6 Tips for Last-Minute Christmas Shoppers on A Budget

6 Tips for Last-Minute Christmas Shoppers on A BudgetWill you be one of the thousands of frantic last-minute Christmas gift shoppers this weekend? Because, if navigating crowded shopping centres and winning the car park version of the Amazing Race isn’t stressful enough, your actual challenge for the day is not blowing your budget on impulse buys just so you can escape the circus as quickly as possible.

Aah. Christmas. You gotta love it.

Before you get all giddy on the eggnog and the spirit of giving, here’s some sobering news – Aussies plan to spend on average, $955 over the holiday period! Can you afford that?

Here are my top tips for those last-minute shoppers who’d rather keep it tight, so you can start the new year light.

6 Tips for Last-Minute Christmas Shoppers So You Don’t Blow Your Budget

 

  1. Set a budget.

    How much can you comfortably spare for your gift haul? Have you been building your Christmas fund for the past few months, or, are you so anti-planning you’ll just wing it on the day? (Hmmm, note for next year: Start a Xmas fund.)
    Set aside your budget in a separate bank account and stick to it.

  2. Make a list of the people you need to buy for – and allocate them a gift budget.

    There are free apps that do this for you and let you track your budget and your actual spend in real-time. This is an effective way to keep yourself accountable at the tills.

  3. Due diligence – research online before you shop.

    Whether it’s a big-ticket item, or not – run a google search on your gift list and check if there are any promotions or discounts, and which store is selling your gifts at the best price. Save time and money on the day.

  4. Stock up on gift cards.

    Gift cards are the best – especially if you’re shopping for a fussy friend! Gift cards ensure you stick to your budget, and, also allow your fussy friend to choose a gift they’ll appreciate. The best part is, a lot of stores now have moved to expiry-less gift cards (they are valid forever).

  5. Pre-pay online – pick up in store.

    This option is a life saver. Do most of your shopping online and arrange for free pick up in store. You’ll save yourself enormous amounts of stress and energy – and you remove the temptation for impulse buys.

  6. Regift (dare I say it)

    If you have a gift from 2014 still packed away at the back of your cupboard, n’er to see the light of day – pull it out and make use of it. Obviously, don’t regift it back to the person who gave it to you (it’s best to avoid anyone in their entire network) – BUT, it is really OK to pass it onto someone else who will enjoy it more than you ever did. Just don’t tell them where it came from 😉

Remember, it’s always the thought that counts and not the price tag.

Credit card debt is spiralling out of control and as a society, we must learn to re-program our spending habits and live within our means. Do you really want to start the new year drowning in debt that you won’t pay off until June? Didn’t think so.

Make your list, check it twice, gift within your means, or in 2018 – it’s tuna and rice.

Have you got any last-minute Christmas shopping tips you’d like to share? Drop them in the comments below!

Are You Getting In The Way Of Your Financial Success?

Are you standing in the way of your financial success?Are you where you want to be, financially? Or, do you always feel like you’re chasing a pot of gold at the end of a distant rainbow? Chances are, your thoughts and money habits are blocking your access to abundance.

Money blocks are like an iceberg – although there are visible hints on the surface, your blocks run deep and far along below. Most are picked up from your parents, friends, and family in your youth without even realising.

 

 

Some common blocking habits are:

  • You tell yourself you’ll never be successful
  • You tell yourself you can’t afford it
  • You feel guilty when you ‘treat’ yourself to a guilty pleasure (like, new shoes)
  • You find it challenging to ‘receive’ gifts, compliments, or kind gestures from others
  • You keep focusing on areas where you’re not successful

Your negative emotions and limiting belief around success and money is blocking your access to success and money. So, try changing things up.

1. Define your version of success or, what does ‘rich’ mean to you?

Having more money usually means more debt. A bigger house. A fancier car. A better school. Always wanting that little bit more than you already have. But, you’re chasing a myth. More money doesn’t = more happiness.

Dig deep within your heart and ask yourself, what does ‘success’ mean to you? Is it about having a secret vault of money and a garage full of Lamborghinis? Or, is it just having enough to live comfortably in your home and take the family on a holiday each Christmas?

Figure out your purpose for life, and then set goals to help you succeed.

2. Identify your goals, and chip away at them little by little

Rome wasn’t built in a day. And neither is your success. Instead of always telling yourself your goals or dreams are “impossible” or “too far away yet”, start with bite-sized goals and work your way along until you’ve climbed the colosseum.

What is important for you? Is it clearing a $20,000 debt? Is it putting more money away for your retirement fund? Is it building an emergency fund to support your family in the case of an unforeseen event? There’s a choice to be made. Start small and celebrate the wins.

3. Manifest your success with positive thinking

Instead of always telling yourself what you can’t have – start manifesting positive thoughts and actions so you can have!

What’s that saying we all love?

Ask and you shall receive.

Instead of always putting yourself down, accepting defeat, or acknowledging it’s just in your nature to always go over budget – nip those negative thoughts in the bud! Life is about choices.

 

Stop holding yourself back from financial success and start building new positive thought processes and habits around your wealth.

Try to change your thinking around money and move away from fear or this notion of ‘I don’t deserve it’. Clearly identify what it is you hope to achieve (receive) in life and then work towards realistic goals that help you get there. Because, earning money and building wealth is a cause and effect relationship.

Get in touch if you need a hand getting on top of your money habits.

4 Tips For Staying Healthy at Work

4 Tips To Stay Healthy At WorkYou spend a third of your life working – whether that’s working in an office for someone else, or working in your own office building your own business. But, how are you looking after your wellbeing when inside those four walls? 

We’re so driven to succeed; hit KPIs, achieve goals, and ‘make a killing’ that we often neglect our emotional and mental wellbeing in the process. Funny then, that improved wellbeing in the workplace leads to a better, more productive work day, and a more positive outlook on life. Who doesn’t want that? 

So, here are my top tips to help you stay healthy at work; 

1. Get Up and Move Around 

Yes, move! Stand up and stretch, walk around the office, visit a colleague on a different floor – make it a habit to get up and move around every hour. Sitting is said to be as harmful to your health as smoking. From my view, moving around and changing your scenery will give your brain an almighty boost – which will spark creativity and increase productivity. 

 

2. Add Plants and Greenery 

Add some indoor plants to your work space and reap multiple benefits. Luscious, green, happy plants not only look nice and make you feel happier, but they also absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen – which means you’re getting fresher, more pure air to breathe in than the recycled building air. 

 

3. Spend Lunch Breaks or Coffee Breaks Outside 

Get outside with nature. Inhale the fresh oxygen, ground your feet in the grass, and enjoy the symphony of greens on your senses walking through the nearby parklands. Why not make it a team event? Instead of meeting in a stale, poky office – encourage your team to lace up and run a walking meeting instead. In addition to the proven health benefits of Vitamin D, absorbing nature helps us refocus, reset, and stress less.  

 

4. Meditate 

Plug in your earphones, load up an app, and meditate. Practice daily mindfulness to boost creativity, re-centre, refocus, reset, and power up those brain cells for enhanced productivity. If meditating is ‘not for you’ – take yourself away to a quiet, private space to help you concentrate and clear the office clutter. 

 

Contrary to popular belief – working less can improve your productivity and leads you to a healthier lifestyle. So, shake off those office shackles, let your mind unwind, and brighten up your workday for a more positive outlook and enhanced wellbeing. Because, the more positive you feel about your life, the more likely it is you’ll achieve your big-picture goals. 

 

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. 

Your Guide To The First Home Super Saver Scheme

Your Guide To The First Home Super Saver Scheme To SaveAre you a first home buyer trying to get your foot in the door of Australia’s near unobtainable property market? Whether you’re trying to invest or buy your forever home, today’s property prices are holding us back. 

But, it’s not all doom and gloom and missed opportunity. If the Australian Government has its way, they’ll soon introduce a First Home Super Saver Scheme to help desperate first home buyers get a leg up.

Here’s what you need to know. 

What is the FHSSS? 

The government market it as a scheme to fast-track savings for your house deposit. Essentially, you contribute extra money to a dedicated superannuation account, and with the benefit of lower tax / tax deductions for the money you contribute – meet your savings goal sooner.

It still needs to be officially passed – consultations closed on 4 August so we should hear an announcement soon.

How does it work? 

From 1 July 2017, you can start making voluntary contributions to your superannuation account, up to $15,000 each year. Then, from 1 July 2018, you’ll be able to apply to withdraw your voluntary contributions for your first home deposit. Users of the scheme can only save up to $30,000 total as part of the scheme. 

Now, this isn’t the compulsory amount your employer makes! This is money you either salary sacrifice (pre-tax earnings) or that you personally contribute to your super (after tax).  

What You Can Do 

Should the scheme be passed by parliament, the ATO will administer it. You’ll need to opt in and determine your eligibility to use the scheme (and make sure you can withdraw your money when you want it!). 

Your accountant or financial planner should be able to give you more information on the scheme and the benefits (and limitations) for your individual earnings and financial position. Like every government initiative, there are pros and cons depending on individual circumstances. So, it’s best practice to get qualified advice before you begin. 

While we wait for an outcome – I  can explore other strategies with you to enhance your financial position with a budget and savings plan that gets you to your goal, sooner. 

If you have a self-managed super fund – please get in touch and I’ll help you understand how you can use your fund to boost your house deposit savings.

Ride to work each day

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The battle between cyclist and motorist has been going on since the invention of the motor vehicle, and will continue into our future. However, as a money saving and health gaining exercise, cycling has many positives:

  • you get fit while you commute;
  • you get to work quicker each day and don’t stuck in traffic – (your boss will be happy and you may even get that job promotion);
  • you get to enjoy the outdoors and everything Australia has to offer;
  • you will stay trim, taut and terrific – just think how good your suit or dress will look like on you now;
  • you will be helping the environment and leaving less of a carbon footprint; and
  • you will save money – more money to go towards something special, could be a beach holiday or a new dress? Better than spending it on your car.

With all of these benefits, why wouldn’t you start today? Ask your employer if you have facilities at your work to support your cycling (such as bike racks, showers etc), or visit your local city council to find out if you have a local cycling center that offers showers and security for your bike. Put together a cycling group with your work colleges.

 

How To Get A Pay Rise Without Asking Your Boss?

 

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How To Get A Pay Rise Without Asking Your Boss?

Sounds great, but that’s not possible you say. Well did you realize that over $4billion dollars every year is paid to banks, brokers, insurance agents and financial planners?

But how does this get me a pay rise? Well most financial products in Australia have either a commission or a fee that is being paid into the pockets of somebody other than you. Even worse in most cases you may have never even meet the person who receives those commissions. It’s like taking money each week out of your pay packet and giving it to a stranger on the street.

Sounds crazy? Why would you do this? More than likely before today you didn’t even know that these fees existed. This is the reason I started Bright Future Financial, as I have seen people struggle each week to pay bills, and even put food on the table for there family. I wanted to help Australians understand what hidden fees they are paying, and help get this money back into their own pockets.

But I’m in an industry fund, so I don’t pay commissions. Well this is correct but fees are also being paid on your life insurance, your income protection, your car insurance, your house insurance and even your home loan, and the list goes on.

This is the pay rise you deserve – stop funding other people’s lifestyle. I want this money to be yours, to help you pay your bills, or even take your family on that holiday you have always wished. Bright Future Financial has an administration service does this for you a minimum cost, without fuss and paid into your bank monthly. Call us on 1800 457 647 or visit our website www.brightfuturefinancial.com.au.

The Wedding Planner; not just about the Vows

 

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The Wedding Planner; not just about the Vows

Wedding planning can become a stressful time for a lot of newly engaged couples. When discussing a wedding idea, often a wedding budget is placed out of mind until it is to late. Running into debt for your wedding is definitely not advised when starting a new chapter of your life – so let us help you!

Set yourself a budget as soon as you begin to think of your wedding. Although this doesn’t sound the least bit romantic, it will reduce the stress when viewing wedding venues. Laying down an amount will allow you both to be realistic – many places will lure you in with “cheap” costs, but upon reading the fine print, you will find that there are hidden costs which can clock up to $3000 extra!

Decide upon what elements of your wedding are the most important. What is something you wouldn’t mind splurging on, and what is another that you could cut back. This may even be as simple as reducing the amount of decorations or flowers on the day – or being a tad “cut throat” and drastically reducing the invite list.

Whatever it is, the day will be great – whatever you choose. However keep in mind that when you break the bank on the wedding, that debt will still be there, be mindful and reasonable. While planning – take time to reconsider monetary costs, and don’t be afraid to look around, or ask for a better value. After all, it is your day!

The Silly Season – Decoded

The Silly Season – Decoded.

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As the year begins to end, and the amount of events and parties begin to multiply, the next few months can be overwhelming. Whether you are planning the events or just attending them, there is a cost that comes with this time of year –if you aren’t careful, this price tag can be hefty.

Plan Ahead; Know what is coming up and plan for it. For a lot of workplaces, Secret Santa gifts can be a great way to reduce the amount of spending. This doesn’t have to be limited to workplaces either – it works great for family gatherings!

Begin looking now for gifts that may be suitable for family and friends, the earlier you get in, the easier it can be to budget spending – rather than having spending occur all in the one week, or day!

If you are planning an event look into the difference in cost between a Price Per Head, or a bar tab. Depending on the size of the party – it can work out cheaper to have a bar tab – rather than allowing the venue to determine the average amount of drinks, and charging you for it.

Resist the sales – and try to take a step back. The advertisements will be on almost every corner soon, and the ever present “sale” signs will be riddled through television. Stick to what you need, and separate it from what you want. There is a fine line we often cross, finding ourselves over our heads in items that we generally wouldn’t purchase, had the sale not been on. With that said, sometimes a little nudge is needed for purchases, however just stay mindful that spending is promoted through retail at this time of year . . . keep on the lookout.