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Category: Provision Newsletter Articles

Affordable school holiday activities

Date: Jul 03rd, 2018

We asked our readers for their top tips to keep the kids entertained during the school holidays without blowing the budget

Art and craft, board games and movies at home all proved popular, as did visits to the park, playground, picnics, riding bikes and camping.

And perennial favourites such as taking advantage of museums and galleries with free entry, and visits to the local library, also rated a mention.

Most creative low-cost school holiday activities

If you’re looking for some fresh school holiday inspiration, some of the most creative ideas included:

  • Looking through photo albums together and creating a family slideshow.

  • Putting on a concert or play for friends, getting the kids to create the show, make costumes and props, and make tickets and food for the guests.

  • Getting the kids to write books and turning them into movies.

  • Going on a park crawl, by setting a timer and after an hour at a park, moving onto another one.

  • Using old bottles and jars to create terrariums using succulents and plants from the garden.

  • Getting together with a group of friends and each taking all the kids for a day, so you only have one day to plan and pay for, and some child-free days during the holidays.

  • Making a list of things for the kids to spot then heading out in the car and playing car bingo.

  • Cutting out pictures from old magazines and cards and creating new homemade cards for upcoming birthdays and events.

  • Scouring the internet in the lead up to the holidays for free and cheap activities to create a lucky dip jar to draw from when boredom sets in.

  • Instead of just playing board games, making one, including planning the theme, rules, making the board, cards and questions, then playing it.

 Source : AMP 3 July 2018 

Important  
This article provides general information and hasn’t taken your circumstances into account. It’s important to consider your particular circumstances before deciding what’s right for you. Although the information is from sources considered reliable, we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. You should not rely upon it and should seek qualified advice before making any investment decision. Except where liability under any statute cannot be excluded, we do not accept any liability (whether under contract, tort or otherwise) for any resulting loss or damage of the reader or any other person.

 

Do I need an accountant to do my tax return?

Date: Jun 29th, 2018

Depending on whether your finances are straightforward or more complex, you may choose to do your tax return yourself or engage a professional.

If you have multiple sources of income, various investments, possibly your own business or have lots of deductible work-related expenses, using an accountant (who’ll need to be a registered tax agent1) to prepare and lodge your tax return may be useful.

However, if the only income you earn is from your employer and you don’t have many deductions to claim, or investments you’re making money on, you might choose to lodge your tax return online yourself via myTax, which is accessible through the Australian Government’s myGov website.

If you’re not sure which way to go, here are a few pointers that might help you with your decision.

Lodging your tax return yourself

If your finances are relatively simple, you might consider lodging your own tax return (which you’ll need to do by 31 October, for the previous financial year), while saving money on what a registered tax agent might charge you.

According to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the benefits of lodging your tax return online via the myTax system is it’s safe, secure and most of the information from your employer, bank and government agencies will be pre-filled for you by around late August2.

Meanwhile, even if your situation is a little more complex, you can still use myTax if you have investments, rental properties, capital gains or are a sole trader3.

On top of that, the service is available all day, every day so you can lodge your return at anytime and you’ll generally get your refund within two weeks, which may be faster than doing it another way4.

Engaging a registered tax agent

If you do want to use a registered tax agent to prepare and lodge your tax return, it’s important to note you will pay a fee for their service, but it’ll typically be deductible in next financial year.

Note, tax agents must be registered with the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) and you can find a registered tax agent or check whether a person is registered by visiting the TPB website5.

If your finances are more complex, going down this path may provide you with peace of mind, as it could save you time, highlight deductible work-related expenses you didn’t know about, while ensuring all your claims are legitimate.

On top of that, most registered tax agents have a special lodgement program, which means they can usually lodge returns for their clients after the usual 31 October deadline, but you’ll need to contact them beforehand to ensure that’s something you can take advantage of it you want to.

Other things to note

Whether you plan to lodge your tax return yourself, or use a professional, you can use the myDeductions tool in the ATO app to save a record of your deductions throughout the financial year, which you can upload at lodgement time.

To ensure you’ve got all the relevant information you need ahead of filing your tax return, check out the ATO’s tax time checklist .

If you seek futher assistance please contact us on |PHONE|  .

1, 5 ATO – Lodge with a registered tax agent paragraph 1
2, 4 ATO – Lodge online (Benefits of lodging with myTax)
ATO MyTax replaces e-tax paragraph 2

Source : AMP 28 June 2018  

Important  
This article provides general information and hasn’t taken your circumstances into account. It’s important to consider your particular circumstances before deciding what’s right for you. Although the information is from sources considered reliable, we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. You should not rely upon it and should seek qualified advice before making any investment decision. Except where liability under any statute cannot be excluded, we do not accept any liability (whether under contract, tort or otherwise) for any resulting loss or damage of the reader or any other person.

 

Environmental and financial costs of fast fashion

Date: Jun 27th, 2018

You might have a friend who wouldn’t be caught dead in the same outfit twice. But what’s the real cost of fast fashion –  the buy it, wear it once, throw it away culture of cheap clothing that has hit the mainstream?

What is fast fashion?

Not dissimilar to the fast-food movement, fast fashion is about getting the latest trends from the catwalks to the stores in the shortest time possible and at the lowest price.

Pioneered by retailers such as Zara, H&M, Uniqlo, Gap, Forever 21 and Topshop, fast fashion is challenging the standard fashion industry cycle of introducing new clothes on a seasonal basis1.

The emergence of fast fashion has also been fueled by the rise of social media influencers, leading young women, in particular, to adopt a new way of consuming clothes – 25% of 14-to-17 year olds and 13% of 18-to-24 year olds say they’re buying more clothing than they were a year ago2.

What’s the problem with fast fashion?

The appeal is that the products are cheap, trendy and often, limited in number. But the financial downside is that to stay on trend, you need to buy more items more often.  One survey found that 21% of respondents estimate that they own over 100 items of clothing (excluding underwear or accessories)3.

Millennials (16-34 year olds) have the highest proportion of new clothing; 38% of millennials say they have purchased at least half of the clothes that they own in the past year, while just 9% of baby boomers (over 55s) have done the same4.

And fast fashion also has other costs. Workers’ rights, including fair pay and safe working conditions, are often sacrificed in order to provide clothes at the possible lowest price5.

But while the human rights challenges facing the garment production industry are relatively well known, what you mightn’t have considered is the environmental impact of fast fashion. In terms of the environment, the problem is two-fold:

  • Firstly, there are the immediate environmental impacts. Clothing fibres, such as non-organic cotton, require large amounts of water, plus pesticides and fertilisers, to grow6. And, further along the production line, huge amounts of water are used to dye clothes, with the water – polluted with bleaches, acids, dyes and inks – contaminating local waterways in developing countries, where the majority of clothes are produced7

  • And secondly, the disposable nature of fast-fashion means that more and more clothes are being thrown into landfill. Amazingly almost a quarter of Australians admit they’ve thrown away an item of clothing after wearing it just once, while 41% say they’re thrown unwanted clothes straight in the bin8.

What can I do?

If you’re concerned about the impacts of fast fashion both from a budget and environmental point of view, why not be part of the solution, not the problem? Below are a few things you can do to help.

Shopping checklist:

We’ve provided a checklist to use the next time you’re thinking about shopping for a fresh new look.

  • Do I need to buy new?

Consider secondhand stores or websites when shopping. Aside from snagging pre-loved bargains, some retailers even donate their slightly damaged goods (think missing buttons or make up stains) to these stores so you can actually find brand new clothes. And if you want to stand out from the crowd with a look that’s unique, where better than secondhand to find a fabulous one-off piece or rock a vintage look.

  • Think about fabrics.

Polyester, nylon and other plastic-based synthetics take a long time to break down in landfill while cotton farming is very water and pesticide intensive. Organic cotton, tencel, hemp, bamboo, linen, silk and wool are better choices9.

  • Buy quality, not quantity.

If you’re used to buying four or five new items at an average of $50 per item every month, instead consider pooling that cash and spending $200-$250 on one quality item that you can wear season after season.

  • Support sustainable labels.

You can do this via online ethical marketplaces such as Well Made Clothes or Sustainable Fashion, while most major retailers also list their approach to ethics and sustainability on their websites. It may take a little more legwork, but your conscience will thank you.

Clean-out checklist:

You can also help by thinking carefully about when and how you dispose of clothes and avoiding landfill where possible. Here’s another checklist to consider when you’re doing a wardrobe clean out.

  • Can it be fixed?

Instead of simply throwing away damaged clothing consider whether you can mend it, or if you’re not handy, have it fixed. If it can’t be returned to its original condition, perhaps you can embrace the visible mending approach and create an item that is totally unique by adding your own spin on it when repairing.

  • Would someone else love it?

Perhaps your trash could be someone else’s treasure, so consider whether the item could be passed on to younger siblings or family friends, sold secondhand via websites such as eBay or Gumtree, or traded at a clothes swap event.

  • Can it be donated to charity?

While in theory, donating to secondhand stores (especially those that support charities) is a great idea, with 82% of Australians donating to charity stores but only 53% buying from them, there’s an obvious mismatch in supply and demand10. Fast fashion donations have added to the problem, with charities reporting that the quality of the clothing received is often so poor it has little or no value, and then then have to pay for its disposal11. So, ask yourself if the item is really in good enough condition to be re-sold before donating.

  • Are there alternative recycling options?

Some large retailers are now looking to close the loop they’ve created through fast fashion. For example, H&M offers in-store recycling where used clothes (in any condition, from any brand) can be returned in exchange for a H&M discount voucher. They are then either re-sold as secondhand, made into new clothing or turned into other textile products such as cleaning cloths and fibres for insulation. Zara have introduced a similar scheme, however it’s not yet available in Australia.

Source : AMP 27 June  2018 

1 Investopedia, Fast Fashion, paragraph 1, 5.
2 War on Waste Survey, Understanding Australia’s waste attitudes and behaviours, pg. 24.
3, YouGov, Fast fashion: Three in ten Aussies have thrown away clothing after wearing it just once, 2017, paragraph 5.
4 YouGov, Fast fashion: Three in ten Aussies have thrown away clothing after wearing it just once, 2017, paragraph 6.
5 Oxfam Australia, What she makes: Power and poverty in the fashion industry, 2017, pg. 6, paragraph 7.
6 McKinsey & Company, Style that’s sustainable: A new fast-fashion formula, 2016, paragraph 7.
7 Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Can waterless dyeing processes clean up the clothing industry?2014, paragraph 1, 8.
8 YouGov, Fast fashion: Three in ten Aussies have thrown away clothing after wearing it just once, 2017, paragraph 4,9.
9 The Green Hub, Sustainable fashion – a quick guide to eco-friendly fabrics, 2017.
10, 11  War on Waste Survey, Understanding Australia’s waste attitudes and behaviours, pg. 16.

Important  
This article provides general information and hasn’t taken your circumstances into account. It’s important to consider your particular circumstances before deciding what’s right for you. Although the information is from sources considered reliable, we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. You should not rely upon it and should seek qualified advice before making any investment decision. Except where liability under any statute cannot be excluded, we do not accept any liability (whether under contract, tort or otherwise) for any resulting loss or damage of the reader or any other person.

 

Superannuation and separation: Who keeps the money?

Date: Jun 15th, 2018

Depending on the situation, you might get some of your ex-partner’s super, or they may get some of yours. 

A divorce from your husband or wife, or a separation from your de facto, could mean a division of your assets and debts, whether they’re held separately or together, and superannuation is no exception.

Another thing to note is even if one of you hasn’t contributed to super for many years, that person could still be entitled to a percentage of the other’s super.

We explain some of the key points below. And, if you’re a de facto couple living in Western Australia, remember different rules may apply as you’re not subject to the same superannuation splitting laws1.

How is super divided?

A superannuation agreement can be put in place before, during or after your relationship, as part of a broader ‘binding financial agreement’. This agreement can specify how super is to be split upon separation or divorce.

If you and your partner don’t have a binding financial agreement in place already but have agreed how you would like super to be split, an Application for Consent Orders can be filed in court without your attendance to formalise the arrangement you’ve both come to2.

If you can’t come to an arrangement together, you might instead look to obtain Financial Orders, under which a court hearing will determine how super is to be split between the two of you3.

Because there are rules around when super can be accessed (for instance, you may need to have retired from the workforce), remember that splitting super won’t necessarily result in an immediate cash payout, as super is treated differently to other assets and debts.

What does the process involve?

You may want or need to get information regarding the value of the superannuation that is to be split. And, you’ll need to provide various forms to the super fund to get this, which you can locate in the Superannuation Information Kit on the Federal Circuit Court of Australia website4.

You can do this if it’s your super fund, or your ex-partner’s super fund, but keep in mind fees for providing this information may be payable by the person who has requested the information5.

Depending on your circumstances, you may also wish to establish a ‘flagging agreement’ whereby the super fund is prevented from paying out any super until the flag is lifted, which may also result in a fee6.

Once the super splitting order is made, whether by consent or after a court hearing, you’ll also need to provide a copy of the order to the super fund for it to be effective7.

Splitting super – what to keep in mind

Some people prefer to avoid lengthy disputes by choosing to forgo some of their entitlements.

The trouble with doing this is that it may have significant financial consequences down the track, so it’s important to be armed with all the information you can to ensure the decisions you make are sound.

Working out what you’re entitled to can be complicated, which is why it’s important to seek legal advice, and regarding other financial matters please contact us on |PHONE| if we can be of asssitance .

Source : AMP June 2018  

Attorney-General’s Department – Superannuation splitting laws
2, 3, 4, 7 Federal Circuit Court of Australia – Family Law Matters (Superannuation)
5, 6 Attorney-General’s Department – Superannuation splitting frequently asked questions page 10, 21

Important 
 
This article provides general information and hasn’t taken your circumstances into account. It’s important to consider your particular circumstances before deciding what’s right for you. Although the information is from sources considered reliable, we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. You should not rely upon it and should seek qualified advice before making any investment decision. Except where liability under any statute cannot be excluded, we do not accept any liability (whether under contract, tort or otherwise) for any resulting loss or damage of the reader or any other person.

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