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Questions to ask before applying for a loan

A loan can be great help. It can assist you in achieving your goals faster, such as buying a house, purchasing a new car or getting your business up and running.

However, there are many considerations to make before taking on a loan as choosing the wrong loan can cause financial and legal havoc down the track. Take note of the following tips before applying for a loan:

How much do I need?
Before applying for a loan, carefully calculate how much assistance you need. The more you borrow, the more you will have to pay back in interest and fees. Calculate the benefits from saving for an extra month or sixth months and consider how this will impact on the loan you need. The amount you need may limit you to applying for only a small number of loans with stricter conditions.

Which loan to pick
Consideration needs to be awarded to working out which loan is best for your needs. Some loans only allow you to spend money on set things, e.g. student loans may prevent you from using loaned money for rent.

Loans have different terms and conditions. There are a number of fees that may be hidden in the fine print. Speak to your accountant to help you understand what these conditions mean for you to avoid getting caught out on choosing the wrong loan.

Can you afford the repayments
There is no point taking on a loan if you can’t manage the repayments. This will only see you fall into debt, which can impact on your business, your assets and your credit rating. Don’t jump at the opportunity to receive a substantial loan without appropriate calculations to ensure you are more than capable of making the repayments.

Posted on 18 October '17 by , under money. No Comments.

Choosing the best loan

Getting a good loan can save you thousands of dollars in fees and interest, so it is important to shop around for the best deal.

There are many considerations when choosing a loan. After you have decided on the amount you need to borrow, the features you need and the time frame to pay it back you should consider the following:

Interest rates
The interest rate is most likely the first thing you will want to know when searching for a loan. You will need to decide on whether you prefer a variable or fixed rate. If you decide on a variable rate, account for potential interest rate rises. Some lenders offer ‘honeymoon’ rates for the first 1 or 2 years of your loan where the rates are low then rise after the ‘honeymoon’ period ends. If you take this option, make sure you will be able to make repayments at the higher rates.

The comparison rate
The comparison rate is the interest rate plus all the fees and charges you will pay on the loan. Comparison rates help you work out the true cost of a loan and can assist you in comparing the cost of different loans. In addition to the comparison rate, you should compare the features of each loan, i.e., the ability to make extra repayments and so forth.

Using a broker
It may be beneficial for you to use a broker to find the most suitable loan, especially for larger loans like a mortgage. A broker will negotiate with financial institutions on your behalf. They can offer a variety of options, help select a loan and manage the process until settlement. Compare brokers and find out about their fee structures before deciding.

Posted on 20 September '17 by , under money. No Comments.

Quick financial tips to make your money go further

There are no steadfast rules for saving money. Everyone’s financial situation is different; people earn different amounts, need to save different amounts and have varying expenses. Luckily, the following tips can apply to anyone.

Budget
Planning ways to cut your expenses and save money is important if you want to save but at the same time, it’s important not to over-restrict yourself otherwise you’ll burn yourself out. Be realistic in your budget, if you earn $500 a week, it’s probably unrealistic to say you will save $450 a week. Start with a budget that’s achievable and work your way up.

Track expenses
One way to stop spending on things you don’t need is to keep a list of all your expenses. There are so many things you spend money on because it’s cheap and you think it doesn’t matter, but it all adds up. If you record each time you buy a $3 coffee, or a spend $15 on lunch instead of packing your own, you’ll realise how it all adds up. You will be amazed at the money you spend on things you can go without.

Change the way you view money
So many people look at money as a barrier, despite how much they have. Regardless of how much money you earn, if you are ruled by money you will always find yourself in a position where you blame money for not being able to afford the things you want or resent that you have to use half your paycheck to pay your bills and living expenses. When you free yourself and stop looking to blame money for all the things you can or can’t afford, you are more likely to relax into saving and not feel the need to spend as much.

Be more materialistic
This may seem counterproductive, but if you view materialism in the true essence of the word, you are bound to save money. True materialism means placing value and appreciating the materials you do have; it means buying what you need and not spending frivolously on things you don’t.

Posted on 23 August '17 by , under money. No Comments.

What investors will look for when funding a startup company

Ultimately, every investor is different. However, when looking to invest in any startup company, there are a number of boxes you will need to check regardless of who decides to invest in you.

You need to know the market. How big is the market? How populated is the market? Is your product or idea doing the same as every other product on the market? How does your product stand out in the existing market? What sets it apart?

Having a strong business plan is essential. No one will want to back you if you do not have a solid plan for the future. Investors will want to hear numbers and forecasts. They do not want to hear you say that there are no risks involved, or hear you answer every question with certainty that no problems will arise because that is unrealistic. They will want to hear how you plan to tackle problems as they arise.

Investors will need to believe in you. You need to be sincere. Are you positive? Are you flexible? Are you realistic yet ambitious? Can you talk to people? Are you a good leader? A good listener? Do people respect you?

The team that you have on board will also be considered. Your team needs to live and breathe the product or idea just as much as you do. Do they listen to and respect you as their leader? As a collective, do they have sufficient skills and expertise?

Investors meet with numbers of founders and will get a gut feeling about you and your idea, but being able to address the above-mentioned areas should truly set you apart.

Posted on 4 April '17 by , under money. No Comments.

Understanding financial ratios

Financial ratios are useful tools for business owners to monitor, analyse and improve their business performance.

A financial ratio contains one or more financial figures and is expressed as a ratio, rate or percentage. Financial ratios are used to measure profitability, cash flow and liquidity, risk and return, and stock turnover and sales.

Here are some common financial ratios used in business to:

– Measure profitability
Gross profit margin is a percentage of gross profit on sales.
To work out: (Gross profit x 100) divided by sales.

Net profit margin is a percentage of net profit on sales.
Method: (Net profit before tax x 100) divided by sales.

– Monitor cash and liquidity
Working capital ratio measures the liquidity of a business (i.e. how much money is available to meet creditors’ demands).
To determine this ratio: Working capital = current assets divided by current liabilities.

Quick assets ratio measures the solvency of your business, or its ability to meet its immediate commitments.
Method: Current assets (minus stock) divided by current liabilities.

– Measure turnover and sales
Stock turnover ratio measures the number of times stock turns over.
Method: Cost of goods sold divided by (0.5 x opening + closing stock)

Material to sales ratio measures the percentage of sales dollars spent on materials.
To determine this ratio: (Direct materials x 100) divided by sales.

Posted on 9 March '17 by , under money. No Comments.

Tips to get out of debt faster

An overwhelming majority of people will face debt at some point in their life.

Uncontrolled debt can easily snowball and severely impact an individual’s lifestyle and financial freedom.

Fortunately, debt is manageable and is often contingent upon an individual’s motivation to get rid of debt fast. Tackling debt is often a process of managing expenses against income and formulating a plan of attack. Here are three ways to get out of debt faster:

Stick to a budget
If you are looking to get out of debt quickly, it is critical to stick to a budget. A budget can help you achieve your financial goals and ensure you do not spend more money than you earn. Budgeting is a great way to review your current expenses and see where you can realistically cut costs. It is also a good way of allocating money for an emergency fund i.e savings for a medical emergency etc.

Don’t borrow more money
Although it seems glaringly obvious, it can be tempting to continue down the borrowing spiral. Avoid getting into any further debt by holding off financing more items, signing up for credit cards etc. Instead, focus on paying off your current debts and necessary living expenses and try to eliminate any unnecessary expenses, such as TV subscriptions, daily takeaway coffee and so forth.

Make extra repayments (if possible)
Any excess cash you receive, i.e tax return, ideally should go towards making extra repayments. Making extra repayments not only shortens the length of time to pay off your debt but saves you paying more money on interest. Be sure to check with your credit provider if extra fees will be incurred for extra repayments.

Posted on 9 February '17 by , under money. No Comments.

Strategies to manage investment risk

Exposure to risk is a big part of investing and although individuals cannot eliminate risk completely, they can implement strategies to manage risk and achieve their financial goals.

Managing investment risk is particularly beneficial in times of increased volatility and unfavourable economic conditions as well as ensuring investors meet their long-term investment goals. Here are three ways to manage investment risk:

Asset allocation
Including different asset classes (i.e shares, cash, property) in your portfolio can help to balance risk and return based on an individual’s age, risk tolerance, goals and investment time frame. As different asset classes will perform better at different times depending on the underlying economic conditions at the time, it is important for a fund to invest in a diverse mix of assets.

Diversification
Diversification aims to maximise an individual’s return by investing in different asset classes that react differently to the same event. Although it does not guarantee avoiding a loss, diversification is an important component of reaching long-term financial goals while minimising risk.

Regularly monitor investments
Be sure to regularly monitor each investment in your portfolio. This helps to ensure your investment goals are on track and remain in line with your risk profile. Keep on the lookout for warning signs that your investment might be heading downhill but don’t focus too much on short-term volatility for long-term investments. It is best to revisit your investment plan with your adviser at least once a year.

Posted on 12 January '17 by , under money. No Comments.

Improving your accounts receivable

Freeing up working capital can help businesses fund growth, reduce debt levels and lower costs. One way to improve working capital is by managing your accounts receivable.

Many businesses fall into the trap of poor accounts receivable management – from extending credit to customers to ignoring payment terms to guarantee a new sale, these types of behaviour can quickly bring your cash flow to a halt.

Here are a few ways to improve your accounts receivable process:

  • Create a clear customer credit approval policy

Assign credit limits, payment terms, discounts and return policies to specific customers. Introduce a system to determine a new customer’s creditworthiness, such as background and credit history checks.

Determine situations where credit can be issued and circumstances where credit should be rejected. It is critical to review your credit approval process from time to time, as a customer’s financial situation may change warranting a reviewal of their credit terms.

  • Establish a billing/invoicing process

Generating timely invoices is a major part of collecting account receivables on time. To ensure billing and invoicing is consistent and sent promptly, consider using an automated system. Sending electronic invoices can also fast track the process as they reduce delivery time.

  • Streamline the collection process

Prioritise collections by establishing a concise collections process for all staff members to follow. Ensure staff have the skills to collect owing amounts (especially from uncooperative customers) and understand the collections system. To ensure accurate collection of receivables all team members should be informed of any discounts that need to be applied, when payment plans can be negotiated and the overall process i.e. mail or electronic invoices etc.

Posted on 15 December '16 by , under money. No Comments.

Fixed vs variable loans

When choosing between a home loan with a fixed rate of interest and a home loan with a variable rate of interest, it is important to take both your personal and financial circumstances into consideration.

While both options offer certain advantages and disadvantages, individuals should consider what they will gain and lose through either option.

Fixed-rate home loans are often set for a certain period of time. They remain at the same rate over this period, regardless of whether the interest rate rises or falls. This can be both a good and a bad thing; if the interest rate rises, you will be paying less than the variable rate. However if the interest rate falls, then you will be repaying more than the variable rate.

With a fixed-rate home loan, you cannot make extra loan repayments and you may have to pay a ‘break fee’ if you change your loan or pay it off within the set period.

On the other hand, a home loan with a variable rate of interest can offer more flexibility as it allows individuals to make additional repayments over the course of the loan.

A variable rate home loan can also be more beneficial, especially since it allows individuals to take advantage of falling interest rates. However, if interest rates go up, the loan repayments may also increase. This can make it harder to budget for the future since you can’t know how the interest rates will move.

Posted on 15 November '16 by , under money. No Comments.