Don’t trust your pay slip

Sunday Tasmanian - - News | Barefoot Investor -

ARE you be­ing ripped off by your em­ployer, with­out even know­ing it?

You: “Nah, I work for a big or­gan­i­sa­tion … they’re to­tally le­git … it’d never hap­pen to me.” Me: “Think again.” Chris works for a univer­sity and, af­ter he read my book and started mak­ing a few in­quiries, he stum­bled on to a $3.66 mil­lion “glitch”.

Here it is, in his own words:

“Thank you a thou­sand times for your book and for giv­ing me the tools to un­der­stand and con­trol my su­per­an­nu­a­tion.

“I con­tacted pay­roll to check my su­per and, lo and be­hold, I was be­ing un­der­paid!

“There was a quick scram­ble and I got my pay­out. I went on my merry way and ad­vised my col­leagues to also take a close look at their su­per.

“But now it’s mak­ing the news – you might have seen a re­port re­cently that a univer­sity un­der­paid staff their su­per to the tune of $3.6 mil­lion.

“I think it might have been me who trig­gered the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. If not for you, I would not have got the su­per I de­served.”

Of course, mis­takes do hap­pen – it’s just that we all pre­fer them when they go in our favour but it’s more likely they won’t.

In 2014-15, Aus­tralian em­ploy­ers failed to pay a com­bined $2.85 bil­lion into their em­ploy­ees’ su­per ac­counts. And I can guar­an­tee you two things:

of those em­ploy­ees had no idea they’d been robbed, cost­ing them tens of thou­sands of dol­lars over time due to lost com­pound in­ter­est.

ev­ery one of them got a pay slip say­ing they had been paid their su­per.

So what’s the les­son? Don’t trust your pay slip. In­stead, trust your su­per state­ment.

So this week I want you to do me a favour.

When you’re bored one day at work (ev­ery day at 3pm), call your su­per fund and re­quest a state­ment. Then check that you’ve been paid, and paid the cor­rect amount.

CASEY ASKS

I am 25 and have just pur­chased a house with my fi­ance, so we now have a mort­gage.

We would also like to in­vest some of the money we have saved up, but are un­sure whether to pur­chase prop­erty or stocks.

We have friends who are strongly rec­om­mend­ing we in­vest in a com­pany called After­pay. What would you rec­om­mend?

BARE­FOOT REPLIES

After­pay Touch Group shares are hot! (After­pay touts it­self to teens with en­tic­ing slo­gans.)

The share price of this mil­len­nial lend­ing out­fit is up eight times since 2015.

De­pend­ing on who you ask, After­pay is ei­ther the fu­ture of re­tail for Mil­len­ni­als that will take over the world, or a cuter, un­reg­u­lated ver­sion of “buy now pay later” that’s been around since Gerry Har­vey was wear­ing bell-bot­toms. So which is it? Hon­estly, I have no idea. Af­ter all, After­pay has only been in busi­ness a few years, and it’s yet to make a profit. And I don’t in­vest in busi­nesses that don’t make prof­its.

Bor­ing, I know. But how can I value some­thing that hasn’t yet made a profit?

How can I have any idea how much it might make in the fu­ture?

So I sug­gest you do a cou­ple of “bor­ing’’ things that you’ll never re­gret: in­vest long term by boost­ing your pre-tax su­per con­tri­bu­tions to 15 per cent of your income (up to the $25,000 cap).

Then start sav­ing for your wed­ding, so you don’t have to re­sort to After­pay — be­cause those late fees are a to­tal rip-off, right?

DEBT HARD TO CREDIT ERIN ASKS

When you are in se­ri­ous debt (I am talk­ing over $100,000 in credit card debt) and you just can­not get ahead, is it an op­tion to clear it all from your su­per fund and start again?

The level of debt is a ma­jor cause of stress in my life now, even though I am an out­wardly suc­cess­ful 50-year-old woman earn­ing $200,000 a year. I am very dis­tressed. Please help.

BARE­FOOT REPLIES

It sounds to me like you could be in the grips of some sort of ad­dic­tion.

Most peo­ple who earn 200 grand a year don’t have six-fig­ure credit card debts they can’t re­pay.

Re­gard­less, you won’t be able to ac­cess your su­per. To do that you need to have re­ceived Cen­tre­link sup­port pay­ments for a con­tin­u­ous 26 weeks and be able to prove you’re un­able to meet day-to-day liv­ing ex­penses. You need to get to the root of the prob­lem, or your fi­nan­cial symp­toms will con­tinue.

So, I’d like you to call a free, not­for-profit fi­nan­cial coun­sel­lor on 1800 007 007 to sup­port you through this.

A LOTTO TO CON­SIDER TAMMY ASKS

A fam­ily mem­ber had a Gold Lotto win and as a fam­ily we have re­ceived $140,000, that is, $100,000 for me (sin­gle par­ent) and $20,000 for each of my two chil­dren.

I have $115,000 left to pay on my mort­gage. My chil­dren are 17 and 19 so I want to in­vest their money in the best way pos­si­ble to set them up down the track. I am think­ing the best op­tion is to pool our money and in­vest in an in­vest­ment prop­erty. Can you please of­fer ad­vice?

BARE­FOOT REPLIES

Congratulations! But …

The best op­tion is not to pool your money with your chil­dren and in­vest.

That’s not even close to be­ing the best op­tion.

If I were in your shoes, I’d pay down your mort­gage (so long as you don’t have any other debts), and then work your whip­per-snip­per off to be debt free by the end of the year!

You don’t want to in­vest in some­thing that’s hard to sell quickly, and that’s ex­pen­sive to main­tain and man­age, with your teenage kids.

In­stead, I’d give them a copy of my book and get them to set up their buck­ets and start sav­ing for a house de­posit.

If they have around 10 years be­fore they think they’ll buy, they can stick it in a low-cost share fund.

If they plan to do it ear­lier, they should keep it in a high-in­ter­est on­line saver ac­count.

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