How Improving Your Posture Can Positively Affect Your Entire Well-Being

Posture affects our mood, how we react to pain, the condition of our muscles, joints and ligaments, and even how well our organs work. Unfortunately, with the time that we spend in front of computers and phones, many people’s posture keeps getting worse. This helpful video describes what good posture is and how we can attain it. If people nag you to stand up straight, they’re right.

 Important information

This information is general information only and hasn’t taken your circumstances into account. It’s important to consider your particular circumstances before deciding what’s right for you. Read our Financial Services Guide for information about our services, including the fees and other benefits that AMP companies and their representatives may receive in relation to products and services provided to you.

Although the information is from sources considered reliable, AMP does not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. You should not rely upon it and should seek qualified advice before making any financial decision. Except where liability under any statute cannot be excluded, AMP does not accept any liability (whether under contract, tort or otherwise) for any resulting loss or damage of the reader or any other person.

What to do when you’ve been a victim of credit card fraud

Credit card fraud on the rise

Card fraud has been on the increase, more than doubling to $2.1 billion during 2014-15 from $1 billion in 2010-11, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures.

Credit cards are targeted more than debit cards.

The good news is that in most cases you won’t be liable for unauthorised transactions and will probably get your money back.

ASIC’s MoneySmart website says you won’t get your money back if you acted fraudulently; didn’t keep your PIN or password secret; unreasonably delayed telling your account institution that your card was lost or stolen or that someone else may know your PIN or code or; accidentally left your card in an ATM.

Even then though your liability will be limited to certain caps.

Contact your bank about fraud

So what should you do if you spot a transaction you don’t recognise on your debit or credit card?

The simple answer is to contact your financial institution as soon as possible.

This will hopefully prevent any more unauthorised transactions.

When you report a mistake on your account, make sure you get a reference number to verify that you made the report, says MoneySmart.

Sometimes, though, there might be an explanation and it is not actually a fraudulent transaction. For example, maybe the additional cardholder made a purchase and you weren’t aware.

Or sometimes you might not recognise the merchant because their banking information is different from their trading name. A quick internet search might help.

The financial institution will more than likely place a stop on your card and issue a new one. It may take up to a week to replace the card, so in that time you’ll be left without a card.

Chances are that will be fine if it’s a credit card but it will pose more of a problem if it’s your everyday account and you need to access money. Talk to your financial institution about options for accessing money while you’re waiting.

If you have any automatic payments coming out of your account, make sure you contact the service providers to give them the new card number.

Follow up

The investigation process will vary between institutions and so will the time it takes to be resolved. It could be anywhere from 21 days to 90 days.

If your financial institution finds that you’re liable but you don’t agree, then you should complain to it in writing, outlining why the transaction was unauthorised and why you should not be held liable, says the Financial Rights Legal Centre.

Keep a copy of your letter. If it does not resolve your complaint within a reasonable time (for example 30 days), you should make a complaint to an external dispute resolution scheme such as the Australian Financial Complaints Authority.


Article sourced from

Important information

This information is general information only and hasn’t taken your circumstances into account. It’s important to consider your particular circumstances before deciding what’s right for you. Read our Financial Services Guide for information about our services, including the fees and other benefits that AMP companies and their representatives may receive in relation to products and services provided to you.

Although the information is from sources considered reliable, AMP does not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. You should not rely upon it and should seek qualified advice before making any financial decision. Except where liability under any statute cannot be excluded, AMP does not accept any liability (whether under contract, tort or otherwise) for any resulting loss or damage of the reader or any other person.

13 common sense tips to help manage your finances



A few months ago Reserve Bank Governor Phillip Lowe provided four common sense points we should all keep in mind regarding borrowing to finance a home. (The Governor’s speech can be found here). I thought they made sense and so summarised them in a tweet to which someone replied that every checkout operator knows them. Which got me thinking that maybe many do know them, but a lot don’t, otherwise Australians would never have trouble with their finances. So I thought it would be useful to expand Governor Lowe’s list to cover broader financing and investment decisions we make. I have deliberately kept it simple and in many cases this draws on personal experience. I won’t tell you to have a budget though because that’s like telling you to suck eggs.

1. Shop around

We often shop around to get the best deal when it comes to consumer items but the same should apply to financial services. As Governor Lowe points out “don’t be shy to ask for a better deal whether for your mortgage, your electricity contract or your phone plan”. The same applies to your insurance, banking, superannuation, etc. It’s a highly-competitive world out there and financial companies want to get and keep your business. So when getting a new financial service it makes sense to look around. And when it comes time to renew a service – say your home and contents insurance – and you find that the annual charge has gone up way in excess of inflation (which is currently around 2%) it makes sense to call your provider to ask what gives. I have often done this to then be offered a better deal on the grounds that I am a long-term loyal customer.

2. Don’t take on too much debt

Debt is great, up too a point. It helps you have today what you would otherwise have to wait till tomorrow for. It enables you to spread the costs associated with long term “assets” like a home over the years you get the benefit of it and it enables you to enhance your underlying investment returns. But as with everything you can have too much of it. Someone wise once said “it’s not what you own that will send you bust but what you owe.” So always make sure that you don’t take on so much debt that it may force you to sell all your investments just at the time you should be adding to them or worse still potentially send you bust. Or to sell your house when it has fallen in value. A rough guide may be that when debt servicing costs exceed 30% of your income then maybe you have too much debt – but it depends on your income and expenses. A higher income person could manage a higher debt servicing to income ratio simply because living expenses take up less of their income.

3. Allow that interest rates can go up as well as down

Yeah, I know that it’s a long time since offical interest rates were last raised in Australia – in fact it was way back in 2010. So as Governor Lowe observes “many borrowers have never experienced a rise in official interest rates”. But don’t be fooled by the recent history of falling or low rates. My view is that an increase in rates is still a long way off (and they may even fall further first) – but that’s just a view and views can be wrong. History tells us that eventually the interest rate cycle will turn up. Just look at the US where after six years of near zero interest rates, official US interest rates have risen 2% over the last three years. So, the key is to make sure you can afford higher interest payments at some point. And when official rates move up the moves tend to be a lot larger than the small out of cycle moves from banks that have caused much angst lately.

4. Allow for rainy days

This is another one raised by Governor Lowe who said: “things don’t always turn out as we expect. So for most of us having a buffer against the unexpected makes a lot of sense.” The rainy day could come as a result of higher interest rates, job loss or an unexpected expense. This basically means not taking all the debt offered to you, trying to stay ahead of your payments and making sure that when you draw down your loan you can withstand at least a 2% rise in interest rates.

5. Credit cards are great, but they deserve respect

I love my credit cards. They provide me with free credit for up to around 6-7 weeks and they attract points that can really mount up (just convert the points into gift cards and they make optimal Christmas presents!). So, it makes sense to put as much of my expenses as I can on them. But they charge usurious interest rates of around 20-21% if I get a cash advance or don’t pay the full balance by the due date. So never get a cash advance unless it’s an absolute emergency and always pay by the due date. Sure the 20-21% rate sounds a rip-off but don’t forget that credit card debt is not secured by your house and at least the high rate provides that extra incentive to pay by the due date.

6. Use your mortgage for longer term debt

Credit cards are not for long term debt, but your mortgage is. And partly because it’s secured by your house, mortgage rates are low compared to other borrowing rates – at around 4-5% for most. So if you have any debt that may take longer than the due date on your credit card to pay off then it should be on your mortgage if you have one.

7. Start saving and investing early

If you want to build your wealth to get a deposit for a house or save for retirement the best way to do that is to take advantage of compound interest – where returns build on returns. Obviously, this works best with assets that provide high returns on average over long periods. But to make the most of it you have to start as early as possible. Which is why those piggy banks that banks periodically hand out to children have such merit in getting us into the habit of saving early.

Of course, this gives me an opportunity to again show my favourite chart on investing which tracks the value of $1 invested in Australian shares, bonds and cash since 1900 with dividends and interest reinvested along the way. Cash is safe but has low returns and that $1 will have only grown to $237 today. Shares are volatile (& so have rough periods highlighted by arrows) but if you can look through that they will grow your wealth and that $1 will have grown to $526,399 by today.

Source: Global Financial Data, AMP Capital
Source: Global Financial Data, AMP Capital

8. Allow that asset prices go up and down

It’s well known that the share market goes through rough patches. The volatility seen in the share market is the price we pay for higher returns than most other asset classes over the long term. But when it comes to property there seems to be an urban myth that it never goes down in value. Of course property prices will always be smoother than share prices because it’s not traded daily and so is not subject to daily swings in sentiment. But history tells home prices do go down as well as up. Japanese property prices fell for almost two decades after the 1980s bubble years, US and some European countries’ property values fell sharply in the GFC and the Australian residential property market has seen several episodes of falls over the years and of course we are going through one right now. So the key is to allow that asset prices don’t always go up – even when the population and the economy are growing.

9. Try and see big financial events in their long-term context

Hearing that $50bn was wiped off the share market in one day sounda scary – but it tells you little about how much the market actually fell and you have only lost something if you actually sell out after the fall. Scarier was the roughly 20% fall in share markets through 2015-16 and worse still the GFC that saw roughly 50% falls. But such events happen every so often in share markets – the 1987 crash saw a 50% in a few months & Australian shares fell 59% over 1973-74. And after each the market has gone back up. So, we have seen it all before even though the details may differ. The trick is to allow for periodic sharp falls in your investment strategy and when they do happen remind yourself that we have seen it all before and the market will find a base and resume its long-term rising trend.

10. Know your risk tolerance

When embarking on investing it’s worth thinking about how you might respond if you found out that market movements had just wiped 20% off the value of your investments. If your response is likely to be: “I don’t like it, but this sometimes happens in markets and history tells me that if I stick to my strategy I will see a recovery in time” then no problem. But if your response might be: “I can’t sleep at night because of this, get me out of here” then maybe you should rethink your strategy as you will just end up selling at market bottoms and buying tops. So try and match your investment strategy to your risk tolerance.

11. Make the most of the Mum and Dad bank

The housing boom in Australia that got underway in the mid-1990s and reached fever pitch in Sydney & Melbourne last year has left housing very unaffordable for many. This contributed to a huge wealth transfer from Millennials to Baby Boomers and some Gen Xers. Hopefully the current home price correction underway will help in starting to correct that. But for Millennials in the meantime, if you can it makes sense to make the most of the “Mum and Dad bank”. There are two ways to do this. First stay at home with Mum and Dad as long as you can and use the cheap rent to get a foot hold in the property market via a property investment and then using the benefits of being able to deduct interest costs from your income to reduce your tax bill to pay down your debt as quickly as you can so that you may be able to ultimately buy something you really want. (Of course, changes to negative gearing if there is a change to a Labor Government could affect this.) Second consider leaning on your parents for help with a deposit. Just don’t tell my kids this!

12. Be wary of what you hear at parties

A year ago Bitcoin was all the rage. Even my dog was asking about it – but piling in at around $US19,000 a coin just when everyone was talking about it back then would not have been wise (its now below $US6500) even though many saw it as the best thing since sliced bread. Often when the crowd is dead set on some investment it’s best to do the opposite.

13. There is no free lunch

When it comes to borrowing & investing there is no free lunch – if something looks too good to be true (whether it’s ultra-low fees or interest rates or investment products claiming ultra-high returns & low risk) then it probably is and it’s best to stay away.

Concluding comment

I have focussed here mainly on personal finance and investing at a very high level, as opposed to drilling into things like diversification and taking a long-term view to your investments. An earlier note entitled “Nine keys to successful investing” focussed in more detail on investing and can be found here.

Would you like to retire by 40?

Many younger Australians are joining the Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE) movement. Is it right for you?

When you’re starting out in the workforce and building your career, retirement can seem like a long way away.

And with the age at which you can access your super and age pension creeping up—not to mention the increasing cost of living—you might be steeling yourself for a longer working life.

The stats don’t lie—Australians are staying in the workforce for longer and any thoughts of retiring early are becoming a distant dream for many of us1.

But there’s a growing movement of younger Australians who believe that by following the right set of rules, it’s possible to achieve early retirement.

Popularised by US-based blogger Peter Adeney, better known as Mr Money Mustache2, the Financial Independence, Retire Early movement looks more closely at what makes us happy.

Changing your spending and saving habits

FIRE is all about following an extremely frugal lifestyle with the aim of retiring as early as your 40s…or even your 30s!

At the core of the FIRE philosophy is changing your attitude towards spending and saving.

But FIRE is more than just following a budget. It’s a whole-of-life movement that inspires fervent belief in its followers.

The FIRE movement encourages its followers to build up seven levels of financial safety by:

  • investing in property
  • investing in dividend-yielding assets
  • building tax-effective super
  • working part-time
  • taking full advantage of social security
  • looking for entrepreneurial work opportunities
  • adjusting their lifestyle to live a simpler life.

When it comes to saving, every little bit counts

Like any movement, FIRE inspires some committed followers and some of the lifestyle advice can seem a little extreme—churning credit cards to access freebies, living in a truck to avoid rent and even sifting through bins outside restaurants for free food.

Now, if the thought of going without your daily latte…not to mention movie outings, fine dining and regular holidays…sounds like a living nightmare, then perhaps FIRE isn’t for you.

But if this sounds too much like hard work, don’t worry. You don’t have to be quite so committed.

You could consider making some simple changes to your daily habits to reduce your spending and boost your savings.

  • Understand your money habits.
  • Make a list of where you could cut back to reduce your waste.
  • Cycle all or part of the way to work and save on transport costs.
  • Shop around for the best deal on utilities like gas, electricity and water.
  • Entertain at home—a monthly Netflix subscription costs less than a single movie ticket.

How to light your FIRE and retire on your terms

Once you’ve ramped up your savings, you could think about being a little more savvy with your money.

  • Bring your super together into one account to avoid paying more than one set of fees.
  • Look at ways to save and invest your money to increase your potential returns.
  • Consider investing in property…but watch out for aggressive gearing, especially if interest rates change.

You may not retire quite as early as the more committed FIRE followers. But you may just put yourself in the box seat to retire on your own terms.

And along the way, you might find yourself reappraising your attitude towards money and happiness.

1 Australian Bureau of Statistics – Retirement and Retirement Intentions, Australia


This information is provided by AMP Life Limited. It is general information only and hasn’t taken your circumstances into account. It’s important to consider your particular circumstances before deciding what’s right for you. Read our Financial Services Guide for information about our services, including the fees and other benefits that AMP companies and their representatives may receive in relation to products and services provided to you.

AMP Bett3r Account is issued by AMP Bank Limited ABN 15 081 596 009, AFSL 234517. Consider the terms and conditions available on request by calling 13 30 30 or at and whether this product is appropriate for you. Fees and charges apply.

Although the information is from sources considered reliable, AMP does not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. You should not rely upon it and should seek qualified advice before making any financial decision. Except where liability under any statute cannot be excluded, AMP does not accept any liability (whether under contract, tort or otherwise) for any resulting loss or damage of the reader or any other person.

Where the smart money is buying as property prices fall

The next ‘it’ suburbs are often those where renovators are hunting for bargains.

Falling property prices are creating more opportunities for investors, first-home buyers and growing families considering whether to buy, renovate or detonate the dwelling in their dream postcode.

Analysis of the nation’s capitals shows pockets of value in prestigious postcodes, the next generation of inner suburbs ready for gentrification and outer-ring addresses offering good-sized land blocks and amenities.

Buyers previously squeezed out of the market by record high clearance rates and rising prices are being attracted back by lower prices, less pressure to make a decision and historically low interest rates, despite the recent round of increases.

Herron Todd White, one of Australia’s largest property surveyors, has surveyed streets and suburbs for early tell-tale signs of rejuvenation signalling bigger changes.

“It’s an excellent frieze of neighbourhoods on the grow – one weatherboard, brick or lightweight composite clad panel at a time,” says Shaun Thomas, HTW residential director. “A rising tide floats all boats, so as the housing quality elevates in your street, so too does your home’s underlying appeal and flow of equity growth.”

Renovate, relocate or rebuild decisions should be based on an assessment on the value of the existing property and what it will cost to transform into what is wanted, according to HTW director Chris Hincliffe. Then add on stamp duty, legal and marketing fees, moving costs and the personal effort involved to decide whether it stacks up.


A well-renovated terrace in Thomson Street, Darlinghurst, recently sold for nearly $3 million about two years after being bought in its original condition for less than half the price.

Cheaper ways to add value to high-priced inner-city property is to utilise rear lane access for parking or add an attic-level bedroom or ensuite, says Thomas.

Duplex developments are increasingly popular along the south-eastern suburbs of Little Bay, Chifley, Malabar and Matraville because of close proximity to the city, surf, schools and shopping centres, he says.

The original houses, built between the 1940s and 1970s, are built on land blocks between 550 to 650 square metres and are good duplex sites.

Land and development costs typically range from about $1.6 million to $2.4 million.

Curl Curl, on the Northern Beaches, is also popular for high-quality renovations and knock-down rebuilds.

Blocks are 400 to 500 square metres and cost about $1.8 million to $2 million with rebuilds taking the final spend to about $4 million.

“Existing houses built in the 1950s and 1960s are generally less challenging to reconfigure than Federation properties,” he says.

Home extensions and granny flats are popular in the western suburbs, particularly as prices continue to slide. Popular suburbs include Lismore, Casino and Kyogle.


Buyers in the eastern suburbs are regularly demolishing post-war brick veneer family homes and replacing them with four- to five-bedroom houses with ensuite bathrooms and walk-in robes.

But falling markets mean there is a risk of over-capitalising, says Perron King, HTW director in Melbourne.

For example, a house bought in 2012 for about $760,000 in Balwyn, about nine kilometres east of Melbourne, was knocked down and replaced with a five-bedroom, three-bathroom mansion with a swimming pool and tennis court that sold for more than $3.4 million in 2018. But repeating the strategy in current markets in nearby Blackburn (where the average price is about $1.9 million) might be harder.

Inner-city Richmond, Brunswick, Collingwood, Abbotsford and Preston continue to be popular with renovators, investors and first-time buyers.

“The number of renovations is increasing as single and family homeowners do not want to move further north,” says King.

Semi-detached townhouses are popular around inner and outer south-east suburbs, such as Bentleigh East, for buyers seeking low-maintenance properties within commuting distance of the city.

The inner west, which includes Essendon and Moonee Ponds, are popular with renovators wanting to retain Victorian and Federation period features but ready to spend between $70,000 and $200,000 on upgrades, with an estimated one-third on new kitchens, according to the Housing Industry Association.

Geelong, about 65 kilometres south-west of Melbourne, has a varied stock of suburban housing and is becoming increasingly popular with commuters. Its suburbs, such as Geelong West, Drumcondra and East Geelong, are among the nation’s top-performing regional postcodes.


An influx of families from southern states seeking lower property prices and higher temperatures is boosting demand, particularly for the inner-ring suburbs of Annerley, Greenslopes and Holland Park, says David Notey, HTW Queensland director.

Annerley, about 5km south of the central business district, has plenty of detached houses suitable for young families that are “due some love”, Notey says. “The retail strip has a modicum of undiscovered cool and there are easy road connections through to the freeway and city,” he adds. Detached older properties selling around the $600,000-$700,000 mark offer a “chance to create a dream abode”.

Greenslopes, a similar distance from the city, has quality housing on generous suburban blocks, good shopping and reasonable transport.

There’s value around inner-city Paddington and Bardon “where you can usually get a bit more land for your dollar”.

Chapel Hill, about 7km west of the CBD, hosts an eclectic mix of housing that “provides interesting opportunities for those looking to upgrade as homeowners or investors”.


“There’s a good case for renovating in Perth as the four-year depression of prices is making properties significantly more affordable, especially for dual-income households,” says HTW’s Hincliffe.

Inner suburbs with median house prices of more than $650,000 for family homes are popular, he adds. These include Mount Hawthorn, North Perth, Wembley, Nedlands and Mount Lawley.

Sub-division of large lots and new builds is increasing.


Strong inner-ring performers include Norwood, Payneham and St Peters, says Natalie Patterson, HTW’s Adelaide residential valuations manager.

Dilapidated properties within easy commuting distance of the city can be bought from $500,000, renovated range from $700,000 to $900,000 while new builds typically range from $500,000 to $600,000, she says.

“There is plenty of upside available in a rising market for those looking to pick and flick,” says Patterson. “These properties are typically overlooked by developers because of heritage and planning restrictions and avoided by first-time home buyers who require some creature comforts,” she says.


A buyback scheme of houses contaminated by asbestos has created opportunities for building in established suburbs.

Dozens were demolished, and the land is being resold to the market with scope for multiple dwellings.

Established areas such as Belconnen, Woden Valley and Tuggeranong, where the original homes were constructed between 1960 and 1980, are popular with renovators, according to Angus Howell, associate director in Canberra.

Blocks range from $350,000 to $1.5 million depending on size and location, says Howell. Unrenovated properties range from about $450,000 to $1.6 million.


Rising property values are attracting many investors and renovators, says Andrew Peck, HTW Tasmanian director.

Unrenovated three-bedroom houses in northern suburbs such as Montrose are selling for about $325,000 and going back on to the market with new kitchens for more than $400,000, Peck says. “That’s worth the trip to Bunnings and some weekends with the drop saw,” he adds.


Northern suburbs are a “hot spot” for mum-and-dad investors and first-time home buyers, says Darwin director Will Johnson.

Johnson claims prices have bottomed out and that there are opportunities to buy at “much more affordable” levels.


This article was originally published by The Australian Financial Review on 28 September 2018. It represents the views of the author only and does not necessarily reflect the views of AMP.