Money Stretch: Empowering Households to Make Informed Financial Decisions

Ben Kingsley here, and in this MoneySTRETCH tutorial video, I’m introducing you to MoneySTRETCH. Now, MoneySTRETCH is one of our money management tools, that’s an interactive tool inside the web or desktop version of the Moorr platform, and we do recommend you use Chrome to access that. This tool is solving for the biggest problem that most households have, and that is:

How much money do we have and how much will it last if there’s a change in our circumstances?

Think about that. What happens if we decide to have a child and we go down to one income? What is going to be the impact in terms of: are we still going to have positive cash flow or are we going to have negative cash flow? What about interest rates going up? How is that going to impact us in terms of the money flows?

A lot of households make big decisions around money when they aren’t fully informed. And so, the idea with MoneySTRETCH is to provide you with a tool that allows you to make more informed decisions, as opposed to making irrational or emotional decisions.

So, what are we waiting for? Let’s go through to the demonstration screen now.

Here we are in the web or desktop version of the Moorr platform, and we’re at the home page. So, we can see a summary of the household situation. Now, to make this example really interesting, with regards to MoneySTRETCH, I’ve actually put this household in a little bit of financial stress, and this would be playing through in an emotional context. Because even though they’ve got very healthy household income coming in, you can see here that based on their forward projections of the next 12 months of spending, they’ve got $5,253 in the negative. Now, of course, they do have a cash flow buffer, but what would be going through their mind is: how many months are we going to be able to survive? Because they would be seeing that cash savings buffer starting to diminish. And this is an important point because ultimately what I what I did was I put an investment property in there, but in this particular example, interest rates have gone up and they may keep going up. So, we’re going to play around with that scenario to ensure that the household can get some comfort around their current spending habits and what they can potentially look to save and see a line of sight on that information. So, let’s round out explaining a little bit more about their situation.

So, we can see here how the money’s flowing into the household, the tax payable. You can pause this and have a longer or more in-depth look at that. But you can see here there’s $438 per month that they’re going backwards.

Let’s now go into the financial tools. You’ll see MoneySTRETCH, and this takes us into this sandpit area. And again, this is all about an interactive self-assessment tool that’s designed to help with those cash flow questions that you might have. Really easy to use. Now, what you would normally do in your financial area is you would also go and make sure that you’ve done the right job with your bills and spending. So I cannot stress enough to be really understanding of your essential versus your discretionary, meaning your needs versus your wants. And so you can see here you’ve got the opportunity with each expense item to go through and say, “Okay, well, what is essential versus discretionary?” And there’s only a bit of paid television in here that is considered discretionary. It’s usually in the spending area.

Naturally, bills are a fixed cost, and in a lot of cases, they are essential. But we can see here in regards to the groceries and other items, you can see that this couple have been quite honest about what their minimum requirements are in their spending around essential and what are ultimately some of those discretionary items. And if we come down to the bottom here, we can see a summary of those values where we can see that our essential spending across both our bills and our spending, and if we were renting, we would have a grand total of $6,176 versus discretionary spending, which is almost a thousand dollars a month. So we can see that sort of coming through in those numbers. So again, we go across into MoneySTRETCH.

Now, to bring that data across, if you are a regular user of the platform, you simply click on this button here, and that will reset your information on this particular page, and that just gives us a calibration in terms of what’s happening here. So what you can see, if I quickly just go down to the bottom, there’s that $438 that has been brought through in regards to this particular situation. So it’s been brought through, and here we now start to see some lines.

To start, this is telling us our baseline.

So baseline money available is this red line. You’ll start to see money available with current spending, so that line will start appearing. But obviously, the baseline scenario is we are doing our current spending, so that’s our essential and discretionary spending that we’re doing. But this would be money available without essential spending. So, sorry, with just essential spending. So taking out the complete discretionary spending, this is what their story would look like. So we saw that it was around a $5,000 shortfall per month, $438, but if we were to go back and be honest about what sort of discretionary spending we were going to do, there’s every chance that we could stabilize this situation, and we wouldn’t make an irrational decision around selling a property because we just felt a little bit panicked about the current situation. So that is the worst thing you can do. It’s a wealth destroyer. So you want to be able to do everything, and how you do that is you make the invisible visible.

Coming back up into MoneySTRETCH again, you can see here that we’ll reset that data because I didn’t save it. So we’ve imported that data again, and that’s our baseline. And then you can see here with obviously no change. So what I’m doing there is I’m showing you there’s been no change to the current situation. Now, what you will be able to see, if I can set the screen, well, let’s say there’s an example that we’re going to drop 20% of our salary and go down to four days a week. Now, just by doing that, I’m almost there, so go down to 80%, so 0.8. You can start to see that if that was the case and we lost a lot of that income all of a sudden, now the money available in current spending would see us run out of that buffer inside 34 months. So this is set, almost just inside that three-year period. And you can see here that the insights that you’re getting is that you would have 34 months of money available if nothing else was to change in your household. If you obviously continue to just use only essential spending, you can see here that there’s clearly ample money available in excess of three years of buffer, and there are really no problems there in regards to that particular story. And again, in terms of the baseline or the no change, that’s what our situation will be. So what we’re showing you is if you didn’t go back to 0.8 for one job, that would be the scenario which we were tracking before. This is now the scenario assuming that you’re only doing your essential spending, and this is your scenario saying that actually, we’re not changing our lifestyle. We really love it.

This is how much money we’re going to have available and effectively, that’s The Power of Buying Time.

So what you’re trying to do here is buy time, and that’s giving you some comfort around the time where interest rates might settle down, they might start coming back, the economy might be in a bit better shape. And so all of a sudden, you know you’re out, you’re out past any sort of concern that you might have had around your current financial situation. Now let me reset the spending back to $400 again, and you can see those lines have rejoined. Now let’s start to think about what is also plausible and what’s possible around mortgages. So if the mortgage is going to keep going up, you can start having a look at that. So you can see there’s my property investment costs, and there’s my total loan repayments. Let’s say my total loan repayments go up by another $500.

I’m going to go in here and reset that loan to move that up to $7,900, and let’s say my investment loans go up another $300. So I’ll set that to $1,759. And when I start doing those settings, you can start to see a changing story. So there was our baseline or the no change. Unfortunately, when banks put up our interest rates, we have to pay them. So that tells you the story.

This then tells you the story of if we keep spending at the same level in terms of availability, and this tells us our story about the essential or available spending. The more you play around with, ‘Okay, well, what if?’ You know, what if my repayments go up? You know, rather than just $500, what if they were to… And I’ll put that back. What if they were to go up another $1,000 a month? And, you know, same here again, I bring that back down and I change this to… This one going up, you know, I’ll even be more exaggerative and say that’s going to say that that’s gone up by $2,000 a month. So we now start to see where we currently sit, you know, in terms of the insights on the charts. But you’re also getting this nice little summary here.

So if you keep spending at the same level that you do, you’ve got 28 months of runway effectively.

That’s now starting to creep down in terms of if you were to start to look at some of that discretionary spending that you’re doing, you’re still very comfortable in terms of having three years, 36 months of available spending as well. That’s where you can start to look at money in, money out. Then you can also, you know, come down here and you can start to unpack this particular story here around your spending, in terms of your bill payments and also your spending. So we’ve made a mirror copy of what you have in your true financials area, and we’ve made that copy in here in this sandpit. And then you can start playing around with, ‘Well, well, honey, or well, hubby, what if we change this or change that?’ And we can start having a play around with that, and you can see how that then impacts these particular targets around where… And if you hover over them, they will give you those calculations in real time as well. So it really is a phenomenal tool to be able to play around and have a look and stress test cash flow forecasting by yourself and get instant responses.

As part of that, you’ll also see in terms of if you then wanted to make these changes and make them permanent as to your budgets for your next 12 months or whatever it is you’re looking to do, you can then also publish those changes. So any changes that you make in here, so let’s say I wanted to change that to $1,000, I drop that extra discretionary spending on entertainment, and if you publish that result, that would effectively move that information over into your bills or spending area, depending on any changes that you want to make. If you don’t want to make any changes, that’s completely fine. You don’t have to. You’ve got the confidence to know that you’ve got plenty of runway in terms of your current situation, even if interest rates were to go up significantly and your repayments were to go up significantly, any other costs. So you can have a good play around in here in terms of what that looks like.

That just gives you the screen summary. Let’s close out this tutorial.

That’s our introductory video into the MoneySTRETCH tool. It really is a super interactive tool to help you look at cash flows, to model certain types of scenarios. You can spend 10 minutes in there or you can spend 10 hours in there in terms of looking at all of those options. And it really is about stress-testing those household cash flows and those savings buffers because time is a valuable commodity. And so if we’ve got enough of that money to be able to buy that time, we are less panicked and less emotional about decisions that we make.

Now, in that particular example, I intentionally put stress into the household, $5,000 dollars falling in backward.

A lot of households we’ve seen would make irrational decisions and snap decisions about selling investment properties or doing silly things that they could have avoided to do if they had measured that money and understood the time that they had available to themselves.

So please check out that tool and take an opportunity to check out some of our other great tools. We have a full money management system inside there called MoneySMARTS. It is fantastic, super easy to operate, 10 minutes a month to get a really good gauge in terms of how you’re trapping that surplus. You’ve also got WealthSpeed and Wealth Clock that give you this real-time audit, this moment in time ordered, in terms of how quickly your wealth is growing and really starts to change behavior and getting some actions around being able to create that lifestyle by design. So thanks very much for watching this intro video.

There are a lot of other tutorials that you can check out on this page, so please make sure you look for them as part of the Moorr platform. And remember, knowledge is empowering, but only if you act on it.

Thank you.

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