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Are you prepared for life's unexpected plot twists?


It's impossible to know what's on the horizon, but with the right personal insurance, at least you can be financially prepared against life's curve balls. So how do you know which types of cover are right for you? Here are some personal insurance basics to get you started on the road to financial protection.

 

Life insurance

Think of life insurance as a financial safety net for your loved ones. With the right cover in place, your beneficiaries will receive a lump sum payment in the event of your death, so they can keep up with regular expenses, cover any debts and put aside money for the future. If you're diagnosed with a terminal illness, your insurer may also agree to pay out your insurance early.

The level of cover you need depends on the debts you would leave behind (such as a mortgage) and how much your beneficiaries would need to keep up with their ongoing expenses without your income to rely on. With life insurance policies that you personally own, your premiums normally aren't tax deductible, but the payout your beneficiaries receive is generally tax free.

Income protection

If your regular earnings suddenly stopped, how long could you manage financially – and what would you have to give up?

Income protection insurance regularly pays part of your usual income if you're unable to work for an extended period due to illness or injury. You can adjust the cost and value of your cover by customising the waiting period, benefit payment period and the portion of your income you want to insure.

With an agreed value policy, the benefit amount is determined when you take out the policy. With an indemnity value policy, the benefit amount depends on your income at the time you make a claim. In either case, premiums for income protection policies that you personally own are generally tax deductible, but any claim payments you receive will generally count towards your taxable income.

Trauma insurance

Serious health conditions such as cancer, heart attack, stroke or blindness impact the lives of millions of Australians. For example, one in two Australian men and one in three women will be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 85,1 while over 3.7 million Australians are affected by heart disease.2

Trauma insurance helps cover the costs of treatment and rehabilitation in the event of a critical illness, with a lump sum paid if you're diagnosed with one of the conditions specified in your policy. Premium payments you make aren't tax deductible, but claim payouts are generally tax free.

 

TPD insurance

Being faced with a permanent disability can have a far-reaching impact on your lifestyle. With Total and Permanent Disablement (TPD) insurance, you can receive a lump sum to help cover any immediate costs and also your ongoing living expenses if you become disabled and can no longer work.

TPD insurance can either be standalone or attached to a life insurance policy. The cost of your cover may depend on whether if you choose an own occupation policy, which provides a benefit if you can no longer work in your usual job – or an any occupation policy, which generally provides a benefit if you can no longer work in any job that you're qualified for by education, training or experience.

As with life or trauma insurance, for policies that you personally own there is normally no tax deduction on the premium payments, but the payout is generally tax free.

Premium costs: stepped or level?

With life, trauma and TPD insurance, you may also be able to choose how you want to pay for your premiums:

·         Stepped premiums – these are calculated based on your age, with the premium cost generally increasing as you get older. Low entry prices make this an affordable option in the short term.

·         Level premiums – you pay more at the start, but the premium costs average out over time, meaning you can save money in the long term. In many cases, a level premium converts to a stepped premium when you turn 65, reflecting the increase in health risks for older Australians.

 

Super cover versus policy cover

Most super funds offer life insurance, plus TPD and income protection cover, with premiums paid straight from your super balance. While this cover is easy to manage and means you don't have to cover the premium costs out of your own pocket, it means your super won't be able to grow as quickly. Also, claims generally take longer to be paid – and depending on the type of insurance, claim payments may be taxed differently. Premiums may be tax-deductible to the fund, meaning a lower effective premium may apply.

Most importantly of all, the cover your fund offers might not be sufficient for your needs. In this case, you may be able to take out a separate policy outside super to cover the shortfall.

Tailored to fit

Everyone's needs are different, and it can be difficult to know which cover options are right for you. But don't worry – your Financial Adviser can help you find the right mix of insurance options for your situation and life stage.

 

1 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2014. Cancer in Australia: an overview 2014.

2 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2016. Cardiovascular disease.


Speak to us for more information

Speak to the team at JSA Accounting if you would like to understand more about how this information might impact your financial situation.

Important information 

Robert Julian of JSA Accounting (ABN 48 088 331 739) is an Authorised Representative of Count Financial Limited  ABN 19 001 974 625, AFSL 227232, (Count) a wholly-owned, non-guaranteed subsidiary of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124.

This document contains general advice. It does not take account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider talking to a financial adviser before making a financial decision. This document has been prepared by Count Financial Limited ABN 19 001 974 625, AFSL 227232, (Count) a wholly-owned, non-guaranteed subsidiary of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124. 'Count' and Count Wealth Accountants® are trading names of Count. Count advisers are authorised representatives of Count. Information in this document is based on current regulatory requirements and laws, as at 20 September 2015, which may be subject to change. While care has been taken in the preparation of this document, no liability is accepted by Count, its related entities, agents and employees for any loss arising from reliance on this document.




Flying solo: financial advice for singles

Flying solo: financial advice for singles


Single and fabulous? Make sure your finances are in top shape as well.

 

Whether you're single by choice, readjusting after a break-up or the death of a partner, or maybe you just haven't found The One yet – you probably agree that single life comes with a lot of personal freedom and flexibility.

 

It can also bring plenty of financial freedom too, since you may have fewer monetary commitments – and more to spend on yourself. For instance, you might be more likely to spend big on things like overseas adventures or treating yourself to extravagant (but well-deserved) gifts.

 

But when you're flying solo, things can end up costing more – so you might have to work harder at budgeting and saving. And because you need to create your own safety net to fall back on in tough times, it's even more essential to have watertight financial protection for your assets and lifestyle.

 

That's why it pays to have a financial plan tailored to your unique lifestyle and goals, so you can live life exactly how you want. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to use your financial freedom to your advantage, so you can build and protect your wealth and get more out of your money. Here are five ways to get your finances into shape.

 

1. Budget for one

If you don't have any kids, your household budget probably looks very different to someone your age who is supporting a family. On the one hand, you'll have more cash flow to manage your day-to-day expenses, but it can also be easier to give into the temptation to splurge.

At the same time, you need to cover all your regular household expenses – like groceries, phone and internet charges and utility bills. By making a careful budget and sticking to it, you can enjoy a comfortable lifestyle.

2. Knock debt on the head

Managing debt can be a daunting task, especially when you're tackling it solo. If you're like most people, the biggest debt you'll ever take on is a mortgage – but you may be uncertain about how to save for a deposit and find a lender who will approve you on a single income.

 

The good news is, it's possible to secure and manage a mortgage on your own. To get yourself into the best financial position to take out a home loan, all you need is a sound financial strategy. As a starting point, it helps to prioritise your existing debts like credit cards or personal loans, and pay these down first with an achievable repayment plan.

 

And when you do buy your dream home, ask us how we can help you restructure your finances so you can pay it off sooner without putting a strain on your cash flow.

 

3. Get the right cover

Being single has many advantages – but your income is even more precious when you're relying on it for all your financial support. So it's worth considering what would happen if you became ill or injured and couldn't work. Would your savings be enough to see you through recovery until you're back on your feet?

 

Getting the right insurance cover is essential. Options include income protection, which provides regular payments if you're unable to work due to sickness or injury for an extended period; Total and Permanent Disablement (TPD) insurance, which pays a lump sum if you become disabled and can't return to work; and trauma insurance, which covers you against critical illnesses like stroke and cancer.

 

JSA Accounting Pty Ltd help you work out how much cover you need to protect yourself and your lifestyle. You might also want to set up a 'rainy day' savings account, so you're prepared for any financial curve balls that are thrown your way.

 

4. Build your nest egg

Retirement planning takes on a new dimension when you're saving for it on a single income. The maximum basic Age Pension rate per fortnight is $797.90 for singles – but with even a modest lifestyle estimated to cost a 65 year old $914.12 a fortnight, every extra bit counts when you're saving for retirement.1

 

That's why it makes sense to grow your retirement savings as much as possible while you're still working. By making sure you don't need to rely solely on the Age Pension to fund your retirement, you can get on the path to a comfortable standard of living.

 

No matter whether you're just starting out in the workforce or winding down your career, it's always a good time to invest for your retirement. One way is to add a little extra to your super whenever you can – either by salary sacrificing a portion of your pre-tax salary, or by topping up with personal contributions.

 

JSA Accounting Pty Ltd can help you tailor a strategy that will allow you to retire in style without overstretching your finances in the meantime. And when the time comes to leave work behind for good, we can make sure your retirement savings stretch as far as possible.

 

 

5. Decide where your money will go

When you're single and living it up, making a Will is probably the last thing on your mind. But it's still important to think about who you want your assets to go to when you pass away. This is important not just for the assets that automatically form part of your estate, but also the assets that don't – such as your super or life insurance, where you might be able to nominate which eligible beneficiaries will receive these assets once you pass away.

 

For instance, you may want to nominate a friend or family member as a beneficiary, or donate your estate to your favourite charity. Otherwise, if you don't mind who gets your money after you're gone, you may prefer to put your money towards enjoying your retirement or even travelling in your later years.

 

We can help guide you through your options so you can decide which one feels right for you. The most important thing is to start planning now – you never know when your estate plan will need to take effect.

 

1 ASFA Retirement Standard, June quarter 2016 

Speak to us for more information

Speak to the team at JSA Accounting if you would like to understand more about how this information might impact your financial situation.

Important information 

Robert Julian of JSA Accounting (ABN 48 088 331 739) is an Authorised Representative of Count Financial Limited  ABN 19 001 974 625, AFSL 227232, (Count) a wholly-owned, non-guaranteed subsidiary of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124.

This document contains general advice. It does not take account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider talking to a financial adviser before making a financial decision. This document has been prepared by Count Financial Limited ABN 19 001 974 625, AFSL 227232, (Count) a wholly-owned, non-guaranteed subsidiary of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124. 'Count' and Count Wealth Accountants® are trading names of Count. Count advisers are authorised representatives of Count. Information in this document is based on current regulatory requirements and laws, as at 20 September 2015, which may be subject to change. While care has been taken in the preparation of this document, no liability is accepted by Count, its related entities, agents and employees for any loss arising from reliance on this document.


 

 

The business owner’s checklist

The business owner's checklist


Being your own boss can be rewarding, but it's also incredibly challenging. That's why it's important to future-proof your hard work by taking steps today that will prepare your business for tomorrow.

When you're running your own business, it's demanding enough to keep up with the day-to-day, which means it's easy to lose sight on the big picture. But without careful planning, your business might not be prepared for whatever the future holds.


Here are 5 essentials that every small business owner should factor into their business plan.

 

1.     Give it structure. Make sure you structure your finances so your personal assets and business assets are kept separate. As a minimum, you should have a separate business bank account and credit card, and pay yourself a salary. By untangling your personal finances from your business bookkeeping, you may even save time on administration.

2.     Be prepared for the unexpected. If anything were to happen to your staff, your equipment or your intellectual property, it could have disastrous results for your business. The concept of business insurance is a veritable smorgasbord of safeguards against unexpected events, with options ranging from vehicle and key person insurance to public liability and professional indemnity cover. No matter what type of business you have, your Financial Adviser can help make sure it's protected.

3.     Have an exit strategy. One day you (hopefully) intend to retire – and a time may even come when you decide to leave the business earlier than expected. Regardless of when you eventually exit, it's important to plan ahead so it can be done smoothly, with as little financial impact to the business as possible. Start thinking about succession management sooner rather than later – it's a good opportunity to evaluate your business and identify its future leader.

 

4.     Plan beyond yourself. Even with a retirement succession plan in place, there's always a chance your business could be faced with involuntary succession – for example, if you die unexpectedly. So as well as insuring your business, make sure you're personally covered against death, disability and serious illness. You can also set up a legally binding buy-sell agreement that sets out how ownership of the business will be transferred in the case of involuntary succession. And to be certain your assets will be distributed to your chosen beneficiaries according to your wishes if you pass away, make sure you have a comprehensive, up-to-date estate plan.

5.     Work to live, not the other way round. Your business is a big part of your life, but it's important to remember that there's also life beyond work. Many small business owners find it hard to separate work life and home life, which can cause tension with their loved ones. So if you're looking to secure your business's finances, your Financial Adviser can give you the guidance you need to remove some of the stress of business ownership.


Speak to us for more information

Speak to the team at JSA Accounting if you would like to understand more about how this information might impact your financial situation.

Important information 

Robert Julian of JSA Accounting (ABN 48 088 331 739) is an Authorised Representative of Count Financial Limited  ABN 19 001 974 625, AFSL 227232, (Count) a wholly-owned, non-guaranteed subsidiary of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124.

This document contains general advice. It does not take account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider talking to a financial adviser before making a financial decision. This document has been prepared by Count Financial Limited ABN 19 001 974 625, AFSL 227232, (Count) a wholly-owned, non-guaranteed subsidiary of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124. 'Count' and Count Wealth Accountants® are trading names of Count. Count advisers are authorised representatives of Count. Information in this document is based on current regulatory requirements and laws, as at 20 September 2015, which may be subject to change. While care has been taken in the preparation of this document, no liability is accepted by Count, its related entities, agents and employees for any loss arising from reliance on this document.

Is an SMSF right for you?

Is an SMSF right for you?

If you're thinking of setting up a self-managed super fund (SMSF), there are lots of things you need to consider first. That's why it's important to understand exactly what's involved so you can decide whether an SMSF is the best option for your super.

Like other superannuation funds, an SMSF is a vehicle specifically designed to help you save for your retirement. But unlike other funds, you're the one making the investment decisions rather than having someone else take care of it for you. While this puts you firmly in control of your money, it also takes time and specialised knowledge.

Here are some basics of how an SMSF works, so you can decide if you're up to the task. And remember, you should also speak to your financial adviser before making this kind of financial decision.

Pros and cons

First up, to run an SMSF effectively you need to be a savvy investor. Since it's a long-term commitment, you also have to be willing to manage and administer your fund for years to come. And that means taking on the responsibility to ensure your SMSF stays compliant – or else running the risk of paying penalties.

On the plus side, an SMSF can really open up your investment options, with the ability to invest directly in assets like property. You can also buy or sell assets relatively quickly and potentially save on administration fees if your SMSF has a high balance. Depending on your situation, an SMSF may even offer tax advantages.

Getting started       

To set up an SMSF, you can have up to four members.  All members must generally be appointed as individual trustees of the fund, or alternatively you can appoint a company to act as trustee of the fund and all members must then be directors of that company1.

Individual trustees or directors of a corporate trustee can generally be anyone aged 18 or over2. 

Each trustee – or company director, in the case of company trustees – must sign a trustee declaration form within 21 days of being appointed. This declaration states that the trustee understands and agrees to their duties and responsibilities.

Creating a trust deed

The trust deed, which is separate to the trustee declaration, sets out the rules for how you're going to run your SMSF. Things you'll need to decide include who can be a member of the fund, how trustees will vote on decisions and resolve disputes, how you can contribute to the fund and how you'll pay out benefits.

Because the trust deed is a legal document, you'll need the help of a lawyer or SMSF expert to make sure it's drafted and executed in line with the laws of your state or territory. All the trustees must sign and date the deed, and you should review it regularly and update it as required.

Registering your fund

After all the trustees have signed their trustee declarations, you have 60 days to register your SMSF. You do this by applying for an Australian Business Number (ABN) and Tax File Number (TFN) and if necessary register for GST with the Australian Business Register. Then you'll have to set up a separate bank account for your SMSF.

At the time of registration your SMSF needs to have assets in it – even if it's just a small amount of cash. So, for example, you might just put in $10 to begin with, then start making contributions later.

As part of the registration process, you should also:

·         Elect to become an ATO regulated SMSF (this ensures your SMSF is concessionally taxed)

·         Ask for a Tax File Number (TFN) for your fund

·         Depending on the fund's circumstances, register for Goods and Services Tax (GST)

Contributing to your fund

As members, you'll need to provide the Tax File Number (TFN) to your SMSF, otherwise you won't be able to make personal contributions to the SMSF and employer contributions made on your behalf may be taxed at a higher rate.

Be aware that there are some restrictions on the types and amounts of contributions and rollovers that members can make. The same contribution rules and contributions caps apply for SMSFs as they do with other super funds, so check with your financial adviser to see how much you could contribute. 

Managing your investments

Before you can start investing, you should have a written investment strategy for your SMSF. It's best to get your adviser's guidance on this as there are many important factors to consider, including the fund members' ages, retirement goals and appetite for risk.

When tailoring your investment mix, you may want to choose a range of asset types and classes, to create a buffer for your investments against market fluctuations. Your adviser can also help you review your strategy regularly to make sure you continue to meet your investment goals.

Reporting and auditing

You are responsible for managing your SMSF's accounts, statements and annual returns each year, so it's up to you to keep accurate tax and other records. As part of this process, you will need to value assets owned by the fund at their market value.

You are also required to appoint an SMSF auditor to audit your fund at the end of each financial year, at least 45 days before you lodge your annual return. You have to give the auditor all the documents they need to complete the audit.

Once the audit is done, you'll need to complete your annual return. This includes the fund's income tax return, details of contributions made for members throughout the year and information from the fund's yearly audit. You can lodge this online through the government's Standard Business Reporting website.

Paying out benefits

Since the sole purpose of an SMSF is to help its members save for retirement, members generally can't access their super until they reach their 'preservation age' and retire, cease gainful employment after turning 60, or they turn 65 – except in special circumstances. As with other forms of super, benefits are generally paid either as a lump sum, an income stream or a combination of the two.

When a member of the SMSF dies, their benefits must be paid to a dependant or their legal personal representative (in which case it forms part of their estate).  The trust deed generally sets out rules for determining which of your eligible beneficiaries will receive your death benefit, and may allow you to nominate your beneficiaries in a way that is binding on the trustee. Depending on the recipient, they may receive a lump sum, income stream, or a combination of both.

Winding down your SMSF

It's possible to close your SMSF – but once you do, you won't be able to reactivate it.

When you're ready to wind it down, you'll need to deal with member's current benefits, which could include rolling them to another complying super fund, or paying them to the member (if they have met a condition of release). This will generally involve selling the fund's assets and may have tax implications.

You'll then have to get a final audit and lodge a final annual return, specifying that you're closing the fund. After you've paid any final tax or other liabilities, you can close the fund's bank account.

Get the right advice

Everyone's financial circumstances and retirement goals are unique, which means an SMSF might be a better solution for some people than for others. Your financial adviser can talk you through your options and help you choose the right super strategy for your needs.

1.     Any trustees / directors of a company acting as trustee must also generally be members.

2.     Certain people are not able to act as a trustee or director of a corporate trustee – this includes: where they are under a legal disability; they are an undischarged bankrupt; they have been convicted of an offence involving dishonest conduct in the past; they have been penalised for breaching certain super rules in the past or they have been disqualified by the ATO.

 

Speak to us for more information

Speak to the team at JSA Accounting if you would like to understand more about how this information might impact your financial situation.

Important information 

Robert Julian of JSA Accounting (ABN 48 088 331 739) is an Authorised Representative of Count Financial Limited  ABN 19 001 974 625, AFSL 227232, (Count) a wholly-owned, non-guaranteed subsidiary of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124.

This document contains general advice. It does not take account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider talking to a financial adviser before making a financial decision. This document has been prepared by Count Financial Limited ABN 19 001 974 625, AFSL 227232, (Count) a wholly-owned, non-guaranteed subsidiary of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124. 'Count' and Count Wealth Accountants® are trading names of Count. Count advisers are authorised representatives of Count. Information in this document is based on current regulatory requirements and laws, as at 20 September 2015, which may be subject to change. While care has been taken in the preparation of this document, no liability is accepted by Count, its related entities, agents and employees for any loss arising from reliance on this document.


Goals first, strategy second


If you haven't figured out your lifestyle goals for the future your financial strategy is like a journey without a destination.


When you're creating a financial plan, it's tempting to focus purely on the money aspect – for example, how much your weekly budget is, or how much your investments are likely to grow. But if you only plan the 'how' without thinking about the 'why', the strategy you choose might not be the best option for getting you where you want to go.

 

So it's worth stepping back and taking a look at the bigger picture with your Financial Adviser by considering where you see yourself in 5, 10 or even 20 years, you'll be in a better position to work out the right financial strategy to match.

 

Lifestyle goals, not financial ones

The first thing to remember is that your financial strategy isn't about making money, it's about creating the lifestyle you want. So instead of saying you want to make X amount of dollars by 2030, think about what you'd like to use that money for.

 

When you're setting your goals, take into account the various aspects of your personal and professional life. Depending on your situation, that may include your education, career, family plans, creative aspirations, hobbies and passions.

 

Different goals for different life stages

When it comes to your goals, think about the short, medium and long term. For instance, some of your goals might be achievable in the near future, like taking a holiday or trading in your car, while others might be for further down the track, like buying a new home or setting up a business.

 

You should also think about how your goals might change at different stages of your life. When you're just starting out, your goals may include moving out of home and finding a job. After that, you may want to start a serious relationship and have a family. And once there are children in the mix, your focus is likely to shift towards paying for their education and putting savings aside for the future. Then later, you'll want to be well prepared for retirement so you can enjoy the lifestyle you've worked hard for.

 

It helps to think of your goals as steps along life's journey. By mapping out what you want that journey to look like, you'll have a better chance of enjoying each step along the way.

 

 

5 tips for effective goal setting

1. Be SMART. Make your goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based. Each goal should have a realistic deadline and clearly defined actions for you to complete.

 

2. Break them down. Large, long-term goals may feel hard to reach, so it helps to break them into smaller sub-goals.

So for example, if your goal is to start your own business, a sub-goal might be to enrol in a business class.

 

3. Keep a record. Research shows that you're about 33% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down.1

It also forces you to be clear in your mind about what your goals actually are. Once you've recorded your goals, keep them somewhere you can see them – it will keep you motivated.

 

4. Prioritise. Some goals may be more important to you than others, so it's a good idea to consider them in order of priority. That way, you'll know where to focus your time and energy.

 

5. Review. If your circumstances change, your goals may as well. By regularly reviewing your goals, you'll be able to adapt your financial strategy accordingly if they change. And each time you achieve a goal, don't forget to reward yourself.

 

Your Financial Adviser can help ensure your financial strategy is suited to your ever changing lifestyle goals and desired destination.


Speak to us for more information

Speak to the team at JSA Accounting if you would like to understand more about how this information might impact your financial situation.

Important information 

Robert Julian of JSA Accounting (ABN 48 088 331 739) is an Authorised Representative of Count Financial Limited  ABN 19 001 974 625, AFSL 227232, (Count) a wholly-owned, non-guaranteed subsidiary of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124.

This document contains general advice. It does not take account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider talking to a financial adviser before making a financial decision. This document has been prepared by Count Financial Limited ABN 19 001 974 625, AFSL 227232, (Count) a wholly-owned, non-guaranteed subsidiary of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124. 'Count' and Count Wealth Accountants® are trading names of Count. Count advisers are authorised representatives of Count. Information in this document is based on current regulatory requirements and laws, as at 20 September 2015, which may be subject to change. While care has been taken in the preparation of this document, no liability is accepted by Count, its related entities, agents and employees for any loss arising from reliance on this document.


A helping hand for single parents

A helping hand for single parents

Centrelink offers a range of financial benefits to help parents manage the cost of raising kids. And if you're a single parent, you might even be eligible for additional financial support. This cheat sheet will give you an idea of which benefits you're entitled to and how much they're worth.

Being a parent is a tough gig – and being a single parent is even harder. Whether you're divorced, widowed or simply making a choice to go it alone, life as a single parent can seem like a constant juggling act.

It can also put a major strain on your finances when you're relying on a sole income, but a helping hand can make all the difference. That's why it's important to understand which types of government assistance you may be entitled to.

Here are some of the most common Centrelink payments for single parents. Remember, eligibility requirements and payment amounts may often change, so be sure to check the Department of Human Services website for the latest information.


Parenting Payment

Who is it for? Single parents caring for children under the age of 8.

How much is it? The maximum payment is $738.50 per fortnight.

What you need to know: Eligibility is subject to an income and assets test, and there may be a waiting period.


Family Tax Benefits

Who are they for? Parents caring for children under the age of 15, or aged 16–20 and studying full-time.

How much is it? There are two separate payments. For Family Tax Benefit A, the maximum payment is $182.84 a fortnight per child for children aged 0–12, and $237.86 a fortnight per child for children aged 13–19. For Family Tax Benefit B (an extra payment for single parents and one-income families), the maximum payment is $155.54 a fortnight per family if your youngest child is aged 0–5, and $108.64 per fortnight per family if your youngest child is aged 5–18.

You may also receive a Family Tax Benefit Part A Supplement of $726.35 per year for each eligible child, and a Family Tax Benefit B Supplement of $354.05 per year.

What you need to know: In order to be eligible for Family Tax Benefits in a particular financial year, you also need to ensure you lodge your income tax return by no later than 30 June in the following financial year. You can't get Family Tax Benefit B if you're on paid parental leave, but you may be eligible after your leave ends.


Single Income Family Supplement

Who is it for? Parents who earned between $68,000 and $150,000 last financial year and received a Family Tax Benefit for at least one child.

How much is it? A one-off annual payment of up to $300.

What you need to know: If you received Family Tax Benefits, you'll receive this supplement automatically.


Child Care Rebate

Who is it for? Parents with a child attending an approved child care facility (not a school).

How much is it? Up to 50% of your out-of-pocket child care expenses, to a maximum of $7,500 per child per year.

What you need to know: To receive this rebate, your child must be immunised (or have a medical exemption).


Rent Assistance

Who is it for? Parents who receive more than the base rate of the Family Tax Benefit.

How much is it? Up to $153.30 per fortnight if you have one or two children, or $173.18 per fortnight if you have three or more children.

What you need to know: Rent Assistance doesn't apply if you own your own home or live in government-provided housing.


Telephone Allowance

Who is it for? People receiving other types of government payments, pensions or allowances, including the Parenting Payment.

How much is it? Up to $28.20 per quarter.

What you need to know: You don't have to meet an income or assets test to receive this allowance.

Other payments

Depending on your situation, you may also be entitled to receive child support from your child's other parent; a crisis payment or income support if you're a victim of domestic violence; or assistance with your children's health care costs.

Visit the Department of Human Services website to find out more.

Ask someone in the know

 

Speak to the team at JSA Accounting if you would like to understand more about how this information might impact your financial situation.

Important information 

Robert Julian of JSA Accounting (ABN 48 088 331 739) is an Authorised Representative of Count Financial Limited  ABN 19 001 974 625, AFSL 227232, (Count) a wholly-owned, non-guaranteed subsidiary of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124.

This document contains general advice. It does not take account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider talking to a financial adviser before making a financial decision. This document has been prepared by Count Financial Limited ABN 19 001 974 625, AFSL 227232, (Count) a wholly-owned, non-guaranteed subsidiary of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124. 'Count' and Count Wealth Accountants® are trading names of Count. Count advisers are authorised representatives of Count. Information in this document is based on current regulatory requirements and laws, as at 20 September 2015, which may be subject to change. While care has been taken in the preparation of this document, no liability is accepted by Count, its related entities, agents and employees for any loss arising from reliance on this document.

Making the dream purchase a reality

Making the dream purchase a reality

We all know the feeling – there's a major purchase we want to make, but we're worried it will break the bank. Whether it's a luxury car or a hard-earned holiday, that extra expense seems just out of reach.

The good news is, there are plenty of alternatives to making an outright purchase upfront. And depending on what you're in the market for, you might find a practical solution that won't leave you strapped for cash.

Here are some creative ways you may not have considered to pay for a big-ticket item.

Piece by piece

When you see something you love, it's tempting to think you need it then and there. But if you've got a little patience – and the item isn't a necessity – then a layby option is a great way to make payments more manageable.

Here's how it works: the retailer puts the item aside, making sure that it won't be sold to someone else, while you pay off the balance bit by bit. Normally you have to hand over a deposit and then keep making regular payments that you can afford, until it's yours. 

If you really don't want to wait until you've paid off the full item, some suppliers offer 'own now, pay later' options. This allows you to take home the item immediately and then pay it off in regular instalments. In this case, you may be charged interest over time, so it's always a good idea to shop around first to get the best deal – you might even find a company that offers 0% interest for the first six or 12 months.

Borrowing to buy

For a major purchase that's essential to your daily life – such as a family car or home repairs – it might be worth considering a loan or some other form of financing.

If you're a homeowner, another financing option might be to unlock the equity in your home. Equity is the difference between the market value of your property and the amount you still owe on your home loan. This effectively allows you to borrow money against the value of your home, using your property as security. The best part is, you don't necessarily have to use the money for home-related expenses, so you can choose what to spend it on.

Your financial adviser can help you with budgeting and refer you to a lending specialist or broker if required. They can also help set up a manageable repayment plan so you don't end up falling behind and getting stuck in a debt spiral.

Sharing is caring

Think you can't afford a holiday? Think again. If you haven't heard about timeshare, then you may be in for a treat. Basically, it's a way of owning the rights to a property for a specific amount of time each year without having to buy the whole property itself. In effect, you co-own the property with all the other shareholders and you pay a fixed amount each year – which is usually cheaper than paying for a holiday rental. That way, when you're not using the property, someone else is.

In the same way, boat shares are available for those who prefer to spend their leisure time on the water. Instead of co-owning a holiday property, you co-own a boat and make bookings for when you want to use it. You could even apply this concept to other items that you only use occasionally, and team together with a group of friends to own it jointly.

Living in a renter's paradise

Ever wondered why you keep buying items that err on the expensive side – like household appliances or whitegoods – when you end up having to replace them every few years?

In some cases it may be worth renting rather than owning, especially for things like your flat-screen TV, which you might want to upgrade when a newer model comes out. Plus in many cases, the rental supplier will take care of any repairs if the item breaks down, saving you money on maintenance.

But before you make any major financial decision, it's always worth consulting your financial adviser. They can help you work out if your purchase fits within your budget and savings plan, and how you can best manage the repayments – whether you're renting, borrowing, timesharing or paying instalments.

Speak to the team at JSA Accounting if you would like to understand more about how this information might impact your financial situation.

Important information 

Robert Julian of JSA Accounting (ABN 48 088 331 739) is an Authorised Representative of Count Financial Limited  ABN 19 001 974 625, AFSL 227232, (Count) a wholly-owned, non-guaranteed subsidiary of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124.

This document contains general advice. It does not take account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider talking to a financial adviser before making a financial decision. This document has been prepared by Count Financial Limited ABN 19 001 974 625, AFSL 227232, (Count) a wholly-owned, non-guaranteed subsidiary of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124. 'Count' and Count Wealth Accountants® are trading names of Count. Count advisers are authorised representatives of Count. Information in this document is based on current regulatory requirements and laws, as at 20 September 2015, which may be subject to change. While care has been taken in the preparation of this document, no liability is accepted by Count, its related entities, agents and employees for any loss arising from reliance on this document.

 

 

Your handy moving-house checklist

Your handy moving-house checklist

Whether you're a growing family in need of a bigger house, empty nesters downsizing, or someone who's just looking for a change of scenery, moving to a new home is a big deal. It can also be costly, stressful and time-consuming. But don't sweat, this checklist will make planning your move a whole lot easier.

There's no doubt that saying goodbye to the place you've called home for many years can be an emotional experience. Finding a new place to live can also be challenging – not to mention expensive. And it's not just the cost to buy or rent a new home. Buyers need to factor in things like real estate commissions, building inspections and legal fees. Renters need to consider costs such as up-front bond payment.

Then, as moving day gets closer, there's inevitably going to be a lot of hard work and running around to do. But with some careful advance planning, you can take some of the stress out of the process.

The following checklist is designed to do just that. By breaking your main tasks down into manageable steps – and ticking off each task as you complete it – you'll be amazed at how much smoother moving house can be.

At least one month out

¨  Create a moving budget. Factor in all the costs that you can think of – from removalists' and cleaners' fees to any new furniture or appliances you'll need.

¨  Shop around for a removalist. Ask friends and relatives for recommendations then ring around or look online to compare quotes. But don't go by price alone – make sure the company is properly accredited and insured.

¨  If you have children who will be changing schools, start the transfer process now.

¨  Measure the floor space in your new home (if you haven't already) to make sure all your belongings will fit in the new space. It's also worth thinking about how you'll get bulky items like bed frames and wardrobes through narrow doorways or up staircases.

One month out

¨  Sort out your unwanted belongings. If you're aiming to downsize, consider inviting friends and family over to take some items off your hands. You could also hold a garage sale or advertise unwanted belongings free of charge on a buy/swap/sell Facebook page. For anything still left to unload, take it to an op shop (as long as it's all in good condition).

¨  Book your removalists. The sooner you lock in the moving date, the better – especially if you're city-based and/or you're planning to move on a weekend.

¨  Get to know your new area. Find out where things like shops, cafes, petrol stations and government services are located. It will help make the first weeks in your new home easier.

¨  Hunt for boxes. Most removalists will supply them – otherwise, try your local supermarket. Also, buy packing tape and marker pens so you can start labelling.

¨  Call friends and family and ask if they can help with packing, cleaning or moving. Or else, they might be able to look after your kids or pets on moving day.

Two weeks out

¨  Sort out your insurance. If you're a homeowner, you'll need to consider home building and contents insurance. If you're renting, then you'll just need to consider contents insurance. It is worth checking if your existing policy covers the move itself – some policies may only protect you against loss or damage if you're using professional removalists.

¨  Start packing. Begin with all the stuff you can manage without in the short term, like ornaments, books, extra bedding and out-of-season clothing. Make sure boxes aren't packed too heavily and that breakables have plenty of padding. Newspaper, bubble wrap and even towels and clothing can make good packing material. And of course, don't forget to clean and pack up any outdoor items as well, like your gardening tools or barbecue.

¨  Get quotes for professional cleaners if you want to outsource that task. You might also be able to get affordable help with packing, cleaning and sorting by checking out Airtasker.com.

¨  Use up the food in the fridge and pantry. The more you get rid of now, the less there will be to pack.

¨  Go to the post office and redirect your mail.

¨  Arrange utilities, phone and internet for your new home. In some instances, you may be able to simply get your current services switched off and transferred to your new home on the day you move. And if your providers allow you to make all the arrangements online, it can save you a lot of time.

The last week

¨  Call your removalists to confirm their arrival time, and finish off the last of your packing.

¨  Clean each room as soon as it's cleared – this will save you time on moving day. Now is also a good time to start cleaning windows and mowing the lawn (if you have one).

¨  Allocate tasks to family members, friends or people you've enlisted to help on the day.

¨  Keep aside anything you might need on moving day. This might include water bowls and leads for pets or a kettle to make tea or coffee for your helpers. You'll also need easy access to things like pyjamas, toiletries and towels for your first night in your new home.

¨  Pack portable valuables like jewellery and small electronics, as well as important documents like your passport, Will and insurance policies to take with you on moving day.

On the day

¨  Drop off kids and pets to a friend or family member if you can.

¨  Help the removalists as needed.

¨  Do a final clean (if you're not having it done professionally).

¨  Make a final check of the house before you leave – including outdoor areas.

¨  Take your valuables and anything else you're transporting yourself.

¨  Switch off the power and hot water, and lock up the doors and windows.

¨  Say goodbye to your old home – and start the next phase of your life.

Preparing for the expense

Moving house can be a costly exercise, so it's a good idea to speak to Robert Julian before you start planning. They can help you put together a realistic budget so you don't break the bank – which will give you one less thing to worry about.

Important information 

Robert Julian of JSA Accounting (ABN 48 088 331 739) is an Authorised Representative of Count Financial Limited  ABN 19 001 974 625, AFSL 227232, (Count) a wholly-owned, non-guaranteed subsidiary of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124.

This document contains general advice. It does not take account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider talking to a financial adviser before making a financial decision. This document has been prepared by Count Financial Limited ABN 19 001 974 625, AFSL 227232, (Count) a wholly-owned, non-guaranteed subsidiary of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124. 'Count' and Count Wealth Accountants® are trading names of Count. Count advisers are authorised representatives of Count. Information in this document is based on current regulatory requirements and laws, as at 20 September 2015, which may be subject to change. While care has been taken in the preparation of this document, no liability is accepted by Count, its related entities, agents and employees for any loss arising from reliance on this document.

Have you baby-proofed your finances?

Have you baby-proofed your finances?

Becoming a parent brings a world of joy into your life, but it can also put a strain on your household finances. So if you're planning to take time off work to look after your little one, make sure you're financially prepared.

Although the prospect of taking months off work to look after a newborn baby is exciting, it can also be daunting. And when you're busy getting ready to welcome your new addition, it's easy to put off thinking about how parenthood will affect your finances.

Like any major life change, the key is to start preparing for it as soon as you can. That includes putting together a realistic financial plan that covers the periods before, during and after your parental leave. Here are some things to consider.

What are the costs?

There's no denying that having kids is expensive. First, there are the medical bills during pregnancy, then there are the ongoing costs of food, clothing, toys and healthcare – and that's before you start considering your child's future education expenses. In fact, research shows that looking after your baby will set you back around $144 a week on average.[1]

If you're expecting your first child, the bills can rack up even further when you factor in one-off expenses like cots and strollers. So if you're looking to keep costs down, make a list of everything you need and ask friends or family members if you can borrow any items that their own kids no longer use.

What are your entitlements?

The Australian Government operates a paid parental leave scheme, with an allowance set at the National Minimum Wage ($672.60 a week).

Payments are a maximum of 18 weeks for mums or primary carers and two weeks for dads or partners. Plus, you're entitled to parental leave pay if your annual income is under $150,000 and you've been employed for at least 10 of the 13 months before the birth or adoption of your child and have worked for 330 hours during that 10 month period. Any payments you receive will also count towards your taxable income, so ask us what it will mean for your financial position.

Some employers may provide additional payments through their own paid parental leave scheme, which won't affect your government entitlements[2]. But make sure you check with your employer first so you're clear about what they offer.

Everyone's employment situation and financial circumstances are different, so the impacts of parental leave will also differ from one household to the next. The most important thing is to create a careful budget that takes into account any changes to your income and any additional living expenses once bub arrives.

Online tools like the Money Smart Parental Leave Calculator are a great place to start.

How will your super be affected?

Dealing with a reduced income while you're on parental leave is one thing, but have you also considered how a career break might impact your retirement savings? While you're off work, your employer isn't obligated to keep contributing to your super, which could really slow down the growth of your nest egg. For those on unpaid leave, your employer normally stops contributing to your super altogether.

As an example, let's look at Julia, who just turned 30 and is about to take 18 months off work after having her first child. She currently earns $80,000 a year.

During her career break, Julia won't receive super contributions from her employer and she's not planning to top up her super from her own savings. This means that way down the track when she's ready to retire, Julia could end up with a super gap of almost $11,000 from her 18 months of maternity leave.[3]

You can use the Money Smart Career Break Super Calculator (https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/tools-and-resources/calculators-and-apps/career-break-super-calculator#/calculator/careerbreak) to work out how your career break plans could affect your own super. Then, ask us about ways to minimise the impact – for example, by topping up your super now or else by salary sacrificing a portion of your earnings after you return to work.

Get the right advice

With a baby on the way, there are always a million things to do – but make sure you fit in time to speak to your as well. We are able to show you how a career break could affect your current and future finances, and help you build a smart financial plan for the years ahead.

Once your finances are sorted, you'll then be able to focus on the most important thing in your life – your new little bundle of joy.

Important information 

Robert Julian of JSA Accounting (ABN 48 088 331 739) is an Authorised Representative of Count Financial Limited  ABN 19 001 974 625, AFSL 227232, (Count) a wholly-owned, non-guaranteed subsidiary of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124.

This document contains general advice. It does not take account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider talking to a financial adviser before making a financial decision. This document has been prepared by Count Financial Limited ABN 19 001 974 625, AFSL 227232, (Count) a wholly-owned, non-guaranteed subsidiary of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124. 'Count' and Count Wealth Accountants® are trading names of Count. Count advisers are authorised representatives of Count. Information in this document is based on current regulatory requirements and laws, as at 20 September 2015, which may be subject to change. While care has been taken in the preparation of this document, no liability is accepted by Count, its related entities, agents and employees for any loss arising from reliance on this document.




[1] National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling, Cost of kids, Income and Wealth Report Issue 33, May 2013.

[2] The Government has proposed limiting Government Paid Parental Leave in some circumstances where a person is receiving employer provided paid parental leave.  At the time of writing, this proposal had not been legislated.

[3] Based on a current superannuation balance of $50,000 and a retirement age of 67. Assumes a balanced investment option before retirement and a medium level of fees paid on super.

What is ethical investing?

Ethical investing can make cents


Ethical investing has gone from backwater to mainstream over the past decade, as Australians discover they can make the world a better place whilst have the potential to make money at the same time. Whether you choose to support a sustainable future, animal welfare or strong corporate governance, it has never been easier to align your values with your investments.

 Consumer demand for ethical investments doubled in the two years to December 2014, with total assets under management of $31.6 billion. Growth was supported by strong investment returns and growing interest from superannuation funds, managed funds and Financial Advisers.1 In the early days it was often assumed that investing ethically would limit your options and reduce returns. However, over the past decade, ethical Australian share funds have provided better returns than both the ASX300 Index and the average large cap Australian equities fund.2

 

What is an 'ethical investment'?

 

Ethical investment, or 'socially responsible' or 'sustainable investment', is the term of a process that takes into account environmental, social, corporate governance or other ethical concerns. It's a process that begins with your personal values. For example, you may wish to include investments in your portfolio that support the development of renewable energy or to avoid companies with a poor health and safety record. Australians who want to invest ethically can do so in a number of ways which your Financial Adviser will be able to help guide you through. You can buy direct shares in companies that align with your values or invest in an ethical managed fund. If you are a member of a public offer superannuation fund, it may offer an ethical investment option on its investment menu.

 

A great way to incorporate your personal values into your broader investment portfolio is to invest via a managed fund. But before you do, it's important to understand the different methods ethical fund managers use to achieve their investment objectives.

 

Some funds screen out companies in controversial industries such as tobacco, gaming or testing their products on animals. Some select only sustainable companies in sectors such as clean energy or green property; while still others aim to raise corporate standards by investing in companies that, are 'best in class', within their industry in terms of corporate governance.

 

It is also becoming increasingly common for ethical investors and fund managers to use their ownership to engage with companies on issues such as executive pay or environmental standards.

 

Your Financial Adviser can help you identify ethical investments tailored to your personal requirements that have the potential to generate strong financial results.

 

 

1.             Responsible Investment Benchmark Report 2015, Responsible Investment Association Australasia, responsibleinvestment.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/2015_Benchmark_Report_Aust_FINAL.pdf

2.             Responsible Investment Benchmark Report 2015, Responsible Investment Association Australasia, responsibleinvestment.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/2015_Benchmark_Report_Aust_FINAL.pdf



Speak to us for more information

Speak to the team at JSA Accounting if you would like to understand more about how this information might impact your financial situation.

Important information 

Robert Julian of JSA Accounting (ABN 48 088 331 739) is an Authorised Representative of Count Financial Limited  ABN 19 001 974 625, AFSL 227232, (Count) a wholly-owned, non-guaranteed subsidiary of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124.

This document contains general advice. It does not take account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider talking to a financial adviser before making a financial decision. This document has been prepared by Count Financial Limited ABN 19 001 974 625, AFSL 227232, (Count) a wholly-owned, non-guaranteed subsidiary of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124. 'Count' and Count Wealth Accountants® are trading names of Count. Count advisers are authorised representatives of Count. Information in this document is based on current regulatory requirements and laws, as at 20 September 2015, which may be subject to change. While care has been taken in the preparation of this document, no liability is accepted by Count, its related entities, agents and employees for any loss arising from reliance on this document.


 

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