Stress tested your home loan recently?

 Don’t stress

Best Mortgage Brokers - showing the back of a lime green school bus that has the hash tag message written on it - never stressSeven in 10 Australian mortgage holders have not stress tested their home loan. But don’t stress, it’s much easier to do than you think.

Deloitte Access Economics’ latest report makes for pretty interesting reading.

It turns out the average Australian has a “wide-ranging hesitancy to make any sort of change” when it comes to their mortgages and other financial products.

“Why is it that educated consumers who know they’re not getting the best deal on many of their household products are so unwilling to take action to improve their household finances?” asks a surprised Deloitte.

Interesting mortgage stats

It turns out that 41% of Australians with a mortgage don’t check for interest rate changes because they either have no interest, don’t know what the RBA cash rate is, or do not see its relevance.

Even more interesting is that 68% of people say they have never stress tested their home loan.

“This is a particular worry,” says Deloitte.

“Recent estimates show that a 0.5% increase from current interest rates would cause mortgage stress to jump from one in four mortgaged households to one in three.”

Worse still, a 2% increase would throw half of all mortgaged households into stress.

Now, that might sound like a big increase, but don’t forget that it wasn’t so long ago that interest rates were at that level. In fact, it was only six years ago in June 2012.

So how do you stress test a home loan?

Simple.

Calculate how much extra a 0.5%, 1% and 2% increase on your mortgage would cost you each month and whether your budget can allow for it.

If you’d run into trouble, give us a call and we can work through some risk mitigation options with you, which could include locking in a home loan rate.

Why don’t people care about getting a better deal?

Interestingly, 1 in 3 people know there are better deals out there, while 1 in 5 don’t bother to check for a better deal.

It turns out there are three key reasons people don’t change to a home loan that would see them better off financially, with the first being decision making paralysis.

“Too often, many consumers get stuck before making a choice – and then they do nothing,” explains Deloitte.

Another big reason is people “hate feeling dumb”.

“Consumers also hesitate when they fear or worry about the possibility of making a bad decision. This, coupled with the fact that people tend to avoid what makes them nervous,” adds Deloitte.

The final key reason is that people simply put it off.

“Outcomes set in the distant future typically lack a sense of urgency in contrast with everyday needs, making it easy to defer decision making to a tomorrow that never arrives,” says Deloitte.

How can you overcome these barriers?

Well, here’s the good news. We can help you overcome all three.

For decision making paralysis we can come up with a shortlist of options, reducing the choices you need to make.

Worried about feeling dumb? I bet you we’d feel pretty dumb if we did your job for a day too. But we make it our business to help educate you and bring you up to speed in this market.

And how can you overcome avoidance? Simple. Give us a quick call today and we’ll get the ball rolling for you. You’ll be surprised how little time and effort it takes.

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How much does it cost to own a pet?

mortgage broker sydney - Chinese Shar-Pei dog playing in long grassWe thought we’d have a little fun this week and look at how much it costs the average Aussie family to own a pet. After all, two in three households have one and very few budget for them!

Let’s be honest, owning a pet goes hand-in-hand with the great Australian dream of property ownership.

So let’s be clear here: we’re definitely not making a case against pet ownership. However as Christmas time usually coincides with a spike in pet purchases, it’s a good time to look at the monthly cost factor.

Because if you’ve decided to take on the responsibility of welcoming a pet into your household, then it’s something you oughta plan for and do right!

First, how many of us own pets?

Believe it or not, but two in three Australian households own a pet.

Yet how many of them do you think run a proper budget for it? Probably very few.

And when you consider that more than $12 billion is spent on pet products and services every year, that’s a lot of unallocated money!

So if you’re looking to get a pet for your family, here’s the most common options available, listed from most expensive to cheapest.

Dog

If you’re looking at adding a puppy or rescue dog to your very own wolf-pack as 38% of Australia households have already done, expect to pay about $1475 per year.

Basically, you’re looking at an average of $123 a month for food, vet care, health products, grooming and boarding.

To avoid any vet bill blow outs, it might also be worth considering pet insurance, which will cost an extra $293 per year. Or $25 per month.

And while we’re at it, here’s a fun fact: the number one thing that dogs eat that makes them sick is underwear! So be sure to keep them out of reach!

It’s also worth noting that the above figures don’t factor in upfront costs, which can range from $1000-$5000 to purchase a select breed, or $300-$500 to adopt an RSPCA dog.

Cat

If you’re more of a cat person, like 29% of Australian households, expect to pay $1,029 per year. That’s about $86 a month.

Pet insurance is slightly cheaper for cats, coming in at $20 a month, but then again – cats probably aren’t underwear connoisseurs!

It costs between $100 and $300 to adopt a cat from the RSPCA – depending on their age – while a select breed will cost you between $1,000 and $2,500, and sometimes even more.

Bird and fish

If you’re looking to ease yourself into pet ownership, welcoming a bird or fish into the fold is a much cheaper option.

It costs just $115 per year on average to own a bird, while fish are even cheaper at $50 per year.

Final word

As you can see, purchasing a pet is unlikely to cost you an arm or a leg (so long as they have adequate play toys!).

However, you can minimise the impact it has on your bottom line by including the monthly amount in your family budget, and protecting against vet cost blow-outs with pet insurance.

If you’d like to know more about budgeting, get in touch. We’d be happy to help out.

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6 Christmas Tips to Help You Save this Silly Season

mortgage brokersydney -lady with facial and head christmas attire holding a sandwich plate and a milky drink glassMost of us roll our eyes when we start seeing shopping centres spruik Christmas merchandise in November. While it’s important not to get caught up in the festivities too early, now’s actually a great time to start prepping to ensure your budget doesn’t blow out over the silly season.

The best bit? By following some of the below tips, you can turn the retailers’ early mind games against them and save money instead!

1. Buy food ahead of time

Christmas time tends to lead to a lot of socialising. Even if you aren’t the one catering, requests to bring a plate can add up over time.

Make a point of keeping an eye out for food and drinks specials ahead of time and buy items like boxes of chocolates, long life snacks and drinks when they are on special. That will make it much easier to stretch the food budget over Christmas.

2. Opt for Secret Santas

For people who have a large family or friendship circle, Christmas can lead to a long list of presents to buy. Many people prefer not to get extra clutter for their kids, so suggest a Secret Santa arrangement instead of buying for every person.

This way you can put more thought into each gift as well as not creating more stress.

3. Homemade wrapping paper

If the end of term results in your kids bringing home sheets of artwork, why not recycle these and use them for wrapping paper for the extended family?

Not only does this mean that the kids get to see their artwork being passed on to loved ones, but it also saves you money on buying wrapping paper that will be in the bin by Christmas morning.

4. Shift the focus

Rather than dwelling on social media posts of the perfect Christmas morning with matching pyjamas, shift your focus to the true meaning of Christmas: helping others who are less fortunate.

For instance, instead of getting new books for Christmas Eve story time you could choose books from the library and make a donation to charity that helps literacy in at-need communities.

5. Keep a track of your spending

With a large percentage of Australians overspending at Christmas (and feeling guilty about it), it’s important to keep a budget for Christmas and any associated events – like holidays – over that time.

By following a budget, and starting now, you can spread out your spending – $200 a week over five weeks is much better than $1000 in the week before Christmas.

6. A final few tips

– Create a list of who you need to buy for and brainstorm present ideas before you go shopping.

– Make your own gifts.

– Buy online when sales specials are on. This can help you avoid pressure from sales staff and impulse purchases.

– If hosting a Christmas day event, organise it early so attendees can help out with the food and drinks.

Want some extra help?

If you’re struggling with your budget and don’t know how you’re going to make the money stretch over Christmas, give us a call.

We’d love to help you come up with some strategies to ensure that you and your family get to make the most of the silly season ahead.

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