How Does the 2018 Federal Budget Affect You and Your Family?

If you sat down at 7:30 last night to watch the 2018 Federal Budget Announcement, you may have found yourself a little overwhelmed. With so many figures and areas of taxation to get your head around, we have sat down, dissected and summarised the answers to the question you may be asking – “What’s in it for me (and my family)?”Personal income tax
The Treasurer announced plans for a three-step, seven-year plan:
Step One: Effective immediate, low and middle income earners are to benefit from tax savings of up to $530 per person (or $1,060 per couple).
Step Two: From 1 July this year, the threshold of the 32.5% tax bracket will increase from $87,000 to $90,000, then will again increase in July 2022 from $90,000 to $120,000.
Step Three: From 2024-25, there will be just two income tax brackets for people earning over $41,000 per year: 32.5% for incomes between $41,001 and $200,000, and 45% for incomes exceeding $200,000.
The Medicare levy will remain at 2%.

Your superannuation
Have you ever considered changing your super fund, but found it cost-prohibitive because of high exit fees? Great news in this years budget- super funds will soon be banned from charging exit fees. But you’ll need to wait until 1 July 2019 to make your move.Other changes to superannuation include:The balance-eroding practice of automatically adding life insurance to a superannuation policy, no matter what the age of the person, will end. (To date, super members under the age of 25 pay nearly $200 million a year in life insurance fees through superannuation). Those under 25 are now required to ‘opt in’ to buying life insurance.Companies can no longer automatically deduct life insurance cover for all funds where no contributions have been made for 13 months.


According to the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia, more than 60% of Australians have multiple super funds. So, the ATO will turn their eye to inactive super accounts and merge them with their owners’ active funds.
Self-managed super funds (SMSFs) can now have 6 members, up from 4.
SMSFs with a history of good record keeping will be rewarded by reducing annual audits to 3 yearly audits.
People over 65 can put up to $300,000 into super from the proceeds of selling their home.
First home buyers who have made super contributions under the First Home Super Saver Scheme can access their money for eligible property purchases.

Education
Young people living in rural and remote communities will find it easier to get access to Youth Allowance payments while they are studying away from home (eligibility for these payments is based on parental income).Traineeships
The Federal Government will match funding with the states and territories to provide traineeships and apprenticeships for “high-demand” areas over four years. However, there is one caveat: each of the states and territories needed to sign up for this to go ahead.Ageing Australia
There are a number of changes in this years budget to benefit older Australians. They include:
$1.6 billion over four years has been set aside so 14,000 seniors can stay in their homes rather than go into a nursing home.
$20 million for mental health nurses to support older people still living at home (the Government notes that men over 85 have the highest risk of suicide of all age groups).
$40 million has been budgeted for urgent building and maintenance work for aged care facilities in regional and remote areas.
$33 million has been set aside to address a chronic shortage of palliative care in nursing homes.
A one-year exemption from the ‘work test’ will apply to recent retirees who have less than $300,000 in total super savings.
The Pension Loans Scheme will be available to all Australians over Age Pension age and the maximum payments will increase to 150% of the full Age Pension.
Pension Work Bonus increases to $7,800 p.a. from $6,000.
Finally, the Government has pledged to make the aged-care system easier for families to navigate, simplifying forms and providing relevant online educational facilities.

Access to more affordable medicine: Granted, you will need to wait years for this, but it’s good to know the government will spend $302 million over four years to improve your access to generic and less expensive medicine.Your health
There are plans to allocate $130 billion for public hospitals over five years. The government also proposed a crack down on unnecessary diagnostic tests.Access to your own data. The government announced the establishment of a “consumer data right”. This will allow you to take control of your online personal data and safely share it with credible service providers, starting with the banking, energy and telecommunications sectors.Small business
No budget would be complete without something for small businesses. If you run your own business, the current deduction on spending on eligible assets of up to $20,000 has been extended to July 2019. Another win: streamlining of GST reporting which, in turn, will save money – a welcome change for around 2.7 million small businesses.Craft Beer Brewers. There are around 350 craft brewers in Australia, so chances are you aren’t one of them. However, most consider the tax changes that put small craft beer brewers at a disadvantage to be a victory for common sense. Beer sold in kegs larger than 48 litres have been taxed at a lower rate than smaller kegs, which in effect has favoured large producers. The change brings the lower tax level down to beer sold in kegs larger than the 8-litre size.


Finally
While not all of these changes are likely to affect you personally, you might give them your ‘tick’ of approval:
Multinational companies now to be policed and stopped from shifting profits to lower-taxing countries (they do this by loading up local operations with debt).
Online hotel booking websites based outside of Australia will now be taxed at the same rate as Australian businesses, ending the inequality that currently occurs between international and local booking providers.
Companies that are currently ‘pushing the boundaries’ and taking advantage of the research and development tax incentive scheme will be stopped. This will ensure funding goes to genuinely innovative spending.
A $1.3 billion plan to support Australia as a ‘global leader’ in medical technology, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.
The ATO will turn an eye to the ‘Black Market Economy”, with more audits, ‘mobile strike teams’ and a ‘Black Economy Hotline’ for the public to report suspicious activity of businesses attempting to avoid paying tax.

Budget Questions?
If you have any questions, your mortgage broker is always ready to help.

Some of the Best Cooking Books That Need to Be in Your Kitchen

Having just graduated from university, cooking books have a firm place on my kitchen shelf. From disastrous attempts at making barely edible dishes, my time as a student has exposed me to many cooking books. Here are the top ten of the best cooking books that are invaluable to any wannabe Masterchefs out there.

Ready… Steady… Cook!

10. Delia’s Complete Cookery Course by Delia Smith

This mammoth cookery book whips in at number 10. Delia Smith is very much the David Beckham of the cooking world – an institution. Her Complete Cookery Course does exactly what it says on the tin. It provides wannabe chefs with a full, comprehensive guide to creating the best dishes. With fundamental must know recipes like apple pie and yorkshire puddings, Delia shows she is one of the masters. With mouth-watering pictures acting as a rough guide this book is a god send for beginner chefs. No doubt a staple on your mother’s shelf, this book is perfect as a starting point in the basics of pastry making, cake baking and roast making. A genuine triumph in the cookery book world.

9. The New Curry Bible by Pat Chapman

Chapman’s bible does not follow the conventional rules of cookery books, but is a diamond in the rough for curry fanatics out there and the reason it has made this best cooking books list. The New Curry Bible does not simply show you the recipes but teaches you the history of curry making. It is not a book to be bought for people who want a quick fix curry. If you are one of those people I suggest you save yourself time and money and just buy a ready meal. However, if you are interested in the exquisite nature of curries, then this book teaches you all you need to know. Like any specialist cook book, it is a little disheartening at first to encounter all of the strange herbs and spices that you know you don’t own, but the rewards from having knowledge of these is irreplaceable. Although it may take you a while to get to grips with the fine art of balancing the spices, you will most certainly become famous amongst friends and family for the talent you will take from this beautiful book.

8. Rick Stein’s Taste of the Sea: 150 Fabulous Recipes for Every Occasion

As a massive lover of seafood, this book has literally been my magna carta. Rick Stein takes you on a journey around the coast and teaches you to really appreciate fish in all its scaly glory. From skinning methods to filleting, this book teaches you how to prepare and cook fish to perfection. Stein writes in a clear and simple fashion and it is impossible to resist his infectious passion. With a variety of dishes that cater for absolutely every occasion, this book is a must have for beginners and experienced fish mongers alike. The instructions are not condescending or set in stone, and leave freedom for experimentation. A truly great book by a truly great chef and teacher.

7. Simple Chinese Cooking by Kylie Kwong

Following the theme of specialist cooking books, Simple Chinese Cooking is an absolute must have for anyone wanting to start a love affair with chinese cooking. Filled with beautiful photography, this book coaches you through each dish with clear and crisp step-by-step instructions. Usually when faced with a specific cook book, there seems a never-ending list of ingredients that appear to exist in outer space, but this book has essentials that can be bought and found easily in local grocery stores. Not only is this book a great guide, but it is also incredibly exciting as each week you can watch yourself develop and gain confidence with once seemingly difficult dishes. From steamed cod to sweet and sour pork, Kwong’s recipes will have you burning all your chinese takeaway menus from the get go.

6. Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals by Jamie Oliver

There can be no such thing as a best cooking books list without Mr Oliver, of course. One of the things I love most about almost all of Jamie Oliver’s cook books are their beautiful and impeccable presentation. They are not endless pages of lines and lines of writing but are instead filled with bright, colourful and delectable pictures, as well as no- nonsense recipes. In his 30 Minute Meals Jaime shows you that once and for all cooking does not have to be a stressful and laborious affair. Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals is amazing for working people for whom time is money, and of course students who wish to spend minimum amount of time cooking and maximum amount of time… studying. Not only is it wonderfully organised with a designated section for starters, mains and desserts, but there are numerous vegetarian recipes scattered inside, making this book literally for every type of chef.

5. The Best Recipes in the World by Mark Bittman

After his debut cook book How to Cook Everything became an international sensation, Bittman is back to teach you it is easier than you thought to cook recipes from all around the world. With no unnecessary embellishments Bittman gently leads you on a culinary round the world trip that will leave your taste buds in a state of euphoria. The best aspect of Mark Bittman’s The Best Recipes In The World whilst you may never get round to cooking everything inside, the dishes you do make will leave you feeling inspired to take dishes you already cook and turn them on their head. Although it can be overwhelming to face so many recipes in one book, I urge you to add this to your collection. It is timeless and will only help to increase your knowledge of food.

4. Gordon Ramsay’s Secrets by Gordon Ramsay

In this incredible and not too badly priced book, Gordon Ramsay lets you in on a few secrets that have made him the world-renowned chef that we have all come to love. With a huge collection of recipes from poultry to fish and desserts to soups, this cookbook lets you in on inside info that will have friends and family thinking you are a bona-fide kitchen guru. The recipes are simple and effective and Ramsay has even added flourishes of his own, such as useful tips on presenting dishes. If you really have a passion for cooking or would love to learn more, this is the book that teaches you not just to cook but how to become a chef. These tips help to make cooking a truly enjoyable experience and will boost your confidence to be adventurous not only in cooking but also in eating as well.

3. The Complete Book of Sushi by Hideo Dekura

As a self-confessed sushi addict this book is incredible – the pages are almost edible. It combines the modern with the traditional and allows you to get to grips with this difficult Japanese style of cooking. Although not to everyone’s taste, this book teaches you the secrets behind making that difficult sticky rice and how to present your sushi in wonderful ways. The most interesting thing about Dekura’s book is they way it advances from simple to expert. This allows you to move gradually at your own pace and also sets little targets within the book. Whilst there are other books on the market such as Yo Sushi’s, it is Dekura’s book that really stands out of the crowd. With gorgeous photography it inspires with a mere flick of the page, and unlike its contemporaries has clear and simple instructions. A must have for any sushi fan and it also makes a great present.

2. Wahaca – Mexican Food At Home by Thomasina Miers

This book comes in at number two of this best cooking books top ten and is a must have for any frequent Wahaca customer. It was only recently published and plunges you straight into the vibrant and tasty world of Mexican street food. One thing that did surprise me was the breakfast section, and I have to admit I have been thoroughly converted to a mexican way of eating in the morning. Full of beautiful pictures and written in an accessible and friendly way, this book does exactly what the title states and brings Mexican food straight into your kitchen. Miers has clearly done the research required for such an exquisite book, and the information about mexican chillies is invaluable. An excellent book for cooking meals for friends and a great equivalent to BBQ parties.

1.Jaime does… by Jaime Oliver

In at number one is Jaime does. In this book Jaime travels through foodie hotspots such as Spain, France and Morocco in order to find innovative recipes. The book is beautifully presented (like all of Jaime’s books) and has wonderful pictures of his travels alongside the amazing pictures of his food. Each country has an introductory paragraph that explains the culture and food he came into contact with, and then in very simple language and an ever friendly tone, Jaime guides you through a range of dishes. From light bites such as patatas bravas to the more complex dishes like the steak tartare, Jaime’s tone never condescends you as the amateur chef. This book not only provides great enjoyment as a teaching tool but is also nice to flip through every now and again to behold the location shots of his food journey. Overall a very deserving winner of this Best Cooking Books list. Absolutely delicious!

This is by no means the only ten cook books I think you should own. There are many other brilliant cookbooks out there for beginners such as The Student Cookbook by Sophie Grigson. This is superb for amateur chefs who simply do not have the time to cook elaborate meals every day and are after recipes for both real cooking and convenience cooking. Then for more adventurous chefs who are willing to getinventive and scientific in the kitchen, there is Heston Bluementhal’s brilliant book The Fat Duck Cookbook, which combines vivid illustrations and wacky recipes for a truly great cooking experience. Overall, the ten books that compose this best cooking books list all offer friendly, easy to follow guidance which enables you to not only enjoy them as books, but also enjoy them as learning tools that will one day make you the king of the kitchen.

Bon appetit ladies and gents.

E-Books: Value and Price

For the last several years, the debate has raged over e-book pricing. What is the best price? What is the customer willing to pay? What should the government and courts do to monitor the situation? It can all be confusing and put authors into a tailspin.

While the courts, online retailers, and large publishing companies continue to argue and battle it out, what is the independent author supposed to do? No one has all the answers, but some common sense, a little experimenting with prices, and some knowledge of the industry can help you determine an appropriate price for your e-book. Remember, there is no perfect price for every book; what is a good price for one book may not be the right price for another.

Here are some questions to consider when determining the price for your e-book:

What is the value of your book?

You need to determine your book’s value before you set the price. Did you write a short erotic novel to compete with the other one million out there that you spent maybe a month or less writing? Then its value is probably fairly low because it may not be in great demand. Are you writing a specialized thesis on a topic that has never had a book published on it before-then the value may be very high, although your reading audience may be small. Did you spend ten years writing and researching your book, or did you write it in a week? Can your readers easily get the information in your book elsewhere?

I once told an author her one hundred page history book was overpriced. She replied, “What do you think my book is worth when I spent five years writing and working on it?” Obviously, she perceived her book’s value as high, but her readers, seeing a slim volume that won’t take long to read, may not see it as so valuable. Consider also the value of your reader’s time. Will your reader think it worthwhile to pay $9.99 for something that takes an hour to read? Perhaps time is more valuable than money to your reader so he won’t want to pay $9.99 for what he may perceive as ten hours of work reading your book but he would pay $2.99.

If you insist your book’s value warrants a higher price, you could be right, but you will need to convince your reader of that value through your marketing efforts.

What is the most and least you can charge for your e-book?

Never should you price your e-book over $9.99. While a few major publishers can get away with higher prices for best-selling authors, $9.99 is the limit for most of us because Amazon decided that $9.99 was the cut off for paying out higher royalties. Books priced between $2.99 and $9.99 will receive 70 percent royalties from Amazon, while those over will receive a lower royalty of 35 percent, meaning your $15.00 book will earn you only about $5.00 as opposed to $7.00 for your $9.99 priced book. I won’t speak to every e-book retailer’s pricing model here; you’ll want to look at them individually, but $9.99 is definitely the highest you should go.

The advantage to pricing high is more money per book, but it also means you will likely sell less books. That said, lower priced books might be seen as of less value-being from unknown authors, poorly written, or simply short. To me, anything priced under $2.99 I automatically think must be of lesser quality and that even the author doesn’t perceive its value as high.

If you’re an established author, a middle price of $3.00-$6.99 is reasonable for an e-book and probably will not dissuade most readers from buying your book. Only if you have a book the reader will perceive as having high value should you price it in the $7.00-$9.99 range. A book in that price range should have the value of information worth buying, or you should be a well-established author with a large following-meaning thousands of readers.

How many books do you want to sell?

If you price your book at $0.99, you’ll need to sell ten e-books to equal if you had priced it at $9.99. Possibly, the lower price will make your book attractive enough that you can sell ten times as many books, as if you had left the price at $9.99. If you can sell ten books at $0.99, wouldn’t you be better off because now you have ten readers more likely to read your future books so you can price those higher?

What does the competition charge?

Look up other books in your genre. If you’re a new romance author, what are other new romance authors charging? If you’re writing your third business book and your first one became recognized in the industry, you can probably afford to price your business e-book higher. Price at or slightly lower than the competition for books in the same genre or similar to yours. If a reader sees two books about Lady Jane Grey, and yours is a dollar lower, unless the other book appears to have more information, yours is the one likely to be bought.

Where are your readers buying their books?

While I doubt many of the e-book sellers out there are spending time comparing what you’re selling your e-book for at various online stores, you probably want to be fair in charging the same price across the board. That said, just because your book is at Amazon doesn’t mean that’s where your readers are going to buy it, so make sure you sell it at many sites-Barnes & Noble, Kobo (the Canadian e-book seller), and Google Play (where people with Android phones and tablets are buying). Are you selling to the twenty-year old who is likely to buy at Google Play or are you selling to senior citizens who might prefer to buy at Amazon, which is more familiar to them? Make sure your book is at all places and then price accordingly. Your twenty-year old is a college student with little money so $0.99 is a better price for him, but then most e-book sellers will want you to sell for the same price at all their stores.

Do you have more than one book, especially a series?

If you have more than one book, consider pricing one lower. If you’ve written a series, you might want to give away or price low the first book in the series to sell it. Then if you hook readers with it, they will want to read the rest of the series. If you’ve written multiple books but not a series, I recommend pricing the book you and other readers consider your very best book as the lowest because after all, you want your very best to be what people first experience so you give the best impression and win them over as future readers.

Could you serialize your book, or sell it in individual chapters?

Serialized books-especially novels-have been around for centuries, and recently, more and more authors have started to sell their books as chapters or short installments. If you’ve written a short book-up to fifty pages or so-and it works as a stand-alone piece, price it low, such as at $1.99, and then continue the series at the same price or slightly higher. The reader will be more likely to buy four books at that lower price, if he likes the first one, than buy one book for $7.96 when he isn’t sure he’ll like it, and you’ll still make $7.96 if he ends up buying all four.

How good are you at marketing your book?

Marketing is the bottom line. Whether you price high or low, just because you’ve written a book and made it an e-book doesn’t mean anyone is going to read it. Yes, someone might stumble upon it at an online bookstore and buy it, but if you make a true effort to market it, you’re going to sell more books. If you are good at marketing, you will be able to promote your book as having value and being entertaining, and then perhaps you can price it higher because of that perceived value and higher interest. If you’re not going to spend much time marketing, then price low so the lower prices can help to compensate for your lack of marketing efforts.

Don’t Be Left Behind

No hard rules exist for e-book pricing. Every author needs to determine what works best for his or her individual situation. Try pricing high, and if your books don’t sell, try pricing lower. Be aware of trends or reasons why your e-book might be more popular one month than another-if you’re writing about the American Revolution, you might sell more e-books in June and July around Independence Day than you will in February-so maybe you lower or raise the price accordingly at such times. Develop a strategy, stick with it for a few months, then reassess and readjust your prices accordingly. Whatever you do, remember that e-book sales are now starting to outpace printed book sales, so don’t be left behind by ignoring the e-book pricing question.

Choosing Your Book Format: Hardcover or Paperback

In the past, the decision about a book cover followed a steady pattern with traditional publishers. Most big name traditional publishers would print a book in hardcover, and then some months later, the paperback version would come out. This process was followed for a couple of reasons. A new book, especially by a well-known author, was a collector’s item. The first edition of a hardcover book was something to treasure, and it was often of the highest quality and made to be aesthetically pleasing, including having a dust jacket. People who wanted a book they could treasure for the rest of their lives would buy a hardcover book. But not all readers could afford hardcover books, so a cheaper mass market paperback would eventually follow. Depending on how much value the readers perceived that the book would hold for them, they might opt to buy the hardcover or they might wait for the paperback. On occasions where the hardcover did not sell well, the paperback edition was never released.

As the world of publishing has changed in the last couple of decades, more publishers have begun to bring out only paperback versions for books perceived not to be of such great lasting value, especially in terms of genre books like romance novels and mysteries. This move saves the publisher money and also makes the books available to a target audience that might not have paid as much for a hardcover of a mystery that can be read in just a few hours.

Now that self-publishing has become so popular, and because traditional publishers are struggling to remain financially stable, more and more books are being printed solely as paperbacks because it’s the most affordable choice. However, hardcover books are still chosen for significant titles by traditional publishers, and some self-published authors also choose hardcover books, often in addition, but rarely in place of paperbacks.

In choosing a book cover format, authors should think about the way the book will be used, the practicality of the cover choice, their own printing costs, what price the market will bear, and how potential readers will view the cover. Following is a breakdown of guidelines for choosing a book cover format for self-publishers.

Hardcover
If you are publishing your first book, you probably should keep your costs low until you know your book will sell, so you are better off opting for a paperback over a hardcover book. That said, there are some exceptions to this rule. Hardcover books are often a good choice for:

  • Children’s Books-because children might be rough with their books so these covers will give the book greater endurance.
  • Cookbooks-because a hardcover book can more easily lay flat on a kitchen counter for quick reference while cooking.
  • Coffee Table Books-hardcover books are easier to hold than paperback books because coffee table books tend to be larger than the average size of 6×9 or smaller used for most paperback books.

While most nonfiction titles and novels will do best as paperback books, you might also ask yourself what perceived value your readers will find in the book. How important is your book, and how important will your readers perceive it to be? Putting your ego aside, you need to understand that your readers are probably not going to place as great a value on your romance novel as they will if you write a biography of Mark Twain. The type of cover you use will speak to the reader, telling him how important your subject is. Remember, readers do judge a book by its cover.

One final advantage to a hardcover book is the amount of “selling” text you can place on it. It is possible to print a nice looking hardcover book without a dust jacket so that the front and back material are the same as if you printed a paperback. However, most hardcover books are printed with dust jackets, which allow for more text to be printed on them. A good formula for text on a dust jacket is to fill the back of it with testimonials you’ve collected from other authors or experts in your field. Then the inside front flap can provide a description of your book that might even run over onto your inside back flap. The inside back flap can also provide space for a short biography of the author and room for a color author photo. Room for more text means more space to sell your book to the potential reader.

That said, if you’re like me, you may find the dust jacket gets annoying while you read the book. I have a tendency to remove the dust jacket while I read, but if readers do that, it doesn’t hurt anything once the book has been sold.

Finally, think about the cost to you and the customer. A paperback book is more affordable to authors and readers. However, a hardcover can be produced sometimes for as little as four dollars more, and that cost can be passed onto the customer by selling the book for five dollars more so you still make a profit on the hardcover. The question is simply: Will people be willing to pay five dollars more for the hardcover edition?

Paperback
The paperback cover is most affordable, and except for the few exceptions listed above, it is probably the best choice for any book, especially novels and self-help books and other nonfiction titles. Again, your book will be judged by its cover, so people may perceive your paperback book as of lesser value-meaning they might actually think the content is of less value too-than if it were a hardcover. However, there is no longer any sense that people are “slumming” by buying paperbacks. I don’t know the percentages for a fact, but I would guess that at least 90 percent of books are printed solely as paperbacks today, especially among self-published books.

You have a little less space on a paperback cover to write text that will sell the book, but you can generally fit on the back cover all the information that you would include on the inside flaps of a hardcover’s dust jacket. If you wish to include testimonials, you can place them inside the front cover as the opening pages. I have mixed feelings about placement of testimonials. Many readers will read them in choosing to buy the book, but others will go to the book description first-most people will buy the book because the topic interests them more than because someone famous said the book is great-but having both can only help so it’s up to you whether or not you feel your testimonials deserve back cover space. Often you can fit just one or two short testimonials on the back cover with the description and author bio to balance everything out.

French Flaps
I’m seeing more and more books published with French flaps. This format is basically a hybrid. It is really a paperback book, but the flaps are an extended part of the paperback cover that fold inward to serve as a dust jacket without being removable. French flaps provide the same space as a hardcover for book descriptions without the expense of a hardcover with a dust jacket. A book with French flaps does cost more than a paperback, but depending on how many books you print, it will probably cost you less than a dollar more per unit.

I believe a lot of authors are choosing to use French flaps because they believe this format makes their book look more professional or significant than if it were simply a paperback. Readers may be impressed with the look of French flaps and even see them as a novelty, but frankly, I find such books annoying to read-the flaps have a tendency of wanting to flip up, making the book somewhat unwieldy. This format feels pretentious to me, like such books have delusions of wanting to be hardcover books.

Making the Choice
Personally, a standard paperback is good enough for me with the few exceptions of books I’ve listed where a hardcover is preferable. While I have offered some guidelines here for choices, no two books are the same and special circumstances may exist that would make one cover a better choice than another. Every author must choose for himself which book cover will best suit his book to promote its value as well as be most desirable in format and price to potential readers.