How to welcome a baby into the family and stay on budget

How to welcome a baby into the family and stay on budget

Welcoming a baby into your family is one of the most joyous occasions of your life. But just like anything worth celebrating (such as your wedding day or buying your first property), it’s not without its expenses.

How quickly they grow! The bills, that is.

Did you know it costs roughly $300,000 to raise a child from birth to age 17?

If you break that down, that’s $1470 a month.

This can put a significant strain on your monthly budget and mortgage repayments.

Rest assured, however, there are several steps you can take in advance to minimise the impact on your new family’s bottom line.

  1. Obtain the essentials in advance

The upfront expenses are really going to whack your budget hard. So it’s best to obtain the items you’ll need well in advance to spread the cost.

Of course, you can purchase a brand new bassinet, playpen, clothing, car seat, cot, stroller, toys, high chair and changing table.

But chances are you don’t really need that fancy, brand new $1,000 cot. Focus on your needs instead of your wants, because wanting can quickly add up.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with obtaining gently-used items second-hand, either at a substantial discount through trading websites or for free from a family member or friend. Remember that bub outgrows everything quickly anyway.

  1. Check into paid paternal leave and corporate leave

If you worked before having your baby and made under $150,000 annually, you could be eligible for the government’s Paid Parental Leave program.

You do have to apply, but you get 18 weeks of minimum wage benefits (amounting to $719.35 per week before taxes).

There’s also a two-week partner and dad pay option available, and take time to check into your company’s leave programs.

  1. Get on childcare waiting lists

Unless you plan to stay home with your children or have family members who will help provide childcare, get your name wait-listed at several childcare facilities.

Availability is a huge issue, so getting on the lists quicker will help in the long run. You can use the Childcare Subsidy Estimate Calculator to figure out if you’re eligible for entitlements.

  1. Update your life insurance

It’s common for Australians to have total and permanent disability and death benefits through their super fund.

However, while the life insurance coverage may have been adequate pre-children, there’s a good chance it won’t be enough for a single parent to comfortably raise a child.

Additionally, you don’t want to fall into the trap of just insuring the breadwinner in your family. Everyone should have coverage in case something happens to one, or both, of the parents. This can be a complicated area to navigate alone though, so be sure to seek financial advice.

  1. Make a will

Even if you don’t have significant assets or debts, you need a will if you have children.

Not only does a will specify what your family does with your belongings (including your super and insurance), but it also specifies who makes decisions if you can’t make them yourself, any wishes you may have, and who will take over raising your child or children if both parents pass.

  1. Prioritise existing debt

If it’s possible before the baby comes, prioritise your existing debt and work on paying it down – or off – before the baby is born.

Once the baby arrives, you may not have a whole lot of spare cash to put toward any existing balances. Consider consolidating your debts or speaking to us about refinancing your loans or mortgages to one with a lower interest rate.

  1. Update your monthly budget

One of the best things you can do is update your monthly budget with your newest family member in mind. It’s also great to start living on this budget before your bundle of joy arrives – start practising living on less.

You can update (or create) your budget using our Budget Planner. Don’t forget to include your quotes for childcare and any new miscellaneous expenses you’re likely to incur.

  1. Start an emergency fund

If you don’t have an emergency fund, start one. You’ll want to have at least three to six months worth of living expenses saved, with the goal of at least a year’s expenses.

This can provide a buffer that you and your family fall back on if you run into unexpected expenses like an accident, the car breaking down, or something in the house needing immediate replacement.

Final word

The last thing you want during this happy time is to worry about your finances. That’s why it’s so important to prepare as early as possible.

If you’d like help with any of the steps above, then please get in touch. We’d love to help make sure that your first few months as a new family are enjoyable ones!

Keen for a sea change? Beat the Millennial rush

Keen for a sea change? Beat the Millennial rush

Buying a house by the sea in a little known coastal town is no longer reserved for retirees. New research shows that those flocking to coastal towns are now predominately young families.

Most of us have dreamt of the days when we’ll one day be able to afford a house nestled down by the sea in our very own Summer Bay (minus the drama!).

However, joint university research shows that young families are turning their backs on the inner-city rat race in droves and pursuing a more affordable lifestyle by the sea.

Really? Show me the data!

The research shows that the sea change phenomenon, once largely the domain of retirees, now mainly involves Millennials, including young families.

Using ABS 2016 Census data, researchers have found the people most likely to move to Tasmania were 25 to 29 years (14.0% of all movers), followed by those aged 20 to 24 (11.8%) and then 30 to 34 (10.3%).

Similarly, relocating to the Sunbelt Coast (the region around Byron Bay in northern New South Wales) was most popular among 25 to 29 year olds (12.9%), 20 to 24 (10.5%) and 30 to 34 (10.2%).

Most people are moving to these areas from Melbourne, regional Queensland, Sydney and regional New South Wales.

So why are people moving?

There actually isn’t a single clear driver.

Better housing affordability, a smaller mortgage debt to pay off, and the desire to avoid stress and being overworked are some of the main reasons.

Other important factors include a perceived risk of living in the city, the desire to bring up children in a simpler environment, shorter commute time and, of course, the obvious reason – living in a beautiful location.

Workforce trends – towards more freelance, remote and consultant roles – may also be playing a part.

In fact, research shows that up to 4.1 million Australians, or 32% of the workforce, freelanced between 2014-15. This means many Aussies can set up shop and work from anywhere they wish – including idyllic little coastal towns.

Keen to make the move?

If so, you might not want to leave it too long.

Real estate experts are already predicting Tasmania’s recent housing boom will shift outside of Hobart and spread to areas such as the north-west coast.

So if you and your family are looking to quit the rat race and find your own little corner of Aussie paradise, get in touch.

We’d love to help you source a great home loan and make your sea change dream become a reality.

How we contribute to the Great Australian Dream

How we contribute to the Great Australian Dream

We’re pretty proud of the work we do. Every day we get to help Aussie families secure finance for the home of their dreams and set up their financial future. Here’s why we’ll always put you first.

You may have seen news reports in recent times regarding the lending practices of some of the banking industry’s less scrupulous operators.

And to be honest, it can sometimes be a little frustrating seeing these headlines when we work so hard to help families achieve their life-long dream of purchasing their own home.

So, we’d like to clear the air. It’s the practices of a few big players, not mortgage brokers like us, that are bringing the mortgage broking industry’s reputation into disrepute.

And a recent independent report by Deloitte Access Economics has backed up mortgage brokers just like us with the following findings.

Deloitte Access Economics’ key findings

More than 90% of customers are happy with their mortgage broker’s performance.

Mortgage brokers on average have almost 14 years’ industry experience.

Mortgage brokers drive competition as they have access to 34 lenders, not just the major banks (the share for non-bank lenders has increased from 21.4% in 2013 to 27.9%).

The mortgage broker channel has contributed to a fall in lenders’ net interest margins of more than three percentage points over the past 30 years.

Get in touch

Here’s another interesting stat. Deloitte also found that 70% of the average mortgage broker’s business is referred from existing customers.

This highlights just how important it is for us to put you, our client, at the centre of everything we do.

Because without your ongoing support, we wouldn’t have a business to run.

So if you, a family member or a friend would ever like to find out more about how we can help secure a great Australian dream home, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Mortgage stress: What it is, and how to avoid it

Mortgage stress: What it is, and how to avoid it

You might be comfortable paying off your mortgage now, but what if things change? Here are some tips on how to avoid a mortgage stress fracture.

Paying off a mortgage is one of the biggest financial challenges you and your family will ever tackle.

And it isn’t easy – mortgage repayments take up about one-quarter of a family’s income on average, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ 2016 Census.

While most families manage, what happens if your circumstances change?

An unexpected redundancy, relationship breakdown, illness or accident can dramatically impact your ability to make your payments and put you in mortgage stress.

But first, what is mortgage stress?

While there isn’t a technical definition for the term, mortgage stress is generally considered to occur when a person or family is spending 30% or more of their income on home loan repayments.

There are also a range of other criteria which would suggest you’re experience mortgage stress.

If you’re paying only the interest on your home loan, borrowing money from family, or having difficulty paying your bills, then you might be experiencing mortgage stress.

I don’t have a problem now, why worry?

It’s unwise to assume your circumstances will never change. An accident or illness can befall a person at any time, and the impact on your finances can be devastating.

An increase in interest rates can also have a significant impact on your mortgage repayments. A simple 0.25% rate hike can increase repayments on the average Australian loan ($375,000) by about $50 a month.

Over the course of a year – and with a potential of further rate hikes – this can really chew into your disposable income.

Ok, so how can I avoid it?

The smart borrower won’t wait for their circumstances to change, they’ll start planning now to make sure they can weather a storm if it hits.

Steps you can take to reduce your risk include:

Step 1: Use a mortgage calculator to see what your repayments would will look like if there was a rate increase. Would you be able to keep up?

Step 2: Review your current income and expenses, and make a new family budget. Use it to track where your money is going and where savings can be made, so you can either pay off your mortgage sooner or get by if things go awry.

Step 3: If you’re worried about your mortgage, or concerned about the impact of a future rate hike, give us a call.

We can talk to you about your situation and help you make a plan to ensure a small problem doesn’t become a big one.



Parents as guarantors: end your child’s first home mirage

Parents as guarantors: end your child’s first home mirage

They grow up so fast. One minute they’re nagging you for a dollhouse, the next, it’s for help buying a two bedroom unit in an up-and-coming suburb. If you always find it hard to say ‘no’ to your kids, here’s how to say ‘yes’ the right way.

You’ve probably heard your children complain about how hard it is to crack into today’s property market.

And smashed-avocado shenanigans aside, they do have a point. It is tougher nowadays.

With the property market constantly on the up-and-up, reaching that 10% to 20% deposit can feel like a mirage for your child.

The good news is that you can help them obtain that slightly out-of-reach home loan by using the equity in your property.

How it works

Banks find it risky to lend to borrowers who have an unstable job or low deposit. But they do allow seemingly more-reliable immediate family members to guarantee a home loan.

Guarantor loans have huge benefits for your children, including:

No deposit required: If guaranteed against a parent’s property equity, your child may be entitled to borrow 100% to 110% of the purchase price of a property. That means no deposit is required. Instead, your child can focus their savings on white goods and repayments.

Discounted interest rates: Guarantor loans can come with reduced interest rates and we can help you secure a great deal.

No Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI): Your child will likely not need to get LMI because the equity is usually enough of a guarantee to protect the lender against losses.

Things parents should keep in mind

Sounds great, right? But it’s not entirely without its risks. Here’s what you as a parent need to keep in mind:

Safeguard your credit report: Be sure that you can honour the repayments in case things go awry and your child is unable to pay. You should be positive that they will uphold their end of the bargain, but also prepare for the unexpected.

Financial risk versus emotional benefits: Going guarantor makes you financially responsible if your child defaults on payments. The emotional benefits, however, can outweigh the risk.

Impacts on your borrowing capacity: Future credit providers will take into account the guaranteed loan. They will assess your borrowing capacity based on it, and whether or not you are an active participator in the repayments of your child’s mortgage.

How we can help

We understand that when it comes to your children, it can be near-impossible to take your emotions out of decision making. That’s where we come in.

We can help you calculate whether or not you have the equity to make this work, and assess your child’s financial capabilities to see if they’re in a position to be making repayments.

We’ll also help you understand your legal liability as a guarantor before helping you make the big decision. So give us a call today.



Goals and achieving your resolutions

 To start the year off on a positive note first up I look at turning those New Years Resolutions into achievable Goals.  It doesn’t matter what you would like to achieve, paying off the home loan quicker, saving for a holiday or loosing a kilo or two.

Watch on as I discuss setting achievable goals.

If you would prefer to read instead of watching the video, scroll down to see a transcript.

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Hello, it’s Brendan from Buyer’s Choice, your home financing specialist, and today I wanna have a quick chat about setting goals.

New year, 2018’s here, and we’ve all probably made some resolutions on what we want to achieve throughout this year. It could be paying off the home loan quicker, saving a deposit for an overseas holiday. In my case, losing a kilo or two.

We’ve all done it over the years, we’ve all made resolutions, we’ve said, on the 31st of December, next year I’m going to, fill in the blank. And that’s probably appropriate for most of us. It is fill in the blank.

We have all these good intentions, but that’s all they are, good intentions. How do we take what are good intentions, and what we’re planning on doing for the best of reasons, and make them happen?

In my case, 2018 is gonna be the year I get my weight under control. I want to focus on my health, I want to improve things.

For me, it’s a major goal, of a fitness level where I can enjoy spending time with my son for the next couple of decades? He’s four, there’s a lot of time that we can enjoy, playing together, but we can’t do that if I’m not fit and healthy.

How are we gonna do this?

Quite often we set ourselves a goal. We’ll use me as an example, I’m gonna lose 20 kilos. Great, but that’s where it ends.

We’ve set ourselves a goal. We might go as far as saying, I’m gonna exercise a couple of times a week, but we don’t make it something which is achievable.

We don’t make it something which we can measure.

We don’t put a deadline on it, something which is timely.

This year I’m gonna approach things differently, and if you’ve got goals, resolutions that you want to achieve, I recommend you follow a similar process.

The first thing, we have our overarching theme, our focus, what we want to focus on. In my case, it’s my health. 2018, a major focus for me will be my health, and in a large extent, losing weight.

We step down to the next level, and our major goal itself under there. For this, we wanna make that goal something which we’re gonna achieve in the next 90 days. While I’ve got the bigger picture of my health, and where I wanna end up being, we want something which is achievable in the short term.

My 90 day goal is to lose 10 kilos. It’s about half a kilo, three quarters a kilo a week, which is achievable. I’ve got my 90 day goal, but even then, how am I gonna achieve it? What are the steps I’m gonna take?

This is the key to the process that I use with goal setting, which takes it from that high in the sky, I’m gonna do this, to the tire hitting the pavement, really getting action on what you wanna do. Under that 90 day goal, losing 10 kilos in the next 90 days, I’ve then put together three process goals.

Three goals which I’m gonna do on a week in, week out basis. These aren’t looking at long term results or all the rest. It is three things that I’m gonna do which are gonna get me to that higher level, 90 day goal.

In my case, again, one’s gonna be going to the gym at least four times a week. Combination of cardio work, weight work. I’ve got a plan, I’ve got a program I’m gonna follow. My goal is to be at the gym four days a week.

The second goal I’m gonna have is sticking to my diet. I’ve worked with a dietician, she’s given me a diet that I’ve gotta follow. Goal number two that I’m gonna do week in, week out, is follow that diet that she’s given me.

Goal number three, I’ve been reading a few things about health and what’s good for you, and they say drinking water, particularly in place of drinking soft drinks, alcohol, and a lot of other things, is extremely good for you, so, as a result, my third goal is gonna be drink at least three liters of water per day.

There I’ve got three actionable goals that I can follow each week. Simple things to follow. Have I gone to the gym four days and done my program? Yes, no?

If it’s no, I can look back at the end of the week and say, righty-o, why didn’t I? What’s gotta change? What do I need to do to achieve my goal?

In summary, I’ll just go over them again.

We’ve got our major area of focus, what we wanna achieve over the course of the year. It could be something multi-year, doesn’t matter.

Underneath that, we break it into a 90 day goal. What do we want to achieve in the next 90 days? Something which we can achieve, it’s got to be obtainable in the next 90 days.

Finally, underneath that, three process goals, goals where we take action, where we make things occur.

If we break up our goals that way, turn our new year resolutions into 90 day goals, and put some process things, steps that we’re gonna do week in, week out underneath it, you’ll be surprised how quickly your goal is achieved.

I’m looking forward to seeing how I perform on my goals, and if you continue to watch my videos on a regular basis, you’ll know how I’m going on achieving my goals, because the proof will be in what you see. If I can do what I’m say I’m going to do, I’ll see that improvement week in, week out.

Brendan from Buyer’s Choice. If you like the video, please hit the like button down below.

Got any comments, any requests for future videos? Please, leave a comment below, and I’ll get to it in the future.

Thanks a lot, have a wonderful day.