October, 2016

8 Easy ways to boost your personal finances

8 Easy ways to boost your personal finances

Getting your personal finances better organised should save you time, spare you stress and swell your disposable income.  Here are some strategies that could deliver a favourable return for what’s usually only a small investment of effort.

1. Track your spending

Do you know how much you spent on eating out last month?  Or buying petrol?  What gets measured gets managed so the first step towards gaining control of your finances is working out where your dollars go.  Free apps such as ASIC’s MoneySmart’s TrackMySPEND, that make monitoring daily spending almost painless, have been around for a while.

2. Have some SOS savings

Even if you’re not much of a saver, you should have enough money stashed away to cover your living expenses for at least three months.  You may never have to draw on this money but knowing you have some breathing space, should a calamity strike, provides priceless peace of mind.  Plus, if something does go wrong you won’t have to immediately resort to maxing out credit cards or taking out emergency loans with punishing interest rates.

3. Automate regular bills

It should take you no more than a few minutes online to arrange for the automatic debiting of recurring expenses such as body corporate fees or car loan repayments.  Doing this will save you the time involved in having to transfer this money yourself and ensure you never get hit with late fees.

4. Avoid the laziness tax

You could be paying 5-10% less for things such as your car insurance, internet service and electricity if you shopped around.  Just contacting an existing supplier and telling them you’re considering going elsewhere will typically result in them offering a better deal.  Companies know most of their time poor customers won’t push for a better price so you can bank large savings if you’re part of the minority who drive a hard bargain.  You don’t even have to spend time on the phone getting quotes.  Online comparison sites such as Finder.com.au can now do most of the hard work for you.

5. Demolish that house of cards

Do you have a store card, a couple of credit cards and a back-up credit card you use when travelling?  There are two issues with this:  Firstly, it often means lots of fees and charges.  Secondly, it means easy access to lots of credit you may not need.  This can lead to increased debt, especially for those without iron self-discipline.  Do a spring clean and rationalise your supply of credit cards to only the ones you need.

6. Attract a personal cheer squad

Trying to save for a big ticket item but finding yourself derailed by impulse buys?  Having a crowd of friends to keep you on the straight and narrow can be a great help.  Check out the Unsplurge app – it enables you to nominate a savings goal, log your progress and share your savings journey with other users and your social media network.

7. Digitise your receipts

Does tax time involve scrabbling through your wallet, glove box and kitchen drawer and grabbing at crumpled receipts?  Acquiring the proverbial shoebox and consistently ‘filing’ receipts in there is one solution.  An even better one is adopting an expense management system such as Shoeboxed or Receipt Catcher.  These allow you to scan receipts with your mobile phone the minute you receive them.

8. Sort your super

Almost half of all Australian workers have their super spread over a number of accounts.  It’s an easy situation to find yourself in, especially if you’ve changed jobs a few times and been too busy getting a handle on your new role to worry about making sure the money from your previous super account gets transferred to the new one.  There may be little or no advantage in having super ‘diversified’ across many accounts.  It just means you could be unnecessarily paying multiple management fees instead of just one.  Taking action now could result in you saving the money that would have otherwise been spent on fees.

Let us help you take stock of your personal finances and your super savings.  Call us today on 9204 3733 for a free no obligation review.

Getting the work life balance right

Getting the work life balance right

As a small business owner, it’s hard to juggle your work and outside responsibilities.  It’s important to run your business effectively and still have a life outside the office.

You need a good balance between work and play for your health and well-being.  Small business owners often fall into the trap of working too hard, ending up exhausted from the constant work demands associated with self-employment.  If you are not in good health or lose energy, your business performance will suffer.   So make sure you look after yourself.

Why you need balance

Working too much without taking time out for yourself and your family can quickly become counterproductive.  You’ll be tired, stressed and irritable, leaving you unable to perform optimally.  As a result, you’ll be more likely to make mistakes and snap at people who are important to you and your business.

Some dangers of overworking include:

  • Missing opportunities because you’re too busy
  • Being short-tempered with your staff, affecting their attitude and performance
  • Treating your family poorly, resulting in an uncomfortable home life
  • Working to the point of burn out or illness
  • Losing the passion that prompted you to start your business

Avoid burn out

There are a number of things you can do to scale down your workload and regain a sense of balance.

Start delegating

Delegating will take some of the pressure off you and free up time for more urgent and important tasks, allowing you some leisure time to relax.

Create good systems

Develop a clear operations manual for each process in your business.  This lets you and key staff take a break and speeds up training when someone new comes into the business.

Stretch and walk

Take a few minutes every so often to get up from your desk and stretch.  It’s good for your body and will help you stay focused.

Talk to your family

Ask for suggestions and input – they’ll see things that you can’t.

Network with other business owners

Chat to fellow business owners who seem to be working normal hours.  You’ll stop feeling so isolated and you might get some valuable advice.

Take mini-breaks

Put mini-breaks into your diary.  Schedule a day off once a month, a week off every 12 weeks, or perhaps take every second Friday off.

Re-evaluate your client base

Do you have customers that take up far too much of your time for very little gain?  Find a polite way to stop doing business with them or pass them on to staff members to deal with.

Stay motivated

Staying passionate about your business and motivated to do your best is important.  If you find you just don’t have the energy you once had, your staff and business will suffer.  Take action before you start to enter a negative downward spiral.

You could try the following:

  • Set exciting and challenging new goals
  • Share your goals with your staff so everyone understands what you want to achieve
  • Set measurable ‘stepping stones’ to the main goals and celebrate each achievement
  • Refresh your daily routine.  Allocate blocks in your diary for key daily activities such as checking emails, meetings and visiting clients.

By staying motivated and avoiding burn out you’ll have the foundations in place to enjoy running your business again while also retaining a fulfilling life outside work.

Let us help you take stock of your business and drive forward improvements without burning out.  Call us today for a free no obligation business review.

You may also find some useful tools to assist you run your business on our free resources page

Stress for business owners

Main Causes of Stress for Business Owners & How to Counteract Them

Many business owners believe that hard work and dogged determination are all it takes to build and sustain a successful business.  But when you consider the pressures of running a company, it seems wise to add effective stress management to the list.  Left unchecked, stress can erode your passion and undermine performance; not to mention take a serious toll on your health.

Research compiled by Office Vibe reveals that over 70% of professionals regularly experience the physical and mental symptoms of stress. And stress-related illness costs businesses a whopping $200 billion a year in missed work and medical bills.

Wondering how you can stop stress from derailing your productivity, profits, and overall wellbeing?  Follow these practical tips for avoiding the main causes of “business burn-out.”

So many tasks, so little time!

Busy business owners have notoriously long to-do lists. Without effective strategies for managing time and sharing the load, you’ll be forced into a reactive versus proactive position – the perfect storm for chronic stress and impaired decision making.

Try these approaches to free up more of your time:

  • resist the urge to micromanage and begin delegating more tasks to partners and employees
  • use a project management tool to prioritize and assign tasks, track progress and share results with customers
  • hire an accountant to help you navigate taxes and implement year round time and money saving financial solutions.

Maintaining positive cash flow

All businesses, particularly start-ups, must ensure they have enough cash to keep running after covering expenses each month.  Cultivating a consistent cash flow is crucial for managing both your finances and your stress levels.  Here are a few ways to stay cash flow positive:

  • follow up promptly on unpaid bills, and consider offering an incentive for early bill payment (such as a small discount when payment is received within five days of invoicing)
  • be wary of slashing prices; if you must mark down a product or service, be sure you can recover your costs elsewhere
  • think “less is more” when purchasing inventory to avoid sinking precious cash into excess stock
  • have a trusted employee monitor your cash flow and inform you once it dips below a certain threshold.

Attracting new customers

Starting to panic because you keep missing your sales goals? Auditing your current approach and implementing better growth strategies is key to alleviating that stress.  Here are a few ideas to get started:

  • drill down into the behaviours and preferences of your customers so you can better target your marketing
  • analyze each step in your sales process to see where the holes are and tighten your approach
  • use your audience research to develop a new product or service – one that fills a unique need for your customers and gives you a leg up on the competition.

Starting and growing a business takes tremendous energy, but by leveraging skilled help and improving key management processes, you’ll learn to pace yourself – and keep that passion burning for years to come.

Let us help you take stock of your business and drive forward improvements without burning out.  Call us today for a free no obligation business review on 9204 3733.

You may also find some useful tools to assist you run your business on our free resources page

31 October Tax Return Lodgement

Don’t miss the 31 October tax return lodgement date!!

There are different rules regarding the lodgement date for your tax return, depending on how you choose to lodge it and whether you have any unlodged tax returns.

Normally, you are required to lodge your tax return by 31 October 2016.  This is a standard date and applies to everybody who lodges their own tax returns.

However, you can extend this date!

The quickest and easiest way to extend the lodgement date of your tax return is to appoint a registered tax agent.  This way, you get an additional 6 months to lodge, which usually extends the date to 16 May 2017.

You need to take action now to get this extension!

If you want to secure an additional 6 months to get your tax return prepared, then it’s essential that you appoint a tax agent before 31 October 2016.  They don’t need to do anything bar let the ATO know that they are responsible for lodging your tax return and you’ll secure your additional 6 months to get everything in order and ensure you get your maximum tax refund.

If you are not using a tax agent, you can still apply to the ATO for an extension of time to lodge.  You will need to provide special circumstances such as unforeseen medical or family difficulties that will prevent you from lodging your return on time. Overseas travel is unlikely to be an acceptable reason, as you are expected to plan around this.

Who will not be allowed an extension?

If you have any previous unlodged tax returns you will not be eligible to receive the extension and your tax returns will be required to be lodged by 31 October.

If you have multiple lodgements to do, you are allowed to do them out of order.  So, even if you can’t catch up on your entire backlog before 31 October, you should still do your best to get your 2016 return lodged on time.

If you want to ensure you get your lodgement extension, speak to us today.  We are registered tax agents and can assist you with your personal or business tax returns, provide advice and help minimise your tax liability and maximise your tax refund.

With something as complicated as the Australian tax system it can really pay to have an expert on your side, so call us today on 08 9204 3733 for an obligation free review.  BSN & Co – your partners in stress free tax return lodgements!