Thursday 19 July 2018

Earn a bonus $75 on your savings at RateSetter

I started using RateSetter back in March, and I've been saving $100 (automatically transferred from one of my bank accounts) every month and investing it at around 9%pa using the 5-year lending option. While such peer-to-peer lending is obviously much more risky than investing your money in a bank savings account, the higher interest rate is (hopefully) commensurate with higher risk. Also, if you invest in 5-year lending, only some* of your investment will be locked up for the full five years.

At the moment, RateSetter is offering a $75 bonus^ if you join RateSetter using this referral link and invest $2000 or more in the 3-year Income or 5-year Income lending market before 16 September 2018. So, if you were thinking about saving some funds in a RateSetter lending account, get in quick for the chance of a bonus $75!

Last Matched Rates on RateSetter:
1 MONTH 5.0% at 14:36
1 YEAR 4.0% at 14:31
3 YEAR INCOME 7.4% at 13:19
5 YEAR INCOME 9.0% at 15:06
GREEN LOAN 6.5% at 14:25

* Investing in 5-year loans, you get a monthly repayment of interest and capital into your holding account (which I reinvest each month), so the initial investment isn't locked away for the entire loan period.

^ You will get a $75 bonus and so will I. Full disclosure ;)

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Saturday 14 July 2018

Putting the cart before the horse

Instead of working on my DFP assessment tasks, yesterday I compared various business bank accounts that might be suitable for a small start-up. I found that most banks are charging $10 per month for their basic business account, and most have very limited features (for example, the St George one provide a debit card). In the end I decided to apply for a business account with BankWest, as I already have a CC account with them so I didn't need to provide any additional 100-pt identification information. I just logged in using my normal ID and password, and had to provide my ABN then pick which of the business names I was opening this account for. I also selected the option to get a debit Mastercard on the account, and a 'token' so I will be able to authenticate and transfer transaction data into an accounting package (Xero and MYOB are supported). The account has no minimum opening balance or monthly fee, and the debit card and security token should arrive in 5-10 business days. The next step will be to confirm if the data export is compatible with the basic admin module in Midwinter (the Financial Planner software package required by the AFSL that I intend to become an authorised representative of).

I also looked up options available for accepting client payments - it looks like the cheapest option initially will be to setup a Paypal merchant account (free) and just pay the 2.6%+$0.30 fee per online transaction initially. If my business succeeds at some stage it will be worth getting a 'pay here' card reader (A$99) and benefit from a lower (1.95%) transaction processing fee. Again, I'll have to check if the Midwinter admin module works with the Paypal invoicing option and so forth.

This morning I spend a bit of time fiddling with DNS settings to get the domain name I had registered a few years ago with Dotster to 'point' to a test index.html page on my hosting account with GoDaddy. And then wasted a bit more time looking up 'best financial planning website designs'. Quite enjoyable, but not getting my DFP assignments done ;)

Oh well, back to the textbook...

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Thursday 12 July 2018

How to get a government guaranteed return of 1000% on an investment*

Now that DS1 has turned 18, he could get an effective return of 1000% simply by making an undeducted contribution (after-tax) into his superannuation account this year of $2. This is because the Super co-contribution paid to low-middle income earners has a minimum amount of $20.

However, as the maximum co-contribution amount of $500 will be paid if DS2 makes a contribution of $1000, I'll make sure I give him that amount to put into his superannuation account this FY (while he might get a job to earn some money during the summer vacation, I doubt his top priority will be to lock some of that money away until his retirement!). Even with a return of 'only' 50% is well worth making the effort. And, with around 50 years to benefit from compound interest and a superannuation tax rate of 15% on investment earnings, the $1500 added to his superannuation account balance at age 18 will have a significant effect on the amount he has available to fund his retirement.

* of $2

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Wednesday 11 July 2018

Correction - enrolling in GradCert in Financial Planning ;)

On the bright side, HR responded very quickly to my request for a 'statement of service' and provided the requested document the very next business day. On the down side WSU admin has then decided that my work experience wasn't "specific enough to financial planning" (despite the WSU handbook stating that one of the options for qualifying for admission to the Masters course was "Successfully completed an undergraduate degree, or higher, in any discipline AND have a minimum of five years general work experience in a related field." - not sure how 20 years experience working for a company that services the financial sector doesn't meet this requirement, but I can't be bothered arguing the point with university admin). They did confirm that I'll now be receiving a full offer (unconditional) to enroll in the Graduate Certificate in Financial Planning instead. So this is not really an issue, as the four courses required for the GradCert are the first four courses out of the twelve courses required for the Masters degree. So it shouldn't end up costing any more or taking any longer to eventually qualify with the Masters degree. In practice all it means is that I will get an extra testamur to hang on the wall, plus I'll have to apply for entry into the Masters degree when I complete the GradCert (and apply for advanced standing/credits for the courses completed).

Anyhow, before this new course commences in September I'll be busy enough finishing off the Diploma of Financial Planning with IIT.

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Saturday 7 July 2018

DS2 Selective High School result

The results of DS2's selective high school exam/application came out yesterday evening. We had a reasonable idea of how well he might do as he had done a few practice tests at a 'coaching' college last year, so we had not bothered including the top selective HS (James Ruse) in his three choices, as he had very little chance of doing well enough to qualify for a place (plus it would be more than an hour's commute each way from where we live). We had nominated North Sydney Boys HS as his 'first choice', Manly Selective (where DS1 attended HS) as his second choice, and Chatswood HS (which has both selective classes and some non-selective classes) as his third choice (in case he did poorly on the exam due his eczema). His local non-selective HS also has a 'gifted and talented' class available, so he had sat a separate entry exam for that class (and been accepted - we'll now let them know he won't be attending there).

Anyhow, his result wasn't quite good enough to get into North Sydney Boys HS (he didn't even get onto the 'reserve' waiting list, so the cut-off mark must be a couple of marks higher than his score), but he has been offered a place at Manly Selective HS, so that's where he will be attending high school. It is actually the most convenient selective high school from a transport viewpoint, as there is a direct bus that takes about 30 minutes, and the bus stop is only 5 minutes walk from our house. Manly also has a nice campus (not overcrowded) and good facilities with some nice playing fields both on campus and across the road from the school. So, overall, we are very happy that DS2 will be attending Manly. Now I just have to get DS2 to stop wasting so much time playing computer games, and spend a bit more time on something more productive...

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Friday 6 July 2018

Enrolling in Master of Financial Planning course at WSU

My application to enroll in the Master of Financial Planning course at Western Sydney University has been conditionally accepted (I just have to provide a 'statement of service' to confirm the work experience I listed on my application form before term starts - this shouldn't be an issue, unless our HR department a) takes forever, or b) decides that it isn't company policy to provide this sort of thing). I'm enrolling in Session 4, which starts on 17 September. The course consists of 12 'core' modules (ie. all subject are compulsory, with no electives), and usually take 1.5 years full time, or 3 years part-time to complete. I'll be doing the course part-time and online, so I should be finished sometime in 2021.

The course is fee-paying, which for domestic students is A$24,000 for the Masters degree (I think - this is the cost listed on the WSU website, but they also put the cost of the Postgrad Certificate course (which is the first four modules of the Masters degree) at $12,000. So the quoted cost for the Masters degree might be for student's continuing on after completing the Certficate course?
Similar courses at other Australian universities cost a bit more, plus some of them require a 'relevant' undergraduate degree (Commerce or Accounting), whereas the WSU course only requires an undergraduate degree (any field) plus work experience in the financial industry.

I've ordered the textbook (Financial Planning in Australia: Advice and Wealth Management) required for the first course from Zookal for $120.12 (which includes free delivery). Comparing prices online, the major bookseller Dymocks was selling the older edition for a higher price ($168) and even the University co-operative bookshop is more expensive ($156 or $140.40 for co-op members).

Before this course starts I want to finish of the Diploma in Financial Planning I'm currently completing online at the International Institute of Technology (IIT), and also complete the couple of FinPlan short courses I've just started on Coursera. Looks like I won't have much time to play computer games for the next couple of months... ;)

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Wednesday 4 July 2018

Free Personal Finance courses starting on Coursera

There are a couple of new personal finance courses available on Coursera that have just started, both of which can be done in 'audit' mode for free (ie. access most of the content, but not some of the assessment tasks that are required to obtain the 'certificate'). 'Financial Planning for Young Adults' is by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,runs for four weeks and ends on the 6th of August.
The second course 'Personal and Family Financial Planning' is from the University of Florida, runs for 9 weeks and ends on the 10th of September.

I've enrolled in both courses in 'audit' mode (free), and I might pay for the verified certificate option (it can't hurt to have a few extra certificates to add to my DFP if I want to become a financial planner eventually).

If you want to complete all the graded activities and obtain a certificate upon completion, the cost either one is A$64.

Both courses cover the basics of personal finance, with the main topics being:

Financial Planning for Young Adults:
Module 1: Setting Financial Goals and Assessing Your Situation
Module 2: Budgeting and Cash Flow Management
Module 3: Saving Strategies
Module 4: The Time Value of Money
Module 5: Borrowing and Credit
Module 6: Investing
Module 7: Risk Management
Module 8: Financial Planning as a Career

Personal and Family Financial Planning:
Week 1: Understanding Personal Finance
Week 2: Financial Statements, Tools and Budgets
Week 3: Managing Income Taxes
Week 4: Building and Maintaining Good Credit
Week 5: Managing Risk
Week 6: Investment Fundamentals
Week 7: Investing Through Mutual Funds
Week 8: Personal Plan of Action
Week 9: Bonus Module

While some of the material will be very US-centric (eg. taxes), most of the topics and general enough to be relevant to everyone.

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Tuesday 3 July 2018

UberEats Sydney $150 offer

UberEats is offering $150 for new Car or Bicycle drivers that make 40 trips (deliveries) between 3 July and 12 August. So, if you live in Sydney and were thinking about signing up with UberEats, please use referral code ralphm5810ue

I do UberEats deliveries by car, and make around $25 gross per hour during the evening peak times (around 5pm - 8:30pm), although it can be a bit slow Sun-Thu. Best nights are Fri and Sat.

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Monday 2 July 2018

Net Worth: June 2018

Last month the stock market gained during most of the month, with a slight reversal in the final week. This left my geared share portfolio (+$16,653)and retirement savings (SMSF account +$18,118 or 1.91%)) higher at month's end compared to May. The continuing decline in Sydney house prices was reflected in our suburb's average sale price, which is incorporated in my estimate of our home valuation (-$11,401 or -1.38%). Overall, my net worth rose $23,591 (1.04%) during June.

My geared share portfolio will show reduced volatility going forward, as I decided to sell off my direct share investments held within my margin loan accounts, and use the proceeds to reduce my margin loan balances. I've retained my managed fund investments in my margin loan accounts. I'll have the chore of working out the cost basis for each share sale in order to calculate the capital gain or loss for each transaction. My motivation for the share sales was to realize any capital gains while the current CGT rate still applies. If Labor wins the next federal election they intend to substantially increase the tax payable on long term capital gains.

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