Credit scores and credit reports

Lenders use your credit score (or credit rating) to decide whether to give you credit or lend you money. Knowing this can help you negotiate better deals, or understand why a lender rejected you. Your credit score is based on personal and financial information about you that's kept in your credit report.

Three ways to keep market uncertainty in perspective

It seems like headlines these days keep announcing markets have hit yet another all-time high. And while it's worth celebrating good days like this, not every day is going to be the same. When it comes to investing, the biggest elephant in the room is the word "uncertainty." No one can say for certain what the markets will do, and there's no crystal ball that'll show you the outcome of any situation. Instead, investors fare best when they focus on the factors they can control.

5 things you need to consider when you’re setting up an estate plan

We often don’t like to think of our mortality, but it’s a fact of life. The best way to take care of your business, family and loved ones in the event that you are no longer here is by putting in place a solid plan, writes Melisa Sloan, author of Legacy, and an Estate Planning Lawyer. So whilst it can be a confronting thought, by taking the time to put a plan in place ensures that you can leave the legacy that you intended.

Super investment options

Your super fund invests your money for you. Most funds let you choose from a range of investment options, from conservative to growth. It's worth taking the time to check your options and decide what's right for you. The options you choose can make a big difference to how your super grows. You can find out about your fund's investment options by checking its website or product disclosure statement (PDS). Most funds allow you to change your super investment options online.

Changes to Minimum Pension Payments

Certain superannuation pensions and annuities are subject to rules that determine minimum and maximum amounts to be paid in a financial year. Once you start a pension or annuity on or after 1 July 2007, a minimum amount is required to be paid each year. There is no maximum amount other than the balance of your super account, unless it is a transition to retirement pension which is not in the retirement phase, in which case the maximum amount is 10% of the account balance

More super – less tax

The end of the financial year is fast approaching and there’s a great way to help you save on tax while boosting your super. By making an after-tax contribution to your superannuation before the end of the financial year, you could boost your retirement savings for the future – and claim a tax deduction now.¹

Pay off your home loan sooner

For many people, their biggest priority is to pay off their home loan as quickly as possible. It can provide a sense of freedom to actively reduce the amount you owe the bank, and know you own a bigger portion of your home. Here’s an example of how one couple took a different approach to achieve this goal sooner.

Dividend strategies for your investment portfolio

The market dropped 11 per cent in 2011, capping off its worst four years on a rolling average – which is to say comparing each month with its equivalent for the past four years – since the Depression. So stick to cash, perhaps buy some government bonds since they’re on a roll, stay away from shares because enough is enough and, for a bit of a thrill, maybe buy some gold, which has been a star, and you’ll be right?

Investors see red for second year running

For just the second time in 30 years the Australian sharemarket is poised to deliver its second consecutive calendar year of negative returns. In what will be 12 months to forget for most investors, the combination of European debt woes and worries about the Chinese and US economies, along with the prospect of another bout of instability in the global banking system, have pushed the S&P/ASX 200 Index down 13.83 per cent so far this year.

2012 Risk List

It’s that time of year again, when Financial Review DealBook gazes into the crystal balls of analysts, investors, and the blogosphere, to foretell where the next financial markets catastrophe may lie.

Emotional investing

Investors of all ages are, understandably, asking questions about how long market uncertainty will last and the effect it will have on their superannuation and investments. It’s a common reaction in times like these to consider more defensive assets such as cash.

ATO announces tax shortcut for those working at home

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is announcing special arrangements this year due to COVID-19 to make it easier for people to claim deductions for working from home. The new arrangement will allow people to claim a rate of 80 cents per hour for all their running expenses, rather than needing to calculate costs for specific running expenses.