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David Beckham's incredible offer for 'stealing' couple's wedding venue

<p>David Beckham has reportedly made a huge offer to a couple in a bid to steal the venue from them. </p> <p>The couple had booked the luxury resort Gleneagles in Scotland, UK for their dream wedding, but the football legend - who has reportedly been busy hunting for the perfect location to celebrate his 50th birthday - also wanted to book the venue to mark the milestone birthday. </p> <p>According to <em><a href="https://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/david-beckham-steals-couples-wedding-32864115" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Mirror</a>,</em> Beckham has apparently convinced the couple to move their wedding date and venue by helping them pay off their wedding and a few other special offers. </p> <p>A “friend of a friend” took to X, to share the claim this week. </p> <p>“A friend of a friend is getting married at Gleneagles next year but David Beckham wants the date for his 50th, so to get the friend to move it so he can have the hotel, Gleneagles are paying for their new wedding date, honeymoon AND paying off their mortgage … the power of Becks," user Ollienarrator wrote in a tweet. </p> <p>Fans of Beckham praised the football legend for being so generous. </p> <p>“OMG!!!! That’s absolutely wild! Ah but so worth it,” wrote one person. </p> <p>“What a wedding present!” added another, to which the original poster responded:  “I bet Beckham won’t have to pay either! But yeah, mortgage paid off will do!” </p> <p><em>The Mirror</em> reported that they have contacted Beckham's representatives for a comment. </p> <p><em>Image: Ryan Browne/ Shutterstock Editorial</em></p> <p> </p>

Money & Banking

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$2 billion lotto win tears family apart

<p>A man who won one of the biggest lottery jackpots in American history has been accused of cutting his family out of their promised share after winning $2 billion (AUD) in the Mega Millions jackpot. </p> <p>The unidentified man has been in a legal battle with his daughter’s mum since November, after he accused her of violating a nondisclosure agreement by telling the rest of the family about his fortune before their daughter's 18th birthday in 2032, according to the Independent. </p> <p>He bought the winning ticket in Lebanon, Maine on January 13 2023. </p> <p>The mum – identified by a pseudonym, Sara Smith – claimed that he was the one who told his family about his lotto winnings, not her. </p> <p>The man's father supported Smith's claim and said that his son told him about the win and all the things he planned to do with his new-found fortune, which he collected through an LLC in a lump sum of over $750 million. </p> <p>“February or March of 2023, my son came to my house … and informed me and my wife that he won a large amount of money in the Maine State Lottery,” his father wrote in new court documents. </p> <p>“I understand that my son has stated that he told me nothing about his money ‘other than the simple fact that I had won’,” the dad wrote. “That is not true.”</p> <p>He also claimed that he didn't ask his son for any money, but the lotto-winner allegedly made a bunch of promises, including building his dad a garage to fix up old cars, buying his childhood home, setting up a million-dollar trust fund and funding future medical expenses for his dad and stepmum.</p> <p>The lotto-winner also allegedly demanded his father to not talk to Smith. </p> <p>"I told him … ‘You are not the son I knew’,” his dad wrote in the filing.</p> <p>“He got angry, calling me a ‘dictator’ and an ‘a**ehole’. I have not heard from my son since, and he has not done any of [the] things he promised.”</p> <p>The half-billionaire refuted his dad and Smith's claims. </p> <p>“I made the mistake of telling my father that I had won the lottery without having him sign a confidentiality agreement,” he wrote. </p> <p>“Our relationship deteriorated quickly thereafter,” he continued.</p> <p>“I did not tell him what I was doing with my money, how I was going to benefit my daughter, or any facts other than the simple fact that I had won.” </p> <p>He also accused his ex-partner of trying to reveal his identity to the world and that she wrongly accused him of trying to kidnap their daughter after he refused to pay for her and her new boyfriend's vacation. </p> <p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p> <p> </p>

Legal

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Property tycoon sentenced to death over $27 billion fraud

<p>A Vietnamese billionaire was sentenced to death on Thursday in one of the biggest corruption cases in history, an estimated $27 billion in damages - a figure equivalent to six percent of the country’s 2023 GDP. </p> <p>Truong My Lan, chair of major developer Van Thinh Phat, was found guilty of embezzlement, after looting from one of the country's biggest banks, Saigon Commercial Bank (SCB) for over a decade. </p> <p>“The defendant’s actions... eroded people’s trust in the leadership of the (Communist) Party and state,” the verdict read at the trial in Ho Chi Minh City. </p> <p>After a five-week trial, 85 others were also charged for their involvement in the fraud, with charges ranging from from bribery and abuse of power to appropriation and violations of banking law. </p> <p>Four were given life imprisonment, while others received jail terms ranging between 20 years and three years suspended. Lan's husband was Hong Kong billionaire Eric Chu Nap Kee, was sentenced to nine years in prison.</p> <p>Lan and the others were arrested as part of a national corruption crackdown.</p> <p>Lan was initially believed to have embezzled $12.5 billion, but on Thursday prosecutors have said that the total damages caused by the fraud now amounted to $27 billion. </p> <p>The property tycoon was convicted of taking out $44bn in loans from the bank, according to the <em>BBC</em>, with prosecutors saying that $27 billion of this may never be recovered. </p> <p>The court ordered Lan to to pay almost the entire damages sum in compensation. </p> <p>It is also <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-68778636" target="_blank" rel="noopener">reported</a> that she is one of very few women in Vietnam to be sentenced to death for a white collar crime. </p> <p>“In my desperation, I thought of death,” Lan said in her final remarks to the court, according to state media. </p> <p>“I am so angry that I was stupid enough to get involved in this very fierce business environment -- the banking sector -- which I have little knowledge of.”</p> <p>Police have identified around 42,000 victims of the scam, and many of them were unhappy with the verdict. </p> <p>One 67-year-old Hanoi resident told the AFP that she had hoped Lan would receive a life sentence so she could fully witness the devastating impact of her actions. </p> <p>“Many people worked hard to deposit money into the bank, but now she’s received the death sentence and that’s it for her,” they said. </p> <p>“She can’t see the suffering of the people.”</p> <p>The resident has so far been unable to retrieve the $120,000 she invested with SCB. </p> <p>Police have said that many of the victims are SCB bondholders, who cannot withdraw their money and have not received interest or principal payments since Lan’s arrest. </p> <p>Authorities have also reportedly seized over 1000 properties belonging to Lan. </p> <p><em>Image: Twitter</em></p> <p> </p>

Legal

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Woman allegedly murders great-aunt with spaghetti

<p>Italian police are investigating the bizarre alleged murder of Maria Basso, 80.</p> <p>Paola Pepe, her young great-niece, was arrested for the alleged murder after she was believed to have force-fed Basso with spaghetti, Italian newspaper <em>Corriere della Sera </em>reported. </p> <p>Basso was vulnerable to choking if she did not eat finely chopped or pureed food, despite this Pepe still took out her great-aunt for a meal in a Sicily restaurant in December 2022. </p> <p>She allegedly bought Basso spaghetti, and two days later her great-aunt was dead, after some of the pasta allegedly got lodged in her airways. </p> <p>Her death initially looked like an accident, until Italian police launched further investigations and found that Pepe had amended her great-aunt's will just two days before the meal.</p> <p>The<em> Corriere della Sera</em> reported Pepe had taken an unusual interest in her great-aunt's finances in the months leading up to her death after she had unexpectedly turned up during Basso's 80th birthday, and spent hours alone with her. </p> <p>Pepe eventually moved Basso to a care home 1300 kilometres away, without telling her close family members, and reportedly did not take any of Basso's medication or personal belongings to the new home. </p> <p>Police alleged that after isolating her great-aunt, she managed to convince Basso to change her will so that Pepe was named sole beneficiary of Basso's estate, which was worth $775,000. </p> <p>Basso initially intended to give her estate to a charity, as she had no children according to local media.</p> <p>Pepe has denied all accusations and was bailed, but is wearing a police ankle bracelet while waiting for her trial. </p> <p><em>Image: Strettoweb</em></p> <p> </p>

Legal

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The types of insurance that aren’t worth your while

<p>While it’s important to make sure you’ve been covered, some forms of insurance aren’t really worth your while in the long run. We’ve taken a look at several types of insurance you shouldn’t really bother with, why they’re not worth your money and how you can find an alternative. </p> <p>Yes, it’s essential to make sure you’re covered, but at the same time you don’t need to waste any money.</p> <p><strong>Extended warranties</strong></p> <p>Many a salesperson has made a customer fork out that little bit extra for an “extended warranty” to go with a major electronic purchase. The thing is though, in many cases the period of time covered by the warranty is actually exactly the level you’re automatically entitled to under consumer law.</p> <p><strong>Credit protection insurance</strong></p> <p>While this type of insurance can be useful and a way to insure yourself against the possibility of something happening to your income as the result of an injury or a condition, credit protection insurance has tendency to be pretty expensive. </p> <p>A more cost effective way to ensure your payments to your credit card, personal loans or mortgages are fulfilled would be to take out a life insurance or total and permanent disability insurance policy through your individual superannuation fund.</p> <p><strong>Funeral insurance</strong></p> <p>Many people see this as a good way to ease the financial burden on their family that comes with their passing, but in reality funeral insurance is quite expensive and the premiums add up every year. </p> <p>A far better option is a prepaid funeral, funeral bonds life insurance or even a special savings account with money set aside. Just make sure you let your family know!</p> <p><strong>ID theft insurance</strong></p> <p>This is one of those types of insurance that isn’t really protecting your from becoming a victim, rather helping you deal with the costs once it’s already happened. And what’s more, you bank is usually willing to cover the costs of credit card fraud, which is one of the major problems to be associated with ID theft. </p> <p>Instead of spending money on a policy you can protect yourself from ID theft by simply keeping your personal documents safe, shredding documents such as bank account statements before throwing them away, and using antivirus software that is up to date. You can also check your credit file each year to make sure nobody’s using your identity for fake accounts.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

Money & Banking

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Five tips for developing and managing your budget – even in tough economic times

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/oluwabunmi-adejumo-1370664">Oluwabunmi Adejumo</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/obafemi-awolowo-university-2843">Obafemi Awolowo University</a></em></p> <p>There’s nothing quite like a new year to prompt us to take stock of our lives, our health, our goals – and our finances. Many people will start a new year by contemplating how best to budget, plan and save. This is always a good set of aims, but it’s especially important in the inflation-prone and unpredictable economies we’re seeing <a href="https://www.statista.com/statistics/268225/countries-with-the-highest-inflation-rate/">all over Africa and the world</a>.</p> <p>Budgeting is especially key. It is the most effective method to <a href="https://www.thebalancemoney.com/how-to-make-a-budget-1289587">monitor income and expenditure</a>. <a href="https://www.uslendingcompany.com/blog/key-differences-in-writing-a-household-budget-vs-a-personal-budget/">Personal budgets</a> can help you to monitor your resources in pursuit of larger financial goals. Budgeting also offers <a href="https://www.acrwebsite.org/volumes/v46/acr_vol46_2411998.pdf">more opportunities</a> to save money, reduce your debts and live a comfortable life. It can even <a href="https://prucomm.ac.uk/assets/uploads/blog/2013/04/Personal-Budgets-review-of-evidence_FINAL-REPORT.pdf">improve your mental health</a>.</p> <p>But where should you start? What questions do you need to answer in creating a budget? Here are some tips that I’ve learned – not just as an economist, but as a research cost analyst and someone who keeps a budget too.</p> <h2>1. Understand the broader economic conditions</h2> <p>It is imperative that individuals keep themselves aware and up-to-date on the realities of their country’s economic landscape. You don’t have to be a professional economist, but keep an eye on new developments like free business registration, small business development funds and printing of new money notes. What is the current exchange rate? What’s the political landscape and what international factors, like the price of crude oil, are at play? You should also watch the inflation rate and have a sense of unemployment trends.</p> <p>This economic awareness will prepare you to draft your own budget and you’ll have a sense of when external factors mean it’s time to revisit your plans.</p> <h2>2. Review your income sources</h2> <p>The ability to earn income is critical to sustaining livelihoods. Having a definite source of income is the bedrock of budgeting.</p> <p>Some important questions you should ask about your income – and how you might budget with it – include:</p> <ul> <li>What is my current income?</li> <li>What do I use my income for?</li> <li>Am I able to save, given my current income?</li> <li>What proportion of my income do I save and what proportion do I spend?</li> <li>Do I have the capacity to earn more than this?</li> <li>How can I improve my income?</li> </ul> <p>Your answers can help you to identify gaps or untapped potential. Those with irregular or unpredictable income should factor in the element of time-gap in their income, for effective budgeting. Time gap is when they are not earning income. And everyone should make allowance in their budgets for uncertainties like health issues, social engagements, inflation, unemployment, recession and price shocks.</p> <h2>3. Appraise your expenses</h2> <p>Expenses can be broadly categorised into “variable” and “fixed”.</p> <p>Fixed expenses recur within a short period: housing, food, transport, medical costs, electricity, utilities, toiletries and clothing. Variable expenses are more long-term and irregular, such as investment in property or interest-yielding assets, and the purchase of machinery.</p> <p>The main essence of revising our expenses is to analyse and possibly improve our spending habits. In reviewing our expenses, we can consider issues such as:</p> <ul> <li>What is the proportion of consumption-savings ratio from my income? This is how much do I spend compared to how much I save.</li> <li>What are my regular expenses?</li> <li>What are my fixed, capital or investment expenses?</li> <li>What are my extraordinary expenses that need modification?</li> <li>Have there been emergency or extraordinary expenses?</li> </ul> <p>A careful response to the issues raised above offers an occasion to re-evaluate the pattern and direction of our expenses. For instance, overspending, unplanned or extraordinary expenses can be identified. This can lead to an optimal, efficient reallocation of available resources.</p> <h2>4. Stabilise your finances through savings</h2> <p>Savings have been <a href="https://klinglercpa.com/bedrock-principles-for-saving-money/">described</a> as a financial stabiliser, given their potential to cater for urgent needs and create opportunities for investments.</p> <p>Of course, savings have more value when they grow faster than the rate of inflation. Inflation erodes the value of savings. For instance, an amount of 300,000 naira (US$676) saved to purchase an autorickshaw today may be impossible in two months’ time with an inflation rate of 10% when the tricycle price rises to 330,000 naira (US$744). The reverse is the case when there is deflation.</p> <p>Therefore, it is advisable to improve the value of savings through investments in interest-yielding assets such as stocks, shares, bonds, microfinance and production.</p> <p>That’s not to say it’s always easy to save. Many income earners spend as they go, not seeing savings as part of their budgets. Harsh economic realities can also make it difficult – sometimes seemingly impossible – to save. But it’s not impossible: savings can be made in small amounts, through a daily, weekly or monthly contribution to collections, cooperative schemes or microfinance affiliations. For instance, a point of sale business in Nigeria can permit a daily contribution of 500 naira (US$1.13) over 25 work days, giving an average saving of 12,500 naira (US$28.18) per month.</p> <p>The Point-of-Sale business started in Nigeria in 2013 when the Central Bank of Nigeria introduced the agent banking system. A POS agent operates and processes transactions through a POS service provider. Providers of such services include banks, microfinance banks and fintech companies.</p> <h2>5. Run a flexible budget</h2> <p>Once your budget is created, remember that it’s not set in stone. It should be flexible if anything changes in your life. For instance, an amount saved to buy a car can be invested in a promising venture buying shares through public offerings or private placements in multinational organisations like Nestle or Unilever.</p> <p>Also, health emergencies or career advancement programmes can require taking some money out of our savings.</p> <p>In all, budgeting should be flexible enough to incorporate exigencies, especially when catering for the current situation will culminate into a greater good.<img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/195590/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/oluwabunmi-adejumo-1370664">Oluwabunmi Adejumo</a>, Lecturer/Researcher, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/obafemi-awolowo-university-2843">Obafemi Awolowo University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/five-tips-for-developing-and-managing-your-budget-even-in-tough-economic-times-195590">original article</a>.</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Science finally proves "Money doesn't buy happiness"

<p>A new study has proven that the old adage "money can't buy you happiness" is true. </p> <p>Historically, economic wealth and higher income households are often seen to have an increased level of wellbeing and happiness, with the extra money making way for less stress and more general comfortability. </p> <p>However, researchers from Canada and Spain have concluded this may not be true, with such surveys often including responses from people in industrialised areas only. </p> <p>People in small-scale societies where money does not play a central role in every day life are often excluded from these studies, as the livelihood of residents in these small communities usually depend more on nature. </p> <p>Now, 2,966 people from Indigenous and local communities in 19 locations across the globe have been included in a study, with researchers now finding that societies of Indigenous people and those in small, local communities report living very satisfying lives despite not having a lot of money. </p> <p>The researchers wrote, "The striking aspect of our findings... is that reported life satisfaction in very low-income communities can meet and even exceed that reported at the highest average levels of material wealth provided by industrial ways of life."</p> <p>Researchers concluded the findings are strong evidence that economic growth is not needed to be happy, with only 64 percent of households included in the survey reported having any cash income.</p> <p>Eric Galbraith, lead author of the study, said, "Surprisingly, many populations with very low monetary incomes report very high average levels of life satisfaction, with scores similar to those in wealthy countries."</p> <p>Researchers added that high life satisfaction is shown in these communities "despite many of these societies having suffered histories of marginalisation and oppression."</p> <p>Galbraith added, "I would hope that, by learning more about what makes life satisfying in these diverse communities, it might help many others to lead more satisfying lives while addressing the sustainability crisis."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p>

Money & Banking

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“So tacky”: Bride slammed for using GoFundMe to pay for wedding

<p dir="ltr">A cash-strapped bride has been slammed for considering using GoFundMe to help pay for her wedding. </p> <p dir="ltr">Taking to a wedding page on Facebook, the bride explained that she and her partner had been saving as much money as possible for their wedding, but were struggling with their finances. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Our wedding is next year but I'm still so stressed that we won't be able to pay for the things that we need let alone actual decorations,” the bride began.</p> <p dir="ltr">Given the large expense of a wedding, the bride questioned if it was “tacky” to use GoFundMe, a crowd-funding website used for emergencies, to fund her big day. </p> <p dir="ltr">People were quick to chime in on the idea, with many people labelling it as “inappropriate” to use such a site for wedding expenses. </p> <p dir="ltr">The bride didn't share how much extra money she needs to fund the wedding, but many said she should continue to save rather than rely on others.  </p> <p dir="ltr">“Have the wedding you can afford, or wait and save,” one said bluntly. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Personally I think it is [tacky]. If you want to have a wedding you should be funding it yourself. If you can't afford all the things you want, then I guess you have to decide if you would rather go without or postpone until it's in your budget,” another wrote. </p> <p dir="ltr">One woman said it's “insensitive” since GoFundMe pages are for emergencies only, such as medical situations. </p> <p dir="ltr">“If you can't afford to have the wedding you want you really have two choices - postpone until in a better position financially or scale back your plans to fit within your means,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

Money & Banking

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Senior changes will to leave fortune to pets instead of family

<p>An elderly woman in China has decided to leave her $A4.3 million fortune to her pets instead of her three children, after she claims they never visited or took care of her when she was sick. </p> <p>The Shanghai woman, known by her last name Liu, drafted the will a few years ago according to the <a href="https://www.scmp.com/news/people-culture/trending-china/article/3248592/elderly-china-woman-leaves-us28-million-assets-beloved-pets-instead-children-who-never-visited-even" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>South China Morning Post</em></a>. </p> <p>However, as her three children rarely contacted her, and left her on her own while she was sick, Liu decided her cats and dogs were more deserving of her multi-million dollar fortune, and changed her will. </p> <p>Chen Kai, an official from the China’s Will Registration Centre headquarters, told her that leaving her entire inheritance to animals is illegal in China, but there is a way for her to ensure her pets get taken care of. </p> <p>“Liu’s current will is one way, and we would have advised her to appoint a person she trusts to supervise the vet clinic to ensure the pets are properly cared for,” he told the <em>South China Morning Post</em>. </p> <p>Another official added that Liu could always change her mind, if her children changed their attitude. </p> <p>“We told Auntie Liu that if her children change their attitude towards her, she could always alter her will again,” the official said. </p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p> <p> </p>

Family & Pets

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14 personal finance tips you were never taught – but need to know

<p><strong>Take a day to think about large purchases to avoid impulse buys</strong></p> <p>“Delaying your purchases for a day gives you time to think about whether or not you really need the items, and it curbs regrettable impulse buys,” advises Marc Diana, CEO of MoneyTips.</p> <p>“Sale items may be an exception to this rule, but even then, question how badly you need the item compared to saving or investing the money you would use to purchase it. When times are tough, and you’re cutting expenses, would you rather have a rarely worn $300 pair of shoes or $300 cash?”</p> <p><strong>Budgets are freeing, not constricting</strong></p> <p>Says financial educator Tiffany Aliche, “Keeping a budget allows you to say yes to your goals in a strategic way. If you have a budget, you can save for the holiday, house or car you want to get. You can look at it as ‘No dining out,’ but I see it as ‘Yes to a trip to Paris.’ A budget is not a NO plan, but a YES plan with actual steps towards achieving your goals.”</p> <p><strong>Budget with the 50/20/30 rule</strong></p> <p>Lynn Toomey, co-founder of Your Retirement Advisor, suggests following this easy budgeting rule:</p> <p>Use 50 per cent of your income for non-discretionary necessities like food, rent/house payment, utilities, and transportation.</p> <p>Put aside 20 per cent of your income for an emergency fund (three to six months’ salary is a good target), retirement, savings, and to pay off any debts.</p> <p>Use 30 per cent of your income for discretionary (non-essential) spending such as entertainment, holidays and gifts.</p> <p><strong>Penny-pinching is not the road to wealth</strong></p> <p>Spending less doesn’t mean you’ll have more. Saving is a good way to stabilise your finances, but you still need to invest. “Pretend there are two islands,” advises Aliche, who is also known as The Budgetnista: “Financially Stuck Island and Wealthy Island.”</p> <p>She says that your savings can be like a car – you can’t drive off Financially Stuck Island without a bridge. Investing is the bridge to financial success. “To get from one island to another, you need to get in your savings car and drive it over your investment bridge.”</p> <p><strong>It’s OK to put yourself before your kids</strong></p> <p>Many people want their kids to go to university, says Aliche, “but it’s more important for you to save enough for retirement. Because the best gift you can give your child is not a free ride to school, but rather not to be a financial burden on them when it’s time to start their own family. Kids can get student loans; no one is going to lend you money without collateral when you’re retired.”</p> <p><strong>Financial advisors aren’t only for wealthy people</strong></p> <p>Millions of people have trillions invested in stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other stock exchange investments, but just because you can easily make trades yourself doesn’t mean you should. “Why not do what you do best to earn money and let a trained professional invest it for you?” asks Brian Saranovitz, president of Your Retirement Advisor. “A recent Vanguard Investments study indicated that integrating proper retirement strategies can add as much as 3 per cent efficient return to a retirement portfolio.”</p> <p>Adds Aliche, “You need to purposefully seek out knowledge. If you break a leg, you know that you need to go to a doctor. With personal finance, people have got the notion that they could just fix it themselves. When it comes to investing, don’t be afraid to seek professional help.”</p> <p><strong>Get a clear picture of yourself at 80</strong></p> <p>Barring tragedy, you will live to a ripe, old age. Aliche recommends naming your 80-year-old image of yourself. “Mine is Wanda. I imagine Wanda sitting on the front steps in her yard. People feel disconnected from their older self. The more you can picture her, the better. I don’t want to see her mopping floors at 80. When I’m making a decision, I think, ‘How will this affect Wanda?’ If I dip into my retirement funds to buy an expensive car, that’s going to hurt Wanda.”</p> <p>If it’s easier, pretend you’re living with your grandfather or grandmother. “You’re not going to tell Granny, ‘You have to go to work. We need the money,’” she says.</p> <p><strong>You can never have too much retirement savings</strong></p> <p>Says Lynn Toomey, co-founder of Your Retirement Advisor, “Life is good. Retirement is better, if you are prepared.” She points out that retirement is laden with potential costs, such as healthcare, longevity, market volatility and inflation.</p> <p>“Even if you think you’re saving enough and have assets, it still may not be enough. The earlier you start saving and investing, the longer compound interest can work its magic to help you achieve a successful retirement.”</p> <p><strong>Don’t blow your tax refund</strong></p> <p>“What are you planning on doing with your tax refund?” asks financial advisor Mike Zaino. “If you’re like most people, the world of instant gratification is beckoning. It could be extremely damaging to your retirement account, however, especially given the time value of money and what Albert Einstein called ‘The eighth wonder of the world” – compound interest.”</p> <p><strong>Ask current lenders for a better rate</strong></p> <p>“Banks, credit unions and other lenders are keenly aware of their competition,” says Diana of MoneyTips.com. “If your credit score qualifies you for a better rate from another credit card issuer or lender, ask them to match the rate. There’s no downside to asking; the worst they could do is refuse.”</p> <p><strong>Asking for your credit limit to be raised can improve your credit score</strong></p> <p>Keep your credit utilisation – the amount of credit you use compared to your credit limit – low to boost your all-important credit, advises Diana. “You can borrow less, or you can ask for a raise in your credit limit.”</p> <p>A recent study from CreditCards.com found that only 28 per cent of respondents have never asked for an increase in their credit limit. However, a whopping 89 per cent of those who asked for a credit limit increase received one.</p> <p><strong>Unless they have a high annual fee, don’t close your old credit cards</strong></p> <p>“The longer your stable credit history, the better it reflects on your credit score,” explains Diana. “The age of accounts is averaged over all of your credit accounts, so closing an older account that is infrequently used actually harms your credit score in two ways: it lowers your credit limit, which raises your credit utilisation; and it lowers your average account age. If you have an old card with a decent credit limit, use it at least annually to keep it open. But don’t forget to pay the bill on time!”</p> <p><strong>Don’t ever co-sign a loan</strong></p> <p>“Co-signing a loan isn’t just vouching for someone’s character,” explains Toomey. “Understand that if the borrower doesn’t pay, then you’re responsible for every single missed payment. If they don’t pay, it’s your credit that will be ruined.”</p> <p><strong>Being debt-free should not be your goal</strong></p> <p>Says Aliche, creator of the Live Richer Challenge, “People focus on getting out of debt. If they use that money to grow wealth instead of getting rid of debt, they could be debt-free faster. Do you pay off your student loans to get debt-free, or invest money in your business to grow and secure wealth for yourself? If you focus on being debt-free, that’s all you’ll be. If you focus on building wealth, then you can be wealthy and debt-free.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.co.nz/food-home-garden/money/14-personal-finance-tips-you-were-never-taught-but-need-to-know?pages=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Money & Banking

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"Proud to pay more": The billionaires who want to pay more tax

<p>Over 250 millionaires and billionaires have issued an <a href="https://proudtopaymore.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">open letter</a> to global leaders encouraging them to implement wealth taxes to combat the cost-of-living crisis. </p> <p>This comes just as a report by the Oxfam Charity revealed that the global wealth of billionaires have only grown in the last three years despite inflation. </p> <p>The open letter, signed by super-rich individuals from 17 countries, includes signatories like Abigail Disney, the grand-niece of Walt Disney, <em>Succession </em>actor Brian Cox, and American philanthropist and Rockefeller family heir Valerie Rockefeller.</p> <p>They said that they would be "proud to pay more taxes" in order to address the  inequality.</p> <p>"Elected leaders must tax us, the super rich,"  the letter read. </p> <p>"This will not fundamentally alter our standard of living, nor deprive our children, nor harm our nations' economic growth.</p> <p>"But it will turn extreme and unproductive private wealth into an investment for our common democratic future."</p> <p>Austrian heir Marlene Engelhorn is also among the voices demanding that they pay more in taxes.</p> <p>"I've inherited a fortune and therefore power, without having done anything for it. And the state doesn't even want taxes on it,"  Engelhorn, who inherited millions from her family who founded chemical giant BASF, said.</p> <p>The letter was released just as global leaders gather in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum.</p> <p>Abigail Disney, whose net-worth is measured at more than $100 million, said that lawmakers need to come together to make a meaningful economic and social change. </p> <p>"There's too much at stake for us all to wait for the ultra rich to grow a conscience and voluntarily change their ways," she said.</p> <p>"For that reason, lawmakers must step in and tax extreme wealth, along with the variety of environmentally destructive habits of the world's richest."</p> <p>A recent <a href="https://static1.squarespace.com/static/63fe48c7e864f3729e4f9287/t/6596bfb943707b56d11f1296/1704378297933/G20+Survey+of+those+with+More+than+%241+million+on+Attitudes+to+Extreme+Wealth+and+Taxing+the+Super+Rich.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">survey</a> of almost 2400 millionaires found that 74 per cent of them supported the introduction of a wealth tax to fund improved public services and deal with the cost-of-living crisis.</p> <p>The open letter also said that one-off donations and philanthropy "cannot redress the current colossal imbalance" of societal wealth.</p> <p>"We need our governments and our leaders to lead," the letter said. </p> <p>"The true measure of a society can be found, not just in how it treats its most vulnerable, but in what it asks of its wealthiest members."</p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p> <p> </p>

Money & Banking

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What are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ debts, and which should I pay off first?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/angel-zhong-1204643">Angel Zhong</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a></em></p> <p>With the cost of living soaring and many struggling to get a pay rise, it’s not surprising people are using debt to navigate life’s financial twists and turns.</p> <p>Owing money can sometimes feel challenging, but not all debts should keep you awake at night.</p> <p>So which debts are good and which are bad? And in what order should you pay them off? As it all depends on your personal circumstances, all I can offer is general information and not financial advice. Ideally, you should seek guidance from an accredited financial adviser. But in the meantime, here are some ideas to consider.</p> <h2>What is a ‘good debt’?</h2> <p>Good debts can be strategic tools and help build a solid foundation for your future. They usually increase your net worth by helping you generate income or buy assets that increase in value.</p> <p>With good debts, you usually get back more than what you pay for. They usually have lower interest rates and longer repayment terms. But personal finance is dynamic, and the line between good and bad debt can be nuanced. If not managed properly, even good debts can cause problems.</p> <p>Some examples of “good debts” might include:</p> <p><strong>Mortgages</strong>: A mortgage allows you to buy a house, which is an asset that generally increases in value over time. You may potentially get tax advantages, such as <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/forms-and-instructions/rental-properties-2023/other-tax-considerations">negative gearing</a>, through investment properties. However, it’s crucial not to overstretch yourself and turn a mortgage into a nightmare. As a rule of thumb, try avoid spending <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/select/mortgage-affordability/">more than 30% of your income</a> per year on your mortgage repayments.</p> <p><strong>Student loans</strong>: Education is an investment in yourself. Used well, student loans (such as <a href="https://www.studyassist.gov.au/help-loans/hecs-help">HECS-HELP</a>) can be the ticket to a higher-paying job and better career opportunities.</p> <h2>What is a ‘bad debt’?</h2> <p>“Bad debts” undermine your financial stability and can hinder your financial progress. They usually come with high interest rates and short repayment terms, making them more challenging to pay off. They can lead to a vicious cycle of debt.</p> <p>Examples of bad debts include:</p> <p><strong>Payday loans</strong>: A payday loan offers a quick fix for people in a financial tight spot. However, their steep interest rates, high fees and tight repayment terms often end up worsening a person’s financial problems. The interest and fee you may end up paying can get close to the loan amount itself.</p> <p><strong>Credit card debt:</strong> Credit cards can be like quicksand for your finances. If you don’t pay off your purchase on time, you’ll be subject to an annual interest rate of around <a href="https://www.rba.gov.au/statistics/tables/">19.94%</a>. For a A$3,000 credit card debt, for example, that could mean paying nearly $600 annual interest. Carrying credit card debt from month to month can lead to a seemingly never-ending debt cycle.</p> <p><strong>Personal loans:</strong> People usually take personal loans from a bank to pay for something special, such as a nice holiday or a car. They often come with higher interest rates, averaging around <a href="https://www.finder.com.au/personal-loans">10%</a>. Spending money that you don’t have can lead to prolonged financial headaches.</p> <p><strong>Buy-now-pay-later services:</strong> Buy-now-pay-later services often provide interest-free instalment options for purchases. This can be tempting, but the account fees and late payment fees associated with buy-now-pay-later services can lead to a long-term financial hangover. The convenience and accessibility of buy-now-pay-later services can also make it easy to get further and further into debt.</p> <h2>So in what order should I pay off my debts?</h2> <p>There is no one right answer to this question, but here are three factors to consider.</p> <p><strong>Prioritise high-interest debts</strong>: Start by confronting the debts with the highest interest rates. This typically includes credit card debt and personal loans. Paying off high-interest debts first can save you money and reduce your total debt faster.</p> <p><strong>Negotiate interest rates or switch lenders:</strong> Don’t be shy. A simple call to your lender requesting a lower rate can make a significant difference. You may also take advantage of sign-on offers and refinancing your loan with a new lender. In the banking business, customers are not usually rewarded for their loyalty.</p> <p><strong>Consider different repayment strategies:</strong> Choose a debt repayment strategy that aligns with your preferences. Some people get a psychological boost from paying off smaller debts first (this is often called the “<a href="https://www.wellsfargo.com/goals-credit/smarter-credit/manage-your-debt/snowball-vs-avalanche-paydown/#:%7E:text=The%20%22snowball%20method%2C%22%20simply,all%20accounts%20are%20paid%20off.">snowball method</a>”). Others focus on high-interest debts (often known as the “<a href="https://www.wellsfargo.com/goals-credit/smarter-credit/manage-your-debt/snowball-vs-avalanche-paydown/#:%7E:text=The%20%22snowball%20method%2C%22%20simply,all%20accounts%20are%20paid%20off.">avalanche method</a>”). Find what works for you. The most important thing is to have a plan and stick to it.</p> <p>Review the terms of each debt carefully. Certain loans offer flexibility in repayment schedules, while others may impose penalties for early settlement. Take note of these conditions as you develop your repayment plan.</p> <p>Debt can be a useful tool or a dangerous trap, depending on how you use it. By understanding the difference between good and bad debts, and by having a smart strategy for paying them off, you can take charge of your financial future.<img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/217779/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/angel-zhong-1204643"><em>Angel Zhong</em></a><em>, Associate Professor of Finance, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-are-good-and-bad-debts-and-which-should-i-pay-off-first-217779">original article</a>.</em></p>

Money & Banking

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$280 million lotto winner cuts ties with "greedy" family

<p>Scotland resident Gillian Bayford went from rags to riches in an instant when she won the equivalent of a $278.36 million jackpot in August 2012. </p> <p>Thinking luck was finally on her side, Bayford didn't expect the amount of drama that came with the life-changing prize. </p> <p>It all began just 15 months after her lucky win with then-husband Adrian, who she split with allegedly due to the stress of managing the jackpot. </p> <p>Not long after, she spent $1,324,304 to pay off her family's debt, which included money that her late father Ian McCulloch and her brother Colin owed over a series of failed business ventures according to <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/woman-won-187m-lottery-severed-ties-greedy-family-2023-12" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>Business Insider</em></a>. </p> <p>“My dad and brother built up one company after another and then closed them down,” Bayford said. </p> <p>“I’ve bailed them out of every debt.”</p> <p>She continued to keep her family financially afloat spending a total of $37.31 million on them, and even bought her parents - who were broke and living in a caravan at the time - a $522,388 penthouse apartment in eastern Scotland. </p> <p>But, according to the <em>Mirror</em>, that wasn't enough and her father insisted that she should give her brother around $1.5 million, for a new play-centre business. </p> <p>She obliged, and instead of thanking her, Colin now drives Audis with private plates, owns a $546,000 house and reportedly stopped talking to his sister. He even got married to his girlfriend without inviting Bayford to the wedding. </p> <p>“They have lost touch with where they’ve come from,” Bayford told <em>The Sun</em>.</p> <p>“They’re rubbing people’s noses in it by flashing their cash, which I think is downright nasty.”</p> <p>At one point her father even tried to take control of her winnings and even take a piece of her business. </p> <p>“It’s upsetting and raw,” she told the publication. </p> <p>“The money was supposed to make everybody happy. But it’s made them demanding and greedy.” </p> <p>She added, "they brought our name into disrespect in the village, and we had people threatening to torch the family house.”</p> <p>Bayford said that despite it all she takes pride in herself "because I know I’ve taken them out of a situation.”</p> <p>The lotto winner officially cut ties with her family in 2016 after they called her an embarrassment, while her mum Brenda McCulloch claims she’s heartbroken over the lack of contact with her daughter and grandchildren.</p> <p>“Gillian says that we didn’t try and get in touch with them, but if I’d tried she wouldn’t have let me,”  she said. </p> <p>Her mum also claimed that while her daughter was “generous,” the actual amount she gave her family was much lower. </p> <p>“Every word that comes out of their mouths is a lie. I wish them a happy life, but there will be no reconciliation now," Bayford refuted. </p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Mum slammed for being "stingy" after refusing to buy $2 snack for daughter's playdate

<p>A mum has come under fire for being "selfish" and "stingy" after refusing to buy a $2 snack for her 11-year-old daughter’s best friend.</p> <p>The woman, believed to be from the US, and her daughter Ellie were invited for a playdate at an indoor playground with 12-year-old Sophie and her mum.</p> <p>Sophie's mum offered to put them on her membership card so that Ellie and her mum could go to the indoor playground for free. </p> <p>“Sophie’s mum called me... and Sophie wanted to know if Ellie could come and play," she began in a Reddit thread called <em>Am I the a****** .</em></p> <p>"She offered to put me on her membership card so it would be free for me so I got Ellie in the car and we met them at the playground.” </p> <p>Trouble started when the girls got hungry after an hour of playing, and Ellie's mum only packed a snack for her daughter. </p> <p>“Sophie’s mum didn’t have any snacks on her,” she said.</p> <p>“I told her they sell snacks in the front but she claimed that she didn’t have any money on her and asked me to buy Sophie some Goldfish."</p> <p>Ellie's mum agreed to grab the crackers on one condition - Sophie's mum had to transfer the money to her. </p> <p>“She says she paid for my kid to get in so I could cover the $2 for the Goldfish. I said no, I took care of my kid and it’s not my job to take care of hers too.</p> <p>“I told her if she wanted me to bring snacks she should’ve told me when she invited me but I won’t be wasting $2 for a 50 cent bag of Goldfish because she was unprepared.”</p> <p>She added that Sophie's mum eventually managed to get snacks for her own daughter, and wondered "if she lied about not having money".</p> <p>She then accused Sophie's mum of being "petty" for asking her to pay back for “all the times” she's used her membership to get a guest pass at the indoor playground, adding that "they regularly pay for us to join them on outings.”</p> <p>Her post was met with over 2500 comments slamming her for being “selfish”, “stingy” and “ungrateful”.</p> <p>“You were invited to a place for free that you would otherwise have had to pay for. You only packed snacks for your child? Why didn’t you also take snacks for the other child?" one wrote. </p> <p>“Yes, you did not have to do so, and that child is not your responsibility, but if I was meeting someone for a playdate for my child, not paying to get in, knowing, at some point both girls were going to be hungry, I would have packed snacks for both, as a thank you for the invitation and just because," the commenter continued. </p> <p>“If someone asked me to transfer them $2, I’m rolling my eyes big time. It’s petty, especially when someone gave you something likely far more valuable," another added. </p> <p>“Seriously. I don’t even think I could tell a stranger no when it comes to feeding their hungry child, much less a person I know and spend time with," a third commented. </p> <p>Others called the mum a "fool", for potentially causing Ellie to lose her best friend.</p> <p>“Don’t be an idiot. Apologise. You might care about 50 cents. But your daughter will lose her best friend. And that is worth a lot more. Your daughter might never get a friend like that... And the fact that universe gift wrapped a friend for your daughter. And you choose to throw it in the trash. Wow, you are truly a fool," they said. </p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

Family & Pets

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5 financial lessons you should impart to your adult children

<p>Ultimately, we want our kids to live long, happy, healthy lives. </p> <p>Financial security is central to achieving this dream. So it may be time to have a chat about matters of money and ensure they are well set up for a prosperous future!</p> <p>While there are many important things to instil in future generations, the five below are perhaps the most crucial current-day issues for your adult children to master.</p> <ol> <li><strong>Avoid BNPL</strong></li> </ol> <p>Buy now, pay later (BNPL) schemes have taken off in popularity in recent years, allowing shoppers to purchase and use goods straight away yet pay for them over time in instalments. Sound too good to be true? Indeed.</p> <p>Most schemes attach hefty penalties and interest for missed or late repayments – much the same as credit cards. The debt quickly balloons, and can become unsustainable.</p> <p>The best approach to instil in your children is to always live within their means.</p> <ol start="2"> <li><strong>Avoid sexually transmitted debt</strong></li> </ol> <p>Joint finances, loans, credit cards, utilities, subscriptions, vehicles, businesses, property… all of these and more are shared liabilities. </p> <p>Even if a partner is the one who racks up the debts, your child is equally responsible for repaying them. This is what I call sexually transmitted debt.</p> <p>It could be inadvertent (such as having a partner who, despite their best intentions, is simply bad with money); hidden (like gambling addiction), deliberate (financial abuse), lose their job, have an accident, get seriously unwell.</p> <p>Either way, sexually transmitted debts can create long-term and even life-long problems, regardless of whether the relationship that created those debts survives: repayment struggles, credit constraints, bankruptcy, legal woes.</p> <p>When it comes to money, your children (and yourself) need to think with their head, not their heart.</p> <ol start="3"> <li><strong>Start investing </strong></li> </ol> <p>The number one thing financial advisers hear most is “I wish I started years ago”.</p> <p>Investments typically grow over time. The more time you allow, the bigger their value.</p> <p>Younger adults have big demands on their hip pocket. However, even starting with small investments allows compound growth to work its magic.</p> <p>Plus, given the housing affordability constraints facing younger generations, investments that can be sold or leveraged could better help them onto the housing ladder in future.</p> <p>Superannuation is another investment to pay attention to from a young age: managing investments, ensuring they are in a cost-effective fund, and avoiding mistakes – like consolidating funds without getting advice, which can inadvertently see them consolidate into a poorer performing fund or cancel attached insurances that had preferential terms.</p> <ol start="4"> <li><strong>Get a will</strong></li> </ol> <p>While young people may feel invincible, untimely deaths or disablement claims sadly can and do happen. And often unexpectedly: land transport accidents and accidental poisoning, together with suicide, make up <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/life-expectancy-deaths/deaths-in-australia/contents/leading-causes-of-death">the biggest causes of death for under 44s</a> in Australia.</p> <p>Not having a will and a nominated executor complicates matters for grieving family and can delay all-important access to finances. How would your child’s partner and kids (if they have them) survive if their super, insurances and other payouts are delayed through probate? </p> <p>Remember to point out that superannuation (and other structures like companies and trusts) are treated separately from a will, and so need beneficiaries nominated within them.</p> <p>Younger people are also less likely to have discussed their final wishes with loved ones – funeral arrangements, burial vs cremation, organ donation, inheritances etc. This is where a separate statement of wishes can be useful.</p> <ol start="5"> <li><strong>Get insured</strong></li> </ol> <p>Insurances – save perhaps vehicle and house/contents – are rarely on the minds of younger people. But they should be.</p> <p>That is because many insurances are cheaper and offer better coverage when people are younger and free of any health complications. That includes private health, life and permanent disability, and income protection cover. </p> <p>Other insurances, like asset protection, can also be more lucrative to lock-in early. Just think about how the Ts and Cs on insurances have changed (become more restrictive) since you were their age!</p> <p>So encourage your adult children to scrutinise their insurance coverage. (And keep them away from drugs and smoking to stay healthier for longer!)</p> <p><em><strong>Helen Baker is a licensed Australian financial adviser and author of the new book, On Your Own Two Feet: The Essential Guide to Financial Independence for all Women (Ventura Press, $32.99). Helen is among the 1% of financial planners who hold a master’s degree in the field. Proceeds from book sales are donated to charities supporting disadvantaged women and children. Find out more at <a href="http://www.onyourowntwofeet.com.au">www.onyourowntwofeet.com.au</a> </strong></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Separating? 5 commonly overlooked money issues you need to address

<p>Amid the heartache of a relationship ending, it’s easy to overlook money, legal and logistical matters or make poor decisions on the fly. </p> <p>However, that can bring more pain – even years down the track.</p> <p>When a relationship ends, you have the chance to embrace your new-found independence and do things for yourself. Including managing money.</p> <p>Make the most of this freedom by taking charge of your financial affairs, starting with these aspects that commonly get neglected:</p> <p><strong>1. Split finances and expenses</strong></p> <p>Separating finances is an important first step. Otherwise, your savings could be pilfered or you could be held liable for your ex’s debts and spending.</p> <p>Be thorough – smaller things are especially easy to miss. That includes store cards, utilities, subscriptions, memberships, as well as loans and credit cards. </p> <p>Some could be cancelled; others may need to be retained, in which case they should be changed into just one name. Don’t leave it up to your ex to take your name off anything.</p> <p>Redirect your payments and direct debits to your personal bank account to avoid penalties for missed payments. Update details with your employer for your salary (and superannuation, if necessary) to be paid into.</p> <p><strong>2. Update estate planning</strong></p> <p>The next step is to look at your estate planning. Failing to do this means your ex could receive an unexpected windfall should you pass away – at the expense of loved ones you actually want to support.</p> <p>Update your will to reflect your new situation as well as the beneficiaries in your superannuation – which is treated separately from your will. </p> <p>The same goes for any trusts, companies, or similar structures you have.</p> <p><strong>3. Get your best settlement</strong></p> <p>Many people – especially women – settle for less than their fair share in a separation. Why? Some don’t realise their real worth or legal entitlements. Others just want to get it done with quickly.</p> <p>While it makes financial sense not to drag things out due to spite, your future quality of life and retirement depend on how much you walk away with.</p> <p>Among the factors to consider are:</p> <ul> <li>Superannuation: you may be eligible for part of your ex’s super because it forms part of the joint asset pool. This is especially valuable if you earned considerably less or had time out of the workforce to raise children or care for relatives.</li> <li>Custody: supporting children and pets obviously impacts ongoing living costs. Child support isn’t necessarily guaranteed.</li> <li>Your home: is this really worth keeping at all cost if you won’t be able to afford it on your own? </li> <li>Sale time: if you separate on good terms, do you really need to sell assets now? Could you keep them to maximise value jointly or sell later at a better price?</li> </ul> <p>Ensure you get pre-settlement financial advice BEFORE you sign on the bottom line.</p> <p><strong>4. Live independently</strong></p> <p>You’re now on one income. Economies of scale (most things cost less per person when you’re coupled) no longer work in your favour. Taking time off work may be harder.</p> <p>So, don’t keep spending like you used to. Be proactive in adjusting to your new situation. </p> <p>Make a new spending and investment plan (a nicer and more comprehensive version of a budget). See what you can and cannot afford and make necessary cuts. Update insurances, subscriptions, and utilities to ensure you’re only paying for what you still need. </p> <p>Set up an easily accessible emergency fund, to cover you should you lose your job or face an unexpected crisis.</p> <p>Tailored advice from your financial adviser can help you make the most of what you have – for now and the future.</p> <p><strong>5. Be wise in love</strong></p> <p>It may be the last thing on your mind amidst a separation, but a new relationship could be in your future.</p> <p>Learn from your current separation and take measures to protect your future self.</p> <p>A pre-nuptial agreement (pre-nup) could be useful to protect your assets. Or a post-nuptial agreement if you already have a new partner.</p> <p>Carefully consider co-habiting arrangements – your place, their place, a new place together? Who contributes what?</p> <p>Even if you don’t ultimately need them (fingers crossed!), the peace of mind from having protections in place will make any new relationship feel that much sweeter.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em><strong>Helen Baker is a licensed Australian financial adviser and author of the new book, On Your Own Two Feet: The Essential Guide to Financial Independence for all Women (Ventura Press, $32.99). Helen is among the 1% of financial planners who hold a master’s degree in the field. Proceeds from book sales are donated to charities supporting disadvantaged women and children. Find out more at <a href="http://www.onyourowntwofeet.com.au">www.onyourowntwofeet.com.au</a></strong></em></p>

Money & Banking

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Downsizing cost trap awaits retirees – five reasons to be wary

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/erika-altmann-361218">Erika Altmann</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a></em></p> <p>It’s time to debunk the myth of zero housing costs in retirement if we want to understand why retirees resist downsizing. Retirees have at least five reasons to be wary of the costs of downsizing.</p> <p>Retirees living in middle-ring suburbs face frequent calls to downsize into apartments to free up larger allotments in these suburbs for redevelopment. Retirees who fail to downsize into smaller units and apartments are viewed as being a greedy, baby-boomer elite, stealing financial security from younger generations.</p> <p>It also makes sense to policymakers for retirees to move into less spacious accommodation and make way for high-density housing. Housing think-tank AHURI <a href="http://www.ahuri.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0021/14079/AHURI_Final_Report_No_286_Australian-demographic-trends-and-implications-for-housing-assistance-programs.pdf">fosters this view</a>. Yet seniors remain resistant to moving, in part because of the ongoing costs they would face.</p> <p>The concept of zero housing costs in retirement is based on a 1940s view of a well-maintained, single dwelling on a single allotment of land where the mortgage has been paid off. This concept is incompatible with medium- and high-density housing and refusing to acknowledge ongoing housing costs may cause significant poverty for retirees.</p> <h2>Reason 1 – upfront moving costs are high</h2> <p>When a house is sold the owner receives the sale funds minus the real estate and legal fees. When the same person then buys a different property to live in, they pay legal fees plus stamp duty.</p> <p>For cities such as Melbourne and Sydney, these costs are likely to exceed A$70,000.</p> <p>These high transfer costs may mean it is not cost-effective <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-older-australians-dont-downsize-and-the-limits-to-what-the-government-can-do-about-it-76931">for the person to move</a>.</p> <h2>Reason 2 – levies are high</h2> <p>Because apartment owners pay body corporate levies, people often assume this is just the same as periodic payment of rates, water, insurance and other costs. It is not.</p> <p>Fees remissions for low-income retirees for rates, power, insurance and water are difficult to apply within a body corporate environment. As a consequence, these are usually not applied to owners of apartments.</p> <p>The costs of maintaining essential services, such as mandatory fire-alarm testing, yearly engineering certification, lift and air-conditioning inspections, significantly increase ownership costs.</p> <p>When additional services are supplied, such as swimming pools, gyms and rooftop gardens, these also require periodic inspections. Garbage collection, cleaning, gardening, concierge and strata management services also <a href="https://eprints.utas.edu.au/cgi/users/home?screen=EPrint%3A%3AView&amp;eprintid=23322">must be paid</a>.</p> <p>Owners of standard suburban homes choose whether they want these services, with those on fixed incomes going without them.</p> <p>Annual levies for apartment buildings vary, but expect to pay between $10,000 and $15,000. They <a href="https://www.strata.community/understandingstrata/faqs">may be more than this</a>.</p> <h2>Reason 3 – costs of maintenance</h2> <figure class="align-right "><figcaption></figcaption></figure> <p>Apartments are often sold as a maintenance-free solution for older people. The maintenance is not free. It needs to be paid for.</p> <p>Maintenance costs are higher in an apartment than a standard suburban home because there are more items and services to be maintained and fixed. Lifts and air conditioning need periodic servicing and fixing. This is in addition to the mandatory inspections listed above.</p> <h2>Reason 4 – loss of financial security</h2> <p>It is a mistaken belief that the maintenance costs that form part of the body corporate fee include periodic property upgrades. This relates to items that are owned collectively with other apartment owners.</p> <p>Major servicing at the ten-year mark and usually each five-to-seven years after that include painting, floor-covering replacement, and lift and air-conditioning repair or replacement.</p> <p>Major upgrades may also include garden redesign or other external building enhancement including <a href="https://eprints.utas.edu.au/cgi/users/home?screen=EPrint%3A%3AView&amp;eprintid=23315">environmental upgrades</a>. All owners share these upgrade costs.</p> <p>Costs of upgrading the inside of an apartment (a bathroom disability upgrade, for example) are additional again.</p> <p>Once the body corporate committee members pledge funds towards an upgrade, all owners are required to raise their share of the funds, whether they can afford it or not. Communal choice outweighs an individual owner’s need to delay upgrade costs.</p> <p>Owners who buy apartments that are part of a body corporate effectively lose control of their future financial decisions.</p> <h2>Reason 5 – loss of security of tenure</h2> <p>Loss of security of tenure is usually associated with renters. However, the recent introduction of <a href="http://www.lpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/25965/Termination_of_a_strata_scheme_by_RG.pdf">termination legislation</a> in New South Wales gives other owners the right to vote to terminate a strata title scheme. When this occurs, all owners, including reluctant owners of apartments within that scheme, are compelled to sell.</p> <p>There are valid reasons why termination legislation is desirable, as many older apartment complexes are reaching the end of their useful life.</p> <p>Even so, as termination legislation is rolled out across the states, owner- occupiers effectively lose control of how long they will own a property for. They no longer have security of tenure, which means retirees may face an uncertain housing future in their old age.</p> <h2>Downsizing raises poverty risks</h2> <p>Because current data sets do not adequately take account of ongoing costs associated with apartment living, the effect of downsizing on individual households is masked.</p> <p>Downsizing retirees into the apartment sector creates ongoing financial stress for older people. Creating <a href="https://theconversation.com/it-will-take-more-than-piecemeal-reforms-to-convince-older-australians-to-downsize-51043">tax incentives to move</a> does not tackle these ongoing costs.</p> <p>Centrelink payments for of <a href="https://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/centrelink/age-pension">$404 per week</a> are well below <a href="http://acoss.wpengine.com/poverty-2/">the poverty line</a>. Yet we expect retirees to willingly downsize and to be able to cede most of their Centrelink payments to cover high body corporate costs.</p> <p>Requiring retirees to downsize for the greater urban good will shift poverty onto retirees who could barely manage in their previously owned standard suburban home.</p> <p>Failing to understand the effect of high ongoing costs associated with apartment living and reinforcing the myth of zero housing costs in retirement will continue to lead to poor policy outcomes.<img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/80895/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/erika-altmann-361218"><em>Erika Altmann</em></a><em>, Property and Housing Management Researcher, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/downsizing-cost-trap-awaits-retirees-five-reasons-to-be-wary-80895">original article</a>.</em></p>

Retirement Income

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Five ways to take advantage of rising interest rates to boost your savings

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/fredrick-kibon-changwony-234363">Fredrick Kibon Changwony</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-stirling-1697">University of Stirling</a></em></p> <p>With the Bank of England base rate <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-the-bank-of-englands-interest-rate-hikes-are-filtering-through-to-your-finances-210344">currently the highest</a> it has been since early 2008, you may have a valuable opportunity to increase your earnings on pensions, investments and savings accounts. After all, when the central bank raises its main rate – the base rate, which is typically used as a benchmark for loans as well as savings accounts – it is trying to encourage people to spend less and save more.</p> <p>But UK banks and building societies have <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/money/martin-lewis-savings-rates-mortgage-crisis-b2362955.html">recently been accused</a> of letting their savings rates lag the recent rapid rise in the base rate. UK regulator the Financial Conduct Authority has urged these financial firms to offer “<a href="https://www.fca.org.uk/news/press-releases/action-plan-cash-savings">fair and competitive</a>” savings rates in response to the increasing interest rates.</p> <p>Many financial institutions do offer accounts with <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2023/jul/15/uk-savings-accounts-interest-nsi-building-societies-banks-deals">rates of 6% or more</a>. This is good news for avid savers – but only if you keep an eye on the market so you can switch from less competitive products. This is why it’s important to establish a regular savings habit, but many people are unsure about what that should involve.</p> <p>My colleagues and I have studied the <a href="https://dspace.stir.ac.uk/handle/1893/32240">correlation between people’s savings goals</a> (if they have any) and how they invest their money. We also looked at how seeking financial information advice, and being “good with numbers”, both influence this correlation.</p> <p>We analysed data from more than 40,000 individuals in 21,000 UK households from five waves of the Office for National Statistics Wealth and Assets Survey (WAS), conducted between 2006 and 2016. This data captures comprehensive economic wellbeing information and attitudes to financial planning.</p> <p>Our research shows the importance to your finances of setting multiple savings goals, keeping up with financial news, and seeking professional advice. Based on this, here are five research-based ways to make the most of your money.</p> <h2>1. Set specific savings goals</h2> <p>Establishing personal savings goals is one of the first steps most financial institutions and advisers will recommend to their customers, because it’s a good idea to <a href="https://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/compoundinterest.asp">save regularly</a>. Plus, our study shows that total financial assets increase in line with the number of savings goals you have, and that setting specific, rather than vague, goals leads to higher performance.</p> <p>Specific savings goals should have an end date, target figure, and even a meaningful name – for example, “£1,000 for 2024 trip to Asia” or “£250 for 2023 Christmas present fund”. This will create tangible reference points that encourage self-control and increase the pain you feel if you fail to meet your goal.</p> <h2>2. Seek professional financial advice</h2> <p>Rather than relying on friends, family and social media for financial advice, speak to an expert.</p> <p>Our research shows households that access professional financial advice were more likely to allocate a higher share of their wealth to stock portfolios than those that rely on friends, family and social media for financial advice. This result was consistent even across different wealth and income levels, with lower earners possibly using products like ISAs to make investments in stocks and shares. Other <a href="https://academic.oup.com/qje/article/134/3/1225/5435538">research shows</a> stock portfolios outperform most other types of investment in the long term.</p> <p>We also found that access to professional financial advice can substitute for setting goals, because your adviser should help you to determine the kinds of products to invest in (which is called asset allocation) for specific timelines and aims.</p> <h2>3. Brush up on your maths</h2> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-5890.2007.00052.x">Several studies</a> show numerical skills affect how households gather and process information, <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/doi/10.1037/a0013114">set goals</a>, perceive risks, and <a href="https://heinonline.org/HOL/P?h=hein.journals/fedred89&amp;i=791">decide to invest</a> in various financial assets. So, by brushing up on your basic numeracy and financial literacy skills – even with free online videos – you could boost your savings for the long term.</p> <p>Our study shows that individuals with high confidence in their numerical skills tend to have better financial planning habits – such as investing more in stocks and bonds than cash, which carries more risk but also the potential for greater returns. This trend is particularly evident among households with no savings goals, suggesting that numerical ability could compensate for failing to set such goals.</p> <h2>4. Adopt appropriate savings strategies</h2> <p>Diversified stock market portfolios generally outperform bonds and cash savings <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/qje/qjz012">over longer periods</a>. However, stock markets can be volatile, so putting savings into less risky assets like bonds and cash is wise for savings goals of less than five years.</p> <p>In the longer term, investing across different global stock markets for more than five years can help counteract inflation. And you can access low-cost, diversified investment portfolios via financial products based on indices of stocks or other assets, such as exchange traded funds.</p> <h2>5. Set, monitor and adjust your plan</h2> <p>Free financial planning and budgeting apps can help you save money by tracking your spending and savings goals, and encouraging you to adhere to a budget.</p> <p>Most importantly, once you set savings goals and create a budget, don’t forget about them. Check regularly to see how your savings are building up and to monitor for any spending changes. A growing array of fintech tools can prompt and encourage this kind of long-term planning.</p> <p>Keeping an eye on savings rates is also important. As banks change rates or create new accounts, consider switching to get a better deal if you can do so without falling foul of account closure fees.</p> <p>It’s important to make sure your savings are working for you at any time, but its crucial in the current economy, when finances are tight but interest rates are rising.<img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/208853/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/fredrick-kibon-changwony-234363">Fredrick Kibon Changwony</a>, Lecturer in Accounting &amp; Finance, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-stirling-1697">University of Stirling</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/five-ways-to-take-advantage-of-rising-interest-rates-to-boost-your-savings-208853">original article</a>.</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Driver's shock after copping $2.2 million speeding ticket

<p>In a shocking turn of events, a man in the US state of Georgia has found himself facing a $2.2 million ($US1.4m) traffic ticket after getting caught speeding on a freeway.</p> <p>Yes, you read that right - $2.2 million! It sounds like a punchline from a comedy show, but it happened in real life.</p> <p>Connor Cato was cruising through the city of Savannah on September 2, probably enjoying the wind in his hair, when the Georgia State Patrol nabbed him going a zippy 145km/h (90miles/h) in an 88km/h (55mile/h) zone. Now, we've all been there, right? In a rush, late for a meeting, or maybe just trying to win a real-life game of Mario Kart. But poor Mr Cato got WAY more than he bargained for.</p> <p>When the officer handed him a ticket, he must have been bracing himself for a hefty fine. But what he got was more jaw-dropping than a surprise birthday party from a circus troupe. The ticket had a price tag of $2.2 million! </p> <p>In disbelief, Cato decided to call the court, assuming it was a typo. But, to his amazement, the court clerk insisted that the amount was correct. She even had the audacity to tell him, "You either pay the amount on the ticket or you come to court on December 21 at 1:30pm."</p> <p>Thankfully, Cato's dire financial situation turned out to be a mere illusion. The $2.2 million was just what's known as a "placeholder" generated by e-citation software used in Savannah. This software, used by the local Recorder's Court, goes all <em>Mission Impossible</em> on super speeders – those who exceed the speed limit by more than 56km/h (35miles/h). It seems that the software programmers have a taste for drama, as they used the largest number possible to create this fine that sounds more like a ransom demand from a Bond villain.</p> <p>In reality, a judge will set the real fine, which cannot exceed $2,000 ($US1,000), plus state-mandated costs, at Cato's mandatory court appearance. So, our dear speed demon can breathe a sigh of relief; he won't be selling his house, car, and perhaps an organ or two to pay off that outrageous ticket.</p> <p>The city of Savannah has been using this placeholder system since 2017 and has promised to work on adjusting the language to avoid any further confusion. In the end, this story is a reminder that sometimes technology can have a wicked sense of humour. </p> <p><em>Images: Shutterstock / WSAV TV</em></p>

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