24 years ago (1992), I had just entered the workforce having not made it to university or really knowing what I wanted to do. I landed a job in a quarry (Axedale Sands and Gravel) just down the road from where I lived Axedale, and started as a trainee front end loader operator and labourer.

I am a hard worker and picked up things fast, as was required to hold down a job then as our country was emerging from the ‘Recession we had to have”. My job paid $240 per week, and of that I paid $32 dollars income tax and I receive my pay in a yellow envelope every week. I often had to pick it up off the ground as my boss had some power and control issues. I bit my tongue and put up with it for long enough to get the experience I needed to move on.

$200 doesn’t go far now, but back then it was enough to live on as I was living at home at that time, and unlike today having a credit card was not even a consideration. If I wanted something I would put it on lay-by or save up for it. I managed my money very carefully.

So I had been at the quarry for about 14 months when one day I went to work and started to feel some cramping in my stomach, it went on for a few hours and gradually got worse. I decided after a while to take myself to the doctor, who pressed and prodded for a few seconds and then told me to pull my pants down, and roll over in a ball, while he put on his rubber glove… Sure enough, I had appendicitis and then proceeded to take myself to the hospital as ordered by the doctor to have my appendix removed.

Back then, as part of a low paying job in Australia, you receive 8 days sick pay which was cumulative, therefore I had accrued about 9 days over the 14 months, as I am fortunately not sick very often. I also had some holidays that I hadn’t taken which gave me a further 4 weeks of pay. My job required me to do a lot of physical activity and therefore having my appendix removed meant that I was unable to perform my regular job and could not go to work. On doctors orders, I had to take 6 weeks to recover until my scar healed. Fortunately for me my expenses were low at the time and I was able to get by with my holiday pay and my sick pay, which meant I only had 1 or 2 days where I did not get paid.

This brings me to 1997, I had just spent nearly 12 months in Western Australia working in a gold mine where the money had increased dramatically and so had the hours I worked and obviously my skill level. I returned back to Victoria and need to submit a tax return. My friend (Ben) had been living in Melbourne for a few years and I stayed with him for a few weeks. I asked him if he new an accountant, and he had just started seeing a new guy; I made an appointment and landed on his doorstep a few days later and met Tyler Hunter a young up and coming Accountant. After the initial meet and greet, one of the first questions he asked me was, ‘do you have income protection?’ My answer was ‘what is income protection?’ He explained it as follows:

What is your most valuable asset? At that stage I didn’t have much and I said… ‘my car’ (I obviously didn’t know too much about assets either :)) he said ‘wrong’. He mentioned where I had come from in my working career, that is, the time when I was earning $240/ week and now where I was earning well over $1,000 per week and was tipped to have that keep rising. He even referred to a house and said ‘a house is worth $x dollars, but it is generally a fixed asset and is not easily liquidated (turned into usable money). He continued and said ‘we go blindly along and insure our cars and our house and contents, but fail to insure our most valuable asset which was my income, as this is the asset that we receive every week of every month of every year until we retire which steadily increases over time which is worth far more than a car, a house and its contents’ and he was right.

I should explain what ‘Income protection’ is for those of you who don’t know. Income protection is an insurance that you can buy that protects your income in the event that you are unable to carry out your usual job, as I explained above or can be for almost any form of illness, broken bones, heart attack, cancer etc etc. For instance, when I had appendicitis, I could have received my pay from my insurer for the income lost during the 6 weeks that I was in bed recovering, but instead I had to use all of my sick leave and holiday pay to meet my daily needs. Having done so, I had to forgo my holidays where I would usually relax and doing something other than work for the 4 weeks. I also had to risk getting sick again which meant I wouldn’t get paid any more until I accrued more sick leave, even if I had a dose of the flu and needed to stay at home. Income protection has many different forms and

I must admit, I didn’t take his advice there and then which was at my own risk, but a few years later, when I finished my university degree (as a mature age student) I made it a priority to get income protection. This is even more relevant when you have a family to support and the loss of your income could rapidly send you into debt if you are unable to make your mortgage, car, education daily living expenses, which mount up very quickly when you take away the most important asset… YOUR INCOME.

Whilst I don’t sell income protection myself, I would highly recommend going to see a financial planner or financial institution and speaking to them about income protection. It is not a cheap insurance, but it is tax deductible in Australia and could just save you if the unexpected were to happen. Thanks for reading!

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