Empower Your Business

Accounting is Just the Beginning

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5 reasons why your annual financials are only part of the picture

Your annual financial statements have their uses, but if you rely solely on them you are only seeing part of the picture. 

Here are the reasons why — and what you need to do to see the whole picture.

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7 ways you can use your annual financials to improve your business

The availability of your annual financials is a wonderful opportunity to review your business performance. You can discover how to improve your business as well as refresh your enthusiasm and drive in the business.

Click here to read seven ways you can use your annual financials to improve your business.

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Maximise your tax deductions on interest on borrowed funds

Are you in business? Do you have rental properties?  Increasing your business borrowings by restructuring your finances can have its advantages.  This video will show you how to maximise your tax deductions on interest on borrowed funds and steps you can take to achieve this.

Watch the maximise your tax deductions on interest on borrowed funds video here.

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Take control of your finances now

Unusually I was channel-surfing the other night and came across a repeat of that show where they try and sort out people who are still spending money like it’s going out of fashion despite already being deeply in debt. Fascinating in a terrifying sort of way, it should probably be compulsory viewing as a warning to the rest of us as to how finances can get horribly out of control. Running your finances wisely is vitally important whether you’re in business or not.

Good Debt/Bad Debt. Whilst the wide availability of credit is a good thing in many ways (how else could the great majority of us buy a house?) in other ways it’s a curse as it’s so easy to borrow money nowadays. Credit cards, personal loans, overdrafts, store cards, hire purchase, interest-free credit – many and varied are the ways we are encouraged to spend money we don’t have.

Good debt is debt used to buy assets which increase in value or are essential to life, like a house or a good business. Bad debt is that used for depreciating assets or short-term expenditure such as boats, holidays or unnecessary luxuries.

So with that in mind let’s look some of the more common issues and questions which arise with debt.

Interest Rates. We know (don’t we?) that normally, longer term borrowing secured on property borrowing is going to cost us less but good interest rate management is all about getting the right borrowing in place for the right purpose. For example, putting short-term expenditure like a holiday or new furnishings on a 25 year mortgage wouldn’t be sensible as it’s going to cost a lot more over the long mortgage term. Similarly keeping core or substantial debt outstanding on a credit card or even a personal loan is going to bleed you dry. Here are some simple guidelines:

  • Always find out the true interest rate
  • Shop around for the best deal – we’ve learnt by now that loyalty is not rewarded in the world of finance!
  • Look to family or friends first who will give you lower interest rates and be more repayment friendly
  • Choose as short a repayment period as possible
  • Match the borrowing type to the purpose of the borrowing e.g. credit cards for convenience only and pay them off in full or hire purchase for a vehicle
  • Don’t overstretch yourself
  • If your outgoings on debt repayments are high and you have no savings, look to insure yourself against the unexpected.

Fixed-Rate Borrowing. Over the years I’ve been asked many times if clients should fix their mortgage or loan rates or stay on variable rates. Not, unfortunately, possessing a crystal-ball means that it’s very hard to advise in specific cases and even highly paid economists haven’t got a clue! However, there are a few things to remember. Firstly, the banks are there to make money and so won’t offer you anything that doesn’t suit them. Secondly, it depends upon the gap between your income and expenditure in that if you have little discretionary net income, an increase in your mortgage repayments could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. In consequence, you would probably be prepared to pay more as a form of insurance for protection against future rate increases. In addition, a fixed rate loan can be a disincentive to early repayment (see below).

You can also hedge your bets by choosing part-fixed and part-variable which I think is a good option. Many borrowers now split their mortgage into three or four parts all with different interest rates. There is a useful calculator on our website for working out the repayment costs in these circumstances, see http://www.abac.co.nz/tools/calculators.

However, the worst dilemma is whether to fix short-term or long term. Short-term is cheaper but you then run the risk of your fixed period expiring just when interest rates have increased! And of course break fees tends to be very expensive if you later change your mind. I had a client some years ago with two fixed rate loans of 100,000 each, one at 16% and one at 8% when current interest rates were 5%. Both seemed a good idea to him at the time!

The website www.interest.co.nz (a great site which should be in your favourites) has a useful tool which will help you decide between fixed and floating:

http://www.interest.co.nz/calculators/55377/should-you-fix-or-stay-floating

KiwiSaver v. Early Mortgage Repayment. Whilst saving for a rainy day and retirement is very important should one save using Kiwi-Saver or pay off mortgage debt early? Even with lower interest rates the interest costs on debt are almost always higher than the after-tax and fees rate of return from investments which, of course, have not been anything to write home about in any case. There’s no way very many of us are going to get a better return from our Kiwi-Saver funds so are the taxpayer subsidies the only reason to invest in Kiwi-Saver if you have a mortgage?

There’s a great article on www.superlife.co.nz on whether to save or pay off debt which includes a table setting out the break-even points on various interest rates depending upon your tax rate. For example, say your mortgage rate is 7% and you’re paying 33% tax you’ll need to achieve a gross investment return (year after year) of 10.4% (before fees) to be better off investing. Yeh right I hear you say! The full article can be found here:

http://www.superlife.co.nz/paying-off-debt.html

Accelerating Mortgage Repayments. If you can afford to and assuming you’re not on a fixed rate (although depending on the lender and current variable rates sometimes it is possible without incurring penalties) increasing the size of your regular repayments even by a small amount can save you many thousands in interest. Work out how much you can save using this strategy by using the Extra Loan Repayments Calculator on our website http://www.abac.co.nz/tools/calculators.

Interest-Free Credit. Now there’s an oxymoron for you! It can work but watch out, as the deals offered by retailers normally have some nasty little traps built in which can be triggered by early repayment, taking up one than offer or trying to pay it off early. See this story in the NZ Herald for an example of how it can go wrong:

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/personal-finance/news/article.cfm?c_id=12&objectid=10672728

Credit cards are also much celebrated as a clever way of getting interest-free credit but again only a few benefit whilst many pay dearly. There’s a great article on the dangers here on http://www.interest.co.nz:

http://www.interest.co.nz/personal-finance/54922/avoiding-credit-card-minimum-payment-trap

What to Aim For

The best thing to do with debt? Yep, get rid of it as soon as you can. Debt is not a good bedfellow and as long as you have outstanding debt you are at risk, will have much less disposable income and are not in charge of your own destiny, not even taking into account that your personal financial details are available to anyone who can do a credit search on you.

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Income Tax – Getting it Right

‘‘There are only two certainties in life – death and taxes!’.  Although it is difficult to tamper with the sand flowing though the hour-glass of life, good habits can slow its pace.  Good taxation planning can ensure that taxes can be managed so there are no nasty surprises resulting in urgent phone calls to the bank manager a few days before due date or suffering unpleasant IRD penalties. Read More

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5 benefits of cloud accounting

Cloud accounting has been around for quite a while now, but even still, the idea of taking our data to the cloud can be a little confronting for some. With these technological enhancements, there’s never been a better time to understand the opportunities to optimise and grow your business. If you’ve been meaning to brush up on the great benefits, this one’s for you. Read More

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7 tips for keeping your accounting organised

When it comes to running your own business, keeping your accounting in-order must be an achievable goal. That said, there are times where a little lack of discipline can cause some headaches down the track. Rather than getting yourself in a bind later, let’s have a look at some simple steps you can take to help keep your accounting organised.

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Saving Money with Vehicle Financing

It’s tempting to put off replacing your work vehicle but there comes a point when reliability and maintenance become a nuisance and expensive which means the depreciation suffered on a newer model look more palatable.

I don’t know about you but I think depreciation is downright nasty and more often than not, the most overlooked motoring cost. I recently met a Holden V8 owner who had paid $65K not quite 4 years ago who was complaining that his car was now worth under $20K – the deprecation had cost him 60c per km!

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Four Vital Things You Need To Know about Your Business – Each and Every Month

Just how much do you know about your business? No, not about what you sell, or how you make or deliver your products and services, I mean the really important things that determine whether you’re going to survive the ongoing recession (just how do they work out those GDP growth figures by the way?) and make it through to retirement or maybe even successfully selling your business.

Here are four of my eight favourite things each and every one of us business owners should know about our businesses:

Whether you’re exceeding your Current Break-Even Point
Whilst all the other things listed in this article are very important, knowing whether you’re exceeding your current break-even point is just about THE most important thing about your business you need to know. Even if you have a cash reserve stashed away, sooner or later you’re heading for trouble if you don’t sell enough to cover your outgoings. And I stress the current, not a historical figure based on your costs two years ago or a gross profit margin you haven’t achieved since the start of the last recession!

If you’d like to know how to calculate your break-even point click here and to make sure it’s the full picture click here.

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How to become a millionaire retiree

How would you like to have a $1m nest-egg on retirement?  Think it’s not possible?  Well you can, and you can still spend 80% of your income!

Take a look at the table below and start saving now before it’s too late!

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