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To sell or not to sell is the question for moving into aged care

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What’s all the noise about loud budgeting?

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When DIY does not pay off

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Going For Gold Considerations For Investors

Gold fever is in the air and it’s not just the prospect of medals at the upcoming Paris Olympics.

Gold prices have been climbing strongly in 2024 as investors, jittery about the effects of wars in the Middle East and Ukraine, buy up the asset because of its reputation as a safe haven. The spot price has risen more than 18 per cent since mid-February.i

Demand for the precious metal is also being driven by central banks adding to their gold reserves to hedge against currency and other market risks.

Turkey, China and India were the biggest buyers of gold in the first half of 2024, aiming to reduce exposure to US dollar movements and to further diversify their reserve funds.ii The United States remains the largest gold depository in the world by far, holding two-and-a-half times more than Germany, the next on the list.iii

For investors, gold has been an alluring buy for centuries thanks to its association with wealth and power. As a precious metal and a physical asset, it often attracts a certain confidence, which is sometimes misplaced.

Controversial history

Gold has always played an important and, at times, controversial role in the global monetary system.

For example, during the Great Depression in the 1930s, the US government forced its citizens to sell their gold at well below market rates to help stabilise the economy. Then a new official rate was set at a higher price. It was the beginning of the end for the gold standard worldwide, the monetary system that pegs a currency’s value to gold.

After World War Two, a new international monetary order was negotiated that saw the US dollar pegged to gold with other currencies linked to the dollar’s value. The USD was convertible to gold bullion at a fixed rate of US$35 per troy ounce.iv

But increasing global financial instability and criticism from European nations eventually led to the system being abandoned by the 1970s when floating exchange rates were introduced.

Patchy performance

Day traders might be lucky enough at times to buy or sell gold for a decent profit by correctly guessing when to get in or out but, generally speaking, gold is not an easy investment to love.

Over the longer term, it hasn’t always beaten inflation, the price can plunge at a time when market conditions suggest it should be rising and its performance against stocks and bonds has been varied.

In fact, there have been long periods of persistently low prices. It languished for around six years from 1988 before recovering and then again for the decade or so leading up to the beginning of COVID-19 in 2020. The uncertainty of the pandemic-era helped spark a rally that has increased the price by almost 38 per cent.

Gold Prices (1970’s – today)

Source: tradingeconomics.com

Pros and cons

So, is gold worth considering as part of a portfolio? As with any investment, there are pros and cons.

Like many other asset classes, gold can help to diversify a portfolio and reduce certain risks. During stock market downturns, gold prices often (but not always) begin to rise. Some investors like the idea that it is a scarce, physical asset and, despite its ups and downs, gold has tended to hold its value over time.

At times gold has provided a good hedge against inflation. For example, in the US between 1974 and 2008, there were eight years when inflation was high and during those times, gold prices rose by an average of 14.9 per cent annually.v But different periods give different results. While US CPI growth was around 6.8 per cent in 2021 and 2022, gold prices were achieving an annual increase of just over 1 per cent.

How to invest

You don’t need to lug home gold bars and hide them under the bed to have a stake in a gold investment.

Of course, it is possible to own gold bullion by buying online or in person from one of a number of registered dealers in Australia. The actual gold can be delivered to you or held in storage for a fee. You could also own physical gold by buying jewellery although there are high mark ups and resale value isn’t assured.

The ASX provides the avenue to buy shares in one or more of the many gold mining companies. You’ll need to do your homework carefully to consider the credentials of the companies. Some are riskier than others depending on the countries in which they operate and their size.

You could also consider exchange traded funds (ETFs) that are linked to or track the gold price. One advantage is provided by the funds that hedge currency risk so that your returns won’t be affected by differences in the US dollar. Although with any fund, you’ll need to factor in an annual management fee, which will reduce your ultimate return. If you’re interested in achieving a balanced portfolio, we’d be happy to help you.

Gold – Price – Chart – Historical Data – News (tradingeconomics.com)
ii 
https://www.statista.com/statistics/1465127/gold-demand-central-banks-by-country/
iii 
https://www.nasdaq.com/articles/top-10-central-bank-gold-reserves-updated-2024
iv 
How the Bretton Woods System Changed the World (investopedia.com)
Is Gold An Inflation Hedge? – Forbes Advisor

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The art of refinancing

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Intergenerational Wealth Winter 2024

Intergenerational Wealth Winter 2024

With Winter now officially underway, some might be heading north to warm up and others may lean into the cold on the snowfields. Whichever you choose, don’t forget the approaching end of financial year.

A slight increase in the Consumer Price Index last month, to 3.6% from 3.5% in March, has led some economists to predict we’ll be waiting longer for the first official interest rate cuts, perhaps until the end of next year, with little to no chance of a rate rise in the meantime. While inflation has been relatively stable over the past five months, this is the second monthly increase in a row. The biggest price increases were in the housing, food and beverages, alcohol and tobacco, and transport sectors. Retail spending continues to be weak. The 0.1% increase in turnover in April wasn’t enough to make up for a 0.4% drop in March.

The higher-than-expected inflation figures saw Australian share prices take a tumble after reaching a welcome high mid-month. The ASX200 finished the month on a positive note, slightly higher for the month of May. In the US, troubles in the tech sector and a global bond sell-off saw small losses on the Dow, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 while European markets in London, France and Germany also finished the month on a low.

A strong US dollar along with the uptick in Australia’s inflation data saw the Aussie dollar fall from a mid-month peak of just over US67 cents.

How to end the financial year on a high note

As the financial year draws to a close, it’s the perfect time to review your financial affairs and set the stage for a successful new financial year. By taking care of essential tasks and implementing strategic planning, you can position yourself for a smooth transition and a strong start for the year to come.

Topping up super

One important item for the To Do list is to top up your super with either concessional (pre-tax) or non-concessional (post-tax) contributions. For example, you could make a voluntary concessional contribution up to the limit allowed and then claim a tax deduction on your personal assessable income for it.

Consider making additional contributions to your own super account or your spouse’s account, to take advantage of tax concessions.

If you have unused concessional cap amounts from the previous five years and a super balance less than $500,000 on June 30 the previous year, you may be eligible to make a catch-up (or carry-forward) contribution greater than the annual limit.

Maximising contributions not only helps you build your retirement savings but can also provide valuable tax benefits. But it’s critical to be mindful of your caps and to ensure that you make any super contributions before the end of the financial year to meet the deadline.

Reviewing investments

Reviewing your investment portfolio is a valuable task at any time but particularly now.

For example, you could take a look for any capital gains or losses that could be used strategically to manage your tax liability.

Also, it is worth considering how your portfolio performed over the past 12 months against your goal of capital growth, income, or balance.

You may decide to readjust your goals or your investments to help steer performance in the right direction for the next 12 months.

Of course, if you’re planning any changes, it’s important to check in with us to ensure you’re making informed decisions about your investments.

Paying expenses early

Another useful strategy at tax time can be to bring forward any deductible expenses or interest payments before 30 June to reduce your taxable income.

That could include incurring expenses on an investment property, prepaying interest on investment loans, making charitable donations, or claiming eligible work-related expenses.

Make sure you keep detailed records and receipts to support your deductions.

The ATO’s myDeductions app is a great place to start for free record keeping and to assist you to be ready for tax time.

Setting up salary sacrifice

As you look ahead to the new financial year, consider whether a salary sacrifice arrangement might be right for you.

Salary sacrifice allows you to divert a portion of your pre-tax salary directly into your superannuation, which effectively reduces your taxable income and boosts your retirement savings.

You will need to think carefully about your living expenses to work out the amount you can afford to contribute to your super, ensuring you do not exceed your concessional (before-tax) contributions cap of $27,500 (which will increase to $30,000 from July 1 2024) to avoid paying any extra tax.

Your employer or payroll department can help you set up a salary sacrifice arrangement.

Checking your budget

This is a good time to revisit your financial goals and how you’re tracking, and then put together a strong budget for the new financial year that will help get you further along the track.

Take the time to review your income and expenses and identify any areas where you can cut back spending or improve your income.

This exercise not only helps you understand your financial habits but also allows you to reallocate funds towards your goals, such as paying down debt, building an emergency fund, or increasing your investment contributions.

Consult with professionals

Don’t forget to check in with your trusted advisers – financial advisers, accountants, or tax professionals – to make sure you are making the most of any opportunities for financial growth and maximising tax savings.

Taking advantage of our expert advice to review your current financial situation and goals, and check that you are making the best decisions for you can make a difference. It provides peace of mind, ensures that you are complying with any obligations and, importantly, puts you in the best position to achieve your financial goals.

Investment Property: Getting it right

With property remaining a high-priced asset, it’s more important than ever for investors to ensure their property investments are a financial success.

The latest data demonstrates property’s popularity. One-in-five households (21%) owns a home in addition to their usual residence.i

Maximising taxation benefits is one key element but the ATO recently found 9 out of 10 returns were incorrect, so it’s essential to check your paperwork as we approach the end of the financial year.ii

Get your structure right

As with any investment asset, ensuring the right ownership structure for a property asset is vital because it can make a big difference to your tax position each financial year.

It’s also sensible to check if you are using the right structure to help protect your investment from creditors, provide income in retirement, or cope with the unexpected death of a part-owner.

Managing the loan

Once you establish your investment loan, tax still remains a consideration. Any deductions you claim for your loan expenses must directly relate to earning assessable rental income.iii

In cases where money from the loan is used for both private and income-producing purposes (such as a property partly used for rental and partly as your home), you must split your claims into deductible and non-deductible amounts.

If you use the redraw facility on your home’s mortgage to fund an investment property, you won’t be able to claim the interest as a deduction if you subsequently use your family home as a rental. There are also capital gains tax (CGT) implications with this strategy.iv

Costs related to loan establishment fees cannot be claimed as a deduction upfront and must be spread over the term of the loan or a five-year period, whichever is shorter.v

Rental deduction dangers

Although many investors focus on the tax deductions they can claim from a property asset, both rental income and deductions are key areas of ATO interest.

Detailed records are required to substantiate all claims and any rental income from ‑short-term arrangements and insurance payouts must be included in your return.vi

You also need to be careful not to overclaim. Many new investors make the mistake of claiming an immediate deduction for initial repairs after purchasing a property. Existing damage must be claimed over several years as a capital works deduction and is used when working out your capital gain or loss when selling.vii

Deductions such as advertising for tenants, professional property management, council rates, land tax and strata fees, building and landlord insurance, and pest control can only be claimed for time periods directly connected to earning income.

Depreciation or capital works?

Property investors are able to claim a wide range of deductions for expenses associated with maintaining and financing property assets, but care is needed.

Claims for depreciation of assets with a limited effective life (such as freestanding furniture, washing machines and TVs), can be made each year, but deductions for capital works must be spread over 40 years following construction. Capital works include improvements or alterations such as adding a driveway or altering the building.viii

Improvements such as renovating a bathroom, are a building cost and must be claimed at 2.5 per cent annually over 40 years from completion.ix

Check your CGT

When it comes time to sell your investment, an important consideration is capital gains tax (CGT). The key to making your investment tax-effective is to ensure you have identified all legitimate expenses contributing to the property’s cost base so you can correctly calculate the capital gain or loss.

The property’s cost base includes the price paid plus your buying and selling costs (such as stamp duty, legal fees and the agent’s commission). You are not permitted to include amounts already claimed as a deduction, including depreciation and capital works.

Any capital gain must be included in your tax return for the income year the property is sold, while capital losses can be carried forward and used in future years.

To ensure you are making the most of your investment assets, call our office today.

Housing Occupancy and Costs, 2019-20 financial year | Australian Bureau of Statistics (abs.gov.au)
ii 
https://www.ato.gov.au/Media-centre/Speeches/Commissioner/Commissioner-s-address-to-the-Tax-Institute-s-Tax-Summit-2022/
iii, iv 
https://www.ato.gov.au/api/public/content/530c1d629e07404aa4405dbe664b8011?v=0ced7a8c
https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/investments-and-assets/residential-rental-properties/top-10-tips-to-help-rental-property-owners
vi 
https://www.ato.gov.au/Media-centre/Media-releases/Get-your-rental-right-this-tax-time/
vii, ix 
https://www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/Investments-and-assets/Residential-rental-properties/Top-10-tips-to-help-rental-property-owners/
viii 
https://www.ato.gov.au/tax-and-super-professionals/for-tax-professionals/prepare-and-lodge/tax-time/tax-time-toolkits/tax-time-toolkit-for-investor

Enjoy the now and secure your future

Managing your financial situation always involves tension between how you live your life now and preparing for your future – whatever that looks like.

The worry about not getting the balance right and making unnecessary sacrifices now – or not having enough money for the things you want to do in the future is a common and valid concern we hear when we talk to clients. You want to be living your best life now which means not living too frugally or worrying about your future. At the same time, you don’t want the choices you are making now in how you live your life to impact or make impossible the wonderful life you envision for yourself down the track.

Balance whatever your stage of life

We all have financial goals – whether you are saving for your children’s education, working towards that once in a lifetime round the world trip, freeing up finances for a gap year, or setting yourself up for a wonderful retirement. It’s important to balance your ‘now’ with your ‘future’ when it comes to spending, saving, and investing to make sure you can achieve those goals. You don’t want to regret your spending – or on the other hand live a frugal life and look back on opportunities you missed while you were squirrelling it away.

The tension between the ‘now’ and your ‘future’ with respect to your finances can be even more heightened when you have retired. It can be a strange adjustment suddenly not having a wage coming in and living off your savings, super and investments. It’s common, and quite understandable, to worry about not having enough to last the distance, particularly given that a 65-year-old today may live well into their 90’s and could spend up to three decades in retirement.i No one wants to outlive their savings.

However, many retirees live unnecessarily frugal lives as evidenced by a 2020 Retirement Income Review which found that most people die with the bulk of their retirement wealth intact.ii Those that live frugally do so often not from necessity but because they don’t have an understanding of their financial needs, including how these will change over time, and how much they can afford to spend.

How the balance changes over time

That balance is hard to hit. It is different for different people, and your approach to saving and spending will change at various stages of your life.

If you are paying off a difficult to maintain level of debt or in the final stages of scraping together a deposit for a home, making sacrifices now in the way you live life your life might feel OK. Equally if you have spent much of your life building wealth, letting loose the reins a little and going on that cruise might be something you are extremely comfortable with.

Certainty now and confidence in the future

Whatever your stage of life, achieving the right balance comes from having an in-depth understanding of your financial situation now, and establishing and maintaining a personalised plan that takes into account all aspects of your financials – your earning capacity, level of debt, assets and very importantly, the life you want to live today and your goals for the future.

The importance of receiving support with financial planning is reinforced in a recent report which indicated advised Australians are significantly more likely to say they feel confident in achieving their financial goals (71 per cent) compared with those who are not receiving support (55 per cent).iii

The same proportion said that they were living well now, stating their finances allow them to “do the things I want and enjoy in life.” And those receiving advice are also balancing the “now” with their future needs. Those accessing financial advice also indicated they were more likely to be financially prepared for retirement and have a higher savings balance.

This confidence that comes from receiving personalised advice also means being more prepared when people leave the workforce (and a wage) behind. Advised Australians are significantly more likely to feel very or reasonably prepared for retirement (76 per cent), than those without advice (45 per cent).iv

The key to achieving a balance between living your best life now and being financially secure in the future is knowledge. If we know that tomorrow is shaping up well for us, we may worry a little less today, feel a little less guilty when we spend today and be less likely to have regrets about spending – or about missing out – further down the track.

https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/life-expectancy-deaths/deaths-in-australia/contents/life-expectancy
ii 
https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2021-02/p2020-100554-ud00b_key_obs.pdf
iii 
https://www.netwealth.com.au/web/insights/the-advisable-australian/understanding-australian-advice-clients-better/#download
iv 
https://www.netwealth.com.au/web/insights/the-advisable-australian/understanding-australian-advice-clients-better

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What does the Federal Budget mean for me 2024-25

What does the Federal Budget mean for me?

Treasurer Jim Chalmers has high hopes that his 2024 Federal Budget will rein in inflation earlier than expected, ease cost-of-living pressures and build a stronger economy in the future.

It’s a Budget for the here and now, he says, but also for the decades to come.

More than $8.4 billion has been allocated to quick-fix cost-of-living adjustments along with the previously announced Stage 3 tax cuts and the waiving of $3 billion in student debt.

With a federal election due next year, the Federal Government has announced spending of almost $83 billion on housing, infrastructure, health and a Future Made in Australia project to build a more resilient economy for the future.

The big picture

While Treasury is forecasting a $9.3 billion surplus for 2023-24 after the previous year’s $22.1 billion surplus, the books will look considerably different the following year with a $28.3 billion forecast deficit expected.

That’s against a backdrop of an uncertain global economic outlook with wars in the Middle East and Ukraine as well as slowing growth in China and elsewhere.

“Most advanced economies recorded subdued outcomes during 2023, with around a third of OECD nations recording a technical recession,” notes Treasury in the Budget papers.

“Global inflation has moderated but remains too high, and there are risks it will persist. Tackling inflation remains the primary focus but, as inflationary pressures abate and labour markets soften, the global policy focus will increasingly shift to managing risks to growth.”

There are some bright spots for Australia though.

Treasury is forecasting inflation could return to the target rate of between 2 and 3 per cent earlier, perhaps by the end of the year, the Treasurer says.

Jobs growth is stronger here than in any major advanced economy and real wages are growing again for the first time in almost three years.

Cost of living

This year’s Budget aims to help out those struggling to pay the bills with a range of tax cuts and subsidies.

Every taxpayer will pay less tax as part of the Stage 3 tax cuts announced earlier this year. The average tax cut is $36 a week or an annual $1,888.

More than 10 million households will receive a total rebate of $300 on their electricity bills and eligible businesses will receive $325.

The gsays its Energy Bill Relief Plan has kept electricity price increases to two per cent through the year to the March quarter this year. Without it, prices would have increased by 14.9 per cent.

While it won’t provide immediate relief, the government has grocery prices in its sights. It’s taking steps to make a Food and Grocery Code mandatory with penalties up to 10 per cent of turnover for major breaches. It also directed the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to investigate pricing and competition in the supermarket sector.

Commonwealth Rent Assistance has been increased by a further 10 per cent, there is a $138 million boost to emergency relief funding and financial support services, and the freeze on the deeming rate for income support recipients has been extended. The deeming rates are used by Centrelink to predict earnings from super and investments over the 12 months ahead. The lower deeming rate will remain at 0.25 per cent and the upper rate will remain at 2.25 per cent until 30 June 2025.

Anyone with a student debt will welcome a change to the indexation rate for the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP). The government says it will cut $3 billion in student debt for more than three million Australians.

Health

Medicines can be a big cost for many people and a new $3 billion agreement with community pharmacies is expected to help. The government is expecting the deal to deliver cheaper medicines and better patient health.

There will be a one-year freeze on the maximum patient co-payment and a five-year freeze for pensioners and other concession cardholders. This change means that no pensioner or concession card holder will pay more than $7.70 (plus any applicable manufacturer premiums) for up to five years.

Almost half of Australians live with a chronic health condition and the Budget provides more than $141 million for research and services for conditions including bowel and skin cancer, diabetes and dementia.

The government is also providing an extra $411 million to the Medical Research Fund to continue research for low-survival cancers.

And, in a strengthened mental health package, the government has committed more than $888 million over eight years to improve access to services and support.

Aged care

Providing further support for the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, the Budget allocates $2.2 million to develop a new Aged Care Act. The Act is expected to establish a new Support at Home program and improve the standard of in-home aged care.

An extra 24,100 Home Care Packages will also be made available to reduce waiting times and wait times for the My Aged Care Contact Centre will be reduced.

Meanwhile, the government has allocated funding to beef up the regulatory capabilities of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

To support fair wages for care workers, the government has committed to fund a further increase in the award wage for direct and indirect aged care workers. The government is also providing $87.2 million for initiatives to attract nurses and other workers into aged care.

Housing

With housing affordability affecting millions of Australians, the government has allocated $6.2 billion in the Budget on a range of initiatives.

There’s a further $1 billion for states and territories to deliver new housing, more student accommodation, an increase in funds for homelessness services and more concessional loans for community housing providers.

The Build to Rent market will receive a boost with a plan to allow foreign investors to purchase developments with a lower foreign investment fee.

The government is also supporting 20,000 new fee-free TAFE places for courses in the construction sector.

Infrastructure

The government aims to stimulate the economies of the states and territories with funding for a number of major infrastructure projects.

There’s $21.6 billion for Queensland over 10 years for projects including the Sunshine Coast rail line and Bruce Highway works; $20.8 billion over 10 years for NSW for various road upgrades; $19.2 million in Victoria for the North East Link and other projects.

Attracting investment

Aiming to shore up Australia’s economic fortunes, the government has created a comprehensive package of projects to lift our manufacturing industry and position us to take advantage of net zero.

The Treasurer says the world’s commitment to net zero by 2050 will demand “the biggest transformation in the global economy since the industrial revolution”.

He believes Australia’s energy, resources, regions, researchers and workers can all play a part in creating a “renewable energy superpower”.

To that end, the Budget includes $13.7 billion in production tax incentives for green hydrogen and processed critical minerals, $1.7 billion to develop new industries using green metals and low carbon fuels and $566 million to map the geological potential of the entire country to get a better picture of our critical minerals and groundwater.

There will be major work on attracting new investment by reforming investment settings and regulatory processes.

The government says it will make it simpler to invest in Australia to entice more capital both from overseas and at home. It will work with business, governments, unions, communities and other experts during 2024 to come up with the best approach.

Supporting women and families

With escalating rates of family violence and an alarming increase in the incidence of violence against women, the Budget includes funding to support a range of programs.

More than $925 million will be spent over five years to provide support for victim survivors leaving a violent intimate partner relationship and a program to strengthen accountability for systemic gender-based violence in higher education.

The government will invest more than $56 million over four years to improve access to sexual and reproductive healthcare for women including training GPs to provide better menopause care.

A newly released national gender equality strategy will drive government action on women’s safety, sharing, economic equality, health, leadership and representation.

In a move to take the pressure off parents, superannuation will be paid on government funded Paid Parental Leave (PPL) for parents of babies born or adopted on or after 1 July 2025.

Looking ahead

The stimulus provided by this Budget will bring some relief in the short term, but our economy will be relying on the big ideas, such as the Future Made in Australia project, to provide the resilience we need in an uncertain global economy.

Treasury is forecasting slow global growth and only 1.75 per cent growth in Australia this financial year and 2 per cent next year along with a significant deficit.

But the Treasurer is confident he has delivered “an inflation-fighting and future-making Budget” with “responsible relief that eases pressure on people and directly reduces inflation”.

It’s one that will “forge a new economy and a new generation of prosperity”, he says.

If you have any questions about the Budget measures announced, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Information in this article has been sourced from the Budget Speech 2024-25 and Federal Budget Support documents.

It is important to note that the policies outlined in this article are yet to be passed as legislation and therefore may be subject to change.

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Market movements and review video – May 2024

Stay up to date with what’s happened in markets and the Australian economy over the past month.

As eyes turn to the 2024-25 Federal Budget, stronger-than-expected domestic inflation was recorded for April.

The markets have been subdued due to geopolitical instability and uncertainty around cash rates both in Australia and the US.

The S&P/ASX 200 was down by about 2.5% for April.

Click the video below to view our update.

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Insurance is a sound investment

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Financial Planning Strategies for Your 30s: Maximizing Wealth with a Financial Planner in Melbourne