Wednesday, November 10, 2010

FREE2GO - A new initiative from the NRMA for young drivers

I am the proud parent of a 17 year old girl who just got her licence and her first car.  My first thoughts were "Yippee! No more picking or dropping her off her up from work at ungodly hours".  Now after a week I am not so sure just how great this new found freedom is.


Between worrying when she is 5 minutes late and resisting the urge to ring the hospital to make sure she hasn't been in an accident every half hour, there is the added concern of her financial commitments.  It's just not the car payments, insurance, registration and the cost of peterol but also the cost of her being stranded, broken down or as luck would have it today locking her only key in the car!

We all know that having roadside assistance can be very useful in these situations, however the young girl in question has only been driving 2 days and needless to say we haven't got around to getting her roadside assistance.  So now my dear girl is parting with some hard earned cash for a locksmith to come out and break into her car so she can resume her driving activities!

Needless to say I dropped everything and rang the NRMA Roadside Assist to look into a membership for her and was quite prepared to part with some hard earned cash of my own.  However I was pleasantly suprised to find out they have a new initiative called Free2go, which is designed for young drivers aged 16-20 and is completely free for the first year. 

It offers roadside assistance to the young person, no matter who's car they are driving - an added bonus for when she borrows someone else's car!   It takes 48 hours to activate the membership after joining but once it is activated they have all the benefits of an adult member no matter which vehicle they are driving.

You can find out more by visiting http://www.befree2go.com.au/ .

INVESTING IN GOOD ADVICE

Most people think of retirement when they think of a Financial Adviser and while planning for your future is important an experienced and qualified Financial Adviser can help you save money, protect against risk, manage debts, grow wealth, reduce tax and even help with your legacy.



A financial adviser’s first responsibility is to you, the client, not an employer, a product provider or to him/herself but to the needs and objectives of the client.

When providing advice an adviser must take into account the individual circumstances of the client. A client’s needs and objectives are as individual as their finger prints and no two clients will ever be the same so it is important for your adviser to spend time getting to know you and what your needs and goals are.

There are two types of advice, General Advice and Personal Financial Advice.

General advice may help you to make decisions on financial products or money but it does not take any of your personal circumstances into consideration. Personal financial advice on the other hand considers a clients personal needs, objectives, their current situation and any goals the client may have for the future. With all this information the adviser can recommend appropriate strategies specific to these individual circumstances and where necessary recommend financial products.

Most people choose to see a financial adviser at significant turning points in their life. They may need a professional to help them consider their options and to understand financial products, tax laws or the benefit system (centrelink). Once people find an adviser with whom they are comfortable, a long term relationship often develops with regular meetings to review changing needs.

Some of the reasons a person may consult a financial planner include:

• Starting work or changing jobs and looking at superannuation options.

• Getting married, or separating from a partner.

• Starting a family, and saving for education costs.

• Buying a house, or paying off the mortgage.

• Looking to invest for capital growth.

• Planning to retire.

• Inheriting money, receiving redundancy payments or other lump sum payments.

So how do you know if you are getting good advice?

Your financial adviser should be:

• taking into account your personal needs and goals,

• putting your needs first,

• providing clear and understandable advice both verbally and written(statement of advice),

• clearly identifying costs which are openly discussed and explained

• open about any conflicts of interest which may influence the adviser’s recommendations

Financial advice is a valuable professional service. To provide financial advice, a financial adviser must be licensed by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) or be an authorized to represent a license holder.

The ASIC consumer website  allows people to check who holds a licence or is an Authorised RepresentativeClick here for tips on choosing a financial adviser.

Disclaimer: This article is no substitute for financial or investment advice and should not be read as such nor relied upon as such. You should seek your own professional advice tailored to your individual investment objectives, financial situation and particular needs.



Wayne Lennan is an Authorised Representative of Financial Wisdom AFSL No. 231138

BREATHE.......

We all know that stress can be bad for us, both mentally and physically.  We live in a hectic world, always on the run from one commitment to the next, kids, spouses, bosses, the demands on us and our time are high these days.  In fact we are so busy that sometimes we forget how to breathe or rather how to breathe properly. 

Think about it, it is the one thing we must do to live.  A few minutes without breathing will put our life at risk, but how often do we actually stop and think about it.

"Mindful Breathing" is a simple relaxation technique that can help you deal with stress, anxiety and panic attacks.  It can even help you deal with fears such as a fear of flying.

So the good news is you don't have to take up yoga to learn how to relax.  In fact all you need is 3 minutes.

  1.  Find a quiet place and sit upright in a comfortable position.
  2.  Focus on your present state and existence and block out any intrusive thoughts (like what chores still need to be done).
  3.  Pay attention to your breathing, inhale slowly through your nose taking several seconds to breathe in.  Exhale slowly (aim for twice as long as inhalation) through your mouth.
  4. Continue "Mindful Breathing" for 3 to 5 minutes or for deeper meditation you can work your way up to 20 to 30 minutes.

BREAST CANCER - Keeping Abreast of the Facts

1 in 9 Aussie women will be diagnosed with breast cancer by the age of 85

7 Aussie women die every day - that's more than 2,500 deaths a year



Early detection of breast cancer helps increase the survival and provides the best chance of effective treatment for women with the disease.


What you should look out for?
  • A lump, lumpiness or thickening of the breast
  • Changes to the nipple such as a change in shape, crusting, a sore or an ulcer, redness or an inversion of the nipple.
  • Discharge from one nipple; if this is blood stained, clear or occurs without squeezing.
  • Changes in the skin of the breast such as any puckering or dimpling of the skin, unusual redness or other colour change.
  • Changes in the size or shape of the breast; this might be either and increase or a decrease in size.
  • Unusual pain that is persistent and doesn't go away, if this not related to the normal monthly cycle and occurs in one breast only.

What can you do to reduce the risk?
  • Maintain a healthy weight throughout your life
  • Be moderately physically active, equivalent to brisk walking for at least 30 minutes a day
  • Eat a balanced diet including at least 5 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit a day
  • Limit alcoholic drinks to no more than 2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink a day for women
  • Aim to exclusively breastfeed babies for up to 6 months and continue with complementary feeding thereafter

Two things you can do today
  1. Know what is normal for your breasts, get to know how they look and feel and regularly check for any changes.
  2. Women aged 50-69 years can call 13 20 50 for a free mammogram

You don't need to be able to fly to be someone's hero

Did you know that one in three Australian's are going to need blood donations at same stage of their life?  It's a good thing that Australia has just been named the most generous country when it comes to donating blood, but there is still a short fall in donations with only 1 in 30 people donating.





Who needs your blood?

34% will be used by Cancer patients
19% Other causes of anaemia
18% surgical patients including, heart surgery & burn victims
13% other medical conditions including heart, stomach and kidney disease
10% orthapaedic patients including fractures and joint replacements
4% obstetrics including pregnant women, new mothers and young children
2% trauma patients including road accidents



Other blood components such as plasma and platelets are also vital. Plasma is used in bleeding patients and for children and adults with immune disorders and also to prevent some complications of pregnancy.  Platelets are used to manage bleeding in surgical patients and cancer patients.




Whether your type is A, B, O or AB, your blood is a match for someone in need.  Please become a donor today - your just the type to be a hero in somebody's life!

To become a blood donor click here

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

INSIGHTS - Financial issues affecting your lifestyle

The feature article of our Insights newsletter for Spring focuses on personal debt. We discuss the differences between ‘good’ personal debt and ‘bad’ personal debt and provide some tips on managing your own debt situation.
You’ll also find a useful  tips for keeping your investments on track, no matter what the market is doing. We outline the fundamentals of investing you should keep in mind when making investment decisions.

Finally, I hope you enjoy our regular feature, an update on local and international markets from Colonial First State’s Investment Markets Research team.

These articles highlight the importance of regularly reviewing your financial plan. If you would like to discuss your personal situation or revisit your goals, please call me on 02 4925 6125.

Click here to get your free copy of our Insights Newsletter.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Slip Slop Slap this Summer

With summer fast approaching it's time to remember to slip slop and slap!  The Hunter has the highest incidence of melanoma in the world - yes, that's right in the entire world!



Our laid back, outdoorsy lifestyles are literally killing us.  So remember that whenever you are outside to cover up with long sleeves and pants, wear your hat and sunglasses and make sure you apply your sunscreen at least 20 minutes prior to sun exposure and to reapply regularly especially after swimming or playing sport.

Not only will you be preventing your risk to melanoma but you will also look younger for longer.  All the experts agree that sun damage is the number one cause of looking old, so your fountain of youth can be found in your sunscreen bottle.

For those of you who really want a tanned look the only way to achieve it without risking your skin is to fake it.  Be careful though, this offers no protection from the sun so you still need to cover up and slop on that sunscreen.  You can get really good tans in salons these days that won't leave you looking like an Umpa Lumpa from Willy Wonker's Chocolate Factory.  They vary in price but are usually between $30 -$45.


A fake tan can give you that glow
your are looking for without the risks


Agnieszka Lennan is a qualified beauty therapist and has some great tips for getting the most out of your spray tan.






  • Ensure that your skin has been properly cleansed, exfoliated and is free of all moisturisers, lotions, creams and make up.  Exfoliating products that leave the skin excessively oily such as salt scrubs should also be avoided.
  • Avoid shaving for at least 12 hours prior to your tan.
  • Tans will develop over several hours, some will take up to 24 hours but there are some now that will develop in around 2 hours, so you should wait at least 6-8 hours before showering after your treatment.
  • Avoid using bar soap after your tan and other harsh cleansers. Use a gentle body wash for best results.
  • After your post shower, keep your skin hydrated and nourished using a good body moisturiser. This will help extend the life of your tan.
  • Remember if you are going out in the sun you still need to wear sun protection.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

From Floristry to Millinery....Absolutely Fascinating!


Nicole pictured in the middle with 3 of her
stunning creations at last years Melbourne Cup.
Pictured left her creation that won the honours.

Nicole Leonard is thirty something and currently studying millinery at the Hunter Institute of Technology.  This Newcastle born and bred creative force is creating a
bit of stir on the racing fashion scene.




Nicole grew up the youngest of four girls in Birmingham Gardens.  At 16 she left school to start an apprenticeship in floristry.  During her career in the florist industry she created a following for her beautiful bridal bouquets and stunning flower arrangements.

I caught up with Nicole at her home in Wallsend.  A beautiful Californian bungalow that has been lovingly and meticulously renovated, blending refined modern taste and convenience with old world charm.  Of course when I walked in she apologised that they had not completely finished the job with the gardens still retaining a little too much of the old world for her liking.  That is the perfectionist coming out and after a tour of the house and her current projects and past creations I realise just how passionate she is about beautiful things.

We sat down, with a glass of wine and discussed her past career in floristry.  Nicole loved the creative design involved in floristy, but the hours were long and hard and some customers could be a bit on the difficult side.  "It's not that they were hard to work with, but some people were convinced we were making millions from their flowers when the truth was much poorer."  "People just don't realise the time and effort that goes into their flowers, from seed to delivery.  In fact I am sure some customers thought we were growing the flowers out the back."

This was one of the reasons that pushed her to consider a career change, "I had gone as far as I wanted to go in floristry and I had no ambitions to own my own store. It is a lot of time and hard work for very little reward, it is such a competitive industry."

The other reason was her love of her horse racing.  "My love affair with the races started when I first went to Broadmeadow races. I loved the atmosphere and the women with their beautiful dresses, hats and accessories, it all seemed so dignified and almost regal."

About six years ago Nicole met her partner Matt McBrien who is originally from Melbourne and was working on the Central Coast and it wasn't long before Nicole developed a love for Melbourne and Matt.  "Everyone is so stylish in Melbourne, even the men. They take such pride in their appearance and yet they are really friendly and open people".  

On her first trip to the Melbourne Cup Nicole was unable to find a hat or fascinator to match her dress, "I already had in my mind what I wanted but I searched high and low, far and wide and just couldn't find what I wanted.  So I thought why not give it a go and make one myself!" and that was exactly what she did.

Nicole admits her very first creation was a little on the crude side as she had no idea of what she was doing, she just knew how she wanted it to look.  It was at this point Nicole starts using millinery terms that completely lost me! 

While it may not have passed the test of an expert she received lots of compliments at the races and it wasn't long after that friends and family started putting their orders in.  "With all these people wanting me to make headpieces and fascinators and my passion for floristry waning I thought why not start my own business."  So she looked into her options and signed up for her Tafe course and started her business Absolutely Fascinating

Nicole has come so far from that first attempt,and her drive to be the best at what she does, you know that her work is only going to get better and more in demand.  "I know I can't compete with department stores and I have no desire to do so.  I want to produce individual and unique pieces of art that will be cherished by the women I make them for, not these cookie cutter designs made in China."

At heart Nicole is an artist, you can see the passion that takes over when she shows you her latest creation or talks about all the technical aspects of her work.  With all of that and an exceptional talent it won't be long before we see her creations walking down the runway of a high end fashion show and even at the famous race that stops a nation!

Examples of Nicole's exquisite designs
 

 

PS. If you want something unique for  Melbourne Cup day you can contact Nicole on 0438 662 834 but be quick as she can only commit to a few projects at a time.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Newcastle's Heart Lies in it's Stomach

This was a great feature a couple of weeks ago in the Newcastle Herald.  There is a lot of debate in Newcastle about it's future as a city.  As you will read in this article Newcastle has number of great restaurants in and around the CBD, so let's support them.  Next time you are looking for a venue or just somewhere to have an intimate dinner with your partner or a night out with a few friends why not try somewhere new. 

CLICK HERE FOR A LIST OF GREAT NEWCASTLE RESTAURANTS

1 in 20 Australians have been victims of scams

Hard to believe but true, recent statistics from the NSW Department of Fair Trading have highlighted a growing epidemic of scam related crime in Australia.  Today's online world has opened a flood gate of cyber-crime and made it much easier for these criminals to get you to part with your hard earned money.



I myself recently was caught in a scam that ran a job in our local newspaper.  The ad was very large and looked very professional.  The ad claimed they were a marketing company looking for mystery shoppers in our area.  It sounded like the perfect second job so I sent in my resume and application letter by email as the ad requested.

Within 24 hours I had an email saying I was successful and that they would forward me my first job in the next 24 -48 hours.  I thought great, I am going to get paid for doing what I like to do best - shopping!  While I expected that I would get a phone call about my first job, I didn't instead they emailed me account details to use my local post office's Western Union facility to see how helpful the staff were.  The catch was I had to send $500 of my own money and provide the company with the receipt details and my bank account so they could refund the money and also pay me for my service. 

Needless to say a red flag went up, so I decided to Google the marketing company.  What I found was a long list of Scam Report sites warning of this scam.  What was unusual in my case is they had advertised in our local paper, usually they only used employment websites or chat rooms to recruit people.  I was lucky, I can only imagine how many other people got caught by this trap, desperate people who needed the extra income or someone who had been long term unemployed may have been duped in to parting with their own money they could little afford to lose.

There are a million different scams, but they usually fall into the below categories. 

Phishing Scams
If you receive an email that appears to be from your bank asking for your account or personal details you can be sure it is a scam. Banks never ask customers for such information via email.

Work from Home Scams
Much like my own experience or they may offer huge amounts of money for little work, like data entry and require you to pay a joining fee.

Ring tone Scams
If you buy a ring tone online, be sure you what you are getting into. Some sites will quietly sign you up to a monthly subscription and then make it near impossible to cancel.

Nigerian Scams
Be very wary of anyone overseas offering to pay you for helping them transfer money out of their own country via your bank account.  Never disclose your bank details, not only could you lose your own money you could be aiding criminals in laundering dirty money.

Health Related Scams
The Internet is full of health related products that claim to be a miracle cure. Most are fakes and produce no results and some can even be harmful.

Online Auction Scams
While these auction sites can be great for picking up a bargain they can also be a trap.  Check sellers online ratings or for goods that seem much cheaper than competitors or to sellers that offer to sell to you more cheaply in a direct deal.  Major auction sites provide buyers with valuable protection but only if your trade within the system.

Where to go for help

For info on recent scams that are doing the rounds visit www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au or phone 1300 302 502

For info on reporting a scam go to www.scamwatch.gov.au
or phone 1300 302 502

If you think your details may have been put at risk contact your bank asap to notify them of your concerns.

For any other advice you can call Fair Trading on 13 32 20.

REMEMBER....If it sounds to good to be true, then it probably is.

Christie Birch

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Light the Night for Leukaemia

A beautiful sight!
 
Light the night 2010 in Newcastle was a great night despite the heavens opening up!  Our team Light the Night Angels, raise over $2,400 that will go to the Leukaemia Foundation's vital programs. 
 
Thank you
 to everyone who supported us including
 
Three Bean Cafe
 Bright Buttons Day Care Centre
(to all the Mum's who ran the cake stall and those who baked cakes)
Michael Hall Financial Planning
Luke Di Prinzio Financial Services
The Strictly Limited Company
10X Newcastle
Newcastle Photo & Art
Dowling Commercial Real Estate
Kelso's the Law Firm
Forefront Productions
Janelle Gerrard
Greg McDonald
Yosi Tal
Rod Dawson
Courtney Forbes
Susan Lefmann
Julie Jurd
Gregory Politis
Mark Thompson
Sherynne Smith
Paul Bissett
Trent Goodall
Travis Tantos
Christopher Blaxland Walker
Richie Williams
Christopher Birch
Steven Quick
and to those who gave to our other team member Phyllis Cox in memory of her daughter Rhonda who passed away from Leukaemia.
 
We are excited that we did so well, it isn't always easy to get people to part with their money even for a good cause, so I hope everyone realises just how great they are!
 
Where your money goes
 
The foundation has made the following commitments to provide funds raised to investing $4,000,000 to support the work of Australia's best researchers to develop better treatments and find cures.
Supporting 9,000 patients, their carers and families.
Provide regional patients with housing during treatment.
Transport more than 4,400 patients to and from treatment.
Providing access to online support and information for 15,000 people.
 
 

 
We have decided that we will support Light the Night for 2011 also and we have some pretty great plans to raise even more money so look out for our announcements in March next year.
If you need more information about the Leukaemia Foundation and the services they provide click here to go to their website.
 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

NSW CANCER COUNCIL

Cancer Council NSW is a community funded, community focused cancer charity dedicated to the defeat of cancer.

Through the development of prevention strategies, research into new treatments and cures, and by providing clinical and emotional support to those affected by cancer, we work towards realising our vision of a society where lives are not cut short by, or their quality diminished by cancer.

We have the broadest reach of any cancer organisation in New South Wales and have been a trusted cancer charity for more than 50 years.

Much of our success is based on our ability to work in collaborative partnership across many areas of the Community.

Cancer Council has recently formed a partnership with Wayne W Lennan Financial Services to provide a service reviewing personal insurances.

At the time of a cancer diagnosis the last thing anyone needs to worry about is their financial situation. Personal insurances can help to alleviate this worry.

Cancer Council will promote this service through their networks and if an individual decides to take out a policy Wayne W Lennan Financial Services will donate $100 to the Cancer Council. Also, if a review is undertaken and they can't save the client any money, they will also donate $100.

This partnership has benefits for both parties, but more importantly for individuals who will have the peace of mind to know they have financial coverage should they ever have a diagnosis of cancer.

Christine Roach | Regional Manager, Hunter & North West

Cancer Council NSW

T: (02) 4923 0701 | M: 0411 408 662
22 Lambton Road, Broadmeadow NSW 2292

Client Story - A $300,000 Phone Call

Nearly 18 months ago a cancellation letter came across my desk for one of my long time clients. I thought it was a bit odd and decided I would give him a call to find out why he was canceling his insurance.

During our conversation he advised that he had been diagnosed with Cancer and due to the cost of his treatment and medications could no longer afford to pay his premium. Thank goodness I decided to give him a call!

As it turned out our client had a life and trauma policy for a significant amount of money. I pointed this out to my client and he admitted he had forgotten what a trauma policy covered. I proceeded to explain that trauma cover pays a lump sum benefit upon the diagnosis of a specific illness including cancer.

My office contacted the insurer that day and within 10 weeks our client received his benefit of over $300,000 which greatly helped him and his family. When my client first contacted me he was not very hopeful of making a recovery, indeed the doctors did not hold much hope either. Since receiving his money and greatly reducing the financial stress he has since advised me that things are looking better.
While I don't claim that his improvement was a direct result from his financial gain , it did ease the stress he and his family were under and allowed him to concentrate on his treatment and recovery.



My point in sharing this story with you is to highlight how I work for you, my client. My job is not only to put a protection plan in place for my clients, but also to manage and maintain that plan and provide any assistance to my client on an ongoing basis. This however does require a degree of regular interaction, including annual reviews and keeping in touch with our clients.

You will notice over the next 12 months that we have introduced a new review process which will require our clients to complete a review survey. The survey should only take about 5 to 10 minutes to complete but it is extremely important that it is completed and returned every year so I can make sure that I am giving you the best service and advice that all my clients deserve.

Of course if our clients need to contact us they can call our office on 02 4925 6125 during business hours Monday to Friday or they can contact us via our website by visiting www.waynelenna.financialwisdom.com.au and clicking on the contact us link.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Join the revolution!

Friday September 3rd 2010 is officially Random Act of Kidness Day, better known as RAKD.


Do something kind for a complete stranger without the expectation of anything in return.  Buy someone a coffee, mow someone's lawn, wash a car, pay for someone's petrol.  There are heaps of ways you can help someone visit http://www.rakd.com.au/ to download and print your vervy own RAKD card or to read the great strories of how people in Newcastle RAK others.

We would love to hear your stories too, so don't forget to share once you have RAKD a stranger!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The new way to communicate with customers

Most people have heard of Facebook and while some people may still not understand Facebook there is no denying it is changing the way business communicates with the public.  In fact there is a significant swing towards using a business Facebook page as a first point of online contact. Instead of businesses advertising their URL (website) businesses both big and small are advertising they are on Facebook.


So what does it mean if your a business and your not on Facebook?  It's okay, you business is not going to collapse tomorrow, but you may be missing out on valuable opportunities to grow your business.  While Facebook is not the be all and end all of your marketing strategy it can be an important and very successful tool for creating customer loyalty and building your brand and best of all it is free!

For the small business that maybe can't afford a traditional website Facebook business pages offer a cheap alternative.  For large business it is a great way to reach the masses.  Some great Facebook business pages to check out include Coke, Nike and Cadbury.  Some smaller local pages include Asimus Business Coaching, Absolute Infinity and of course mine (Wayne W Lennan Financial Services), which as I am learning is a work in progress.

Now setting up a basic page is not as difficult as the prospect of doing it seems and once you get started you can get tips and advice on how to tweak it to give it that corporate look. 

To help any businesses in Newcastle get started Lindy Asimus and I are going to be running some short workshops over the next few weeks that will offer practical advice for getting your Facebook business page up and running.  Lindy is a dedicated social media expert (junkie...) with great tips to not only set up your page but practical ideas for how you can use it to promote your business.  While there is a small cost involved, $10 Lindy has kindly offered to do this and donate all proceeds to our Light the Night team for the Leukaemia foundation.

Groups for these Facebook sessions will be kept to a maximum of 6 people at a time so everyone will get the opportunity for some one on one time with Lindy.

If you are interested in attending one of these sessions please click here to register and recieve your free guide "7 steps to a healthy growing business".

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Good Mental Health is an important part of your overall health

Having worked in the life insurance industry for more than 20 years now, I have seen the increase in mental health claims.  In fact 1 out of every 5 Australians will suffer depression in their lifetime.  In fact mental health has become so widespread that the insurance industry has had to add it to their risk assessment when processing an application for insurance, especially for income protection.

So how can you maintain good mental health?

Obviously some things are beyond our control, the death of loved one, long term unemployment, an accident or illness, divorce, even moving house or losing a pet can trigger an episode of depression or anxiety.  The good new is though that you can proactively help your state of mental health, there are things in everyone's power to decrease your chances of being one of the statistics.

Exercise
This doesn't mean you need to train for a triathalon or marathon.  All you need is a couple of hours of activity every week, whether it is going for a walk or playing a sport it doesn't really matter you just need to move!

Nutrition
The food you are eating can affect your mood, energy levels and concentration.  Fresh fruit and vegetables are an important part of maintaining good mental health.  It is recommend you eat 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegies a day.  It is also important to get enough protein, afterall protein is the building blocks for your entire body including your brain.

Sleep
Medical experts agree that everyone should aim for between 6 and 8 hours of good sleep every night.  Lack of sleep can affect the brains production of important hormones and chemicals that control your mood and energy levels.  Sleep is so important to our body's ability to function that going without sleep for a prolonged period can cause death.

Stress Management
We all suffer from stress from time to time.  Trying to get the kids organised for school while they are fighting over the bathroom and get to work on time, all at the same time - very stressful!  Stress will be a part of normal life and we can't always control stress triggers but we can learn how to cope with them or reduce them.  For example mornings in a house with children who have to go to day care or school and both parents have to get to work too, you can't change the situation you need to go to work and the kids have to go to school but you can minimise the stress by preparing the kids the night before.  Making lunches, setting the table for breakfast the night before, having uniforms etc organised the night before and having a schedule for the bathroom will all help make the situation less stressful.  Learning to recognise stress will help you manage it and most importantly take time out to relax!

I think the secret to good mental health is living a balanced life, it's not easy finding that balance and maintaining it but following the guidelines above will give you a starting point.

WL

Click her for more information on Mental Health

FINDING AND CONSOLIDATING YOUR SUPER

Proposed changes in the Superannuation laws regarding lost super mean that any super account that has less than $200 and is unclaimed will be transferred to the Commonwealth.  You will then need to lodge an application to the ATO to reclaim your lost super. 

This proposed law will also affect accounts with higher values if the members are deemed lost and the accounts have been inactive for more than 5 years.  These laws if passed will commence in December 2010, so now is the time to look for any lost super.

Most people don't even know when they have lost super, but you can check by visiting the ATO website and using their online Superseeker program to see if you have any.  You need to provide some personal information and your Tax File Number so they can cross reference it with the fund databases.

I found some lost super, what do I do next?

If you have a super account that is currently recieving contributions you can rollover the funds into that account.  If you don't have another super account because you don't work you will need to set one up to roll the super into or you can advise the fund that is currently holding your super and advise them of your new contact details.  They will explain what your options are in regards to withdrawing the money or rolling it over.

By locating and consolidating any lost super you will reduce your management fees and associated costs, plus you will know where all your super is!

Visit the SuperSeeker or the ATO for more details.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

WANTED: 10,000 Australians to lend a helping hand











Aritcle by Christie Birch

Child sponsorship is one of those subjects that raise various opinions around the "water cooler".  The most common comment I hear is "there are people in need in our own country".  While this may be true it's worth noting the same people that use this retort to justify their decision not to sponsor usually don't contribute to any charity, not even the local ones!



My family and I have sponsored 2 children overseas through World Vision for nearly 10 years.  Sponsorship has not only made us feel like we are helping to make the world a better place but it has taught our children to appreciate how lucky they are to live in Australia and have the opportunities most kids take for granted.

The other popular objection is "I would but I can't afford it".  When we first sponsored our kids we were living on one income and had just bought our first home.  I know lot's of people who use this argument who are much better off than we are or are ever likely to be.  Child sponsorship is about $43 per month which isn't a lot when you think about how much we spend a month on coffee, morning tea or lunch at work.

Your money not only helps your child with their education and medical needs but some of it is also contributed to community projects such as agricultural education, wells and water pumps and medical facilities.

Our own children have grown up alongside our sponsored children and our family always looks forward to the annual updates and new photos of our sponsored kids. They have become an extension of our family and one day I hope that we will have the opportunity to visit them and to see first hand how we have helped them and the communities they live in.

If you have ever considered sponsoring a child now is the time.  World Vision are currently looking for 10,000 sponsors.  You can pick your own child or you can let them pick one for you.  There is a wealth of information on the World Vision website including stories from the children, sponsors and about the difference sponsorship has made in communities all over the world.

Visit World Vision and help to make the world a better place for one child.  Don't forget to share this with your friends too!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

FIX OUR CITY CAMPAIGN

Fix Our City was formed in August 2009 in response to the Hunter Development Corporation’s Newcastle City Centre Renewal Report.

Their objective is to ensure key recommendations within the report are implemented in full by maintaining a public profileas well as maintain pressure on state and federal politicians to secure funding for the region. 


This Thursday June 3rd 2010 at 5pm they have organised a rally at Town Hall.  I would urge anyone who feels that it is time for Newcastle to move forward to attend.  I believe that by implementing the recommendations we will have greater connectivity in our city, greater investment and job creation. It is time for the people of Newcastle to take a stand!



Home to 9% of the state's population (620,000), the Hunter region is the largest regional centre in Australia, yet it receives less than half of this figure in NSW government funding.

7 Habits of Wealthy People

Everyday we make choices that affect our level of wealth, from our spending habits to our investment choices.  We often blame our low pay or high bills for not being able to get ahead but the truth is that wealthy people usually have the same financial habits in common.  These habits don't require a degree in economics in fact most of them are just  common sense.

1. Spend less than what you earn
2. Save your money (aim for 10% of your income)
3. Invest wisely - make sure you get sound professional advice, most people are not stockbrokers.
4. Borrow wisely - make sure you have good debt (debt that is used for an asset) not bad debt.
5. There is no such thing as a get rich quick scheme - if it is too good to be true then it probably is.
6. Be patient - If you can't get rich quick then get rich slowly!
7. Insure yourself - no matter how clever we are with our money we cannot always control what is going on in our lives.  Accidents happen and people do get sick and these events can mess up our plans, having a contingency plan in place to avoid losing your income or having to sell off your assets is just good sense.

If you follow these very simple rules you should be able to build your personal wealth, and while money is the most important thing in life it gives you a greater choice of what you can do in life.

HEART ATTACK WARNING

Warning signs of heart attack can be different from person to person, they may not always be sudden (often how hollywood portrays them) and a lot of people will only suffer mild chest pain and some none at all.



So how can you know when you or someone you know is having a heart attack?  The Heart Foundation has recently launched a campaign to educate all Australians on the warning signs of heart attack.  The key to survival rates is early treatment so the sooner people realise something is wrong the better their chances are.

Warning signs can include a feeling of tightness or heaviness on their chest and a choking feeling in their throat.  Their arms can feel heavy or useless.  Other warning signs include pain, pressure, heaviness or tightness in one or more parts of their upper body, including back, neck, shoulders, jaw and arms.  Sweating, dizziness, nausea and vomiting are also warning signs and some people might just feel generally unwell "not quite right".

It is important to be aware of these early symptoms and to take immediate action by calling an ambulance.  Don't try to drive yourself to the hospital - you could end up hurting someone else and delay getting vital treatment that can be administered by paramedics on the way to hospital.  The earlier the treatment the less damage that will be done to the muscles around the heart.  Talk to your family and friends make sure they all learn the early warning signs, it may just save a life.

If you would like more information visit the Heart Foundation's website.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Unlike car insurance, income protection is tax deductible!

We all have some kind of plan for the future.  Whether it is to pay off our debts, buy a house, get married, have a family or travel the world, but what happens to those plans when something unforseen like an injury or an illness happens?  How do you survive each week let alone realise your goals?

Have you considered how you would pay your bills if you could no longer work?



Income Protection insurance can help by replacing up to 75% of your income if you are unable to work due to injury or illness.  It can help your replace lost income to meet ogoing living costs and generate savings to help realise your goals in the future. Income protection eases the financial stress during traumatic times so you can concentrate on your recovery.

Tax Deductible Premiums
Premiums for your Income Protection may be tax deductible making it more affordable.  If you take out a policy before June 30 and pay your annual premium you can bring forward an expense that would otherwise be tax deductible to you the following year.  So right now is a great time to look at Income Protection. Plus your cover will be in place for the next financial year!

Click Here if you would like any information about the benefits of Income Protection.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Make Saving a Habit



Learning to save money from your take home pay every week is an important skill in reaching financial goals. As a rule you should try to save a minimum of 10% or your income, of course if you have high interest debt it is probably a good idea to use your allocated savings to help pay it off quicker.

While 10% may not sound like much, especially if you are not earning a lot at the moment, it can quickly add up! For example, say your take home pay is $800 a week and you open a high interest savings account with a $100 deposit and then add to it $80 a week. At a return of around 5% by the end of five years you will have $23,695.

If you can't afford 10% try 5% it doesn't really matter, what you are trying to do is to develop a habit of saving. Once you get the habit it becomes quite addictive, this is why it is a good idea to train your kids at a very early age to save a little of everything they earn or are given for birthdays and Christmas.

Check out the online savings and investment calculator.

Water for Life - Healthy Living



Water - a vital nutrient

The human body can last weeks without food, but only days without water. The body is made up of 55–75 per cent water. Water forms the basis of blood, digestive juices, urine and perspiration and is contained in lean muscle, fat and bones.

As the body can’t store water, we need fresh supplies every day to make up for losses from lungs, skin, urine and faeces. The amount we need depends on our metabolism, the weather, the food we eat and our activity levels.

Facts about water in our bodies
  • Body water is higher in men than in women and falls in both with age.
  • Most mature adults lose about 2.5–3 litres of water per day. Water loss may be more in hot weather and with prolonged exercise.
  • Elderly people lose about two litres per day.
  • An air traveller can lose approximately 1.5 litres of water during a three-hour flight.
  • Water loss needs to be replaced.
  • Foods provide about one litre of fluid and the remainder must be obtained from drinks.
  • Water is needed for most body functions
  • Water is needed to:
  • Maintain the health and integrity of every cell in the body.
  • Keep the bloodstream liquid enough to flow through blood vessels.
  • Help eliminate the by products of the body’s metabolism, excess electrolytes, for example sodium and potassium, and urea which is a waste product formed through the processing of dietary protein.
  • Regulate body temperature through sweating.
  • Keep mucous membranes moist, such as those of the lungs and mouth.
  • Lubricate and cushion joints.
  • Reduce the risk of cystitis by keeping the bladder clear of bacteria.
  • Aid digestion and prevent constipation.
  • Work as a moisturiser to improve the skin’s texture and appearance.
  • Carry nutrients and oxygen to cells.
  • Serve as a shock absorber inside the eyes, spinal cord and in the amniotic sac surrounding the foetus in pregnancy.

Dehydration
Dehydration occurs when the water content of the body is too low. This is easily fixed by increasing fluid intake. Symptoms of dehydration include headaches, lethargy, mood changes and slow responses, dry nasal passages, dry or cracked lips, dark-coloured urine, weakness, tiredness, confusion and hallucinations. Eventually urination stops, the kidneys fail and the body can’t remove toxic waste products. In extreme cases, this may result in death.
 
Recommended daily fluids
Approximately six to eight glasses (at least 150ml each) of a variety of fluids can be consumed each day. More than eight glasses may be needed for physically active people, children, people in hot or humid environments, and breastfeeding women (who need an extra 750–1,000ml per day). Less water may be needed for sedentary people, older people, people in a cold environment or people who eat a lot of high water content foods.

Are you ready for tax time?


With the end of the financial year just around the corner, now is the time to make sure your financial affairs are in order.  There are a number of smart strategies you could consider to help you streamline you finances and minimise your personal tax liability.

Insurance Premiums - Some insurance premiums, such as those for income protection are generally tax deductible as an expense incurred in earning your income.

Work Related Expenses - Don't forget to keep any receipts for work related expenses such as uniforms, training courses and learning materials, as these may be deductible for tax purposes.

Prepay Margin Loan Interest - If you have a margin loan, you can prepay up to 12 months interest in advance (subject to prepayment rules). You can claim a tax deduction for the prepayment in this financial year, further reducing your taxable income.

Tax Deductions for Investment Expenses - Expenses you incur while earning assessable investment income may be a tax deductible.  These expenses can include fees for financial advice, account keeping and management fees and interest payments on margin loans.  Claiming a tax deduction for these expenses could reduce your assessable income for the financial year, although not all expenses are immediately deductible. your tax adviser can help your determine what can be claimed.

Review Ownership Structure of Investments - Transferring the ownership of your investments to your self managed super fund (if your fund accepts this) or to your spouse, could reduce the tax you pay on future investment income and capital gains.  However, these transfers have capital gains tax implications so you should seek tax and legal advice from a qualified professional before proceeding.

Managing Capital Gains - It's important to assess if you have made any capital gains or losses from your investments.  The most common way you make a capital gain (or capital loss) is by selling assets such as real estate, shares or managed fund investments.  Managed funds also distribute capital gains which you must report. The Australian capital gains tax system is quite complex so it's important to consult with your tax adviser.

Contributions to Super - Contributing to your super can be one of the most tax effective ways of building your retirement savings.  However you need to be extra careful not to exceed your concessional contributions cap and incur excess tax.

The government limits how much you can contribute to super in any one year.  The annual contributions caps as of 1 July 2009 until 30 June 2012 are:

  • $25,000 per year for pre-tax contributions (concessional) if you are under age 50 on the last day of the financial year.  If you're aged 50 or over on the last day of the financial year, a transitional cap of $50,000 per financial year applies until 30 June 2012 (commencing the year you turn 50).
  • $150,000 per year for after tax contributions (non concessional) or $450,000 over a three year period if you are under 65 in the financial year the contributions are made.
It's important to keep your financial planner informed about any contributions you make so they can ensure you don't exceed these caps.  Contributions made over these caps are taxed at a hefty 46.5%.

If you currently have a salary sacrifice or transition to retirement strategy in place, or are self-employed and make personal deductible super contributions, you should speak to your financial planner to discuss whether you can boost your contributions this financial year or review your current arrangement.

If you would like to know more about which end of year tax strategies may be appropriate for you, you should contact your financial adviser.  If you dont' have a financial adviser you can call our office on 02 4925 6125 Monday to Friday.  In conjunction with your tax adviser, we can work with you to ensure you are taking advantage of any available tax concessions and that your investments are structured in the most appropriate way.

Disclaimer: This general advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular financial needs,, circumstances or objectives, and is based on Financial Wisdom Limited's understanding of current law as at 14 April 2010.  While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this information, it is not guaranteed. You should obtain professional advice before acting on the information contained in this publication. We are not tax agents and this article is not intended to be taken as taxation advice.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL INVESTING

Article by Anthony Brodie Dip FP, AIMM, JP  Certified Financial Planner

1. Know what your goals/objectives are:
The first thing to ask yourself is, what are you trying to achieve?  This will have a vital bearing on the types of investments you should choose.  Are you investing to increase your income now, or is your aim to achieve capital accumulation for the future?  Or maybe something in between?

 2. Know your time frame:
Are you investing to buy a home in 2 or 3 years, or do you want to build up assets for your retirement over 10 to 20 years?  The assets that a prudent investor would select as short-term investments are quite different from those that would be selected for long-term investments.

The long term investor can take risk of having more funds invested in volatile investments like shares, because any downturn will in time have an upswing.  However, the short term investor who invested ins shares may be faced with a depressed market at precisely the time when the funds are needed.  Generally speaking, to get the best results you should aim to invest for the medium to long term if you you are investing in growth investments such as shares and property.

3. Know your risk tolerance:
It's no good choosing high risk/high return investments if you are going to lie awake at night worrying about them.  Be realistic and take a sensible approach based on your goals and time frame/s.  Do not expect a high return if you have all your funds invested in mostly fixed interest and cash.  This is one area where real assistance is required.

4. Diversify:
Don't put all your eggs into one basket, in other words diversify your investments by spreading them between an appropriate number of experience investment managers and the major asset classes (ie shares, property, cash, short term securities, fixed interest securities).  Usually all markets don't move in the same way at the same time, so if one asset class experiences a decline, chances are that the other classes will generally maintain their value.

5. Develop a strategy:
If an investment strategy has been based on quality advice, it will be appropriate for your circumstances for many years and won't need to be altered if market conditions change.  A common mistake is to forget about the strategy when market conditions change, that is some investors seeing the share market moving up are tempted to move all their money into shares.  If shares fall they then want to sell.  These investors try to time their investments to match turning points in the market and very often they only achieve the opposite.  Investors who sell when the market falls often only succeed in crystallising a loss.  Because they are out of the market chances are that they may miss the next rally. There is an old saying "It's not timing in the market that matters, but time in the market that counts".

6. Always seek good advice:
Always talk to an experienced and qualified Financial Planner about an investment strategy that will suit your circumstances.  The time he spends in reviewing your financial objectives, discussing your options and developing your investment strategy will probably be the best investment you ever make. 

Disclaimer: This article is no substitute for financial or investment advice and should not be read as such nor relied upon as such. You should seek your own professional advice tailored to your individual investment objectives, financial situation and particular needs.

If you would like further information or would like to arrange an appointment with Anthony Brodie by calling mobile 0425 234 234.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

IMAGINE A LIFE WITHOUT ILLNESS

A photo story exhibition .....Women with Cancer. Photographed by Edward Cross

This week I attended the Newcastle Business Club lunch.  Edward Cross or Eddie as his friends refer to him spoke briefly about the upcoming charity event that he has organised to help raise funds for the Hunter Medical Research Institute.



Eddie has been an accomplished local photographer in Newcastle for many years.  About 5 years ago he was involved in an accident and suffered a brain injury.  He lost his home and nearly his business while trying to recover.  Eddie's friends and colleagues rallied the community to help him out and he with a lot of hard work on his part and help from his friends and community recovered.  As a result of his experience he is now committed to helping others.  His story is truly inspirational and his message is simple, don't take anything for granted and live a full life.

This exhibition focus's on the stories of 10 women who were diagnosed with Cancer and their journey's.  The exhibition will be opened by Jodi McKay MP on Friday May 7th 2010 at 6.15pm and will run until June 1st 2010 at the King & Parry Gallery, 154 Parry Street Newcastle. Entry is free but there is a wishing well set up to take any donation you can make.

Wayne W Lennan Financial Services is proud to sponsor such a moving and potentially life changing event.  I would urge all of you to try and find some time to attend and to give what you can!

Click here for more details

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

THE PITFALL OF NOT HAVING A PROPER WILL

Article by Chris Ryan of Chris Ryan Legal
Level 1 14 Church Street, Newcastle, NSW 2300

DISCLAIMER: This article is no substitute for legal advice and should not be read as such.  A will should only be prepared by a qualified solicitor after taking instructions regarding your own personal situation.

What is a Will?
A will is a legal document that sets out what happens to your real and personal property when you die.
To be valid it must satisfy certain requirements according to legislation and it should be tailored to your own personal circumstances.

Recently I bought 5 business shirts from a department store. The shirts were made by 3 different manufacturers. The sizes and fit were different for each manufacturer.  I used to think that size 44 was size 44 and that was that!  One brand I had bought previously and those shirts fit fine, the other's didn't.

In my laziness I didn't try the other shirts on, nor did I ask the salesperson for help, I thought I knew best.  Had I asked for help and tried the shirts before I bought them, I would have saved time in the long run and received a proper fit, first time.

There are no guarantees that the sizing or style of shirts won’t have changed the next time I buy a bunch of shirts. The risk of cutting corners with the shirts was not that great since the downside was either a second trip to the store for an exchange or putting up with a shirt that didn’t quite fit right. The risk of not getting your Will right is much more significant and it is your family which pays the price.

What happens when there is no Will?
If you die without a Will you die wholly intestate. If you have an otherwise valid Will and a gift in your Will fails, you may die partially intestate.

An intestate estate is distributed according to a regime set out in legislation. Under this formula, the entitlement to estate property works its way down from a surviving spouse through a chain of blood relations and if there are no relatives, the State of New South Wales gets it.

I recently had an inquiry from a relative by marriage of a 96 year old lady who passed away after all her beneficiaries and other blood relatives had died- she therefore died intestate and the State reaped the win fall as there were no other qualified beneficiaries.

No one need die wholly or partially intestate. A properly drafted Will which is revised at proper intervals can ensure that people or organisations of your choosing can benefit from your wealth.

Research has indicated that about 40% of Australian adults do not have a Will.

Why have a Will?

• To take control over how your Estate is distributed after you die.

• To avoid unintended beneficiaries receiving a share of your Estate (such as a former spouse, estranged child, or in some cases even the Government).

• To properly provide for your dependents (particularly if you have dependants from different relationships).

• To control the proportion of the distribution of your Estate (for example if you have given significant financial assistance to one of your children in your lifetime and believe that this advance gift should be taken into account with respect to the gifts to your children in your Will).

• You can nominate a guardian for your children.

• You can create a trust for your heirs so that your Estate can provide an income over time.

• Exploit certain tax advantages.

• You can make a gift to your Church or favourite charity.

What about a Will Kit?
Let me address the issue of Will Kits. A properly completed D.I.Y Will contained in the approved kits is perfectly valid but is it going to do what you want it to do? Sometimes what we think we want is not always practical, possible or desirable. What a Will kit won’t do:

• Advise you of all your options;

• Answer your questions in a way that makes sense and is relevant to you;

• Explain the operation of your Will so that you understand it properly;

• Help you choose an executor;

• Explain issues concerning superannuation and asset protection;

• Raise other relevant and significant issues which may not directly affect the operation of your Will, but may still have a significant impact on your family’s financial welfare after you die.

In extreme situations not having a proper Will can result in hardship to family members, significant reduction or wasting of assets and significant litigation against your estate.

The majority of Wills I prepare for my clients are what lawyers call “simple” Wills. These Wills are “simple” because the net Estate (after payment of debts) is left to one or more persons equally (sometimes a simple trust might be created for infant beneficiaries). This format, as it turns out, is satisfactory in most circumstances. All of my clients though who end up signing a simple Will after going through the process of considering their personal circumstances where I discuss with them the various issues which may arise and what their objectives are for their Will. Often this process involves conferring with other professional advisers (for example a financial planner and/or accountant). Sometimes a simple Will format is inappropriate. At the end of the process my goal is to have my clients understand the way their Will works and that this understanding gives them comfort and empowerment that their family, friends, church or charity will be properly provided for in accordance with their wishes after they die.

Getting back to the shirts for a moment, think of getting a qualified solicitor to prepare your Will as not just asking for help but going one better and getting the tailor involved- you get something which fits your needs.

There is no reason why all adults should not have a valid Will. If you don’t have a Will, there is no reason to wait- the best time is now. If you have a trusted family solicitor I encourage you to speak to them about either preparing or updating you Will if you haven’t done so in the last 4-5 years. Getting a Will prepared is as easy as talking with a solicitor.

If you would like to discuss with me any issue surrounding the making of a Will or like to have your existing Will reviewed, please do not hesitate to call me for a confidential obligation free chat on 0406913100.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

CANCER - Australia's biggest killer

1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will be diagnosed with some form of cancer in their lifetime.

What is Cancer?
Cancer is a disease of the body's cells.  A healthy cell will grow and multiply in a way that is controlled according to it's genetic blueprint but some cells can change and that control can be lost.  The word cancer is given to a collection of these cells.

A Personal Story by Christie Birch

Just about everyone I know has been affected by cancer in some way.  In my own experience our family has been affected more than once.

My Mother was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma when she was just 26 years old.  She had 3 kids under the age of 8, had never smoked and lived a pretty healthy lifestyle.  She spent nearly 12 months travelling to and from Sydney for treatment as there were no facilities here in Newcastle.  She was in fourth stage which meant very little to me as a kid, I just knew that the doctor's were going to make her better because that is what doctors do.  In reality my Mum was very ill, the cancer had spread and the odds for long term survival were not good.  Fortunately the doctor's worked their miracles and Mum put up the fight for her life and in her words there was some divine intervention.  26 years later she is still cancer free and has seen the marriage of her kids and the births of her grand kids.

Shortly after Mum's recovery my Grandfather was diagnosed with stomach cancer. Doctor's said that the cancer had gone to far and that there was nothing they could do.  They gave him 12 months to live but only 3 weeks after his diagnosis at the age of 61 he died.  He was one of three brothers who all died before the age of 62 of cancer.

During my highschool years my best friend's brother was diagnosed with testicular cancer at age 15.  Due to the embaressing nature of his symptoms he never sought treatment until the size of the tumour became physically obvious.  By the time he saw a doctor the cancer had spread to his lungs, his stomach and his kidneys.  He was given only a 5% chance of surviving beyond 5 years.  He started aggresive treatment and everyone started praying for a miracle.  He went into remission and is now aged 34 but still lives with the constant fear that the cancer could return at any time.

Next my family suffered the loss of my Uncle and my other Grandfather both succumbing to prostate cancer.  Shortly after this my father inlaw was diagnosed with prostate cancer also.  He decided to not take any chances, they had detected it early and he opted to have his prostate removed.  There was no evidence of cancer anywhere else in his body and so is living proof that early detection works.

Yesterday my Husband and I received a phone call from his Mother.  She had a skin cancer removed from her nose a few months ago and had a follow up biopsy done last week.  The news is not good, they didn't get all of the cancer and she now faces the possibility that the cancer has gone too far.  So we go back to our prayers that have helped in the past and pray that the news will be good.

I could go on and on with the names of friends who have been affected and those who we have lost and I am sure that as many of you read this you will take a moment to remember and honour those whom you know have been affected by cancer.

THERE IS GOOD NEWS......in Australia today 60% of all cancer diagnosis will be effectively treated.

1. Live a healthy lifestyle - prevention is better than a cure so don't smoke, avoid too much alcohol, eat a healthy diet, get some exercise and cover up when you are out in the sun.
2. Check yourself - be aware of any changes in your body and get to the doctor's as soon as possible if you notice anything unusual.  Early detection is paramount to your survival rate.
3. Support research - medical research costs millions of dollars every year.  There are a number of great organisations that raise money for this purpose.  Please support by giving what you can, you never know it just might be you or your loved ones that will be saved by a break through!

AUSTRALIA'S BIGGEST MORNING TEA
May 7th 2010 from 9.30am
Lifestyle House Boardroom - 671 Hunter Street Newcastle
RSVP by May 5th 2010

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

BUDGETING BASICS

Budgeting, it isn't rocket science but for some people it may as well be.  I am amazed at the number of people I come across that have no money sense.  They earn really good money but just can't stay ahead of the game and are often struggling with large debt.  Then there are the people I meet who don't earn as much but have great financial management skills.

So what is there secret, it is a simple formula  and will work for everyone - spend less than you earn!

When people begin to budget they usually start wrong and so the budget never lasts.  The first step in budgeting should be to keep a money diary for at least 4 weeks.  During this time you need to write in your money diary everytime you make a purchase or pay a bill, right down to the cent.

By keeping a diary like this you will begin to create a picture of your spending habits.  Everyone has heard someone say, "I just don't know where my money goes..." well now you will find out.  Once you see your spending patterns you can begin to create a budget. 

The next step is to seperate your spending entries into WANTS & NEEDS.  A need is something that you or your family has to have in order to live, such as food, clothing, shelter, water etc..you get the picture.  A want is all the other things that you spend your money on, these are more lifestyle items such as a boat, electrical appliances, holidays etc.

Once you have completed this step you will see where you can cut back on your spending.  Even if you only can cut back by $5 a day that adds up to more than $1,800 a year.  Paying off an extra $35 a week on a $200,000, 25 year mortgage will reduce the amount of interest paid over the term by around $12,830.  As little a $20 a week invested with a return of around 6% and you will have $15,000 in 10 years.

The most important thing to do now is to start, the sooner you start the sooner you will be in front.
For more information and tips visit Understanding Money.

FINDING TIME FOR EXERCISE

Busy people often find it hard to find the time to exercise, but 30 minutes of daily exercise can significantly reduce your risk of serious illness, including heart disease and diabetes.  Schedule your 30 minutes into your diary everyday like you would any other appointment.  If you can't find a 30 minute block of free time you can always break it down to smaller blocks of time.


Do a quick 10 minute walk on your lunch break and then when you get home spend 20 minutes playing a game with your kids outside.  If you don't have kids buy yourself a bike and go for a ride.  Most health professionals agree it is better to do some activity than none so aim to get moving for at least 30 minutes a day.

For more tips on exercise check out the Get Moving website.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Social Media and Business

It is a fact, Australians are at the forefront of using social media.  In fact there are 9 million facebook users in Australia and it is growing every day.

So how can a business use this forum to generate new business?  Well it is not about selling, it is about developing your profile and your relationships with existing clients and potential clients.  Social media is a great way to connect with people you already know and to be introduced to those you would like to know.

To understand it better you can check out the Small Biz Help Club the site can also help get you started with the basics.

Once you are on  your way I would love to hear your comments and experiences in delving into social media.

Goodluck and happy networking.

WL

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Personal Information Directories


Insuring your family against financial hardship in the event of your untimely death is extremely important to the financial security of your family.


However once you have your cover in place it is just as important to make sure that others know you have it, after all should you die suddenly in an accident or from a sudden illness you are no longer in a position to tell them about it.

The importance of this issue was highlighted to me at the end of last year when a client passed away. Although she had been ill for quite sometime her health deteriorated rapidly over 2 weeks resulting in her death. It was 8 weeks before we learnt of her death when her sister called my office saying she happened to come across one of our letters whilst cleaning out our client's house. Our client had not told anyone of her policy that she had taken out nearly 20 years ago and as such no one knew to contact us.

Fortunately for our client's beneficiaries her sister was paying attention when she was cleaning her house. Our office organised the paperwork for the family and they recently received their entitlements. But what if her sister had not thought to call us or she had not taken notice of what she was throwing away?

The truth is the policy may have lapsed and if the reminder letter had gone astray no one may ever have known that there was an entitlement to a benefit. It is for this reason that everyone should have a plan on what needs to happen in the event of their death. It may be an uncomfortable subject but it will save your loved ones a lot of unnecessary worry while they are still grieving for their loss.

The best idea is to keep a record of all your important information in a safe place and give a copy to your solicitor, accountant or a close trusted family member or friend.

You should include information about your doctor, Medicare number, people to contact in the event of an emergency, your next of kin details, and insurance policies including those for your home and car as well as any personal insurance.

Also include a list of your professional advisers with their contact numbers and the location of your current will and who your power of attorney is.

You may also want to include the contacts for any organisations you belong to so they can be notified and also your account administration passwords for any social networking sites you belong to so your profile can be removed.

By keeping all these details not only will you make things easier on your family, you will ensure they receive all the entitlements you planned for.

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