Posts Tagged ‘financial security’

Insurance in super – is your cover adequate?

Friday, January 5th, 2018

If you’ve got super, you probably have some life insurance included. It’s an easy way to get a basic level of cover, but is it enough to give you and your family true peace of mind?

More than 70% of Australians hold life insurance policies, and more than 13.5 million separate policies, through their super funds.¹ Yet despite this, under-insurance remains a huge problem in Australia.

Rice Warner estimates that the median level of life cover in super meets only 60% of the basic needs for the average household, and less for families with children. The position is even worse where total and permanent disability (TPD) and income protection cover are concerned. The median level of cover in super will provide just 13% of TPD needs, and 17% of income protection needs.

Of course, some insurance is better than no insurance, and insurance in super is convenient to set up and pay for. But it comes with a couple of points to be aware of, and this is where professional advice is invaluable.

Limited cover

Firstly, a portion of your super is used to pay the insurance premium. This can help your cash flow if money is tight, but it also means you may not be contributing as much to your retirement savings as you thought.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that super funds offer standardised ‘off the shelf’ policies that may not suit your needs. This helps keep costs down, but that’s no consolation if your policy falls short when you need it most.

Because the insurer pays your super fund which then pays you, it may take longer to receive the money. What’s more, unless you make a binding nomination, the fund trustees have the ultimate say in who receives benefits when you die. Your beneficiaries may also be taxed more heavily than they would if you held the insurance outside super.

A tailored solution

Your insurance needs are as individual as you are, and should be reviewed regularly along with your other financial affairs. Whenever your circumstances change – if you marry, have a child, or buy a new home for instance – your life insurance should be reviewed.

It’s easy to underestimate what it would cost to ensure your family is able to maintain their current lifestyle, come what may. It’s important not to forget partners who don’t earn an income and may not necessarily have cover in their super, particularly where dependent children are involved.

Take the example of Mark, whose wife Suzy, 43, passed away suddenly after an illness. Thankfully, the couple had arranged a full suite of insurance cover in and outside their super. Mark claimed on Suzy’s life insurance which covered his mortgage, credit card and car loan repayments; it also allowed him to hire a part-time nanny to help with their two children.

Getting additional insurance outside super can be a little more expensive, but you will have access to a wider range of policies that can be tailored to your individual needs. Some policies, such as Trauma insurance, can only be bought outside super.

Even if you have some level of cover inside super, it’s important to do your sums to work out exactly how much your family would need to maintain your current lifestyle if you or your partner were to die or become seriously ill. It may take a little time, but with so much at stake, guesstimates won’t do, and we would be only too happy to assist. 

¹ Ricewarner, Insurance through superannuation, 20 April 2016.

Article by TAL

The benefits of consolidating your super

Friday, January 5th, 2018

If you’ve had a few jobs over the years, it’s possible that you’ve got a few different super funds with small balances in each. It’s easy to forget all about them until the annual statements arrive, but the sudden influx of paperwork can often leave you feeling dazed and confused.

The Australian Securities and Investment Commission reports that there are billions of dollars sitting in unclaimed or “lost” superannuation accounts as at 1 January 2017, with thousands more accounts added to the list each month. Inactive accounts with balances of less than $6,000 are transferred to the ATO, so if you think you might have some old superannuation accounts, don’t hand it over the government, claim it!

This year, instead of ‘filing’ your statements in the bottom drawer and forgetting all about it until next year, take the plunge and consider consolidating your accounts. That way, you’ll be saving fees, reducing your paperwork, and making it easier to keep track of arguably one of the most valuable investments you’ll ever make – your retirement savings.

Here’s a few steps to get you on your way:

Choose your fund – talk to us so we can sit down and help you decide which super fund is best for you.

Check your insurance – before you start closing your accounts, we can help you make sure your insurance needs are covered in your chosen fund.

Advise your employer – make sure your employer knows where to pay your super guarantee contributions – speak to your payroll or HR about any paperwork they may need from you or your fund.

Rollover your other accounts to your chosen fund – you can do this online through the myGov website, or you can transfer your super by using a form and sending it to your chosen fund. Some funds have an online process for combining your super too, so it’s a good idea to check what’s going to be easiest.

Visit the SuperSeeker service at www.ato.gov.au or via your MyGov account at www.my.gov.au for more info.

As always, we’re here to help, you so if you’d like to talk this though, give us a call. We would love the opportunity to assist you in your journey to a better financial future.

Article by TAL

New year, new start

Monday, March 13th, 2017

how to make New Year’s resolutions that stick

How many of last year’s New Year’s resolutions did you keep? If you can’t even remember them all a year later, let alone whether you stuck to them, you’re not alone. One survey found that 58% of Aussies break their resolutions within the year. And 15% of those do so because they forgot what they promised they’d do in the first place.i

That doesn’t mean that you can’t set and achieve things you actually want. You just have to be smart about the way you do it.

Turn visions in to goals

When someone asks you to picture your ideal lifestyle, what you see in your head is actually a collection of dozens of different goals. It’s important to break it down and articulate those goals if you want your vision to become a reality.

This is easier than it sounds. Just say you want to ‘enjoy life more’. To make a start on this, you could write down a list of social activities and hobbies you love doing or would really like to try. Then turn each one in to a task that fits with your schedule and can be planned ahead of time, like ‘Make a date with a friend twice a week’ or ‘Book in for an evening class every month’. If your schedule is jam packed, set corresponding time management goals like ‘Leave work on time at least 3 out of 5 days’.

Tell people

Think of your friends and family as your cheerleaders and supporters in reaching your goals. If you tell them what you’re aiming for and why, they’ll be better able to help you. They might even be able to join you on your way. For example, if you decide you want to lose weight and get fitter, ask around for a gym buddy or someone to join you on walks. Or if you’re ready to make a change in your career, start putting the word out amongst your network, that you’re open to new opportunities.

Give yourself (the right amount of) time

Yearly goals, especially ongoing ones, can be hard to keep track of. Try to work out a reasonable time frame for your goal. Some small things might be quicker, and feel less significant – but you can always build on your results. And some things just take time. For example, you’re unlikely to save up for a new car or lose 20 kilos in a month. But you might lose two kilos, or save X-percent of the amount you need. Consultant Todd Herman reckons the ideal time frame for the brain to plan around is 90 days, and that it’s better to do a series of goals ‘sprints’ rather than one long marathon.

Keep track of your progress

If you’re the kind of person who uses to-do lists – on paper, in an app, or in project management software – you’ll know how satisfying it is to tick something off. If you’re not in the habit of keeping lists, now is the time to start. Your list shouldn’t just be one point – your resolution with a check box next to it. Break it down in to smaller milestones. Say you’ve resolved to improve your diet – set yourself little achievements like ‘went a whole week without eating favourite junk food’. To make it fun, try a smart phone game like Habitica.ii

Don’t wait ‘til December 31st

It might be a New Year tradition, but you don’t have to wait for one particular time of year to set goals and resolve to change your life. With the right attitude and a bit of planning, you can start working your way towards a goal any time.

Speaking of this, we’re here to help you set and achieve your money-related goals. Don’t wait for an annual appointment to chat; drop us a line any time, we’d love to hear from you!

i. finder.com.au, Be a geek and live in Tasmania: How to win at New Year’s resolutions

ii. Habitica

General Advice Warning This information is of a general nature only and neither represents nor is intended to be specific advice on any particular matter. Michael J Berinson Pty Ltd strongly suggests that no person should act specifically on the basis of the information contained herein but should seek appropriate professional advice based upon their own personal circumstances. Although we consider the sources for this material reliable, no warranty is given and no liability is accepted for any statement or opinion or for any error or omission.

Make your super last

Friday, November 18th, 2016

3d-person-getting-it-right

Australians enjoy one of the highest life expectancies in the world, which means you can look forward to a long and healthy retirement. Here’s how to make sure your super lasts.

Did you know that Australia is now one of just four countries in the world where both men and women can expect to live into their eighties?¹ While that’s fantastic news, it also makes saving for retirement more important than ever.

Almost half of Australians over age 40 are worried about outliving their retirement savings, while many are confused about the best way to achieve the retirement lifestyle they dream of.² But by getting good advice and planning ahead now, you can take control and enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing your future may be secure.

Work out how much you need

The first step is to figure out how much income you want to receive each year in retirement, and how much you may need to save in order to get there.

Plan for different stages of retirement

It’s also important to think about how your spending patterns may change during your retirement, to plan ahead accordingly.

For example, in the early stages when you’re at your most active, you’re likely to need more funds for travel, sports and recreation. Then, as you enter a more relaxed phase of retirement, you’ll need to be ready for possible health issues, so you can afford the care you need as medical treatments are becoming more sophisticated and more expensive every year.

When you crunch the numbers, you may find you’re facing a super gap. An effective way to grow your super savings while potentially paying less tax may be via salary sacrifice.

You may also want to keep your options open for the later years when you may need more intensive health support, including specialised accommodation.

Also don’t forget to factor in lump sum spending on big ticket items, such as home renovations or a new car. Because, as retirements grow longer, our cars and appliances are increasingly likely to fade away before we do.

Boost your super

When you crunch the numbers, you may find you’re facing a super gap. An effective way to grow your super savings while potentially paying less tax may be via salary sacrifice.

Even a small contribution can make a big difference over time, as you earn returns on your contributions. When you invest pre-tax income through salary sacrifice, you may also benefit from the 15% concessional tax rate on super contributions, putting you even further ahead.

Currently you can contribute $30,000 a year up to the age of 50 in concessionally taxed super contributions (which include employer super guarantee contributions), or $35,000 if you’re aged 50 or over. Note – changes to super come into effect in 2017.

Finally, if there is a large sum you will like to contribute to super, you will need advice as there have been dramatic changes to how contributions are made.

Review your investment option

Our super is one of our most valuable assets, so it’s not surprising many of us seek to protect it by investing in a low risk option. But it’s also important to remember that trying too hard to avoid risk today could expose you to a greater risk — running out of money tomorrow, when your savings don’t produce the returns you need for a comfortable retirement. So it’s important to choose the right investment option for your goals and investment time-frame.

That’s where personalised advice from a professional adviser can make a difference. Your adviser can help you calculate how much super you’ll need, then find the best strategy to reach your goal. Talk to your adviser today, call our office to book a meeting.

¹Australian Bureau of Statistics, Aussie men now expected to live past 80, 2014.
² Investment Trends, Retirement Income Report, December 2013.
Article by Colonial First State

Give yourself more flexibility in the lead up to retirement

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

take-control-your-retirement

Nowadays, we’re living for years longer than ever before. 60 is no longer old age! So it makes sense that you want the flexibility to approach retirement in a way that suits you. A transition to retirement strategy enables you to access part of your super while you are still working and has a number of benefits.

Boost your super and supplement your income

There are two main benefits of a transition to retirement strategy:

Maximising your super – You can continue to work while drawing an income from an account-based pension. By doing this you can salary sacrifice as much of your pre-tax salary to super as possible while receiving an income from your pension. This allows you to increase your retirement savings without reducing your income. This can also be extremely tax-effective because pension payments are generally taxed at a lower rate than your salary.

Supplementing your income – If you want to move into part-time work before you retire but don’t want your income to drop you can use your pension to supplement your salary.

Ease yourself into retirement

You can choose different transition to retirement strategies depending on what is most important to you. If you believe you have enough retirement savings you could still benefit from a transition to retirement strategy. For example, if you wanted to renovate your home before retirement you could keep working full-time and use the extra income from your transition to retirement pension to pay for the work. That way you get your home improvements done before retirement without taking on any debt.

Are you eligible?

You can take advantage of a transition to retirement strategy if you meet the following conditions:

You are aged between 56 and 65 years of age
You are still working
You transfer some, or all, of your super account to a transition to retirement pension

Important considerations for high income earners

It you earn a high income it’s important to consider the concessional contributions cap before deciding to salary sacrifice as part of a transition to retirement strategy. If you exceed the concessional contributions cap, which is currently $35,000 for the 2015-2016 financial year, you may be taxed an extra 31.5% tax on any contributions above the cap.

Set it up right from the start

Transition to retirement strategies can provide significant tax savings and benefits, but they can be complicated. For this reason we strongly recommend that you talk to us in the lead up to retirement, so that the strategy you put in place is right for your personal situation. Come in and have a free, no obligation initial chat, and then take it from there. 

Being prepared for surprises – good and bad – is a smart financial strategy

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

worried-man-with-hands-on-head

While none of us can predict the future, we can do a lot to lessen the shock that can arise from unexpected events and emergencies at any time of life. For retirees relying on investments for day-to-day living, having a contingency plan means you’ll be prepared for any surprises that could derail your financial security and lifestyle goals.

Your financial plan has you on the right foot, but it can be a good idea to make sure you have a sufficient safety net to protect your retirement income, and other long-term investments, from one-off or cascading personal life events that can crop up at any time, which especially affect people at or after retirement. Examples include sudden illness, an accident or disability, the death of a spouse, or those same events affecting close family members such as children, siblings or aging parents. It’s also not unusual for changes to superannuation benefits or pensions to affect retiree expenses.

Other surprise expenditures that can interrupt your income stream might be emergency repairs to your home and investment properties due to everyday wear and tear or a severe weather event; maintaining the family car; or if a beloved pet racks up a large bill from the veterinarian. Having a savings safety net can also come in handy should you need to help out a relative, such as a son or daughter losing a job, or suffering unexpected health or life costs.

Your financial plan may already include a savings safety net – if so, that’s great news. However if you set your plan in place some time ago, you may want to consider talking to your financial planner to ensure that you have enough flexibility in case of a rainy day. Insurance provides another form of safety net, helping you to deal with unexpected losses.

From general insurance covering fire, flood and theft of property and vehicles to life insurance that provides important financial support to a family, many of us take a set and forget approach to our policies. But take the time to review your protection, checking that values are still up to date, perhaps organising for new quotes on policies, and making sure that you are covered for the events of concern to you.

Mind the gap

Preparing for events that may never happen can be overwhelming, but it’s really a matter of managing the gap between enough funds to cover your retirement goals, and a safety net of savings to protect those funds. That’s the ideal scenario, but many retirees and those approaching retirement are carrying more debt than ever before. Average mortgages and other property loans held by people approaching age 65 have more than doubled since 2002, and credit card debt is up 70 per cent, according to a report by Kellyresearch. 1

The report also shows that “increases in wealth through rising asset values, easy credit, and higher earnings” have led to a higher standard of living for working households.2 But a higher standard of living based on debt is unsustainable. That’s why retirees need to be careful about debt liability and having a focus on building up superannuation to the detriment of other forms of saving, because both approaches lock up funds that may need to be accessed quickly. That’s where contingency planning comes in.

1. Household savings and retirement: Where has all my super gone? A report on superannuation and retirement for CPA Australia by KELLYresearch, October 2012.
2. Ibid.

SOURCE: Colonial First State Investments Limited