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This is where i get to talk about what it is we do as Advisers and Planners and i get to explore topics that i'm passionate about.  


By Jodie Douglas, Nov 29 2016 03:02AM

Always wear good underwear in case you get hit by a bus, eat all of your vegetables so you grow up big and strong and always carry an umbrella. This is some of the advice we are gifted by our parents who want only the best for us. But what forms of advice are more important for us to receive in our adult lives? What about sound, professional advice about money? This week, as we lead into the Christmas period, we’re talking about the gift of good financial advice, and how it may be the most important gift you ever give.

Like it or not, Christmas can be an expensive time of year. There are presents, holidays, food and drinks, bills and even unpaid time off work. Most families feel the financial strain in December and may find that it takes most of the following year to re-establish positive cashflow. We often exhaust all of our savings, rack up credit card debt and tend to indulge in luxuries our normal weekly budget wouldn’t allow. But with the challenge of the Christmas spending-spree comes an opportunity to share the love with your family by talking about money and how to protect it now and in the future. At Mad About Life, we’d be delighted if you would consider sharing the experiences you’ve had with us, with your friends and family this festive season.

The Christmas and New Year period is an excellent time to evaluate our finances, make resolutions about how to reduce debt, increase savings and manage our financial risk. There’s something about a ‘fresh start’ that motivates us to do better than we did last year, to earn more, spend less and organize our finances more appropriately. Perhaps these are some of the reasons you chose to seek advice from Mad About Life. We hope that we have helped you to achieve your financial goals, and we encourage you to pay it forward by recommending us to your friends and family.

Christmas dinners, backyard barbeques and New Years parties can become opportunities to turn to our friends and family for advice and ideas. It’s great to have this dialogue and it’s important that a recommendation about ‘money management’ can be a gift we give one another. This is where a recommendation to a financial services professional can be the gift of good advice.

Consider whether any of the following apply to your friends or family:

- Approaching retirement and wondering how to fund it?

- Moving out of home and needing advice about living independently and protecting themselves and their income?

- Thinking about estate planning and how to ensure their family’s needs are met in the future?

- Considering a change of job, home or lifestyle and wondering if they can afford it?

- Reviewing the family budget and seeking a more suitable or affordable insurance portfolio?

If so, don’t let Christmas be just a time for spending money, let it be a time for renewing financial goals and preparing for the year ahead. Resolve to look after your financial future and that of your family and give your loved ones the gift of good advice by recommending us at Mad About Life.

Thankyou for your continued support and may 2017 bring health, wealth and happiness.

By Jodie Douglas, Apr 25 2016 07:25AM

If you’re anything like most Aussies, there would be some questions about Private Health Cover you would have asked yourself. Questions like; why should I cough up the cash for private health care? And what exactly are the government incentives encouraging me to have it?

Well, I’m glad you asked because there are a few key differences between public and private health care -

The public system is covered by Medicare and is available to all Australians making it affordable and accessible. This is fantastic in an emergency situation however if you have an illness that is not life threatening well… prepared to wait or pay up to skip the queue.

With private health insurance you have more choices available to you. Such as: choice of a wider range of hospitals, choice of doctor and you also have more choice of when you want the procedure done. But and there is a big BUT coming – watch that gap.

Medicare will cover 75% of the bill and your private health fund will cover the remaining 25% of what is called the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS). If your doctor chooses to charge more than the MBS (and it is well within their rights to do so), then you foot the rest of the bill. This is when your suaveness needs to come into play. Check what your doctor charges and what you will be paying.

And don’t forget the extra cover like ambulance (not all states are lucky to have this covered by the state government), dental, optical, physio etc. Medicare doesn’t necessarily cover these.

Now, what about these government incentives? Why the big push and how do they affect you? Well, a major reason they are in place is to take the pressure off public hospitals.

There are currently three incentives in operation –

a) Medicare Levy Surcharge – at tax time you might need to pay a little extra if you don’t have private health cover in place. But wait, this may not apply to you because if your single and your taxable income is less than $90,000 or if you’re a couple and/or have dependents and your household income is less than $180,000 then you are free from paying the surcharge. So depending on your circumstances you either don’t need to worry about this tax or you may be able to get basic private health cover that is less than the surcharge.

b) Lifetime health cover – This perk is to encourage people to take out Private health cover earlier in life and keep it over their lifetime. If you don’t take out private health insurance before 1 July following your 31st birthday you will end up paying more if you decide to take private health cover out later in life.

You might end up paying an extra 2% (up to a maximum loading of 70%) on top of your premium. So for example, if you take out cover at 45 years of age you might pay 30% more than someone who took it out at age 30.

c) Australian Government Health Insurance Rebate - This aims to make private health insurance more affordable and accessible by providing rebates on your premium (which you can claim immediately to reduce your insurance premium or you may choose to claim it at tax time).

It is all dependent on income and age. So for example, if you are under 65 years of age, single and earning under $90,000 or if you are a couple and/or family earning under $180,000 you are entitled to a rebate of 26.791%. This means if you are paying $1000 a year for your insurance you would be entitled to a rebate of $267.91.

What other personal protection is available to me and/or my family in the event of illness or injury?

Trauma / Critical Illness Insurance – This valuable insurance benefit is usually recommended by a Financial Adviser and it can cover you from the early age of 2 years old (Yes, it’s available for kids too – our greatest asset!). Trauma Cover may provide a lump sum benefit if you suffer an insured critical illness event like a Heart Attack, Cancer or Stroke which you could use to help with the medical expenses associated with such serious conditions.

Income Protection can assist by replacing some of your income should you be unable to work due to illness or injury up to age 70 (depending on product) & Total Permanent Disability Insurance can assist by providing a lump sum should you be permanently disabled and unable to return to work which you could use to help out with medical expenses, house modification, ongoing care & additional expenses.

Your own cash savings buffer – Yes you could choose to put some money away in an accessible investment account for a rainy day, to create your own self funded insurance.

Whether or not to take out private health cover is a very personal choice & also depends on your individual needs and circumstances.

As you can see, there are many options available to ensure that if something unexpected happened to you that you have choice, peace of mind & financial freedom to focus on your treatment & recovery without the added financial stress.

If you’re unsure where you stand financially or if you’d like to design a financial risk plan to suit you, then we would recommend speaking with a Trusted Financial Adviser about your personal protection needs.

Contact Mad About LIFE today to arrange your complimentary financial review! We are mobile and will travel to you!

Phone: 1300 971 192 or


Please note that Mad About Life Pty Ltd is not able to provide advice specifically in relation to private health insurance and you should consult an appropriate professional in this area should you have any questions.

The information in this communication is provided for information purposes and is of a general nature only. It is not intended to be and does not constitute financial advice or any other advice. Further, the information is not based on your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. You are encouraged to consult a financial planner before making any decision as to how appropriate this information is to your objectives, financial situation and needs. Also, before making a decision, you should consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement available from your financial planner.

The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Mad About Life Pty Ltd or Affinia Financial Advisers Limited.

By Jodie Douglas, Dec 2 2015 06:42AM

Recently I came across a great story, a fantastic interpretation of how precious life is! And something I felt needed to be shared!

Theory of ‘a thousand marbles’ —

‘You see, I sat down one day and did a little arithmetic. The average person lives about seventy-five years. I know, some live more and some live less, but on average, folks live about 75 years.

‘Now then, I multiplied 75 times 52 and I came up with 3,900 which is the number of Saturdays that the average person has in their entire lifetime. Now stick with me, I’m getting to the important part.

‘It took me until I was 55 years old to think about all this in any detail,’ he went on, ‘and by that time I had lived through over 2800 Saturdays. I got to thinking that, if I lived to be 75, I only had about 1000 of them left to enjoy. So I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had, I ended up having to visit three toy stores to round up 1000 marbles. I took them home and put them inside of a large clear plastic container right here in my workshop next to the radio. Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away.

‘I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused on the really important things in life. There is nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help get your priorities straight.’

‘Now let me tell you one last thing before I sign-off with you and take my lovely wife out for breakfast, ‘this morning, I took the very last marble out of the container. I figure if I make it until next Saturday then God has blessed me with a little extra time to be with my loved ones.’

I guess he gave us all a lot to think about. I had planned to do some work that morning, then go to the gym. Instead, I went upstairs and woke my wife up with a kiss. ‘C’mon honey, I’m taking you and the kids to breakfast.’ Story – Anonymous. Published in “I Made A Promise” by Danny Smith

This story to me is a fantastic reminder of mortality and a prompt to stop putting off the important things in life. You spend your life working hard, creating your family and building assets. But it is important not to lose sight of what really is important, and that is; spending time with your loved ones and protecting them, even after your marbles have run out.

So please don’t put the important things off any longer. Get your Will & Estate Plan sorted, review your Personal Insurance’s, make a financial plan for the future, so you can have peace of mind and spend more valuable time with the people you care about!

Time is not constant (according to Einstein), and neither is your Jar of Marbles.

By Jodie Douglas, Nov 18 2015 12:34AM

When our children learn to ride a bicycle, what is the first thing we teach them? “Always wear a helmet”. We instill this message from the very start in an effort to reduce the risk of injury and minimize harm in the event of the worst case scenario. We know that riding a bike can be dangerous, but we strap on the equipment they need to stay as safe as possible and then we hope that they will never need to use it.

But what if that worst case scenario was much more serious, such as our child being diagnosed with a critical illness, suffering a serious injury or even accidental death? How could we protect our kids and ensure the best possible treatment and care should the unthinkable happen?

Would you have enough funds to pay for expensive medical treatments, specialist practitioners, lengthy hospital stays and, most costly of all, the loss of earnings incurred by leaving a job to care for a sick child? For many people, the answer is no.

When children become critically ill or injured, the three major costs facing families are:

-Travel expenses for treatment and follow-up care

-Loss of parental income

-Medical treatments (out-of-pocket expenses) [i]

In addition to this, there are unexpected costs such as temporary housing, transportation, phone calls and parking. These costs all add up and can become hugely detrimental to a family already struggling with the physical and emotional impacts of a parent’s worst nightmare.

For example, a 2012 study by the American Childhood Cancer Organization reported the following facts about the financial impact of childhood cancer:

2 out of 4 respondents reported facing considerable to severe household debt as a result of their child’s treatment.

33% of respondents reported that one member of their household stopped work completely to care for their child.

57% used loans, gifts or fundraising to pay for their child’s treatment, while 33% withdrew from their savings or retirement funds. 15% of respondents resorted to using credit cards and 9% were forced to declare bankruptcy.[ii]

Our clients tell us that the risks faced by their children is a concern to all families whether the kids are very young or much older and living away from home. You, as the main income earner, may have all the insurances in the world, but if the event doesn't happen to you then they won't offer you a cent. This is why it is so important to consider your dependants in your financial risk plan.

If the kids are included in your Financial Risk strategy, the burden would be reduced, allowing the whole family to cope without the added financial pressure.

As a mother I recognise that one of the biggest financial risks in my life is in fact my children. If anything happened to either of my boys I know that both my husband and I would stop everything to be there with them. We could do this as we have planned our financial risk strategy for such events, knowing the risks of raising children and our awareness of the tragedies that can occur so easily.

You may not be aware that there is such a thing as Child Cover from the early age of 2 years old. Such cover provides you with a lump sum payment in the event the child suffers a permanent disability, a critical or terminal illness or passes away. Importantly, this is the only insurance cover that will protect your family financially if such an event occurred to one of your children. And it costs from only $4.00 per week.

Depending on the product you choose, it can automatically convert to Life, TPD and Trauma cover for the child when they turn 18 or 21, without the need for medical, occupational or pastime assessment. This can ensure they are comprehensively covered when they need it the most. What a gift!

Have you arranged for your 18 year old to speak with your trusted financial adviser before they leave the nest?

What about your adult children who are now having kids of their own and probably haven't thought about the ‘what if's’ yet?

If you have a family, recognise that the kids may be your biggest liability and make it your choice to cover them first!

Speak to us about your Financial Risk strategy and how we can include cover for your greatest and most precious assets: the ones you love.

[i] Current Oncology 2008 August, 15 (4): 173-178 The Impact on Families When a Child is Diagnosed with Cancer


By Jodie Douglas, Apr 23 2014 11:40AM

Thank you to the team at ClearView Wealth Limited for sharing this article!

A well written education piece.

A terribly sad day to note recently, most of you would have heard about the horrendous injury Alex McKinnon received whilst the 22 year old was playing for the Knights in the NRL. He sustained his injuries when landing on his neck as a result of a tackle by 3 opposition players. Sadly, it was announced that he will most probably now face life as a quadriplegic.

Spinal Cord Injuries are something that we don’t like to think about. It literally changes, and on more occasions than not, destroys lives. It is this topic that we write out of respect for Alex.

About the spine

The spine is central to the skeletal system. It supports the head and encloses the spinal cord. It is made up of 33 vertebrae which are classified into five regions:

1. Cervical vertebrae – there are 7 cervical vertebrae in the neck region.

2. Thoracic vertebrae – there are 12 thoracic vertebrae in the upper back region.

3. Lumbar vertebrae – there are 5 lumbar vertebrae in the lower back region.

4. Sacral vertebrae – the 5 sacral vertebrae are fused together to form the sacrum.

5. Coccygeal vertebrae – the 4 small coccygeal vertebrae are fused together to form the coccyx or tailbone.

Running down the centre of the spine is the spinal cord. The spinal cord is made up of millions of nerve fibres. These nerves are the communication link between the brain and all other parts of the body. Messages about feeling or sensation are sent to the brain via the spinal cord, and the brain sends movement or functional messages to the body, also via the spinal cord.

The diagram above illustrates the various areas of the spine and the extent of paralysis which occurs to the body when the spinal cord is injured at a certain level.

What is a Spinal Cord Injury?

A spinal cord injury can happen to anyone at any time. It is a permanent and irreversible injury, prevention is the only cure.

When the vertebrae of the spine are displaced or injured, the spinal cord, which is housed inside the spine, may also be injured. Spinal cord injury occurs if pressure is applied to the spinal cord, and/or the blood and oxygen supply to the cord is cut off.

The spinal cord can also become damaged as a result of the late effects of polio (commonly referred to as Post Polio Syndrome) or inflammation that may result from viral infections, abnormal immune reactions, or insufficient blood flow through the blood vessels located in the spinal cord (this can result in transverse myelitis – a neurological disorder caused by inflammation across both sides of one level, or segment, of the spinal cord).

If the spinal cord is damaged through crushing, bruising or severing, the messages to and from the brain cannot get through. The millions of nerve fibres which make up the spinal cord cannot regenerate after injury.

The damage to the spinal cord may be complete or incomplete, depending on the degree of injury to the nerve fibres. Incomplete injury can result in movement and sensation abnormalities and a complete injury usually means total loss of movement and sensation – permanent paralysis. Generally, the level and degree of injury to the spinal cord will determine the extent and areas of paralysis.

A person who has paraplegia will usually always have full use of their hands, arms and shoulders. The damage to their spinal cord will have occurred in the upper or lower back (thoracic, lumbar or sacral regions).

A person who has quadriplegia will not be able to fully use their hands, arms and shoulders. The damage to their spinal cord will have occurred in the neck (cervical region).

Spinal damage can occur at the sacral or coccygeal levels. When this occurs, the bowel, bladder and the leg area below the knee are generally affected. However, many people who injure their spinal cord at this level will be able to walk with the assistance of special aids, such as a walking stick or foot splints etc. Spinal cord injury research into nerve reconnection continues to be carried out throughout the world, including Australia.

Facts & Statistics

• Most spinal cord injuries happen to people under the age of 35.

• More than 70% of spinal cord injuries are sustained by men.

• The main causes of traumatic spinal cord injuries are road trauma, falls and water related accidents.

• In 2010-11, 40 % of Spinal Cord Injuries resulted in quadriplegia, and 60% in paraplegia

• More than 10,000 people in Australia have a spinal cord injury.

• The proportion of people with disabilities globally is rising and now stands at 1 billion, accounting for 15 per cent of the world’s population, according to the first official global report on disability.

• The lifetime cost per incidence of paraplegia is estimated to be $5 million

• The lifetime cost per incidence of quadriplegia is estimated to be $9.5 million

• The total cost of spinal cord injury in Australia is estimated to be $2 billion annually

• If just 10% of carers were able to return to the workforce because their family member with a disability had appropriate personal support, there would be a $3 billion boost into the economy.

• If just 2% of people with a disability could come off the pension to work because they had appropriate employment training, then there would be an injection of $2.5 billion into the economy.

*** Research obtained via

It is a devastating injury in so many ways; to the victim both financially and psychologically, and to friends and family of the victim.

Insurance will never be able to reimburse what has been sadly taken away. But it will make a difference!

In the best Trauma/Critical Illness contracts, “Paralysis” covers Paraplegia, Quadriplegia, Tetraplegia, Diplegia and Hemiplegia. Of course, this is just the Trauma benefit and would not be offset by any potential payouts.

For example, a client could have Trauma cover and receive a benefit for Quadriplegia. They would also be entitled to a Total Permanent Disability (TPD) payment and if they had the Lump Sum TPD option in Income Protection, they could elect to take their benefit as a lump sum, tax-free. All covers would unite for payment, potentially paying out in excess of $8 million (obviously this depends on many variables including the age of the client, the levels of cover for the client etc.).

Sadly, as noted above, injuries generally happen to those under the age of 35 (due to sports, pastimes, car accidents etc) and it is this age bracket, who generally think they’ll be invincible and are too young for insurance. They generally will be the ones who need more money for this event than most others, as they’ll potentially be facing a life sentence from this condition.

As mentioned, conditions like the above are irreversible. But there is always hope and sometimes miracles do happen. As we said, insurance will never be able to reimburse for what has been taken away but it can help prepare for one’s financial future and provide hope. Hope that one day, a miracle will happen with ongoing research, hard work and dedication in rehab. Things will never be the same again, but maybe, just maybe, their condition may not be permanent.

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