finder.com.au are hosting a Google Hangout with Money Experts for MoneySmart Week
MoneySmart Week is all about learning how to be financially literate. Being savvy with your money and developing saving skills is essential for every Australian, but not always easy. Sometimes you just need a shortcut or a hack to help you along you along. That's where our experts step in.
Click here for video transcript:
Michelle: MoneySmart Week is aimed to encourage Australians to be more financially literate and help them save money at finder.com.au. We receive a lot of questions from people who are confused and they actually don't understand their financial product so we wanted to support MoneySmart Week and help raise awareness and show people how easy it really is to save money.
So I want to introduce our panelists. I've got Effie Zahos, editor of Money Magazine. Angus-
Michelle: Hi, Effie. Thanks for joining.
Michelle: Angus Kidman is editor of lifehacker.com.au.
Angus: Good day.
Michelle: Zoe Lamont. She's founder of 10thousandgirl.com.
Zoe: Good afternoon.
Michelle: And Bosco Tan is founder of Pocketbook.
Bosco: Hey everyone.
Michelle: So I wanted to ask you all if you could tell Australia your number one financial tip, what would it be? Effie?
Effie: I was asked this at MoneySmart Week actually Michelle and I thought it was a brilliant question. If I could, you know, go back 20 years and ask myself a question or do something differently it would be definitely it's only 20 bucks and what I mean by that is that if I put $20 away when I first got my job at the age of 20 I would have $45,000 sitting in that account right now and I would blow it on a first-class ticket overseas. Because it's just money for jam as far as I'm concerned. I guess what I'm trying to say there is, you know, squirrel it away, it's simple.
$20 is not much.
Michelle: Great. How about you, Angus? What's your number one tip?
Angus: I'm going to give a geeky tip. Never buy a mobile phone on a contract. It's just a huge way to waste money. There are much, much cheaper ways of doing it.
Michelle: Nice. Thanks, Angus. How about you, Zoe?
Zoe: Well, I like to first look at setting really clear and being really clear on your personal goals because I think that if we don't have motivators and if there's not some inspiration and fun around getting your financial admin in order then that's when it's often pushed under the rug. So making sure that you know what financial foundations you need to have in place but that there's a big fat motivator so it's not put off.
Michelle: Great. Thanks, Zoe. And what about you, Bosco?
Bosco: So the biggest tip from us and it's the reason why we created Pocketbook is that history is the best predictor of future behavior so one of the things we say is users don't necessarily spend a lot of time understanding how they previously spent in order to sort of cater for what they're likely to spend in the future. So understand the history.
Michelle: Great. Thanks guys. So if anyone wants to ask our panel a question you can post it on Twitter with the hash tag #moneyexpert and
#finderau. So I want to start with financial goals. Most of us set our goals at the start of the year, you know, whether it's paying off a debt or going on a holiday. But our recent surveys reveal many Australians are in this set and forget mode so two in three people we found aren't reviewing their goals often enough. So I want to ask you, Angus. We've had people on finder.com.au asking us, "What's the best way to travel on a shoestring budget?" So what are your tips, top dos and don'ts for traveling frugally?
Angus: Well, the most important thing I think in trying to travel frugally is you have to plan ahead. You've actually got to think about it and do things a little bit in advance. There's a bit of this culture, this idea that if you book at the last minute you'll get some great bargain. You know what? You probably won't. Work out when you want to go on holiday. Set some time aside. Do some planning and start saving. Just put money aside every week.
I'm a big fan of the idea that every time you end up with a $5 note in your wallet, don't spend it. Just put that aside and say, "That's part of my holiday fund." Have some planned saving as well but that gives you a little bit of extra money and you can use that, you know, to enjoy yourself when you're traveling frugally. So I'm obsessed with planning but I really do think getting organized, doing it in advance you'll have a much better time and a more affordable time than if you leave it all to the last minute.
Michelle: Yeah, I always find people who, you know, travel when they haven't saved, surely you can't have as good of a time if you're borrowing and getting into debt every cent you spend while you're over there. So saving is really key. That's great.
So what about other panelists? What other travel tips do you guys find handy?
Bosco: Can I say something?
Michelle: Yes, go on.
Bosco: I'm actually just about to take a trip to Europe. And like the biggest tickets for traveling overseas is the flight and accommodation, right? So there are a number of new offerings out there for getting cheaper flights and getting cheaper accommodation. I tried out something called Flightfox which is a bunch of hackers around the world trying to hack cheaper flights for you.
Bosco: So that worked out really well. So and they saved me a bunch of money that I can use for other things like eating and shopping.
Michelle: Terrific. And, Angus, what do you think are the main considerations for setting a money saving goal?
Angus: Well, I think it starts with a little bit of that research that you know roughly how much you're going to spend. So you can say, "Right. I want to go here. It's that much." It's much easier to have a specific goal. If you've just got this vague idea, I want to go somewhere, you don't really know what you're working towards. So I think the top part of having a goal is to make it precise. Spend a little bit of time doing that research. That's fun anyway. For me, more than half the fun of a holiday is getting organized for it.
So I really think in terms of setting that goal find out what it is so that it's realistic. So that you're not aiming yourself towards something that really is impossible and so you've got time to maybe find the way to do it in a more affordable fashion if it's, you know, a bit further out, if it's a bit more expensive.
Michelle: Yeah, definitely. And Effie, do you come across a lot of travel saving tips in Money Magazine?
Effie: Yeah, I mean we actually let our readers know awhile ago when the dollar kind of hit its all-time high. Now if you are traveling definitely get yourself a travel card. Be smart about it. Get the right one. And stash your cash in there. We actually did some sums would you'd be better off stashing it into an online saver what would the return there be versus if the dollar moved a couple of cents. So we played around with some figures on that.
But, look, travel cards are great and if you have to use a credit card I guess you're looking for something that, you know, no interchange fees, foreign transaction fees, that kind of thing. At least try and save some money if you are using credit cards. But travel cards are great. They do differ and they differ depending- they're cheaper to get online versus you know going into a travel store and getting it through that way. So it pays to do your research on them. They are very different.
Michelle: Yeah, we actually have some travel cards on the site at finder.com.au and there's such a big difference in what they're offering so it really is, yeah, definitely key to compare there.
I wanted to talk to you, Zoe, about women in finance. We've done a survey recently and here's some more results from that. 52 percent of women with a credit card they don't know what their interest rate is. 45 percent don't schedule their bills on time and one in five women with a savings account don't know if the bonus period has ended. So Zoe, what are some common challenges do you think women face with financial literacy in Australia?
Zoe: Well, Michelle, I would just like to start with a bit of an overlay of those stats because my little, the feminist inside me comes out and says, "Oh, but it'd be interesting to see the boys' stats too," and that I don't that girls are doing so badly in the grand scheme of things. I think actually there's this real hunger for knowledge and for self-empowerment and for women to be building their confidence at the moment. So even though, of course, there's always room to improve that there are specific challenges as you say that women face.
I mean, historically we haven't been the money managers so if we haven't learned to [route] money around the kitchen table or at school, well where are we meant to have picked it up? So I think that not giving yourself a hard time and just going, "Okay, well I'm going to go and find some information," but without the, "I'm so bad with money," or, you know, the self chatter that we berate ourselves with sometimes.
I think the other thing women often face and men also but women in particular are career breaks whether it's for child-raising or caring responsibilities and often it's in peak career times and so there is- you know that does make a big impact on our super and our ability to support ourselves in the future and so I think the earlier that we are able to plan and think about those different breaks you may like to have throughout your life the more you can take what Effie says before and put the little things aside early on. And it can make just such an enormous difference going forward.
And really women live longer according to the stats as well so we have to be extra acutely aware of what we're doing now to make sure that we've got enough to support ourselves in the future.
Michelle: So do you think with that said that women have more challenges than men in a way in terms of their finances?
Zoe: I mean, yeah, when you look at those things you can say we've got more challenges than men but I also I feel sorry for boys a bit as well because I think that women are more, you know, earning bigger salaries and doing that at the moment but still my boyfriends at the moment are questioning whether they should really be paying for all the meals on the first dates and stuff and so I think as society changes both genders are affected.
Michelle: Yeah, that's true for those single men out there it must be pretty costly going on lots of dates. And, Zoe, what are your three essential tips for starting a financial life plan? I guess this is for men and women.
Zoe: Well, yeah, I think that what I mentioned before about getting really clear on your core personal life goals whether it's be it your short-term, medium-term and your longer term plans and what- like make an amazing bucket list and put a few things into time frames and start to get a really visual picture of what kind of lifestyle you want to live now and into the future and then from that you can start to say, "Okay, well if I do want to go overseas and I do want to educate my children and I do want to own a house and I do want to have some time to volunteer for charity," or whatever it might be then, "What do I need to do financially to get there?"
So I think the first thing would be to have really clear personal goals. The second thing is to talk to people and share them because I think especially for women it's a big confidence thing and money isn't typically talked about and I think that the more comfortable you can be talking, whether it be to a friend or two or a workmate or a mentor or someone in your family or your network that you trust, you build up the confidence to have conversations and so when you are in the position that you need to, you know, seek some more professional products or advice through different times in your life you're going to be so much more confident and comfortable having those conversations and presenting, "Okay, well this is where I am now. This is where I want to be. What are some of your help and advice to get there?"
Zoe: I think also talking to people helps you stay accountable and I think that especially with financial admin, you know, consolidating those super funds, we've all gone through phases where we haven't wanted to open envelopes and so to have told people that you're going to do it and then to have that accountability is really important.
Michelle: Yeah, that's a great tip. Thanks, Zoe. That's great. And I want to move on to income and expenses because, you know, there's a lot of issues around goal setting and financial savings and debts and things. And so, you know, setting your goals is one thing but achieving them is another. You know, we found only 30 percent of people use apps to track their budgets and there's just so many out there. It's such a simple thing to do. So, Bosco, I want to ask you what are some neat tricks that Aussies can do to make sure they stick to their budget and for smarter spending as well?
Bosco: So you're absolutely right, Michelle. Look, goals are far too often too far fetched. They're big numbers which can be daunting and people get paralyzed by how big and, you know, ghastly they are. As Effie said earlier about $20 a week. You know, that can reach you to a big goal that you actually do want to achieve and they're as minute as that.
Our advice to people is actually to think about things that are really actionable. So if you're saying that you should cut 20 percent more on your entertainment costs of going out, go out four nights instead of five a week. So that's easy to remember and that's easy to action. You know, if you're seeing that you're spending too much money on ATM withdrawal fees because you're at all these ATMs which your bank doesn't own then, you know, find a map for all the ATMs that your bank does own and put it on your phone so you can easily find them. Or stick to a routine where you find them, you know, close to your workplace or close to where you live so you have a routine to save on those costs.
You know, more often than not by default we at the pub on a Friday night, I know I personally used to do this, take out 200 bucks there by default without even thinking about how that relates to my weekly budget because it's just force of habit. If there is an easy cure which apps do provide this for you to be able to understand exactly how much you can take out whether it's 150 or 250 then you make smarter decisions.
So I think it's those really actionable things. I mean a great tip would be on a Friday night instead of catching a cab catch the NightRide home.
Michelle: Yeah, right.
Bosco: That will save you some. Yeah.
Michelle: Angus, do you have any tips on managing your income and expenses, Angus?
Angus: Well, because I think, yeah, Bosco's far too modest to say it himself, Pocketbook is a really, really good app for doing this. So I think, yeah, people should dive in and use that because, yeah, it's taking care of those small details. It's keeping an eye on everything, having some idea of what you want to do. It sounds really basic but people just don't do it. They just, you often don't have time. You just think about it. And it's so easy now.
I mean the extreme thing, if you're going nuts with the credit card, one tip that people have used in the past is the old idea - freeze it. Wrap it up, put it in water, put it in the freezer. Then you can't get it out. You can't use it. And then it's there for an emergency. Maybe it's there for a holiday. So if you're having real self control problems that's a slightly extreme but quite useful tactic.
Michelle: Yeah, definitely. Thanks guys. And I want to move on to first home buyers quickly. finder.com.au conducted a survey last year and found one in three respondents believe it's okay to be still living at home with your parents as an adult and out of these half think it's okay if you're over 30. And, you know, that probably points towards a big issue about affordability out there. I want to ask you, Effie, are you surprised by some of these findings?
Effie: No, absolutely not. I'm trying to convince my 12 year old to move out of home but that's not going to happen for awhile I don't think.
Michelle: Probably not.
Effie: Michelle, depending on where you are or where you're watching from and so on there's a very good reason why you're probably still at home when you're in your 20s and 30s because you need 100 grand to buy a place if it's 500,000. If the average price is say 500,000. You've got your eye on a nice two bedroom unit. You need $100,000 if you're going to avoid lender's mortgage insurance. Now lender's mortgage insurance ensures the bank, not you. That's a lot of money, isn't it, Michelle?
Michelle: It's huge.
Effie: And I know you guys crunch the numbers as to how long it would take. Let's say you've already got 50,000 in the bank account. Even one of the best online savers. If you can afford to put $1,400 away it's still going to take you two and a half years. Now the thing that's happening with the property market at the moment, it's flying. So experts like BIS Shrapnel are saying it's going 5.6, 5.9.
So what does that mean? By the time you get the other 50,000 to get your 100,000 that's two years worth of growth. That property is out of reach again and you have to save more. I've crunched the numbers. It'd be about 9 or 10,000 more. So you're constantly chasing your tail.
So the big question I get asked from first time buyers is, "Do I jump in now, pay lender's mortgage insurance or am I continuously building up this deposit that I'm never going to reach?"
Michelle: And what's the answer?
Effie: I 'm glad you asked, Michelle. Look, it really does depend on, you've got to be absolutely certain that the area you're going to buy is going to jump. You've also got to be on a good income where you can throw in more because what's happening when you are getting lender's mortgage insurance it's not only the 10,000 odd dollars, it's about two percent of the loan amount. It's also you're borrowing more so over the long run if you [inaudible 0:17:11] it over a 25 year period that place is going to cost you a fortune.
If you can afford to make extra payments and cut that term well then, yeah, you are better - I know it sounds ironic - paying that LMI fee to get in now. But you've got to get it right because you don't want negative equity. And negative equity will trap you in that property because your home is worth less than your mortgage. So you won't be able to refinance it.
Michelle: That's great. Thanks so much for that. That's fantastic advice there. And here's some questions that we found on Twitter for MoneySmart Week. We've got one from Gavin Harris; Are women more risk adverse or just more considered about financial decisions? I think this is a good one for Zoe.
Zoe: Well, it's a tough question, isn't it because risk is such a personal thing. I'm going to have to race off in a minute but I'll give you my best shot.
Michelle: Okay, great.
Zoe: I think that, well and some really interesting research is coming out at the moment that women are much more considered in their decisions and there's actually some funny infographics and stuff floating around at the moment that if more women were in charge of the sort of investment banks and stuff over the GSE we wouldn't have had the GSE. So but that is a grand statement.
So I think that, I mean, you hear those sayings about women put most of their salary towards, you know, their family and others and men may be inclined to spend it more on themselves. You hear these things actually on a global scale not just in Australia. And that says to me that potentially women may be less because they're thinking so much about other people and often families that they may be less likely to take risks that aren't really considered because it's not only risking them it's risking other people.
Zoe: Risks for other people.
Michelle: Great. Okay and maybe one more question Al from Beyond the Banks then; What would you tell your younger self about money? Who would like to answer this one? Angus?
Angus: I think I'd tell my younger self to something like; don't spend so much money on possessions and spend more money on experiences. The only important things are investing in your house. I think in the end you'll still remember those things, all of the stuff you acquire, you'll end up selling. It'll become part of your get rid of it. Really good experiences whether that's travel or just going out, just seeing things, going to the theater, whatever it is. I think those things matter more and they're a better way to spend your money a lot of the time. And I wish I'd worked that out when I was a bit younger.
Michelle: Great. Thanks guys. Thanks so much for joining us and those of you that are watching we hope you've learned some new MoneySmart tips. And don't forget to do a money health check at moneysmart.gov.au.
Zoe: Thanks, Michelle.
Michelle: Thank you.
They talk through their best money saving tips, how they developed their frugal habits and how you can adopt their techniques to maximise your savings.
We invited you all to take part in the conversation - and you did! We had a few questions and comments for our experts to answer. Even though the Hangout isn't live anymore, you're welcome to tweet @finderau or post on our Facebook and G+ pages with any questions you may have.
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We will be following any Tweet, Facebook post or G+ post that you leave with the hashtag #MoneyExperts. Unfortunately, we might not be able to answer each and every question due to time restraints, but we will try to keep in as many user comments as we can.
Our panel for the Hangout will was made up of experts in different topic areas and our very own finder.com.au spokesperson, Michelle Hutchison.
Michelle is passionate about saving Australians their hard earned money. She also has the smarts to make it happen, having graduated from Macquarie University in 2005. Since then, she has been editor of Property Australia magazine and working in the finance industry for over four years.
With her help, the experts unpacked their secrets to saving and offered them up to you.