Category Archives: Blog

How to stick to your financial goals this year

We know that the new year is the time that everyone loves to set goals. But we often struggle to stick to them, especially when it comes to our finances and planning for our financial future. Here are a few tips to help you stick to your financial goals this year.

Set SMART goals

The key to planning and achieving your goals is to make them SMART. This stands for:

  • Specific (well defined and clear)
  • Measurable (specific criteria that measure your progress towards the goal)
  • Achievable (attainable and not impossible to achieve)
  • Relevant (relevant to you)
  • Time-bound (clearly defined timeline)

You can use your SMART goals to help priories what you would like to achieve in both the short and long term.

Remember to be flexible

It is so essential to help you stick to your goals to be flexible. You never know what life will throw at you. If you face a setback on your plan, it can be easiest to give up altogether. You should create goals that can change as your circumstances change.

Automate where possible

If you’re trying to save towards a specific goal, it can be incredibly beneficial to automate as much as possible. This could be setting up direct debits, or for a percentage of your pay to automatically transfer to your savings account.

Be held accountable

Accountability is key to reaching your goals. Seek out a family member, friend or financial advisor that you can report back to and discuss your goals with. Speaking with another person will keep you motivated and help you work through any difficulties you are having.

Get expert advice

To help you plan out realistic and achievable goals this year, consider getting a Certified Financial Planner on board. The Farm Protectors team is highly trained to help you work out your financial goals and educate you on the best ways to achieve them and stay on track.

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.

Flapjacks

What you’ll need…

  • 110g butter
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 180g rolled oats
  • 50g sultanas

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a square, 20cm baking tin with a little butter.
  2. Put the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan and over low heat, mix until the sugar has dissolved.
  3. Remove from the heat and add the oats and sultanas. Mix well to combine (you may need to add a little bit more golden syrup). Spoon the delicious mixture into the tin. Flatten with the back of a spoon.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool before serving cut into rectangles.

Recipe from 4 Ingredients

Have you budgeted for Christmas?

Christmas is just around the corner. It is already a stressful time of year, but COVID-19 has made this year more difficult for many. According to Finder, Australian households spent an average of $969 on Christmas last year. We’ve compiled a few tips to help your budget during Christmas this year!

1. Make a list and check it twice!

To help plan out your Christmas spending, it is a great idea to create a list of everyone you are buying for and outline how much money you are going to spend on each individual. Be realistic – it is better to have an affordable Christmas than racking up credit card debt.

2. Shop second hand

COVID-19 has caused countless problems with stock levels, and there is a short supply of incoming freight. Many products have been out of stock for months! This makes it a fantastic time to shop second hand to get great items for a fraction of the price. You can go to your local second hand shop or look online at places like Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace for some bargains.

3. Budget for the other parts of Christmas

When talking about Christmas spending, most people only consider the gifts. But what about all the other fun parts of Christmas? Make sure you consider the additional costs involved – food and drinks, decorations, work parties, and dining out to name just a few.

4. Start buying now

Shops are already full of Christmas food and decorations. You can start buying non-perishable items ahead of time if you see them on sale.

5. Spread the spending

A lot of people spend Christmas with their families and friends. To help your budget, talk with your relatives and friends to organise a combined lunch budget, and everyone can bring a plate to share.

6. Be inclusive

It is very important to keep everyone in mind, particularly this year. Some people will be in a better financial situation than others, so keep your Christmas celebrations inclusive. Organise affordable and simple plans that everyone can get involved in.

Get in touch if you need guidance on your budget this Christmas.

How well do you know superannuation?

How well do you understand superannuation? It can be very confusing, with people throwing around terms like beneficiary and non-concessional contributions? Here are some standard superannuation terms that you should know about.

Beneficiary

You can nominate a beneficiary – a person that you nominate to receive your super benefits if you pass away. They must be dependents, such as your partner, children or any other person that is financially dependent on you.

Binding and non-binding nominations

A binding nomination allows you to advise the trustee on who is to receive your superannuation benefit in the event of your death.

A non-binding nomination gives the trust of the superannuation fund the discretion to protect the interests of your beneficiaries if circumstances change. This means they can pay the benefit to one or more dependents, or to your estate, and decide what proportion they receive.

Concessional and non-concessional super contributions

Concessional contributions are made into your account from money that has not been taxed yet, so therefore receives a concessional (lower) tax rate. In contrast, non-concessional contributions are made into your super fund from after-tax income and are not taxed in your super fund.

ESG

ESG in superannuation stands for environmental, social and corporate governance funds. They are seen as sustainable funds before they focus on long-term, long-lasting investments. Often, they will choose not to invest in areas such as tobacco, gambling, alcohol, and fossil fuels. They might invest in areas of positive social impact, like affordable housing.

Preservation age

Your preservation is the age at which you can access your superannuation. This ranges from 55 to 60 but depends on your date of birth.

Transition to retirement

A transition to retirement strategy can be implemented once you reach your preservation age. You can access some of your super and keep working, letting you reduce your working hours without reducing your income.

Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge

PREP: 15 MINS | COOK: 1 HOUR | SERVES: 25

What you’ll need…

  • 375g can of condensed milk
  • 120g butter, diced
  • 400g dark cooking chocolate, chopped
  • 50g glace cherries, finely chopped
  • 60g hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped

Method

  1. Line a 20cm x 20cm slice tine. Combine condensed milk and butter in a saucepan until heated through and butter is melted. Remove from heat and add chopped chocolate. Stir until smooth.
  2. Add cherries to chocolate mixture and mix well. Pour into prepared pan and top on the bench gently so the surface is smooth. Sprinkle with hazelnuts and refrigerate for 1 hour until firm.
  3. For serving, remove from pan and trim the edges. Cut into squares and package up to give as gifts.

Financial security during a recession

Economies around the world are struggling, and Australia is now in recession. There are a few ways to focus on your finances and become more financially secure during a recession.

Build an emergency fund

A recession and potential job losses or work hour cuts can make it difficult to pay your day-to-day expenses. If you can, now is a great time to start building your emergency fund to help you navigate a recession and gain some financial security.

The amount you have in your emergency fund will differ between person to person. Generally, you should have enough money to cover three to six months of your expenses. 

Revise your budget and cut back

Look at your budget to decide what is essential and anything you can cut back on. Essentials will include your mortgage, rent, utilities and insurance.

It is important also to remember that while it might be an essential expense, you might still be able to save money. Shop around and look at comparison websites to get the best rates and offers on everything from your insurance to food shopping.

Live within your means

It is nice to splash out and treat yourself now and then on discretionary items. But a recession is the time to really consider what matters most to you and only spend what you can afford. Think about your lifestyle and the luxuries that are important to you – dining out, subscription services, or the latest technology. You might be able to cut back, for example, if dining out is important to your lifestyle, you might choose to go out once a fortnight instead of weekly.

Consolidate your debts

Consolidating your debts can help you get a better handle on your expenses. It makes it easier to manage your repayments in one payment, ideally at a lower overall interest rate. This will help you to manage your expenses and hopefully pay off your debt sooner.  

Build your skills

A recession can be a great time to build your skills and pursue further education. New skills and training can make you more employable and help you find work or keep your current position.

Think long term

It is important to remember with investment strategies and superannuation that you will see results in the long term. Don’t make changes based on short-term economic events, as you might miss out on potential growth in the future.

It is hard to predict the future, so it is essential to boost your financial security when possible, especially during times of uncertainty like recessions. Our team are here to help.

Five costly estate planning mistakes

Drawing up your will and estate plan is an important part of life, no matter what your age. Make sure you avoid these five costly estate planning mistakes!

Delaying your estate planning

One of the most significant mistakes people make when it comes to estate planning is putting it off. It is never too early to start planning and arranging your will. This will ensure that your assets go to the right people with minimum fuss for your loved ones. Also, if you put it off too long, you may lose the capacity to communicate your wishes.

Not communicating your plan

The key to a successful and stress-free estate planning is communication. Disputes often arise because people preparing their will do not communicate with their family and loved ones. By communicating clearly, you can let them know the reasons behind your decisions – why you nominate a person as executor or why you gift assets to a specific person?

Not updating as your situation changes

It can be costly if you do not update your estate plan regularly. Your situation changes all the time – you have kids, sell assets, get separated, the list goes on. It is essential to keep your will updated through these changes. For example – if you are going through a divorce and pass away without updating your estate plan, then they will still get any assets you have outlined, even if you no longer wish for them too.

Lack of understanding of assets

People often assume that theirs will covers all of their assets. However, many assets aren’t controlled by your will: superannuation, life insurance payments, jointly owned assets, assets in trusts, or funds in joint accounts. Failing to consider these other assets might mean that they don’t end up where you wish them to.

Not communicating document location

The original copy of your will is important – a missing will can result in delays and extra costs, and if never found, could leave you with no control over who receives your estate. People move house or change solicitors over time, and unfortunately, wills get lost. Make sure you inform your executor or family where the original copy is to avoid extra stress when you pass away.

Estate planning is about preparing ahead for the future of your loved ones. Remember to take the time to get your estate sorted and avoid making these costly mistakes. Reach out to our team for peace of mind that your final wishes are fulfilled.

Almond Mandarin Cake

PREP: 10 MINS | COOK: 70 MINS | SERVES: 10

What you’ll need…

  • 4 small (about 400g) mandarins, unpeeled
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 220g almond meal
  • 1 teaspoon baking power
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water (optional)
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds

Method

  1. Put the whole mandarins in a saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 45 minutes or until tender when tested with a skewer, topping up water as necessary. Drain, cool to room temperature, cut in half and remove any pips.
  2. Preheat oven to 160°C and line the base of a lightly greased 20cm springform cake pan with baking paper.
  3. Blend the cooled mandarins, eggs and sugar in a food processor until well combined. Add the almond meal, baking powder and orange blossom water (if using) and pulse until combined.
  4. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and sprinkle with almonds. Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Keep your identity safe online

Your personal information is so valuable. We have a lot to lose if somebody steals your identity, and it’s not just money. It can take years to recover your identity. However, there are several ways to protect your identity online. Keep reading to find out what to look out for and how to protect yourself online.

What is identity theft?

Identity theft is a type of fraud, where a scammer steals your personal information to steal your money or gain access to other accounts or benefits. Scammers use your information to impersonate you and:

  • Access and take money from your bank account/s
  • Open new credit card accounts or bank accounts to take out loans or lines of credit
  • Set up phone, internet or utility services in your name
  • Gain access to your government accounts or online services
  • Purchase expensive goods
  • Steal your superannuation funds
  • Access your email or social media accounts to find more information about you and target your friends and family

What to look out for?

Do you know the warning signs that scammers are targeting your personal information online? Watch out for the following that may indicate you are being targeted:

  • You receive an email, text or phone call asking you to provide information or validate your details by clicking on a link or attachment
  • You receive a friend request on social media from a person you don’t know
  • Unexpected pop-ups appear on your computer or device asking you to run software

Think you can spot an attempt to steal your information? The ACCC put together a quiz to test your knowledge.

How to protect your identity?

  • Independently research a company if somebody is asking for your information. It’s a good idea to find their legitimate phone number and contact them directly to confirm it’s a genuine request.
  • Keep an eye out for suspicious emails or messages, even if they appear to be from a trusted source. Watch for tell-tale signs, like sender’s email address, grammatical errors and suspicious links.
  • Never share your personal information to people you don’t know or trust.
  • Use secure passwords and set up multi-factor authentication on your accounts.
  • Be careful with the information you share on social media as scammers can use your information and pictures to create a fake identity or target you with a scam.

It is important to remain vigilant to keep your information, money and identity safe online.