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Coping with the Stress of Change

In business we are all faced with dealing with change, which can be stressful.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines stress as

  "the reaction people may have when presented with demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope."

When dealing with change and stress SURVIVAL is the key.

  • S          Size up the situation
  • U          Use all your senses
  • R          Remember where you are
  • V          Vanquish Fear and Panic
  • I           Identify
  • V          Value Learning
  • A          Act like the Natives
  • L          Live by your wits, but for now, Learn Basic Skills

Size up the situation

  • Don't over-eat. Drink lots of water. Watch your breathing
  • Size up your Equipment
  • Size up your physical condition
  • Size up your surroundings
  • Gather information, Training: Understand what, when and why
  • Be prepared to learn

 Use all your senses

  • Watch your reactions, behaviour & emotions in stressful situations
  • Keep an eye on your team mates – can you help them
  • Ask Questions, Clarify information, Talk to others, 'Ask the experts'
  • Take notes, Keep 'in touch' with events
  • Listen to advice. Keep an 'ear out' for assistance and tips
  • Monitor your emotions Manage your stress levels, Maintain you work/life balance
  • 'Sniff out' opportunities to learn and help others learn

 Remember where you are

  • This is business/work, not war! Keep a realistic expectation of your (and others) abilities
  • We are all different and may react differently to situations
  • We are all in this together 

Vanquish Fear & Panic

  • Plan ahead to succeed  ---> Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance
  • Use positive 'self-talk  ---> "I am very smart, I can do this!"
  • Work your worries out ---> Identify your "Worry Shrinkers"

 Identify

  • Identify similarities: One of the key aspects to learning is the ability to identify similarities between different subjects. How can you integrate two seemingly different phenomena? In that ways are they similar?
  • Identify the differences: The other key aspect is identifying the differences. How can you differentiate between two objects or phenomena? What makes the two different? What makes each one unique?

 Value Learning

  • Accept mistakes as part of the learning process! (More Mistakes = Greater Progress)
  • Ask the experts!
  • To better navigate your way through the literature available for any given subject, it might be useful to ask some recognized experts for their own recommendations of books and resources to read, and any specific questions that you may struggle to find answers for. Experts don't just offer information. They offer insights.

To learn more, teach more!

Teaching others what you've learned is a great way to instil that information in your own mind. As you think of ways to better explain the subject, how to express it in your own words, and how to structure the information, you will develop a deeper understanding that will contribute to your own learning.

 

Act like the Natives

  • Go with the flow
  • Balance your life
  • Get help

 Live by your wits

  • But for now Learn Basic Skills – Increases your ability to cope with the stresses of change

If your business environment or tax situation is causing you stress, book in an appointment to alleviate your worries.

Local Rental Market Pressures

 

As a young person, there comes a certain point when you (or sometimes your parents) decide that it's time to leave the nest and head out on your own. However, what can be an exciting and often defining moment in a person's life; will often stumble at the very first step – Where am I going to live?

It's a question that is becomes more daunting every year, as the housing and rental market in the  Swan Hill region becomes harder & harder for a young person to enter. House prices have remained comparatively low and relatively steady over the last 6-7 years, and with the current low interest rates it's a fantastic time to buy. However buying a house is generally not an option for anyone leaving home for the first time, so out of necessity young people must turn to the rental market.

With 75% of people aged 15-24 renting in Australia, it's pretty clear to see that the barriers to entry are much easier to overcome. But it is difficult to argue against the fact that there is clearly too much demand and not enough supply, particularly in Swan Hill. The combination of low house prices and high demand for rental properties is fantastic news for investors, but ultimately is having a huge impact on young people.

Hopefully increasing prices & low availability won't force our local youth to look elsewhere to start their careers and families, or deter new young people from joining the community.

Crunching Numbers on the netball court.

Last year I decided to put together a GMG Accounting mixed netball team. I had a great response from staff and partners. The GMG Number Crunchers took to the court for the 2014 Spring competition and proved that your accountant has a few other skills away from the calculator.

Last season we finished second on the ladder and our own Shaun Lawry took out Best Fairest for the Mixed Netball League. We also ran our own in house Best & Fairest, votes taken down each week. Nonie Domaille won Best & Fairest easily, while both Justin Toomey and Shaun Lawry shared runner up. Tom Pepin won coaches award and Tamara Paull won most improved.   

After such a great season and good end of season break up everyone couldn't wait to get back to the court this year. There was plenty of encouragement and talk around the office as the 2015 Winter Competition grew closer to starting. The GMG Number Crunchers lost a few big names but managed to pick up a few key players too. I was approached to take on coaching again, which I accepted. After some intense pre season training and new crisp bibs the GMG Number Crunchers were ready to hit the court.

The 2015 season started mid-April with a great start by the GMG Number Crunchers. Currently the GMG Number Crunchers sit 3rd on the ladder with 3 wins and 3 loses to their name.

There is usually a good office vibe on a Wednesday afternoon when the team's weekly press release is issued including the line up for that night. Key players to keep an eye on this season are new recruit Andrew Halligan, husband and wife shooting duo Justin & Krystle Toomey and laying low stealing a few votes are Jess White and myself.

We have a really good fan base and some great supporters there every week which we really appreciate.  The GMG Number Crunchers play every Wednesday at 6pm at the Swan Hill Basketball Stadium. With still 12 games to go anything could happen.

See you on the court.

Last night saw Joe Hockey deliver the 2015 Federal Budget with Small Business and Farming Tax savings on the agenda.

Starting from 7.30 pm last night (12th May 2015) small business with a turnover of less than $2 million annually can immediately deduct assets costing less than $20000. This increases the accelerated depreciation rules from the previous threshold of $1000.

In what Joe Hockey labeled as a 'game changer' for small business, these rules have been brought in to increase spending on infrastructure, which in turn will hopefully help to reduce the unemployment rate and grow the economy, both heavy focuses of this years budget.

With the downturn of the mining industry, it looks as though small business is what the government believes will be the driving force to grow our economy.

Another big plus for companies classified as small businesses is a 1.5% tax cut, meaning the tax rate will drop from 30% to 28.5%. A tax cut will also be extended to non-incorporated small business's such as sole traders and partnership, who will receive a 5% tax discount on the tax they pay on income from their business (capped at $1000 per year).

For farmers, along with the Small business tax breaks from 1 July 2016, they will be able to claim an immediate, total deduction for any spending on fencing and water infrastructure, the aim of which is to help encourage  farmers improve there productivity and environmental management of the land through water conservation and cell farming.

These tax breaks, particularly the $20000 write off for small business are going to have immediate benefits as we begin tax planning for 2015, it will become a useful tool to make sure your business is tax effective.

If you want to take full advantage of our Tax planning service before 30 June, call the office and book an appointment

Other notable points to come out of last nights budget

  • Backpackers to lose the $18000 tax-free  threshold
  • GST to be charged on digital services provided by foreign firms (the Netflix Tax)
  • Claim down on multi-national corporate to avoid tax in Australia (the Google Tax)
  • Simplified Childcare Subsidies, making working parents better off
  • Tightening of the Age care pension assets test from $1.15 million to $823,000

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.

     



 
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