Home         Make an Appointment         Subscribe

Money Matters

Have you ever felt stressed about money?

Importance of income protection insurance – the value of you


Many people know what it is like to get caught short without enough cash in the bank or to lose sleep over mounting debt.

But imagine if something happened and you couldn't work!!!

  • Your income stops.
  • The mortgage and other debts still need to be paid.
  • Bills continue and actually pile up.
  • Usually more bills to pay for medical treatments.

Imagine the stress then!!

The last thing you want to be thinking about is money when a dreadful illness occurs. You want to focus on getting better.

Income Protection will help keep you afloat financially for as long as it is needed (it can be up to age 65 or 70).

And yes insurance companies do pay claims,providing you use a quality insurer.

Don't just say you have this in your superannuation. Check the waiting period (the period you have to be off work before you get paid) and that the benefit period is for more than 2 years and the amount they will pay (cover) is appropriate to your current salary.

Get personalised advice that's right for you.

We would like to offer you a 90 minute consultation with our insurance specialist, Michael Crowe, to help you find the right insurance solution and discuss the best way for you to protect your most important asset – your income. Click here to book online now. 


Hendrie Group Christmas wishes and trading hours

We would like to take the opportunity to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Thank you for your business this year and we look forward to continuing to work with you in 2016.

A quick note to let you know that our office will be closed from 3pm on Wednesday 23 December 2015 and will re-open at 8.30am on Monday 4 January 2016.

Have a safe and relaxing festive season!

From all the team at,
The Hendrie Group

A few weeks ago I blogged about what was happening in Greece and the impact on the sharemarket, but while Greece was certainly the 'loudest' issue at the time, it wasn't the only issue...

There's been a long standing debate over whether or not markets are rational and efficient. Some experts argue that the sharemarket automatically factors in any news – good or bad – before anyone has a chance to do anything about it.

There are some fairly reasonable arguments, but for me it all falls apart with one significant element – human nature. Wherever there is emotion there is the chance of irrational behaviour and there's a lot of emotion involved in the movement of our sharemarket at the moment.

So let's focus on the facts and try to get some perspective on what's really going on and what it means for us in the scheme of things.

Since April we have seen several major sharemarkets have decent corrections, eg Chinese shares -32%, Asian shares (ex Japan) -17%, emerging market shares -16%, Eurozone shares -13% and Australian shares. Of course the US share market has been relatively stable with at most a 4% pull back, although being virtually flat year to date it might be described as being in a "stealth correction".

So what are the current issues?

  • Uncertainty remains in relation to China following recent softer economic data, continuing volatility in Chinese shares and China's move to devalue the Renminbi by 3% and allow market forces to play a greater role in its determination.

  • The commodity sector is experiencing a bear market due to more supply than demand, slowing growth in China and the rising trend in the value of the $US (most commodities are priced in US dollars). At present it seems the negative impact of falling commodity prices on producers (eg, US energy companies) is dominating the positive effect on commodity users (eg, US consumers). And China's currency devaluation is seen as reducing demand for them particularly to the extent it makes Chinese producers more economic.

  • The end of the commodity boom effectively ended the strength of emerging markets. Slower growth in China is not helping and the devaluation of the Renminbi has helped accelerate the collapse in emerging market currencies (which are down 36% from their 2011 high). The problems in the emerging world are weighing on global growth as they are now more than 50% of world GDP.

  • Greek related Eurozone risks could re-emerge, albeit briefly. While Greece and the Eurozone have agreed on a third bailout program, Greece is heading back to the polls in a month and the IMF is likely to insist that Greece's debt burden is reduced before participating in the bailout with a decision due in October. Neither of these are likely to be major threats though however, uncertainty around either or both of these could cause short term nervousness.

  • The combination of slower growth in China, falling commodity prices, weakness in the emerging world and the fragility of growth in developed countries indicate the risk of deflation globally remains high. Just to explain – where inflation reduces the value of money over time; deflation increases the value of money –- the currency of a national or regional economy. This means you can buy more goods with the same amount of money over time. In some ways this is good as a slower global recovery means less inflation and a longer global recovery. But it also poses risks for profits.

  • The Fed (the central banking system in US) appears to be heading towards a rate hike - and it's worth remembering here that the current rate is 0% so I use the term 'hike' a bit loosely. But the start of a rising cycle in US interest rates is often associated with market volatility because of this uncertainty. How far will it go? Is the Fed going to stifle growth? The start of the last two major interest rate tightening cycles by the Fed in 1994 and 2004 were associated with falls in US shares of 9% and 8% respectively.

    Investors have now grown used to near zero interest rates for more than 6 years in the US and there is naturally fear that raising them will threaten the still fragile US and global economies. And remember that element we can't ignore when it comes sharemarket movement – human nature and emotion...

  • Australian shares are not being helped by a somewhat disappointing start to the local earnings reporting season. So far 46% of companies have beaten expectations and 61% have seen profits rise from a year ago which is okay, but it's down on what was seen in the February reports, and given the tendency for good results to come early there is a risk of slippage as the reporting season continues.

  • Should mention that reduced liquidity across markets has played a critical role in what's been going on, as there's been a selling-off of equities so that people can get access to cash. Reduced liquidity isn't actually unusual at this time of the year when the northern hemisphere is on summer holidays and creates an environment where market developments can generate more sizeable moves.

 

From this perspective the recent correction is reasonable and not out of the ordinary. From a portfolio perspective, our recommended equity funds have been well-positioned to weather the downturn, and most investment managers have allowed for this in their planning. It can also position them well to take advantage of future buying opportunities.

In a liquidity driven market we are looking for events that could trigger an end to the selling. We see the following possibilities:

  1. A Chinese stimulus package would be helpful but it would need to be large enough to restore some confidence to Chinese investors. There is speculation of the liquidity injection this week.
  1. Markets become absolutely cheap enough. We are probably close in this respect although we do not think the US is there yet. However given the speed of the falls it is not that far off causing valuation support to cause a change in asset allocations and money back into equities. 

So it all begs the question, is the current weakness is just a correction or the start of a new bear market? Periodic sharp falls in the range of 5% to even 20% are quite normal and healthy in that they help the market let off steam and the rising trend resume. Of course it becomes more concerning if the rising trend in share prices gives way to a declining trend and a new bear market sets in.

First up, it's important to point out that notwithstanding the issues I've just discussed, it should also be recognised that the seasonal pattern for shares typically sees rougher returns over the period May to November. This is consistent with the old saying "sell in May and go away, buy again on St Leger's Day" (a UK horse race in September).

We really don't feel this is the end of the bull market - shares are not seeing the sort of conditions that normally precede a new cyclical bear market.

  • Share market valuations are mostly okay. Sure, measured in isolation against their own history some share markets are not cheap anymore. However, once the gap between share market earnings yields and bond yields is allowed for, shares still look cheap.

  • While global economic growth is constrained, a slower recovery should mean a longer recovery as it means spare capacity remains significant and we are a long way from the sort of inflation and debt excesses that precede cyclical downturns/recessions. In terms of current specific concerns: China is unlikely to allow growth to slip much lower for the simple reason that it will lead to social unrest, lower commodity prices will ultimately be positive for growth in developed and Asian economies which are mostly commodity users and while parts of the emerging world will remain weak a re-run of the 1997-98 crisis looks unlikely as the conditions today are very different.
  • Global monetary conditions look set to remain easy. Continued spare capacity and the lack of inflationary pressure has seen global monetary conditions ease not tighten this year. And while the Fed may raise interest rates by year end, they will still remain very low (in a range of 0.25% to 0.5%) and the Fed is likely to signal that any further moves are likely to be gradual, unlike in past tightening cycles. So monetary conditions in the US and globally are likely to remain easy for a long while.
  • Finally, shares are a long way from being over loved. There's a famous quote by the late billionaire investor Sir John Templeton, who said "bull markets are born on pessimism, grow on scepticism, mature on optimism and die of euphoria". There still looks to be a lot of scepticism out there and we haven't hit anywhere near euphoria. In fact various measures of investor sentiment are showing high levels of pessimism which is a bullish sign from a contrarian perspective. This is particularly the case in relation to Asian and emerging market shares.

From Australia's perspective there are a range of reasons to be optimistic. 

  • The size of the fall of 15% is quite a substantial correction especially given the economic outlook has not changed substantially. Sentiment indicators have turned sharply negative (which is a bullish indicator) and investors are heavily underweight emerging market positions. 
  • Valuation and yield looks very attractive relative to low interest rates and relative to global comparatives.

  • The risk for markets appears to be in the resource related sectors. However resources represent only 15% of the market (was 30% a few years ago) and the declining A$ will provide a cushion for the non-mining sectors of the economy (and their earnings).

  • Corporate balance sheets remain in good shape. Net debt to equity sits at 40% compared to 55% pre GFC. There are some pockets of stress in resources and mining services but it is not widespread. 

  • Australia has greater ability to stimulate the economy with interest rates at 2% (high compared to other markets) and Government debt at 23% of GDP.

So in summary, you can't ignore that there are some negative forces in the economy and sharemarket at the moment. In particular, the situation in China, the reaction to a US rate 'hike' and reduced liquidity are probably the three main factors to be keeping an eye on.

And if you're an investor, then it's important to separate out the noise of the market during this latest bout of volatility and focus on the fundamentals of the companies and investments within your portfolio. Those companies with good balance sheets and quality businesses can actually emerge stronger from these types of disruptions. 

But of course, uncertainty leads to volatility in the short term and all markets will experience this from risk aversion.

In our view, it will be a bumpy ride and as such, caution and patience are key.

Ultimately, you shouldn't be overly concerned about market fluctuations if you have a long-term financial strategy in place to effectively cope with short-term falls in the sharemarket.

We believe that market volatility will continue for a while and as many of our current financial planning clients already know, we believe times like this usually call for some strategic defensive positioning. In particular, holding enough equity exposure to take advantage of any market rallies over the next 6-12 months, but also putting measures in place to help protect against "downside" risk.

For this reason we prefer strategies that include tactical decisions, rather than "set and forget" which is somewhat redundant in this environment.

Cheers,

Michael


Tax tips for property investors

Savvy Australian property investors can save a large amount on their tax bill by deducting associated expenses. 

Negative gearing allows property investors to claim any shortfall between their income and expenditure on an investment property as a deduction against their total taxable income.

Most property investors are aware of the usual  expenditure  deductions  that they can use to offset any income earned by an investment  property.  Regular  costs such as maintenance, repairs, interest on loans and management fees can all be used to offset  rental income.

However, there are a few lesser known tax strategies that property investors may care to look at as June 30 approaches:

Refinancing your mortgage 

Refinancing your mortgage usually incurs a couple of one-off costs and fees. Investors who are planning on refinancing  their mortgage may care to consider doing so before June 30 in order to claim  these costs as a deduction in the 2014-15  financial year.

Pre-pay interest 

Property investors who have sufficient funds to pre-pay interest on a loan can do so and claim the deduction in the current financial year. It is also possible to pre-pay (and claim a deduction for) your upcoming property insurance premiums. 

Bring forward maintenance expenditure

If there are maintenance tasks that you know will need to be completed on an investment property, then you may wish to complete them before June 30 in order to minimise your tax bill in the current financial year.

Stay on top of your paperwork

Make sure that you are aware of the depreciations on any fittings or repairs, as well as any other costs you have incurred, for example, strata fees, management fees or rental losses.

Property investors are highly advised to discuss their tax situation with an accountant to ensure that their activities are compliant and that tax savings are maximised.

 

2015 Tax Return Charges


               Minimum Tax Return Fee                    $215.00

               Minimum Fee, 2 Tax Returns              $375.00

               Pensioner Discount                               $20.00

   Please note that these charges relate to the preparation of standard tax returns comprising PAYG employment income and expenses only. Further charges will apply for additional and/or more complex work as required. Prices are inclusive of GST.



Surviving the run up to June 30

Every small business owner knows the stress that comes with the end of Financial year. 

A lot of valuable time and energy gets poured into getting your paperwork in order and making sure that you're minimising your tax bill as much as possible.

The good news is that there is still time to sort things out, and with this checklist you can feel confident that you are on top of your tax:


Get on top of your records

If you've been organised this year then you  deserve to give yourself a big pat on the back! However, taxpayers who have fallen behind on any record keeping are advised to take any necessary steps to get up to date, including seeking external assistance. Record keeping is critical and it is imperative to stay on top of your responsibilities.

Write off bad debts 

Unfortunately, there will be times that a client does not pay you for work that has been completed. This is known as having a bad debt  and it is an extremely frustrating situation for any business owner.

A small consolation can be found in the fact that bad debts are tax deductible. In the event that you have a bad debt, it should be formally written off in your financial records. You will then be able to claim it as a deduction against your taxable income. It may also be necessary for you to provide the ATO with proof that you have taken reasonable steps to recover the amount.

Seek advice about legislation changes

These changes may be from the last  financial year and therefore require you to take certain steps in the next few weeks. There may also be additional changes that were announced in the May Budget. It is important to be aware of any impending changes as they may influence your tax strategy and decisions as June 30 approaches.

Get the ball rolling on stocktake

Retailers and wholesalers are required to undertake a stocktake at the end of each financial year.

However, if your annual turnover is less than $2 million and the difference in value between your opening and closing stock can reasonably be estimated to be less than $5000 then you are exempt from this  requirement. 


Keeping on top of your records

It is essential for all small businesses to have an effective record keeping system in place

Having your records in good working order will significantly reduce the stress that comes with the end of financial year, and will ensure that you make the most out of all of your potential tax savings.

Well organised records carry the additional benefit of allowing you to review your finances easily, potentially showing you where you may be losing out unnecessarily. Records that you must keep include:

Income tax records

You will need all of your income  details and expenses in order to prepare your activity statements and your annual tax return. These records may include invoices, cash register tape, receipts and records that indicate the breakdown of personal and private use of an asset.

Bank records

This includes bank statements, loan documentation and records of any cash deposits.


End of financial year: SMSFs

The compliance requirements for SMSFs are extremely stringent, and it is important for trustees to be acutely aware of their responsibilities. 

Of course, your accountant is there to help   you out, but you should always aim to have a robust understanding of your SMSF's reporting requirements.

Withdrawing minimum pension

SMSFs that do not distribute minimum pensions to members who are in pension phase may face hefty tax penalties. If a member of your SMSF has recently reached pension phase or you are at all unsure as to what your minimum pension amount is, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

Depositing contributions

All of the contributions that have been recorded for your SMSF need to be deposited in the SMSF's bank account by no later than June 30 2015. This is especially important where members have reported concessional or non- concessional contributions.

Spouse contributions

If you are eligible to split your superannuation contributions then you may be able to make some savings on your tax bill come June 30.

This is especially true where your spouse is a low-income earner. However, even if your spouse is not a low-income earner, there are other advantages to splitting income between accounts, for example, increased income flexibility in retirement.


Upcoming ATO compliance targets

Every year, the ATO announces a number of compliance areas that will be subject to additional scrutiny. 

It always pays to be aware of these targets, as non-compliance is, more often than not,  the result of an honest mistake as opposed to willful deception. Unfortunately, an honest mistake can still cost you dearly in penalties and/or interest on late payments to the ATO. In the 2014/15 financial year, the ATO will be focusing on:


Personal technology

Deductions claimed for personal technology items such as smartphones, tablets and laptops. Taxpayers who are claiming deductions on such items should ensure that they have adequate documentation to prove the breakdown of personal/work use (for example diary entries). You are only able to claim a tax deduction equivalent to the portion of the use that is work related.

Cash economy

The ATO will be aiming to identify businesses that operate off the books by failing to accurately record their cash transactions. This may involve paying employees in cash (and therefore avoiding minimum wage requirements and the   super  guarantee)  and/or underreporting the business's profits, thereby reducing the overall tax liability.

GST compliance

The GST compliance program involves ensuring that all businesses that are required to register for GST have done so (that is all businesses with an annual turnover in excess of $75,000). The accuracy of BAS reporting is also under scrutiny.

Travel costs

Taxpayers claiming large deductions in the form of work-related travel costs will be subject to additional examination from the ATO this year. In particular, the tax office has warned that it will be focusing on the validity of deductions claimed for the transportation of bulky tools and equipment.


End-of-year superannuation checklist

As the end of financial year approaches, it pays to start thinking about whether or not you will be able to make any additional personal contributions to your super.

In addition to topping up your retirement nest egg, you will also benefit from some generous tax breaks.

Recently, there has been a lot of discussion surrounding the future of these tax concessions so if your financial situation is permitting, it might be worth considering maximising your contributions as soon as possible.

Super for the self-employed

Self-employed Australians can claim a tax deduction for contributions made to an eligible superannuation fund.

However, taxpayers who are both employees and self-employed may only claim super contributions as a tax deduction where they have derived less than 10% of their assessable income from  employment.

These contributions are considered to be part of your concessional contributions cap.

Deductible superannuation contributions can offset an unusually large taxable income, for example, if you have made a significant capital gain from the disposal of an asset.

Set up a salary sacrificing arrangement

In a salary sacrificing arrangement, your employer will hold back part of your gross (before tax) pay and contribute it to your nominated superannuation account.

The contributions to your super account are taxed at the flat rate of 15%, which is typically much lower than your marginal tax rate. Salary sacrificing into your super reduces your total taxable income, thereby reducing your tax bill.

Super contributions for your spouse

Where your spouse is a low-income earner, you can make superannuation contributions on their behalf in order to receive a tax offset of up to $540.

In order to qualify for this offset, your spouse must have an assessable income that is less than $13 800 per annum, making it an option worth considering where a family member is taking time out from the workforce.

As an added benefit, their superannuation savings won't suffer from their contributions break. Furthermore, the money will work hard due to compound interest and low tax rates.

End-of-financial year superannuation checklist:

  • Do I have the necessary records for all of my superannuation contributions and accounts?
  • What is the total amount that I have contributed this year (including my super guarantee amounts)?
  • Can I make a contribution for my spouse? And is this an effective tax minimisation strategy?
  • Were there any contributions from the previous financial year that I can super split into this current financial year?
  • Should I consider making any additional contributions before the end of financial year (concessional and non-concessional)?


Making the most of small business tax breaks

There are a number of small business tax breaks that it pays to be aware of as the end of financial year approaches

We have compiled this brief overview to give you an idea about whether any of these will be beneficial to your business:

Trading stock

Small businesses can opt out of doing an end of year stocktake (which can be expensive) if the value of their trading stock has not gone up or down by more than $5,000 in the past financial year.

Accelerated depreciation

Businesses that invest in new tools or machinery will receive an immediate tax  deduction for any individual assets under $20,000 from 12 May 2015 until 30 June 2017. The $20, 000 limit can be applied to as many items as they wish. This will replace the previous instant asset write-off  threshold of $1,000. 

Assets that exceed the $20,000 limit will be added to the entity's small business pool and depreciated at 15 per cent in the first income year and 30 per cent each income year thereafter.

CGT consessions

There are four CGT tax concessions available to small businesses that can be extremely effective in minimising, or even eliminating, CGT liability. These concessions are:

  • The retirement exemption: Available to small business owners over the age of 55, or when the capital gain is contributed to a superannuation account.
  • The 15 year exemption: Available to retiring small business owners who have held the asset for over 15 years.
  • The 50% active asset reduction: Where an asset is considered to be 'active' the CGT liability may be reduced by 50% (the requirements here are complex and it is advisable to seek professional advice).
  • The CGT rollover: If a business asset is disposed of and the business plans to purchase a similar replacement asset, then the CGT bill may be deferred for at least two years.

There are specific rules about the order that these CGT concessions should be applied. It is advisable to seek professional advice before disposing of an asset.


Capital gains at end of financial year

The end of financial year is a good time to think about your capital gains and losses for the year

Timing and planning are everything when it comes to minimising your CGT bill and making the most out of your investment returns.

Capital gains tax (CGT) is incurred when a taxpayer disposes of an asset, for example, commercial and residential property, shares, units in unit trusts or collectables. Where the asset is sold for a price that is higher than the cost base (which may be calculated based on the purchase price, associated costs and indexation) the difference is considered to be a capital gain. Where an asset is sold at a loss (for a smaller amount than it was originally purchased), a capital loss may be incurred.

Capital losses can be used to offset capital gains in a financial year. It is also possible for taxpayers to carry capital losses forward to subsequent years if they do not have capital gains against which they can deduct them at the time.

Here are some strategies to reduce your CGT liability:

Use CGT concessions 

As detailed in the article above, there are a number of CGT concessions that are available to small businesses. These concessions can be extremely effective in reducing your CGT bill, and, in some circumstances, may even reduce it to nil.

Taxpayers who do qualify for any of the CGT concessions are in an advantageous position when it come to paying their tax bill.

Dispose of assets before June 30

In years where you have incurred a significant capital gain, you may care to consider disposing of another asset that will yield a capital loss. 

In the event that an underperforming asset will not have a positive turn around, disposing of it before the end of financial year will allow you to use the capital loss to offset your tax liability from any capital gains.

Defer disposal to a lower-income year

Instead of disposing of an asset that you expect to make a capital gain on this year, you may care to consider postponing the disposal if you expect to have a lower taxable income next year. For example, you may be planning to take some unpaid leave or have disposed of multiple assets in the current year.

Plan for CGT events in advance

If you are planning on making any new investments or disposing of assets, it always pays to plan your CGT strategy in advance. Careless timing can cost you a huge amount on your tax bill.

For a copy of our Personal tax Checklist for 2015 click the image below!



 


 


I have 11 people living in my house at the moment ranging from aged 2 to… well… aged "me". So when I'm planning my dinners I need to consider three things:

  1. They need to be nutritious;
  2. They need to fill up lots of hungry tummys;
  3. They have to be inexpensive!!!

They say necessity is the mother of invention, so here are some cheeky tips I've learned while I've been trying to achieve all three of my family food goals.

 

Post-roast pie

Have you ever wondered what to do with roast leftovers? A few years back I made a family roast and found myself with a little meat and a heap of vegetables left over. I can't bear wasting food and thought – what can I do with this??? So I chopped everything up and mixed it all in one large dish (meat, veggies, gravy, cauliflower and white sauce etc) and then the following night I used it as a pie filling.

Well it was such a hit that my family now expects it, and is disappointed when there aren't enough leftovers for me to make one. Just serve with a salad, or even on it's own because it's packed with veggies already.

 

 

 

Spaghetti Bolognese

When my "guests" all moved in, I remember standing in front of the supermarket meat section for ages trying to decide what mince to buy to make spaghetti bolognese. On the one hand, I

naturally wanted to use the lean meat, but on the other hand the regular mince was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more affordable given the quantities I needed. 

I quickly learned how to "bulk" up my bolognese sauce without anyone (especially the kids) even knowing. I now use half the amount of lean mince, and then throw every vegetable at my disposal in the food processor – zucchini, mushroom, carrot, capsicum, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach leaves… And here's the real trick – red kidney beans! Once they've been mashed or put through the processor, they have the consistency of mince!! I just add it all to the traditional sauce and it's delicious. 

The kids wolf it down and ask for more, totally oblivious to the fact they've had 7 serves of vegetables and a serve of legumes. Not to mention I've saved a tonne on meat. 

 

The power of macaroni

For a long time I found it hard to convince my family that soup was a meal. For me, it's a great dinner because it's quick, inexpensive, and again, I can get loads of sneaky veggies into it. 

So what I started doing was throwing a handful of macaroni into all my soups (ok, maybe not all of them – but most) and hey presto, it's now considered a satisfying meal in the Moschendrie household.

 

Take it slow

For $65 I bought a massive slow cooker a while back (check Kmart, Target, Coles, Woolworths, online…) and it's been fabulous. Not only is it the perfect working mum's kitchen aide, but when it comes to saving money, it can be amazing. 

But you don't need a separate appliance, you can slow cook in the oven, or even on the stove top as you'll see below.

With slow cooking you can use all the cheaper cuts of meat because they won't dry out. Remember "chuck steak", this is ideal in the slow cooker and you have the family reacting as if they're eating expensive meat. 

My favourite is a Beef & Chorizo Ragout that I based on a recipe I found in a Good Taste magazine from 2011:

  • 2kg chuck steak (excess fat removed) and cut into 4cm pieces
  • 60ml (¼ cup olive oil)
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 300g mushrooms chopped
  • 1 chorizo sausage sliced diagonally (would still be yummy without the chorizo or with a little bacon instead):
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed (from the jar is fine)
  • 2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 800g tin of diced tomatoes
  • 375ml (1½ cups) beef stock
  • 125ml (½ cup) red wine
  • 90g (1/3 cup) tomato paste
  • 4 dried bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs of thyme (would work with dried thyme leaves)
  • 6 spring onions trimmed and sliced

 

Step 1. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large heavy based saucepan over a medium-high heat. Brown the beef in batches and place in a bowl.

Step 2. Heat the remaining oil and cook chorizo for 2-3 minutes until golden. Add the garlic and paprika and cook, stirring, for one minute or until aromatic. Stir in the beef, tomato, stock, wine, tomato paste, bay leaves and thyme.

Step 3. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook (stirring occasionally) for 2 hours. 

Step 4. Add spring onion, uncover and cook (stirring occasionally) for 30-45 minutes until beef is tender and liquid thickens. Serve with potatoes (the way you like them) and greens, or with a garden salad.

 

Caren

 

 

 

I'm not very tall.

Ok, that's an understatement, I'm pretty short.

5 foot nothing to be honest (perhaps still being a little dishonest).

Anyway, that may be the reason I have so many soapboxes (short-girl syndrome!!) and you guessed it, I'm about to share one with you right now.

For anyone who's been to one of our Family Finance presentations, you'll have heard me waxing lyrical (ok - ranting) about the fact that with everything we're taught in school, basic household financial management is not part of the curriculum.

Think about it for a moment - who was it that sat you down and taught you step by step how to manage money?  Things like:

  • Budgeting
  • Shopping
  • Credit cards
  • Getting a loan
  • Compound interest
  • Living out of home
  • Earning income
  • Investing
If you were lucky your parents trained you, but in most cases no one did.  And even if it was your parents, in many cases they were winging it themselves!

So we're given no formal training, is it any wonder then that we often find managing money complicated, challenging, frustrating?  And that it's the cause of many family arguments, not to mention tears?

And by the way, if you have young children and you think the arguments you have with your partner about money are bad, wait until you have teenagers...(BTW - affordable boarding school options is another one of my soapboxes tee hee).

Today I want to focus on protecting your family's lifestyle because it's an area that's often neglected and it's really important.

Insurance tends to have a bad rap for the wrong reasons, mostly being that we'd rather not talk about it.  Because let's face it, insurance is something that we're only ever going to get value out of if something pretty bad happens right?  The problem is that by not talking about it, or not doing anything about it, we still can't stop that bad stuff from happening - it just means you could be financially devastated if it does.

Anyway, rather than focus on all the reasons you should have insurance cover, because I think most people know them even if we don't like to talk about them, I thought I'd dispel the top 5 myths instead!

Click here for my top 5 insurance myths - BUSTED.

And if it's reading that whets your appetite for information, then click here for a copy of my article "Is it time to review our dinner time conversation" and/or click here for some VERY interesting facts on critical illnesses...

Of course, if you'd like to hear more of what I have to say on the matter, click here for a recording of my most recent "You & Your Money" radio segment on 98.1FM Radio Eastern.

Talk soon, 
Caren





 

I have to be honest, I was pretty happy with myself for having most of my Christmas shopping done by the end of October this year.  Let's face it, if we're not super organised, Christmas can be pretty stressful instead of the fun and happy time that it should be.

I'll never forget my brother ringing me in total panic about 10 years ago because he hadn't bought a present for his then girlfriend (now wife) Jenny.  The reason he was panicking was that it was 7pm on Christmas Eve and he'd mistakenly thought the shops were open until midnight.  D'OH!!!!!!

Funny now, but at the time...

If you didn't catch my recent newsletter article then just click here for my easy and practical tips for Christmas spending.  It may be a little too late this year for some of the tips, so feel free to make use of them in 2014!

Talk soon,
Caren

PS. Please don't keep me a secret.  If you know someone who'd enjoy this or find it useful, pass it on!

 

 

 

 

 

It's almost Christmas, which is pretty exciting.  I'm unashamedly obsessed with Christmas - I had most of my Christmas shopping done by the end of October and my tree and decorations were up by 9 November!

I love the feel of this time of year, I love the Carols and I love the Christmas parties.  I love the way everyone talks about Christmas.  Mick proposed to me on Christmas Eve - 4 years ago mind you!!! - and we go back to the same restaurant every Christmas Eve.  So there's a lot about Christmas I love but most of all I love the holiday!!!!!!

The thing about being a business owner though is that even if we're on holiday we don't stop being business owners.  Even if we're not actually working - we're often still thinking about the business.  If you're in business with your spouse then often you're talking about business on your holiday as well.

So don't fight it - make it effective.

The Christmas break can be a great time to review your business and set goals for the next 12 months.

In our own business we're constantly setting short-term and long-term goals.  The reason we do this is because if you don't have goals it's pretty hard to achieve anything concrete.  You may have heard the saying most people aim at nothing...and they hit it with amazing accuracy.

To ensure that our strategy remains appropriate through different economic climates, industry fluctuations, tax and legislative, changing lifestyles and financial needs, you need to review your business and your short and long-term goals on a regular basis.

Once you've chosen the goals you want to focus on for the next twelve months you need to prepare a plan for each goal and set sub-goals.  What are the things that need to be done to make sure you achieve each goal?

It's really important that you're able to visualise each goal and its purpose and most importantly each goal needs to be achievable.  There's no point setting yourself up for failure - that's never fun.

So there you go, I've just given you some Christmas homework!  If you're like me and your business brain doesn't necessarily shut down for Christmas when the business does, then reviewing and resetting your goals can be an effective use of your holiday time.

But of course it's only worthwhile if you then go back to work and move your ideas into the real world and start making them happen.

Click here for a paper that Mick and I wrote earlier this year about making sure your business and personal goals are in alignment.  Not only does it give you a step by step example of how to go about setting your goals but also highlights why you need to also consider your personal goals when setting your business goals.

Talk soon,
Caren


PS. Please don't keep me a secret. If you know someone who'd enjoy this or find it useful, pass it on! 

 

 

 

 

 

I have a client who is a really smart guy.  He has a list of qualifications as long as your arm (not my arm coz that would be pretty short) and he's one of the best in his field.  But when I told him that gearing involved borrowing he was positively stunned.  No one had ever told him that before.

What's the point of telling you this story?  Simply that gearing isn't necessarily a straightforward investment concept and if it's a subject you find confusing - well, you're in good company!

We've prepared a simple fact sheet that explains all the important points about gearing in plain English! Click here to read it, and if it's something you'd like to explore further, just give us a call.

By the way, my client told me I should tell as many people as possible his story in the spirit of financial education.

Talk soon,
Caren

PS. Please don't keep me a secret.  If you know someone who'd enjoy this or find it useful, pass it on!

 

 

 

 

In our last 4 Ways Bulletin I included an article on teaching our kids about credit cards.  Since then I've been quite shocked to learn exactly how hard some banks are pushing credit cards on them.

A few weeks ago our 19 year old Ashlee received a marketing call from one of the 4 major banks where she holds an account.  It was a fairly young guy who was extremely friendly, asking her about what she was doing at uni and how she was going etc.  He then led the conversation to how she really should have a credit card.  First he used scare tactics - did she realise she'd never be able to get a home loan without a credit rating and a credit card would help her with that?  But then he went in for the real kill - "haven't you ever seen a pair of shoes you really wanted but couldn't afford..."!!!!!!

Terrific!  In one sentence, this guy had tried to undo years of us teaching our kids the value of saving for what they need, any not going into unnecessary debt.

When Ash explained she needed time to think about it, and might look at it in her uni holidays, he told her she shouldn't really wait when she could do it now, and told her he was putting her through to a Financial Planner, presumably to "seal the deal".  Again, the chap was very friendly when he started chatting to Ash, but when she explained that she really didn't want to commit on the spot, his attitude changed quickly and he all but hung up on her.

Some facts about Ash:
  • She is only 19;
  • She is studying Accounting at uni and does not have a full-time job;
  • She has just $50 in an account with the bank that called her;
  • She does love shoes;
  • She did go online afterward and applied for a card herself, but thankfully was declined!
As you'd imagine, finance is a fairly common topic in our household (1 Financial Adviser + 1 Accountant = wild family fun times) so Ash told Mick and I about the whole ordeal over dinner that night and we were able to have a frank discussion about the pros and cons of credit cards.  But I shudder to think about how many kids might get into credit card debt before anyone even realises they'd been given the card!  Or should I say "sold" the card.  Because I'm sorry, but if you dangle shoes in front of most females as the proverbial carrot, that's a hard sell!!!

I'd really like to encourage all parents to have the credit card conversation with your kidsbefore the bank does.  To that end, if you didn't catch my article in the 4 Ways Bulletin, just click here as it highlights some important issues everyone should know about the so-called "fantastic plastic".


Talk soon,
Caren

 

 

Business Services
Business Services
We offer a wide range of
business services.
Read more...
Build your wealth
Building your wealth
We will help you with all your
Wealth Creation needs.
Read more...
Asset Protection
Asset Protection
We will offer solid Wealth Protection
advice and guidance.
Read more...
Personal Tax
We can help you with your personal tax needs.
Read more...