Category Archives: Blog

How to Get Your Finances in Shape at Every Stage of Life

As you go through life, your financial goals will shift and change. Very few people have the same goals as they did a few years ago. Below is a general guide for how to get your finances in shape at every life stage.

20s

You might not be earning a whole lot of money in your 20s, but it is the time to get good habits in place. Your focus should be on creating a budget and sticking to it, resisting the urge to borrow to supplement your income. Once you’ve mastered your budget, you’ll want to start building some savings. Saving will give you the financial freedom to make smarter choices about what to do with your money. It is a good idea to start by creating an emergency fund.

30s

Your 30s might feel like a constant battle of working to pay the bills. You will need to be strict with your budget to ensure that you can meet your short-term goals (like a holiday with the kids) and your long-term retirement goals. You will need to consider how important your goals are and be realistic about the timeframe you want to achieve them.

40s

At this stage in your life, you will likely be reaching your maximum earning potential and will have some substantial financial commitments, such as a mortgage. Many people struggle with lifestyle creep in their 40s. Lifestyle creep is the gradual increase in spending as your wage increases. This often results in extra purchasing, at the detriment of your savings. Before making purchases, you need to ensure you stick to your budget and prioritise purchases, so you can still save for retirement.

50s

Your 50s should be all about maximising your superannuation. If your balance is low, you might find that you need to implement a strict budget to get back on track. Think about making contributions right up to the concessional cap.

The team at The Farm Protectors are here to help, whatever stage of life you are at. We can provide guidance on budgeting, savings, and retirement planning. Contact us today.

Why Your Business Should Have A Succession Plan

What would you do if one of the leaders of your company steps down? Succession planning is an ongoing process to ensure the continuity of a business beyond its current management. It is never too soon to start planning. The benefits of succession planning are massive. Here are a few reasons why your business should have a succession plan in place.

Helps the business survive an unforeseen event

You can’t predict the future. At any time, an essential member of your business may become ill or resign, and without a succession plan in place, you will be left scrambling to keep the business running smoothly. You can’t plan for an unforeseen event, but you can have a plan in place with how you will respond if something happens. A succession plan will outline a strategy to fill positions as needed in your company. A succession plan takes the stress out of future change.

Identify the most qualified leaders

Creating a succession plan will allow your business to identify potential leaders ahead of time. By doing so, you can provide these people with training and coaching opportunities if needed to prepare them for the future. The business can hire internally with people well-aligned to the organisation’s goals and values, alleviates the hassle of hiring down the track.

Save the business money

Filling an executive position can be costly, especially those coming from another company as they will expect a substantial compensation package. Simply put, it costs money to lure people away from their current jobs. With a succession plan, you can promote from within and eliminate any unproductivity while a new person learns the ins and outs of the company.

Keep staff motivated

Succession planning sends a very positive message to your team. It shows them that the company is planning for the future and are committed to developing staff. Staff will be more motivated and confident in their work.

Your business needs to have a succession plan in place to prepare for the future. If you have any questions about succession planning or family business, get in contact with the team at The Farm Protectors today.

Muesli Bar Slice

PREP: 15 MINS | COOK: 15 MINS | MAKES: APPROX. 20

What you’ll need…

  • 1 cup Dried Apricots, diced
  • 1 cup Sultanas
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup oat bran
  • 1/2 cup bran cereal
  • 1/4 cup Sunflower Kernels
  • 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 60g butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line a 28cm x 18cm x 3cm tin
  2. In a large bowl mix together the oats, oat bran, bran, sunflower kernels, flour, apricots and sultanas.
  3. Melt the butter, honey and brown sugar in the microwave for 1 minute and add to the dry ingredients. Stir in the egg and milk until well combined.
  4. Press into greased and lined tin and bake for 15 minutes. Cut into slices when cooled.

Don’t Forget to Budget for Fun Money

Budgeting and saving money can be hard work. People often associate budgeting with strict saving and being deprived of any fun. However, a well-balanced budget should allow you to reach your long term financial goals, while still having a little fun along the way. It is important to set aside some ‘fun money’ to spend on whatever you want to help you keep on track with your budget. Below are three reasons why you should be including fun money in your budget.

1. Saving can be draining

Living on a strict budget can be very draining. You sit there, watching every dollar being spent on essentials. It gets tiresome and often leads to people giving up their budget altogether! Budgeting for fun will help take the pressure off. It allows you to reward yourself for working so hard to achieve your long-term goals, without feeling guilty.

2. Fun money can prevent big expenditures

A lot of people treat budgeting like a diet, starting out incredibly motivated and spending money only on the essentials. But doing this normally results in a big splurge purchase, something over the top and expensive that you feel incredibly guilty about later. By budgeting for fun, you won’t feel this urge to go overboard on a big shopping spree.

3. Fun money can take the pressure off relationships

Money has a significant impact on relationships, especially with a budget in place. It can feel like you are constantly nagging each other about every little expense and is often one-sided. With a little bit of fun money each, you can enjoy yourselves for some fun, whether it is together or apart.

Fun doesn’t need to be expensive. There are plenty of fantastic options and activities out there to have a little fun without putting a dent in your wallet. Everyone will have a different budget, just set aside what you can to enjoy yourself and make life a little more fun.

Be Cyber Aware to Protect Your Small Business

According to the ACCC, Australian businesses lost over $7 million to scams in 2018. Small businesses with fewer than 20 staff are far more likely to be targeted by cyber criminals, accounting for over 75% of reports to the ACCC. You need to be cyber aware to protect your small business. Keep reading to find out common scams and how you can protect your small business.

Common scams targeting small business

  • Phishing emails – emails that attempt to trick you into giving out personal information such as passwords or credit card numbers
  • Malware – tricks you into installing software that will allow the scammer to access your files
  • Ransomware – cyber criminals will demand payment to unlock your computer or data they have taken
  • False billing – these scams will request that you or your business pay fake invoices for things that you did not order, such as office supplies or domain name renewals
  • Business email compromise – a cyber criminal will impersonate a business representative or employee to trick you into transferring money or sensitive information

How to protect your business

Staff Education

The best action you can take to protect your business is to invest in staff education and awareness. Ensure that employees are aware of the scams they might face, the risks involved, and what to do if a potential scammer contacts them. Below are some tips for staff that will help protect your small business.
• Do not click links or open attachments from people or organisations that are from people you do not know
• Be cautious if emails are asking for urgent payment, using fear tactics, or appear too good to be true
• Never send bank details or personal information over the phone or via email
• If a customer or supplier emails you asking to change their delivery or payment details, call them to confirm this change
• Remember that the government or trusted businesses will never ask you to pay via unusual methods such as gift vouchers or bitcoin
• If you receive any messages that seem suspicious, contact the person or company separately to clarify any concerns you may have.

Establish Business Processes

You need to establish consistent business processes for validating payments and sensitive information requests. Staff must follow these processes to ensure that payments are only being made to legitimate people or businesses.

Cyber attacks are on the rise for small businesses, and are becoming increasingly sophisticated and appear more legitimate than ever. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. To protect your small business, you need to educate staff to create cyber security awareness and implement processes that limit the sharing of confidential information.

How to Get Your Financial Affairs in Order

It can be difficult to discuss what happens when we pass away, but getting your financial affairs in orders will prepare your family for a difficult time. Making sure you have your affairs in order and that the right people know your plans will make things easier for your loved ones. Here are a few ways to get your financial affairs in order.

Create or update your will

If you do not already have a will, now is the time to create one. A will ensures that your assets go to the people you want them to. Otherwise, the law will decide, and it might not be who you want. Be sure to review your will yearly and make any changes needed. Your will should be updated for relationship changes, the entrance of new family members, or the purchase or sale of assets. We know that talking about your will can be stressful, so here are five tips for a stress-free conversation.

Appoint people you trust to look after your affairs

You need to appoint people you trust to look after your financial affairs if you are become incapacitated or pass away. One of the most significant roles you need to consider is an executor. You appoint an executor to carry out your final wishes in your will. Your executor should be somebody you trust to act responsibly. Choosing an executor can be a difficult choice, so here is what you need to consider when making the decision.

You also need to plan for unexpected circumstances that could result in you being unable to look after your personal and financial affairs. You can appoint a power of attorney to ensure your assets are handled properly when you are incapacitated. Click here to find out more about why you need a power of attorney.

Assemble your documents

One of the most necessary steps in organising your financial affairs is by assembling all your documentation. By gathering all your information documents, you make it easier for the person managing your affairs to locate them. You may even wish to create both physical and digital copies of these documents. Below are some of the documents you need to compile:

  • Birth, marriage, divorce and citizenship certificates
  • Bank account details
  • Investment details (such as shares, funds or trusts)
  • Centrelink and Medicare details
  • Superannuation information
  • Private health and insurance information
  • House titles or lease documents
  • Mortgage and loan details
  • Pre-made funeral arrangements
  • Contact information for lawyers, financial planners, or advisors

Organising your financial affairs and compiling documentation will save your loved ones a lot of time, confusion and energy during a stressful period. The team at The Farm Protectors are here to help with managing your financial affairs and making the process as easy as possible for you and your loved ones.

Commonly Overlooked Tax Deductions

While some of you may have already done your tax returns for the last financial year, the deadline to lodge isn’t until October 31. Whether you are doing your return yourself or with a tax agent, you don’t want to miss out on any deductions that you may be entitled to. Here are some of the most commonly overlooked tax deductions that you could be claiming!

Tax agent fees

If you worked with a tax agent in the previous financial year to prepare and lodge your tax return, you can claim the amount you paid. Any fees for professional help with your return are tax-deductible but can be easy to forget, especially if you lodge on your own the next financial year. You can also claim travel costs getting to and from your agent, and any tax advice you received during the year.

Union or membership fees

Many people are members of professional or trade associations relating to their work or are subscribed to trade magazines. You can claim tax deductions for the fees associated with these memberships/subscriptions. This also applies to trade union fees.

Mobile phone expenses

Employees have been increasingly using their personal mobile phones for work. If you find that you are using your phone for work, whether for calls or internet data, you can claim the cost as a tax deduction. You can only claim the amount relating to work, so it is a good idea to keep a logbook to calculate the portion you use for business.

Self-education expenses

Self-education expenses relate to courses provided by a school, university, or other training providers that you undertake. You can claim any costs you incur for self-education if they pertain to upgrading your qualifications or improving your skills for your current role. Self-education tax deductions can include textbooks, stationery, computer expenses, student services fees, and allowable travel expenses.

While these might seem like small amounts, they can add up to a decent amount of money on your tax return. Remember to keep records of receipts and records for every deduction that you are claiming. Make sure you keep these commonly overlooked tax deductions in mind when completing your next tax return.

How To Change Your Money Mindset

Your money mindset is our unique view and beliefs about money. It is your attitude towards money. Having the wrong mindset about money can have a significant impact on your ability to meet financial goals and save money for your future. Many people find themselves too scared to even think about their financial situation, feeling like they can’t save money. Here are a few ways to change your money mindset and be confident in your financial situation.

Stop comparing yourself to others

We compare everything we do to other people. It is so easy to find yourself comparing your financial situation to family, friends or colleagues. However, doing this leads to negative feelings of envy and unhappiness about your personal finances. When you compare your situation to others, you shift your money mindset. Instead of being appreciated for everything you have, you become insecure and unhappy about the thing you do not have.

Forget about your past

Most people are significantly impacted by the money mindset of their parents, even if they are not aware of it. For example, your parents may have talked negatively about money and their financial stresses when you were growing up. There is a high chance that you too will feel anxious and uncomfortable about your financial situation. Failures and negative experiences with money in the past also impact our mindset, as you believe it will happen again. But your past does not define your current situation or your future, so you need to start fresh and be confident with your finances.

Take the emotion out of it

Emotional spending happens when you buy something that you don’t need, or even want because you are feeling any number of emotions at the time. This is often when you feel stressed out or unhappy with your financial situation. A lot of people also spend when they are happy, making impulse purchases that they later regret. Be more conscious about your shopping habits and take the time to consider each purchase to avoid impulse buys and overspending. This will give you greater control over your finances, and make sure you genuinely enjoy the investments that you do make and the money you save in the long run.

By paying attention to your thoughts and behaviours around money, you will be able to make positive changes about your money mindset and start saving for your future. Your money mindset can be changed, and with little changes to your lifestyle and financial direction, you can create a more positive and confident relationship with money.

Who Should I Choose As My Executor?

Choosing an executor is an important decision. An executor is a person or organisation that you appoint to carry out the wishes you have stated in your will and administering your estate when you pass. Being an executor isn’t easy and, in some cases, can be quite complicated. So, who should you choose as your executor?

What does an executor do?

An executor will be required to:

  • Locate the will and documentation
  • Make funeral arrangements if needed
  • Identify all assets and liabilities
  • Distribute the proceeds of your estate
  • Defending the estate against any legal claims
  • Continuing administration and asset management if required

Who can I choose as my executor?

Anyone can be an executor who has the capacity to administer legal and financial affairs, even if they need to seek advice and support to carry out their duties as executor. You can even select a person under 18 years of age but understand that their guardian will be appointed as executor until they reach 18 years of age.

Your executor should be somebody that you trust, who will act responsibly, and has agreed to take up the role. In most cases, this is a relative or close friend. Remember that this may be a time-consuming task. Make sure you are fully satisfied that they will respect your wishes and have the knowledge and skills to carry out your wishes. Also, take into consideration any conflicts of interest. For example, you may not wish to appoint an executor who is also a beneficiary as they will be in a difficult position when administering your estate.

If nobody comes to mind, you can choose to appoint a third party as your executor, such as a lawyer or private trustee company. This will ensure impartiality and professionalism when it comes to administering your will. Appointing a third party may cost more but will result in likely result in quicker administration of your estate.

Choosing an executor can be a difficult choice. We are here to help with planning your estate and making the process as easy as possible for you and your executor.

5 Ways to Make Your Tax Refund Go Further

Are you wondering the best way to invest your tax refund? While it is incredibly tempting to splurge this money, here are 5 ways to make your tax refund go further to improve your financial future.

Pay down your debts

A great use of your tax refund is to make payments towards any outstanding debts or loans you have. Personal loans or credit cards have very high interest rates. Paying off these debts will save you a lot of money in interest in the future.

Boost your superannuation

Think about your future financial security and boost your superannuation fund. Investing more into your superannuation fund, on top of the 9.5% required by any employers, can have many benefits, including more retirement savings and reduced tax.

Invest in yourself

Invest in yourself by using your tax refund to pay for additional education or training. While it is difficult to measure the benefits of investing in yourself, spending money on yourself will have a lasting impact on your career in the years to come. It can help with job stability and increasing your employability.

Add it to your emergency fund

There’s no better feeling than having spare money to cover any unexpected expenses that might crop up. Use your tax refund to top up your emergency fund (or start one if you don’t already have one), so you have enough money to cover a few months of living expenses if something happens.

Get professional financial advice

If you have never had the help of a financial advisor, you can use your tax refund to invest in planning out your financial future. Expert advisors can provide you with the best options for your individual situation to help you achieve your financial goals.

At The Farm Protectors, we care about your future. We specialise in Whole of Life Planning to allocate and manage your finances and capital through budgeting, investments, wealth protection and business structures. Contact us today to organise your finances without having to sacrifice lifestyle or savings.