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Pressure on Independent Retailers

If any readers have visited GMG Accounting's Swan Hill offices over the past few months or picked up the local paper anytime over the past couple of years, I'm sure you will be aware of a certain hardware chain putting up shop in Swan Hill.

The opportunities a store like Bunnings creates for local workers, local charities and community groups (through community partnerships and sausage sizzles) is not lost on me. The only qualm I hold with Swan Hill welcoming big business is that the lion's share of any store profit will likely find its way into a Wesfarmers shareholder's pocket to be spent in shops thousands of kilometres away.

Already serviced by five general hardware stores and a number of more specialised hardware stores Swan Hill is arguably well catered for in this area. It can also be said that because there is an assortment of these stores in town that no true monopoly exists and that there is already enough competition present to keep prices in check. Although I am yet to venture inside the new Swan Hill store, having spent countless hours browsing through a number of different Bunnings stores in Melbourne it's easy to see that they carry a wide range of different makes and models of hand and power tools. I've noticed that they never seem to carry the more prestigious and specialist brands, those that are more desirable to tradesman such as Milwaukee and Snap-on. This I'm hoping is where the local stores can excel and fill the gaps.

Casting the new Bunnings store in an optimistic light, Swan Hill will hopefully be able to welcome new non-local shoppers to town. Consumers that might not have otherwise had a reason to travel to Swan Hill for their house and hardware needs. This being the case the extra foot traffic will no doubt benefit the wider business community around town.

Anybody who can be as selectively forgetful as myself and thinks that Swan Hill is losing part of its soul just because one large retailer is moving in to town only has to look a little further South on Beveridge St to find a couple of chain stores that have been in town as long as I have been alive. The days of the small Roberts & Martin's SSW style supermarket have undoubtedly ended.

Maybe my sentimentality is misplaced, maybe local owner operator hardware stores won't suffer with the introduction of a Bunnings store. I certainly hope so. Time will tell.

Quick Pros & Cons of Credit Cards

Quick Pro's and Cons of Credit Cards

Below are two commonly discussed benefits and drawbacks of credit cards.

Convenience  - Having a credit card (like a debit card) is convenient because many retailers and places of business have access to electronic Point of Sale services. Credit cards can also be used to make payments via telephone and online – adding the extra level of choice.

Credit Management – if people get paid irregularly or have trouble managing your finances, a credit card can help to stabilize expenses, along with assisting with paying for unexpected expenses.

Loss of credit card – if your credit card or credit card details are lost or stolen, then whomever has them has direct access to the available funds. Freezing the card or the account could take some time and leave you without access to that facility while the fraudulent activities are being investigated.

Bad Credit Management – There is a cost to use a credit card – that is usually a card fee or interest which gets added on to the balance. If not kept in check with constant analysis and regular payments, the balance can grow to unmanageable levels, which then has interest charged upon it.

Credit history

Applying for a credit card and staying on top of your payments could be a great first step on your way to gaining a  strong credit rating, which is highly important when you apply for  finance for something bigger like a car loan or mortgage.

A good credit rating may mean that you require less collateral or can get a lower rate on your loan – a bad rating will push your collateral requirements higher and likely lead to a higher rate. All circumstances are different so you should contact your local bank manager to discuss your options.

Positive Reasons to Encourage Fitness in the Workplace

As business owners, we should always remember that our most important assets are our employees. We want our employees to enjoy their work environment and bring the best of themselves to their job every day. Encouraging our employees to embrace fitness as a lifestyle choice can pay off in many ways!

  • Fit employees are less likely to get sick. A person who is physically fit is less likely to catch the "bug going around".   
  • Fit employees have more energy. Having more energy through out the day allows the employee to stay focused on the task at hand.
  • Fit employees can have more self-confidence to challenge themselves and strive for higher levels of achievement in the workplace.
  • Fit employees tend to have better attitudes. They are more likely to "feel good" about the day ahead of them, having a more positive attitude in the workplace.
  • Regular exercise can release the emotional tensions that life sometimes brings our way -  Fit employees are less likely to feel these levels of stress.

Group activities like football, netball, tennis or corporate gym memberships are wonderful ways to encourage fitness and teamwork in your workplace. A healthy workplace is a HAPPY workplace.

School Banking

As a mother of 3 girls, my husband and I thought it was very important that the girls learnt to have good saving habits from an early age, so we opened a CBA Youthsaver Account for each one.

We encouraged them to bank a minimum of 20% of their pocket money but they often banked more through the School Banking Program. As well as teaching the girls to save, the school received a commission on every deposit made and $5 for every Activated Account opened via the program. I see on television that CBA are still advertising the Youthsaver School Banking Program with Glen McGrath as the spokesman.

Today the children also receive a dollarmite token every time they make a deposit to their saving account regardless of the amount and once they have 10 tokens they can redeem them for a variety of rewards. Items including a hand ball, scented pencils, swimming bag etc. The rewards will vary from year to year.

We found this program a great stepping stone for our girls to start saving and 2 out of 3 are still very good savers but they all have the knowledge of how to save. The funds weren't saved to buy something they were designated as savings and once they had a thousand dollars they were then shown how to put the money into a manage fund which they still have today.

Saving is not often taught at school, it's something that parents needs to teach their children earlier rather than later.

Attention First Home Buyers!


Attention First Home Buyers

With an active real estate markets in Melbourne and Sydney's metropolitan areas, first home buyers in Australia seem to be struggling. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics in November 2014 first home buyers accounted for only 11.6% of total owner occupied housing loan commitments, the long term average being 20%. 

The First Home Owner Grant (FHOG) is still available…

From 1st July 2013 the First Home Owner Grant of $10,000 was limited to metropolitan and regional buyers of new homes up to a maximum value of $750,000.Another incentive available to first home buyers is a reduction in stamp duty which from 1st September 2014 was increased to 50%.  For example if you have purchased a new home in Victoria for $400,000 and are eligible for the FHOG you will also qualify for a 50% saving in stamp duty, this is a saving of $8,185.

 You can easily determine your FHOG and stamp duty benefits by using the app launched by the State Revenue Office for first home buyers. 

 If you or someone you know needs help in saving a deposit for your first home please contact us on 03 5032 9422 and we can help with our Money Matters service.

Keeping the kids entertained during the holidays

Christmas, New Year and School Holidays gives us extra time with the family. Keeping young children entertained can be pretty demanding especially when the weather is too hot or stormy so Rosalie from our Office has listed some recipes to help keep the kids entertained when they are stuck inside the house.

Homemade play dough:

Combine water, oil, salt, cream of tartar, and food colouring in a saucepan and heat until warm.

Remove from heat and add flour (add a couple of drops of food dye to what colour you like)

Stir, then knead until smooth

Store this dough in an airtight container or a Ziploc freezer bag


Homemade Glue:

Mix one part plain flour with one part water ( 1 cup of Plain flour to 1 cup water) until you get a thick glue-like consistency. Add a bit more water it its too think

Mix well with a spoon to get rid of all the bumps. Add a few tablespoons of salt to help prevent mold.


Homemade Finger Paint: 

3 tlbs sugar

½ tsp salt

½-1 cup plain flour

2 cups water

Combine ingredients in small saucepan.  Warm until mixture thickens. Cool & pour into containers, add food coloring for different colors.


Summer of Cricket

This summer has been a real treat for cricket enthusiasts.

Throughout December and January,  Cricket was regular fixture on TV with the test series against India and the Big Bash on every night. This has probably been bad news in some households where I'm sure the battle for the remote has been fierce.

I was lucky enough to head across to Adelaide for the first test which ended in a spectacular fashion with Australia taking 8 wickets in a session to win the test. On Saturday we also made the trek to Melbourne to watch the local derby in the Big Bash. The whole experience was extremely entertaining from the fireworks and giant flames which you could feel from 200 metres away to the explosive batting.  This match also finished in amazing fashion with one run off the last ball to win the game and some controversy in regards to whether the batsman was run out.

Happily for us enthusiasts and sadly for everyone else, the summer of cricket is far from over.With the One Day International Tri Series starting on Friday night followed by the World Cup starting in February there is plenty more cricket to come.

Hopefully Australia can do us proud in the World Cup and bring home the trophy. I know I will be watching, will you?

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Oi, Oi, Oi!


The Christmas Grinch

As we approach the end of another calendar year and wonder where the time went, many small business owners begin to plan Christmas parties which provide a chance for employers to thank staff for their support throughout the year.  Staff Christmas parties and staff morale are essential to any effective organisation, and this needs to be managed easily in a way that is most beneficial for your business.

Most Christmas parties are organised without the slightest regard of what the tax man considers to be tax deductible, nor the consideration that they are providing a benefit to staff that is outside the safe definition of 'salary', and whether it is a fringe benefit .

The Australian Taxation Office's view is that the costs of a Christmas party are only deductible to the extent that they are subject to FBT.  They have however stated that Christmas entertainment costs are part of the general FBT rules and come under the 'minor benefits' umbrella. This allows a $300 limit to 'incidental' benefits to be FBT free.

This may sound generous and allow employers to avoid the extensive FBT calculations and paperwork; however the exemption from FBT means that the employer is not entitled to claim the GST on the expenses, nor claim them as a tax deduction.

Apologies in advance if I have put a downer on your workplace festivities, however from all the team at GMG we wish you a safe and happy Christmas, and wish you all the best for the New Year!

Farm Finance Concessional Loans Scheme

The 2nd round of loan applications for the Farm Finance Concessional Loans Scheme in Victoria has opened. Rural Finance is acting as the delivery agent on behalf of the government for this scheme in Victoria.

The scheme aims to assist Australian farmers who are currently struggling with high levels of debt by refinancing existing debt and/or providing new loans to fund productivity enhancement activities that will help farmers to better manage their debt in the future.

Minimum amounts for the loans start at $100,000 up to a maximum of $650,000 with a very enticing interest rate of 4.5%.

Additional information along with guidelines & application forms can be found directly on Rural Finance's website.

If you think that you could benefit from one of these Farm Finance Concessional Loans or would just like some advice on business related finances, please call the office on 0350329422 or email us at

The Challenge of Reinvention

Over the last six months, I have  been working with a business on a business plan predominantly to re-energize the business by improving its public perception, skills, communication, culture, systems, procedures and ultimately profitability. Invariably, this process requires a business (regardless of its size) to go back to basics and look at Why, When, Where, Who and How they do things - as well as identifying a profile of what the business owners would like the business to be. These missions and goals which should be formed from their own principles and values should be documented as a constant reminder of the purpose of the business.

An enthusiastic principal of that business recently sent me the following article on David Koch's role in the resurgence of the Port Adelaide Football Club. It is an excellent read with many of the points equally applicable to small business as it is to a major sporting club.


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