5 Simple Ways to Give Your Brain a Boost

5 Simple Ways to Boost Your Brain Power

Boost Your Brain Power

In this busy world of ours, there’s a willingness to forgo learning to focus on what’s “essential” (which is subjective, of course). But, if you want to thrive in life, you must embrace a life-long-learning philosophy. 

I believe for a truly healthy mind, we must keep evolving, learning, and developing, so you gain the knowledge you need to make better decisions that improve your life.   

Is it time you gave your brain a power-boost? Here are a few ways you can:

“Knowledge itself, is power.”

– Sir Francis Bacon.

 

1. Attend Business / Industry Networks

Do your research and seek out valuable, like-minded, inspired communities. Learning in a social environment is much more fun than sitting on your own after work each night watching webinars! Look for interesting and relevant workshops and meet ups that you’ll gain value from, and add value to (don’t forget to give back!). 

 

2. Become a Mentor / Mentee 

Whether you’re a mentor or mentee, there is so much value to be gained from these relationships. As a mentee, partner with a career coach, life coach, business coach – or, someone you admire for getting their life where you wish to be and learn from their experiences.  

As a mentor – you’ll solidify your knowledge and develop new relationships and opportunities by opening up your life experiences to someone else. Learn what you teach. 

 

3. Enrol in A Formal Training Course (Free or Paid) 

Have an interest in photography? Fashion? Creative writing? Knitting? Why not study a course to upskill? 

If there’s something missing in your career and you’re thinking of a change, there are many low-cost and free courses available through YouTube, Udemy, and EdX to get you going. If you enjoy the content and you want to develop your knowledge further, then TAFE or University might be the direction for you.  

Education doesn’t need to be expensive and your finances shouldn’t be a barrier to your learning. The Australian Government provides financial assistance to Australian tertiary students through their Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) – remove those potential up-front cost barriers that might be holding you back.  

 

4. Join A Book Club 

Committing to a regular reading habit, like joining a book club, will open your mind up to creativity, new thinking, and enjoyment in living. Who doesn’t love being absorbed in a well-crafted plot? Or, being inspired by a practical guide to better business, relationships, finances, and creativity? 

 

“I don’t think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.”

– Abraham Lincoln 

 

5. Keep a To-Learn List 

You know how I feel about goal-setting. What are some learning goals you aim to achieve in the next 12 months? Maybe you want to learn a new language. Read 20 books. Complete a Cert IV in business management. Whatever you desire, put it on paper, include it in your goals, and add it to your budget (if it requires money).

 

Make time for learning so you can open yourself up to an enhanced life. You might find yourself embracing a new direction – which leads to a happier mind and more positive outlook. 

Make it official? Share what’s on your Learning To-Do list in the comments! 

6 Financial Tips to Help You Prepare for A Baby

Financial Tips To Help You Prepare For a Baby

And baby makes three

If you’ve been thinking about growing your family to 3 (or, perhaps you have a tiny bun already on the way!), you want to prepare yourselves accordingly. Babies are an exciting part of your life, but, they can also be expensive! 

Recent research suggests it can cost an average $144 a week to raise a child between zero and four. Sadly, that doesn’t include childcare. So, what can you do to ensure you’re financially prepared?  

Upfront Costs to Consider 

The costs of having a baby kick in before you’ve even had it. In addition to out-of-pocket medical costs, private health insurance, tests, and birthing classes, there are a few other costs that will add up quickly: 

  • Maternity clothes 
  • Baby clothes 
  • Nappies! 
  • Furniture; baby’s cot, change table, mattress & linen 
  • Transportation; car seat and pram 
  • Bottles, pumping machines, formula.  

First 12 Months’ Costs to Consider 

It doesn’t end once the baby’s born, either: 

  • Time off work. Although not technically an expense – it will put a dint in your cash flow. 
  • Child care – depending how soon you’ll be returning to work. 
  • More clothes! 
  • Food 
  • Medicine and health care. 

 It’s a list that keeps on giving. Although it may seem overwhelming at first, there are a few things you can do to financially prepare and set you and your family up for a more financially secure future. 

6 Financial Tips to Help You Prepare for a Baby

 

1. Work out your pre-baby and post-baby budget

Having a baby usually means a loss of household income. It’s important you don’t get caught out by known expenses by putting a realistic budget together before you take the time off work. The earlier you can start preparing and putting money away, the better your financial health will be once bub arrives. Do a fact check on employer entitlements and factor this into your budget, too.
Having a budget in place is also great because it stops you from buying everything all at once (as exciting as it is!), you will have at least 9 months to prepare so instead of having a large some of money come out all at once, your budget will help you spread the costs out.

 

2. Reduce Your Bad Debts

I talk about bad debts a lot – but, it’s only because they really are that bad for you. Personal loans and credit card fees drag you down. Lighten up your financial load, and focus on clearing debts first. I can help you consolidate your debts and regain control. 

 

3. Build a Healthy Emergency Fund

Make sure you save enough money for an emergency fund to cover you for unexpected life events! While you’re on a reduced income – you don’t want to be caught out with no emergency cash available to get you through. Aim for 6 – 8 months of general living expenses to cover you.

 

4. Create a Baby Fund

In addition to your household emergency fund, you should also create a baby fund. There will always be unknown expenses associated with children – you want to be financially secure and assured you can cover all costs. Caesareans, emergency hospital care, medicines – even just to cover the additional general costs like clothes, nappies, and food when times get tough. 

 

5. Buy Second-Hand 

How much of what you need can be borrowed or bought second hand? You might not be keen on second hand rompers, but, you can get some great second-hand furniture in top nick at a fraction of retail price. Ask around with friends and family first, and get savvy with your online shopping for super discounts. 

 

6. Consider a Minimalist Approach

The thing with babies is, as soon as you have one, you’re lumped with a lot of parent’s (mostly mother’s) guilt. If Jane down the street just bought the top of the range Bug-a-Boo doesn’t mean you need it too. There’s a temptation to buy all this ‘stuff’. Only buy what you really need. And, try not to buy new if it can be avoided. 

 

Start Preparing Now 

Start putting money away for your emergency fund and baby fund as soon as possible to allow enough time to build up your safety net. Once you have your budget in place, and you know how much you need and by when, you can work backwards to start your savings plan.  

Talk to me if you need help setting up a realistic budget. 

Can You Eat Healthy Without Going Broke?

How to Eat Healthy and Not Go Broke

Fresh Fruit

A common question our clients ask once we’ve designed their new household budget is how the heck can we eat healthy without going broke? Sound familiar? Living from a budget doesn’t mean you must settle for a cheap diet of canned tuna, rice, and French fries.  

With a little forethought and preparation, you can eat healthier than ever without sending your account into the negative.

Here are 6 ways to do it: 

1. Start Cooking

You don’t have to be Gordon Ramsay or even Jamie Oliver – but you do need to get back in the kitchen and cook your own food. Every meal. Stop buying your lunches while you’re out. Stop ‘grabbing dinner’ on your way home. Learn to cook, and get the family involved so they can learn to cook with you. Start small committing to a week at a time and build up your confidence as you go – once you’re a pro you might then introduce a night out once a fortnight / month.

 

2. Weekly Meal Prep

Create your meal plan before you go grocery shopping. I mean, for every meal for every day this week, make a note of what you’ll eat and when, and buy only those ingredients. It doesn’t mean you need 3 new meals every day; Cook extra so you have left overs to take into work the next morning. If you whip up a big batch of soup, you can even freeze it.
(Check out the Taste interactive family menu planner for inspiration.)

 

3. Bubble’n’Squeak

What ever happened to a good old fashioned bubble’n’squeak dish? Growing up I remember we’d delight in mum’s leftover medley once or twice a month. If you’re not sure what this is, you basically pull a heap of your leftovers from the fridge (mashed potato, sausages, boiled eggs, mince, roasted vegetables, pasta) and you throw it into your frying pan and cook it up. Delicious. And, it means your fridge full of food doesn’t get wasted!

 

4. Add Your 11 Herbs and Spices

No. This is not me telling you to head down to your local and grab a bucket of chicken. Proper seasoning, fresh or dried herbs, and a range of spices can give your meal an epic taste-lift. For those among us who aren’t MasterChef material, just experiment, add a splash here and there and see how you go!

 

5. Buy in Season

Our relentless need for instant gratification and global trade has us as consumers expecting access to all fruit and vegetable produce at all times during the year. But, fresh produce is seasonal based on our weather (we all know how expensive mangoes are when not in season!). So, print out a chart of seasonal fruits and vegetables, stick it to your fridge, and only buy things when they’re local and abundant! It’ll be cheaper AND tastier.

 

6. Buy Frozen

Frozen produce lasts longer and as it’s snap frozen, retains most of its original nutrients.
Frozen fruit and veg will usually be cheaper than fresh produce – so you can stock up on it when it’s discounted.  

 

What do you think? Achievable?  

Get in Touch 

If you need a hand setting up a realistic household budget, get in touch to arrange your free consultation 

6 Simple Steps to Make Your Top Financial Goals a Reality in 2018.

6 Simple Steps to Reach Your Financial Goals

Financial Goals – Travel

Is 2018 the year you finally get your act together and reach your long-desired financial goals? Owning a new home. Visiting family in England. Upgrading the family car so everyone fits without sticking your littlest in the boot (just kidding). 

We’re hurtling into yet another Christmas at breakneck speed, and I can’t help thinking – will I achieve everything I set out to, this year 

Will you? 

We’re living in an era of instant gratification  

The need to experience ‘happiness’ and satisfaction in the now means you’re spending more money today, so you have less spare to put towards your bigger financial goals in a year’s time. But, that doesn’t mean they’ll never happen. You just need to introduce better money habits. 

I’ve put together a summary of my best tips, so you can finally reach some of those unicorn goals in the next 12 months.

1. Set Your Goals

You can’t really work towards something if you don’t know what that something is. So, make three lists on a piece of paper.  

1-year goals 

2-year goals 

5-year goals 

Now prioritise them in order of importance to you. Chances are you won’t achieve every single one, but, putting them in order of priority will keep you focused on one at a time (and more likely to succeed). 

Finally, work out how much (more) you need to be saving each month, so you can meet each goal. 

2. Make Your Life Cheaper – Review Your Everyday Expenses 

Don’t fall into the trap of doing the same thing you’ve always done because you’re too lazy to find a better deal. You should review all your contracts and suppliers each year and compare your service/products with the market. You could save thousands. 

This includes a review of all your daily spending habits, like, your need to buy lunch everyday instead of bringing in leftovers from home. 

3. Set Your Budget 

When you know your end goal and where your money is going in the day-to-day, you can set a realistic budget and savings plan. A well thought out budget is your foundation for strong financial health and increases your likelihood for success.  

But don’t just create your budget and leave it to gather dust. A good budget is regularly reviewed, re-evaluated, and adjusted to keep you on track to meet your goals. 

4. Pay Down Bad Debt 

In the current economic client – it’s probable that your credit card and loan debt interest is higher than any high-interest savings account you have. Which means you’re spending more money on interest than you’re earning. Your bad debts must go. 

Before you commit to your exciting new savings plan – explore your options to pay down bad debts. A good way to do this is to pay more than the minimum monthly repayment. Even if it’s adding an extra $10 per month – make it a priority because every little bit counts! Get in touch with our team for a customised debt management strategy. 

5. Automate Your Savings (and Bills!) 

This is where you can introduce effective savings and spending habits. It’s a little trick called automation. 

Make sure you have separate bank accounts for your expenses, savings, and emergency fund. Then, set up automatic bank transfers for the day after each pay cheque clears that send a pre-set amount of money to each. It’s an effective savings strategy because it doesn’t rely on your input = guaranteed results. 

6. Choose Your Game Plan 

There are obviously tons of other strategies you can introduce to help you reduce your spending and improve your savings habits. Check out this list of 30 Ways to Save for some ideas and choose 5 that you can realistically introduce and stick to for the next 12 months.  

Form New Habits 

Did you know it can take you between 21 and 66 days to form a new habit? That’s over 2 months.  

Consciously forming new spending and savings habits is your key to success; to achieving your unicorn goals and bringing them to life so they stop feeling like unicorns and start appearing more like beautiful white horses instead. Goals that can be touched, felt, experienced. 

So, is 2018 the year you’ll finally make things happen? 

Drop your 2018 financial goals and 5 new habits into the comments below. I’d love to hear what you’re committing to! 

How Not To Blow Your Budget On General Living Expenses

How Not To Blow Your Budget On Every Day Expenses

Farmers Markets

Could you access $2,000 spare cash in an emergency? Australian households are feeling the budget pinch, struggling to cover the most basic living expenses pay-to-pay. So, do you know where your money’s going, and can you do better? 

The Rising Cost of Living 

In its 2015 report, Facing financial stress, Wesley Mission found 38% of NSW households were spending more than they earn. 

It’s no secret the cost of living is rising – energy bills, food and produce, public transport, and housing. But, without a budget, spending plan, or expenses tracking system in place, you’ll find yourself forking out cash for these everyday expenses without even thinking, could I be spending less here 

Financial Stress 

Also worrying; the latest ABS study showed that 16 per cent of Queensland households couldn’t access $2,000 of spare cash in an emergency. $2,000 isn’t really a lot of money – it could be car repairs, a mortgage repayment, or emergency root canal. All things you can’t do without. All things that can throw your already stretched budget into turmoil. 

How have you prepared for a financial crisis?  

Having a solid budget and healthy emergency fund in place is the difference between living well, and living in financial stress hell. Increased debt; a life lived on credit; emotional and physical health concerns; relationship breakdowns; bad credit. 

How can you take control of your everyday spending so you don’t keep blowing your budget, sending yourself into further financial stress? 

Don’t Limit Your Life Based on Your Bank Balance 

Don’t let financial stress get to the point you have to ‘do without’. When you choose to go without dinner, or without power, or without health-related expenses because you don’t have enough money to get you through.  

Your life shouldn’t be limited by the money in your bank account. Get a grip on your everyday spending habits – spend smarter and free yourself from money stress. 

Here are a few ideas how not to blow your budget on everyday expenses:  

  1. Create a realistic budget. 
  2. Track where your money is going 
  3. Change lenders. 
  4. Change energy / health insurance providers. Get a better deal. 
  5. Downsize.  
  6. Rent for less. 
  7. Buy in bulk. 
  8. Buy fresh from growers’ markets. 
  9. Start a car pool. 
  10. Use public transport instead of paid parking. 

Stop being a back-seat passenger to your finances by doing the same thing you’ve always done. Start living your best life free from every day financial stress and bad debt. 

Sign Up to My FREE Financial Fitness Mini-Course

If budget blow outs are common and you’re ready to stop living pay-to-pay- Sign up for my FREE 7-Days to Financial Fitness mini-course. We’ll explore your money motivators and goals so you can learn to save faster, spend smarter, and boost your financial fitness into tip-top shape.

Sign up for my FREE 7-Days to Financial Fitness mini-course. 

Are You Saving Money for the Things That Make You Happy?

What are your savings goals? What is your purpose?There’s a conversation I have frequently with my clients, and that is, why do you save money? What’s your purpose 

I find one of the main reasons people can’t stick to their savings plan is because they aren’t truly connected to their life purpose. I mean – what makes you truly happy? And, is your lack of money getting in the way of your happiness? 

If it is, you need to clarify the things that matter most to you in life, and why. 

Clarify Your Life Goals 

We all have different goals depending on our age 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s+ 

When you’re younger, there’s less focus on the bigger picture and more emphasis on ‘wants’ and instant gratification – like, upgrading with every iPhone release, or financing a top-of-the-line sports car rather than saving your money to buy a cheaper, fuel-efficient urban mini.  

But, when you’re staring down the barrel of retirement – there’s usually regret that you didn’t get your act together early enough to create a happy and satisfying life when you could actually enjoy it. 

What Makes You Truly Happy in Life? 

I challenge you to make a list of 3-5 things you truly enjoy doing or that you have on your bucket list to experience before, well, kicking your bucket. 

Why are these things so important to you? How do they make you feel? 

The purpose of this exercise is to identify what makes you happy so you can make sure you always have enough money on hand to realise them.  Whether that’s piano lessons, enjoying quality family time with your children, or shark diving off the coast of South Africa. 

Don’t miss out on your happiness things because you never had enough money saved in your bank account. Live an extraordinary life because you always did. 

Having Purpose Improves Your Financial Habits 

“Happiness is a direction, not a place” – Sydney J Harris. 

Having purpose as the focus of your spending and saving decisions will improve your financial habits and help you achieve your life goals sooner and more consistently.  

Now that you know what makes you happy – you can create a more effective saving strategy to help you get there. 

Sign Up for My FREE 7-Day Financial Fitness Mini-Course 

Did this post light a spark within you? 

If you’re ready to kick-start a healthier approach to your finances, sign up for my FREE Financial Fitness Mini-Course. In just 7 days, you’ll have the basic tools and systems you need to take control of your money, spend less, save more, and get on your way to living your extraordinary life. 

Sign up for the FREE Financial Fitness Mini-Course 

Can Your Hobby Be Turned Into a Money-Making Empire?

 Can Your Hobby Be Turned Into A Money-Making Empire?The comfort and security of 9-5 life is losing its sheen. More people are turning their backs on the certainty of regular pay cheques and going into business for themselves. Thanks to technology and the internet, we’re all now realising you can work hard and earn money doing something you love. Isn’t that the dream? 

What was once considered a hobby or passion-past-time is turning into a realistic income stream.  

In a 2015 study by Upwork, they identified 32% of Aussies were freelancing (roughly 4.1 million). 

Latest ABS statistics showed there are 1.2 million registered sole traders operating in Australia. There are also 599,000 micro businesses (small businesses with 1-4 employees). Australians are increasingly embracing the freedom and flexibility of running their own business. 

These numbers prove our economy can support this exciting new way of life. But, can your hobby be turned into a money-making empire? 

Here’s what you need to consider: 

Is your hobby worthy of a business? 

Have you done any market research? Do you have a business plan for it? Does something similar exist? How much are people willing to pay for your product? Just because your mum thinks you’re creative and frames all your work for her walls, doesn’t mean it’s a business that can generate enough income for you to survive on. 

Cost to create : profit ratio 

Whether you’re a writer, photographer, jewellery-designer, painter, or clay architect – how much does it cost you to make your product, and, is that cost comparable to what people will pay? 

My friend makes the most beautiful paper art. She’ll spend hours of her time (in addition to buying materials) meticulously creating these big, beautiful, paper art masterpieces. She creates the art because she enjoys it. She enjoys it so much she tried to turn it into a business. 

Only, when the time came for her to price her masterpieces for sale – she realised she’d have to charge hundreds of dollars to cover her time and materials. How many people do you know will pay hundreds of dollars for paper artwork? Unfortunately for my friend, she learned the hard way it wasn’t a sustainable business idea. 

Will you still enjoy it? 

If your hobby is a passion because it helps you relieve the pressures of your life – will you still enjoy it when you rely on it to pay your bills? What about after you’ve just churned out 50,000 of your cute handmade [insert product here] pieces? What you once turned to for creative release might become stressful, and you may come to resent it. 

How to Test Your Hobby Business Without Going Broke! 

If you’ve taken on these considerations and you still want to pursue your hobby business, there are ways you can do it safely without going broke. 

  1. Keep working with your employer and start building your business in your at-home time. Yes, there will be long days and many a weekend worked, but, at least you will know whether you’ll enjoy doing it full-time!
  2. Start building your emergency fund while you’re still employed. Aim to have at least 6 months-worth of your expenses saved in an account – and add an extra $1,000 for good measure. That way, should it take a little while to build momentum, you’re not stressed out drowning in bill debt.
  3. Test the waters to confirm people like your product. If you are creating art pieces, like paper art, jewellery, paintings, or photographs, rent out space at your local markets and try selling them one weekend. If you sell out – you’re probably onto a good thing. 

Preparation is Key 

We all dream of earning money from our hobbies because when you enjoy something so much it doesn’t really feel like you’re working at all! But, it’s important you don’t jump in too fast and spiral into debt because you didn’t prepare. You’ll resent your hobby and your life and find yourself crawling back to your old boss with your tail between your legs.  

Do your research before you start. Get a business plan in place and prove that it’s a sustainable business idea that can generate enough income to support your desired lifestyle.  

If you are looking to start your own business, get in touch! We can put a solid budget management plan in place to prepare you for your change in circumstance. 

Needs v. Wants: How You Can Have Both and Still Save Money

Needs And Want: How you can have both and still saveIf you feel guilty each time you spend money on your guilty pleasures – it’s time to reframe your thinking. Saving money isn’t always about sacrifice, of going ‘with’ or ‘without’. It’s knowing the difference between your needs and your wants – and understanding the ‘why’ behind each expense so you can spend your money intentionally.  

If you’re ready to kick-start a healthier approach to your saving habits – start with your purpose. Here’s how. 

The Difference Between Needs and Wants 

In case you missed your year 9 Home Economics class, the difference between needs and wants is simple: 

Needs – these are items your life, health, and wellbeing rely on. Like, food, water, shelter, electricity, clothing. 

Wants – These are your nice-to-haves, feel-good spends. They won’t affect your survival, but, they might make you sad if you don’t get what you want. Think – gym membership, smashed avocado on toast, the latest iPhone.  

Most people feel guilty for spending money on their wants – but, truth be told, these expenses very likely make you feel happiness and satisfaction. So, to cut them out entirely makes for a very unhappy you (so, you can throw your new savings plan in the bin!). 

Make a List of Your Wants and Needs 

If you want to make a change to your spending and saving habits – It’s time you made a list of your Wants and your Needs 

  1. Draw two columns on a blank page and start tracking your expenses over the past fortnight.  
  2. Dig out bank and credit card statements and list each expense in one of the two columns – decide if it’s a want or a need. 
  3. Now, add your savings goals to the mix – are you saving for a holiday? New house? New car? Wedding? Where do they fit? 

saving money tips

(heads up) Pretty much everything that isn’t food, shelter, water, and basic clothing will be a want. But, that’s OK. Because it’s more important to understand the why behind those wants – we’ll get to that next. 

Know Your Why 

Is your list of wants drastically longer than your list of needs? Not to worry, I’m not going to be a buzz-kill and tell you to stop enjoying your life. But, if you want to take control of your spending choices, you need to know your why. 

Behind every want is a why 

Let’s use your choice of residence as an example. 

Say you choose to spend $600 each week renting an inner-city apartment. It’s a bit of a shoe box, but, you enjoy living there.  

Shelter is definitely a need. True. But, a lavish inner-city apartment – well, that’s probably a want, because you can get a bigger unit at half the price elsewhere. 

So then, what is the real need here?  

Why do you live in this apartment? Does it make you feel safer? Is it convenient? Or – is it the satisfaction you get from living a trendy lifestyle? The status? Maybe you need to live 5 minutes from work so you can spend less time travelling and more time exercising? 

Now, go back and note the why behind each of your listed wants. 

Financial Success Doesn’t Always Mean Sacrifice 

Once you understand your purpose for each want, you can work out creative ways to cut back on your spending while still fulfilling your underlying need. 

If you’re seriously trying to save money, then you need to be asking, do I really need this? Do I need to be spending this much money on ‘X’? 

What are the opportunities to cut back on your expenses? 

Using the apartment example – If you decided that convenience is your ‘why’ – then, can you rent somewhere cheaper that is still convenient like, on a train line, for example? Or, can you flatshare? 

You like eating out each weekend because you enjoy the connection with your friends. Can you get take out and eat at home? Arrange a picnic share plate? That $70 dine out meal quickly became $10 – but your why is still being met – you’re connecting with your friends. 

You’ll never stick to a savings plan if you don’t allow yourself to enjoy your life. If you don’t fulfil your underlying ‘why’ – you’ll become demotivated, dissatisfied, and miserable. 

Register Your Interest for My FREE 7-Day Financial Fitness Mini-Course 

Did this post light a spark within you? 

If you’re ready to kick-start a healthier approach to your finances, register your interest for my soon-to-be-released FREE Financial Fitness Mini-Course. In just 7 days, you’ll have the basic tools and systems you need to take control of your money, spend less, save more, and get on your way to achieving your life goals. 

Register your interest here – I’ll send you an email when it’s ready so you can start kicking your goals! 

 

5 Valuable Financial Skills I Wish Were Taught at School

5 Financial Skills I Wish We Were Taught In School

What I Wish We Were Taught In School

Remember when you were sitting uncomfortably in your poky school desk, harsh square chair jabbing you in your shoulder-blades, your prehistoric maths teacher explaining complex algebra equations – and you scratched your head and thought – why?  

Why are they teaching me this? How will this help me get a job next year? Can this help me get rich? 

We’re taught a lot of complex functions and equations during school, but, we miss out on a lot of relevant, practical lessons that would help us get drastically ahead in life.  

Our Youth Lack Financial Skills to Thrive 

According to the OECD, our young are increasingly heading into adulthood lacking life skills and personal financial literacy – they are leaving home at a later age and heading straight into debt; credit cards, personal loans, high-cost rent and lifestyles. But, can we blame them?  

When are we teaching them the financial vitals to help them thrive in adulthood? I’m talking about the stuff that can really help you excel in life – like, managing incoming and outgoing expenses, the dangers and the benefits of interest, and relatable, relevant home economics. 

Five Financial Lessons I Wish We Were Taught At School 

There are a few important lessons I’ve learnt on my financial journey that I wish we were taught at a younger age. Lessons that could help turn $10,000 into $1.3 million over 30 years. Lessons that keep you out of financial debt and subsequent stress. Lessons that lead you to a healthier, more balanced, and enjoyable life within your means. 

So, in the spirit of making life healthier and easier for everyone, these are the five financial lessons I wish we were taught at school to fast track our path to financial security:

1. Respect for the Savings Process 

From a very basic level, we need to all learn the value of savings. More than just setting up a token Dollarmite account when children are 6 – we need to teach them the ‘Why’ behind savings. Why are you putting your $2 per week pocket money into your savings account? What is the benefit? What is the desired outcome? Are you saving for something? How much do you need to put away each week to buy your ‘something’ by X date?  

2. Budgeting and Management of Household Expenses 

Children are staying at home with mum and dad longer as they put themselves through university / TAFE. This usually means a healthy spending budget each month – without the demands of rent, electricity, internet, food, and in some cases, phone bills – some ‘children’ don’t experience the financial demands of life fully until around 25 years of age when they finally leave home.  

Teaching budgeting and management of known expenses from an early age will mitigate the risk of high credit card debts, outrageous phone bills, unnecessary personal car loans, and the subsequent poor credit rating when time comes to buy a home! 

3. Compounding interest

Compounding Interest can be your friend or foe. Foe if it applies to a loan or credit card interest. But, friend if it applies to a savings account – which is what I’m going to talk about here. 

Compounding interest is where you earn interest on your interest.  

Say you created a high interest savings account that calculated and paid interest on a monthly basis – You will earn interest on your deposited amount, as well as the interest you’ve earned each subsequent month. It’s like ordering a Sundae and getting two cherries on top. 

In comparison – a term deposit is simple interest and is calculated at the end of its term in one lump sum. Check out the MoneySmart website for a simple calculation. 

4. Investing Using Index Funds

I’m not talking about going to university and working your butt off for a fancy piece of paper that says you can work in the ASX and invest $millions of client dollars in volatile markets. #pressure

I’m referring to a very simple and effective approach to investing – Indexing. That is, putting a small, but manageable chunk of your money in an index fund when you’re in your 20s and letting it ride the market over a few decades. It *should* perform better than a high interest savings account, however, there are many factors that can affect individual results so it’s best to talk to a financial planner for personalised advice. 

5. Superannuation 

Ill touch on this briefly to say that when you’re young – it’s not really explained to you how superannuation will affect your life. You think ‘well, that doesn’t affect me now, that’s something to think about when I’m ready to retire’. Unfortunately, by that stage it’s too late. 

So, whether it’s basic management of your super fund, like, choosing one fund only and not signing up to a new fund with each new job! – or, exploring Self-Managed Super Funds once you have some money in your kitty after about a decade in the workforce. Super provides a solid investment opportunity – and the earlier you start thinking about it, the better your return come retirement. 

Why Financial Literacy Matters 

Financial literacy is an everyday life skill – it’s choosing the best mobile contract, electricity provider, and rental accommodation for your means. It’s managing your income to cover the everyday bills and expenses before you go crazy shopping the mid-season sales. It’s choosing to use cash instead of credit. 

And, it’s knowing how to make your money work harder for you to reap extraordinary returns in the long-term over instant gratification today. 

Get in touch if you need some extra-curricular tutoring to enhance your financial literacy. I can help you get a read of your financial situation and recommend the best plan of action to gain control of your finances and build a more secure future for you and your family. 

How Not To Blow Your Budget These School Holidays

How Not To Blog Your Budget These School Holidays

Beach fun

Sometimes, life throws a spanner that stops the wheels from spinning. It doesn’t matter how hard you’ve been saving over the past few months or how much you’ve improved your spending habits (thanks super budget!). It can all fly out the window when school holidays hit.  

Everyone’s at home. Everyone’s bored. Everyone wants money.  

School holidays shouldn’t be an excuse to blow your budget and put your family straight back into debt! Sure, your children need things to do so they don’t suffer extreme boredom and cause, or get into, trouble. But, there’s no need to rob a bank. 

When Did School Holidays Become an Excuse for Spending Money? 

The more you prepare for the holidays, the more you’re able to stick to a reasonable budget. Unfortunately, waiting until you finish breakfast each morning before working out your plan for the day is a sure-fire way to budget blow-out.  

So, don’t get caught up. Don’t spend more than you have to. Don’t overwhelm yourself running your children all around town, up and down, and out – make a plan.  

Here are some strategies to help you manage the excess in ‘spare time’ without blowing your bank balance.  

How to Prepare for Budget-Friendly School Holidays

  1. Make a budget – how much money can you really spare? Set a daily or a weekly budget that everyone will stick to. This is where your Avocado and Happiness funds come into play.
    If you’ve been collecting an Avocado fund, you could access this account for some cheap family thrills.
    You could use your Happiness fund to book a last-minute stay-cation if you’re in the position to splurge.
     
  2. While you’re all together, start teaching your children how to budget for fun day events and school holidays – MoneySmart offers a free budget training resource for children in years 5-6 you can do together. Work out how much they’ll have for their daily budget? How can they spend their money? Can they save some for a big-ticket event?
     
  3. Before things get too silly, sit down as a family and prepare your schedule in advance. Make a list of the cheap or free activities you’re interested in and stick it on your fridge to refer to during the break.
     
  4. Choose 2 activities that cost a little bit more money, but still fall within your allocated budget. Like, a quick trip away! If spending time away is on the agenda – try camping. Or, if mum’s not really a camper – what about glamping or Airbnb? There are some amazing low-cost accommodation alternatives nearby which won’t hit your bank account.
     
  5. Organise for one big event / reward at the end of the holidays. Encourage your children to be on their best behaviour and offer up a day at a theme park, day on the go-carts, or a road trip down to the Big Banana for ice cream sundaes.  

You’re Not a Full-Time Entertainer – Look After Yourself, Too 

Remember – you’re not a full-time entertainer. Chances are, you have a job and you need to split your time at home with your existing work commitments. Kids can be bored. The world won’t end. But, if you run yourself down into the ground, it very well might!  

Find time to spend on yourself – use that Avocado fund and shout yourself a massage, facial, or breakfast tucked away in a quiet café. 

Do you have some holiday budgeting tips that stop you from emptying your wallet?
Share your ideas in the comments!