Get the salary you deserve

In 2015, Jennifer Lawrence famously wrote an essay about how she was paid less than her male counterparts in the film American Hustle. Jennifer discovered through leaked correspondence that she and her female co-star Amy Adams were offered a 7% cut of the film’s profits, while the male actors in the film (Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale and Jeremy Renner) received 9%. In her article she lamented how she could have better handled her salary negotiations.

It’s not just Hollywood stars who are facing this kind of unfairness, it happens to everyday women too. The gender pay gap is very real. In Australia, the average full-time gender pay gap when assessed at a base salary level is 19%. This number increases to 23.9% when the full remuneration that is paid to employees is taken into account (source: www.wgea.gov.au).

Women make up almost half the workforce in Australia. They are the main breadwinner in many families. So why are they still earning less than men? Reasons include obvious workplace bias and bearing disproportionate responsibility for child rearing.

But another big factor is undeniably the difference in women’s confidence when it comes to salary negotiation. It is common for a man to oversell himself in an interview, while a woman will generally be far less likely to advocate for herself and hence negotiate her salary. This means she will typically end up earning significantly less than her male counterparts over her career and wind up with a lower superannuation balance at retirement.

Jennifer confessed that her desire to be liked, and to be seen as low maintenance, was a huge factor in why she didn’t negotiate harder. And it’s something she regrets.

So keep this in mind when you next have a pay review or enter negotiations for a new job. Go in there thinking like a man and follow these tips. And remember, you don’t get if you don’t ask.

1. Do your research. Search online for the median salary of your position so that you know the general pay range for the job. www.payscale.com is a good place to start. This site will provide you with a personal salary report based on your title, industry, level of education, experience and location. You can delve down into the detail to compare pay across product activity, employer type and size, by city, state and more.

2. Heighten your expectations. Ask for $10,000 more than you normally would – what have you got to lose? This will give you more bargaining room in the negotiations.

3. Do not forget to negotiate perks. Some employers are open to flexible working arrangements such as flexi time, job-sharing and working from home. If these are things you want, it’s best to ask for them upfront and get the agreement in writing. You can also negotiate your title as well as education expenses.

4. Don’t be afraid to turn down an offer. Not every opportunity is the right opportunity anyway. If a company is not willing to pay you appropriately, you have a right to say no and walk away. And anyhow, you don’t want to work for a company that doesn’t value its workers. A better offer will come along.

5. Go in to the negotiation prepared. If you are looking for a pay rise in your current job, state the reasons you are deserving of a raise. To do this, keep a record of your accomplishments since your last performance review. Show how you’ve taken ownership of projects and demonstrate your successes. Back it all up with numbers; at the end of the day your boss is going to be most interested in their return on investment. And remember, don’t just look backwards, talk about the future too. Take the lead and set goals, let them know how you plan to step things up a notch in the coming year. Your enthusiasm won’t go unnoticed.

 

Image credit: Dreamstime

Delicious cacao bliss balls

These bliss balls make a great substitute for chocolate and other processed treats when you’re having a sugar craving. Not only are they rich in flavour, but because they contain raw cacao they carry essential minerals such as magnesium, calcium, zinc and iron. They are also high in protein and fibre, making for a healthier mid-afternoon pick-me-up than chocolate.

Perhaps best of all, they are very easy to make with very little preparation time. Once you’ve soaked the dates they’ll take about ten minutes to mix into balls and about another twenty to harden in the fridge.

It’s important to keep in mind that they are still quite high in calories (around 100 calories per ball) so try to limit yourself to one or two at a time.

 

Ingredients

20 pitted medjool dates

1 tbsp white chia seeds

1/3 cup of coconut oil

1/3 cup of desiccated coconut for mixing, 1/4 cup for coating

1 cup of almond meal

1/2 cup of cacao

 

Instructions

  1. Soften the dates by placing in a bowl and covering with water. Leave to soak for one hour.
  2. Drain the dates. Combine with all remaining ingredients in a food processor. Blend well.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let it stand for 20 minutes.
  4. After 20 minutes, roll the mixture into balls, making sure to pack the balls tightly.
  5. Spread out the remaining 1/4 cup of desiccated coconut onto some foil, coat the balls evenly.
  6. Refrigerate the balls for at least 20 minutes or until hardened.

Makes around 14 balls.

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Good debt versus bad. What’s the difference?

Australians today are carrying more debt than ever, with the average household debt in 2016 sitting at $245,000. This has quadrupled over the last 30 years, putting our debt level at the fifth highest in the world (according to Canstar).

Low interest rates, low unemployment and a strong economy are all reasons for our bullish attitude toward debt. Plus, having some credit card or personal loan debt these days is practically unavoidable. It seems you need to have had at least a little bit to get ahead – lenders typically won’t give you a mortgage unless they can see your credit history.

But not all debt is bad, it doesn’t all eat away at your wealth. In fact, some debt can make you wealthier. The key is to understand the difference between good and bad debt, and ensure you don’t get stuck with high interest loans on unsecured or depreciating assets that you can’t afford.

So what makes some debts good and others bad?

Putting it simply, good debt helps you to generate wealth. The idea behind good debt is that you borrow money to invest in something that will grow in value over time. The capital appreciation of the asset should outweigh the interest and taxes you pay over the period of the loan, leaving you in a net positive position when you go to sell.

Good debt

An example of good debt is a loan on an investment property, where you borrow money to purchase a property to rent out to tenants. The rent you receive from the tenants goes toward repaying the loan.

In instances where the rent received is less than the loan repayment, you will need to make up the difference. This is called negative gearing. While you will be out of pocket in the shorter term, if you’ve made a good investment, the property should go up in value as time goes on. In other words, the money you make from the capital growth should be more than the loss you make in rental shortfall. The Australian Taxation Office allows you to claim a tax deduction for expenses incurred in earning investment income, so this difference in the loan repayments can be claimed as can other associated expenses like repairs, insurances and rates.

Investment properties don’t have to be negatively geared, they can also be positively or neutrally geared. Positive gearing is where you purchase a property that generates more rent than the loan repayments, while neutral gearing is where you purchase a property that generates the same amount of rent as the repayments. These kinds of property can be harder to come by.

Many people debate whether a mortgage falls under the ‘good debt’ category, since it is not making you an income while you are living in the home. You may be in a net positive position when you go to sell your home over the longer term, due to the rise in property prices, but this is never a guarantee as property can fluctuate like other asset classes.

Bad debt

Bad debt typically carries a high interest rate and is used to purchase a depreciating asset, things that lose value over time like a car. Credit cards and personal loans (both secured and unsecured) are considered bad debt.

Since bad debt is eating away at your wealth you want to get rid of it fast. If your credit card offers an interest-free period, you should try to pay it off during this period before the steep interest kicks in.

One of the simplest ways to get rid of bad debt is to budget, making sure to set aside as much money as possible each pay period to pay down the debt. This requires discipline, so think of it as a fixed cost that must be paid each period. If you’re paying off a credit card, stop using it and set up your repayments as a direct debit.

It is also a good idea to work out which of your loans have the highest rate of interest. Pay more off those while still making minimum repayments on your good debt. For instance, if you have a mortgage, an investment property loan and a credit card you might look to prioritise your debt repayment in the order of:

  1. credit card
  2. mortgage
  3. investment property.

This is because your credit card is bad debt, likely charging a high interest rate and therefore eating into your wealth. Your mortgage is not ‘bad debt’ per se, and would carry a lower rate of interest, but your home is not generating you an income so you’d probably prioritise this next. And because your investment property is contributing to your wealth, you might look to set your repayments on this loan to interest only, to free up your money to focus on paying the other debts down first.

Debt consolidation is another way to pay down bad debt. It means using one loan to pay off many others. If you have several credit cards or store cards you might consolidate them into one, lower interest rate personal loan – or use your mortgage – to repay them. That way you have one easy, manageable monthly repayment.

Financial advisers can help you to reduce your bad debt and give you strategies to use good debt to your advantage. If you are in trouble with debt repayment, there are a number of resources available to you. Visit ASIC’s Moneysmart website for more information.

 

 

Image credit: ©Viktor Solomin via Canva.com

Coffee coconut body scrub

This is a natural and cost-effective body exfoliator that can help smooth and tighten skin and improve circulation. It leaves skin feeling beautifully silky and moisturised. I’ve also found it to be an effective fake tan remover.

It is very easy to make. You may already have some (or all) of these ingredients in your cupboard. This will make around 5 applications depending on how liberally you apply.

Use 2-3 times a week. Massage in circular motions, leave on for a couple of minutes then rinse off.

 

Ingredients

1/2 cup Brazilian ground roasted coffee beans

1/2 cup brown sugar (you can also use Himalayan pink rock salt)

1/4 cup coconut oil

1 tsp vitamin e oil or Bio Oil

A few drops of organic essential oil for fragrance. Lime, cinnamon and peppermint work well.

 

Preparation time 10 minutes.

 

 

 

Manage your budget like a boss

A budget can help you get rid of debt, save towards a goal and generally reduce the stress of worrying about whether you have the money you need available to you. Preparing a budgeting takes a little bit of time and organisation; abiding by it will take some discipline.

Obviously, the idea is to try to find ways to cut back but don’t make your budget so tough you can’t stick to it. The key is to understand where your money is going and then take control of it.

Having a goal makes saving money so much easier. You may want to begin by creating a timeline for achieving your goals to help keep you on track, and then follow these tips.

Take stock

Start by choosing a time period to track your ingoings and outgoings. For instance, if you’re paid monthly it’s therefore probably going to be easiest to track your spending over a monthly time frame.

Next, tally up all of your income from different sources for that period. This may include net incomes from salaries, bonuses, dividends, rental property income and Government assistance. Then look at your expenses and when they are due. I break expenses down into fixed costs (those that remain the same from period-to-period) and variable costs (those that change).

Your fixed expenses will include things like loan and credit repayments, rent, insurances and phone plans. I have all of my fixed expenses set up as monthly direct debits so that they come straight out of my savings account, there’s no chance I will forget to pay them and I can track them digitally. Ensure that there is always adequate money in the account so as not to incur any unnecessary dishonour fees.

Variable costs are things you have to pay each month/week, but which may vary in cost each time. They can be broken down into ‘essentials’ – things that cannot be avoided such as electricity bills and transport – and the ‘nice-to-haves’ like entertainment.

Your overall net position will be your total income less your total expenses. Hopefully, this will be in a surplus position but it may not be. And that’s ok, because the point of this exercise is to find ways to improve your financial position.

Identify areas for improvement

Now that everything is down on paper, see if you can find where you are overspending. Ask yourself:

  • Am I paying enough off my debt? Credit cards generally charge a very high rate of interest – can you find a credit card offering a zero interest period and pay it off within that time frame? Can I consolidate my debts and pay them down quicker with a mortgage or a personal loan at a lower rate of interest? Canstar is a fantastic web resource for comparing loans.
  • When was the last time I reviewed my pay TV, internet and phone plans? Is there an opportunity to downgrade my plans to save some money?
  • Have I reviewed my insurance providers lately? comparethemarket.com.au can help to weigh up many different types of insurance.
  • Am I spending more than I need to on transport? Am I driving too much, paying too much in parking, tolls, taxis? Is public transport a better alternative?
  • Am I actually going to use that gym membership? Either start hauling ass to the gym or get rid of it!
  • How much can I save on the things I like, but don’t really need? Do I really need to order takeout twice a week? Must I really have a fortnightly manicure? Try to set yourself a limit on how much to spend on these non-essential items each period. Little things, like just buying one coffee a day, can set you back quite a lot of money.

Start saving

Once you have identified how much surplus income you have, you will need to put it somewhere. There are many different options available such as high interest savings account, term deposits, managed funds and shares. The most suitable option will depend on your goals, your risk tolerance and your investment timeframe.  You should speak to a financial adviser to help you work out what’s best for you.

 

 

Image credit: ©DanilNevksy via Canva.com

 

 

 

 

 

Easy berry smoothie

Try this delicious berry smoothie for more energy throughout the day. This smoothie is low in calories, high in calcium and a good source of antioxidants.

Simply pop all ingredients in a blender and combine until smooth. Add more milk if thinner consistency is desired. For extra sweetness, add honey.

The cost per serve is around $2.10.

 

Ingredients:

1.5 cup frozen berries

1 banana

1 passion fruit

2 cups low fat milk

1 tbsp honey (optional)

 

 

Budget planner

This printable budget planner is designed to help you to track where your money is going.

Having a budget can help you get rid of debt, save towards a goal and generally reduce the stress of worrying about whether you have the money you need available to you.

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