but it is important to stress that an appropriate insurance plan is wise at any age.

It’s time to get some professional advice – from an adviser with the technical expertise and experience required to make sure you’re properly covered.

Successful Investor Secrets

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The investment world can change dramatically from one month to the next. But these secrets of successful investors never go out of style.

Successful investing can be one of your biggest allies in the quest for long-term financial security. Unfortunately, unsuccessful investing can leave you wishing you’d kept your money in the bank.

So what are the secrets to making your investments achieve what you want them to achieve?  Here are some of the tactics used by successful investors around the world.

1. Start with a plan

Smart investors don’t just look for ‘good’ investments. They look for investments that will help them achieve specific goals.

You may be seeking a return above that available on cash or term deposits. In this case there are other investments such as shares and fixed income, which may be expected to generate higher returns than cash over the long term, however, they are also more volatile, so investors need to consider both the risk and return components of their portfolio.

2. Diversify widely

One of the main goals of investing may be to ensure you have a mix of assets that are likely to perform well at different times – helping you survive any downturn in a specific market or industry sector.

While many Australian investors are heavily exposed to Australian shares, a well-diversified portfolio will generally hold assets in each of the major asset classes (e.g. Australian and international shares, property, fixed income and cash).

3. Watch your costs

It’s easy to get fixated on the returns your investments can generate. But successful investors always keep track of, and seek to minimise, the fees and taxes associated with owning them.

A ‘buy and hold’ strategy can help you avoid transaction costs like brokerage, or buy and sell spreads from managed funds. It can also help you reduce capital gains tax, which generally decreases by 50% when you’ve held an asset for over 12 months.

4. Market Timing Risks

Despite periods of significant volatility on a daily basis, over the long term, investments in assets such as Australian Shares have generated strong returns.

5. Don’t panic

When share markets retreat (which they inevitably do), smart investors don’t hit the panic button and sell long-term investments based on short term volatility – this is made easier by following Step 1 “Start with a Plan”.

Instead, if you continue to invest during a market downturn, you may be able to buy high-quality investments at a lower price than you could if you waited for markets to recover.

Following the GFC, when the stock market bottomed in early 2009, many investors sold out of equities and held large proportions of cash in their portfolios. The opportunity cost of this decision has meant that some investors have missed a significant rally over the past decade.

6. Protect your assets

Even a carefully constructed investment strategy can come unstuck if you need access to your money in an emergency.

A smart strategy is to ensure you maintain a sizeable cash reserve, and put in place appropriate insurance such as income, TPD and life insurance. Having appropriate insurances in place can help prevent the need for a ‘fire sale’ of your investments if you suffer a serious illness or accident.

Tip: Income protection typically replaces up to 75% of your income if you can’t work due to an illness or accident. 

Five financial moves to make in your 40s

In your 40s? Here’s what you need to consider to financially get ahead.

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Being in your 40s often involves balancing many responsibilities that it becomes easy to neglect your own financial wellbeing. But it’s not too late to secure your future. Here are some tips that may help you financially make the most of your 40s.

1.       Create a plan

If you don’t have a financial plan, it’s time to get one. Ensure that it’s based on your needs and priorities. By working with a professional adviser, you may be able to tailor a plan that helps you optimise your ability to save and invest.

2.       Grow your savings

Your 40s could be your peak earning years, so it may be a good idea to ramp up your savings and funnel some of your income into your superannuation or investment accounts. But be sure to do your homework and consult with a professional financial adviser about your options.

3.       Give your super a health check

A quick super health check may help you optimise your retirement savings. For example, by choosing a different investment option or type of risk, you may be able to earn better returns on your super. If you have multiple funds, consolidating your accounts may help you save on fees. Again, seek advice from a professional adviser before acting.

4.       Avoid lifestyle creep

People generally have a tendency to inflate their standard of living as they earn more and can afford more things, such as a better car or house. While it’s only natural to want the finer things in life, you’ll likely end up with little to no financial gain if your spending rises as quickly as your income. Try stick to your long-term financial goals and remember the big picture.

5.       Consider investing more

Your 40s may be a good time to invest more – or diversify your investments – to help you grow your long-term savings. But keep in mind that it’s important to choose instruments that suit your risk appetite and time horizon. Developing a strategy with your financial adviser might make it easier achieve the return required to reach your financial goals.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author; they are not reflective or indicative of Millennium3 Financial Services position and are not to be attributed to Millennium3 Financial Services. They cannot be reproduced in any form without the express written consent of the author.

 

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