property investment

Discussion – Real Estate stimuli

Australian Government has been throwing quite a lot of stimuli for real estate market in 2020-2021. Most of them aim to ease the effect of COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the stimuli include the Home Builder grant, the Stamp Duty exemption/reduction. Let us have a look and discuss who actually benefits from the grants, and what should we do to make use of them.

Tl; dr;

  • The grants aim to increase the moving of currency within the society, to pull money out of savings and into the circulations.
  • They mostly are beneficial to business owners whose companies service in real estate space, which in turn increase the business activities in that sector.
  • I myself, decided to freeze most of my assets in place and observe the market. I have done something but would like to keep it closer to my chest until I finalize the paperworks.

What comprises real estate?

To understand the next few ideas, we need to understand what is real estate. As we all know, real estate, in the context of physical property where we live in, are the combination of the land and the content that is placed on top of it.

Now, this brings us to a thought, should we treat land and the contents differently? If so, what are they and why are they different? I am going to give you a definition of each, and you can decide on which one you want to focus your money in.

Land is a commodity (sort of)!

As per Investopedia, a commodity is a basic good that is used to manufacture other goods and services. Why is it “sort of” a commodity? Well to be a commodity, a piece of land has to be equals to another “equivalent” piece of land. And we have not been able to have a universal system where we compare land with land and see if they have the same value.

A characteristic of land that I would like to share with you, is that land itself is not very useful, but more like a heavy baggage when we see it as a financial asset. As an empty block of land, it is definite that we need to pay Council Rates and (possibly) Water rates every year. It is a possibility that the land appreciates in value. However, that is a speculative play and therefore carries some risks, which we will discuss in future blog posts.

The land only becomes useful when there are developments on top of it. The development can be anything, such as crops, cattle, houses, apartments, offices, etc. Once there are contents on the land, there are chances that they will produce income that provides us cashflow, which is important to keep us in the game.

House is a consumer good.

person pushing shopping cart in supermarket
Source: axial.net

Have you ever thought of why only the building got depreciated and not the land? I take a shot in the dark here and say any fixed development on the land, are consumer goods. They are items that you buy to use, to consume. These things only lose value over time, unless there is an aspect of rareness in them, e.g. unique architecture.

Good thing about the depreciation rule in Australia is that we know exactly how much value the developments are losing over time. For example, residential properties slowly lose value over 40 years period. I will not go into the details here as you should talk to a quantity surveyor to know more.

What are the grants for?

The Australian Dream

With the above concepts in mind, we can clearly see that the Home Builder Grant is for building houses, which essentially just like giving you $10 to purchase a consumer item priced at $100. Note that I didn’t say said item valued at $100. I have seen the developers of House and Land packages pump up the price of their packages to as far as $25,000 to match the Home Builder Grant amount. As a result, anyone who utilized this grant with a House & Land package, or even Off the Plan in some cases, are getting minimal benefits, if any at all. The money is going from the Government, through the buyer, and into the bottom line of the developers. At the end of the day, the buyers have their Australian dream fulfilled, the developers exit the project successfully, the government gets the money moving around and pull some out of our savings. So it is a win-win-win scenario, right?

Let’s talk about the other scheme, which is the reduction in Stamp Duty. As we know, the Stamp Duty is temporarily adjusted until 01 July 2021 with a discount of up to 50% for purchasing properties. Combining with the Home Builder Grant, this may have convinced a few investors to purchase another asset. As a result, more money is going out of savings and into the circulation, which is good for economy. Same formula as above, win-win-win scenario.

Is it the greatest opportunity of a lifetime to buy real estate?

There is no denial that these grants change the gameplay of Real Estate investment in Australia. Some people are happy to take the leap, some others are quite concerned. In my opinion, one should not purchase anything because of external push, but to careful assess his or her situation internally, and make decision upon them. There are risks associated with purchasing real estates that unaware buyers are not prepared for. The crash in 2008 is caused by the Mortgage Back Security policies, allowing people to take out mortgages that they cannot repay. When allowing to be greedy, people has no difficulty pushing the boundary, and sometimes drive themselves off the cliff.

This is why I don’t actively follow the news and react to it. Rather I choose to learn how to control my own financial situation and from there, I make financial decisions knowing that I can tolerate the risk that may or may not come.

Summary

I just want to congratulate the people who actually does something during the pandemic. You are already better than others who waits on the sideline. I always tell my friends that it does not matter if your first investment turns out to be a total disaster. The main thing is that we are still young and have the time to correct our mistakes, as long as we learn something out of it. However with these purchases in a sensitive time, careful considerations of personal finances should be carried out to ensure you are safe no matter what.

“The secret to happiness is freedom… And the secret to freedom is courage.” – Thucydides

By Tuan Nguyen

travel the world

Discussion: Adelaide trip part I

Going to Adelaide this Christmas opened my eyes to the whole new world. People here are different than Victorian, and the feelings are vastly distinctive.

Tl; dr;

  • Adelaide people seems to be a lot more relaxed comparing to other states. This can be an opportunity for us to penetrate the market.
  • The economy orbits the idea of being cheap and/or affordable.
  • Scenery is beautiful and there is good maintenance from the government bodies. However there are still spaces to improve.

Relaxation and no-pressure nature

I have had many conversations with both local and migrated people. There is a similarity in the way they describe how Adelaide people works. Mostly they are portrayed as relaxed and have decent amount of red-tapes. And it is best to contact people somewhere in the middle of the day.

With my personal experience when dealing with contacts in the South Australian state, it is not consistent. It may be because people I have been dealing with are business owners and they are more proactive than normal people. However I have experienced people who do not possess the ability to respond in a timely manner.

Affordable economy

A lot of places in Adelaide promote the idea of being affordable and cheap is good. I think it may reflect the purchasing behaviour of the people here, as well as mirroring the economy. Adelaide experiences a slow growth in recent years and this can be one of the explanations. Without greed, I find it hard to move forward by creating innovations and improvements.

Beautiful scenery

There are lots of natural places that awe me. I went to mainly beaches and waterfront in Adelaide area. And some of them are exceptionally beautiful, like Port Willunga beach, Sellicks beach, etc.

Port Willunga beach
Port Willunga beach
Sellicks beach

Some beaches are well-kept by government bodies, with theme parks and other tourist attractions. Some other beaches are wild and have less touch from human. It depends on what you want to see. However I think there are rooms for improvements in some beaches that have not-so-updated facilities.

Summary

While the above are my first impressions of the first few days arrived in Adelaide, I strongly believe that there are opportunities to do business here. Adelaide seems to be behind Melbourne at least 10 years, therefore I will take the chance to drive some changes into the “regional” city of Australia.

By Tuan Nguyen

property investment

Discussion – Real estate supply

During my readings of The Armchair guide to Property Investing, there is a good section discussing about the supply and demand of properties. Let’s have a summary of the supply side.

Tl; dr;

Supply is determined by the following factors:

  • Available land that can be rezoned/released in the future.
  • Possible subdivisions in the area.
  • Current property types, e.g. apartments, houses, units, etc.
  • How fast between approvals and new properties entering the market.

Future available lands

Just a caveat here, I am interested in residential properties, so this blog will only consider that aspect of real estate.

Also my timeline is as follows:

  • 0-6 years: speculative
  • 6-10 years: short term
  • 10-25 years: medium term
  • 25+ years: long term

Considering you are looking at a suburb, e.g. Elizabeth, SA 5112.

It is the CBD of City of Playford, and we can see that there is no more land to be released. Therefore new land supply is basically non-existent, and as an investor, this ticks the first box of restriction of supply.

Now let’s look at a nearby suburb in the same city council.

There are a lot of lands available in the east and south part of Craigmore, therefore the council can decide whether they should release the land in the future. Considering I am going for a long term buy and hold, i.e. 25+ years; this is a real possibility if I were to purchase in this suburb.

Possible subdivisions

This is a bit trickier, but can still be done by looking at the current and approved development applications for a certain suburb. For example, let’s look at the list of current applications in Elizabeth, SA.

The text can vary, but generally the description is something like “Land Division”. And my job is to determine of how many has been approved, how many has been applied for a given time; e.g. last 3 years, accumulated by year to determine the trend.

This information is public information. For Playford city council, we can pull application data from 1993, which is helpful when trying to determine trends. All councils should have the development applications tracking page, and you just need to look for it in their websites.

The more subdivisions are approved, and the speed of them being approved will determine how many new dwellings will enter the market in the near future. Forecast that number into the future using the past 3 years trend and you get a rough number of new dwellings in the next, say 10-20 years.

Current property types

If the suburb is dominated by detached houses, this will not be a problem in the next few years. However, in the longer term, there’s nothing to say about the council not easing the requirements to build semi-detached houses, townhouses or even apartments. Lucky for us, the plan of the city council normally goes for 15-20 years ahead. Therefore we have a rough idea of what do they want residential properties look like in the next decades.

If there are apartments being built, especially high rise apartments, then the supply is going to be massive, since there is no telling how many high rise can be done in the next 15-20 years, and each of them can accommodate many households. We will come back to this when we discuss the demands, but for now it will be a red flag when determining the supply of the area.

One of the easiest way to determine what types of properties are dominating the market is going there yourself. But if that is not possible, asking several real estate agents should do the trick.

Speed between approvals and actual properties enter the market

This is actually a bit easier to guess, normally a small build like 2-3 townhouses takes around 6-12 months to complete after being approved. However, it varies depending on the suburb. It is much easier to figure that out by checking the approved applications from 2 years ago and see if the address was on for sale or for lease. As mentioned above, the application history is available online, as well as the records for sale or for lease.

It will give us a good indications on the delay of stock, for example, if it takes a long time from the approved stage to the actual building entering the market, there will be more stress on the supply in the short term. Therefore the price can go up a bit more than it should be.

Summary

Supply is one crucial part of the supply-demand matrix. Understanding what supply comprises of will help me to determine roughly a good area to invest in. There are a lot of manual work involved but I think it will be worth it in the end.

“To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.” – Marilyn vos Savant

By Tuan Nguyen

Discussion – How FIRE benefits corporations?

FIRE movement is tremendously popular these days, especially among specialist workers. The idea of retiring early with an abundance of money is attractive to everyone. The concept is excellent and is real. People have reported retiring early and have enough income for them to live their lifestyles. However, is it all good and beautiful?

Tl; dr;

  • The mainstream way of FIRE is work – buy assets – reach a certain networth – retire happily.
  • FIRE gives back money to corporations and allow them to continue growing.

What is FIRE?

FIRE stands for Financial Independence, Retire Early. It is the concept that first came out from the book Your Money or Your Life. This concept then blossomed and became the most popular way of achieving an independent retirement known to millenials. The FIRE movement is very simple, considering that your annual salary, you should allocate most of that earnings to buy assets like Stock and/or real estate that makes you money; living below your means until your networth is enough for you to retire and live your dream lifestyle.

Most people advise to buy ETFs as the easiest way to buy assets. At the end of the day, most fund managers cannot beat the market index. So, why try to beat the market yourself, send the money to fund managers; while you can just buy into a broad market ETF and benefits from the rise and fall of the market?

How does it benefit corporations?

Assuming you work for a big company X.

You earn $500,000 per annum post tax because you are great at doing your job and ready to work long hours for the company.

You follow FIRE movement and decide to spend 80% of your take home money to buy ETF that track the ASX200, or S&P500 depending on where you live.

Now, let us take a more general look, and assume X is the ASX200. We can see that you put back $400,000 per annum back into X and allow it to grow artificially. The growth does not come from better productivity, but from people buying blindly into the company. In a way, it is a great “scam”, where corporations take your best productive years, paying you top dollar, all that for you to give back most of the money back to them to continue the cycle. It is truly fascinating.

The best thing is that, you benefits from it too. However, I imagine that you get 1, your employer will get at least 100. But everyone is happy right?

How to FIRE the right way?

I strongly believe that beside being good at your job, you need to be fluent in at least one form of investments. It maybe learning how to pick stocks, how to invest in real estate, how to get your way around commodities, gold and silver, etc.; or even starting a company. The possibility is endless.

The question is why people do not do this? And from my experience, it seems to be because they are scared. Why learn how to invest when I am already making $200,000 per year? Why leave my job to start a business? What if I lose everything?

What most people do not experience is that the other side of fear is calmness. Before you jump out of the airplane for skydiving, fear engulfs you. But once you jump, there is a sudden calmness in your mind, and then the joy of experiencing flight.

Summary

FIRE is a great way to achieve financial independence. I am also an advocate of the movement. However, my approach to it may not be the same with other people. I will achieve Financial Independence my own way, and I will share with you the journey over time.

“Only those who go where few have gone can see what few have seen.” ― Buddha Gautama

By Tuan Nguyen

Experience – Thinking into Results – Week 2

Following up on my week 1 post, this is my experience about knowing-doing gap when I am in the middle of week 2 materials of Thinking Into Results course.

Tl; dr;

Week 2 is all about learning what I can do and what I actually do. Being aware of them helps me to close the gap between what I know and what I do.

  • Most people know a lot but not doing anywhere near their knowledge level.
  • People do things they do not want to do, hence getting results they do not want to get.
  • Only by changing paradigms, you can change your behaviour, which will change your results.

What is the knowing-doing gap?

Bob Proctor introduces the idea of knowing-doing gap, which is the difference between how much a person know, i.e. his/her knowledge, and how much that person is doing. We learn a lot about different things in life, but how often do we actually do it?

For example, I know a lot about the theory of sales and marketing, but am I a good salesman? Far from it. This is my knowing-doing gap that I need to close. There are 60 trillions in US dollar per year that corporations spend on training their staff, helping people to know more. However the missing link here is that we need to help people to DO more.

Why people do what they do?

Imagine someone who needs to get in shape, they have just started dieting and exercise. Then they see their favourite cake. They know that it is not right to eat that cake, it will not help them achieving their goal of getting into a good shape. However most of the time we observe that they will eat the cake anyway.

So why do people know that doing something will harm them, but they do it anyway?

The answer lies in our subconscious mind. It is the way we are programmed to do. Imagine you have been eating excessively in the last 10 years, now suddenly you want to stop doing all that? How would your mind react to it? The subconscious mind resists change. It does not like doing new things. If the current way is safe, why doing something different?

Well, the answer here is that we need to implement a new programming into our subconscious mind, getting it to perceive another way as “safe”. Because only by changing ourselves, we can get different results.

What do I need to work on?

Firstly, I need to work on my concentration ability. I find myself easy to be distracted by mobile phones. So what do I imagine my life will be if I am able to concentrate?

  • I concentrate on the task at hand, and will keep going until it is done.
  • I only access my phone 2 times during work hour, 11am and 4pm.
  • I still have access to the phone to answer phone calls and text messages.
  • I turn off most notifications except phone calls and text messages.
  • I get more done during the day and be more productive.

Secondly, I want to work on my organizational skill. I am aware that I do not have the cleanest apartment in the world. So let’s do something about that.

  • I clean the dishes after cooking and eating.
  • I vacuum the apartment at least once a week.
  • I keep the desk organized with labeled items.
  • I throw away boxes that I no longer need.

Summary

This lesson help me figure out the knowing-doing gap: what are my undesirable results and how to address them. I can see the clarity in my actions now and will follow the new way that leads me to the result I want.

“Do everyday things in a new way to get the brain thinking in new ways.” – Jesse Itzler

By Tuan Nguyen

Experience – Thinking into Results – Week 1

As stated in my previous blog post, I start week 1 of Thinking Into Results program on Monday (31/08/2020). And it is harder than I thought. First lesson is setting a worthy goal, which turns out to be much challenging than expected.

Tl; dr;

  • Setting a clear vision of a goal involves how I feel about the outcome.
  • Being able to clearly “see” the goal proves to be challenging.

Setting a C type goal

3 different types of goals

According to Bob Proctor, there are 3 types of goals.

  • A type goal: something that you can do. For example, you bought a new car 5 years ago. Now you have a desire to purchase another new car. For this goal you already know how to do it. Therefore there is no personal growth attached to the outcome.
  • B type goal: something that you think you can do. For example, your salary is currently $50,000 pa. You set a goal to make $60,000 pa. But this is so small that you already map out steps to be able to achieve it. Negotiating salary, working harder, making yourself noticed by the manager, etc. The point is, you already think that you can do, therefore you have no motivation to do it after a while, and often end up not achieving it.
  • C type goal: something that you want. This does not involve you knowing how to achieve. The point is to clearly see the the target and direct your actions and emotions toward that goal. The path will be laid out along the way.

Vision a goal

The goal has to be in the fantasy realm. I need to use my imagination to “see” this goal. It is easy to say “I want to make 1 million a year in income.” It is much harder to imagine how my life will be when I reach there. The workshop exercises require me to describe how I envision what I want, down to minute details.

The objective is to push my vision down to the subconscious level, which I will learn how to do in future lessons. I will need to repeat the process of finding and defining goals for the next 2 weeks.

Dr. Jordan Peterson has a great view on why do we need to set goals in our lives. And I think it aligns with what I am studying at the moment.

Summary

Starting to know what I want, and envision them in details makes me feel like I have more control. Control over my life and my circumstances, I feel more powerful and can take on responsibilities for getting what I want, no matter the circumstances.

I will continue on this path and see how it turns out.

“First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination.” – Napoleon Hill

By Tuan Nguyen

Discussion – Pareto distribution

Recently I came across a lecture from Professor Jordan Peterson. In this lecture, he talks about Pareto distribution and comparing it with the Normal distribution. There are massive distinctions between these two and I think it is interesting to note down some of them.

Tl; dr;

  • Pareto distribution deals with creative domains, or human creativity. Where the majority of work is produced by a small number of people.
  • In a domain, the square root amount of people produces half of the product.
  • Given a randomized trading environment, the trading activity always end with one player holds all the money.

Pareto distribution

In contrast to the normal distribution, where most activities occurs in the norm, Pareto distribution argues that the most activities occurs around a very small set of units.

Galton board
Normal distribution visualized
pareto distribution
Credit: mode.com
Visualize the 80-20 rule with Pareto distribution

One thing that we may have heard before, 80% of the work is produced in 20% of the time. This is the most common example of the Pareto distribution. One thing to note is that this distribution works best in creativity domain, where things are not certain.

There is a formula, called Price’s law, is used to determine the amount of creative work. This formula is derived from Pareto distribution theory. The formula states that given X people working on a creativity project, square root of X people produce half of the progress, while others produce the remaining half.

For example, if 10 people are assigned to do a project, then 3 people will deliver half of the project, and 7 people deliver the other half. This does not make sense when I first read about the theory, but experimental results clarify the point. An amazing thing about this law is that if 10,000 people work on a project, we only need 100 people to deliver half of the project. It becomes ridiculous at a large scale.

Applying Pareto distribution to the Game of Money

With the same understanding of the distribution, and project it to how wealth are concentrated only in a few individuals. We can clearly see the Pareto Distribution at work.

Professor Peterson talks about an example, like Monopoly, we start with 4 players, and at the end, 1 player ends up with all the money and wins. And even if we start again and again, only 1 person is the winner. With Pareto distribution theory, in a randomized environment, and we apply randomized trading rules, the game always end with 1 player having all the money.

I did not believe it.

So, I decided to write a small web app to test the theory, what’s programming is for right?

To my surprise, it always end with one player holding all the money. Which player is not important, the important thing is that we know the end result will take a shape like that.

You can access the game here https://lightbringer1991.github.io/trading-game/

Summary

Knowing about Pareto distribution, I finally have an answer to the question: “Why can’t we distribute wealth evenly to everyone, would the society be better off that way?”. The simple answer to that, is, even if we do the distribution, over time all the wealth will concentrate to a small number of people anyway.

“The more you know, the more you realize you don’t know.” – Aristotle

By Tuan Nguyen

Experience – Thinking into Results – Prologue

Last week I decided the participate in a personal development course called Thinking into Results from Proctor Gallagher institute. Below is a recording of my activities after I signed up, but before starting the course.

Tl; dr;

  • Waking up earlier is not an easy thing, but it frees up a lot more time to work with.
  • Start thinking about my long term goals proves to be the hardest thing I have ever done.

Why start my day early?

early bird gets the worm

Throughout various books about success building and personal developments, there is one thing that resonates with me. “If you want to be like other successful people, you need to mimic what they are doing.”. It was repeated to me by the mentor and apparently one habit that the successful people I read about is they start their day much earlier than other people.

The mentor proposed waking up at 5am in the morning, however I have only managed to waking up at 6am for the last few days. Slowly but surely transitioning to a lesser goal of starting my day at 5am.

Thinking about long term goals

short term, long term street sign

Have I ever thought about what I wanted to become in the future? Maybe, but I did not have a vivid picture of the future me. And I still don’t. People take quite a bit of time to develop the image and that is why the first few weeks of the course I will learn how to do that.

I attempted to start building my ideal image and it turned out to be much harder than I expected. Surely imagining myself being a successful person is easy, but how to imagine what that persona (he) think, what he eats, how he treats people, what exactly his day is going to be like. That is a real challenge.

Summary

Starting to know the importance of growth is quite revealing for me. Personal development is a vague topic that is not discussed in households. Only by knowing that you need to improve yourself to make your life better, you start looking for answers. And I hope Thinking into Results will deliver that answer.

“You can have more than you’ve got because you can become more than you are.” – Jim Rohn

By Tuan Nguyen

property investment

Discussion – Do you NEED a home?

As someone who is familiar with migrations, I moved from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh city when I was little. Moving from Vietnam to Australia when I was 18, and moving from Ballarat to Melbourne 5 years later. I feel like I experienced a different way of living, in contrast to how our predecessors have been living.

Tl; dr;

  • We WANT a home and we NEED a place to live.
  • Sense of ownership and jealousy often clouds our judgement when it comes to purchasing our dream house.
  • There is nothing wrong renting for the whole life. It just needs more planning.

Housing is a basic need

According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, a place to live satisfies the safety needs, and some of the physiological needs.

Having a place to feel safe, to keep ourselves warm, to be able to rest is a must for any human.

Back in the days, we normally stay in the same community throughout our lives. We were born and raised in the same house, even live in the same house when we became adults and gets married. At the end, we probably died on the same bed that we slept as a kid.

With that context, it is no surprise that most people who experienced that lifestyle, including my parents, think that one needs to own his/her own house because it is an absolute necessity.

An alternative aspect

Let us take a look at some statistical facts.

Back in 2012, a social indicated that 43% of Australians moved house in the last 5 years. The number is a staggering indication of how much we move around these days. We do not stay in the same geography for a long time due to various reasons, such as changing life styles, kids, work opportunities, etc.

In the new working environment, the idea of job hopping is becoming the norm. People are encouraged to change employers every 3 to 4 years to increase competitiveness and enhance their skill set. Sometimes changing job means that you need to move to another area, and I do see people renting out their own home, move to a rental property to be close to their new workplace.

The question is, is owning our own house a necessity?

To think about an answer, we must take a step back and look at the reasons why we purchased our home.

  • Is it because our parents told us, “You need to have your own home!!”
  • Or it is because your friends all have their own home?
  • Is it because you feel like owning a piece of real estate satisfy something within you?

There may be other reasons, however the above 3 is what I feel when looking back at my previous home purchase. Those reasons are not about what I need, they are all from external factors. And the one thing that inspire me to purchase is just because I wanted the feeling of ownership.

Therefore, it is never about my needs to buy my own home to live in. It is more about what the society expects from you, what I want to achieve in life.

With that being said, there is nothing wrong in purchasing a house of your dream. However, you need to think about the WHY are you buying as the very first step. If there is no good reason to buy, it is ok to keep renting.

The renting hassles

I used to rent for over 3 years when I arrived in Australia, and have resumed renting for nearly a year now. What did I encounter?

  • I lost all bond because of a dodgy tenant who sublet the room to me.
  • Living in a house infested with mice and I had to arm the traps every day.
  • I lived in a cold room with no heater for an extended period of time. In Ballarat winter, you wouldn’t like it 🙂
  • I lived in a house that had a break-in.

It is fair to say that I have quite a bit of experience as a tenant. Most people fear the stories of renting, and fear the hassles of moving houses, of being kicked out by landlords.

Fortunately, in Australia, if landlords want tenants out, they need to have formal notice and give the tenant a reasonable amount of time to find another place. Rental is a heavily regulated topic, and most of the regulations actually favour tenants.

And the moving, it is much easier nowadays with removalist services. When I last moved, it took me like a week to pack, a weekend to move, and another week to unpack. Yes there were some work to do, but then again, don’t we do the same thing when we move home?

Summary

Owning our own home is not really a necessity, but it is more about what we want, and how do we fit into the society.

Always questioning the reason why you purchase a property, and you will be more aware of your goal.

“We live in this bubble of ignorance. Most people know nothing about history, or the historical context of the traditions they still follow today. People do things without knowing why they’re doing them.” – Oliver Markus Malloy, Inside The Mind of an Introvert

By Tuan Nguyen

Discussion – Superannuation contribution

Recently I have been in discussions about superannuation contributions. And I think some information needs to be spread out to help you in building a stable retirement.

Tl; dr;

  • Employer must contribute super for their employees, minimum of 9.5% of the gross salary per annum.
  • The amount of contribution is taxed inside super account at 15%.
  • You can voluntarily contribute more money into super and take advantage of the low tax break, however it will only be at maximum of $25,000 per annum, including the amount contributed from employer.
  • You can contribute to previous financial years, starting from FY 2019.
  • There are ways to access super to buy assets before reaching 65, mainly via SMSF.

What is super?

superannuation jar
Source: sbs.com.au

Superannuation, or Super in short, is the money put aside by the employer for you to take care of you during your retirement.

The required amount that the employer is required to contribute equals to 9.5% of your ordinary timed earnings per annum, at the minimum.

You cannot access the money inside super account until you are 65 and above, or under certain circumstances.

Why should I contribute more into super?

Since I cannot access it until I am 65, why should I contribute my hard earned money now instead of taking it to buy some investments now?

First off, you are spending money to fund your future retirement, ensuring that you have a better future.

Secondly, most super accounts have investment settings built in, and it is highly encouraged that a young individual as I am, should put all super money into high growth investments. Since I cannot pull the money out in another 30-40 years, it is reasonable that I will see some substantial return thank to compounding effect.

Thirdly, you save tax money when putting more into super.

super contribution comparison

Suppose that the tax is flat out 32.5% for simple calculation. In the case of progressive tax rate, the difference may be lower. But generally, you still save some tax money and increase your net worth better. The tax charged inside super is a flat 15%, and it is substantially lower than our tax bracket. Of course if your tax rate is smaller, this will not make sense.

How do I use my super money before retirement?

The most common way to “access” your super money before retirement is to transfer all of them into a Self-managed Super Fund (SMSF). You will be in charge of this super fund, and therefore has the right to control the money. However there are quite a lot of restrictions that come with the structure. It is best to consult with a financial advisor or an accountant to know more.

Another uncommon way is that some Superannuation company, e.g. AustralianSuper, has an investment product called Member Direct. You can subscribe to this product, and basically it allows you to buy certain shares of your choice within the scope of super. There are also some limitation of doing it this way, and you can only purchase shares.

What I am doing?

It may be best if I try to top up the maximum amount of contribution each year, and later on I may pull them out into an SMSF to purchase a property.

Let’s say I top up maximum of $25,000 per year, after 10 years I theoretically have $250,000 inside super. During that time, if the share market goes the way it has been going in the last 100 years, my investments will compound about 7% per year, leading to the final figure of around $410,829. With this figure, I should be able to purchase a property to sit inside my own SMSF and net me some healthy return.

Summary

There are a lot of interesting things when it comes to Superannuation. I just listed the most common ways to deal with it here. It is crucial to consult professionals who can advise you on the matter. However, it is good to know that there are other solutions out there, all you need to do is ask.

By Tuan Nguyen