Young Families

The pitter patter of little feet – or the booming music from a teenager’s bedroom – having kids often involves late nights, unfortunate noise, extra cleaning & cooking – and somewhere in amongst all that – a lot of happiness and love

You’ve stopped thinking about ME, and its not just the two of US any more. Now its WE – mum, dad, kids and the dog to boot. Having a family brings plenty of new challenges.

You might enjoy a double income, but is one perhaps part time – giving you the family flexibility to maybe be mum’s taxi, but it also puts the financial handbrake on the free spending days when you first got together.

Being able to balance the family finances can often be a challenge – just ask us, many of the team at GNS know first hand.

Looking after each other might mean reviewing your Will, updating your death benefit nominations in super, opening a joint bank account or investment, taking out ‘couple’ health insurance, securing each others’ salaries through income protection insurance etc.

The GNS Group team would love to work with you and your partner to help you get the basics right, and then we can also move onto some of the fun stuff of planning your next stage of life – whatever that may look like. We’re not an old school stuffy accounting practice, and some of our team are in the exact same boat as you – so who better to answer your queries than someone you can relate to.

We’ve put our collective heads together and are happy to share some of our ideas on how you both can get ahead of others and some key topics for you to consider. But the real advantage that the clients of GNS Group receive is the ready access to our team to bounce ideas off and to allow us to understand what things are important to you.

Check out the information we’ve got here initially, but what we would really like to do is make a time for us to catch up either face to face, digitally or even over the phone so that we can work together, achieve your joint goals and get you off to a healthy financial future.

At GNS Group, we help build your wealth and protect your lifestyle.

We’ve put our collective heads together and are happy to share some of our ideas on how your family can get ahead of others and some key topics for you to consider. But the real advantage that the clients of GNS Group receive is the ready access to our team to bounce ideas off and to allow us to understand what things are important to you and your family.

The GNS Group team would love to work with you and your family to help you get the basics right (life insurance, income protection, home loans, tax returns), and then we can also move onto some of the fun stuff of planning for the future with superannuation and wealth-creation strategies.

We’re not an old school stuffy accounting practice, we are mums and dads just like you, some with kids in nappies and others with adult kids who just wont leave home – so who better to answer your queries than someone you can relate to?

Check out the information we’ve got here initially, but what we would really like to do is make a time for us to catch up either face to face, digitally or even over the phone so that we can work together, achieve your joint goals and get you off to a healthy financial future.

At GNS Group, we help build your wealth and protect your lifestyle.

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Home Loans

Home Loans

Whether you are buying your first home, a replacement home, or an investment property, sticking your hand up at an auction and signing on the dotted line can be a daunting time. Plenty of excitement around your new purchase and often some uncertainty – did I do the right thing? Have I paid too much?

One thing that you’ll then be faced with is – which Home Loan?

Comparing one Home Loan to another is a bit like comparing mobile phone plans. They make it all so confusing with features, included services etc, it’s a real challenge knowing where to begin.

Through our finance company – GNS Plus Pty Ltd, you have access to a variety of home loan solutions.

If you have never used a Mortgage Broker before, here is a quick run-down:

Your Broker is working for you, not the Bank. Brokers have the skills, experience and tools available to get you a good deal, explain all the different options and make recommendations to you on how to maximise your repayments and to cut your interest bill.

Our GNS Plus Lending Manager has access to over 30 bank and can evaluate what is best for you from:

  • Variable/Fixed Rates
  • Owner Occupied/Investment
  • Residential Commercial
  • Offset/Redraw
  • Line of Credit
  • Constitution Loans
  • Interest Only/Principle and Interest
  • SMSF Gearing
  • Reverse Mortgages

The benefit for you is we do all the leg work and shopping around, so you can relax knowing you’re getting your finances sorted.

Contact Paul on 9499 7444 for a complimentary consultation to assess your borrowing power.

Paul Tsikopoulos is a credit representative 522646 of BLSSA Pty Ltd ACN 117 651 760 (Australian Credit Licence 391237)

 

 

Home Loan Tips

Refinancing your home loan

A GNS Plus Lending Manager can review your current home loan to ensure you still have the right product for your needs. Don’t assume that just because your loan was once competitive, it still is. Interest rates change and different types of loans are always entering the market. They will:

  • assess your current interest rate
  • assess your repayment level
  • assess your financial situation to determine whether a better deal can be sourced saving your money, and helping you pay off your loan faster
Tips to pay off your home loan faster

Select a home loan that meets your needs. While the rate is important, it is more important to have an appropriate level of flexibility and function.

1) Pay off as much as you can, as often as you can.

2) Avoid loans that penalise you for making extra repayment

3) Avoid ‘honeymoon’ loans that revert to a higher rate after the ‘honeymoon’ period is over.

4) Avoid loans with high exit costs.

5) Deal with reputable organisations

 

Fixed or variable interest?

This really depends on your current financial situation. A GNS Plus Lending Manager can help you select the right type of loan, building in the cost of every-day living to determine how much you can afford to repay each month.

There are advantages and disadvantages of choosing fixed and variable interest loans, and they are assessed on a per client basis.

Options to consider are:

  • fixed interest loan
  • variable interest loan
  • loan comprising of part-fixed / part-variable interest

Remember however, that if you elect to split your loan into part fixed / part variable, make sure you don’t incur two monthly loan maintenance fees instead of one.

 

Hidden home loan costs

There are many costs associated with taking out a home loan, which don’t relate to the price of the property.

These hidden costs include:

  • Lenders’ fees, including loan application and establishment fees
  • Government charges including stamp duty on property purchase and mortgage, and title fees
  • Legal expenses
  • Inspection costs

Buying your first home

Buying your first home is one of (if not) the biggest financial commitments you will ever make. Stay well informed of what is involved so you don’t make any rash decisions.

Good financial planning advice from your Count adviser combined with the advice from a GNS Plus Lending Manager, can save you thousands of dollars off your loan and help you own your home sooner!

 

Can you afford to buy a house?

A credit provider must ensure you can afford to repay a loan without suffering undue financial hardship before lending you any money.

The total amount that you can borrow is determined by three factors:

1) The value of the property you intend to purchase; and

2) The funds you use towards the purchase; and

3) Your borrowing capacity or “serviceability”. Serviceability is your ability to meet loan repayments, and will depend on your income and existing financial commitments. You will need to provide evidence of a continuous stable income.

 

You must have a budget!

Budgeting your income carefully and understanding your spending habits will help you make regular loan repayments and own your home that much sooner!

Paul Tsikopoulos is a credit representative 522646 of BLSSA Pty Ltd ACN 117 651 760 (Australian Credit Licence 391237)

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Income Protection

Income Protection

Often when we ask clients such as you “what is your greatest asset?” the answer we receive are – “Our House, Super, maybe a car”.

And sure these things are really important. But without being able to work and generate an income, you won’t be able to afford a House, grow your Super or the running costs of your car.

When you think about it, your wage literally pays for everything: Housing (Mortgage/Rent), Food, Holidays, Entertainment, Education, Cars, Credit Cards etc.)

But 7 out of 10 Australians do not have Income Protection Insurance – relying on the Australian attitude of “she’ll be right”. And for many Australians who do have some protection, its often not enough or structured in the best way to either maximise Tax deductions or minimise cash flow costs.

There are also so many different providers and options when it comes to Income Protection Insurance. And this is where GNS Group can help you.

We can understand what is important to you, how to best structure your protection and then compare different providers and policy definitions to make sure you will get a pay out when you really need it.

Some Insurance Companies get a bad reputation when it comes to paying out. And it’s probably the biggest concern people have. The 3 most common reasons for receiving what you expected are: Inaccurate/incomplete medical disclosure at the time of application A poor quality policy with weak definitions on how and when you will get paid Incorrect structuring of the policy to properly protect you.

When it comes to Income Protection Insurance – you get what you pay for!

 

The things that GNS Group will assist you with includes:

Appropriate Structuring (inside Super or personal policy) Waiting period (7 days, 30 days, 6 months) Benefit Period (You will be paid for 1 year, 2 years, 5 years, until age 65) Stepped/Level Premiums (Stepped premiums cost more every year you have a birthday, Level premiums do not increase with age) Agreed/Indemnity Value ( A bit like Car Insurance, Agreed Value gives you certainty, Indemnity or market Value is how much you are earning immediately before making an insurance claim) Super Booster/Mortgage Benefit (Something extra to help with the Mortgage or to pop into Super while you are not working to allow it to keep growing)

When someone purchases their first car, they make sure that they get the proper insurance. But when someone gets their first job, not many people even consider Income Protection Insurance.

Insuring a $40,000 car that reduces in value every year for $1,500 seems to be a good deal, but spending $1,500 to insure your $40,000 wage that grows in value every year is lower down the priority list.

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Life Insurance

Life Insurance

Let’s face it, no one like talking about death, but is going to happen sometime.

And while living well in to your 80’s or 90’s is not an unrealistic expectation, the reality is some of us won’t make it that far.

If you were not around, what impact and changes would that mean for your spouse, children, family and co-business owners.

If you were to die would your family be financially better off, worse off, or the same?

Life Insurance won’t bring you back, but it will provide a lump sum to clear a mortgage and other debts such as business loans or credit cards, cove the funeral costs and most importantly provide a remaining lump sum which can be invested to replace your lost income earning capacity

So how much is enough?

This is where working with GNS Group can make the process so much easier. GNS can cut through the fine print of different policies to make sure you get what you pay for, understand what is important to you, compare different policies and features and in most cases, there is no requirement to do a medical.

It is also important to understand the best way of owning your policy and funding the premium costs.

Should it be inside super or non super, what about your business paying the cost of the insurance? It is not just an issue around cashflow and who is paying the cost, but also tax needs to be taken into account as you might see a big chunk of your Life insurance payout heading to the ATO rather than your desired beneficiaries. This is where the GNS team can help to explain all of the different options and recommend the most suitable course of action for you and your family.

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Savings Plan

Savings Plan

Many of us started off investing at a young age, often through a Dollar mite Account at school.

These early lesson in savings and earning interest for the first time set the foundation for a life time of savings, interest and ultimately reward.

It doesn’t really matter if you are saving for a new car, a holiday, a house, the kids’ education or retirement. We all need to save money for purposes that are important to us.

Thankfully, there are many different ways you can save.

Often the best approach becomes self-evident fairly quickly when you look at the purpose and time frame.

Goals such as a holiday or a car might be shorter term goals and as such, a regular savings plan into a bank account or term deposit might be a good starting point.

Thankfully there are many high interest internet savings accounts which give you flexibility with no minimum investment amount; you can set up a regular direct debit to transfer some of your money (usually wages) into a high interest savings account. Whether its $50 per week or $50 a month, its just great to start somewhere.

When it comes to longer term goals such as savings for a house deposit or setting aside money to fund the kids’ education, there are plenty of options available.

We always recommend talking to one of the GNS Group Financial Advisers to work out the best plan of attack for your situation, but some of the things you might consider include:

  • There’s nothing wrong with high interest savings account like we mentioned earlier, or term deposits for that matter, but you can also consider, Managed funds, which allow you to invest into professionally invested portfolios, give you the benefit of diversification, customised investment allocation and consolidated reporting.
  • Investment bonds are a great option for those on the top marginal tax rate or saving for the kids education with a 10 year time frame to achieve a tax free return, they often have a role to play,
    Investing into managed funds whilst a good strategy, can be further enhanced in some situations by the addition of a regular gearing facility. Borrowing to invest is not often front of mind for clients, but with the right timeframe and risk profile, can be a great way to enhance returns and can be tax effective as well.
  • When it comes to the kid’s school fees – using an education scholarship fund is an option to consider. Our general concern with this type of savings plan is the lack of flexibility and application of funding at the time of withdrawal for education purposes. If you already have a home loan, it can be very effective to direct your savings plan into the home loan. Instead of earning interest, you will save interest! You also will not see your savings account increasing, but your home loan diminishing. If you have a re-draw account then you will see this type of account increasing in value. This strategy also benefits you by not having to worry about the Tax Man. Because no interest is earned, you don’t have to pay tax.

 

By way of example – If your home loan interest rate is 5% and you have $10,000 in savings, this means you $500 less mortgage interest.

If you were to invest $10,000 and you earn a 5% return you have made $500. However, the tax office will want a slice of this. Depending on your personal tax rate, you might see $100-$250 disappear in tax, so your real return may not be as great as simply paying off mortgage.

For more information on how you can benefit from a savings plan and which strategy is best for you and your goals, please speak to one of our Financial Advisers today.

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Superannuation

Superannuation

Superannuation really should be fairly straight forward, but instead all governments like to tinker with it.

So here are some of the basics:

  • When you are working, your boss will contribute 9.5% of your wage to your superannuation as a minimum.
  • This money is generally taxed at 15% on its way into your superannuation Account.
    Once added to your Super Fund, it is invested and preserved until you retire.
  • Under the current rules, if you start a pension after the age of 60, your pension payments will be tax free to you.

Now that you have a few of the basics sorted out, let’s look at a few more of the important issues in a bit more detail.

CONTRIBUTIONS:

Whilst your boss will pay a minimum 9.5% into your Super Fund, you can decide to make additional superannuation contributions. This is generally done as a Salary Sacrifice, where you give up some of your wage and have that paid into your Super Account.

So why would you do that? There are 2 main reasons; you want to put more money aside for retirement and often the biggest driver – to save Tax.
Both the compulsory Super (9.5 %) and Salary Sacrifice amounts are treated as Concessional Contributions. This means they are subject to Concessional Tax Rates – generally 15% (for high income earners > $250k it’s 30%). Paying 15% Super Contributions Tax compares very favourably to wage taxes of 19-47%.

So as you can see, popping some extra cash into Super can be a smart strategy.

We mentioned Concessional Contributions just before. Getting a Tax break on Super Contributions does come with some restrictions. Depending on your age, there are limits on how much money can go into Super each year at the lower Tax rate of 15%.
The maximum Concessional Contribution is $25,000 for all workers aged under 65.

Many people will work backwards in order to get the maximum into Super. Start with $25,000, subtract how much work will contribute as part of your compulsory 9.5% Superannuation (say  you earn $55,000 – your compulsory Super is $5,225) which will leave up to $19,775 that can be salary sacrificed into Super.

As of the 1st July 2017, you no longer need to enter into a Salary Sacrifice arrangement with your employer in order to get extra money into Superannuation, you can now make a personal contribution to your Super Fund and claim this a tax deduction and be entitled to tax credit when you lodge your tax return for the year.

There are few more important considerations and that’s where a GNS Group Financial Adviser can help you to get the maximum super contributions too.

After-tax contributions are called Non Concessional Contributions and go into super tax free and can be withdrawn tax free in retirement as well.

There is also a limit of $100,000 pa or you can put up to 3 years worth of contributions into super in one go ($300,000) so long as you don’t exceed the limit in the next 3 years. Commonly this is referred to the bring forward rules.

An example of how this could be used would be following the sale of the family home, Mary and Jason have downsized and freed up $600,000. Jason has already retired and is aged 66, so he can not contribute to super. Having not made any previous non concessional contributions, Mary can contribute $300,000 this year to super and will keep the remaining $300,000 in her savings account.

Before any large contributions are made, professional advice is always highly recommended to make sure you are maximising the contributions and your retirement savings. This is where a GNS Group Financial Adviser can play an important role in guiding you through retirement planning.

If you are based in Melbourne, we recommend coming in for a visit to our Ivanhoe offices to discuss your option. We are one of the most knowledgable firms regarding superannuation companies Melbourne has to offer, and we’d love for you to take advantage of that.

Should you be based outside of Ivanhoe, or even Melbourne, we can initiate conversations over the phone.

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Tax

Individual Income Tax

Tax Accountant Ivanhoe

For many of us, doing a tax return is a hassle and a chore, and we only do them because we have to, not because we want to.

While you might think your affairs are fairly straight forward, its important that you don’t overlook something. There could be hundreds or thousands of dollars in refunds available to you, just by understanding what you can legitimately claim.

And this is an important consideration, just because your friend or family member can/can’t claim a particular deduction, doesn’t necessarily mean the same rules apply to you. Different occupations or role descriptions make a difference, so too does your age, health, marital and family status – so its important to make sure that your GNS Group accountant fully understands your situation and to best advise you. At our offices based in Ivanhoe, we have some of the best tax accountants Melbourne has; they’re passionate, knowledgeable and can advise you on all your accounting needs.

We find most people fall into one of two categories. The eager beavers who like to do their return as soon as they have all of the required documents in order; or, the tortoises who get around to doing things towards the deadlines.

Either way, it’s important to make sure a few basics are followed to maximise your return:

  • Keep everything (original or soft copy) throughout the year that could potentially be claimed (we have checklists to help)
  • Try to summarise all of the documents and records, it will make our life easier & your accounting fees cheaper!
  • Book an appointment at our Ivanhoe office and talk to your GNS accountant about what might have changed in your world over the past 12 months (there might be extra things you can claim)
  • Ask questions about what might have changed with tax legislation affecting your claims
  • Provide GNS with your current contact details; perhaps you have moved from Melbourne to rural Victoria, or interstate, or visa versa. (in case there are some queries)
  • Let us know your bank account details for an Electronic Deposit of your refund
  • Book a face to face appointment (if you are based in Melbourne) or a phone based consultation (to cover all of the above)

There are three key areas on a tax return – Income, Deductions, Rebates & Offsets.

Income

This could include things such as your salary, bank interest, capital gains, rent received, dividends or managed funds etc.

Deductions

This could include things such as your car or travel costs, union or subscription fees, rental property expenses,  Interest on investment loans, Income Protection Insurance, home office costs etc.

Rebates & Offsets

These are generally things which entitle you to a tax credit, and can include Private Health Insurance, Out of pocket medical expenses, credit for foreign income tax paid etc.

If you would like more information on what you might be able to claim, talk to one of our accountants today – we’d love to be able to help you.

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Total & Permanent Disability Insurance

Total & Permanent Disability Insurance

The thought of being Totally and Permanently Disabled is actually more confronting than death may be to people.

How would you not only deal with the emotional toll of becoming Totally and Permanently Disabled but the financial consequence as well?

Not only clearing your debts (home loan, credit cards, and business loans) but also seeking the best available medical treatment become big priorities. And this is where Total and Permanent Disability Insurance can take the financial headaches away and allow you to focus on adjusting to your latest medical impediments.

You have to remember that getting a lump sum payment from Total and Permanent Disability Insurance means a life changing diagnosis has been made; it’s not just a broken arm!

Things such as Quadriplegia, paraplegia, Multiple Sclerosis and Motor Neuron Disease. Medical conditions which there is no recovery from – Its Total and also Permanent.

As you can imagine, the cost of modifications to your home, perhaps even changing homes, might be required depending on the degree of impact and the way your home is set up. The cost of personal in home care might start to bite, and is often not covered by the cost of health insurance and wont be picked up by Medicare either.

So you need to look after yourself and your family, and when you do the sums, its not a big cost relative to the benefit that you would receive in the event of being diagnosed as Totally and Permanently disabled.

GNS Group can’t prevent these tragic illnesses or injuries from occurring, but we can give you and your family the peace of mind that you will not be a financial burden on them.

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Our promise

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Proactive

Proatively keeping our customers ahead of the pack.

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Key Performance

Establishing Key Performance Indicators to track the critical success factors of our customers businesses

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Opportunities

Identifying opportunities for our customers business’ growth and improvement rather than simply ‘crunching’ historical figures.

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Wealth

Assisting to build and manage wealth for our customers whilst complying with statutory requirements.

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Value & Service

Charging a yearly, all inclusive fee paid monthly, rather than an hourly rate thus offering you better value and service.

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