Household savings tipped to keep declining

Posted on 25 October 2018
Household savings tipped to keep declining

Marnie Banger
(Australian Associated Press)

Australians are expected to dig further into their savings this year as they increase their spending faster than their income is growing, according to the head of Treasury.

Treasury Secretary Phil Gaetjens shared the forecast with senators at an estimates hearing in Canberra on Wednesday.

Mr Gaetjens noted the number of Australians with jobs is rising, helping people to feel more optimistic about the economy.

However, he said wage growth and inflation continued to be subdued.

Incomes are expected to pick-up gradually, leading to more spending, which Mr Gaetjens said should provide a boost to economic growth.

But he doesn't think income growth will keep up with people's spending this financial year.

"As growth in consumption is likely to continue to outpace income growth in 2018-19, the household saving rate is expected to decline further," he said.

His comments come after national accounts data released in September showed Australia's household savings rate fell to 1.0 per cent in the June quarter, down from 1.6 per cent in the three months to March and 2.5 per cent from last June.

That came as the Australian economy had grown at its fastest pace in nearly six years, expanding by 3.4 per cent over the 12 months to June.

Mr Gaetjens said the drought is among the greatest risks to the domestic economy at the moment, due to its likely impact on the agricultural sector.

Tightening credit conditions which make it more challenging for people to get loans may also constrain how much people spend and invest, he said.

Looking beyond Australia, Mr Gaetjens said Treasury was keeping a keen eye on increasing uncertainty and unpredictability in trade policy.

Such tensions, stemming from trade tariffs imposed by the United States, recently contributed to the International Monetary Fund lowering its growth forecast for this year.

"The potential for further escalation remains and this could negatively impact global growth, especially if confidence is affected," the Treasury boss said.

Photo by Fabian Blank on Unsplash 
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Lost and unclaimed super

Posted on 16 October 2018

The ATO has released the latest figures on lost and unclaimed superannuation accounts. The data has been broken down by postcode and issued via national and state media releases.

For latest figures and how to search for lost super click here.

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Updates on immunisation and the Child Care Subsidy

Posted on 15 October 2018

If you are receiving Family Tax Benefit, there are changes to immunisation requirements that may affect your family.

Posted in: News  

Aust, Japan urge better US-China ties

Posted on 12 October 2018
Aust, Japan urge better US-China ties

(Australian Associated Press)

Australia and Japan have warned China and the United States to settle their differences over trade and political issues using existing rules, rather than spark a new "cold war".

The comments come after a meeting in Sydney on Wednesday between Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Defence Minister Christopher Pyne and their Japanese counterparts Taro Kono and Takeshi Iwaya.

They also precede a G20 finance ministers meeting in Bali on Thursday where Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will tell the world's most powerful treasurers to recommit to free trade, amid the United States' protectionist "America first" approach.

President Donald Trump has slapped billions of dollars worth of tariffs on Chinese products and China has retaliated with similar tax hikes.

Vice President Mike Pence also attracted outrage from China when he delivered a speech in which he accused the Chinese government of stealing American intellectual property, seeking to interfere in US politics and wanting "nothing less than to push the United States of America from the Western Pacific".

Senator Payne, who was recently in the US for talks, told reporters bodies such as the World Trade Organisation were best placed to deal with differences.

"Our view is always that these things are best resolved within the rules construct that has been used over very many years around the WTO and similar," she said.

"So we would encourage both parties to do that."

Mr Kono said for countries to prosper they needed to abide by the International rules-based order.

"No country wishes for a new cold war," he said.

Mr Frydenberg earlier said exports were crucial for Australian jobs.

"So my message to my fellow G20 finance ministers will be that free trade equals more jobs, free trade equals more investment and free trade means higher economic growth," he said.

Former federal Labor treasurer Wayne Swan says countries should speak out against the "incredibly disruptive" actions of the US on the global economy.

Mr Swan, who will also attend the Bali meeting, says Australia and developing Asian countries would bear the brunt of a trade war.

"We are all very interconnected. When something goes wrong in one area it can quickly spread if we don't have a decided and firm response from international authorities," Mr Swan told Sky News on Wednesday.

The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday cut its global growth forecast for 2018-19 by 0.2 per cent to 3.7 per cent, citing the negative impact of new US trade measures.

"It's even more important that countries like Great Britain, Australia, Canada, the Europeans, the Japanese speak out very clearly and succinctly about the importance of good policy," Mr Swan said.

"When you see the state of politics and policy in the United States and its actions, which are incredibly disruptive to the established global order."

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

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Retirement and your mental health

Posted on 28 September 2018
Retirement and your mental health

Money and Life
(Financial Planning Association of Australia)

It can be hard to stay engaged and keep a positive outlook in retirement, but advances in technology can help enormously. For example, if you are interested in volunteering, websites such as Good Company can instantly put you in touch with hundreds of opportunities, charities and individual projects. Or other options such as renting out a spare room on Airbnb or driving for Uber will not only contribute to keeping you more connected, you can also make a bit of extra cash.

The success of businesses such as Airbnb and Uber have given rise to dozens of other great services that utilise the internet and smart phones, without which they wouldn't exist. Here are some examples.

A dog's life

Another newer business, Mad Paws, combines pet-sitting and the pleasures of cuddling, patting and looking after someone else's pets, but not having them for "keeps" with a bit of extra income.

Mad Paws is also a great service for retirees who want to go travelling but fear leaving their beloved pets or having to put them in a kennel or cattery which can prove traumatic and be expensive.

Co-founder and CEO, Alexis Soulopoulos, started Mad Paws in 2014 after pet sitting for a friend who was struggling to find a place for his Labrador. After just three years Mad Paws has become Australia's largest online pet sitting community, working to connect pet owners with the perfect sitters across Australia.

Like the "Airbnb of the pet world" the company acts as the middle man, matching owners with the perfect sitter for their pet. Mad Paws offers a range of services including overnight services in the owner's home OR sitter's home (whichever the pet owner prefers) or daytime services such as pet day-care, house visits and dog walking.

How green was my garden

Along the same lines, Helen Andrew created Spare Harvest, an app and website that connects people within a local area to share food and garden resources.

"We are finding people who have retired have more time for their garden and they are connecting with other gardeners in their community to share, swap or sell excess produce, plants and various garden items," she says.

Spare Harvest also provides retirees with the opportunity to save some money by sourcing other members' excess resources. They can also make a little extra money from their garden by selling what they can.

"Not only is gardening a wonderful physical and mental wellbeing activity, but when our members connect with another like-minded person, they are developing their social network which also enhances their wellbeing," says Andrew.

Professional help

When it comes to retirement planning, employers and super funds have traditionally assisted people with financial aspects. However, as awareness of employees' psychological wellbeing has increased, so too has the knowledge there is more to a successful retirement than money.

SuperFriend is a national mental health promotion foundation focused on making it simple for employers to create mentally healthy workplaces.

The SuperFriend Planning for a Mentally Healthy Retirement Seminar was developed in conjunction with the Australian Psychological Society and is delivered by accredited psychologists. Seminars range from 30-60 minutes and teach people how to protect against poor mental health during retirement.

Australian life insurance specialist, TAL, focuses on providing health and mental health advice for Australians of all ages.

TAL's head of mental health, Glenn Baird, says maintaining mental wellbeing is important at any stage of life, but in retirement it's especially important "not to lose focus on those things that help us to stay engaged and keep a positive outlook on life."

"For some retirees, the reduction in day-to-day mental stimulation can be challenging," says Baird.

Baird's tips include:
  • Continue learning having more time on your hands can be an ideal opportunity to pursue those things you never had time to enjoy
  • Stay connected plan to see friends and family, take trips and reconnect with people on social media
  • Embrace your financial wellbeing just because you're no longer working, it doesn't mean you're not still in a position to positively impact your finances. Understanding your options and assessing your outgoings to ensure you're getting what you really need at the right price can be both rewarding and satisfying.

"The main thing to remember through all of this is that different things work for different people, so find the balance that's right for you and helps you make the most of your post retirement years," says Baird.

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