6 Ways To Reduce Financial Stress During COVID-19

6 Ways To Reduce Financial Stress During COVID-19

6 Ways To Reduce Financial Stress During COVID-19

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While there are many lessons we can learn from the current crisis we find ourselves in with COVID-19, one sure lesson we can take away is the importance of being on top of our finances.

The news has been filled with many Australians losing their jobs, incomes decreasing and more and more people becoming reliant on the Government to help assist them to live in this terrible time.

According to a recent survey by the J.D Power Banking Industry, the panic created by COVID-19 has caused a great deal of financial stress among Australians.

According to the survey

  • 72% of those surveyed said the coronavirus crisis has negatively impacted their finances;
  • 39% are feeling worried or anxious often;
  • 37% are losing sleep;
  • 10% are unable to afford enough food to eat

So, what are some quick and easy ways we can reduce our financial stress during the pandemic?

1. Review Your Emergency Fund

Ideally, it is a good idea to have at least six months of your living expenses saved up so if something were to happen to your job you would be comfortable and able to ride out at least six months of having no income.

Unfortunately, it is not an ideal world and saving this amount of money is difficult. Therefore, even having three months or one month of expenses is better than none.

If you don’t have an Emergency Fund, now is as good a time as any to make one.

This account should be set up and only accessed in an emergency. Once you have put away a set amount that you think will cover you, leave the money there and hopefully you’ll never need to dip into it.

Just knowing that you have that money sitting there is a great way to reduce your financial stress by simply knowing you have a backup plan.

2. Insurance Review – Part 1

Boring? Yes. Important? Absolutely.

We have insurances for so many things. Our home, car, contents, health, life, income, phone. the list goes on.

It is easy to lose track of what we are paying for each of these, and the cost can easily add up. When was the last time you reviewed what you are paying and if there is a better deal available? Have you ever?

Aim to review one type of cover at a time. This way, it is not too overwhelming. If you can find a better deal, great. If you can’t, even better!

Imagine how much money you can save by getting better deals on all of your insurances.

3. Insurance Review – Part 2

While you are reviewing the costs of your insurances, also take the time to ensure you are covered correctly.

  • Is your cover sufficient for your current situation?
  • Do you have too much or too little?

Would you and your family be provided for and financially comfortable if something unexpected happened?

While thinking of a worst-case scenario can be daunting, picturing what would happen if something were to go wrong is crucial in determining if you are covered correctly.

While you are at it, also check your Will and superannuation beneficiaries and ensure these are up to date and accurately reflect your wishes.

4. Negotiate A Lower Rate

Interest rates are at record lows.

If you are paying down a home loan or have a personal loan, now is literally the best time in history to ensure you are getting a good deal.

Check your current rate. How does this compare to the rest of the market?

There are loads of comparison sites to compare the rates of all the different lenders.

If your current rate is much higher than those in the market, give your lender a call and see what they can do. If they won’t budge, consider changing lenders.

If you borrowed through a broker, give them a call and see if they can help you negotiate a better deal.

Loyalty doesn’t pay when it comes to borrowed money.

5. Track Your Spending

Saving is way more fun than spending. Said no one. Ever.

While it may not be fun, saving is an area which has one of the largest impacts on whether or not we get ahead or fall behind and how quickly this happens.

You will be surprised just how much money you spend on little things which all adds up.

A simple way to track your spending is by putting everything into a spreadsheet.

You don’t need to give up all of your little luxuries, but simply knowing where your money is going each week, month, quarter and year can have a profound impact on your overall financial health.

6. Set Up An Investment Account

If you have set up an emergency fund, reviewed your insurances, know where your money is going and negotiated a great rate for your home loan, well done. You should already feel a lot less financially stressed.

So, what’s next?

Perhaps you should set up an investment account.

Investment markets are currently down due to COVID-19 and there are plenty of opportunities to buy shares in some high-quality companies at discounted prices.

The younger you start investing, the better, as your wealth has more time to grow.

A common mistake is that people think they need thousands of dollars to start investing. There are now so many options to choose from where you can start with as little as $50 and some companies even allow you to invest your spare change.

Next Step

Doing these little things adds up. By being smart with your money and making a conscious effort to get on top of things, you can do wonders for your financial health and reduce stress.

All of this doesn’t require much effort, but it does require action. Don’t let procrastination get in the way of making sound money decisions today. Your future self will thank you for it.

The Plus1 Financial Planning team are always up for a chat. Feel free to give us a call on (03) 5833 3000 or send us an email at wealthadvisors@plus1group.com.au

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On-Farm Drought Resilience Grant Increased To $10,000

On-Farm Drought Resilience Grant Increased To $10,000

On-Farm Drought Resilience Grant Increased To $10,000

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The Victoria Government has updated their On-Farm Drought Resilience Grant Program for Victorian farmers.

A grant of $10,000 (up from $5,000) per farm business is now available to assist eligible farm businesses.

Eligible farm businesses can now apply for the following;

  • Up to $5,000 for business decision making activites.
  • Up to $5,000 for infrastructure investments.

What local government areas are covered in the scheme?

  • Wellington and East Gippsland
  • Far North West Victoria – Millewa
  • Goulburn Murray Irrigation District

What if I have already received an On-Farm Drought Resilience Grant?

Farmers who have already received the On-Farm Drought Resilience Grant can reapply for a further funding top up that totals $5,000 for business decision making activites and $5,000 for infrastructure investments.

What are the details of eligible activities covered under the grant?

Business Decision making activities

These activities will help manage drought conditions, reposition the farm business, improve on-farm practices or make significant business changes. To be eligible the activity must be purchased and undetaken on or after 2 October 2019.

The following activites are covered;

  • Prepare, review or update strategic business plans
  • Undertake a whole farm plan
  • Undertake business risk assessment
  • Engage agronomic services for the purpose of converting the farm to be more drought resilient (e.g. pasture restoration or improvement plan, feed budgets for drought, managing soils)
  • Undertake business benchmarking
  • Undertake financial management assessment and planning
  • Undertake succession planning

Infrastructure Investment

These investments will improve drought preparedness and better position the farm business into the future. The activities must be purchased and undertaken on or after 2 October 2019.

Improvements include the following;

  • Items to construct a new or upgrade an existing Stock Containment Area (SCA) – such as fencing, gates, troughs, piping, tanks, pumps and livestock feeders. SCAs have specific design and siting requirements that must be met.
  • Reticulated water systems using pumps, piping, tanks and troughs for livestock
  • Irrigation system upgrades (e.g. automated systems, irrigation pumps)
  • Drilling of new stock water bores and associated power supply such as generators or desalination plants
  • Desilting works of existing stock and domestic dams
  • Farm development to improve drought management efficiencies to farm production systems (e.g. soil moisture monitoring, weather stations, telemetry sensor equipment)
  • Adoption of reduced tillage practices, including purchase and/or modification of equipment
  • Grain and fodder storage (e.g. silos, silage bunkers, hay sheds)
  • Internal re-fencing to better match property layout with land capability
  • Fencing for the exclusion of wildlife to protect and manage crops and pastures
  • Pasture restoration (e.g. associated seed and fertiliser costs)
  • Establishment of ground cover (e.g. fodder crops) as a remedial action before pastures can be established
  • Addition of shelter belts for shade, wind breaks and erosion control
  • Upgrading of areas (e.g. laneway upgrades, repairs or expansion) to deliver lasting benefits directly linked to productivity and profitability
  • Feeding system upgrades (e.g. feed pads or feed troughs)
  • Improving waste water and effluent management systems
  • Permanent milk vat upgrades (e.g. electronics)
  • Adoption of precision farming techniques (e.g. auto-steer tramlining, yield mapping and weed-seeker technology)
  • Mechanical seeding (e.g. hire or purchase of seeding machines, roller).
  • Items to improve mobile phone connectivity, such as permissible antennas and mobile phone repeaters, to support farmers to access internet-based information and support services.
  • Weed control, such as purchase of registered herbicide, to support maintenance of healthy pastures and to protect environmental assets.
  • Soil moisture probes as an explicit investment under soil moisture monitoring activities.

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Leave Entitlements For Casuals

Leave Entitlements For Casuals

Leave Entitlements For Casuals:
Further Landmark Decision

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The Full Federal Court of Australia (the “Court”) has determined a casual employee engaged over 3.5 years on six separate casual contracts was, on the facts, a permanent employee and therefore entitled to paid annual leave, paid personal leave, paid compassionate leave and to be paid for public holidays.

This case upholds an earlier decision, which confirmed a casual miner should receive the same leave entitlements and benefits as a permanent employee.

Facts of the Case

The employee commenced employment with the labour hire business (the “Business”) in July 2014 and signed six contracts over his tenure. Importantly, the contracts contained the following express terms:

  • The employee was a casual employee;
  • The casual loading paid to the employee was included in the flat rate of pay; and
  • One contract noted the casual loading was in lieu of leave entitlements including paid leave, notice and redundancy pay.

The Enterprise Bargaining Agreement covering the employee also clearly stated the casual loading paid to the employee was in lieu of leave entitlements.

During his six contracts, the employee worked under a roster arrangement. These rosters were often for a lengthy period of time. One roster, for example ran for the period 1 January 2015 to 31 January 2016.

Findings of the Court

The Court ultimately found the employee was a permanent employee even though his contract described him as casual.

In reaching this decision, the Court had regard to the true nature of the relationship and the work performed by the employee.

Integral to how the Court approached determining the true relationship was consideration of: how regularly the casual was engaged; any firm advance commitment to work between the employer and employee; and the predictability of the work.

The Court unanimously found the employee was entitled to back pay of leave entitlements and public holidays over the Christmas period. This case adds mounting case-law which address how Courts are assessing the relationship of casual employees. Casual employees who are deemed “regular and systematic” with a predicable work schedule are increasingly likely to be determined permanent employees with entitlements to paid leave.

Implications for the Future

This decision confirms businesses cannot rely on paying a casual loading to avoid or set off a liability to pay entitlements.

The Industrial Relations Minister, Christian Porter, did intervene in the proceedings and has stated “There is of course potential for an appeal….Given the potential for this decision to further weaken the economy at a time when so many Australians have lost their jobs, it may also be necessary to consider legislative options”

Whilst a decision is made as to whether to appeal, businesses should act with caution when engaging casual employees. In addition, businesses should review their current casual arrangements and ensure they are complying with all the relevant provision concerning casual employment in any applicable awards, or enterprise agreements.

If a business considers a casual employee is entitled to paid leave, we recommend advice be sought.

In the meantime, for those employers engaging casuals on a regular basis, the Victorian Chamber recommends the following practical considerations:

Casual Conversion

If an employee is covered by an award or enterprise agreement which contains a casual conversion clause, inform them of their right to seek casual conversion and remind them routinely. It may be prudent for employers to actively offer permanent opportunities to some casual employees, if the employer has capacity to do so and if the true nature of the employment could otherwise be ambiguous.

Declining the opportunity to convert to permanent full time or part time employment may serve as the employee’s reaffirmation of the casual arrangement and could provide a reference point for employers, should the employee attempt in future to be retrospectively categorised as a permanent employee. However, this step on its own is unlikely to satisfy the courts a casual employment relationship existed.

Any discussions or agreements must be recorded in writing and regard should be had to the requirements of any applicable award or enterprise agreement.

Rostering

For future rostered work include a statement to casual employees that all working hours and shifts are subject to change and may be declined by the employee.

Ensure a range of working hours and shifts are fairly distributed among employees. Employers can maintain a strong labour pool by ensuring an effective spread of existing skills and genuine opportunities for development among casual employees.

Rostering arrangements can be used to reinforce casual employment. This can be through a rostering system that allows staff to ‘bid’ for available rosters. Employers can confirm to the casual that each shift is accepted in isolation from the previous or next shift.

The above are suggestions that may assist going forward in the absence of immediate legislative reform. Equally, employers will need to be cautious with existing employees and that they are not exposing their business to a claim of adverse action.

Conclusion

Clear terms and conditions in employment contracts and other industrial instruments are always necessary, however what is now critical are the practices that are applied during the employment relationship including rostering patterns and managing the expectation of ongoing work. This decision as it stands also highlights that while employment relationships may start out as casual, or be agreed by all parties as being casual, it is the true nature of the relationship, which can change over time that is determinative.

Source: VECCI

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Market Insights – 25/05/2020

Market Insights – 25/05/2020

Market Insights

25th May 2020

Top Stocks

CODE

PRICE

MOVEMENT

 

CODE

PRICE

MOVEMENT

CSL

$290.93

-5.49%

 

NAB

$15.34

-0.90%

CBA

$58.70

-1.99%

 

ANZ

$15.23

-2.25%

BHP

$34.32

5.60%

 

WES

$38.86

1.99%

WBC

$15.01

-1.64%

 

TLS

$3.06

-3.77%

WOW

$34.16

-2.95%

 

RIO

$91.33

4.25%

Market and Exchange Rates

MAJOR FOREIGN MARKETS

 

AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR IS BUYING

All Ords

5,608.80

-0.92%

 

US Dollar

0.6531

Dow Jones

24,465.16

-0.04%

 

Euro

0.5992

FTSE-100

5,993.28

-0.37%

 

GB

0.5366

Nikkei 

20,388.16

-0.80%

 

Yen

70.2820

Commodities

Oil (WTI)

33.190

-1.03%

Gold

1,700.000

0.19%

Iron Ore

91.200

0.24%

Major Market Announcements

When markets go down, it is tempting to run for the safety of lower risk investments, but then you can easily end up missing out on the rebound. When markets go up, it is tempting to start chasing returns and moving more money into well-performing investments.

Making short-term decisions on a daily basis of daily market movements (both up and down) can make it harder to reach your longer term goals. Despite bumps along the way, history tells us that with the patience and discipline and continuing to run the course is well rewarded over the long term.

Although your overall asset allocation decision is one of the most important parts for achieving your objectives, it only works if the allocation is adhered to over time and through varying market environments.

The below chart shows growth of $10,000 investment in asset sectors across 30 years.

Market Update

The local share market has closed lower and ratings agency Fitch has downgraded its outlook for Australia’s AAA credit rating.

The ASX 200 extended its decline in late trade and finished the session 1 per cent, or 53 points, lower at 5,497.

The big four bank stocks lost ground, led by a 1.2 per cent fall for NAB shares.

The healthcare and energy sectors were the worst performers, with losses for Mayne Pharma (-4.5 per cent) and Santos (-4 per cent).

Shares in Wesfarmers lost 0.1 per cent to $38.86, after the conglomerate revealed half its Target stores could shit or be converted to Kmart stores, putting as many as 1,300 jobs on the line.

Global ratings agency Fitch downgraded its outlook for Australia’s AAA credit rating to negative from stable, following a similar move by S&P last month.

“The negative outlook reflects the significant impact the global coronavirus pandemic has on Australia’s economy and public finances,” Fitch said.

“Risks are tilted to the downside given uncertainties around the spread of the coronavirus domestically and globally.”

The ratings agency is forecasting an economic contraction of 5 per cent this year, and says the Government spending in response to the health and economic crisis will cause large deficits.

“The forecast GDP contraction will end a run of 28 consecutive years of economic growth,” Fitch said.

The Fitch downgrade to the ratings outlook came prior to the Treasury and the Australian Tax Office revealing an error in estimating the number of employees likely to access the JobKeeper program.

The estimated cost of the program was revised down from $130 billion to $70 billion.

NAB economist Kaixin Owyong says the error means direct fiscal stimulus from the Government is now worth $180 billion or 8.8 per cent of Australia’s gross domestic product (GDP) over the 2020 and 2021 financial years, compared to the previous estimate of $240 billion or 11.8 per cent of GDP.

“This is still an enormous fiscal stimulus and the cheaper-than-expected JobKeeper programme provides room for the government to potentially extend its fiscal stimulus, where both the JobKeeper wage subsidy and the boost to JobSeeker unemployment benefits are legislated to end in September,” Ms Owyong said.

Investing Success: Maintaining Disipline

When markets go down, it is tempting to run for the safety of lower risk investments, but then you can easily end up missing out on the rebound. When markets go up, it is tempting to start chasing returns and moving more money into well-performing investments.

Making short-term decisions on a daily basis of daily market movements (both up and down) can make it harder to reach your longer term goals. Despite bumps along the way, history tells us that with the patience and discipline and continuing to run the course is well rewarded over the long term.

Although your overall asset allocation decision is one of the most important parts for achieving your objectives, it only works if the allocation is adhered to over time and through varying market environments.

The below chart shows growth of $10,000 investment in asset sectors across 30 years.

Because investing evokes emotion, even sophisticated investors should follow a long-term perspective and a disciplined approach. Far more dependable than the markets is a strategy of steady saving. Making regular contributions to a portfolio, and increasing them over time, can have a surprisingly powerful impact on long-term results.

All Ordinaries (XAO) 5 Day Chart

Disclaimer: The advice provided is general advice only. It has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this advice you should consider the appropriateness of the advice, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs. Where quoted, past performance is not indicative of future performance.

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Sentinel Wealth Unit Trust T/As Plus 1 Wealth Advisors (ABN:11 408 695 672) is an Authorised Representative of Sentinel Wealth Managers Pty Ltd
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Update to Road Transport Awards 2020

Update to Road Transport Awards 2020

Update to Road Transport Awards

Including Long Distance Operations and Road Transport Distribution Award 2020 

Please see below a table summarising the changes to the Road Transport (Long Distance Operations) Award 2020 and Road Transport and Distribution Award 2020 effective from 30th April 2020.

OLD GRADE

NEW GRADE

DESCRIPTION FROM AWARD

 RELEVANT AWARD

1 NOTE: Grade levels in this award align with equivalent grade levels in the Road Transport and Distribution Award 2020 Grades 1 and 2 are not applicable to the Road Transport (Long Distance Operations) Award 2020 http://awardviewer.fwo.gov.au/award/show/MA000038
2
1 3 Driver of 2 axle rigid vehicle up to 13.9 tonnes GVM. Capacity up to 8 tonnes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://awardviewer.fwo.gov.au/award/show/MA000039

2 4 Driver of 3 axle rigid vehicle over 13.9 tonnes GVM. Capacity over 8 and up to 12 tonnes.
3 5 Driver of 4 axle rigid vehicle over 13.9 tonnes GVM.
Driver of rigid vehicle and heavy trailer combination with GCM of 22.4 tonnes or less.
Driver of articulated vehicle with GCM of 22.4 tonnes or less.
Capacity over 12 tonnes.
4 6 Driver of rigid vehicle and heavy trailer combination with GCM over 22.4 tonnes but not more than 42.5 tonnes.
Driver of articulated vehicle with GCM over 22.4 tonnes.
Driver of low loader (as defined) with GCM of 43 tonnes or less.
5 7 Driver of rigid vehicle and heavy trailer combination with GCM over 42.5 tonnes but not more than 53.4 tonnes.
Driver of double articulated vehicle with GCM 53.4 tonnes or less (includes B-doubles).
Driver of low loader (as defined) with GCM over 43 tonnes.
6 8 Driver of rigid vehicle and trailer(s) or double articulated vehicle with GCM over 53.4 tonnes (includes B-doubles).
Multi-axle trailing equipment up to 70 tonnes capacity.
7 9 Driver of road train or triple articulated vehicle exceeding 94 tonnes GCM.
8 10 Multi-axle trailing equipment.

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Sentinel Wealth Unit Trust T/As Plus 1 Wealth Advisors (ABN:11 408 695 672) is an Authorised Representative of Sentinel Wealth Managers Pty Ltd
(ABN: 73 108 328 294) AFS Licence 322211 | Financial Services Guide