Future-proof your finances
With the mighty Hawks bowing out of the finals in their chase for a record-equalling 4th straight premiership, many pundits have been quick to label it the ‘end of an era’.
Make no mistake, the Hawks are a magnificent organisation – and a key to their success is they are always looking to the future and forward planning, which has enabled them to constantly regenerate and reinvent themselves.
Most of us could learn a lot from their approach. Because most of us struggle to deal with the future, let alone put plans in place to prepare for the best possible outcome when the inevitable happens. We just plan for the now – and neglect the long term.
I believe you have to take control of your own destiny. ‘If it’s to be, it’s up to me.’ Like Hawthorn, you need to take matters into your own hands.
So – what can individual salary earners and business owners do to prepare themselves for facing our career mortality?
Salary-earners / households
Have a wealth creation plan
Every household needs a documented plan covering what your financial goals are, and how you intend to reach them. You should engage an expert (financial planner) to do this for you, so you improve your chances of success.
Your plan for the future should cover all the ups and downs that life can throw your way. What about if you were injured and unable to work for 3 months? 12 months? That’s why if you have a family, you need to have income protection. The only thing worse than paying for insurance is not having it when you really need it.
The earlier you start building wealth, the easier it is to reach your goals (as the graph below from Morningstar illustrates):
The key point of this graph is to highlight the power of starting saving early:
Age Monthly savings required to accumulate $1m by age 65
25 years old $405
If you started investing at age 55, you'd have to save 14 times as much each month than if you started at age 25.
The lesson? The time to start investing is NOW!
Have a career back-up plan
You should also plan for a possible career change. What would you do if your employer went under and you were let go? Do you have a ‘Plan B’ for what you might do next?
While I value loyalty in the workplace (a 2 way street), employees should be considering their next career move. Would you be OK if things didn’t work out in this role? Should you be studying or upskilling so you can take the next step in your career? Or is it time to change industries for better long-term job prospects?
Super should be an important part of your plan
Many people I talk to understandably worry about super because the Government is always changing the rules.
It’s frustrating… but I always ask: what’s the alternative? Put some money under your mattress? Load up on property or shares?
The answer is to not put all your nest eggs in one basket. Property and shares are important, but super is critical for two basic reasons:
- Super provides amazing tax benefits not available in any other environment
- Super is the ultimate way of forcing you to save money
As I always say, ‘the more we earn, the more we spend’ – so my mantra is you need to take money off yourself if you’re ever going to get ahead. Super is the perfect way to really do this because it’s locked away until retirement age. (Of course you will need to have some surplus cash that you can access in case of emergency.)
The good thing about super is it’s only taxed at 15%. Compare that to someone paying 37c in the dollar in income tax (or more if you earn a decent whack) – the benefits are obvious.
A recent article in The Age stated that most small business owners don’t pay themselves super because they simply don’t have the cash flow to afford it.
This is dangerous! Super is just as critical for business owners. If your business can’t afford to cover your super, you need to make changes right away! Without a decent super nest egg, you’re relying on someone handing over a huge cheque to buy your business. This is definitely achievable (I just wrote a book about it)… but chances are you need to make significant changes right now to prepare your business to be highly attractive to a buyer down the track.
I urge business owners to plan ahead, and build a business you can one day sell (even if you want to hang onto it).
The attributes that make a business highly attractive to potential buyers include:
- Amazing cash flow and outstanding profitability
- A loyal (and growing) client base that are a delight to work with
- An awesome team of trained and motivated people following water-tight processes
- Things work so smoothly that you (the owner) can come and go as you please
Buyers definitely look for solid profits, but more importantly they want a business that doesn’t rely on the owner – meaning they can take over with minimum of disruption to operations, and profits.
If you can build a business that doesn’t rely on you, you’ll greatly increase your sale price.
The best bit? Until you’re ready to sell, you’ll have a fantastic business that you love, and that you’ll be very happy to hang onto. And because you’re no longer trapped in the business, you can enjoy the lifestyle flexibility you went into business for in the first place.