Top ten tips for a healthy back

Back pain affects up to 1 in 4 of the Australian population on any one day and is one of our most common health conditions. It can happen at any age and last days or even years. 

Here are our top ten tips to keep your back as healthy as possible:

Exercise regularly – While walking, swimming, pilates and yoga are all excellent ways to strengthen your back and improve flexibility, any activity is good for you. Choose something that you enjoy to help you maintain your physical activity long term.

Keep active and avoid long periods of bed rest – Even when you have pain, gentle movement will help settle your back and strengthen your muscles. Your physiotherapist can tailor an exercise program to suit your fitness level and give you advice on where to start.

Learn correct lifting technique – Correct lifting can help prevent injury and avoid back pain.

  • When lifting a heavy object position your body directly in front of it to lift and turn with your feet, not your back.
  • Carry the object close to your body.
  • Bend your knees, using your legs – not your back – to bear the weight.

Maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle – Carrying excess body weight can put additional pressure on your muscles and joints, which can lead to pain. Maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle will help you achieve a healthy weight.

  • Enjoy a wide variety of foods from the main dietary food groups every day.
  • Limit saturated fat, added salt and sugars, and alcohol intake.

Don’t Slouch – Slouching doesn’t necessarily cause discomfort, but over time it can place strain on muscles and soft tissue.

Posture pointers:

  • Don’t let your head slump forward
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed, not hunched
  • Don’t cross your legs
  • When standing, distribute your weight evenly on both legs.

Quit Smoking – Smoking can reduce the blood supply to discs between the vertebrate, which can lead to disc-degeneration. You can find information about the ways to quit smoking at icanquit.com.au

Take breaks when driving – Take regular breaks when driving long distances. A firm seat provides better support and a rolled-up towel behind your back at waist level can provide extra lumbar support.

Adapt your work environment – Tips for sitting at the computer:

  • Use an upright chair that has good lumbar or back support
  • Position your monitor so your head and shoulders are relaxed
  • Keep your mouse close to your body
  • Don’t cradle your phone between your head and your shoulder
  • If your work is more manual and requires the use of tools:
  • Avoid working where the floor is cluttered, uneven, wet or slippery
  • Use long handled tools where possible
  • Perform a variety of tasks, changing position frequently.

Learn techniques to help manage stress – Relaxation is a crucial part of easing the pain caused by muscle tension. While you cannot always avoid stress, you cna learn to reduce and manage it. Learn to identify the signs of stress, identify its source, connect with friends and family who care, and make time for relaxation. Simple breathing exercises can also help. Try breathing in through your nose while counting slowly to five, then breathing out to five. Keep doing this for three to five minutes.

Seek a medical opinion – Most back pain disappears within days of weeks. If your pain persists, gets worse or you experience any other symptoms (like feeling unwell), see your GP or other qualified healthcare providers.

Myth Busters

Myth #1 – Moving will make my back pain worse

Fact – It is essential to keep moving. Muscles that are in spasm, due to pain, relax when gently moved or stretched. Gradually increase how much you are doing, and stay on the move.

Myth #2 – A scan will show me exactly what is wrong

Fact – There is a growing body of research that shows that not only do results of scans correlate poorly with symptoms in people with back pain, but also that most people without back pain have changes on scans that do not cause any symptoms at all.

Myth #3 – Pain equals damage

Fact – Recent research has changed our thinking of pain. Level of pain has little relationship with damage to the spine and more to do with your unconscious and conscious interpretation of the level of threat the pain represents.

 

McQueen Financial Group is a corporate authorised representative of Total Financial Solutions Limited. AFSL No. 224 954, ABN 94 003 771 579.
This information is of a general nature only and does not take into account your investment objectives, financial situation or particular needs. You should not act on any information in this report without first consulting a professional investment adviser in order to ascertain whether the information and any investment decision is appropriate. This information is believed to be accurate however no warranty of accuracy or reliability is given in relation to any advice or information contained, and neither TFSA or its Representatives and officers, agents or employees of either of the aforementioned shall not be held liable for any loss or damage whatsoever arising in any way for any representation, act or omission, whether express or implied (including responsibility to any persons by reason of negligence).

Thinking about finances in your thirties

Thinking about finances in your thirties

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Whatever the goal, reaching age 30 is a turning point for many of us. Whilst it may mean life is getting more serious, by the time we’re in our 30’s we’re keen to retain our individuality and remain determined to have fun. With a little planning you can make this age even more enjoyable.

 

The following stories may inspire you to start now to build a stronger financial future.

And now there are three
Jake and Sara have just had their first baby and two salaries are now one. Expenses have shot up and together with the emotional challenges a young baby brings, they have to juggle their money to cope. Not wanting to return to full-time work yet, Sara applies for Family Tax Benefits to help make ends meet. Both now realise they should have thought of that earlier and adjusted their budget accordingly.
Getting treatment when you want it
Mike is an all-round sportsman and at age 35 his niggling injuries send him to the physio more often than he’d like. He enquires about private health insurance and learns that, on top of his premium, he will pay a Lifetime Health Cover loading of 2% for every year over 30 where he didn’t have private hospital cover. This means he will pay an extra 10%. Although he qualifies for a tax rebate which gives some reprieve, Mike wishes he had taken out health cover before he turned 30.
Play safe with loved ones
Lucy always wanted kids and now has three under the age of six. Being a stay-at-home mum is her passion. Husband Chris loves his young family and would do anything for them. One day he is knocked off his bike riding to work and spends a month in a coma after which he faces a long period recuperating. Chris had Total and Permanent Disablement cover in his super fund but it didn’t pay out because he is expected to recover. His leave entitlements were quickly used up and Lucy and the kids struggled. Income protection insurance would have made life more bearable for this family during this awful time.
Keeping what you’ve earned
34-year-old Jennifer has hit the jackpot. Her career took off two years ago and she’s earning more money than she ever imagined. But she’s horrified at how much tax she’s now paying. A friend refers Jen to a financial planner and she learns about strategies like salary packaging, salary sacrificing, and that investing in shares and property can save her tax as well as build her personal wealth. If only she’d asked earlier.

 

Every person will be at a different stage in meeting their lifestyle and financial goals by age 30. Regardless of whether you are well on the way, just getting started or haven’t even set your goals, there’s no time like the present to come and have a chat to us about how you can make the most of this exciting time in your life.

 

McQueen Financial Group is a corporate authorised representative of Total Financial Solutions Limited. AFSL No. 224 954, ABN 94 003 771 579.
This information is of a general nature only and does not take into account your investment objectives, financial situation or particular needs. You should not act on any information in this report without first consulting a professional investment adviser in order to ascertain whether the information and any investment decision is appropriate. This information is believed to be accurate however no warranty of accuracy or reliability is given in relation to any advice or information contained, and neither TFSA or its Representatives and officers, agents or employees of either of the aforementioned shall not be held liable for any loss or damage whatsoever arising in any way for any representation, act or omission, whether express or implied (including responsibility to any persons by reason of negligence).

Protecting The Life (And People) You Love

Protecting The Life (And People) You Love

 

With more Australians having children later in life, starting a second family and carrying significant levels of debt well into their 50s and 60s, life insurance has never been more important.

Life is full of unexpected twists and turns and you never quite know what is around the corner. Protecting your family against the loss of all the things you have worked hard for over the years is the cornerstone of a sensible strategy to defend your wealth and current lifestyle.

Although most people know this, being ‘underinsured’ – or holding insufficient life-related insurance cover – remains common across all age groups in Australia.

 

The underinsurance problem

Australians are famous for their laidback attitude and, unfortunately, that attitude often extends to taking out life insurance protection for their families. While research shows more than three-quarters of us understand the need for life related insurance, rating it as important or very important, only 52 per cent of those surveyed said they actually held some form of life insurance.

Consulting firm Rice Warner has calculated that Australians should hold a total of $4,581 billion in life insurance to be considered adequately protected, but the actual figure held is only $1,811 billion.

Although the typical middle-income Australian family with two children needs an estimated $680,000 in life insurance cover to be considered adequately protected, Rice Warner found that the median level of life insurance held by these families is only $258,000.

 

Paying your bills and protecting your dreams

Without adequate life insurance protection, the financial burden arising from a serious illness, accident or death can cause severe financial hardship.

Such an event is not uncommon, with the Lifewise/NATSEM Underinsurance Report noting 18 families in Australia lose a working parent every day of the week. One in five families is affected by the death of a parent, a serious accident or an illness that renders a parent unable to work.iii

Increases in the number of second and blended families and ageing parents also mean many “breadwinners” now have more people than ever relying on them financially.

Life insurance protection is also essential for singles, as they often have fewer resources to fall back on to pay their debts and ongoing commitments such as rent and mortgage repayments if they become seriously ill or disabled.

 

Guarding your wealth

When it comes to developing a comprehensive strategy to protect your financial position, life insurance is a key component as it creates a safety net to protect your current lifestyle and the wealth you have accumulated.

Without adequate insurance protection, many families find themselves facing real financial hardship if the main or secondary income-earner, or the primary carer of the children, becomes sick or dies.

It’s important to look at your options in terms of life-related insurance as part of your financial goal setting. These products provide a highly effective way of protecting assets such as the family home, covering commitments such as credit card debts, paying large medical bills and avoiding being forced to sell off investments assets cheaply.

Life insurance benefits can be used in different ways depending on your personal circumstances and health, with the lump sum payment they provide easing the financial burden during what can be a very difficult time.

 

A tailored approach

For a complete wealth protection strategy, death cover is usually combined with other life-related insurance products such as critical illness and total and permanent disability (TPD) protection.

  • Life insurance pays a lump sum on your death or diagnosis of a terminal illness,
  • Critical illness (or trauma) cover pays an agreed amount if you are diagnosed with a specified critical illness, such as cancer or heart disease,
  • TPD insurance provides you with a tax-free lump sum if you are permanently unable to work due to accident or illness.

These life-related insurances are designed to provide protection against the most common adverse life events and provide you with peace of mind so that if the unexpected happens, you and your loved ones have some protection.

 

McQueen Financial Group is a corporate authorised representative of Total Financial Solutions Limited. AFSL No. 224 954, ABN 94 003 771 579. This information is of a general nature only and does not consider your investment objectives, financial situation or particular needs. You should not act on any information in this report without first consulting a professional investment adviser in order to ascertain whether the information and any investment decision is appropriate. This information is believed to be accurate however no warranty of accuracy or reliability is given in relation to any advice or information contained, and neither TFSA or its Representatives and officers, agents or employees of either of the aforementioned shall not be held liable for any loss or damage whatsoever arising in any way for any representation, act or omission, whether express or implied (including responsibility to any persons by reason of negligence).

The Facts About Melanoma

The Facts About Melanoma

 

As Spring is in full swing and the sun is coming out again it is time to think about our skin, particularly melanoma.

We hear about Melanoma being the most dangerous type of skin cancer. It may appear as a new spot or as a change in an existing mole or freckle. Over 95 per cent of skin cancers can be successfully treated if they are found early. Did you know that Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world? Two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70.

Excluding non-melanoma skin cancers, melanoma is the third most common cancer in Australia. It is most commonly diagnosed in people aged 55 and over. However, young adults, teenagers and even children can be affected. In fact, Australian adolescents have, by far, the highest adolescent incidence of malignant melanoma in the world.

If untreated, melanomas can spread to other parts of the body and may not be curable. The biggest risk factor for developing a melanoma is overexposure to UV radiation from the sun or from artificial sources such as solariums which is why most states have moved to ban them.

The three major types of skin cancer are:

  1. Squamous cell carcinoma
  2. Basal cell carcinoma
  3. Melanoma.

 

Causes of melanoma

Melanoma and other skin cancers generally develop from over-exposure to UV radiation. Each time unprotected skin is exposed to UV radiation from the sun or artificial sources, such as solariums, changes take place in the structure of the cells.

Too much UV radiation causes the skin to become permanently damaged, which will worsen with each exposure. Skin cancer can grow when the cells that make up our skin are damaged, causing them to grow abnormally.

Every additional decade of overexposure to UV further increases your risk of skin cancer. Increased use of sun protection will help prevent skin cancer and melanoma at any age.

People with one or more risk factors are at increased risk of melanoma. These are:

  • People who have pale or fair skin or skin that burns easily and does not tan
  • Lots of moles on the skin
  • A number of large, irregularly shaped and unevenly colored moles
  • Previous melanomas
  • A history of many sunburns (as a result of over-exposure to UV)
  • Other people in the family who have had melanoma (family history)
  • Being older (risk increases with age)

 

Checking for Melanoma

It’s important to get to know your skin and what is normal for you, so changes will be quickly noticed. Don’t just rely on an annual skin check to detect any suspicious spots.

Check all of your skin, not just sun-exposed areas. If you notice anything unusual, including any change in shape, color or size of a spot, or the development of a new spot, visit the doctor immediately.

While melanomas usually occur on parts of the body that have been sunburned, they can sometimes start in parts of the skin or other parts of the body that have never been exposed to the sun. Melanomas on the arms and legs are usually detected earlier and have a better chance of successful treatment than melanomas on the body, neck or head (which are usually detected at a later stage).

Melanoma can be diagnosed by:

  • Physical examination – including medical history
  • Excision biopsy – under local anesthetic, the suspected melanoma and some of the surrounding skin is removed. The sample will be examined in a laboratory for signs of cancer.

If a melanoma is diagnosed, further tests may be needed if surgery is planned or to see if the cancer has spread to other areas of the body. These tests may include:

  • Blood tests
  • Chest x-ray
  • Ultrasound scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Bone scan
  • Lymph node biopsy

Treatment of Melanoma:

Most people with melanoma may need to have surgery. In some cases, melanomas may be treated by radiotherapy, chemotherapy and other drugs.

The treating doctor will advise on the best treatment which will depend on the type of Melanoma / cancer one has, where it is, how far it has spread and what’s the best way to proceed with treatment.

It’s important to note that 90% of Victorians are alive five years after a diagnosis of melanoma. This has improved significantly from 85 per cent in 1985.

The prognosis is better for women than for men. The five-year melanoma survival rate for women is 93 per cent, whereas that for men is 87 per cent. As mentioned, it’s important to check and screen for spots, moles and freckles that have appeared or seem to be changing in size and color and consult a medical professional as soon as possible.

We hope you find this information of use and remember; share with your family and friends, being sunsmart, checking our skin and spreading awareness is the best way we can reduced incidence of melanoma.

 

McQueen Financial Group is a corporate authorised representative of Total Financial Solutions Limited. AFSL No. 224 954, ABN 94 003 771 579. This information is of a general nature only and does not consider your investment objectives, financial situation or particular needs. You should not act on any information in this report without first consulting a professional investment adviser in order to ascertain whether the information and any investment decision is appropriate. This information is believed to be accurate however no warranty of accuracy or reliability is given in relation to any advice or information contained, and neither TFSA or its Representatives and officers, agents or employees of either of the aforementioned shall not be held liable for any loss or damage whatsoever arising in any way for any representation, act or omission, whether express or implied (including responsibility to any persons by reason of negligence).

 

The sad reality of Bowel Cancer

On a sad note, we were recently discussing a case where an adviser in the industry passed away after being diagnosed with Bowel cancer. Bowel cancer is dangerous. You can have no health issues whatsoever and then suddenly the dreaded disease can take control of the body. No one should have to go through this and we hope that one day a cure can be found.

There are benefits of early detection / screening rather than waiting to turn 50 years old or having  family history that requires a colonoscopy /  gastroscopy  prior to age 50.  It is suggested that these tests should be done every 3 to 5 years so one can be sure that all is fine or if something is detected it can be dealt with sooner rather than later.

Given Australia has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world, we think there should be more pro-activeness in the area. Each year 14,958 Australians are told they have bowel cancer every year. That’s 1 for every 13 people will be diagnosed.

Bowel cancer is Australia’s second biggest cancer killer after lung cancer, claiming the lives of 4,162 people every year.

 

How does Bowel Cancer Develop?

The bowel is the long tube that absorbs water and nutrients from food and processes waste products into faeces as we know. It includes the small bowel, colon and rectum. As people get older albeit, younger people can be affected, little lumps called polyps may grow inside the colon or rectum, and can become cancerous. A polyp looks like small spots on the bowel lining or like cherries on stalks. Not all polyps become cancerous. If polyps are removed, the risk of bowel cancer is reduced but not guaranteed as polyps may grow back.

The development of bowel cancer generally takes many years. It usually begins in the lining of the colon or rectum. Often, very small amounts of blood, which may not be able to be seen, are leaked from these cancers long before any symptoms develop. This blood is then passed into the faeces.

If untreated, it spreads deeper into the wall of the bowel. From there, as we know with this dreaded disease it can spread into to lymph nodes in the area which later on the bowel cancer can metastasis to the liver or lungs.

Please help by encouraging your clients, referral partners, family and friend to become more pro-active and speak to their regular doctor about getting test done even if they are not 50 years of age.  It would great to see less people being diagnosed with Bowel cancer every year due to having regular screening.  It’s also a good reason to speak to your clients about Trauma insurance also as we know the benefits only to well of having such cover in place along with other cover of course.

As always, we hope you find this information of use and remember; educating is creating so please keep educating your clients, potential clients as much as you can.

 

McQueen Financial Group is a corporate authorised representative of Total Financial Solutions Limited. AFSL No. 224 954, ABN 94 003 771 579. This information is of a general nature only and does not consider your investment objectives, financial situation or particular needs. You should not act on any information in this report without first consulting a professional investment adviser in order to ascertain whether the information and any investment decision is appropriate. This information is believed to be accurate however no warranty of accuracy or reliability is given in relation to any advice or information contained, and neither TFSA or its Representatives and officers, agents or employees of either of the aforementioned shall not be held liable for any loss or damage whatsoever arising in any way for any representation, act or omission, whether express or implied (including responsibility to any persons by reason of negligence).

 

Introduction to Income Protection Insurance

Introduction to Income Protection Insurance

Income Protection Insurance protects you by paying an ongoing income if you are unable to work due to illness or injury.

Benefits

Income protection cover pays an ongoing monthly benefit to protect:

  • your lifestyle by replacing your lost salary so you can continue to meet your living expenses and debt repayments, and
  • your wealth by reducing or removing the need to sell assets to generate cash.

Without insurance, you may need to run down your savings, sell assets, and/or rely on family or Centrelink for assistance. You may find it difficult to maintain your standard of living or pay for the care and medical assistance you need. This can place extra stress on your recovery.

 

How it works

You can usually apply for cover of up to 75% of your earnings. For business owners this is income after business expenses but before tax. You may also be able to have an additional amount paid as contributions into your superannuation account and other ancillary benefits to help with your recovery.

The payments are treated as taxable income – although the structure of this will depend on the type of policy you have and the ownership structure.

The amount you receive may also be reduced if you receive payments from sick leave, social security, workers compensation or other legislative sources.

Agreed Value or Indemnity

You can obtain your income protection cover under an ‘Agreed Value’ or ‘Indemnity’ policy.

Under an Agreed Value policy, you will receive the agreed monthly benefit at the time of a successful claim, regardless of the amount you are earning at that time. With an Agreed Value policy you are required to provide proof of income at the time you apply for cover. This may suit you if your income fluctuates over time, you are able to substantiate your income and want peace of mind at time of claim.

With an Indemnity policy, the amount you receive at the time of a successful claim will be assessed on the basis of your earnings in the 12 months prior to the disability. You will need to provide proof of income at time of claim and if your income has reduced you may receive less than expected. This may suit you if you have a stable income and are likely to be able to easily substantiate your income at the time of claim, your occupation does not allow an Agreed Value policy, or you have only recently established your business and do not have two years of financial evidence available. The premium for an Indemnity policy is less expensive than an Agreed Value.

Waiting and Benefit Periods

In the event of a successful claim, benefit payments do not start immediately; a waiting period will apply during which no benefit is payable. The waiting period can be as short as 14 days or as long as two years. When choosing a waiting period, it’s important to take into account any sick leave and related benefits provided by your employer. The shorter the waiting period, the higher the premium.

The maximum period of time that payments continue is called the benefit period. A range of benefit periods are available – some as short as one year, with the longest continuing through to your 65th or 70th birthday. In general the longer the benefit period, the higher the premium.

Policy Ownership

Income Protection Insurance can be owned either in your own name or within your superannuation fund.

Self-ownership

Owning the policy in your own name may allow you to better tailor the cover to suit your individual requirements (e.g. to obtain more comprehensive benefits and ancillary benefits). With self-owned cover, you pay the premium from your cashflow. The premiums are tax deductible to you and benefits that you receive in the event of a successful claim are treated as taxable income and taxed at your marginal tax rate.

Superannuation ownership

You may also be able to purchase your cover in your superannuation fund. This allows the premium to be paid by making contributions to super or simply be deducted from your superannuation account balance so it does not affect your cashflow. The premium is a deductible expense to your superannuation fund and can reduce the tax payable on contributions and investment income. The benefit to you will depend on your superannuation fund.

If additional contributions are made into superannuation to cover premiums, it is important to ensure you do not exceed the limits on how much can be contributed.

The proceeds in the event of a successful claim are paid from your superannuation fund as a temporary illness benefit and will be assessable income that is taxed at your marginal tax rate. You will first need to meet the release definition for superannuation which may be harder to meet than a self-owned policy.

Whilst the concept of Income Protection is quite simple, the difference between a good outcome and a poor outcome comes down to getting the details right. If you are unsure of the quality of your insurance policy or need some help in working out the appropriate cover for you, please contact us for a chat.

McQueen Financial Group is a corporate authorised representative of Total Financial Solutions Limited. AFSL No. 224 954, ABN 94 003 771 579. This information is of a general nature only and does not take into account your investment objectives, financial situation or particular needs. You should not act on any information in this report without first consulting a professional investment adviser in order to ascertain whether the information and any investment decision is appropriate. This information is believed to be accurate however no warranty of accuracy or reliability is given in relation to any advice or information contained, and neither TFSA or its Representatives and officers, agents or employees of either of the aforementioned shall not be held liable for any loss or damage whatsoever arising in any way for any representation, act or omission, whether express or implied (including responsibility to any persons by reason of negligence).