New Chair Appointed – State Sports Centres Trust

New Chair Appointed – State Sports Centres Trust

Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events Martin Pakula announced the appointment of finance expert Chris Jackson as the incoming chair of the State Sport Centres Trust.

The Trust is responsible for governing the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre (MSAC), the State Netball Hockey Centre and Lakeside Stadium.

Mr Jackson is the founder of Accurate Financial Consultants Pty Ltd, an established tax consulting firm with clients in Australia and overseas, which has gone on to merge with our very own McQueen Group. Mr Jackson has wide experience across the finance sector, including serving as the chair of Private Banking Service, a franchise of Bendigo and Adelaide Bank.

Mr Jackson will replace Brett Moore as Trust chair from 1 September, for a term of three years.

Mr Pakula also announced the appointment of former Victorian senator Michael Ronaldson as a member of the Trust.

Mr Ronaldson has more than 40 years of experience in the legal profession, corporate governance and government and was a partner at Ramsay, Gaunt and Fraser before serving in the Senate from 2004 to 2016. His ministerial appointments included Special Minister of State, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC.

Mr Pakula thanked Mr Moore for his 10 years of service to the Trust, including his role in executing the Government’s $64.6 million State Netball and Hockey Centre redevelopment.

The redevelopment works are well under way and will cement Parkville as the home for netball and hockey in Australia with six new indoor netball courts replacing the existing outdoor courts, a new indoor hockey facility and a high-performance strength and conditioning gym.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events Martin Pakula, and to State Sport Centres Trust incoming chair Chris Jackson

OnePath Pricing Update: Presented by Alex Lee

OnePath Pricing Update: Presented by Alex Lee

As a result of recent correspondence received from OnePath in relation to upcoming premium pricing increases on Income Protection and Total Permanent Disablement polices, we wanted to touch base and provide you with our summation of the update. These pricing increases will come into effect as of the 3rd of November 2020. Whilst you therefore may not be impacted immediately, it is important that we inform you of these changes. Our Senior Adviser Alex Lee has put together the below short video with our summary of the upcoming changes. In addition, please find below for your reference a further outline of some of the key points Alex mentions.

If you would like to arrange a time to speak with your Adviser regarding these changes, or for any other queries, please contact our office on 1300 856 765 or email clientconcierge@mcqueengroup.com.au.

Things To Check With Your Financial Adviser Before June 30 Rolls Around

Things To Check With Your Financial Adviser Before June 30 Rolls Around

With June 30 just around the corner, we want to ensure the run towards end of financial year is as smooth as possible for you. Below we have included a few things you might want to check with your Financial Adviser before June 30 rolls around.

Topping up your superannuation

Saving more in super can come with tax and other benefits this financial year – but that’s just the start. Once money is invested in super, earnings are taxed at a maximum rate of 15% – instead of your marginal tax rate, which may be up to 47%. This low tax rate can help you build your savings for retirement.

Some strategies to consider include:

1. Tax Deductible Super contributions

a) Maximising your concessional contribution cap of $25,000 is a great way to build super and claim the tax benefits along the way.

b) Furthermore, in July 2019, the Government introduced the ability for individuals to access unused concessional contributions cap from 1 July 2018 on a rolling five year basis provided your total superannuation balance is less than $500,000. If you missed the opportunity to maximise your cap last Financial Year, this could be a great opportunity to top up your superannuation even further and claim a larger tax deduction! It could also be useful if you anticipate that your income will be greater this Financial Year than in future.

2. Spouse Contribution

If your spouse has assessable income below $40,000 this Financial Year, you may be eligible to receive a tax offset of up to $540. This is a great way to boost your spouse’s superannuation balance whilst also paying less in tax.

3. Government Co-Contribution

If you earned less than $53,564 this Financial Year, you may be entitled to a government co-contribution for any after-tax contribution you make. Under certain criteria, a $1,000 contribution will be matched by a $500 co-contribution, which is a 50% return!

4. Non-Concessional Contribution

For the current Financial Year, you can contribute up to $100,000 as a non-concessional (or after-tax) contribution into super, with the ability to “bring forward” two years of non-concessional contributions and contribute $300,000 in one go. This is a great way to boost your superannuation balance and have more of your funds in a tax-effective environment.

Before you add to your super, keep in mind that you won’t be able to access the money until you meet certain conditions. Please speak with your Financial Adviser to determine the suitability of the above strategies for your situation.

Prepaying interest on your margin loan

If you have a margin loan in place now could be the time to prepay the interest on your loan and claim the interest as a tax deduction.

Paying more interest on a margin loan now, rather than later, is also a good strategy for those who know they probably won’t earn as much next financial year.

Donations of $2 or more are tax deductible

If you usually give to charity and haven’t yet, now is the time to consider if this is something you would like to do. Making your donation to a registered charity before June 30 will ensure that you can claim the tax deduction in your 2019-20 tax return.

Aged Care

Aged Care

The wave of older Australians will continue to grow over the coming decades. As such, we can no longer afford to ignore the issues around aged care with over 1 million retirees already accessing aged care services in Australia.

Planning ahead can help to demystify aged care and reduce stress levels. With awareness and pre-planning, you can maintain control and choice, have access to the financial resources to pay for care and minimise the stress on you and your family. Getting the right information and advice now will help you make the best choices for your future care, security and happiness.

Most people are often surprised by the level and range of fees, and the amount you pay will often depend on the service you choose, and your assessable assets and income.

The cost of care can be divided into the following categories:

–  Baily Daily Fee, Means Tested Fee, Accommodation Costs and Extra Services Fee.

For most people, the biggest concern is how to pay the large amounts quoted for a room. These range from around $100,000 to $2 million but will commonly be between $400,000 – $600,000. These lump sum payments are called Refundable Accommodation Deposits – RADs.

Seeking financial advice on what options you have for payment and funding strategies may help to minimise your stress. Let’s examine some of the facts around accommodation payments.

 

Advice from a professional who is experienced in aged care can help you to make the right decisions and ensure your finances are structured correctly to optimise your financial position. If you or someone you know would like to discuss their aged care needs, please do not hesitate to contact our office for a no-obligation consultation.

9 Tips To Be Productive When Working at Home During COVID-19

9 Tips To Be Productive When Working at Home During COVID-19

When you’re not used to working at home, distractions can lead to lack of focus, procrastination and lower productivity.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, many companies are suggesting—even requiring—that more employees work from home. Working from home can be a lonely enterprise in this era of social distancing, but it doesn’t have to be. For those who are not used to working at home or who don’t have an organized work station, distractions can disrupt your productivity. After all, you’re in your personal space, not your usual professional environment. Laundry needs to be done, dishes washed and the house cleaned.

Plus, maybe you want to see The View since you’re always at the office when it’s on, or there’s a good movie on Netflix you’ve been longing to watch. Your pooch needs to go for a walk or you want to snuggle with him. And your spouse keeps yelling questions from another room, causing you to keep loosing your train of thought. Or on the flip side, maybe since being at home 24/7, you find yourself toiling overtime on the job long after you usually would have called it quits at the office. On top of it all, cabin fever could be sneaking up on you.

Productivity Tips For Working At Home

If you’re not used to working at home, it can take some getting used to new challenges that you might not have at the office. It’s important to have a defined schedule and stick to it. Avoid sleeping in or lingering over breakfast, and get to work just as if you’re driving across town to your office, although you might be walking into the next room. You might think blasting Lady Gaga’s latest hit is the most productive way for you to work. Or loud noises could be the worst thing for you to stay focused and get work done. Everybody is different. Some people work better in clutter while others can’t concentrate unless their work space is tidy. Regardless of your personal style, here are some tips to facilitate adjusting to your new situation during the Coronavirus outbreak:

 

1. Confine your work space to a specific area in your home so your job doesn’t intrude into the lives of other household members and you can concentrate. Have a space that you designate as your workstation instead of checking emails, voicemails or texting in front of TV or spreading work out on the kitchen table. Make your space a stress-free zone of quiet and solitude where you can concentrate. If you don’t have a separate room, find an area with minimum traffic flow or a corner of a room off from the main area.

2. Block the neighbor’s barking mutt, excess noise from household members or ambient traffic with noise cancelling head phones or ear buds. Studies show that a delicate blend of soft music combined with soothing nature sounds—such as waterfalls, raindrops, a rushing brook or ocean waves—activates the calming part of your brain, helps you concentrate and lowers heart rate and blood pressure

3. Go to the same designated place on a regular basis so your mind doesn’t wander, you can focus and increase your productivity. Establish water-tight psychological boundaries so you’re not constantly reminded of temptations around you (there’s chocolate cake in the fridge) or unfinished personal tasks—such as doing laundry, vacuuming or organizing your spice rack—that otherwise could compromise your productivity. And complete these personal activities outside of work hours as you normally would.

4. Set water-tight physical boundaries around your designated work space that is off limits for housemates. Treat it as if it’s five miles across town, and ask house members to consider it as such (e.g. no interruptions from another room when you’re engrossed in a project unless an emergency). If possible, only go to your designated space when you need to work. Stick to a regular schedule, and keep your work space at arm’s-length after hours. Try to maintain the same hours you log in at the office so you don’t get swallowed up by the workload.

5. After a reasonable day’s work, put away your electronic devices and work tools just as you would store carpentry tools after building shelves or baking ingredients after making a cake. Keeping work reminders out of sight keeps them out of mind and helps you relax and recharge your batteries.

6. Discourage personal intrusions. If you’re a teacher or doctor, friends don’t just stop by the office to chat, hang-out or interrupt your work. But sometimes well-intended friends, family members and neighbors think working at home is different. Interruptions and drop-ins can cause you to lose your focus, procrastinate or get behind on a deadline. It’s important to prevent intrusions into your work space by informing others that although the location of your job has changed, it is no different from any other profession requiring privacy and concentration. Notify others that during at-home work hours you’re unavailable and cannot be interrupted. And let them know the after hours when you’re available to connect.

7. Employ your video communications perhaps more than you normally would, now that you’re more isolated. Make sure you have your company’s telecommuting devices—such as Zoom—hooked up and ready to go so you can stay connected with team members or office mates and you’re available for video calls and teleconferencing. If you start to feel lonely, consider setting up a support group of friends and colleagues who are also working at home by satellite. Make plans to meet on a regular basis and share creative ways you’ve adjusted to the new situation.

 

8. Avoid cabin fever. Now that you’re spending a disproportionate amount of time at home, get outside as much as possible with gardening or walking around the block. Mounting research shows that spending time in nature lowers stress, helps you relax and clears your mind. After work hours, enjoy other areas of your home: watching a good movie, reading a book, or cooking a fun meal.The new normal is not to limit social devices but to take advantage of them. Use Facetime, Facebook or Skype with friends and family members so you feel connected to the people in your life that you care about.

 

 

9. Keep your attitude in check. Above all, be creative and don’t let your confined circumstances dwarf your tranquility, happiness or productivity. Your greatest power is your perspective. It can victimize you or empower you. When you look for the upside in a downside situation and figure out what you can control and what you can’t, it’s easier to accept whatever is beyond your control. Your best ally is to find the opportunity in the difficulty during an uncontrollable situation instead of the difficulty in the opportunity. Take advantage of this restrictive time to clear clutter out of your basement, pull weeds in the garden or get caught up on fun hobbies you’ve neglected for a while.

This article was originally published here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/bryanrobinson/2020/03/14/9-tips-to-be-productive-when-working-at-home-during-covid-19/#6395dbfc5a38

Economic & Market Update: Coronavirus – by Chris Lioutas

Economic & Market Update: Coronavirus – by Chris Lioutas

Coronavirus, whilst significant in the short term, will pass in the next few months largely as a result of the significant action taken by the Chinese to contain the virus. Nearly all the deaths have occurred where the virus originated (Hubei), and the deaths have been largely the result of not seeking treatment and complications regarding a pre-existing condition.

Given the actions taken by governments to close down ports, borders, and limit air and sea transfers, this will have a material effect on economic growth and corporate earnings in the short term.

Markets will likely look through the weaker data considering investors have largely taken Coronavirus in their stride, and central banks can and will provide short support if required.

Markets have continued to push higher on a few reasons:

  1. Less political risk with Brexit and phase one trade deal completed
  2. Fourth Quarter corporate reporting season in the US coming through better than expected with upgrades to earnings expected for calendar year 2020
  3. Continued central bank support which will remain in place for this year, keep cash rates and bond yields low, and thus encouraging continued investment into growth assets
  4. US Presidential race looking increasingly likely President Trump gets a second term, which is positive for equity markets versus the alternative.

Absent Coronavirus being a lot worse than we suspect or a Democrat winning the US Presidential election, there’s not a whole lot standing in the way of another equity rally this year. The US economy looks strong enough but not too strong so as to encourage the US central bank to remove stimulus. Europe looks to have found a bottom from an economic perspective, with Germany the weakest link and seriously considering embarking on fiscal spending for the first time in a very long time, which may encourage other European governments to embark on their own fiscal stimulus. Japan looks likely to embark on fiscal stimulus this year as the government needs to counter the effect of GST increases over the last few years.

Other issues to watch out for include a significant slip in Chinese growth (unlikely at this stage given government and central bank support), a re-escalation of US-China trade war (ie. further tariffs), a re-escalation of US-Iran tensions in the Middle East (ie. higher oil price), a significant and permanent spike in inflation (which would cause central banks to remove stimulus).

Closer to home, the Aussie economy is looking for a bottom, but it looks likely there’s further to go, with the bushfires and the Coronavirus significantly impacting tourism. The RBA likely has at least 1 more rate cut in them if not 2 before they get to their lower bound of 0.25%. They’ve recently made comments that they think quantitative easing is off the table, but it’s very premature to be making comments like that, unless they know something we don’t. That could be significant government fiscal pulse in the May budget, which looks unlikely, but is something the economy desperately needs. Outside of that, the only positives in the economy right now are a recovery in the housing market, largely in Sydney and Melbourne, and a falling Aussie dollar which is helping from an export perspective.

Key messages remain as follows:

  1. Diversification is key – across asset classes, regions, sectors, and investment styles
  2. Selectivity – given the wide dispersion that exists in valuations between sectors, styles, and regions, being selective (active management) will be more important this year than it has been for a long time
  3. Rebalancing is important – the best discipline in investment markets goes counter to human behaviour and biases – ie. trimming winners and topping up losers. It has been shown to add 1-2% in additional return per annum
  4. Time in the market – timing the market remains an impossible task, and trying to time the market in the current environment is likely to result in significant opportunity cost considering central banks continue to provide a floor under equity markets.
Year in Review and Outlook for 2020

Year in Review and Outlook for 2020

by Chris Lioutas

Insight Investment Consultants

It’s fair to say that 2019 was a bittersweet year, characterised by some of the highest political and economic risks we’ve seen in some time with the backdrop of some of the best investment returns we’ve seen in the last decade. Whilst we’re always thankful for those sorts of returns, though never planned or expected, it was a pretty uncomfortable experience. When we look at the magnitude of those returns versus rising political and economic risks, it’s hard to fathom just how we got to where we are now. It’s fair to say 2019 was all about persistence and staying the course. Whilst this year could be more of the same, as we come back from time away with our loved ones, we think 2020 is likely to be all about discipline and risk awareness.

Highlights for the year include

  • Roaring asset price growth across the board, absent cash
  • Phase 1 US-China trade deal
  • US central bank acted appropriately by cutting rates and expanding their balance sheet
  • RBA acted appropriately by cutting rates and preparing for balance sheet expansion
  • Australian federal election result – positive for asset prices / investment markets
  • UK election result
  • Strong US labour market and retail spending
  • Inflation remaining low
  • Chinese government and central bank stimulus
  • A falling US dollar towards the back end of the year

Lowlights for the year include

  • US-China trade and technology war escalation
  • US trade tariffs on other countries
  • Brexit / UK politics debacle
  • US-Iran conflict
  • Tariff-induced weaker economic data globally
  • German economy on the brink of recession
  • Social unrest in Hong Kong, France, Chile, etc
  • US immigration policy
  • Rising Japan-South Korean tensions
  • Stronger US dollar impacting emerging markets
  • Continued Chinese economic growth slowdown
  • Weaker Australian economy

For the sake of brevity, these lists are not exhaustive.

The key takeouts from 2019 are that US-China relations will never be the same again and central banks remain effective (for now) in maintaining investor confidence in their ability to patch the mistakes made by populist leaders and the structural deficiencies caused by still too high debt levels and worsening demographics.

What will 2020 bring?

Time will tell.

From an economic perspective, we don’t believe recession is likely in 2020 but economic growth locally and globally will remain weak. Weak enough to force central banks to remain supportive, but not weak enough to see recession fears rise. Closer to home, we think the RBA will be forced to cut rates another two times, and will seriously consider expanding their balance sheet (money printing) in the second half of 2020.

From a political perspective, we don’t think 2020 is any cleaner than 2019, with less UK political risk now being cancelled out by increased US political risk leading into the presidential election in November. As it stands right now, President Trump looks likely to serve a second term, which is probably the most supportive outcome from an investment market perspective.

Three likely scenarios for 2020 from a market perspective:

1. More of the bumper returns from 2019 as political risks subside and economic data improves but not markedly so to end central banks’ current pace of stimulus; or

2. A more benign environment were markets are range-bound through the course of the year as political risks continue to spill-over into economic risks which forces central banks to act even further quell a spill-over into markets; or

3. A capitulation in market sentiment driven by rising political risks, causing economic risks to spike, resulting in a loss of confidence in central banks’ ability to control the narrative and hence large falls in investment markets.

Following recent “wins” regarding a phase 1 trade deal and a more stable UK political environment, higher probabilities can be assigned to scenarios 1 and 2 above. However, we and many others, aren’t yet willing to rule out scenario 3. The concern we have is that the probabilities of each scenario are likely to be moving beasts, and it’s even possible we get all three regimes throughout 2020.

The four things we will be monitoring very closely in 2020 are US-China relations, the US presidential race, US central bank policy, and company earnings.

Hopefully we get enough time to act accordingly to major changes in each, or maybe minor changes in each mean staying the course proves the winning strategy yet again. Absent that, those that are well diversified, selective, and disciplined will weather 2020 much better than those that chase returns / income with little regard for the risks involved.

Laura Henshaw: How I Find Time for Myself

Laura Henshaw: How I Find Time for Myself

 

“Its tough to find a moment during the day to stop and recharge, but its important if you want to stay your best”

Too often, we focus on our physical health but neglect the mental side of things. Most of my week I’m either in the office, in meetings, or at uni. There’s always something going on, and sometimes it seems impossible to take a moment for myself.

But it’s essential to find time during the day – whether it’s an hour-long yoga session or a quick stroll around the block. I find that if I don’t make ‘me-time’, then I’m not as productive as I could be.

 

MAKE YOUR #ONECHANGE
Are you approaching a burnout stage? Ask yourself: how well am I coping with everyday things?

Recognise when you’re approaching burnout

Unfortunately, it often takes pushing ourselves to extremes before we realise how overworked we are. There have been a few times this year where I haven’t been able to find regular time for myself. And, after a while, I found that I wasn’t dealing with stress very well.

With my job – and at uni – it’s really important that I’m present, with myself and my community. As soon as I lose the feeling of just being me, I acknowledge it straight away and act quickly to change my situation.

Learning to recognise the signs is the first step in overcoming burnout. You know you’re not taking enough time out for yourself when you can no longer cope with everyday situations. Maybe you’re not meeting the same deadlines you used to. Or maybe you’re less tolerant around colleagues and loved ones.

At the end of the day, when you feel overwhelmed, you tend to be super unproductive because you’re not focusing on one task. Your mind is buzzing between multiple things, and you feel like you’re never going to get anything done.

Test out different ways to take time out

Of course, there are lots of ways to take time out for yourself. This could be anything from a yoga class to a walk with the dog. I recently got into meditation – something I’d always thought wasn’t for me. Now I try and meditate around three times a week, using guided meditations from the Keep It Cleaner app. It’s definitely helped me slow down and stay focused. If I’m not sleeping well, meditation is also a great way to unwind before bed and calm my racing mind down!

My days are pretty mixed. I don’t have too much of a routine. I find that if I get really fixated on a particular routine, it becomes difficult to maintain when I travel for work, or something comes up. It helps, then, to make personal time out as flexible as possible ¬– activities that can be done anywhere, anytime. Controlled breathing, for example, is a great little break that you can do at your desk, on the bus, in bed.

I try to be flexible in my approach to ‘me time’. If you put too much pressure on yourself to find that time where you’re not working or studying, it can actually become a source of stress itself. Try your best to prioritise time for yourself, but don’t beat yourself up if life gets in the way.

Remove distractions

The work-life balance has become more and more blurred. With technology, the traditional nine-to-five has gone out the window, and we’re now very accessible wherever we are. When you’re taking time out for yourself, I find the best way to get your mind to where it needs to be is by removing as many distractions as possible. This could mean switching off your phone, or leaving it in another room.

Many mental health experts agree we’re spending too much time on our devices. But technology can, ironically, also free us from modern distractions. I find that having a smartwatch is a great way to put a little distance between you and your devices; I’m able to leave my phone – and all of its distractions like social media – elsewhere. I’m away from tech, but I can still register notifications, in case there’s an emergency that I need to respond to. It’s not a completely distraction-free solution, but hey, when it comes to work-life balance, I’m still working on it too!

Year in Review and Outlook for 2020

5 Physio-approved Tips for Calibrating your Workspace

 If you have a desk job, here is what it is doing to your body

While the phrase ‘sitting is the new smoking’ may sound hyperbolic, there’s a core truth to it. A 2011 study found that each hour spent seated watching television cuts 22 minutes from your life expectancy, which is actually worse than the 11 minutes per cigarette that smokers trim off their average lifespan.

Nicole Bryant, physiotherapist at High Line Active, explains that the dangers of sitting are multifaceted. “You’re putting pressure on your spine through compression, so it’s impacting the musculoskeletal system. Sitting for long periods can weaken the glute and leg muscles as you aren’t using them,” she says. “Our digestion and cardiovascular systems aren’t designed for sitting. We’re designed to operate standing and moving.” On top of that, we know that the risk of experiencing both anxiety and depression is higher in people that sit more.

It’s not all bad news, though! If you’re concerned for your health, there are some simple preventative steps that you can take to mitigate the risk that comes from a sedentary work lifestyle.

Hit the right height

Once you’ve got the chair dialled in, you can move on to the rest of your space. The first thing you want to do is ensure that your hands are in the correct position for typing and accessing your mouse.

“Most people sit forward in the chair and creep over the keyboard,” Nicole warns. “A good cue is to make sure that you’re using the back of the seat.” When it comes to setting the height of your monitor, she recommends aligning the top third of the screen with your eye level.

Find the perfect chair

“Always start with making sure that your chair is fitted correctly,” Nicole says. That means ensuring you’ve got adequate back support, and that your hips and knees are resting at a right angle.

If you’re setting up a home office, it’s worth noting that a more expensive chair doesn’t necessarily mean a better one. What counts is finding a model that works for your body. Nicole suggests taking a friend along with you when you’re shopping to make sure that your posture is correct.

Three desk stretches to keep you moving

Try integrating these basic stretches into your working routine.
If you’re having persistent or localised pain, be sure to seek the advise of a medical professional.

  1. Pec Stretch 
    From seated or standing position, cast your hands behind your back to open up your chest then lift your head to the ceiling.
  2. Chin to Armpit Stretch
    From a seated position, place your right hand oveer the back of your head. Turn to look into your right armpit and use your hand to gently pull your head down. You should feel this stretch through the left side of your neck and upper back. Repeat on the other side.
  3. Seated Rotations
    While seated, use your left hand to hold onto the arm of your chair and twist to the right. Repeat five times, then alternate sides.

MAKE YOUR #ONECHANGE Set reminders in your phone or email to prompt you to stretch throughout the day.

Build movement into your day

One of the most effective ways of combatting the adverse health outcomes that come with sitting is to ensure that you’re moving throughout the day. “If you’re sitting at a desk it’s important to have regular rest pauses,” Nicole says. “Take your hands off the keyboard every hour and complete some stretches and mobility exercises.”

Make sure that you try and work incidental exercise into your day. Nicole suggests getting off public transport one stop early, heading to a colleague’s desk and having a conversation instead of sending an email, or scheduling a walking meeting. Any time spent moving adds up over the day.

Use your laptop strategically

When working on a laptop you’re unlikely to be able to maintain the ideal posture for an extended time, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to list your computer on Gumtree. “A laptop is fine to use for short periods,” Nicole says. “Any injury is about repetition and total time.”

If you’re regularly working away from your main desk, it’s worth investing in an external keyboard, mouse, and riser to get your station set at the right height. But if you’re working remote or on the road and are without equipment, focus on switching your body’s position regularly. Nicole recommends alternating between standing and sitting, or even lying on your stomach while using your laptop.

Consider a standing desk

Standing desks offer flexibility of movement that’s conducive to better health. “I usually tell my clients to try and stand for an hour and sit for an hour,” Nicole says. Still, if your workspace has a standing desk, be careful not to overdo it. Nicole has noticed an upturn in clients experiencing injuries in the knees and hips related to standing. In the beginning, she advises making sure that you’re switching position more often and choosing supportive footwear.

As far as calibrating the height your desk, Nicole notes that your keyboard should be sitting just below your hands if you’re standing with your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle. That way you won’t need to elevate your shoulders to reach your mouse and keyboard.

12 Tips for Navigating the “Silly Season”

12 Tips for Navigating the “Silly Season”

If five golden rings and a whole menagerie of birds sounds like it might blow the budget this year, then perhaps the classic carol needs a rewrite. That’s why we’ve put together a list of hot tips to make the gift-giving season a breeze without scorching a hole in your hip pocket.

 

1. Make a list

Before you even step foot in your local shopping mall, make a comprehensive list. That goes for all the people you plan on giving presents to, as well as all the decorations and food supplies you’ll need. The more specific you are the better.

 

2. Check it twice and set your budget

Once the list is done check it again and cross off any unnecessary items. Then proceed to set a maximum cost against each item line. If you’re rigorous with this, you might even find your Christmas budget comes in at a surplus.

 

3. Shop around

Shopping around can save a lot of money. And these days its easier than ever as you can do most of the work online. The trick is that you need to start your research early and not leave all your shopping the last minute. There’s no point buying a bunch of gifts nobody even wants in a drastic credit card frenzy.

 

4. DIY

There’s nothing better than a home-made gift. It shows the receiver that you really care and they’re usually cheaper. Making home-made gifts can also be a really great way to bond with other family members if you do it as a group. It’s what we in finance call a ‘win-win’.

 

5. Shop with purpose…

Not only do you need a list when you shop. You also need a plan. It will inevitably take you more than one trip to the shops to get everything you need, so aim to buy the big things first. This way you’ll know what you have to play around with for the smaller ticket items. Inevitably some of these may not seem quite as important once the bigger ones are accounted for.

 

6. Don’t shop for yourself

Easier said than done we know. But try to avoid buying a whole bunch of stuff for yourself then having nothing left for your other purchases.

 

7. Track your spending

Tracking your spending as you shop is vital – and these days its easier than ever, with apps like The Christmas List, which helps budget and track your Christmas spend in real time.

 

8. Spread the Christmas cheer (volunteer or donate)

Remember the true spirit of Christmas by giving back to your community in some way. Either volunteer some time with a local charity or give some funds to a deserving cause. Some charities even allow you to purchase donations as gifts with cute little cards made up to explain what the money went towards.

 

9. Watch your Afterpay

Though Afterpay can be a great way to get what you want when you want it, it’s only helpful if you are diligent with your repayments. Christmas is a period famous for people going overboard and you don’t want to end up unable to pay it back on time and having to pay hefty interest.

 

10. Credit card spending

The same goes for credit card spending. Where possible aim to use money you already have. Last year Aussies put $30 billion on plastic to cover their Christmas spend and 27% of them were likely to still be paying it off 12 months later.

 

11. Reduce, reuse, recycle

At the end of the day we don’t need more stuff just for the sake of having it. So, when making your Christmas list, consider getting each person one meaningful item rather than ten little things that may just end up in the bin. You can also re-gift things you don’t like and recycle last year’s decorations and Christmas wrapping. It’ll save both money and the environment.

 

12. Be merry

Last of all don’t forget to have a good time. By planning your Christmas spend well in advance, it means you can enjoy the day that little bit more.

 

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).