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6 tips to spend wisely this Christmas

Whack on your red hat and fire up the reindeer, it’s that time of year again!

Most of us love Christmas: presents, sunshine and holidays. What’s not to like?

The challenge is making sure your Christmas cheer doesn’t become New Year pain when you realise how much you’ve spent. In today’s “buy now, pay later” society it’s all too easy to tap and worry about it later.

The problem is, later comes up fast often leaving us with that “what have I done?” feeling and Ho Ho Ho quickly becomes Why Why Why?!

One thing’s for sure, by January Christmas is going to feel like a distant memory, so let’s look at a few ways you can act like Santa and remain jolly in 2020.

Make a list and check it twice
How many times have you driven to the mall to buy presents with no real plan? You might roughly know who you’re going to buy for, but most of us just wander from shop to shop hoping to stumble across something. This often leads to multiple visits to the mall and spending more than you want to as you become more and more frustrated.

This year is going to be different. Before you make that harrowing journey to the crowded mall take a little time to make a list of the people you want to buy for and what you think they might like, within your budget of course. You will be amazed how empowered and in control this will make you feel and how much money and stress it will save you. If you only do one thing differently this Christmas, make it this.

Don’t throw away shopping catalogues
This time of year, the mailbox is full of shopping catalogues and most of us toss them straight into the bin. For the next few weeks hold onto them, then sit down one night with a glass of wine and flick through them. With your list in hand you might be able to cross off a few names in one hit and even save a few dollars in the process. At the very least you’ll know what each store has which will save you time.

Look like Santa but think like Scrooge
I know this isn’t a time of year that you would typically associate with sales, but you may be surprised at what deals are floating around. Retail has had a tough year and pre-Christmas sales are becoming more and more common. Keep an eye out for sales and be ready to pounce, even if you only buy a few gifts at a discount it will save you money.

The best deals are not always at the mall
I know it’s convenient to go to the mall but don’t forget to check out your local shops.  As well as supporting your community, independent retailers are often very competitive and they want your business, often their prices are the same or even cheaper than the shopping centres so do the right thing and give your locals a shot.

A pre-Christmas eBay session
If you’re wondering how to get a few extra dollars together for presents this could be it.  Like most of us, I bet you have hordes of stuff that you’ve barely used, some if it might even be gifts from last Christmas. Here’s your chance to declutter and make some money. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. Spend a few hours gathering some items that you don’t really want and list them on eBay or another sales platform, you’ll not only free up some space but you might make that extra cash you need for Christmas.

Presents you can’t afford for people you don’t like
Ok, that might be a little harsh, but have you ever exchanged presents with family and friends that, let’s be honest, were not all that exciting? You know what I mean, you give a candle and receive a bowl…

Let’s not forget that when it comes to presents, other than a few big kids that you want to spoil, Christmas is really all about the young ones. There’s nothing better than seeing the joy in their eyes when they see Santa’s been and they tear into their presents like a possessed mountain lion. 

For the most part, many adults would be just as happy with a nice meal and a few drinks with close family and friends. While it might take a little courage to say, “hey guys, let’s pass on the presents this year”, I’m sure many would welcome this, and they might even thank you for being the one to bring it up as chances are they’re feeling the same way.

Even if you only do one or two of these things it can have a big impact. With a little planning you can keep your silly season spending in check and have the best Christmas ever.

Ok, off you go and spread the Christmas cheer. Merry Christmas, everyone!

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6 tips for getting your home loan approved as a first home buyer

First job, first car, first love; each of these are sentimental milestones most of us will experience at some point in our lives. Although, unlike your after-school check-out shifts or second-hand Hyundai Getz, scoring your first home is a little more complex.

However, we have good news. We’ve provided you with six tips for improving your eligibility for a home loan, so you can tick off another milestone and move into your first home!

  1. Plan ahead

Banks are looking more closely at how you spend your money, making it particularly important to be conscious about how you spend your money in the lead up to your loan application. ‘Red flags’ for lenders include overspending on ‘non-essential’ items like dining out, shopping etc.

We recommend reviewing your spending 6 to 12 months prior to applying for a home loan to show banks you can save by allocating a responsible budget to entertainment and luxuries per week.

Simply keeping a ledger or downloading a budgeting app can help keep you accountable. If you’re ready to get serious, speak to us about setting an entertainment budget based on your earnings 6-months prior to your home loan application.

  1. The bigger, the better

The bigger your deposit, the better chance you have of getting a loan approved. Off the back of our last point stressing the merit of planning, could you benefit from pushing back moving for an extra 6 months to accumulate more savings, or are there any sacrifices you could make to feed your home deposit sum?

Not only will this increase your chances of approval, it will reduce your overall loan amount – think of it as a short-term sacrifice for long term rewards!

  1. Remove unnecessary financial commitments

In line with being more conscientious with your budgeting, it is particularly important to be mindful of automated costs deducting your account in preparation for home loan application.

Routine expenditures like streaming services, Afterpay, unused gym memberships and other subscriptions may seem harmless, but may indeed hinder your chances of loan approval. An easy way to assess your monthly costs in to print out your bank statement and go to town with the highlighter.

  1. Prove job security.

Banks don’t like to take risks. If you have recently started a new job, while it may well be stable, having an absolute minimum of 3 months employment at the same company can prove stability in income. If you are concerned your current employment situation may affect your application, have a chat with us about your options.

  1. Pre-approved loan

Getting your loan pre-approved means getting your finances arranged before you make an offer on a property, allowing you to determine exactly how much you can borrow before you buy your home.

Not only does a pre-approved loan provide a level of certainty about the value of property you can buy, real estate agents actually prefer dealing with buyers who are pre-approved, giving you the upper hand against competing buyers and confidence in approaching your market debut.

  1. Brokers over banks

A good mortgage broker has your best interest at heart, meaning they aren’t going to refer you to a lender that will most likely decline your loan application. If you were to apply for a home loan through a bank, you are limited to their set criteria, as opposed to a broker with access to a range of lenders with varying specifications.

Brokers are able to refer you to a lender who best suits your circumstances, thus improving your approval rate. In addition, going through a broker offers better protection for your credit history, with each knock back earning you a black mark against your name, so you want to ensure you are completely confident when you finally decide to submit your request.

Now you’ve made your checklist, what’s next?

To start your first home ownership journey off on the right foot, book a coffee and chat with Dean today to ensure you’re on the right path to avoid disappointment down the track. To get in touch, phone Dean on 0413 766 456.

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Budgeting for Christmas

Tis the season to spend! Presents, decorations, fruit mince pies – these are some of the highlights of the festive season, yet also just a few of the many additional expenses you need to plan for, come the Christmas period. To have a jolly holiday, we’ve put together five of our top money-savvy tips to get help you stay on track for a stress-free end to the year:

 

  1. Make a list and check it twice

Ask yourself the honest question: what can you realistically afford to spend this year? Estimate your total expenses, upcoming repayments, bills and costs, and tally these against your expected income. Now it’s time to trim the fat. Can you sacrifice a month of TV subscription or reduce the number of times you are eating out to balance the increased spending? Keep in mind, these sacrificial habits are only temporary, so try withstanding the duration for the reward!

  1. Resist reaching for the credit card

We understand the appeal credit cards advertise, but we encourage restraint around this time of year if you want to reduce January debt. In 2016, Finder.com.au found that 36 percent of the nation paid for Christmas presents on their credit card, with the foreboding post-Christmas debt coming in at $397 million in 2017.

Credit cards aren’t the only debt generators to be wary of. Beware of the newest trap: Afterpay. While the ‘shop now, pay later’ approach is beneficial in the short term, you can quickly accumulate debt that becomes just a little too much to handle. Be mindful that if you must use one of these credit options, that you can easily meet the payment terms.

  1. Show your savings account some love

One of our more simpler tips, yet often the most overlooked. Having the benefit of still being a few weeks out from the crazy period, making the effort to deposit an extra sum of money into a separate, high-interest savings account per week will certainly ‘pay’ off in the long run. A sacrifice of an extra $50 per week over an eight-week period will save you another $400, enough to cover a few relatives presents.

  1. Don’t forget the entertainment!

I’m sure we can all agree the festive season isn’t just the happiest time of year, but the most social, too. The influx of events come December is an aspect of the budget people tend to neglect. Uber fairs, food, drinks, ticket prices, new outfits… the list goes on.

Firstly, take some time to assess and pencil in your upcoming events to save any missed memos or unexpected parties you didn’t budget for. Make a habit of regularly looking beyond the next seven days, so you can adjust your weekly spend if necessary.

While you’re at it, are there any events planned for November you can consider turning down or sacrificing for a cost-free night in? As our schedules congest in the weeks approaching Christmas, October and November are the months to squeeze in that down time. As an alternative, consider lower cost options – things such as picnics, ‘bring a dish’ themed dinners and barbeques by the beach are a few budget friendly ideas for keeping social, without over-spending.

  1. Save more online

Although online shopping lacks the instantaneous gratification of present buying, for those looking to seriously reduce their spending, the internet is the place to go.

Aside from the overall lower cost of goods online, priced to compete with their brick and mortar counterparts, there are additional tools you can employ to save that little bit extra. Online add-ons such as Honey automatically find and apply any coupon codes or discount vouchers that may be available, as well as subscribing to mailing lists can also earn you % off your purchase.

However, we encourage you to remain aware when using your credit card details online. If you are unfamiliar with an online store we recommend doing a quick Google search to ensure they are safe and there aren’t any bad reviews. Third party payment websites such as Paypal are always encouraged as a safe payment method.

We hope our budgeting tips have inspired you to get into the saving spirit early, so you can get the most out of the festive season without the buyer’s remorse come January. If you need assistance with your finances, or are perhaps considering refinancing your home loan as a way to save, get in touch with Dean from The Finance Agency today on 0413 766 456.

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The Perks of a Pre-Approved Loan

It’s no secret the home buyer’s journey involves a fair amount of decision making. From choosing a location to determining the number of bedrooms, the process can be overwhelming, especially for those entering the market for the first time. This is where applying for a pre-approved loan can be of advantage – a lending option giving prospective buyers a sense of clarity in terms of what they can realistically afford.

 

What is a pre-approved loan?

To put it simply, getting your loan pre-approved means getting your finances arranged before you make an offer on a property, allowing you to determine exactly how much you can borrow before you buy your home.

 

Benefits of a pre-approved loan.

Not only does a pre-approved loan provide a level of certainty about the value of property you can buy, real estate agents actually prefer dealing with buyers who are pre-approved, giving you the upper hand against competing buyers. Plus, determining what you can afford prior to house hunting will save you the potential heartbreak of falling in love with a home that is out of your budget.

 

How do I apply for a pre-approved loan?

With the help of your broker, the application process for a pre-approved loan is no different to that of a regular loan. All the same documentation that would be required for a full loan application is needed and once approved, all you need to do is find your home.

 

Is there a downside to pre-approved loans?

There’s none, really. The Finance Agency’s Dean Nicolaou says it is a common misconception that a pre-approved loan will impact negatively on your credit score, so you should dismiss this claim. Although it may be noted on your credit file, the only perceived negative could be that the amount you are applying for is less then you thought you could borrow (although in many cases you may be surprised to know many clients find they can actually borrow more than they thought possible).

 

Overall, a pre-approved loan serves as an effective tool for refining your property search, particularly for first home buyers or those looking to invest. By giving you a dollar amount to work with, and the reassurance of approved finance, all that’s left is the house hunting!

If you are considering applying for a pre-approved home loan, give Dean a call on 0413 766 456 and he’d love to help you get started.

 

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Making the Most of your Small Business Loans

Small Business Loans are the bank’s way of helping out the little guys or small-to-medium enterprises (SME).

This type of loan is extremely beneficial when it comes to starting up your business or if your business is in financial strife. However, though lower payments and longer repayment terms may work in the short term, you should be aware of how it affects your business in the long run. To help you avoid financial trouble, we’ve put together a list of common mistakes made by small businesses to ensure you’re not one of them.

 

Mistake: Not having a business plan.

Solution: Discussing specifics with your broker.

Prior to your loan application, take the time to determine exactly what you intend to use your loan for, so your broker can propose the best loan for your situation. For example, if you are looking for a loan to cover new equipment, there’s an equipment loan for that! For more information on the different types of small business loans, get in touch and we’d be happy to run you through them.

 

Mistake: Wait, what’s a Business Plan?

Solution: Business Plan 101.

A lender is more likely to provide you with the right loan if they can better understand your business, including where the money is coming from now and where it will come from in the future. A well-constructed business plan, including your products, services and target audience, will better enable the lender to tailor a solution to your needs. Our team can assist you in compiling all the necessary information needed for your business plan.

 

Mistake: Not keeping your finances up to date.

Solution: Update them!

Depending on the size of your business, lenders may also require information regarding your personal finances as well, so it would be a good idea to have them on standby too. If you feel this may be a bigger job than anticipated, we’ll be happy to help you out.

 

Mistake: Ignoring the sneaky fees and hidden expenses.

Solution: Read the dreaded fine print. 

More often than not, business owners sign up for a loan under the impression that the balance of the loan itself is all they need to pay off. We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but usually this balance doesn’t include the administration fees and contract or appraisal costs in addition to standard interest expenses. Upon loan application, be sure to ask your lender about additional expenses to avoid any unwelcomed surprises or if you’re going through us, we will definitely let you know all of the costs involved.

 

Mistake: Not keeping track of your credit record.

Solution: Ask us about a credit review.

Since lenders check your credit record as part of the loan application process as a means of assessing your level of financial stability, it would be wise to speak to you broker about a free credit check to ensure there’s no issues that would hold things up.

 

Mistake: Not shopping around.

Solution: Speak to us about our network of lenders.

There’s a plethora of loan options on the market these days, both secured and unsecured, but it can often be confusing to know which is the most suitable product for you. We have a network of lenders, each with various loan products. Your broker will understand exactly what your needs are to provide the most suitable loan product without you having to lift a finger. Leave the running around to us.

 

If you are planning on taking out a small business loan or would like a review of your current loan, get in touch and book a complimentary consultation.

 

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Smart Tips For Paying Off Your Home Loan Sooner

It’s the great Australian dream to live mortgage free, yet for many Aussie families, this is considered an unattainable goal – or at least one they won’t achieve until they’re old and grey.

What if we told you paying off your mortgage doesn’t have to wait until you’re eligible for the old age pension? Australian home loan interest rates remain at historic lows, meaning you could be enjoying the freedom of having no mortgage in no time by following a few simple tips.

Get your note pads ready because we’ve complied our six tips for paying off your home loan sooner.

 

  1. Higher Repayments

An obvious, yet effective, approach. Can you sacrifice the Friday night take-out spend for a reduced mortgage balance? You will be surprised how much an extra $50 – $100 a fortnight/month will impact the term of your loan.

  1. Weekly or Fortnightly Repayments

Put simply: making more frequent repayments. Making extra repayments can take years – and thousands – off your loan. This is an avenue we strongly suggest exploring. Our team would be more than happy to discuss setting a realistic repayment budget if you are considering switching to a weekly or fortnightly plan.

  1. Interest Offset Accounts

An offset account is a savings account or transaction account linked to an eligible home or investment loan. The money you have in this account could offset the amount you owe on that loan, and you’ll only be charged the interest on the difference, so you Save on interest charges, which helps you pay your loan off sooner. Wages and income can also be deposited to this account and they generally only comply with variable rate loans. Still confused? We’d be happy to talk to you and explain how it works.

  1. Avoid Rate Cutting

When lenders reduce their interest rate to coincide with a fall in official rates, consumers often think to reduce their loan repayment. Instead, we suggest maintaining your original repayment, so you are still able to achieve a shorter loan term and save on interest. 

  1. Pay both Principal and Interest

The lower repayments that come with an interest-only loan may seem like a good idea in the short term, but in the long run, it could end up costing you more because you’re only paying the interest initially and not reducing any of the actual mortgage. We would be happy to discuss these options with you.

  1. Get a Split Loan

Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean splitting your loan in half and forgetting about the rest. Split loans allow you to divide your mortgage with variable and fixed interest rates. For example, if you had a $500,000 mortgage, you can choose to “fix” the rate for $450,000 of the loan and the remaining $50,000 can be on a variable interest rate. This enables you to secure a low fixed rate for the main portion of your loan, whilst the variable allows you to make extra repayments and offset this interest rate with your savings.

We hope these tips have inspired you to make an effort to pay off your loan sooner than anticipated! Get in touch with our team and let’s make this dream a reality.