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. 

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! 

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. 

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. 

Are You Financially Fit? Why You Need A Check Up

How healthy are your finances?

Having healthy finances is the key to a great budget, how healthy are yours?

Most people want to improve three things in life, their financial health, physical health, and mental health. My philosophy at Bright Future Financial is that we can’t have one without having them all.  

Which is why each year I sit with my clients and carry out an annual financial health check-up. 

Much like your PT takes you through a checklist to determine your physical health and fitness, your financial health-check can determine the health of your finances and your overall financial outlook. 

Being in strong financial health ensures you’re prepared to overcome any of life’s unexpected challenges. You are liberated from financial stress and pressures, and you live freely and confidently as you need.

The Foundations of Strong Financial Health 

Budget 

You can’t have healthy finances without first designing a budget. Your budget helps you track your expenses, what’s coming out and when – it also raises important questions about your spending habits.  

Like, do you really need that magazine subscription to Fishing World when you haven’t read it in 9 months? How many times have you been to the gym lately?  

Understanding your actual expenses and putting strategies in place to pay your bills before they’re due are the first step to solid financial health.  

Financial Goals 

Do you have a savings goal in mind?  

Are you saving for your retirement? 

Are you planning your wedding?  

Are you dreaming to buy a house in Bulimba? 

Once you have a solid budget in place, you can integrate your savings goals into your budget and confidently save in the fastest time possible (without sacrificing your everyday commitments).  

Debt 

Not all debt is bad (your mortgage being a good debt to have!). But, being weighed down by the bad debts will negatively affect your financial health. Think credit cards and car loans. The interest rates are high and it’s easy to get caught out at the end when you’ve been sticking to minimum repayments.  

Clear your bad debts and free up your cash for the stuff that matters. 

Emergency Fund 

The big kahuna that influences your financial health is your emergency fund. Have you set yours up?  

If you’re a regular follower of my blog, you’ll notice I talk about emergency funds A LOT. That’s because they are your financial health foundation.  

Your emergency fund should equate to roughly 3-6 months of expenses (plus $1,000) sitting in a high-interest (but accessible) savings account. Your emergency fund ensures that should life throw a spanner into the mix; you lose your job, you or your family fall sick or are injured, or your house falls down due to termite damage, you have a healthy emergency fund in your kit to keep your head above water. 

How healthy are your finances? 

If you’re keen to check out your financial health – download my free checklist.  

Please note this is only a guide and isn’t a substitute for financial advice. If you’re concerned about your financial health or you’re looking for guidance to improve your finances, please get in touch to arrange your free consultation. 

Download my free financial health checklist

Save Money Quickly By Treating It Like A Bill

Why You Should View Your Savings As A BillDo you find yourself struggling to save, pay to pay? Do you have your eyes on a prize but feel as though you’re not getting any closer to achieving it? 

It might be time you reframed your thinking and started looking at saving as an everyday bill. Here’s why it works. 

Automation Helps You Manage Your Money 

Automation is a “set it and forget” approach to money management – it helps you stay on top of your bills before you succumb to the distracting calls of end-of-season sales and Friday work drinks.  

Used commonly to manage bill payments, automation is a simple, and effective, strategy to boost your savings, too. If you’re struggling to make progress on what feels like a never-ending savings target, automation will ensure you meet your monthly commitment.  

Automating your bills and expenses 

If you’re in control of your bills and monthly payments, chances are you already have a solid system in place. Maybe you’ve set up direct debits. Or, perhaps you’ve linked your credit card for a simplified ‘one click’ payment process. 

The benefit in automating your bills is less risk of overdue payment fees and subsequent poor credit! Automation also ensures you don’t spend money on shoes that you need kept aside to pay for that epic electricity bill you’re expecting. 

Automating your savings 

How much more effective would you be at saving if you had a direct debit set up much the same way as your bills? You would never have to remember to put money aside into your savings account – an automated process takes care of it for you! 

Set up a transfer between your everyday and your savings bank accounts the day you’re paid and start achieving your monthly savings targets without effort or sacrifice.  

Change your mindset around saving  

If you have a big picture savings goal, like a wedding, house deposit, or retirement, start viewing your goal as a bill that needs paying off. 

So, pay your bills first. Pay your savings second.  

‘Go to town’ with whatever’s left over.  

Start small until you build some momentum and then increase the amount when you’ve settled into your new habit. 

You’ll never reach your savings goal if you keep getting distracted by short term gains like five-star dinners and designer handbags. Even if they are discounted. Your short-term emotional satisfaction is holding you back from something much greater. 

I challenge you to take your savings out of your account the moment your pay cheque hits the bank. Then, sit back and watch your golden egg grow!  

Get in touch for quality financial and budget management advice that helps you reach your financial goals, sooner. 

5 Simple Strategies to Save and Plan for A Budget Holiday (That Doesn’t Involve Camping)

Are You Looking To Improve Your Financial Fitness? Here’s How A Financial Planner Will Help.

Are you dreaming of a healthier bank balance? Do you wish you had more control over your money but you’re not sure how to start? If you’re ready to trim the fat from your expenses and build a better bank balance – it might be time you partnered with a financial fitness trainer (the old people call them a ‘financial planner’).

Are You Making Your Money Work Hard For You?

So, full disclosure. I’m a financial planner – and if there’s one thing I hear time and again, it’s people expressing their desire to have more money, do more with the money they have, spend less, invest more, and plan for a more secure future. With the rising cost of living, can you be sure you’ll have enough superannuation to support the lifestyle you want when you retire? Will you ever be able to retire? Are you just going to sit back, wait, and see?

That’s what a good financial planner can do for you. Think of us like a personal trainer. You sign up to your local gym with the express desire to lose weight, gain muscle, eat better, and make better decisions about your health and well-being into the future.

Your personal trainer gives you a short-term program to establish your foundation, and over time with frequent weigh-ins, coaching, and emotional support, they guide you on your life-long journey to better health and fitness.

Why You Need A Long-Term Financial Plan

Financial planning and goal setting is a long-term strategy that is reviewed and modified over time. Like your personal trainer, a financial planner designs your financial fitness plan and:

Takes measurements

Reviews your current lifestyle, income, spending habits, expenses

Sets aspirational goals

Establishes your long-term goals and expectations for financial health and well-being

Introduces a realistic diet

Builds your financial foundation

Creates your training plan

Designs your cash-flow management strategy

Commits to ongoing weigh-ins and measurements

Keeps you accountable with regular check-ins and progress updates (but, we’re not into before and after photos – we’ll stick to graphs)

Why You Must Stop Yo-Yo Dieting With Your Financial Goals

Just like your fitness program, you must stick to your financial fitness program and you must remain accountable. Just like health and fitness, financial management is not a yo-yo diet situation – something missed one week cannot be made up by a day of fasting the following week.

It’s easy to come unstuck, fall off the wagon, and indulge in a weekend bender buying shoes, handbags, beer, and unnecessary tech gadgets. That’s why, just like a good personal trainer, a good financial planner will put together a realistic plan for you – a strategy that still allows you to have fun while you save and grow. A strategy that allows you to have your designer coffee or Sunday eggs benedict with the girlfriends – if that’s what you need to remain happy, focused, and committed to your financial goals.

Introducing an effective financial fitness plan helps you gain control of your spending habits and improves cash-flow management so you can build a healthier bank balance.

If you want to learn more about how we can improve your financial fitness, get in touch and book your free 60-minute consultation. It’ll be a life-changer.