Most fights in marriages stem from money. Whether you have a lot or a little, if both parties don’t agree with how the finances are being spent, then there are going to be bumps in the road.

More often than not, one person will be wholly and solely responsible for the financial management of the household. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you’re both aware of what’s going on, and are on the same page. If, however, disagreements about money are a common occurrence in your home, then I daresay there are a few extra things you could be doing to ensure your finances are on track, and your marriage is free from financial squabbles. Here are 5 ways to be equal partners in your marital finances.

1. Have a meeting

I know it sounds a touch overboard, but I can tell you from experience, that communication is the key to success. It is important in any partnership where your finances are combined to have an open and honest discussion about money. This includes how much you have, what you need to live on, and what you are ultimately trying to achieve.

You need to think big picture here. Are you trying to retire by 40, did you want to invest, pay cash for the school fees? There is no right or wrong, but you need to agree together. Two people working towards a goal will get you where you need to go faster and keep you accountable to someone else.

2. Figure out the mandatory costs before you think about savings

Contrary to popular belief, it is more beneficial to figure out the mandatory living expenses before you decide how much you are going to save. If you don’t have a good idea of all of life’s costs like electricity, clothes, rent, food and petrol, how can you realistically decide how much you are going to be able to save.

Write down every expense that you would normally have throughout the year. Be honest, and be thorough. Once you have that figure (either yearly, monthly or weekly, it’s up to you), you can then figure out what you are left with to save. This is a more realistic idea as to what you can comfortably save whilst still ensuring all of your expenses are taken care of, and you never have to dip into the savings to keep yourself afloat.

… Communication is the key to success. It is important in any partnership where your finances are combined to have an open and honest discussion about money

3. Be understanding of your partner’s expenses

For partnerships to work well on the money front, you will need to accept that sometimes your partner will spend more on certain things than you, and visa versa. Remember, it’s their money too, so if it’s important for your partner to have money to play golf, for example, then don’t discount it straight away. If it’s available within the budget and you can still achieve your other goals, it’s important to be flexible. Remember it works both ways, so having a level of understanding of what is important to each other is all part of the communication process.

4. Get a third party point of view

Typically, having these types of conversations can be foreign to many people. Speaking to a professional financial planner can be a good way to nut out the important goals and get some direction. It will also help because a professional will be able to help you with the correct structuring and figuring out what is actually achievable.

5. Plan for emergencies

Regardless of how thorough you are with planning your expenses, there will always be some unexpected nasties along the way. Having a small cash buffer set aside to fund these gremlins will mean that you can sleep easy. If something comes up, then there will be no fights or stress about where the money is going to come from.

At the crux of all of this, it’s really about communication and being on the same page financially. Spend some time to work through it together, set in motion a plan that you both agree on then commit. These simple steps should alleviate some of the stress that comes along with managing the marital finances but will also help you manage your money in a more realistic way.

 

Featured image via Pixabay under Creative Commons CC0


This article is brought to you by Nuffnang and Suncorp Super.

You may have heard the term ‘salary sacrifice’ around the office. Perhaps you didn’t bother looking into it, because let’s be honest, who wants to sacrifice even more of their salary? But did you know that it can actually reduce the amount of tax you pay? Yes, you heard right. Less tax to the government, and more money to you—or your super fund, anyway.

Let’s start by defining basic terms. Gross earnings is your pay before the tax is taken out. A marginal tax rate is the percentage of tax you pay depending on your gross earnings. In Australia, this starts at 19% for every dollar over $18,200, and goes up to about 30% on your first $180,000 and 45% for every dollar after that—and don’t forget the levies, which add an additional 4%! Ouch.

Now here’s where salary sacrifice comes in. This is when you take money from your gross earnings and put it into your super fund. Why? Because unlike your salary, all contributions to your super fund are only taxed at 15%. That’s a huge difference if your marginal tax rate is closer to the 45% end of the scale!

For those who are planning ahead for retirement, research has found that a couple in Australia wanting a comfortable retirement will need approximately $58,444 a year. Even assuming both retire at age 65 and get the age pension, that’s still roughly $510,000 you need in your super fund.

By starting early and getting more money into your super fund now, it will mean a larger difference. By sacrificing as little as $20—one meal out!—a week, you could have an extra $184,205 in your super fund if you start at age 25. Or for those of us a little older, $93,484 extra if you start at age 35. The ideal contribution amount for each person varies wildly depending on circumstances—it’s best that you talk to a financial adviser or financial planner so that you can get advice for your particular situation.

What does salary sacrificing mean for your take-home pay? How much is your pay actually reduced by? For someone earning $60,000 a year, without contributions they would take home about $920 each week. But here’s the thing—sacrificing $20 a week does not mean your take-home pay goes down by $20. Because your gross pay is now decreased by $1,040 a year, you are taxed on the decreased amount. This means that each week, your pay only goes down by $13 for that $20 sacrifice. (Do note, after the 15% super tax, only $17 goes into your super fund—but you still end up ahead!)

For those interested, you can see the full details of the calculations and assumptions below, kindly provided by Suncorp Super.

suncorp-stats

Before you get carried away by the benefits, however, keep in mind that you can only sacrifice up to $30,000 a year—or $35,000 if you’re over 49 years old. That includes the mandatory 9.5% that your employer contributes.

As salary sacrifice can be a somewhat complex topic, Suncorp has created a fun online game called Super Slinger that you can play to get a better understanding of how salary sacrificing works—and how it can work for you. (Added bonus: It doesn’t keep asking you to buy additional in-game items!) Leaders in Heels had a chance to play with it, and not only was it rather addictive, it was also helpful in learning about salary sacrificing. Sounds like an odd combo, right?

The game itself is simple to play, where you have a number of projectiles that you need to fling at a structure to topple the prize nested above or within. The theme itself is cute, related to the idea of salary sacrificing. Your projectiles are coins—your money—and you’re flinging them into the future to secure items like hoverboards and time machines. At the end of each successful level, you’re not only rewarded with your prize, but with an interesting fact about salary sacrificing.

Of course, it never hurts to hear from experts in the field, either. Below, Suncorp Super answers some common questions:

1. How can someone get a rough estimate of the amount they need to retire, as different people have different views of ‘comfortable’?

Take a look at our Retirement Simulator. All you need to know if you current super balance and how much you earn!

2. How does my super fund earn money?

Earnings will depend on your investment choices. Even with the cyclical nature of markets, in general, topping up your super on a regular basis means you should have more in retirement. Your investment returns will compound as you contribute more.

3. What are your top tips in regards to salary sacrificing for anyone, regardless of age?

  • Start early
  • No amount is too small
  • Don’t exceed your contribution limit. There’s a limit to the amount you can contribute to your super each year, before and after tax, depending on your age without incurring additional tax.
  • Check if it’s the best strategy for you. For those earning under $50,454, an after tax contribution may be more effective as you may be eligible to receive a government co-contribution.

Rewards cards are increasingly common these days. Most people have one of some sort, whether it be a credit card, an airline loyalty card or a strict rewards card such as Fly Buys. But most people also don’t use their rewards card to their full potential, missing out on extra points that could be what they need to get that flight or that new TV. Below, we share five ways that you can get the most from your rewards card.

1.     Pick a card that provides rewards in your area of interest

Different cards have different perks. Some have rewards such as free travel insurance for frequent travellers, others free wines when dining at certain restaurants, and yet others bonus points for daily activities such as grocery shopping. Work out what you spend the most on, or what perks integrate best with your life.

2.     Work out what provides the best return for value

When it comes to points, a lot of the time it’s easy to simply opt for cash back, or to pick up that kitchen appliance you’ve had your eye on for a while but couldn’t bring yourself to pay for. But is that really the most efficient spend of your points? Physical items tend to be allocated a point value based on their RRP. If you can wait, it’s generally better value to pick up a gift card and wait for the sales to come around.

It’s also worth noting that a lot of the time, the best return for value on points is generally on airline points. The number of points required for a business-class fare tends to be excellent return for value compared to how much you would pay in cash for that fare (not to mention, the number of points required doesn’t go up around peak period!).

Look for something like Qantas Cash, a prepaid MasterCard built into the Qantas Frequent Flyer card. You can use it like any other credit or debit card (including PayPass functionality), and you’ll also earn Qantas Points in the process. The best part? No annual fee, unlike many credit cards that provide reward points!

3.     Look out for promotions when transferring credit card points to airline points

It can be tempting to simply transfer your credit card points to an airline rewards program as and when you need them. But it can be worth planning ahead—occasionally, companies will offer bonus points when transferring to airline programs, for a limited amount of time only. There are times they will go up to as high as 20% or 30% in bonus points, so be patient, stockpile your points… and be ready to jump in when those offers come up!

4.     Think creatively when it comes to earning bonus points

For example, if you have a card that provides triple points for shopping at a supermarket chain, it’s worth taking into consideration the fact that the major chains usually sell a wide range of gift cards as well. Wanting to purchase music online, or get a TV at an electronics store? Check if the supermarket chain sells gift cards for those stores, and use the gift cards to make your purchase.

You could even arrange group shopping trips with friends where you pay first with your card, if you trust them enough. Or if it’s strictly a points-earning card, you can ask your friends whether you can swipe your card when they pay. Friends are normally more than happy to help out—if they’re not gunning for points of their own, that is!

5.     Work out if the fee you’re paying for a rewards card is worth the number of points you earn

Most credit cards that earn you points have an annual fee. While it’s nice to feel like you’re being rewarded for spending what you would spend anyway, don’t let yourself get too carried away! You can make a general estimate of whether a card is earning its keep by going online and checking for the number of points required to redeem gift cards. If you don’t earn enough points in a year to get a gift card that’s equal to or more than the annual fee, then perhaps it’s time to start thinking about whether you really need that card or not.

You can do the same with cards that earn you airline points—do you earn enough in a year to redeem an equivalent amount of flights that would cost you your annual fee?

This post was sponsored by Qantas Cash. Visit Qantas Cash to find out how you can reward yourself with a great prepaid rewards card!

How do you get the most out of your rewards cards? Share with us in the comments!


Everyone has a different story to tell when it comes to the way they manage money. There is no right or wrong way, and that’s OK. Different strokes and all that. Budgeting is one thing, but the way you approach managing, spending and investing your money will actually play a major part in your financial success in the long term. Below are my 4 tips to money management, something every smart woman – and man – should follow!

1. Quality over quantity

When it comes to most purchases, this is the number one rule. Yes, you might pay more from the outset but if the quality is there, it will likely last the test of time. This goes for so many of life’s expenses, including clothes, appliances and furniture. It’s easy to go cheap and nasty, but eventually whatever you have bought will break down or will need to be replaced. A common trait of smart money managers is to buy less, but buy quality. Think about it, you don’t need 12 black blazers in your cupboard, you just need 1 really well cut, high quality blazer, and it will be in your wardrobe for years to come.

2. Stay away from the amateurs

“So you think it’s expensive to hire a professional? Wait until you hire an amateur”. This perfectly sums it up. As much as we like to think we can, we just can’t do everything. We need to outsource parts of our life to other people, whether that be plumbing work on our house, hairdressers or financial planners. If you are always on the hunt for the cheapest of the cheap, then you might engage a total amateur who ends up costing you more to fix anyway. The smart woman will hire a referred, qualified and trusted professional for the job (whatever it is) so that they know it is done right the first time round.

It’s easy to go cheap and nasty, but eventually whatever you have bought will break down or will need to be replaced

3. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

When it comes to investing, putting all your money on black, so to speak, is akin to gambling. Diversification is a major player when it comes to investing and should be part of any person’s investment plan. No smart women (or man) will ever just buy shares in one company alone. They will strive for a diversified and balanced portfolio taking into account different business types, sectors, countries and asset classes.

4. Cover what needs to be covered

It’s smart to insure the important and expensive things in life. I’m not talking about getting extended warranties on your toaster, I am talking home insurance, life insurance, car insurance and health insurance. Yes, insurance costs money but you can bet it will alleviate the financial pressure on these big ticket items if something ever happens.

The above tips aren’t just about basic budgeting, it’s about shifting your overall mindset about your money strategy. If you can start to view your spending and investing habits differently you will reap the rewards in the long term.

 

Featured image via Pixabay under Creative Commons CC0


It’s a common sentiment that most people want to ‘get their finances sorted’ before they have kids. The questions is, how do you know when your finances are actually ready and what should you be doing to prepare?

1. Take stock

Look at where you are at right now. If you haven’t already got a budget, then this is the first step you need to take. What debt do you have? Do you have any savings or do you live pay to pay? If so, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a baby, but now is the time to get a bit of structure and have a better understanding as to where your money is going.

If you are currently spending everything you earn, how do you expect to pay for the extras that come with being a parent?

2. Create the post-baby budget

Once you know where you are now, you then need to start mapping what your post baby budget would look like. This needs to include any reduced income due to maternity leave, and the added expenses such as nappies, formula, and child care.

Setting a realistic budget will let you know if you have enough money for all of these things, and should highlight how long you can take off for maternity leave if that is what you are currently considering.

If you are currently spending everything you earn, how do you expect to pay for the extras that come with being a parent?

3. Do you have an emergency fund?

This is an important feature in any well managed personal budget, but this is even more important if you are expanding the family. Firstly, if you don’t have one of these then you need to consider it. My general rule is to aim for 3 months’ worth of household expenses to be set aside for an ‘in case of emergency’ situation. Think about medical expenses, white goods breaking, freak weather events that mean you have to pay for an insurance excess. It’s hard to plan for all of these, so having an emergency fund is super important.

4. Do you have stable income?

Everyone’s jobs are different, but you need to consider how stable your income is. It may be slightly different from month to month depending on overtime etc, but do you feel confident that your job isn’t going anywhere? Think about the industry you are in, are there a lot of redundancies going around at the moment? Are you getting regular, consistent hours or is it all over the place?

It is likely the case that you will need to rely on one income for a period of time. Ensuring that income is as reliable as possible is important. This could mean getting a full time, permanent job or trying to position yourself in a large company that has great employee benefits.

An interesting trend to consider is that most employers are putting 6 month probationary periods into new contracts now, so if you are after a new role that is something to be mindful of.

5. Do you have all of your life insurances sorted?

Life insurance (including disability and income protection) are so much more important when you have dependents. Having enough life insurance to look after your children for the long term if something were to happen to you, should be priority number one. Depending on your personal situation, you can fund this via your superannuation account or your everyday budget.

It’s not all about the money, but putting yourself in the best position in advance will mean that when you get there, you will know exactly what your money is doing and how much you have to spend on your new family.

We love to spend money on cute outfits and overpriced gifts but the best gift you can give your future children is a stable and loving home, one that is not overflowing with debt, money stress and late bill notices.

 

Featured image via Pixabay under Creative Commons CC0


We all value our health, but many Australians do not make the right financial decisions to protect their health or ensure they are financially covered when they are sick or injured. Positive Lending Solutions provides insurance options for these types of situations. Here, Positive Lending Solutions Director Tom Caesar gives us his top 5 list of financial health decisions all Australians need to consider.

1. Do You Have The Right Health Insurance?

More than 47% of Australians have health insurance for a number or reasons, ranging from reducing tax, to ensuring they are treated in a private hospital, to reducing the costs of treatment. For overseas visitors such as 457 visa holders, it is a visa requirement to have adequate health insurance.

Anyone who has health insurance should regularly re-evaluate their policy to ensure they understand:

  • If they are covered for the treatments they are likely to actually need,
  • What out-of-pocket expenses they may incur if they do become sick or injured,
  • What additional benefits exists within their policy (such as discounted gym memberships)

The key is to be covered only for what you are actually likely to need, while ensuring you plan for future events such as having a baby.

2. Do You Have Income Protection?

While most Australians have an insurance policy to protect their house from damage, they are 45 times more likely to lose their house due to defaulted loan repayments (due to illness or injury) than in a fire. Most people do not account for periods when they may not be able to work and how it will impact their financial position.

Income protection can provide a ‘safety net’ for these periods, which is a great way to protect your assets through tough times.

Many Australians do not make the right financial decisions to protect their health or ensure they are financially covered when they are sick or injured

3. Do You Have Life Insurance?

Similar to income protection, Australians rarely consider the financial impact of unexpected events. In the case of your or your partner’s death, or being diagnosed with a terminal illness, it may become impossible to make ends meet.

Life insurance can cost as little as $5 per week, so it is an affordable way to achieve peace of mind. There is also Total and Permanent Disability Insurance to consider.

4. Are you up to date with immunisations?

Immunisations are relatively cheap compared to the cost consequences of being sick. A yearly flu immunisation (costing about $30) will protect you against the illness, and save you the days of work you are likely to miss with a nasty bout of the flu. Prevention is always better than cure, so make sure you regularly discuss this with your doctor, especially before each winter or when travelling overseas.

5. Are you up to date with health tests?

For many illnesses or diseases, early detection is key. There are many tests that you should regularly schedule (especially if there is a history of certain diseases in your family), such as mammograms and prostate checks. The differences between early detection and discovering issues later may mean less medical expenses, less time off work, and a faster, healthier recovery.

This post was written with the assistance of Positive Lending Solutions