DIY traveller? Handy tips for a smooth trip!

With an abundance of online travel booking websites there’s a growing trend to DO IT YOURSELF instead of using travel agents. There can be benefits to booking your own travel but beware – it can be the small details that make or break a long awaited holiday if things go wrong.

It’s a travel agent’s job to know about visas, vaccinations and local etiquette so if you are a DIY traveller here are our TOP TIPS to ensure smooth sailing:

  1. Visa/passport requirements 

Your passport should have at least six months validity on period of travel. Ensure you have visas for all countries you plan to visit/transit. See www.visalink.com.au to check visa requirements and apply online for most countries. Be aware that a visa doesn’t assure entry. If you hold a dual nationality passport, check if you are considered a national of the country and if this has consequences once you enter the country.

  1. Health

Check immunisation requirements by visiting www.travelvax.com.au. See your doctor at least eight weeks prior to travel to allow vaccinations to take effect. Take enough medication for any pre-existing ailments – check local laws on travelling with medicines. If you wear eyeglasses take a spare pair! Your scripts may

not be filled overseas.

  1. Travel insurance

DON’T leave home without it! Check travel insurance comparison websites to compare and save on premiums. Confused? Download the Choice Travel Insurance Buying Guide at www.choice.com.au. If you’re planning adventure activities make sure you have the correct coverage.

  1. Stay in contact

Register your travel and contact details on www.smartraveller.gov.au or at the local Australian embassy once you arrive.

  1. Documents

Save copies of your passport, insurance policy, credit cards and visas to secure cloud storage. Leave a copy with someone at home as well. Explore travel apps such as Tripit and Google Trips to store your itinerary and alert you to changes.

  1. Currency

Travel experts suggest pre-paid travel debit/credit cards loaded with required currencies. Load up in advance to take advantage of great exchange rates! Try to keep cash to a minimum but you will need it for purchases such as street vendors. Find out if you have to tip, how much and whether tax is applied to purchases.

  1. Spare photos

Take extra passport size photos with you in case you lose your passport and need to replace it while overseas.

 

  1. Calling home

Apps such as Messenger, What’s App and Viber make keeping in touch easier than ever. Take advantage of WiFi where available to save your data – keep your phone on flight mode and use the hotel’s WiFi for your emails. Global SIM cards are widely available but do your homework – a local SIM card may offer better rates and data.

  1. Research

Research destinations. Translation apps such as iTranslate and Google Translate are fantastic for navigating the local language. Be conscious of and obey local laws. Consular aid cannot overrule local laws, even if they seem severe by our standards.

  1. Watch out

Avoid being a target of crime. Watch out for scams, avoid wearing expensive jewellery and try not to carry too much cash.

  1. Be safe at home too!

Create a closed group on Facebook or set up an iCloud photo library exclusively for those friends or family you want to be able to see your holiday pics. Sharing your holiday Facebook posts publicly will tell people you are away from home. Remember to alert your neighbours you are away, cancel newspapers and arrange for someone to collect your mail.

And finally – have a wonderful time!

The million dollar family… Can you afford your kids?

Here’s a scary statistic! A leading Australian demographer estimates the total cost to parents of raising the average number of children (2.7) to independence (at 24) is $1,028,000.

That’s right! A million dollars to raise the average family…

And that’s assuming your family is ‘average’ and they have attained financial independence by age 24! In a growing generation of SLOPS (singles living off parents) you can see the financial impact on parents can be significant.

Of course parenting is the most important and rewarding role we will ever perform – our children are our future – but financial security is also important for both our own and our children’s future.

The impact of generational change

According to the AMP.NATSEM report the cost of raising kids has increased by 50% in 5 years. During the same period household incomes have risen by 25%. Clearly there is an imbalance.

Generational changes have been identified as key contributors to the rising costs of raising kids in areas such as:

Paid activities outside the home

Many kids now attend multiple paid activities out of school. Combined with a shift to paid family recreational activities, events and travel as opposed to the picnics etc of yesteryear you can see why recreation and entertainment is the third biggest expenditure for the average household.

Changing classroom habits

You expect private education to be costly but as tablets replace books even the cost of public education is increasing ($63K per child in metro areas and $52K in regional areas per school life).

The great toy explosion!

The average household with dependants has over 100 toys and 96% of parents spend more than $100 per child, per year on toys. Worse still, two thirds of these toys are discarded when they are no longer used!

Consumer electronics

Most family members now have multiple electronic devices – and upgrade them regularly. In fact, Gen Z is the most materially supplied generation ever!

So WHAT can you do to help you manage AND get ahead?

In a world of increasing costs across housing, utilities, food, childcare etc the impact of these new trends bites even harder. It would be easy to simply say “stop buying stuff!”

Better still? PLANNING is the key!

Ideally this should involve PLANNING AHEAD before having children and regularly reviewing your plans for a secure financial future as life changes occur.

BEFORE you start a family

Create a budget. Learning to live within a budget is an excellent habit to create before kids come along.

Get ahead of the game. If buying a home consider borrowing less than you can afford and make higher

It is VITAL that you contact us to review your financial goals and chat about your options to use those ‘life event’ savings to help build your financial future.

Doting grandparents

Grandparents often wish to help.

A trust account built over the life of a grandchild could assist them into the property market by the time they reach adulthood. It’s important to speak to a financial advisor to explore options that will not impact taxation or Centrelink entitlements.

Lastly… Protect your family

Remember the role of insurance in protecting your family’s future. It is no longer a luxury – it provides a very necessary safety net. Consider life insurance (death benefit + TPD), trauma cover and income protection insurance.

Call the office if you would like a chat about your financial future and how to manage your life changing circumstances.

Top 15 ways to own your home sooner!

Before taking action on any of the below ‘Top 15 Ways’, we recommend you speak with a  Finance Specialist. Call the office for more information on any of these 15 suggestions.

  1. Pay the first home loan instalment as soon as you settle
  2. Review your loan at least every two years and negotiate a cheaper rate with good flexibility
  3. Account for your savings and understand how to use it wisely
  4. Split your loan – fix a portion and leave the rest variable for flexibility
  5. Avoid redrawing money off your mortgage at all costs
  6. Don’t lower your minimum regular payment if interest rates fall
  7. Set higher repayments
  8. Make lump sum repayments or regular mini lump sum repayments
  9. Pay your loan fortnightly rather than monthly
  10. Set a budget and reduce any unnecessary spending
  11. Pay loan fees up front
  12. Align your repayments with your income cycle
  13. Make extra payments as often as you can – preferably set up an auto payment to do this
  14. Talk to us about loans that offer features without a charge
  15. Check your loan fees and negotiate where possible

And lastly, call the office to speak to us!

Your interest rate may not be what it seems…

At a time of almost constant (even daily) changes in the finance world – and an absolute overload of information online – it’s easy to see why some consumers are becoming ‘switched off’.

A recent study about financial literacy found 57% of respondents didn’t know that banks determine actual interest rates – not the RBA. It also found 36% didn’t realise if they reduced the length of their loan they reduced the amount of interest they paid!

What does that tell us? Well…

It tells us there are potentially a LOT of people who could be enjoying savings on their home loan AND other loan products – if only they knew how.

So how important is financial literacy?

Let’s face it, many of us find the ever-changing world of finance and banking complex. And yes… pretty dull. But a lack of interest in educating ourselves about our home loan – usually the BIGGEST financial commitment we have – is often costing us money!

It’s interesting that the same survey found 74% of us don’t know what a comparison rate is…

Do you? And what SHOULD you know?

Comparison rates

Lenders are legally required to display a comparison rate when advertising most loans. This is a tool to help identify the true cost of a loan by combining all components into a single percentage rate*. It includes:

  • the loan amount
  • the loan term
  • the repayment frequency
  • the interest rate, and
  • the fees and charges connected with the loan*

For example at the time of writing this article, one lender was advertising an interest rate of 3.78%. Sounds good doesn’t it? But the comparison rate was 4.36%. Now that’s a difference of $580 interest each year for every $100,000 of borrowing you have. That is a little over $2,000 per annum on the average Australian loan.

The mandatory comparison rate was initially introduced to stop lenders advertising very low interest rates that lured borrowers into loans that actually ended up costing more than they expected. A low rate may look attractive at first glance but it doesn’t always mean it is the lowest rate.

While the comparison rate can be used as a guide it is also important to consider the features of the loan and how these may benefit your particular circumstances and future goals. The rate alone should NOT be your sole consideration when obtaining finance.

Remember, whether you are looking to buy your first home, upgrade, downsize, refinance, invest in property or even buying a new car, as your finance specialist it is our job to do the research for you to determine the loan product most suitable for your circumstances.

Mortgage brokers now account for more than 50% of the home loan market. There is a good reason for that! We have to constantly adapt with the times, the policies and the changing finance market to provide more than just a loan service.

We are your finance concierge, educator, confidant and specialist working for YOUR best finance options without the trickery of advertising low interest rates as a lure for your business.

If you are thinking of reviewing your current loan – DON’T do it alone!

Our role as your finance specialist is to help you make the best financial decision for your personal situation. We consider such factors as:

  • how long you are planning on having the loan
  • your employment status, age and financial position
  • what job/personal circumstances may be happening in your future
  • your family situation and potential future financial expenses (known and unforeseen)

AND we look at more than one lender for your solution.

Call us TODAY. We’re here to answer any financial queries you may have.