World finance :: Business, Economic and Trading

Can you afford to live to

ONE of the biggest fears of older Australians is running out of money before they die, but they perhaps should spare a thought for the younger generations.

As human lifespans rise rapidly over the coming decades, the youngest Aussies will have to think about making their money last beyond 100, or even 120, or perhaps much longer.

Its a daunting prospect for those who cant even afford to get into the property market like their parents and grandparents did.

Theres a lot of debate about how long humans are going to live amid a surge in medical and health advances.

Some longevity specialists have claimed that the first human to live to the ripe old age of 1000 already has been born. Some say our consciousness will be able to be downloaded into machines within 30 years.

I heard at a briefing a few months ago that the current crop of children are likely to be the last generation of humans to die from age-related problems, thanks to tiny robot doctors who will make running repairs inside their bodies.

Apart from feeling ripped off about just missing out on potential immortality, these youngsters and many of their parents face another big challenge: how to ensure their money lasts as long as they do.

Everybody really has two choices: either rely on the government or fund your future yourself.

Australias government option is a full pension and pension supplements currently paying almost $440 a week to a single person and $330 a week to each member of a couple. Thats not going to let most people live an enjoyable, active lifestyle, unless theyre really happy being really frugal.

Being financially independent is a noble goal but a more realistic future for the majority of todays adults is a mixture of the age pension and their own money from superannuation or other investments.

While super accounts will grow in value over the decades ahead, a majority of retirees will still rely on some pension income even if just to top up income from their own savings.

Relying on compulsory employer super contributions alone will not be enough to be financially independent. People will need to make extra contributions, or invest outside of super in growth assets such as shares and property.

Sticking all your money in the bank wont cut it. Interest rates paid on deposits today are just 2-3 per cent, which means your money is going backwards after the effects of tax and inflation. Economists dont see interest rates heading back to 5 per cent or higher any time soon.

Property and shares are scary for many people because they can have wild swings, but investors today have a huge range of options to diversify and protect their wealth.

Property isnt just residential houses and units. You can invest in offices, resorts, shopping centres, theme parks, factories, warehouses and carparks in Australia and overseas.

Shares are simply a slice of a business in Australia or overseas, while some prefer to run their own business.

If unsure, seek professional advice. Financial planners say owning some growth assets is the only way to build wealth that will keep expanding, no matter how long you live.

Healthier people spend more, so its likely that you will need much more money in the future than your parents and grandparents did.

Some say immortality is boring and they would not want to live forever. I say lend me your years. There will always be plenty to experience in our world, and beyond it, for those who can afford it.

Woolworths surprise christmas discount

pstrongWOOLWORTHS is battling it out with Coles to deliver the cheapest Christmas possible to customers but one shopper doesn’t think this was quite what they had in mind. /strong/ppA Melbourne customer Jinghao Sun spotted the offer - a 1c discount on a $45 plum pudding and posted a photo to the supermarkets Facebook page./ppThis has happened before to both Coles and Woolworths with one price reduction of zero./ppAsked how the sticker slip-ups occur, Woolworths buying director Steve Donohue said: Its a computer glitch./ppEverybody knows its not a saving. We dont intentionally put 1c savings out there. It can range from anything to human error to a system issue. We appreciate people bringing them to our attention./ppMr Donohue said the supermarket had offered savings in excess of $500 million through lower prices in the past 12 months. Forget about 1c, look at the bottom of the docket when you shop, he said./ppThere has been sharp discounting by the nations two biggest supermarkets, which are promising shoppers the cheapest Christmas in five years./ppLast week, Coles managing director John Durkan said he believed the supermarket was well in front on the products that weve found matter most to customers at this time of year./ppColes is committed to making this the best value Christmas in years, Mr Durkan said. We know our customers have long shopping lists this month, so its more important than ever that we deliver great value across our stores./ppColes calculated that, excluding specials, it beat its rival on a basket of 29 Christmas items including leg ham, fruit mince pies, frozen turkey and panettone, with a bill of $155.89 at Coles and $169.53 at Woolworths./ppMr Donohue countered that the supermarket was confident were delivering the best value, quality and service for our customers this Christmas, with cheaper prices on special items such as Roses chocolates./ppChristmas has been really strong so far, were finding that there have been certain categories selling well ahead of the same time last year, he said. The pav is well and truly back this year. We lowered our pavlovas to $8 and have experienced record sales./ppWere selling out of mince pies, and in the last few days our team have shucked almost one million oysters. Prawns have been a big hit, and weve seen outstanding demand for our Christmas hams. Then theres the usual stuff like turkeys and pork, which will really start to take off from now to Christmas./ppWoolworths currently has 36.3 per cent market share of Australias $90 billion grocery market, according to Roy Morgan, with Coles on 33.2 per cent. Discount chain Aldi now holds 12.5 per cent, and analysts believe will reach 15 per cent in the near future./ppA recent Morgan Stanley report suggested Woolworths turnaround strategy was beginning to eat into Coles sales growth. Woolworths like-for-like sales growth now appears to be ahead of Coles, wrote Morgan Stanley analyst Thomas Kierath. This would be a first since the first quarter of 2010./ppIn October, Woolworths posted its first quarterly sales growth in almost a year, with comparable sales up 0.7 per cent, beating analysts expectations./ppb frank.this site/b/ppb/b/p