May 2024

May 2024

In this issue

As winter approaches and the weather grows cooler, commentary around the 2024-25 Federal Budget is heating up, with the government facing the tension between addressing cost of living pressures without contributing to rising inflation.

The cost of living continues to bite with consumers keeping their wallets firmly closed. Retail sales fell 0.4% in March after getting a boost from the ‘Taylor Swift effect’ the previous month and prices continue to rise with a CPI increase in the March quarter to 3.6% annually. Education, health, housing and food recorded the biggest price increases for the quarter.

The markets have been subdued too with the prospect of further interest rate rises both in Australia and the US. The S&P/ASX 200 was down by about 2.5% for April. Some economists are predicting that we may not see the first cuts in interest rates until November. Mining stocks have been generally buoyant as commodity prices continue to surge while the energy and retail sectors have struggled.

The Australian dollar is back from the doldrums mid-month to end April at just over US65c. But with a strengthening US dollar, economists are rethinking their six-month outlooks for the Aussie with predictions now of between US65c and US69c. The surprise player in our currency’s fortunes has been the ailing Japanese yen. Its weakness has been our gain with the Aussie ending April above 100 yen, its highest level since 2014.

What’s all the noise about loud budgeting?
What’s all the noise about loud budgeting?

What’s all the noise about loud budgeting?

Loud budgeting is a trend that may have started as a joke but is being embraced by those who want to share their financial goals and priorities and in doing so, also improve their chances of achieving them.

It was comedian and writer Lukas Battle who bought the term “loud budgeting” to the world in a TikTok post, presenting it as an alternative to “quiet luxury” as loud budgeting represents a move away from spending to impress or conform.

As is the way with trends, the idea resonated with people, was picked up and run with by a growing group of budgeters. The spirit of the trend is about saying a loud “no” to what doesn’t align with your values. But there’s more to it than that, and there is also a right way to go about loud budgeting that will enable you to keep your finances on target – and your friendships intact.

The benefits of loud budgeting

But before we look at how to get it right, let’s explore why loud budgeting can be such a powerful tool to put you in control of your financial journey.

The fundamental reason it works is because talking transparently about your finances and sharing your reasoning behind how you want to spend your money gives you power and lets you decline invites in a way that is less likely to offend others.

Being open about your challenges can create a sense of community and inclusion. By sharing and acknowledging that it is normal to have limited spending capacity and that it can be a juggle to manage our short-term spending with our long-term savings goals, helps everyone understand each other’s pressures.

Once things are out in the open you are also more accountable. When you have shared your financial hopes and dreams with others, you are more likely to do what is required to stay on track and get support from those who care about you.

Making it loud – and successful!

Think of your goals

Before you start sharing your financial goals with others you must be clear on what they are. Think about what is important to you and what you are working towards. Don’t just have figures in your head – do a proper budget of what you have coming in, what you need to save to meet your targets and what you have left over to spend, so you can make educated decisions.

What matters to you

When you have decisions to make about how to spend your money it can help to think about what is important to you and make intentional choices. That ensures you are not living unnecessarily frugally, but being selective about what you choose to spend your money on, taking into consideration what matters most to you.

Eye on the prize

It’s important to keep your eye on the prize (or prizes) whatever form they may take. Looking to the longer term, this can be smaller goals, like saving up for a special occasion or bigger ones, such as a home deposit. It could also be prioritising payments such as mortgages, student loans and other kinds of debt. Check in from time to time to track your spending and savings against your goals.

Careful communication

Being careful in your phrasing will help make sure feelings aren’t hurt when you decline an invitation. Part of loud budgeting is not saying ‘no’ outright – it’s about explaining what’s going on for you and offering an alternative that works for you. For example, if you’re invited out for a dinner that you know will blow the budget, you could say “I’m trying to get enough together for a deposit to buy a place so I’m on a tight budget at the moment, can we catch up for a BYO barbeque at my place instead?

Making financial choices that are in line with how you want to live your life and prioritising long-term goals over temporary indulgences is a great way to set yourself up for a fantastic future. So why not speak up and try making your budgeting loud?

The art of refinancing
The art of refinancing

The art of refinancing

Refinancing your home loan has the potential to save you thousands, reduce your monthly repayments and free up your finances to achieve your goals.

However, mastering the art of refinancing requires strategic planning, an understanding of the process and taking numerous considerations into account. Whether you plan on external or internal refinancing, here’s what to keep in mind.

Understand the different types of refinancing

While many people think of refinancing as switching lenders, you can also choose a better deal but stay with your original lender. Refinancing through your original lender but opting for a different deal is referred to as an internal refinance; external refinance is where you find a different lender.

In 2023, it was reported that Australia had the largest boom in mortgage refinances in history over the past three years.i And according to Finder’s Housing Market Report 2023, while in 2019 just over half of refinancers were external refinancers, by mid-2023, this had jumped to 72%.ii

Know the market and interest rate movements

As the stats show, in recent times more mortgage holders than ever, are swapping lenders in order to chase a better deal. Often this is the main goal – to refinance to get a lower interest rate.

Given the fluctuations in the market and the rise and fall of interest rates, it’s smart to keep informed as to what’s happening. It’s also a good idea to touch base with a financial expert to get their take on whether now is a good time to refinance.

Assess your financial health

It’s then time to look at your financial situation, so you have a clear understanding of your credit score, current financial position and equity, income, and debt-to-income ratio.

It may have been some time ago that you last did this and it’s likely that some things have shifted, especially given the higher cost of living at the moment.

Understand your loan

Whatever your reasons for wanting to refinance are, you need to understand what your current commitment is and what changes you want to make.

Read through your current loan’s terms and conditions, as it may have been a while since you’ve checked them. You can chat to your current lender to see if there are any benefits you haven’t been utilising or costs you are unaware of.

Understand refinancing costs

A follow-up from knowing your loan is ensuring you have a clear understanding of refinancing costs. While the lure of a better deal can be hard to resist, you may find that it may cost you more than you had thought.

Calculate your break-even point to determining if refinancing is beneficial – this includes taking any valuation fees and payout costs (such as exit fees) into consideration. If you are on a fixed rate home loan, you may need to pay a break free if you refinance.

Consider the impact on your credit score and LVR

Another thing to be aware of is how refinancing can impact your credit score. Aspects that come along with refinancing, such as ending a loan and needing another credit check, can cause your credit score to dip. And if there is the possibility that you skip out on a mortgage payment (should the refinancing process take longer than expected, for example), this will further damage your credit score.

Loan to Value Ratio (LVR) is the difference between the amount you’re borrowing to the value of the property. If your LVR is over 80%, you need to pay Lender’s Mortgage Insurance (LMI). When refinancing, it’s likely that your LVR has shifted due to your mortgage repayments, so your LVR tends to be lower as a result. However, if your property has fallen in value and your LVR has risen, then you may need to pay LMI when refinancing.

We can assist with refinancing to ensure it’s not only beneficial for you, but that it also frees up your finances. Get in touch today so we can discuss your options.

Managing risk when growing your business

Managing risk when growing your business

It’s a risky business being in business for yourself, so knowing how to identify and manage risk is an important part of running a thriving business.

Anything that impedes a company’s ability to achieve its financial goals is considered a risk, and there are many issues that have the potential to derail a successful business. Some of these can ruin a business, while others can cause serious damage that is difficult to recover from.

However, taking risks is an essential part of growing a business – it’s how you thrive and expand. The key to achieving the rewards that come with risk and avoiding the devastation that can occur, is identifying and actively managing your business risk.

Assessing your tolerance for risk

The first step is to think about what level of risk you are comfortable with. A range of factors influence your appetite for risk including your individual circumstances, financial resources, specific industry dynamics, economic conditions, and business goals.

It’s important to acknowledge the relationship between risk and reward. High-risk activities may provide the potential for significant returns when you are going for growth but are also associated with greater uncertainty and the potential for larger losses.

Not all risk is equal

Some types of risk are best managed through insurance while others can be managed through thoughtful decision making and risk mitigation.

Risk taking is often associated with innovation and entrepreneurship and there are countless examples of reckless business behaviour that paid off – and as many examples that did not pay off. To expand, evolve and stay relevant in a changing marketplace, businesses may need to take calculated risks. This can encompass the development of new services or targeting a different client base, employing staff, developing new products, the adoption of emerging technologies, or exploring new markets.

Taking calculated risks involves some planning – conducting research, gathering supporting data and considering possible outcomes before making a decision. Informed, calculated decisions have a greater chance of success and doing your homework is a great way to mitigate risk in business.

Managing business risk

There are many ways to manage business risk, depending on the type of risk. Threats come in many shapes and forms and can include strategic, compliance, operational, environmental, and reputational, but one of the most fundamental risks is that of the business no longer being financially viable. All the above can impact a businesses’ bottom line so when considering your strategies, it’s a good idea to identify the risks that could affect your business’s ability to meet its financial obligations.

Setting up and maintaining a cash reserve is critical for small businesses, particularly ones with narrow margins. Half of all small businesses hold a cash buffer of less than one month which may not be adequate.i A cash reserve is a great risk mitigation strategy as it can help you get back on your feet when faced with an adverse event.

Keep an eye on cashflow

Growing a business can put pressure on cashflow, and managing your cashflow is a powerful way of managing your business risk.

If you have not already done so, creating, and maintaining a cash flow forecast helps you anticipate and cash shortages. Monitoring your cash flow over time gives you visibility of your financial situation and an understanding of any seasonal ebbs and flows.

Some things you can do to manage your cashflow include being responsive with invoicing and chasing overdue payments. Negotiate payment terms that support your cashflow requirements and consider offering incentives for early payments or penalties for overdue invoices.

For many businesses, one of the leading causes of cash flow shortfalls is overstocking, which increases the amount of cash you have locked up in your stock. Effective inventory management and working with suppliers to reduce lead times can assist with cashflow.

We can help you develop solid cash flow management and provide expert advice to make growing your business less of a risky proposition.

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