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5 Tips to Help Secure Your New 2023 Saving Goal | 5-minute read

It is tempting to make an ambitious saving goal at the start of the year as part of our resolution – but when bills and unexpected expenses start to pile up, reality kicks in hard, and we abandon our goal.

Let’s make this year different by setting realistic goals we can efficiently achieve without stretching ourselves too thin. To help you secure your new 2023 saving goal, we’ve scoured the internet and found you our top five tips on building a solid saving plan for 2023.

 

Tip #1: A Realistic, Sustainable Start – 50|30|20 

Consider a realistic and sustainable saving plan when you first start, such as the 50|30|20 saving rule – 50% of your net income goes to what you need, 30% to what you want and 20% towards your saving.

Think of wealth-building more as a marathon than a sprint – and yes, slow and steady will win the race.

 

Tip #2: Automate Your Saving! 

Another effective way to secure your saving goal is to automate an amount from your paycheck to a dedicated saving account the moment you get paid.

Most online banking Apps provide an ‘automatic transfer’ feature where you can automate the transfer on the day you get paid.

 

Tip #3: Envision & Celebrate 

Besides unexpected expenses, a lack of or a loss of motivation is the most common reason we fail our saving goal.

To motivate you, imagine the feeling when you achieve your goal – a new car, your next destination holiday, or the deposit for your and your family’s dream home.

To keep your motivation alive, set key milestones and celebrate when you hit them.

For example, if you plan on saving $100,000 for a down payment with your partner, celebrate and reward yourselves with a nice night out each time you’ve saved $10,000.

To help motivate you, Moneysmart.gov.au provides a saving calculator that indicates how much you can save with consistent effort: www.moneysmart.gov.au/savings-goals-calculator

 

Tip #4: The 52 Weeks Challenge

If you’ve just begun your saving journey, a nifty little trick can help save you nearly $1,400 a year.

You can start by saving $1 the first week and $2 the second week until you save $52 a week at the end of the challenge. Easy. All up, you’ll save $1,378.

Or you can do it the opposite way and count down, so you get the hard saving out of the form at the start of the year.

 

Tip #5: Speak to a Financial Advisor  

If you are savvy with your money and already have considerable savings, consider speaking to a financial advisory professional to evaluate your current savings and investment strategy.

Accredited financial advisors can help you discover a new, sustainable way to explore new ways to build your wealth.

Secure the future you deserve with the help of our financial experts. Book a 30-minute obligation-free online consultation today.

Financial Market Update – April 2022 Wrap-up

The big news of the month was the announcement of the federal election on May 22nd. This creates uncertainty which markets do not like but are clearly very temporary and adjustment is swift once the winner is decided. A hung parliament extends the uncertainty with lasting impacts.

The ASX outperformed most markets in April by falling only 1% versus 8.7% for the S&P500 and the NASDAQ falling 13.2%, which was the worst performing market. The only market to move into positive territory was the UK which was up 1%. Over the past 12 months, the worst performing market was China, down 35..3% and the best performing market was the UK up 15.6%. Australia is up 10.8% and the S&P500 down 1.6%.

The best performing sectors in Australia for the month were Utilities (up 9.3%) and Industrials (up 3.5%). Over 12 months, Utilities have delivered a return of 41.2% and Energy is up 34.2%. The worst performing sectors for April were Technology (down 10.4%) and Materials (down 4.3%). Over 12 months the worst performing sectors were Technology down 22.3% and Consumer Discretionary down 2.7%. These figures highlight a couple of investing lessons, 1) Don’t buy the hot sector or stocks of the day – the hot sectors 12 months ago were Technology & Consumer Discretionary on the back of strong performance during COVID, 2) The noise around markets are likely to be focused on past performance and not looking forward, 3) Forecasts are more often wrong than right, and, 4) Diversification is your friend in investing.

If we were to look at what is being promoted now, climate change beneficiaries, lithium battery component suppliers, companies benefitting from rising interest rates and commodity producers. I would suggest that these companies will not be the winners of the coming 12 months as much of the upside is already priced into the market. Then again, as in point 3, forecasts are more often wrong than right!

The big issue markets are grappling with is inflation. The annualised rate in the US is 8.7%, while an inflation rate of 5.1% was seen in Australia. This is spooking markets and the forecasts (often wrong) are suggesting massive increases in interest rates, far more than I believe the economy can handle or require. My view is we are still in an economic environment that has been massively impacted by COVID-19 and that will take time to adjust. I believe many of the influences on inflation will die down and over 3-5 years will fall back to more reasonable levels. Central Banks will be patient with inflation and lift rates in a measured fashion that the economy can handle. This is particularly so in Australia. The Reserve Bank (RBA) responsibility is to maintain full employment and inflation at 2-3% over the MEDIUM term. Medium term to me means 7-10 years and I believe that the RBA has the same view. We were undershooting the inflation target for many years and the RBA is likely to be patient on the way up. The key focus is wages growth which is the main driver of inflation.

The property markets are showing signs of slowing with both Melbourne and Sydney prices flat over the month and much of the last 3 months. I believe the election is impacting this, along with forecasts of higher interest rates keeping people on the side lines. I believe demand will return once the election is decided with strong underlying growth, immigration and still very accommodating interest rates being the key drivers.

The Australian dollar fell by 5.4% versus the $USD over April. This was due to the interest rate expectations in US rising faster than here in Australia and China locking down major cities to prevent the outbreak of COVID with a zero COVID policy in place. The China slow is temporary with the Chinese government announcing stimulus measures which will be a tailwind in the future. The interest rate differential is likely to linger for a while until there is clarity on how many interest rate rises are required in each country. This makes the costs of travelling to the US a bit more expensive for the time being.

Thank you for reading the monthly report. If you would like to discuss any topics in the report or how they might impact your financial plan, book in a review appointment with a financial adviser today!

Until next month!

Financial Market Update – March 2022 Wrap-Up

March saw the Australian share market outperform most global markets on the back of strength in Banks and Resources companies which are the largest on the market. Resource stocks were up 10.2% and the banking sector was up 10%. The biggest moves in the resource sector were seen from Fortescue Metals, South32 and Independence Group. The moves in resources are on the back of a fall in supply of metals that Russia and the Ukraine usually supply to the world. While this is a shorter term reason, the strength of the global economy is driving demand for commodities. If you use current prices when valuing resource companies, earnings upgrades will continue which should drive resource company prices higher.

Australia is a beneficiary of the demand for commodities, and we expect the Australian market to continue to outperform less resource focused markets in the medium term. Our expectation is that demand for commodities will push up the Australian Dollar (rose 3.5% in March but is down 1.4% over 12 months). The strength in commodities flows through to the broader economy with the government forecasting a positive outlook in the budget released during the month.

The Technology sector was the best performing sector for the month after a difficult start to the year. Square (formerly Afterpay) was the best performing stock rising 19.3% after reporting strong earnings growth, Wisetec was up 17.3% and Computershare up 14%. The worst performing sector was AREITs which were up 1.5% for the month due to the rising bond yields. This is a short-term adjustment with the strength of the economy to drive rents higher in the future.

Turning to property, residential rents are recovering fast. The vacancy rates in residential property around the country is being reported at the lowest level on record, which is leading and will continue to lead to rent increases in the future. Rent increases lag due to rental agreements rolling over, it is important that you review your rent when your lease is up and seek advice from The Hopkins Group property team to make sure you are getting rents appropriate for your property.

There is an undersupply of property in Australia which will only be exasperated by the return of immigration. If you are in the market for investment property, we have a range of options to find a property that will meet your needs. We have the skill in house to advise you on buying established property through our buyers advocacy team and buying new property which requires careful consideration due to the rising prices and the quality of the development team.

Global equity markets were higher with Latin America up 6.6% and Japan up 5%. The worst performing global indices were China down 7.7% and Emerging markets down 2.2%. China has shut down major cities to maintain its Zero COVID policy and lower growth forecasts of 5.5%. Emerging markets typically struggle when commodity prices rise as they are net importers of commodities including oil, which has risen significantly in recent months. The NASDAQ rose 3.5%, recovering some of its losses over the last couple of months.

Bond yields continue to rise across the global with inflation driving expectations for higher interest rates. If inflation works its way into peoples expectations, inflation will be a permanent feature of our economic future. Wages has the biggest impact on inflation and we are starting to see wage increases globally. The bond market gave a signal that there may be a recession in 12 months time when the 3 year US bond yield was higher than the 10 year bond yield. This is not a fool proof indicator but could highlight a long term slowing of the US economy or to my mind, could indicate that inflation is going to short lived and that the COVID stimulus will work through the economy and inflation will fall back to levels acceptable to central banks.

2022 Federal Budget changes to impact First Home Buyers

The 2022 Federal Budget announcement didn’t throw up too many surprises, however, there was certainly some good news for first home buyers.

One major announcement was the continuation and expansion of the New Home Guarantee Scheme.

This scheme was introduced back in 2020 to support eligible first home buyers to purchase their first home sooner.

How does the New Home Guarantee (NHG) Scheme work?

Usually, first home buyers with less than a 20% deposit need to pay lenders mortgage insurance.

Under this scheme, part of an eligible first home buyer’s home loan from a participating lender will be guaranteed by NHFIC.

This is aimed at enabling you to purchase your first home sooner with as little as a 5% deposit.

What is changing?

The government are more than doubling the number of eligible NHG places on offer to 50,000 per annum for the next 3 years.

10,000 of the spots will be reserved for a new regional home guarantee, that will support eligible citizens and permanent residents who have not owned a home for five years to purchase a new home in a regional location with a minimum five per cent deposit.

What type of home can I purchase under this scheme?

  • Newly constructed dwellings
  • Off-the-plan dwellings
  • House and land packages
  • Land and a separate contract to build a new home

The second big announcement was confirmed changes to the First Home Super Saver Scheme (FHSSS) which was also introduced to combat housing affordability for first home buyers.

How does the First Home Super Saver Scheme (FHSSS) work?

The FHSSS lets first home buyers build a deposit inside their super, giving them a tax cut and boosting the savings they can put towards a deposit.

What is changing?

From July 1, the maximum amount of voluntary contributions that can be released under the FHSSS will be increased from $30,000 to $50,000.

We are here to help with all your lending needs

If you are looking to reassess how much you can borrow to purchase your first home after these announcements, please reach out to Loreen at First Things First.

Loreen has access to over 40 different lenders and can quickly ascertain your borrowing capacity and who the best lender is to suit your circumstances.

Financial Market Update February 2022

Welcome to the latest market update from The Hopkins Group.

In February the Australian stock market rose 2.1%, outperforming the US market by 5.1% which was down 3%. The reason for this was the high exposure to Gold stocks (up 18.4%) and Energy (up 8.6%) in the Australian market compared to the heavy weight to Technology (down 6.6% in Australia) in the US market.

With the Australian market, over the last 12 months mid-sized companies have been the best performing up 13.2% for the year. Small-sized companies have been the worst performing up 5%. The top 200 stocks are up 10.2%. Higher dividend paying companies are up 7.2%. Interestingly, in the US high yield stocks are up 16.5% outperforming Large stocks 15.2% up, mid-sized up 9.5% and small up 5.2%. These figures do not indicate any particular trend but are highlighted to indicate the variance seen across the market.

The retreat from fast growing technology stock in Australia and the US has been on the back of expected interest rate rises and lofty valuations. Inflation continues to worry the market with higher-than-expected inflation in the US seen during February. Housing is a significant component of the US inflation measure, but not in Australia, with rents and housing related expenses driving inflation higher in the US.

The other major event at the back of February is the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. This was the primary driver of higher energy prices but not the only one. The world realised during the first couple of months of the year that the transition to ‘Green’ energy will take longer than anticipated and the existing infrastructure for energy may not meet demand, which will see higher energy prices in the future. This leads to further inflation which is why the volatility in markets will remain elevated throughout the year as the market grapples with these issues.

Europe was the worst performing region for the month, down 4.3% with China down 3.9% and the NASDAQ down 3.3%. Over the last 12 months the NASDAQ is up 4.9%, although interestingly nearly half of all companies listed on the NASDAQ are down more than 20%. This indicates that the largest companies listed on the NASDAQ such as Apple, Alphabet (Google), Microsoft and Netflix have been driving the index higher. The broader S&P500 reflects this too with it being up 16.4% for the year, with the large companies not being dragged down by the laggards.

Government bond rate expectations continued to rise during the month, with inflation expectations. The interesting thing in the bond market is that the long-term rates do not reflect the 7 interest rate increases currently forecast by the market. This indicates that the bond market sees the economic strength as being temporary with economic growth and inflation reverting to low growth, low inflation after the COVID stimulus flushes through the system.

The rising commodity prices saw the Australian dollar rise 3% for the month. Commodity prices for most energy, industrial & precious metals, grains and soft commodities all rose during the month. The largest price increases were from commodities Russia supplies the world including Wheat, Thermal Coal and Lumber. Australia is a beneficiary of these price rises.

Why is your superannuation important?

Superannuation has undoubtedly been an area that many Australian’s either don’t fully understand or outright ignore. This lack of interest and or awareness has led many individuals to receive suboptimal outcomes with their retirement savings.  

Compulsory superannuation was first introduced in 1992 in a bid to ensure that the aging population of Australia was going to be able to support themselves in retirement without the need to rely on Social Security.  

The government at the time implemented a carrot and stick policy in order to convince Australians to save for their own retirement.  

The stick: Whilst the amounts have changed over the years currently 10% of your salary must be paid to your nominated fund. In the event you don’t nominate a fund your employer will nominate one for you. So statistically for every fortnight you work one day is spent working for your retirement savings. 

The Carrot: In order to encourage people to save for their own retirement superannuation has a concessional tax rate. Currently the tax rates are 15% for those in an accumulation fund and 0% for those in a pension fund. The outcome of this is if a 26-year-old earning $50,000 per annum invested $5,000 per annum inside superannuation versus invested $5,000 in their own name. After 40 years the value of the investment inside would be $355,472 inside superannuation and $199,360; i.e. you end up with 78% more funds just due to the favorable tax structure. The benefit of this increases further with higher income earners. See figure 1.  

 

Figure 1.

In summary, for the average Australian worker once a fortnight they are working for their retirement fund. It pays to take some time to work out where these funds go and where they are invested. If savings are for the purpose of funding retirement superannuation should be at the top of your considerations due to the favorable tax structure.

What can I do today to help me maximise my superannuation balance at retirement?

Following mandatory superannuation in Australia the superannuation industry has become a $3.3 trillion dollar industry (Association of Superannuation Funds Australia, 2021). There are many products out there to choose from, and just like any other product, some are better than others.

The two key factors that will contribute to an individual’s ability to grow their superannuation balance over time: Fees & charges and the correct asset allocation mix.

Fees:

Each superannuation fund charges a mix of flat member fees, tiered administration fees and investment management costs. There can also be other costs imbedded into your investment management fees such as transactional costs, property costs, borrowing costs and performance fees. These can be difficult to find and may require a thorough read of your relevant product disclosure statement.

However, just like adding an extra 0.5% to your investment returns will compound over time and produce a greater balance, so will reducing the amount of fees charged to your account.

Asset allocation mix:

The correct asset allocation mix is the most important determinant of your investment returns. The mix of growth and defensive assets that the funds are invested in is therefore incredibly important to maximising the superannuation balance at retirement.

There is strong link between portfolio asset allocation and investment timeframes. A longer time period allows for a full market cycle to ride out any volatility, and experience the investment returns of a full cycle whereas a shorter investment timeframe can result in volatility forcing an investor to exit their position in a down market.

The important thing about superannuation savings is that they cannot be accessed until you reach preservation age and retire or reach age 65. This means that for most Australians (under age 55) their investment timeframe is over 10 years which allows time for a full market cycle.

Alternatively, older Australians may find that as they approach retirement their investment window is getting shorter. In both scenarios it is important to consider what mix of growth and defensive assets is appropriate and going to produce the best outcome. 

Reflecting on a year that’s changed us all

Pre-2020, I never thought I’d live in a world where my daughter interrupting an online meeting with lipstick all over her face was just another day “in the office”. It’s strange to think these delightful (or at the time, mortifying) moments interrupting our workdays have become par for the course in so many of our daily realities.

Jumping back to February this year, I would never have imagined how dramatically things were about to change. At the time, I was travelling to South Australia for my cousin’s 40th, about to sit the FASEA exam before embarking on a 3-4-week holiday at the base of the Flinders Rangers.

Many of you who have met me, either personally or as a client, would know that being able to regularly drive long distances (be it to Adelaide, Sydney (THE GONG), or Queensland) is something I enjoy immensely.

Having travelled often in previous roles, driving has always been an escape. I’ve been known to use the drive to listen to podcasts, groove to a bit music, and catch up with clients that I have picked up all around the country, popping in to visit or chewing the fat on the phone. Little did I know that this trip to South Australia would be the last time I’d be able to do this for a while.

Having returned from my trip just one week prior to Melbourne’s first lock down and work from home arrangements commencing, I really had no idea what COVID even was, having zero exposure to it in SA at the time.

How quickly things change!

Living in Melbourne, I watched as we went from one of the world’s most liveable cities to having our freedom of movement limited in what has largely been described as among some of the toughest restrictions in the world. As someone with 95% of their family living in NSW and a love of driving the open road, it was a tough pill to swallow.

The cosmic shift COVID threw our way also completely unravelled the way I had always been used to working. The worlds of home and work, while admittedly had become increasingly blended pre-COVID thanks to technology, have since completely collided.

Now, having set myself up with a home office at the front of the house that I’ve worked out of almost exclusively since March, with two young kids at home – I’ve discovered a new-found appreciation for all the parents who worked from home on regular basis pre-pandemic and learnt how truly mischievous my children can be.

“Zooming” or attending Teams meetings from home with all its various interruptions, has become part of a new collective experience.

The traditional rules of professionalism were thrown out the window the day my soon to be five-year-old, not quite old enough to know not to walk into my office during business hours, decided it was her time with “daddy” – meetings be damned.

Although, when meeting a new client, the general rule remains that you want to present well and leave a good impression (with perhaps with a little more leeway when it comes to an iso beard and a head of hair in desperate need of a cut, haha).

Image: Shane is in his home office wearing a jacket. His hair has grown longer than normal and his beard is starting to become fuller.  Image: Shane is showing two thumbs up whilst smiling. He is in a dining area at home, wearing a white t-shirt. He has longer hair and a full beard.  Image: Shane wearing a pink bee-keeping netted hat, presenting a thumbs up sign whilst smiling. Shane is fully bearded and wears a black t-shirt.

Images: Shane’s lockdown looks

I thought I was maintaining this rule nicely too, until my daughter walked in with her face completely painted in red lipstick, and in full camera view of the potential clients I had just met. Makes you wonder why make-up is so often kept within kids reach!

However, if it wasn’t the lipstick war paint that taught me a valuable lesson – perhaps it was a bowl of icing that did the trick?

With the make-up situation sorted with no repeat, soon came the raiding of the fridge. Having baked a cake for our neighbour’s daughter’s fifth birthday, there was a large amount of icing left over. Why the excess wasn’t thrown away, is a mystery we’ll never know.

In our house, the little miss can sniff out sugar like it’s her life’s mission – so you can imagine what happened next. You guessed it! In she walks in with bright blue icing all over her face and during yet another video call.

When it’s not lipstick or icing, it’s a meeting being thrown off course by requests to dress dolls, braid hair, paint nails, feed hungry mouths, or simply have a play. Sticker books have been emptied all over the walls, stamp pads have painted the carpets, and the pantry has been raided of all junk food; the concept of sitting quietly in a room with four walls and barely leaving them is clearly a foreign concept to children.

After a few weeks settling into “daddy day care” I soon learnt to check-in on the kids a little more often than I was. And while I’ve now got the handling of these meeting incursions down to an art, many may be thinking (with a laugh and a smirk) that perhaps I’m in the wrong profession and should be a fashion designer, hairdresser, artist or professional clean-up crew instead!

With time, the kids have also adapted.

My daughter has now taken to accepting parcel deliveries at our door, telling the postie when I’m on a call and cannot be disturbed. Although let’s face it, kids will always be kids – I swear I hear them whispering at the door waiting until I’m on a call to cause as much chaos as possible.

Although it’s been a tough year, I’m grateful for some of the experiences we’ve gained along the way. The lessons we’ve learnt, the time spent with family, and being able to look back and laugh at some of the silly moments (now that we’re starting to find our feet again), are all memories I never want to forget.

I’m also grateful for the support of all our clients; on behalf of The Hopkins Group I am proud of what we have all achieved together and the level of support and compassion we’ve witnessed in our community.

Thank you for being patient, for your laughter and understanding. We all look forward to the next time we can sit down in person! Hopefully, that day isn’t too far away.

 

 

 

Staying connected while working from home

The first few months of the working from home set up required a lot of adjustment.

Ever since we started working from home back in March, things have been different. Gone are the chances to bond like we used to; we can’t take photos to capture good memories together or engage in small talk during our break times, all in the same room.

So, how do we keep the team connection if we don’t see each other in person anymore? It’s really like we have been thrown into a long-distance relationship. However, with the use of technology, we have still been able to bond and catch up virtually.

Every day, we have a 15-minute huddle every day to share our wins, focus, and concerns. We also do Friday virtual games/activity via Zoom/Teams. It’s a fun way to stay connected and everyone is very engaged in sharing their ideas on how to execute our virtual activities. We Google virtual games/activities ideas and every game there is a winner, so of course there should be a prize! Each of us will contribute to buy food and milk tea for the winner and have it delivered to the winner’s address.

Even though it’s been a hard year, it doesn’t mean that our happy days are gone.

We continue to celebrate our wins (may it be big or small), such as welcoming new team members, receiving positive feedback from a client, work anniversaries, and other occasions such as the birthday of a team member. We still celebrate virtually by buying our food and then we video call and do a team photo on the screen.

Lastly, we have remained positive and look forward to the day that we can finally get together again in person. We are planning to have a big get-together – we’ve even set up a savings account and agreed to contribute to it every payday, to spend when the big day comes.

How have you found the transition to working from home full-time? What strategies do you have in place to stay connected with your friends, family and colleagues?

If there’s one thing we’ve noticed, it’s that working from home often frees up more time to catch up on some of the “life admin” things we usually don’t prioritise … like speaking to our team about your financial future.

As Australia starts to re-open, now is a good time to put a strategy in place. Whether it’s reviewing your home loan while interest rates are low, or investing some of that extra cash you might have been able to save not commuting to work or buying coffee, The Hopkins Group is here to help you build a roadmap to success. Speak to us today.

 

 

 

Testimonial – David & Virginia

Life Planned Together

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