3 Shocking Superannuation Facts You Must Read Today

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As I was looking through the ABS releases on financial matters (doesn’t everyone spend their weekends like this?!?), I found a data cube on superannuation. After reviewing the information, I was horrified at the state of retirement savings in our country. The three main points are below:

  1. Percentage of Australians without superannuation

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A few glaringly obvious observations can be made:

  • Half of 15-24 year olds do not have superannuation. This is much more than I expected. Employers not having to pay superannuation for casuals earning less than $450 a month is a partial cause for this (at the time of writing the managers of the country (I cannot call them leaders) are considering phasing this out so that all earnings are subject to superannuation.

  • 15% of people aged 25-34 do not have a superannuation fund. This is much higher than I would have thought.

  • Nearly 60% of those over 65 do not have a superannuation fund. This is not surprising as superannuation did not exist for most if not all of their working lives.

  • More females don’t have superannuation funds. This however appears to be improving for the younger generations

2. Median Superannuation Balance of Australians

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A few more interesting observations:

  • Males have 50% more superannuation than females

  • When approaching retirement, the median superannuation balance is around $130,000

  • The median balance is around $45,000

3. Percentage of Australians With Multiple Superannuation Funds

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This third point is probably the most shocking:

  • Females are much better than males at having only one superannuation fund

  • Overall, 14% of Australians with superannuation funds have multiple funds. According to ABS, this equates to 2.65 million people. Of which 630,000 have three or more accounts

  • Let’s play this out: With a generous assumption that no-one has more than three super funds (incorrect, but will understate the figures), there are around 3.3 million excess superannuation funds. Assuming they are charged a minimum of around $100 a year, this is an extra $330 million dollars Australians are giving to superannuation funds / banks EVERY SINGLE YEAR! Which can be easily fixed by consolidating superannuation funds.

Tell me about your superannuation:

  1. Do you have more than one account?

  2. Are you happy with your balance?

  3. Do you have more or less than the median?

  4. Any thoughts on how the superannuation system can be improved (I have my own ideas here)

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MUST READ FOR ALL BUSINESS OWNERS: Setting Business and Personal Financial Goals

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I speak to a wide range of business owners every day. I find that there is a very strong correlation between those who plan and set goals and those who are successful. Those who are successful have usually sat down, had a good think about their life and made a plan with the following:

  1. What do you want to do with your life (easier said than done - however this is just a plan - to steal a phrase from my friends in the startup community - there will be many 'pivots' along the way)
  2. From a financial perspective, quantify this into cash outflows at particular points of time (buy a house, buy an investment property, buy shares, school fees, deposit for children's house (thanks Malcolm Turnbull), go on holidays, retire and have a passive income stream, give money away to family / charity etc)
  3. Determine your current financial position (Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth)
  4. Determine your level of income and your level of base ongoing expenditure
  5. Put this into a financial model (if you regularly read my articles you knew it was going to come back to Excel!) to determine whether your current trajectory will lead you to live the life that you desire
  6. If it does, great - if you have excess funds than you can consider lower risk investments to decrease the variability of outcomes
  7. If it does not, review the plan to determine how to make the business perform better to allow you to lead you to live the life that you desire

Per the first point, this is not a set and forget process. This should be updated every 6 months and whenever a major life event occurs (marriage, divorce, birth, death etc).

This also breaks the large goals down into small ones (e.g. I plan to increase my offset balance by $20K this year) which are much more achievable, it allows you to recognise and celebrate success along the way, and doesn't make the large goal as daunting.

There are a large number of facets to this process, all of which you may not have the required skills to do on your own (taxation, long term strategic business planning, risk planning, legal matters, succession planning matters, investing etc). I think that every single business owner in Australia should have one of these plans. If you are a business owner and you do not have a plan like this, the below quote comes to mind:

"Failing to plan is planning to fail"

What are your thoughts? Are you a business owner? Do you have or desire a plan like this?

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Curtin University Interview: Mawer money, fewer problems

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Great to be interviewed by Curtin University

Recent data from the the Australia Bureau of Statistics reveal the nation’s household to debt income ratio has hit nearly 200 percent, a level the UBS has called one of the “highest in the world”.

With the banking royal commission exposing gross misconduct by some of our biggest banks, many of us have been spurred into thinking how we can improve our financial autonomy. One answer could lie in learning ‘financial literacy’.

“Financial literacy is having a well-rounded understanding of all matters to do with personal finance and using this knowledge to make informed decisions,” says Greg Mawer, Curtin accounting and finance alumnus and Director of Mawer Consulting.

“It’s about taking small, consistent and planned actions to reach a desired outcome. It’s about having discipline to not spend the money that has been saved or invested. It’s about being patient and about not feeling the urge to keep up with the Joneses.”

Mawer admits it is increasingly challenging for people to resist comparing their lifestyle when we live in a culture that encourages competition and consumerism. To counter these beliefs, he started the blog Mawer Money in 2017 as a resource for people to learn how to better utilise their finances to enhance their wellbeing.

“I started Mawer Money as a social enterprise to help Australians with financial literacy and empowerment,” he says.

“On the hierarchy of needs, money needs to be spent on safety, food and shelter. After that, whatever provides you with a fulfilling life, allowing you to spend quality time with the people you love. Preventing lifestyle creep (where your expenses increase in line with your earnings) is important.”

Mawer has a rich employment history in accountancy and finance, and after working in senior accountant roles for companies such as BGC Contracting, he took the plunge and started his own consultancy firm, Mawer Consulting, in 2013.

Read the rest of the article here

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Five expert tips to make money-talk in your relationship more romantic

Great to be asked to provide expert commentary on money and relationships for mozo.com.au.

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Money and love might not go together quite like strawberries and chocolate or wine and cheese, but loved up couples can seriously benefit from tackling their financial demons before they head out for a romantic date this Valentine’s Day.

With that being said, approaching such a touchy subject can be a little awkward, so how do you successfully tackle such a sensitive and often (unnecessarily) stressful topic without offending your significant other?

To answer that question, Mozo reached out to a few financially-savvy experts who dug up some personal finance gold for couples addressing their money matters this Valentine’s Day.

Click here to read the full article.

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GUEST POST: 3 super smart ways to crush ‘bad debt’

On occassion we allow others to guest post on Mawer Money. Remember, it doesn't matter where the knowledge is learnt, as long as it is learnt somewhere.

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Now here’s a phrase you’ve probably heard in the finance world - ‘bad debt’. This kind of debt is essentially financial deadweight, because once you’ve paid your dues you’re left with something of little or no value to show for it.

So how do you figure out which debts are dragging you down the most, and more importantly, how to get out of it? This is where money expert, Kirsty Lamont from mozo.com.au comes in with three surefire ways to crush bad debt.

1. Rank your bad debt

Not all debt is bad! If you’re comfortably meeting the principal and interest repayments on your home loan for a house that is increasing in value over time you’re carrying “good debt”. Bad debt, on the other hand, might include an ongoing credit card bill, because you’re paying for the privilege to borrow money without the rewarding asset gain that comes with a home loan.

The key is to identify your bad debts and rank them in order of how much interest you’re being slugged with so you know which to tackle first. This means taking into account not only the principal sum you owe, but the interest rate too - you’d be surprised at how much hefty interest rates can drive up costs. For example, if you have one credit card with a balance of $3,000 at an interest rate of 12% p.a. and another plastic with a $2,000 balance at 21%, the first would cost you $720 in interest over a two year period while the second would cost you $840, meaning you’d be better off paying off the smaller credit card bill first.

2. Avoid all interest if you can

Our credit cards often get us into trouble. We know this because, according to the MoneySmart debt clock, Aussies are collectively carrying close to $33 billion worth of credit card debt! Wouldn’t it be great if you could avoid interest altogether? Well, in some cases you can.

If plastic is the primary source of your bad debt, transferring it to a 0% interest balance transfer credit card can give you an interest-free period to attack the principal sum and buy you some breathing room. In fact, among the cards listed on Mozo’s database, 0% balance transfer periods can last as long as 18 months without a transfer fee. Just make sure you have a plan to blast your debt by the time the interest free period ends or you’ll be stuck paying interest at a steep revert rate on the remaining balance.

3. Reduce bad debt by refinancing

Refinancing your personal loan is one of the smartest moves you can make to reduce bad debt this year. Sure, that interest rate you nabbed six or twelve months ago might have been low at the time, but it’s important to keep your eye on the competition. That way, if a better offer crops up you can switch loans to reduce the amount of interest you’ll have to pay over the life of the loan. For example, the lowest interest rate attached to a car loan in Mozo’s database dips below 5% while the priciest interest rate sits at a lofty 17.57% - so chances are you could score a better deal just by shopping around.

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Kirsty Lamont is a money expert and director at financial comparison website mozo.com.au. She is passionate about helping Australians make better, more informed choices about their finances.

 

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Interview by All About Balance

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Great to be interviewed by All About Balance. Any Australian who is promoting Financial Empowerment is ok in my books!

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Welcome to the Small Business Interview Series. Here we will showcase small businesses in Australia/New Zealand that offer products or services that may help our readers to achieve a better work, life and fun balance. Considering each of the 5 pillars; health, wealth, relationships, mental health, community & spirit as part of an overall strategy is super important when making life decisions. Therefore we will not focus on the ‘cheapest’ products or services on the market, but those which will add the most value and will help you stay focused on the bigger picture. We hope you find some awesome new products/services to consider helping you live a happier and more fulfilled life.

Today’s interview is with Greg Mawer. Greg runs his own small business, Mawer Consulting – an accounting, taxation and business consulting firm in Manning, WA that helps business owners achieve what they desire. He has also recently started a blog, Mawer Money which focusses on Financial Empowerment for Australians

Read more here

You’re welcome.

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Mawer Money is a Social Enterprise assisting the world with Financial Empowerment.

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NYE Reflections: The best way to achieve your goals in money (or anything else)

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Happy New Year!  This time of year is perfect for reflection on the year that has passed and to make goals for the coming year.

When making financial goals (or any goals in fact), they need to be S.M.A.R.T:

Specific

Measurable

Attainable

Relevant

Timely

E.g.

Specific: A clear goal in mind

Measurable: If you cant measure it, you can't improve it. Whether it be in dollars, percentages, kilos, you must be able to measure it

Attainable: Not unrealistic (e.g. I want to be the world's richest person tomorrow)

Relevant: This one is pretty obvious, but is has to be relevant to what you desire to achieve

Timely: You have to put a time frame on the goal. When you intend to start and when you intend to reach your goal

One final tip: You should also write these goals down and tell others about your goals. This will help to hold yourself accountable and increase the likelihood of reaching your goals.

What are your SMART goals for the coming year? Feel free to let me know in the comments below

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Credit cards – drugs for the weak!

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Nearly all personal finance strategies involve strength, persistence, dedication and time.

Why are credit cards like drugs? They are easy to get your hands on, provide a temporary high, but are bad in the long term and will destroy your life.

Credit cards at their best are fantastic tools for managing cash-flow, minimising interest (not a misprint) and acquiring frequent flyer points. At their worst, credit cards lead the weak in a downward spiral to financial oblivion.

You should only use credit cards if you know you can pay off the balance in full when due.

Let’s look at a situation where a household spends $6,000 on their credit cards each month. If the balance is paid in full from a mortgage account (or preferably offset – will back link in future article), the cost (more opportunity cost in this instance) at current mortgage rates of 4% is $240. If the balance is carried (e.g. one month behind where the balance and the where the interest is charged) at 20% is $1,200 a year. This is a difference of $960.

EVERY SINGLE YEAR OF YOUR ADULT LIFE!

Taking into account compounding and inflation (a couple of my favourite topics) over 60 years is $569,909. OVER HALF A MILLION DOLLARS!

Banks love that you carry a balance on your credit card because the above is the income they receive from a large number of the Australian population over their lifetimes. People love criticising banks over their massive profits.

If you can’t beat them – join them. Perhaps buy some bank shares (unless you think Australian property is overvalued on a range of metrics and Australian banks are holding a ticking time bomb of bad debts if interest rates increase, unemployment increases, wage growth continues to stagnate etc).

Take away points:

1.     With discipline, credit cards are an effective interest free tool;

2.     You should only have a credit card if you have the cash (or a 100% certain future cash-flow) to pay off the card in full;

3.     You should never pay a single cent of credit card interest in your life;

4.     You should never pay a single dollar of annual fees (one caveat – if you can acquire masses of frequent flyer points at efficient cents per point rates – I will back link once I write the article); and

5.     Zero interest introductory rates can be used with caution (but please compare the effective after tax hourly rates of the effort).

What are your opinions on credit cards?

You’re welcome.

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Mawer Money is a Social Enterprise assisting the world with Financial Empowerment.

www.mawermoney.com

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Inspiration Series: Grace Mugabe

In the inspiration series, I blog about people that inspire me to acheive more than I could ever imagine. These are people that I either know personally or admire from afar. You will realise that a number of these people are either direct or indirect competitors. These people have the same mindset as me that they want to help educate and it doesn't matter where the knowledge is learnt, as long as it is learnt somewhere.

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Introducing Grace Mugabe from Financially Empowered.

I have been inspiring young minds at Curtin University for 12.5 years (it is a long time now I think about it - about 38% of my life so far!). I met Grace around 12 months ago when she came onboard to teach in financial modelling. I invited Grace to my office to catch up for a coffee and a chat to see if she needed any help in her new role. We ended up chatting for a long time about our shared passion for financial literacy and financial empowerment. There are only a few people that I get to chat to about financial literacy and financial empowerment who are on the same page and Grace is one of them.

Grace has achieved so much in such a short space of time. Grace is a fellow of the Leadership WA Rising Leaders Program as well as the Hive Global Leaders Program held at Harvard in June 2017. In Sept 2017, Grace was named one of three finalists in the United Nations Association of Australia (WA) Excellence in Gender Equity Promotion Award. She is also the ambassador for Behind the Brands, a hub for female entrepreneurs in Western Australia.

Grace is an amazing and inspirational young woman and I am privileged to call her both a colleague and a friend.

You're welcome.

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Income and Wealth of the average Australian: How do you compare?

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Our friends at the Australian Bureau of Statistics produce statistics on the distribution of wealth and income of Australians each two years. Really interesting data (wish it was released every year!).

People often ask me “how do I compare to others?” Below are the key wealth and income metrics of Australians for 2015-16.

1.     Gross Household Income in Australia 2015-16

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2.     Household Net Worth in Australia 2015-16

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3.     Households by Net Worth Range 2015-16:

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4.     Households by Net Worth Range 2015-16 (showing only up to $2 million as this encompasses 90% of the population):

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5.     Mean Worth by Age Australia 2015-16

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6.     Median Net Worth by Age Australia 2015-16 (interesting to note that the median is much lower than the mean – the exceptionally high wealth of some households brings the average/ mean up significantly):

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A few other interesting statistics that I found:

1.     33,700 households are worth 8 figures (more than $10 million)

2.     135,200 households are worth more than $5 million – this represents 1.5% of households

3.     1.2% of households have a net worth of less than zero

The above is for your information only. You are reading this because you want to be different to the average. You want to save more, invest wiser and achieve financial freedom earlier.

Want to review the numbers in more detail? You can find them on the ABS website:

http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6523.02015-16?OpenDocument

How do you compare? Feel free to comment below.

You’re welcome.

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Lotto and Investment Returns: A unique case study

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Everyone who knows me knows I love spreadsheets. I have a hundreds of spreadsheets for a range of different purposes (investment, taxation etc.) which come in useful for both my clients and my personal interests. I have recently revisited one of these models which analyses a person’s ‘investment’ (I use the term loosely) in lotto.

I speak to a variety of people every day about making prudent financial decisions. I frequently state that your net worth is the culmination of every small and large financial decision you have ever made.

One of the topics I speak about often is compounding (Albert Einstein was once asked “What do you, Mr. Einstein, consider to be man’s greatest invention?” He didn’t reply the wheel or the lever. He is reported to have said, “Compound interest.”). Investing small amounts on a periodic basis and leaving the income in the investment to ‘earn interest on the interest’ can lead to great outcomes.

This concept can be applied to lotto and the decision whether to buy a lotto ticket or save / invest the same amount each week.

Let’s picture the scenario where at the age of 18, a person purchases a lotto ticket every week until they retire at age 65. All we need is two assumptions (and a spreadsheet) to illustrate this example:

  1. The lotto ticket costs $17.70 (current price of a Saturday Lotto Ticket (Slick pick 25))
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2. An after tax rate of return of 5% (relatively conservative)

Below shows the growth in the value of the funds built up over time (send me a message if you want the full spreadsheet):

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At retirement, the person will have over $175,000! Given the latest second division prize for Saturday lotto, this is equivalent to winning second division more than 15 times (once every three years!):

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Therefore if you never buy a lotto ticket, you are guaranteed to win second division many times over. Even if you put the money in the bank and achieved an after tax rate of return of a measly 1%, you would still end up with over $50,000.

Knowing this, what is your opinion on lotto tickets now? Are you still willing to risk over $175,000 for the very slim chance (don’t get me started on these odds!) to win a million or two in first division? Feel free to comment below.

You’re welcome.

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Start Investing and Saving early in life – it will make it easy on yourself!

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The earlier you start saving and investing, the easier it will be to achieve your goals. Not only will the regular amounts you need to save be lower, but the total amount you need to save will also be lower.

Let’s take a look at the worked example below. You want to have $2,000,000 in investable assets (not your house or your belongings, but in shares, property, term deposits, cash etc) by the time you are 60. I have chosen $2,000,000 for two reasons. Firstly $1,000,000 is so cliché. Second, for the younger crowd, by the time you retire, $1,000,000 will definitely not be enough to provide you with an income stream for life given inflation over the timeframe.

Given the current savings rate, property prices and consumerism mindset, most people of my generation will have to work until they are 75. And still probably have nothing to show for it. But you are reading this because you are different!

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The more interesting part is below. This shows the breakdown of the $2,000,000 between the amount you have to save and invest, and the return on these investments. If you start at 20, you only need to save $650K and the remaining $1.35M is investment returns. But leave it to 55 and you will have to save and invest $1.75M, with only $250K being investment returns.

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This is due to the magic of compounding (remember the class at school on compounding that you didn’t pay attention to – I bet you wish you did now!). Compounding occurs when you earn ‘returns on your returns’ (or interest on your interest). This is where many people fall down in their quest for financial freedom. They save and maybe invest, but the ultimate goal of the saving is to buy something and not keep the funds for the long term to grow.

This is the pure definition of not working hard for your money, but letting your money work hard for you.

“Start today, because sometimes tomorrow becomes never”

Contact me if you would like a custom model built with your age, current balance, inflation adjusted with the age you wish to reach financial freedom.

You're welcome.

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Expensive Motor Vehicles – why don’t you just burn your money instead?

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Motor vehicles (in excess) are one of the biggest wastes of money. Our household has a Toyota Corolla and a Hyundai i30. Some people may think that such vehicles ‘do not befit a business advisor and an engineer’. My first car I had while at university was a 1L Suzuki Swift. It did not have air conditioning, it did not have power windows, it did not have power steering and it did not go all of the time (one time in fact it broke down because the cable to the battery came loose). I therefore feel exceptionally fortunate that I now have a car that is reliable and takes me from A to B in relative comfort.

Let’s condense this down to two scenarios:

The average person spends $38,000 on a brand new car, say a Toyota Rav4, and keeps it for 4 years. It will be sold for $18,000. This is an annualised cost of $5,000 (being the $20,000 difference between the purchase and sale price divided by 4 years).

The smart person spends $15,000 on a second hand car, say a 2 year old Toyota Corolla, and keeps it for 8 years. It will be sold for $5,000. This is an annualised cost of $1,250 (being the $10,000 difference between the purchase and sale price divided by 8 years)

This difference is $3,750 of after tax money per car per year. Or $7,500 of after tax money per two car household per year.

Taking into account inflation and a rate of return of 5%, if you change your car habit from the average person to the smart person, you will have a million dollars in 35 years. Would you rather have a million dollars or try to impress others?

You’re welcome.

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This is where it all begins...

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Nigel Marsh said, “There are thousands and thousands of people out there living lives of quiet screaming desperation who work long hours, at jobs they hate, to enable them to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like”.

I have a dream that all inhabitants of Australia (and the world) have at least a basic level of financial literacy.

This should be learned in primary school, high school, and prior to being able to purchase a property and take out a mortgage. Increased financial literacy will have a positive impact on not only the individuals with the knowledge but the community as a whole and the government as well. It will lead to greater mental well-being, less stress, reduced cases of depression, happier families, reduced incidents of domestic violence, less reliance on welfare, the aged pension and reduced suicide. This is too important for the world to ignore and has a range of simple (at least in my mind) fixes. I personally learned a long time ago that your knowledge is very powerful and no matter how simple the knowledge is to you, it can be life-changing for someone who does not know the knowledge yet (“You don’t know what you don’t know”).

I feel this is one of the most important challenges facing our country and I can see a path. I am making it my mission to improve the state of financial literacy in Australia (and the world). I call upon the government and forward-thinking organisations to support me in my quest to make our country and the world a better place.

“Sometimes it is the people no one can imagine anything of who do the things no one can imagine.”

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