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Our goals and tips for 2018

We’re a month into the New Year and now that Australia Day has passed, it’s officially time to settle back into the daily grind.

On average, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February. We’re here to tell you that we believe in you! Keep on keeping on! And while it’s good that January 1st signifies a new beginning, it’s better to remember every day is a fresh start. New Year’s resolutions are quite simply just personal goals, and setting those goals certainly doesn’t need to be an annual thing.

So rather than focusing on ‘New Year’s resolutions’ per se, we’ve asked around The Hopkins Group office to find out any goals and tips our staff members have on surviving the coming 11 months.

Bobbie Adams, Senior Accountant

  • Save more money by shopping less and selling unneeded clothes on eBay.
  • Go to the gym four days a week.

Myra Talha, Corporate Accountant

  • Create a vision board and try my best to stick to it.

Chani Unger, Marketing Coordinator

  • Unsubscribe from more emails – hopefully saving me the time I spend deleting the 100 or so emails I get across my accounts each day!
  • Spend less on food… Money should be feeding my passions and helping me achieve my goals, not my stomach.

Joe Bonifazio, Senior Financial Adviser

  • It’s more of a long term goal, but I’m aiming to get another investment property.
  • Renovate my home – redo my laundry and bathroom and add a garage.
  • Grow taller.

Alison Nguyen, Accounts Administrator

  • To spend more on what I actually need and less on what I want.
  • Go to the gym more.

Letishia Newcombe, Property and Contracts Coordinator

  • To be more positive!

Lauren Wilden-Ross, Property Portfolio Manager

  • To save up for a house!
  • My tip is to bring your lunch to work, lunch break spending eats away at your wallet.

Stacey Wraight, Paraplanner

  • Go on more adventures around Victoria – just get out into nature more.
  • To step up in my role at work and focus on building my knowledge on investments.
  • Get serious about saving for a house! (That means paying off the debt on my car).
  • To focus on my health and fitness – along with my mum, we’ve started a challenge together!
  • Become more involved with charities.

Stephanie Moore, Executive Assistant

  • Exercise more, without spending money on a gym membership!

Kate Elliott, Marketing Manager

  • Make good use of the coffee machine at work. I was shocked by how much I was spending on takeaway coffees at work last year (thanks to the Xero budgeting app!). This year, I’m counting my pennies and redirecting that $4 per coffee into my savings account every time I would normally hit up a café during the working week – weekends are for splurging!

Cassandra Mann, Operations Manager

  • Eat healthier and save money by cooking at home more often.
  • To work out five times a week and run twice a week on top of that.

Linda Vong, Accountant

  • To be more kind and less passive aggressive towards my loved ones (specifically my husband!)

Meg McKenna, Content Producer

  • Stick to my budget and save as much as I can.
  • To go on loads of adventures, (I want to visit a country I haven’t been to before!)
  • Do things that’ll push me out of my comfort zone – both professionally and personally.

Sarah Holdsworth, Leasing Consultant and Property Portfolio Manager

  • Save, save, save. I’ve got a house to buy and a mortgage to pay!
  • Quit smoking.

Shane Light, Head of Advice

  • I’m not one to set resolutions, but my tip is don’t set resolutions you can’t keep!

Whitney Lian, Paraplanner

  • To work out 2-3 times a week.
  • Cut down on going out for lunch (it’s not going well so far…)

Ivy Guo, Graduate Accountant

  • To drink more water. That’s it!

Perhaps our team member’s goals and tips for the coming year have inspired you to keep to your own, or maybe plan out what you want your 2018 to look like.

Either way, there’s no better time than now to write down what you want to achieve for your future, and when it comes to your financial future . . . we’re here to help. Speak to a financial adviser on 1300 726 082 to help crystalise your goals and objectives and map out a plan to achieve them.

Saving tips from an almost broke girl

If you want sound advice on how to spend your money right, I’m probably not the best person to talk to. In the last two months I’ve travelled between three different countries, graduated, moved out of home and successfully spent the rest of my money being overly generous during Christmas.

I’m not in the best place with money at the moment, but over this time of spending I’ve learnt more about saving than I have in all of my 20 years of life – and working around a pack of financial advisers helps too, I guess.

While I’m entering the new year almost broke, I know that if I stick to a few small lifestyle changes 2018 will be a year of financial stability.

1. Plan your food

Going to the grocery store without a plan is a dangerous situation to be in. We’ve all been there. You buy stuff that looks like it’ll brew up a good feed at the time, but when you get home you’ve got a bunch of stuff that needs to be consumed within four days and a complete lack of meal combos. Not good. Googling cheap groceries and writing up a list before heading to the super has saved my life.

Meal prep is also an incredible time and money saver. I’ve started setting aside an hour or so on a Sunday night to cook up a feast for five – except it’s all for me! Just like that, lunch is sorted for the entire week. No more lunch-break buying; that’s damn expensive!

If my mates are heading out for brunch and I don’t want to miss out, I’ll go! I just try to make smarter choices. I’m not a coffee drinker, so sometimes (when I’m strong enough to deny a BLT) I’ll just have water and a slice – $4 is practically the same amount as a coffee, right?!

2. Respect your possessions

I recently dropped my phone and completely smashed the screen. It cost $170 to fix and it shattered me (pun intended). Since then, I’ve bought a protective case for it because I know that a small expense on a case is better than a large expense on a completely new phone. Lord knows I can’t afford a new mobile device.

The same applies to all of your possessions, whether it’s making sure you wash your clothing correctly – it says ‘delicate’ for a reason, or keeping up with regular maintenance on your car because if you keep ignoring that weird rattling noise forever, your vehicle might blow up. Your things are important! Look after them correctly now and it’ll save you in the long run.

3. Drop expensive entertainment

Turns out there are plenty of cost-friendly ways to have fun with your mates. My sister took me to the local library recently and I was reminded of how wonderful those places are (you should see how they scan books these days… the future is now!). Best of all – they’re free!

It’s summer time, if the library doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, take a trip to the beach, have a picnic in the park or take advantage of free exhibitions! The world is your oyster. Just whatever you do, don’t spend $25 on a movie ticket.

4. Set a budget

Budgets are both horrifying and exciting. There’s nothing like the horror of sitting down and calculating how much money you’ve blown on snacks from 7/11 in the last 10 weeks. On the other hand, it’s really motivating (and exciting) adding up your costs and seeing how much you could be saving each month.

I wouldn’t go so far to say budgeting is fun, but I do feel like I’ve got my life together when I’m sticking to my budget.

These are some very basic tips that are helping me get off struggle street as we head into the new year, but if you want personal advice from an expert, speak to one of our financial advisers today!

General Advice Warning: This advice may not be suitable to you because it contains general advice that has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Please seek personal financial advice prior to acting on this information.

The cost of convenience

Did anyone else need a stint in the room of mirrors to have a good hard look at themselves post festive season silliness?

I certainly did.

I realised I’d spent all my savings, stacked on some Christmas kilos and had a large David Jones bill waiting to be paid on my kitchen table. Not the start to 2018 I’d hoped for.

So on my last weekend before heading back to work, I put down the Apple TV remote, binned the last of my Christmas leftovers and fired up the laptop to assess the damage of the year that was.

And I’ve realised there’s one word that pretty much sums up my 2017 – convenience. But at what cost?

I’m 34, ‘time poor’ and an active member of the Uber generation. I love the convenience of having everything at my fingertips. I don’t have to talk to people, I don’t have to provide cash or pull out my bank card – it’s just a matter of pressing a button on your phone and hey presto!

And it’s cheaper, right? Well maybe not . . .

A quick review of my expenses for the year showed that I’ve thrown a whole heap of cash at things that made my life easier; things that were convenient and clever but not necessarily cheaper.

Thanks to Xero, a cashflow and budgeting program that my colleague Rachel Williams, our Director of Accounting, set me up on, I was able to see where I was hemorrhaging money. And it was all about convenience . . . or what I now can identify as laziness.

And the biggest culprit? Uber.

You know the drill: you’re getting ready for dinner with the girls and wearing a killer pair of heels – there’s no way you can totter down to the tram stop in those bad boys. So Uber it is!

Or, you get home from the gym and you’re wrecked after spin class so can’t be bothered cooking. Let’s get UberEats!

Or, you go for a walk and end up in the supermarket buying supplies for the week and can’t carry them home. Book an Uber!

Or, your mate’s coming over for dinner to watch The Wrong Girl and the fridge is empty, it’s raining outside and you can’t be bothered battling the elements. All hail UberEats!

Get the picture?

Going through my expenses, I could see I’d spent $622.24 across 43 trips on Uber for the year. They ranged in price from $6.97 to a whopping $50.85 per journey. Now, I live in Richmond which is probably the most well provisioned public transport hub in Melbourne so there’s no excuse for not using it – no, not even nights out in those killer high heels (you can pack flats in your bag, Kate!).

A one way tram or train fare within Zones 1 and 2 is $4.30 so I’ve calculated that for those same 43 trips, it would’ve only cost me $184.90.

That’s a difference of $437.34.

Sure sure, there were times when PTV wasn’t appropriate – like 2am on a Sunday morning or heading out to the airport (Melbourne, when will we get a train!?) – and a simple swap can’t always be made, but more often than not, I could be organised and train or tram – or even walk – into the city or Fitzroy or South Yarra and save myself a few bucks each time – or as it turns out, a few hundred bucks over the course of a year.

So can I be as ruthless and real and take the slasher to UberEats? Yes!

For starters, I’ve deleted the app from my phone. I live around the corner from some of the best dining strips in Melbourne (have you been down Swan Street lately!?) yet I still dialed up orders on my phone to have it home delivered at $5 a pop. This ‘cost of convenience’ cost me $95 across 19 orders last year – was it worth it? Nope, not when I live 112 steps from Fonda.

The biggest thing for me though, is the convenient access to some of my favourite meals from my favourite restaurants. Hello Meatball and Wine Bar on the couch. How I love thee, Spudbar in front of the telly.

But I love cooking, and I’m a capable cook, so why not take pleasure in recreating them myself – at a fraction of the cost!

I’ve started googling some of my favourite restaurants’ recipes to bring the magic into my home kitchen and you know what? It works! My usual go-to is George Calombaris’s ancient grain salad from Jimmy Grants with the gorgeous slow cooked lamb and tzatziki. Well thanks to the powers of the interweb, I’ve tracked down the recipes (or variations of such) and can now produce a feast fit for a king at home – at a fraction of the cost.

And do you know what I’ve found is even more convenient than UberEats? A fully stocked pantry and a fridge packed with leftovers! Winning!

Of course, the success of my efforts will depend on:

  • How organised I am with my weekly shop to ensure the fridge is stocked and meals are planned, and
  • How organised I am in the lead up to a night out to factor in the time of catching PTV.

But having now seen the costs in my Xero tracking, I can put a price on convenience and make a conscious decision about whether it’s worth it each time – and ask myself, am I just being lazy?

See you on the 70 tram down Swan Street, friends.

Recreate a delicious Greek feast yourself with these easy recipes!

Slow cooked lamb

Ancient grain salad


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The Hopkins Group

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Level 23, 500 Collins Street, Melbourne, VIC 3001

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GPO Box 4347, Melbourne, VIC 3001

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