1st street Blog

Why you need a digital wallet - 03/04/2018

The concept of currency has come a long way and digital forms of currency are rapidly substituting traditional banknotes. But what exactly is a digital wallet and is it something you should think about getting?

  1. Digital wallets are just a digital version of your wallet

Just like your everyday wallet, you can fill your digital wallet with credit or debit cards by manually entering your card information or uploading a photo of your card. When it’s time to make a purchase you simply tap it at the payment terminal and use a fingerprint or PIN code to authorise the transaction. Not all retailers accept this technology yet but this is rapidly expanding across Australia. They can also be used to store payment information (eg. credit card or bitcoin) for exchanges to anyone else in the world securely, quickly and affordably.

  1. They don’t have to be on a smartphone

Despite smartphones being one of the biggest platforms for digital wallets, the technology is expanding amongst other large tech corporations. Fitbit has now adopted the digital payment platform so that you can access a digital wallet on your wearable device. Similarly, Paypal have introduced e-wallets in the form of wristbands for party goers at festivals to pay for food, drinks and merchandise using their wristband.  

  1. They save money and time

Perhaps the biggest advantages to recognise about digital wallets is that they save money and time. Excessive costs of international money transfers as well as many other banking transactions are reduced, whilst offering a much faster, more streamlined and efficient user experience. It also takes away the hassle of having multiple cards for numerous accounts – this way you can operate them all at the same time.

  1. They do more than just transfer money

Digital wallets actually have various functions, much more than just the transfer of financial funds from one party to another. Other features include:

  • Store and use coupons, loyalty cards and gift cards
  • Store and use tickets, transport cards and boarding passes
  • Access keys like hotel rooms, front door and car (if yours use digital access)
  • Identity documents like passports and driving license
  1. They are secure

Digital wallets utilise the same technology used in mobile banking which has proven to be very secure. They encrypt the data (like your credit card number) using tokenization, making it difficult for any third part to intercept the data. They also rely on extra security features like two-factor authentication to approve transactions.

  1. They minimise risk of theft

Having a digital wallet means there is neither physical money, cards or personal identification documents to be stolen. However, if the phone or device itself is lost or stolen, some digital wallets have the capability to delete all data to protect your personal information from being spread.

Finding the right Mortgage Broker - 03/04/2018

Buying property can be a confusing and overwhelming experience, from finding the property to getting the extensive documentation ready for the home loan, exchange and settlement. Using the service of a mortgage broker can make the experience a stress-free and smooth transaction.

So what exactly do they do? Essentially, a mortgage broker acts as a go-between for lenders and borrowers and their services of usually free of charge. They have access to a range of products through a panel of lenders that they are associated with. They’ll listen to your requirements, help you decide what features you’d like in your loan and source a number of options most suited to your individual needs. They will also take care of the paperwork necessary to confirm your home loan, lodge the documents on your behalf and provide all the tools and advice for repaying the loan efficiently.

But how do you choose the right mortgage broker for you? These useful tips will help you select the best professional for your needs ensure you get the best value from your mortgage broker.

Analyse each Mortgage broker

There are a growing number of mortgage brokers in the industry, so take your time and shop around for the best fit for you. Ask your family, friends and colleagues for recommendations they may have or have heard of. Reputation and past performance are very strong indicators of their value so do your research online first, find some client testimonials and then opt to go and meet a few brokers face to face for an initial consultation.

Trust building and rapport is a critical factor when deciding on your mortgage broker so get a feel for whether you can work with them in the long term and whether they’ve got your best interests at heart. Use your meeting to find out if the broker is punctual and organised, has a solid knowledge of the products they offer, has excellent communication and customer service skills and is confident in their overall approach.

Also ask for the broker’s accreditations. All brokers must be accredited under the National Consumer Credit Protection Act, be a member of the Mortgage & Finance Association of Australia (MFAA) and/or the Finance Brokers Association of Australia (FBAA) as well as being a member of the Credit Ombudsman Service Ltd (COSL).

Be the talker

Go to each meeting with a list of questions you want answered. Don’t let the broker do all the talking and make sure you get all the information you need in simple terms that you can clearly understand (especially if it’s your first time taking out a loan).

A few keys questions to ask can include:
● How long have you been in the industry?
● Can I speak to another one of your clients?
● How does your service work?
● Do you specialise in any particular type of client?
● How will you look after me in the process of getting a loan?
● What happens after the loan has been settled?
● What qualifications do you have?

Find out their lending panel

Good brokers should have access to an extensive range of reputable lenders, this increases their validity within the industry and if not, you could be missing out on better mortgage deals. Ideally, they should have access to a mix of both traditional (banks, credit unions and building societies) and non-traditional (wholesale or non-conforming) lenders.

Ask the broker to tell you about all the lenders they coerce with and how many of them they like to use and why. Also find out which products they will be comparing for you and from which lenders. Ensure the product your broker is offering matches your needs and ask for an explanation of all the documentation surrounding your loan application and contract as well as a loan product fact sheet. This will outline the critical points about the loan being offered, including interest rate and features of the product.

Asking for a comparison rate table is also useful so you can see for yourself which loans and and lenders are being analysed. This can help you determine which home loan will work best for you financially and give you that extra confidence that the broker has comprehensively sought out the best deal for you.

Fees and charges

Most mortgage brokers offer their client services free of charge and are paid a commision by the credit providers. They must disclose the commission paid to them by lenders, so ask your broker about the benefits they receive.

Overall, when selecting a mortgage broker that’s best suited to you, focus on the essential criteria of integrity, reliability and trust. A mortgage professional with an exceptional reputation within the industry as well as among the client community are also strong indicators of value and desirability for you as a potential customer.

5 Simple Ways To Make Every Day Feel Like Friday - 06/03/2018

We are all guilty of wishing away the week days in the hope that it’s Friday (and one day away from the weekend!). But life is too short for that. Here are 5 easy ways to make each day feel like Friday and bring some extra motivation and enjoyment to your weekly routine.

  1. Break a sweat

Friday has this magical power of relaxing you and getting you motivated for the weekend ahead.  Your brain increases the production of serotonin while you exercise, making you feel happier. So do yourself a favour and hit the gym, beach or park each morning throughout the week. You’ll make the days feel a lot easier and more enjoyable!

  1. Plan something fun

Your days don’t have to be all about going to the office and getting through your never ending to-do list. It’s always nice to have something to look forward to during the week. So schedule in something you’d usually save until the weekend. Book in lunch with an old friend, or lock in an activity you’ve been meaning to do for weeks (like playing golf!).

  1. Make someone else happy

Make a vow to do something nice for someone else as soon as you get to work each morning. Doing nice things for others is the best way to cheer yourself up and will no doubt shift the overall mood in your office. Try giving a compliment to a stranger or bring an extra coffee with you to a fellow coffee loving co-worker. Whatever you do, the goal is the make someone else’s day a little better.

  1. Meditate first thing in the morning

If you haven’t meditated before, don’t underestimate the power it can hold to completely change your day. Meditation is the simplest and most powerful tool you can use to create a peaceful mind and focus on being present. The feeling of relaxation, joy (and maybe relief!) you get from a Friday afternoon can be achieved with 5-10 minutes of meditation, first thing each morning. Namaste!

  1. Mind over matter

Using mind over matter is crucial to how you do each day. The power of your mind controls how you behave, feel and react to all situations throughout the day. Choose to begin every day with a positive mind, regardless of how many back-to-back meetings you have, or the long list of tasks you need to get done. Why not make a daily statement of gratitude by acknowledging one thing you’re grateful for each morning. It’s so important to take each moment as it comes and remember to not sweat the little things. The way you mentally tackle each day has a powerful way of dictating the outcome of your week.

Is It Time To Fix Your Home Loan? - 06/03/2018

Recent figures have revealed that only one in six Australian home owners are choosing to fix their home loan. However, with speculation of an interest rate rise due to hit later this year, it could be time to consider fixing your current loan.

Variable vs Fixed Loans?


There are multiple options when deciding on the type of home loan you can hold. Many Australians have been opting for variable rate home loans, meaning that their monthly repayments will move with changes to market interest rates. As a result, repayments will ‘vary’ as the rate changes. With interest rates having been at record lows in the last 12 months, this option has been incredibly beneficial for those looking to limit their interest paid.

Variable home loans offer numerous benefits including: less interest paid when market interest rates are low, the option to make extra repayments to help pay off your loan sooner and the ability to set up an offset account to further save on interest. However, this home loan option makes budgeting harder as loan repayments can increase with interest rate changes and adds to mortgage stress due to uncertainty of repayments.


On the other hand, fixed home loans have an interest rate that is fixed for a set period of time – often 1, 3 or 5 years. This means you will know exactly how much your loan repayment will be over the fixed term period. At the end of the term, the loan will usually switch to the standard variable rate offered by your particular lender.

The main benefits of fixing your loan is repayment certainty, the ability to plan ahead with confidence and peace of mind that your repayments will not be affected with rises in interest rates. However there are some disadvantages to fixing your home loan. These include missing out on any benefits from interest rate drops, limitations on voluntary extra repayments and redraw ability, as well as potential break fees for changing your loan within the fixed rate period.

Why is now a good time to think about fixing?

Fixed home loan rates have been at historical lows for the last 12 months or so in Australia. However there is talk in the industry of these rates increasing overseas later on this year, which will result in increases to our own market soon after. With this in mind, home owners must consider what their priorities are and if they’re willing to risk a potential increase in rates by deciding against fixing their home loan.

Unfortunately, no one can accurately predict how interest rates will move in the future. So it’s important to be aware of all the home loan options available to you and choose a loan type that will work for your individual needs.

Simple money steps for women - 28/02/2018

The same approach to managing day-to-day money can be applied to long-term investments. 

It was Carrie Bradshaw, of Sex and the City fame, who said: ‘I like my money where I can see it – hanging in my closet.’

While that might sound trite, it’s not far from the truth for many women. Most of us are more comfortable dealing with day-to-day money and the tangible things it can be used for, than longer-term financial investments, such as super, which seem to exist only on an annual statement.i

By contrast, research has found men are more likely to hoard their money than women,iiand enjoy seeing their long-term finances accumulate.

But by using the knowledge that comes from managing day-to-day money, women, too, can take control of their financial future.

The relationship women have with money

Contrary to popular opinion, most women don’t lack confidence when dealing with money – in fact, more than 50% of women across all age groups describe themselves as very organised in managing everyday money.iii

The majority of women list providing for the day-to-day needs of their family as their top money priority, followed by providing for their children’s educational costs, having a comfortable retirement, living life to the fullest and saving for a holiday.iii

The disadvantages women face

Having a comfortable retirement is high up among women’s money priorities, but as most women would know they face some unique challenges to building an adequate retirement nest egg.

Among full-time workers, men in Australia earn around $17,000 more than women each year in their base salary, but this extends to $27,000 when assessing total remuneration, including super, overtime, bonus payments and other discretionary pay.iv

The result of these lower earnings – along with women taking time out of the workforce to raise children or to look after ageing parents – is that at retirement age, women have less super on average than men: $180,013 compared with $321,993.v

In fact, across all age groups, Australian men have more super, and a quarter of women have no super savings at all.v

How to take action

Luckily, you don’t need to be a financial expert to address this imbalance. And research has shown that women in general have a great deal of resilience in overcoming financial challenges.vi

There are some easy steps you can take by adapting behaviors from your day-to-day money management, to get some small wins for your financial future.

Check your super balance

If part of your regular money routine is to stay on top of your account balances, you can do the same with your super balance.

Most funds let you check your balance online – if your super’s with AMP then login to My AMP via desktop or the app to see how much you’ve got.

Do a lost super search

If you’re on a tight budget where every dollar counts, you’d want to find any extra money belonging to you, right?

The same situation can apply to your super, as you may have lost super sitting in an account you’ve forgotten about from previous jobs. Search for lost super to boost your retirement savings here.

Consolidate your super

Just as you probably wouldn’t set up multiple savings accounts to save for the same holiday, it doesn’t make much sense to have multiple super funds.

Consolidating your super will make managing it easier and may also reduce the amount you pay in fees.

Consider topping up

Once you know your super balance you can determine whether you’re on track to have the kind of retirement you want.

If you decide you want to give your super a boost, consider setting up a salary sacrifice. Salary sacrifice is an easy, set-and-forget way to add to your super, with the money coming directly out of your before-tax pay.

Before-tax super contributions are generally taxed at 15% and because this is typically lower than most people’s personal income tax rate, it may be possible to reduce what you pay in tax.

You can nominate the amount you want to contribute, either as a one-off payment or from each pay, and it can be arranged by your employer’s payroll office. It can also be easily cancelled at any time should your financial circumstances change.

Sports lovers enjoy better financial fitness - 28/02/2018

If your golf clubs have been under wraps or your tennis racquet has been tucked away for some time, it could be worth dusting them off. Research by AMP found Australians who play sport regularly are 64% more likely to achieve their financial goals than those who don’t.

With the weather warming up, plenty of us will be thinking about getting in better shape. That can mean heading outdoors for a round of golf, a dip in the ocean or just kicking a ball around the local oval with the kids. The health benefits of physical activity are well documented, but AMP’s study also found a clear link between our sportiness and the way we manage our money.

Link between sport and money management

According to the survey, playing sport on a regular basis makes us more likely to think about our long term financial wellbeing. As a guide, people who frequently play sport are 66% more likely to make extra contributions to their super fund, and more than twice as likely to own an investment property as less active people.

If you ride a bike or play netball, take a bow – the AMP survey found you’re likely to be among the nation’s most financially savvy thinkers. Cricketers are most likely to have a financial advisor, and golfers top the league table for personal savings – with one in three having more than $50,000 in savings.

When you think about it, these results aren’t all that surprising. Keen sportspeople often achieve success by setting personal or team-based goals. So it’s a natural step to set goals in other areas of life like money management.

A number of overseas studies confirm AMP’s findings that physical and financial health often go hand-in-hand.

One group of US researchers explained the link, saying that people who make healthy choices today to enjoy good health tomorrow, are also more likely to regularly put money aside to achieve greater financial security in the future.

I freely admit I’m no sports scientist, but it’s fair to say there’s another link between physical health and fiscal fitness – both can be achieved when you make it part of a regular routine.

Getting in good habits

Getting physically fit involves taking the time to exercise regularly. It may not happen overnight but your fitness should improve over time.

The same applies to financial security. It’s all about developing and sticking to good money habits – like using a budget to gain control of your cash, spending less than you earn, and saving and investing for the long term. It’s not hard and it delivers great results without working up a sweat.

People who take their sport seriously use a coach for help lifting their game, and you can think of us like a mentor for your money. It could even be worth thinking about having your next review meeting over a round of golf, and achieve two goals at the same time.

– by Paul Clitheroe AM
Paul Clitheroe AM, co-founder and Executive Director of ipac securities limited, Chairman of the Australian Government Financial Literacy Board and Chief Commentator for Money magazine.

5 ways to keep a cool head in a falling share market - 28/02/2018

Despite concern, falling share prices are not necessarily a sign of a mild or major bear market situation, according to Dr Shane Oliver.

The share market correction many people are talking about at the moment is causing concern for a number of investors, including those accumulating super and drawing money from their super savings, which is understandable given the rapid falls we’ve seen in recent days.

From share market highs to the lows witnessed recently, we saw United States and Japanese shares fall 10%, Eurozone shares fall 8%, Chinese shares fall 9%, while Australian shares fell 5%.

Sharp falls, with talk of billions of dollars being wiped off the share market, are stressful for investors as no one likes to see the value of their investments decline.

However, it’s worth noting that periodic corrections in share markets in the order of 5% to 15% are actually normal.

We believe these market movements are indeed corrections, and not a sign of what market watchers would call a mild or major ‘bear market’ situation.

A mild bear market would be a share market decline of say 20% that turns around relatively quickly, like we saw in 2015-2016. A major bear market would be a decline of more than 20% in market valuation, like what we saw during the 2008 global financial crisis (GFC).

Our assessment remains that this recent volatility is a correction, not a bear market, and we’re not seeing signs of a recession.

5 insights to help you keep a cool head

  1. Selling shares or switching to a more conservative investment strategy or super option after a major fall just locks in a loss. With all the talk of billions of dollars being wiped off the share market, it may be tempting to sell, but this just turns a paper loss into a real loss with no hope of recovery. The best way to guard against making a decision to sell, on the basis of emotion after a sharp fall in markets, is to adopt a well thought out long-term investment strategy and stick to it.
  2. Shares have a tendency to literally climb a wall of worry over many years with numerous events dragging them down periodically, but with the long-term trend ultimately rising and providing higher returns than other more stable assets. Keep in mind, bouts of volatility are the price we pay for typically higher, longer-term returns from shares.
  3. When shares and growth assets fall they are cheaper and offer higher long-term return prospects. So, the key is to look for opportunities that the pullback provides.
  4. While shares may have fallen in value, the dividends from the market haven’t. So, the income flow you are receiving from a well-diversified portfolio of shares continues to remain attractive, particularly against bank deposits.
  5. The economic environment globally and in Australia is still quite stimulatory, meaning interest rates remain at historically low levels (for the time being at least) making debt relatively cheap, which encourages investment. Monetary conditions in the US might be tightening, but they are still what we would consider easy, and they are still very easy globally, with monetary tightening still a fair way off in Europe, Japan and Australia. We are a long way from the sort of monetary tightening that leads into recession.

Dr Shane Oliver
Head of Investment Strategy and Chief Economist, AMP Capital

Why Life Insurance is a NON-NEGOTIABLE - 06/02/2018

Life Insurance Case Study


Joe, mid 40’s is a father, husband and primary breadwinner for his family. His wife Jane, works part time to allow her to be able to look after the home and 2 kids. Both living a healthy active lifestyle and live on the lower north shore. They have a mortgage in the high 800’s and recently purchased a new car and paid school fees for a further 6 years.

After having some abdominal pain, Joe consulted his doctor who scheduled a routing exam.

Unfortunately,  this identified a large growth in his intestine. After taking a biopsy it was discovered to be a highly aggressive tumour and had already metastasised and spread to  other organs. His prognosis was only a number of months.


Luckily Joe had the foresight to put in place a suitable insurance portfolio and had it not been for this, Jane would not be able to afford to pay her mortgage. She would likely have had to sell her home and look for work to provide for the family. She would have had to reconsider where her children go to school and certainly change her lifestyle.

Joe’s life insurance policy provided a benefit that was able to pay down the mortgage to a manageable level. Jane was able to set aside enough funds to provide for their kids’ education and she will continue to receive a supplementary payment on a regular basis to provide for their day to day living needs.

Why is it a non-negotiable?

The figures are in, and only 11% of mortgage holders aged 20-49 have any form of loan protection should their income suddenly cease due to illness, injury or death. This raises the question: is a lack of information or fear of unaffordability contributing to a low level of life insurance around Australia?

So what is life insurance and what are the benefits?

  • Life insurance provides the security of covering your home loan and other ongoing costs if the unfortunate were to happen. It ensures your family and loved ones aren’t left with the burden of having to repay your mortgage in the event of death and provides peace of mind and protection of your financial obligations.
  • Life insurance can be held personally or within superannuation funds. The benefit inside super is it assists with managing cash flow and your super fund can pay the premiums.
  • Policies are more cost effective than most people think and can be structured in different ways depending on your situation
  • Once a policy is accepted you can be covered until age 99 as long as you pay the premiums and there is no need to report future medical events to the insurer.
  • Cover can be automatically increased each year to keep up with inflation and also at key events such as birth of a child, new mortgage, etc.

What about cost?

Perhaps the greatest concern for individuals when contemplating life insurance is knowing how much it will cost. The price you pay for a life insurance policy depends on a number of factors including:

  • The level of cover (should be at least the total of your mortgage)
  • Your age, health and lifestyle status
  • Generally, the younger you are, the cheaper your policy premiums are likely to be and often you’ll be able to find a policy that offers very good value for your needs

There are many things an average household can live without, but for those who have a mortgage or those considering purchasing their first property, life insurance is certainly not one of them. You never know when the unthinkable may happen. Be proactive in protecting your family – take the time to talk to a mortgage broker about your best options and they can point you in the right direction to find a qualified financial planner.



2018 Predictions from 1st Street Financial - 06/02/2018

The new year is already in full swing and if you’re looking to get active in the property market this year, it’s important to know what to expect. Whether you’re a first time buyer or a seasoned property investor, knowing what’s ahead is key to making sure you find the right property fit.

Property prices will remain fairly steady

Towards the end of 2017, the Sydney house market began to slow and plateau. This was partly explained by APRA’s tightening on investor borrowing and interest-only loans which resulted in higher interest rates for those borrowers, lowering the overall demand for housing.  After speaking with many agents, the understanding is that the heat has come out of the market for now. Stock levels of property are at the lower end (especially in the most desirable suburbs) so this is helping the market remain steady. And whilst this continues, buyers are outnumbering sellers, heightening the activity of eager buyers. It is expected that buyer numbers will remain buoyant and achieve strong purchase results while the market is in its current moderate state.

In other Eastern states, we expect to see Victoria experiencing fairly steady market fluctuations. There is still more affordable housing in Melbourne and surrounds than in Sydney and the strong first home owners buyers market throughout 2017 is likely to continue this year. On the other hand, Queensland has the capacity to rise slightly in the next year. Housing affordability and a stable market have resulted in a steady growth in population which in turn is growing the property market. Last year saw a slow but steady rise and it is predicted that this will continue in the upcoming year.

Interest rates are unlikely to change significantly

Despite projections from numerous economists that the RBA will increase rates up in 2018,there should be  little to no change in interest rates this coming year. Factors such as low growth in global wages and inflation as well as continued weak consumer spending due to household incomes under pressure, will provide conditions to retain interest rates at 1.5 per cent.

When looking at longer term fixed rates (3-5 years fixed) and using those rates as an indication to predict broader interest rate patterns, it suggests to that rates over the coming year or two will remain fairly steady, with the minimal chance of a slight increase late this year.

12 Ways to Enjoy Summer Without Spending a Fortune - 06/12/2017

If you’re wondering how you’ll make ends meet this silly season, check out these tips on how to spend, without spending every cent.

Summer in Australia can often be one of the busiest times of year with end-of-year work parties, Christmas, family gatherings, mini holiday breaks, not to mention New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

If you’ve been saving for something big or are just cringing at the thought of how you’ll make ends meet over the holiday period, don’t freak out yet. There are plenty of ways you can still have fun without spending all your savings or racking up serious debt on your credit card.

How to take on summer without spending a fortune

1. Write down your Santa list

There may only be a couple of weeks left until Christmas, but if you’ve still got things to buy, making a list, setting a budget and sticking to it could go a long way to ensure you don’t overspend or rack up additional debt. After all, Australians are due to spend over $9.7 billion on Christmas presents this year, which is up 28% on last year.i

2. Diarise your upcoming events

Knowing what’s happening and how much you’re likely to fork out will help you to manage your cash and allocate what you need for each occasion.

3. Take turns entertaining at home

This can significantly reduce the money you and your mates spend on eating out, particularly if everyone is happy to bring their favourite signature dish, juice of choice or fruit sorbet when temperatures are running high.

4. Make the most of the warm weather

Hit the beach, head to the local playground, or pack a picnic basket and enjoy a barbecue at a nearby park. It won’t involve entry fees and depending where you go, you could load up the fishing rods or even a footy for a friendly game.

5. Take an esky

You’ll save a fortune on food and cold drinks no matter what’s on the agenda.

6. Look out for meal and beverage specials

There are plenty of places where you can find two-for-one offers and other great deals. Websites like TheHappiestHour can give you some ideas and you may even find some new alfresco venues you haven’t been to along the way.

7. Travel smart

Carpool, get a lift, catch public transport, or ride a bike. Too many Taxis and Ubers can drain funds, particularly if you’re not keeping a record of how often you use them.

8. Cut accommodation costs

Bunk with mates, house-sit, swap accommodation, volunteer your skills for a place to stay, or have a staycation where you check out attractions close to home.

9. Search for holiday deals online

Look at comparison websites for flights, accommodation and transport. Doing your homework can often mean more spending money in your pocket.

10. Stick to using cash as much as possible

When you pay in cash, there’s no risk of you having to pay added interest charges. Plus, leaving your cards at home means you’re less likely to go over your budget as you can’t say—I’ll just take out another $100.

11. Trade with friends

If you’ve got more outings than outfits lined up, rather than hit the shops, borrow something from a mate. It doesn’t have to stop with clothes either. You could exchange homes for the week, swap movies, or trade sporting gear like bikes and fishing rods.

12. Research free events

Look up what’s on in your local area. There are often a variety of things happening over summer, such as food and wine festivals, street fairs and markets.

Whatever your agenda over the holidays, it’s important to have a realistic plan when it comes to your money. Give yourself some room for movement and still aim to avoid that financial hangover.


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