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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 contact@gmgfg.com.au.

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.


 

The Gap between Online & Offline.

I read with interest recently an industry article that suggested the gap between online-savvy small businesses and those which are online-cautious is widening. The article indicated both sales growth for the past 12 months and future projected sales growth was proportionately higher for on line savvy businesses than it was for those without an online presence. Almost 50% of SME's that use cloud technology (online shop/outlet) reported increased sales or work, whilst 40% of SME's with a website and social media presence reported similar growth. This contrasts to only 25% of businesses without some form of online presence reporting growth in sales or work.

The proportion of businesses willing to jump into the online arena continues to grow at some pace. The proportion of businesses with a website has increased 4% to 42% over the past 6 months with a similar increase in businesses using social media.

Interestingly females lead the charge in an online presence amongst business owners with 9% more female owners more likely to have invested in the resource than their male counterparts.

Certainly social media (Facebook, Twitter etc) has a very active role in online advertising and ultimately sales growth.  I am a strong advocate of businesses finding a way to embrace the trend if they wish to grow or even maintain their market share. It is interesting to see how different businesses face this challenge in recent times in particular the increase in sponsored celebrity postings. More and more businesses are turning to celebrities with large social media followings to promote their products and services. The question in my mind is how much further can product advertising - both direct and indirect- go on social media outlets before consumers numbed by information overload and disconnect or seek new social media platforms?

Friday Morning Tea is Serious Business

One tradition that we have at GMG is the Friday morning tea roster.

Each week a staff member has their turn to make or supply morning tea. We all have our morning break together in the tearoom to enjoy the food and time together. This has become an important part of the firm and is one of the first things that our new employees are made aware of - to prepare them for their turn.

A favorite that everyone enjoys is Toll House Cookies - The recipe is below:

250gms Butter or Marg

½ Cup Castor Sugar

½ Cup Brown Sugar

1 tspn Vanilla

2 Eggs

2 ¼ Cups Plain Flour

1 tspn Bi-Carb Soda

200 gms Choc Chips

1  Cup Crushed Nuts

Cream butter and sugars, add eggs and vanilla and mix well.  Sift the flour and bi-carb soda into the mixture, then add the choc bits and nuts. Place small spoonful's of mixture on to a baking tray lined with baking paper, allowing room for them to spread. Bake at 190C degrees for 10-12 mins or until firm .

Enjoy!!!

Money Matters




Feel like you don't know where your money is disappearing to?

As a 19 year old in my first year as a full time employee, I was often left wondering what my money was going towards. From not having to worry about what I was spending whilst at school to having to save money for the necessities such as rent, bills and food while still trying to spare some for weekends out with friends, the word 'overwhelmed' comes to mind.

Fortunately for me, GMG have started offering a "Money Matters" program to our clients. They suggested I download a handy app called 'Track my Spend' (free from the App Store). This app allows you to record each little thing you spend money on for a period of time and it's surprising how quickly the little things add up. From that I was able to have a go at our Money Matters Project – helping me to figure out where my money was going and redirect some of it into a savings account.

If you are tired of stressing about money and want to feel like you are in control of your finances, give us a call on 5032 9422 and make a "Money Matters" appointment.



 
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