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Relay For Life 2015

Last Friday night, the GMG team 'The Number Crunchers' took part in the local Relay for Life at Riverside Park.  The Number Crunchers team consisting of all the GMG staff along with their partners and kids all got together to have some fun and to raise some money.

Relay for Life is held to raise vital funds for the Cancer Council used in research, prevention, information and support services.  The event is also to recognise and celebrate local cancer survivors, sufferers, their carers and to remember those lost.

With some glorious weather on the Friday night and then some much needed rain on the Saturday morning, the team kept walking right the way through to the very end.

Matt Lenton entertained a crowd with his musical talents and still managed to do a double shift in the early hours of Saturday morning.

It was great to see the local community come together and pull on their purple jumpers to raise money for this worthy event. This years Relay for Life for Swan Hill raised approximately $41,000, with the Number Crunchers coming 8th in the donation tally.

If you want to know more about this event or read some of the inspirational stories visit Relay For Life's Website

Congratulations and thank you to everyone for your participation and effort.

Until next year.

Tech Talk - Updating your Computer Systems

Being the office tech wizard I often have fellow employees (along with clients, family members, friends, estranged associates and the occasional internet blow-in) come to talk to me about technology. One of the most frequent things that come up is when people need to update their personal computer (aka laptop, Apple Mac, tablet, phone etc.). Most people come to me and they say "What do you think is a good computer to buy?" or "Do you think I should buy that one there?" and the first thing that I think to myself is – How the heck would I know?

The truth is that technology, like most other things in our lives, is dependent on the individual. There isn't a one size fits all computer – they are made up of a lot of different bits and pieces which we can customize to fit exactly to what we need. So that is where I start – I try to target a few key area's and then make a recommendation based off what I feel is important to a person. I've listed a few below…

·         Budget – This is the most important thing – you need to figure out how much you want to spend and more importantly what you can actually afford. There isn't much point in spend over six grand on a computer if its going to take you the next four years to pay it off and you only really use it once a week.

·         What do you use it for? – The easiest way to figure this out is by looking at what you currently use the tech for and what you might want to use it for? Is it an office PC? Do you work from home? Maybe a laptop with a couple of docking stations and sets of screens is a better idea rather than buying 2 separate PC's and needing to setup fancy remote connections and all that other stuff. Then again, maybe if all you use it for is surfing the internet and going on Facebook you might be better off with something like a tablet – the portability makes it easier to use at home on the couch or out and about rather then being confined to a desk. Or maybe you are an avid video game fan like myself and you need to go for the works – something at the very top end with a CPU that could beat the world champion in a game of chess, enough RAM to run a small enterprise and a video card that can process graphics that look so real that you can't actually tell. We've only really tipped the top of the iceberg here but the important thing to note is that there is no point in buying something that you might never need.

·         Longevity – This is something you should take into account with your technology – how often have you had to replace it and how often will you need to? If you are an innovator on the cutting edge of technology then you might need to look at something that is replaceable in 12 to 24 months so you can keep up – I can say that I am guilty of grabbing a new phone when a new model has released and my old phone's contract has just fallen off (even when the old phone was still working OK). If you aren't going to use something very often, you might be better off spending a little bit more so that it will last the test of time – lets upgrade the RAM in your laptop so that when the next version of the Window Operating System comes out, you still have the capacity to run it with ease.

·         Shop around – As is with anything, if you are going to spend a decent wad of cash you should shop around to make sure that you get the best price. I find that going to the larger providers like Dell, HP etc and selecting something with the requirements that you need is a good starting point – from here you can look down the street to the local PC provider or jump onto a computer superstore and get all of your parts sent out and put it together yourself.

·         Take care of what you have once you have it – you don't want to have to replace your brand new piece of technology because you haven't been treating it correctly. It might seem like a great idea to watch a movie in bed on the laptop but you should be careful because if it doesn't get enough airflow then it might get to hot and cause damage to the components inside. Try to keep your technology is a dust and static free environment. Water (unless it's waterproof) is almost always a big no-no. My father is a farmer and I can't remember how many phones have been sent to 3G heaven because they slipped out of his breat pocket and into the spray tank.

 

This is just a quick recap on some of the things that I try to discuss when reviewing new technologies. If you think your business could use a technology retool and are not sure where to start – give us a call at the office.

 

If you want to find out more you can read my bio here.

As the world evolves & technology becomes a major part of this, here in the country we are forever behind the 8 ball due to a lack of internet speed.

I hear the frustrations from not only the employees here at GMG but from our clients, children and friends alike.

So with the news yesterday that the "Sky Muster" has been launched (a rocket carrying a ½ a billion dollar NBN satellite) will it be what we all hope?

With most software programs now being cloud based will the mid 2016 promise deliver?

Here at GMG we have learnt that if you don't accept change & progress with technology you get left behind.

If you don't want to get left behind and are looking for a more efficient & effective cloud based solution can you really afford not to contact us?

 

Check out the satellite – Looks more like a bug!

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.



 
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