Do I Need a Financial Planner?

We often get asked this question. Do I really need a financial planner? Is it worth it? What will a financial planner do that I can’t? When we respond, we’ll often use a few different analogies. Think of buying a new car. You get advice from other people and the car dealer and work out which model is best for you based on what your needs are at the time. The car runs beautifully for a while but what happens if you don’t take it in for a service? Things start to go wrong. Or what if your needs change? What if you have more children or your job changes and you are now commuting a lot more so you need a more fuel efficient car? If you don’t change your car, it won’t fit in with the changing needs of your life. Look at financial planning from that point of view. Getting that initial advice is great but if you don’t have someone to help you as things change, it’s all a little pointless. Let’s look at another analogy. You’re re-designing your backyard. You get advice on what to plant and where based on what you need at the time. It all makes sense. Yet forgetting to water the plants, not fertilising them and basically neglecting the garden will lead to overgrowth, weeds and the plants dying. But how did you expect them to survive? Why would you have an expectation that something will thrive without constant monitoring? It’s the same thing with financial planning. How can you expect your financial health to prosper if you don’t keep... read more

How the Latest Property Prices Impacts Your Financial Wellbeing

Its boomtown time again. Sydney’s average house price has soared through the $1 million mark for the very first time with home prices rising by 8.4% during the June 2015 quarter according to the Domain House Price Report. We’ve surpassed median prices in London and are just a smidge away from New York! While this seems like great news for homeowners, we like to err on the side of caution during real estate boom times. Remember there is a bubble and bubbles burst. If you are a home owner or renter, the latest property prices can impact other areas of your financial wellbeing. The key to success is to be measured and smart with your financial decision making. Don’t get caught up in the real estate craziness. Look beyond a year and consider how decisions you make now will impact you long term. Here is some of our advice around keeping your financial wellbeing on track while everything is going crazy around you. 1. Don’t get caught in the sell sell sell trap Real estate agents are knocking on doors in Sydney asking people to sell their homes. And yes, you WILL get a good price but remember you have to buy in this market too which means buying a potentially overpriced house in a boom market, moving costs and outrageous stamp duty. If you’re thinking of moving interstate or to the country, it’s a different story. But don’t sell your house if you can’t afford it. 2. Cater for future interest rate rises If you are buying a property in this market, do your sums on your mortgage... read more

Life Insurance Cover in Australia: Time to talk about the elephant in the room

In the media recently, we have heard plenty of dialogue around the cost of housing and unaffordability. How difficult it is for young families to purchase houses that are – to be honest – outrageously priced. Especially if you are in Sydney. We hear anecdotes of older parents, often at retirement age, helping their children out with house deposits or a fantastic new trend where parents build granny flats on their property for them to live in and their child’s family move into the main house. How’s that for thinking outside of the box? But all’s quiet on the media landscape around the topic of parents helping adult children out when they face times of financial hardship brought on by illness, trauma, and accidents and in worst case scenario, death. One story we heard recently – and it will tug at your heartstrings – was of a single mum who returned home to live with her Dad. He is retired and was happy to have his daughter and his five year old grand-daughter live with him to share expenses and help his daughter get back on her financial feet again after a tough relationship break-up. Sadly, the mum died unexpectedly. The grandfather, the beautiful man that he is, is raising his granddaughter and has found his retirement savings doesn’t cover off on the costs of raising a five year old and her future needs. It’s a sad story and quite often we don’t want to think about or even take action around the ‘what ifs’ but it’s so important we do. Financial planners are seeing more and more clients who are... read more
Earlybird Gets the Super Worm

Earlybird Gets the Super Worm

  Who regularly thinks about their superannuation and retirement? Well, that will probably depend on your age and where you are in your life phase. For individuals close to retirement, it’s front and centre and no doubt you will be taking active steps to increase the principal amount in your super account. If you’re in the middle of your life, say around the 40 – 50 age group, it’s more than likely in the back of your mind but your world is busy with work and older children wanting to be dropped here and picked up from there. And if you’re in your twenties or thirties, we bet it rarely crosses your mind at all. After all, isn’t super for ‘old people’ ???? But what if we told you that by allocating just a few hours of strategic thinking (and then doing!) every year to your superannuation you could increase your retirement savings by thousands? This is super important, especially if you’re a woman. On average, Australian women will retire with almost $100,000 less superannuation than men. But here’s the kicker – women live longer! This gap in retirement savings is not getting any smaller. And here’s another scary fact. 1 in 3 women will retire without any superannuation at all! So, here’s four simple tips on how getting in early and thinking strategically NOW can amp up your super for when you really need it. 1. Consolidate Do you have more than one super fund account? If you do, you are paying more fees than you need to. Allocate one hour to collate the info you need to... read more

How to Boost Your Super Fund’s Performance

Many people think superannuation is a long-term thing. Who thinks about their super fund performance on a regular basis? Those payments from your wage that get popped straight into a superannuation account you barely think about and that you hope will give you the funds you need in retirement….whenever that may be. As it’s approaching the end of financial year (one of our favorite times of year here at Blenkhorn and we’re not joking!) we want to share some ideas with you on how to keep your superannuation front of mind. You’re working so why shouldn’t your super also get working? The end of the financial year is a great time to take stock of your financial situation and make some smart decisions about your future. Here are some super Super strategies to get you started: 1. Salary sacrifice With salary sacrifice, you can put some of your before-tax income into your super. These contributions are classified as concessional contribution and are generally taxed at 15% for most people – which may be less than your current marginal tax rate. Salary sacrifice depends on your personal circumstances and you need to be careful you don’t breach any caps on contributions and conditions. Call a Blenkhorn financial planner to be sure. 2. Protect your family Under-insuring is a major issue in Australia and while we don’t ever want to face the possibility of passing away, getting very ill or becoming disabled, the fact is it can happen. If cash flow is preventing you from taking out life insurance you may want to consider life insurance cover through your Super. This... read more

5 ways to choose a Financial Planner

Why is it such a big decision for choosing the right financial planner? Sharing your deepest, darkest financial secrets with someone is a big step to take. We are often told stories of our client’s parents or grandparents hiding money around the house or in the back shed because they felt it was safer to do that than entrust either a bank with the money or a financial planner with their future. Thousands of dollars hidden in books, tyre rims and inside crockery statues! Thankfully times have changed somewhat and now the financial planning industry is regulated by ASIC and has some great industry associations that focus on keeping the standards of this industry high and authentic. And yes, there will also be sharks in any industry. That’s a given. So here are our tips on how to choose the right financial planner and keep those sharks at bay by separating the financial planning wheat from the chaff. 1. Check Industry Association Membership The Financial Planning Association and the Association of Financial Advisors are the two main industry associations in Australia. Members are bound by a code of ethics and professional practice and must meet continual professional development requirements. 2. Ask for Qualifications While experience is great, a qualification gives that experience credibility. It quantifies the experience with theory and currency. 3. Who is Really Running the Show? A number of organisations such as banks and insurance companies also offer financial advice. While that’s great, it also means that sometimes the focus is on that company’s products and signing clients up to use them. Blenkhorn Financial Planning is privately... read more

Financial Literacy for children and young adults

At Blenkhorn Financial Planning we are passionate about teaching children and young adults about financial literacy and run small classes or one to one sessions. We believe that we all need to understand how money works and how to manage money. In our classes we explore topics such as these: Saving Planning Spending Investing Donating We believe that being smart about money builds confidence and that this skill needs to be taught from an early age by involving your children with money transactions earlier rather than later so they can help themselves and others. Contact us on 99977007 or email us at info@blenkhorn.com.au for more... read more

Live Long and Prosper

Some interesting data about retirement planning was released recently. And it was a little confronting. This is what we like to call a bad news sandwich. Some bad news surrounded by a whole lot of good news. So let’s start with the first slice of good news. Australians are living longer. Hooray! As a society, our life expectancy is gradually increasing. In fact Australia was announced recently as one of the four countries in the world where average life expectancy is now over 80 years. We’re right up there with Japan, Switzerland and Iceland. Great company to keep. But here’s the bad news. We’re not planning for it. Here are some eyebrow raising statistics from The 2014 Retirement Income Report about our attitude toward retirement and money. • 44% of retirees expect to outlive their retirement savings • Only 10% have a plan of attack to combat this • 51% of accumulators (those that are still working and building wealth) expect to outlive their retirement savings • $150,000 is the average retirement savings gap • People underestimate the length of retirement by up to 7 years And if you’re a woman the bad news bit continues. Latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that on average, women are expected to live four years longer than men. AND the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees and Women in Super forum published analysis that states the average Australian woman currently retires with just over half of superannuation savings compared to men. Ouch! Fairly sobering statistics. But that’s okay because here comes the other good part of the sandwich. You can... read more

For Love Nor Money

Working with Australian financial Planners when starting out We love love. We know that feeling in the early days of relationships. So much fun, spontaneity and getting to know each other. We also know how love can place you into a little bubble away from the realities of the world. And while Valentine’s Day is just around the corner we don’t want to burst your bubble. What we do want to do is make sure new couples are speaking the same language when it comes to money and finance. So if Valentine’s Day brings a special proposal or an agreement to move in together, here’s what we suggest you focus on before making the big leap. BUDGET AND PLAN TOGETHER Just having one person in charge of all the finances is not wise. Especially when you’re at the time of your life where there are two incomes. Budget expenses and costs together based on what each of you are bringing in. Why not create a joint bank account for shared expenses to start with? Deposit a set amount per month and that’s the account you use to pay for food, rent, mortgage and bills. That way you’re covering your combined costs but you still retain ownership over the rest of your money. WATCH YOUR DEBT Keep on top of debt by keeping credit card limits low (and paid off on time), personal loans to a minimum and by managing your spending. It’s easy to get swept away in the beginning phases of a relationship with a weekend in Melbourne here, a week in Thailand there, a 5 Star meal... read more

Save Yourself

Financial adivce for Saving How many of you have set New Year’s resolutions? How many of those resolutions involve money? We bet there are a few hands up out there. The beginning of the year is always a good time to recalibrate and have a good look at how we’re doing things. Are there any habits we need to short-shift? Or new habits we need to embrace and work on? In this consumer-driven society of instantaneous gratification, quite often it’s our spending and saving habits (or lack thereof) that we need to focus on. We love this quote from Warren Buffett…. “Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving. Makes sense, doesn’t it? And if you don’t know who Warren Buffett is, know this. As of today, his personal wealth is estimated at $73 billion. So we figure he knows what he’s talking about. While saving is great for your bank balance, it can also be good for your mental wellbeing. A ground breaking neuroscience study confirmed that many people feel anxious when they think about saving for their future but when they do actually save, they feel happier. People who take control of their savings and check their finances monthly are ten times more confident about their financial future than those who do not. So it pays to save. Literally and figuratively. And here’s five ways we can help you get started: Call the experts in Call us and we can help you create a snapshot of where your money is going. Budget We can help you create a budget for... read more
We have known Paul Blenkhorn for over 10 years now. During this time he has confidently taken care of all our financial needs. Paul is an honest gentleman who puts our best interests first and has always given us the right advice. Unfortunately there are not many people we can recommend in business today but Paul is an exception. Everyone we have referred him to have been extremely happy with his professional capabilities and extensive knowledge in his industry. William M

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