Having trouble sleeping?

Having trouble sleeping?

I was coaching a client recently who had been reprimanded by their manager for an emotional outburst at a leadership team meeting.  Not just a mild emotional outburst but one that involved him throwing a coffee cup across a boardroom table at a peer who just wouldn’t let up.  And yes, the coffee cup was full and still pretty hot!  A potential career-limiting move, not to mention a safety risk.

It turns out that my client hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in weeks, and the pressure he was under at work had been unrelenting for several months. ‘If I get 4 hours a night (of sleep) I am lucky” he lamented.  Even my partner has moved to our spare room because they cannot take the tossing and turning during the night.

Lack of sleep raises our stress levels, and high-stress levels affect our sleep.  We know from research that 75% of insomnia is caused by stress and that a night of poor sleep can make us cranky the next day. Now, this doesn’t mean that we start throwing coffee cups around when we are tired.  However, if we are exhausted and energy depleted due to lack of sleep, the chances are that we are more emotionally labile, less patient and willing to compromise and more likely to react to situations versus respond thoughtfully and deliberately.

Getting quality sleep regularly can help improve all sorts of issues, from our mood to our ability to focus.  If you are one of those “I only need 3-4 hours of sleep a night thank you very much” then it would be worth highlighting what a good night’s sleep can do for us.  And when we talk about a good night’s sleep, sleep studies show that 8-9 hours of sleep is ideal regardless of our adult age.  Yes, isn’t that nirvana you may be thinking; however, it is worth looking at why.

Razer-sharp Brain

Have you ever found it difficult to concentrate or recall information after a lousy night’s sleep? That’s because sleep plays a big part in both learning and memory. Without enough sleep, it’s tough to focus and take in new information. Our brain also doesn’t have enough time to properly store memories so we can pull them up later.  Sleep lets our brain catch up, so we’re ready for what’s next.

Mood Stability

Our brain processes emotions while we sleep. When we cut our sleep short, we tend to have more negative emotional reactions and fewer positive ones.  Long term sleep deprivation has also been linked to mood disorders. A large study showed that when we have insomnia, we are five times more likely to develop depression.  Our odds of developing anxiety and panic disorders are also higher.  One of the first questions a doctor should ask when a person comes to them because they are feeling down is ‘How are you sleeping?”

Happy Heart

Sleep allows our blood pressure to go down, which in turn gives our heart and blood vessels a ‘rest.’ The less we sleep, the less cardiovascular rest we get during a 24-hour cycle.  This is particularly significant if we already have a higher than normal blood pressure because what we know is that high blood pressure leads to heart disease and stroke. The message is clear – short-term downtime can have long-term payoffs.

Workout Effectiveness

Sleep enables our bodies to repair muscle and replenish our energy banks.  It goes without saying that low energy and poor muscle repair and recovery will impact our workouts and the benefit we gain from exercise. Lack of sleep also saps our motivation to exercise, and we find it a harder mental and physical challenge to get to the finishing line.  Not to mention that our reaction time is slower. Resting properly sets us up for our best performance.

Blood Sugar Stability

During the deep, slow-wave part of our sleep cycle, the amount of glucose in our blood drops. If we do not spend enough time in this stage of sleep, it means that we don’t get that break to reset.  It is like turning the volume up on our car radio and leaving it up.  As a result, our bodies have a harder time responding to our cells’ need for sugar and managing our blood sugar levels.  Allowing ourselves to reach and remain in this deep sleep phase, reduces our chances of developing diabetes in adulthood.

Fighting Germs

Insomnia changes the way our immune cells identify and destroy bacteria and viruses in our body.  They may not attack as quickly, and we could get sick more often. Have you ever wondered why you can’t get rid of that cold that has been hanging around for weeks instead of the standard 3-4 days? It could be your sleep.

So, what can I do about it you may ask?  Enough of the ‘why sleep is important’ and tell me more about the how.  The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following tips on how to get a good night’s sleep.

  1. Have a sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including on weekends. This effectively regulates your body’s clock and could help you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night.
  1. Have a relaxing bedtime routine. Try activities that are relaxing before bedtime. Put the TV, your laptop and mobile phone off, ideally an hour before you go to bed.  Turn the lights down so that your brain gets the message that it is heading to bed and can start producing melatonin, the hormone needed for sleep.
  1. Avoid naps during the day (especially the afternoon) if you have trouble sleeping at night. Many of us may take a power nap to help us get through the day, however, if you are not sleeping well at night eliminating these short catnaps may help.
  1. Daily exercise. An exercise that gets your heart rate up is the best; however, even light exercise is better than none.  Walking, jogging, cycling can be done at any time of the day, so make some time to include exercise in your weekly routine.
  1. Bedroom bliss. Have a look at your bedroom to determine if you have a ‘sleep-inducing’ environment.  Do you have a comfortable mattress because we know that the lifetime of an average good quality mattress is 8-9 years?  What is the temperature in your room, as an ideal temperature for sleep is 21 degrees Celsius?  Is your room too light at night?  Perhaps black-out curtains or eye shades may help as the darker the room, the more your brain will switch to sleep. Finally, is your partner noisy?  A big snorer?  Or is their white noise such as humidifiers, fans, “white noise” machines.  Using earplugs is an option.
  1. Alcohol, cigarettes, coffee and heavy meals in the evening. We know that all four can disrupt sleep.  Try to avoid eating large meals for 2-3 hours before bedtime.  Spicy and big meals can also cause indigestion which can make it hard to sleep.  Ever tossed and turned at night after that spicy Indian curry?  If you are still hungry, try a light snack 45 minutes before you go to bed.
  1. Winding down is underrated. Because your body needs to switch into sleep mode, try and focus on calming activities at least an hour before you go to bed. Don’t take your laptop to bed as the blue light causes the brain to think it is daytime and not sleep time. The same goes for that phone of yours. Don’t have it next to your bed and charge it outside of the bedroom.  This will make it harder for you to lean over and grab it if you find you are struggling to get to sleep..
  1. Sleep and sex. Use your bed only for rest and sex to strengthen the association between bed and sleep.  This is the reason sleep experts instruct parents not to allow their children to play in bed, because the brain then associates bed with play, and not sleep only. If we regularly do work on our laptop while in bed our brain thinks bed is for work.

And if you are still having trouble sleeping, no matter what you try, chat to your doctor who will be able to assess if there is anything else causing your sleep issues, and perhaps a referral to a sleep specialist may be in order.

In closing, I wanted to look to the Irish and this old proverb …

“A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book”.

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Retirement on your mind?

Retirement on your mind?

As you saw in our previous month’s client video with Steve Fairall, he’s been retired for 2 years and it looks pretty good! Steve says, “there was a stage when we had 4 young kids, we wanted to provide them with a good life in Sydney, help them grow and get well educated whilst also setting ourselves up for the future.”

But there’s a lot of work and strategy that goes into a financially effective retirement.

Let me explain,

As you would know if you meet certain requirements you can add up to $25,000 per year into your superannuation fund as a concessional contribution and up to $100,000 can be added as a non-concessional contribution each year. 1

During the accumulation phase of your superannuation, contributing to your fund can ensure that you will have ample funds held tax effectively during your pension phase. Most people think after you are 65 years old and no longer working that you are unable to make voluntary contributions. However, this is where the strategy comes into play.

It is called the “downsizer contribution”, put simply if you are aged 65 or older and you have owned your principal place of residence for at least 10 years you may be eligible. This means you can make a tax-free contribution into your super of $300,000 and as a couple you can contribute $600,000 irrespective of having a total superannuation balance in excess $1.6 million.

Prime Wealth’s Senior Advisor Angus Rodgers says, “Where it applies, this is an awesome strategy to ensure retirement funds are maximised and invested tax-effectively.”

Still confused or want to know more about this strategy, the tax and social security implications talk to our advisors today on (02) 9415 1511 or email us.

1 This contribution will be considered at 30 June of the financial year in which the contribution is made, when the total superannuation balance is recalculated.

This strategy is not for everyone and has been provided as general information only and prepared without taking into account your financial position, objectives, and needs. You should consider its appropriateness and seek financial advice before making any financial decisions.

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How the ‘gig economy’ has changed work and the economy.

How the ‘gig economy’ has changed work and the economy.

Firstly, you’re probably wondering what this whole “gig economy” means.  It’s actually a buzz phrase, first coined at the height of the financial crisis when a number of workers started ‘gigging’ and working many casual jobs to stay afloat financially. Today, it is more recognised with people freelancing who are seeking more flexible and diversified work and working hours especially within the rapidly growing digital platforms.   These platforms allow freelancers to directly connect with potential employers to find employment.  Hence the term ‘gig workers”.  Great examples of these digital platforms are companies such as Uber, Airtasker and Deliveroo who are changing  traditional markets.

With this growing trend legislation also needs to be updated to reflect these abovementioned changes and it has, but it has been slow. Internationally, we have seen disagreement over gig workers classifications as either ‘employees’ or ‘independent contractors’. The most recent ruling by Australia’s Fair Work Ombudsman in June 2019 found Uber drivers to be independent contractors because there is not “an obligation for an employee to perform work when it is demanded by the employer”, as reported by Stuart Ridley.

A survey commissioned by the Victorian government published in June 2019, found 7.1% of Australians reportedly used a digital platform such as Airtasker (34.8%), Uber (22.7%), Freelancer (11.8%), Uber Eats (10.8%), Deliveroo (8.2%) for work. This report further found 64.8% of gig economy workers to access work via one platform opposed to 35.2% who accessed work through more than one platform and 11.4% who are registered on four or more platforms.

This however has forced changed to be made in the definition of work reviewing the definition of ‘casual’ work to ensure legislation applies to capture gig workers under workplace health and safety, improve superannuation rights and ensure protection under Australia’s industrial relations system. Simona Scattagalia Cartago says, “Getting a real measure of this global phenomenon is not easy, especially when some may underestimate its true size by considering only gig work as a primary source of income. In the US, more than 35% of the workforce seems to be participating in the gig economy, and that number is expected to jump to 43% by 2020.”

This however is also causing issues regarding superannuation. The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) noted almost a quarter of self-employed people to have no super and less likely to meet the $450 per month earning threshold with any one employer as recorded in February 2018. It has been suggested a new ‘dependant contractor’ category to be made, ditching the earning threshold.

Further taxation issues have arisen from this new gig economy with the Australian Tax Office (ATO) updating guidelines for people earning income via digital platforms to also include ride sharing, short-term property or room rentals or skills on demand, as changed in June 2019. The ATO warn they will be matching data earnings from such above-mentioned platforms.

If you want to know more about how to navigate through these gig economy changes, please get in touch with the team via email or phone us 02 9415 1511. Speak soon!

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Important changes to land tax and stamp duty surcharges.

Important changes to land tax and stamp duty surcharges.

The NSW Government has recently proposed new laws to target discretionary trusts that currently own or intend to own NSW property, either directly or indirectly via other entities (i.e. unit trusts, companies and partnerships, subject to some exclusions).  The new laws will mean that discretionary trusts may be treated as ‘foreign persons’ with the following consequences:

  • A land tax surcharge of 2% (in addition to the normal land tax); and
  • A stamp duty surcharge of 8% (in addition to the normal stamp payable on NSW property acquisitions).

To prevent this from happening, your trust deed must be amended so that it includes provisions that specifically exclude foreign persons as trust beneficiaries.  If your trust already holds NSW property and has paid either of the above surcharges, then you only have until 31 December 2019 to amend the trust deed to obtain a refund on surcharges paid.

Please contact our office to discuss the matter further.

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Don’t let your Christmas generosity cause unwanted tax for your business

Don’t let your Christmas generosity cause unwanted tax for your business

When celebrating Christmas with your staff in the form of Christmas parties or gifts, be sure to keep accurate record as certain scenarios may attract Fringe Benefit Tax (FBT). Since 1986, the FBT system has existed in order to tax on things on the fringe, as the name suggests or outside of your salary package.

There is no separate FBT for the Festive Season however you may encounter several different circumstances when providing these events to your staff. This could also include fringe benefits provided by you to past and future employees and their associates (spouses and children), an associate or those under an arrangement with a third part to any current employees.

Implications for taxpaying body

If you are not a tax-exempt organisation and do not use the 50-50 split method for meal entertainment, the following scenarios may help you determine whether there are FBT implications arising from a Christmas party;

Implications for tax-exempt body

If you are a tax-exempted organisation the following situations may be relevant in determining the possible FBT implications arising from a Christmas party.

Understanding the Fringe Benefits Tax implications can be confusing and for a merrier Christmas your awareness of FBT and having accurate record keeping is important. Before planning your Christmas party, staff and client gifts please call us for advice.

If you any questions and what to know more please get in touch 02 9515 1511 or email us reception@primeadvisory.com.au.

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