Christmas is fast approaching, and with it the challenge of finding the right gifts. As usual, I've done some research, and found some great books that would add value to the recipient's life.
Ellen Langer is one of the great psychologists of the 21st century. For more than 50 years she's been studying the mind-body connection and her new book The Mindful Body - Thinking our Way to Chronic Health takes her work to a new level.
One of her most famous experiments was in 1979 when she took six elderly people back in time by retrofitting their environment to what it was 20 years ago.
In just one week their health improved dramatically.
There is a range of experiments along similar lines in the new book.
Examples include hotel chambermaids who lost weight when they were told their work constituted exercise, or patients whose wounds healed faster when the clocks in their rooms were sped up.
She even points out that the way a doctor describes a diagnosis to a patient can make a massive difference to how well the patient responds to the treatment.
This is a book that can change lives and I recommend it highly.
My Retirement Made Simple, is perfect for anyone aged 45 and over.
Retirement is often touted as a worry-free time - but right now it's not.
People are living longer, government budgets are stretched, financial markets are volatile, and interest rates are moving up.
On top of that, there are the challenges of understanding investor psychology - including your own - and avoiding scams.
A major facet of a fulfilling retirement is preparation: the sooner you start to plan, the better your retirement is likely to be.
Yet so many people facing retirement don't know what they don't know.
Retirement Made Simple is a gift that can pay great dividends. Savvy shoppers can buy the book bundled with our new downsizing book for just $49.99 from my website
My next pick is Magic Words by Jonah Berger - professor of marketing at the Wharton School of University of Pennsylvania.
I found this book riveting - the whole thrust of it is how the words we use can make a profound difference to the outcome of many situations.
Interestingly, the book starts with a famous 1978 study by Ellen Langer. In this experiment they studied people queued at a Xerox machine awaiting their turn to make copies (this was the old days) and they discovered that if a person wished to jump the queue all they had do was give a reason why they had to get the copy in a hurry.
From that it was determined that simply giving a reason when you make a request increases the chances of that request being agreed to by 85 per cent.
Berger and his team analysed millions of words, and discovered that using "recommend" rather than "like" makes people 32 per cent more likely to take your suggestion.
They analysed over five million interactions in call centres and discovered the use of concrete language did not just increase customer satisfaction, it also led to many more return orders.
There is also a wealth of material on the words to use to make your presentations more effective. This is not a huge book, just 220 pages, but it's packed full of examples, such as those mentioned above.
- Check out how you can save with the latest deals on finance and insurance with discount codes from Australian Coupons.
My wife and myself are in our early seventies and receive a partial age pension. We need to update our wills and I'm thinking about your advice about leaving some assets to our children so as to maximise the pension for the remaining spouse. Our cash is mostly invested in term deposits paying monthly interest to assist with living costs. We own our home and an investment property which is rented. I'm thinking about bequeathing the investment property to our two children when either of us passes. Would Centrelink treat this as a deprived asset and would there be tax implications?
A property that is disposed of on death is not treated as a deprived asset. As far as the tax position goes, if you die first, your wife will become a co-owner of the investment property with your daughters. Her pension may be affected because she will lose the value of half the property, but she will also move down to the single homeowner threshold which is lower than the couple's threshold. You need to take advice - if the property is held as joint tenants your share would automatically go to your wife, irrespective of the terms of the will. Therefore, it may be better to have the property moved to tenants in common. In terms of capital gains tax, it may be payable once the inherited investment property is eventually sold by the beneficiaries.
I am 66 and receiving a life pension from a state-based super fund. My wife is 74 and her sole income is from a home unit she owns that is rented. When assessing my wife's eligibility for an aged pension, are two other properties we own assessed at the full value or half the value as they are in joint names? Also is the valuation on our rates notice suitable for the calculation?.
When a couple applies for the age pension, all their assets and income are combined when testing for eligibility. The only exemption is superannuation in accumulation mode owned by a person who has not yet reached pensionable age. The market value of the properties will be the number used, the rate notice is not relevant.
I understand that if you withdraw money from your super, and then re-contribute it as a non-concessional contribution, you are reducing the taxable component, meaning is less tax payable by non-dependent beneficiaries when you die. Do you have to open a new super accumulation account to accept these funds?
That is correct - a super fund in pension mode cannot accept contributions. But there is no problem having two accounts.
- Noel Whittaker is the author of Retirement Made Simple and numerous other books on personal finance. Email: email@example.com
- This advice is general in nature and readers should seek their own professional advice before making any financial decisions.