Money, Australian-style

March 14, 2019 — March 18, 2024


Assumed audience:

Me. These are my own notes on finance, for me. Nothing here is financial advice. I am not a financial advisor. Use information here at your own peril.

Figure 1: A gold miner in 1860s Australia, courtesy State Library of Queensland.

Australia-specific notes on personal finance, banking, superannuation, and tax. Fissioned from more general notes on personal finance.

1 Real estate

Australia is deeply invested in policies to perpetually pump real estate speculation, which is a depressing drag on the profound potential of this country, in my opinion, and a tax upon wonder. We could build anything here, make anything, but instead we sell houses at each other, and vie for a slice of the passive income that we shave off the active economy. So long as I live here, a speculative real-estate economy will shape everything around me, so I must engage with it and, I suppose, find my own bit of peace at the expense of the wider economy. Currently I am trying to minimise my exposure to the entire bubble via cohousing, which is a relatively good harm reduction strategy for my temperament. The whole thing is still sad, though.

2 Superannuation

How we save for retirement in Australia.

2.1 Superannuation tax contribution optimization

Complicated, but! There is a calculator if ones is too lazy/low net worth for an accountant: Super contributions optimiser. Keyword: “Salary sacrifice”, “packaging”..

2.2 DIY superannuation

In Australia, per-default, retirement savings go into a fund with an unremarkable strategy.

If I wish to have more volition over my retirement savings, it seems I can set up a self-managed-super fund or a Small APRA fund, or a normal fund with a member-directed investment option. Here are some unaudited links on each.

Any of these give comparatively more control over the investment strategy than the default. Note I do not necessarily want to be doing stock picking in my daily investments; I’m too busy, and it is not an ideal strategy for a long term thing anyway. But I do want to at least adopt a different risk posture than these folks seem to. I would probably like to since some fixed proportion of my superannuation into a “conservative” superannuation fund, and then put the rest in hits-based higher stuff based on own insights, because in these apocalyptic times having some of my retirement savings in high-risk stuff actually seems reasonable.

AFAICS the “DIY” options in super funds have a more limited scope; in particular the ones I have seen seem to only offer a controlled set of ASX-listed shares and ETFs, and not other asset classes such as real estate or private equity, or international shares.

Acclaim Wealth seems to be an outlier in this regard, with lots of flexibilities, IPOs etc, but they are coy about how you join. UPDATE: I phoned them up and I have to go through my financial adviser to do join. At which point I assume I may as well just run my own SMSF.

Less fancy options from institutions I have heard of include:

3 ESG investing

I am not going to weigh in here on whether I think that ethical investing is a high-impact way to do good in the world. Whether my vegan, organic investment choices are going to credibly and substantiall substantially shift the capital costs awy from fossil fuels or weapons and towards other things, that probably depends on a lot of factors and some assumptions.

Pro-social superannuation/retirement funds in Australia include Australian Ethical and Future Super. (the former includes a referral code).

Wholesale Fees for Australian Ethical are reasonable (if you have approx AUD25K or more).

Sustainalytics provides reports into the impact of various investments.

4 Australia-compatible online accounting and invoicing

Saasu, Xero work out of the box. hiveage can be made to support Australian taxes with their custom tax configuration, but it is ugly.

I was not impressed with Freshbooks last time I used it, seeming expensive while offering no more features than its competitors.

NB I am only very intermittently freelancing, so I care more about a low base-rate cost than a full-timer might.