Author Archives: Marxa Dillan

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Do Hybrid Cars Actually Save You Money?

A hybrid vehicle is one with both an electric engine and an internal combustion engine (petrol, diesel or LPG). These vehicles are an increasingly popular choice for their fuel efficiency and low emissions. Petrol-powered cars travel an average of 14,000 km per year, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. This means that a typical hybrid will pay for itself through fuel savings after 5-7 years.

Your savings will not be as good if you drive mostly at fast speeds, like when you are on a freeway, but in slow traffic, this is where you can save money. The greater your mileage, the greater your savings.

Aside from fuel, here are some factors to think of when buying a hybrid car:

Capital costs

Hybrid cars are not cheap. You have to pay an extra $3000 to $4000 to buy one.

Resale

Compared to conventional cars, hybrids don’t have a great resale value due to some concerns about battery life.

Tires

Hybrids have added weight so tires get worn out quicker compared to normal cars, but the difference is small.

Parking

Australia hasn’t offered discounts for hybrids unlike in the UK where parking fees are slashed by 20% if you park a hybrid car.

Brakes

Braking systems feed energy back into the car battery. Hybrids are easier on the brakes than a normal car so you don’t need to service your brakes as frequently.

Servicing

Hybrid systems are reliable. But since they have two engines, complexity is added to the equation and complex systems are not cheap to fix. So, servicing is more expensive on hybrids. Battery replacement can range from $1000 to $6000.

Registration

A hybrid car doesn’t have registration discounts. Registration fees often rise along with the price of the hybrid car.

Insurance

Insurance procedures between hybrids and conventional cars are pretty much the same. However, much like registration fees, insurance costs are affected by the price of the car.

If you’re considering buying a hybrid car to save money, make sure to do your research first. Check the features first and see if those meet your needs and if you can really expect to save money.

Do you have other ideas when it comes to hybrid card and cheap transportation? Share your insights in the comments section.

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Unlimited Mobile Data Deals are Coming to Australia

Today, mobile phones are a basic lifestyle requirement and making phone calls is only a fraction of what we do with them. When we aren’t talking on them, we are using GPS, watching videos or streaming music. All of these functions use data.

With telecom companies providing a wide range of mobile plans, it’s a serious business to compare mobile phone plans in Australia. By the end of the year, it is predicted that Australian telcos might even roll out unlimited usage plans to cater to consumers’ increasing use of data.

In the US, telecommunication companies have unlimited data deals available and trends in the US seem to roll out in Australia a few years later. And this is something that Australian consumers want but this may not come cheap. High-level plans in the US cost around $100 per month. It might be a similar price for unlimited data in Australia.

You can shop for anything online and mobile plans are no exception. You can compare mobile phone plans online at any time so finding a good deal is easy, however, is highly recommended to do your own research because not all networks will appear online. It is definitely worth your time to work out whether you need to spend extra to upgrade to an unlimited data plan.

Unlimited mobile data plans are not yet available in Australia but there are mobile companies that offer great deals for your data needs.

Are you considering an upgrade? Ask yourself these questions:

  • What are the new features that you will get?
  • If you don’t upgrade, how much will you save?

You can still save money by not upgrading to an unlimited data plan especially if you have paid off your phone. There are a range of providers and plans that can still save you money in the long run. In general, an upgrade is not necessary if you don’t have a real need for it.

Do you have other ideas on mobile phone plans? Share your insights in the comments section.

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Top 8 Most Affordable Places to Study Abroad

Many people think that tertiary study overseas is a luxury that only the rich can afford, but you’ll be surprised that there are many countries where you can have an overseas study experience on a budget.

Here are the most affordable places for overseas study:

1. Peru

Expect to pay much less for transportation, food, and other essentials in Peru. Spend like a local and save money not only for study-related expenses but also to witness the beauty of Machu Picchu or Cusco.

2. Morocco

If you’re a student who’s studying Arabic or French, consider going to Morocco to hone your language skills. When in markets, practice using the language when you haggle!

3. Portugal

Looking for affordable study arrangements in Western Europe? Look no further than Portugal, where almost everything costs less than its neighbouring countries.

4. Hungary

Budapest is home to a lot of study abroad programs and affordable accommodation for those who want to study abroad.

5. Germany

Save money by frequenting discount grocers and staying at an accommodation that comes with an average rent that is one-third less than in the US.

6. Mexico

This country offers a low cost of living, rich history, and a huge array of street food available at student-friendly prices.

7. Greece

Expect low everyday expenses when you study in Greece, where tourism has become an essential source of income.

8. Chile

You’ll find a lot of affordable hotels and food in Chile, making it an ideal destination for those who want to study overseas.

Obviously, countries have varying rates when it comes essentials, so when you plan to study abroad, make sure to do your research. Compare the prices not only of the tuition but also food, accommodation, transportation, etc. in several countries so you can make a well-informed decision. With careful planning and consideration of the things that matter most to you, you can study abroad on a budget.

If you’ve found an affordable country for your exchange, bear in mind that expenses can pile up. To avoid this, see if you can get a study abroad scholarship to help alleviate the costs. You’ll find several options for specific locations, depending on your field of study.

Do you have other ideas on the most affordable places to study abroad? Share your insights about child’s education in the comments section.

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Top 5 Shopping Apps that Help You Save Money

Shopping is a regular chore in any household, especially grocery shopping. Few people look forward to it, probably because it can stressful, with so many items to buy and brands to choose from. It can also be time-consuming, and a challenge especially for those who are shopping on a budget. But there are many ways to make life easier. One of the common shopping tips you’ll hear is to use shopping apps.

In this digital age, it’s not surprising to find out that there are shopping apps designed to make shopping much more convenient. These apps help you find great deals, organise your shopping list so you don’t miss anything and save money by avoiding impulse purchases. Also, several shopping apps are free of charge!

Here are some shopping apps that can help you save money:

Coles App

If Coles is your go-to store, you might as well download the Coles App. Items are sorted by aisle automatically, and with access to over 100,000 products, you can choose and add items to the list. You can view the weekly specials and if these are not enough, just enter your Flybuys card number to see more specials. Also, if you want to try out recipes from celebrity chef Curtis Stone, this app is worth considering.

Woolworths App

Woolworths app gives you access to thousands of Woolworths products and lets you add items to the list. Aside from the weekly specials, you can see a list of fruits and vegetables that are in season. You can also add recipes to your shopping list and use the store locator feature to find out more about the nearest Woolworths store. The app likewise allows you to compare local fuel prices at Caltex Woolworths.

PricePal

This free shopping app comes with numerous cash back options. When you’re shopping, just use PricePal and check what you can get back from a purchase. With this feature, you can easily compare the amount and save money in the process. Of course, the more you use the app, the higher your discounts or cash back offers will be.

Grocery IQ

Looking for coupons? Look no further than the Grocery IQ app. It lets you search coupons of different items, enabling you to save money. It also comes with voice recognition and a barcode scanner.

ALDI App

This shopping app has a store locator feature that tells you the opening hours of the nearest ALDI store. It also enables you to create reminders to purchase specific items on specific days. It likewise provides access to the weekly Special Buys.

Using a shopping app can surely change the way you see shopping. See what apps are available and download the one that best suits your needs and preferences.

Do you have other ideas when it comes to shopping on a budget? Share your shopping tips in the comments section.

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Pros and Cons of Investing in Managed Funds

Managed funds are some of the most common investment products. In a managed fund, money from different investors is pooled together and is invested by a professional fund manager. There are different managed funds available depending on the types of assets that investors are seeking.

With a managed fund, you receive money through paid income or distributions. As with any other investment product, it’s crucial to know the benefits and disadvantages. In this article, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of managed funds:

Pros

A professional fund manager is responsible for investing your money

This makes a managed fund a low-stress way to grow your money because the fund manager should know the market and understand which investment options are suitable for you.

Managed funds enable you to diversify your portfolio

With access to investments in different asset classes, industries, companies, and sectors, managed funds allow diversification. You can invest in multiple asset classes at any given time, or just stick to a single asset class but invest across several companies and industries.

Managed funds are cost-effective

If you’re just starting to invest, having a managed fund may be a great option for you as it comes with low minimum requirements on the amount of money that can be invested.

Cons

There is no guarantee

Though your investment is handled by an expert fund manager, there’s still no guarantee that you will earn money. No matter how skilled and knowledgeable your fund manager is, they can still lose money due to factors such as a falling market.

Expect to pay fees even if you lose money

Bear in mind that you’re hiring an expert to invest your money on your behalf, so expect to pay fees whatever the result of investing is.

The dividends or capital gains or distributions are likely to be taxable

In the long run, this may make managed funds less cost-effective than they appear.

Do you have other ideas about managed investment funds? Share your insights in the comments section.

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Are You a Lazy Term Depositor?

If you’re looking for ways to grow your money without risks, consider a term deposit. It’s a low-risk investment that is ideal for those who want to take the conservative route in saving and growing their money. A term deposit comes with a fixed interest rate, allowing your savings to grow just by leaving it in the account for the entire term.

Here are other things that you need to know about term deposits in Australia:

Because of the guaranteed returns, term deposits are widely regarded as a safe way to let your money work for you. Banks usually offer a higher interest rate on term deposits compared to regular savings accounts, so if you have some money that you don’t need in the near future, you may want to put it in a term deposit to get the most out of the interest rate being offered.

Also, since your money is locked away for a certain period of time, it develops good financial habits and discipline, teaching you to be patient and resist the temptation of withdrawing your savings.

With so many banks offering term deposits, it pays to compare their features and see which account suits your needs and financial preferences. Aside from checking the most competitive interest rates, think about the term or duration that suits you best, as well as the amount of money that you’re willing to lock away.

Even if you choose a bank that’s different from where you maintain your savings account, the risks are still very low.

Here are other considerations when it comes to term deposits:

You can have a term deposit free of charge

Unlike other investment products such as funds and stocks, term deposits don’t usually come with a fee. However, some banks may require a minimum deposit amount. Also, you may be required to pay a fee or penalty if you want to withdraw your money sooner than the maturity date.

Term deposits are seen as a low-risk investment

Because of the fixed interest rate, you know how much money you’ll get come maturity date. Unlike in other investments where the chances of losing money can be significant, term deposits guarantee gains. The Australian government guarantees deposits, such as term deposits, up to $250,000 in authorised deposit-taking institutions such as banks or credit unions.

Do you have other ideas on term deposits in Australia? Share your insights in the comments section.

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9 High-Risk Jobs that can Affect Your Insurance Premium

Regardless of your job, accidents can happen. To protect yourself and your family financially in the event of an accident you can take out life insurance. There are different life insurance options, and it’s always best to compare life insurance policies from insurers to see which cover suits your work and lifestyle best.

Bear in mind that there are high-risk jobs that can affect your insurance premium. How do insurers determine if you have a high-risk job or not? It is based on relative rates of fatality and injury.

Here are nine high-risk jobs that can affect your insurance premiums:

1. Commercial fishing

There are numerous risks associated with working at sea. In fact, commercial fishing is 17 times riskier than mining.

2. Truck driver

The trucking business poses huge risks for truck drivers. Based on 2011 data, accidents involving truck drivers account for 15% of all road fatalities in that period.

3. Miner

Every year, there are at least 50 mining-related deaths.

4. Farmer

In 2008, being a farmer was one of the three most dangerous jobs.

5. Garbage collector

Aside from the risk of road accidents, garbage collectors are constantly exposed to chemicals and toxins that can lead to long-term health damage.

6. Police officer

Murder, assault, injury, and abuse are some of the risks involved with being a law enforcement officer.

7. Construction worker

Many construction workers die on construction sites annually.

8. Tree lopper

Heavy machinery such as chainsaws, as well as hazards like falling tree branches and electrical wiring pose risks to tree loppers.

9. Firefighter

Burns, asphyxiation, crashes, and heart attacks are some of the risks of dealing with bushfires and burning buildings.

If you have a high-risk job, one of the key factors that affects premiums is your sum insured. This is the total amount of benefits that your family will get in case of death or inability to work. In general, the higher the sum insured, the higher your premiums, which can significantly affect your adjusted income.

Note that insurers vary in the way they charge an additional loading based on your job, so make sure to look at details when you compare life insurance. With so many life and disability insurance policies available in Australia, shopping around for coverage and doing your research are very beneficial.

Do you have other ideas on life insurance in Australia? Share your tips on how to compare life insurance from different providers in the comments section.

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A Quick Guide to Buying the Best Travel Insurance

What are your must-haves when travelling? Passport and other documents? Clothes? Mobile devices and chargers? Shoes? Money and credit cards? What about travel insurance? This type of insurance specifically provides coverage for when you travel.

Mishaps and accidents can occur any time while you’re on a trip, and it will save you a lot of money and inconvenience if you have travel insurance to depend on. Otherwise, you will be responsible for all expenses overseas in the case that you need emergency treatment or lose your luggage.

What does travel insurance cover?

When looking for travel insurance, keep in mind that different insurers offer different travel insurance policies. Make sure to do your research and know what you want to be covered for. In general, coverage can include:

Overseas medical expenses

If you need to go to a hospital while overseas, your travel insurer will cover your medical bills. However, it depends on the level of coverage that’s included in your policy.

Luggage and personal effects

Depending on your policy, your travel insurance will pay to replace luggage and valuables that get lost or stolen when you travel.

Flight cancellations or delays

Your travel insurance can lessen the frustration of costs incurred due to delayed or cancelled flights. Just make sure that you have proper documents to prove that there’s a cancellation or delay.

Personal liability

If you accidentally cause damage to someone or something while overseas, such as denting a hire car or breaking an item at the hotel, your insurance will pay.

What are the levels of coverage to consider?

In general, there are three types:

1. Basic

It covers possible travel incidents such as loss of luggage but comes with a threshold amount

2. Standard

It can include unlimited cover for medical bills and cancellation of flights

3. Comprehensive

As the name implies, it provides the widest coverage on incidents and medical-related expenses while overseas

How much does travel insurance cost?

The cost or premium is affected by several factors such as level of coverage, where you’re travelling, your age, pre-existing conditions, etc. One thing to remember is: the more comprehensive your policy is, the more it will cover, the higher the limits are, and the higher the premiums are.

You don’t have to get the most comprehensive travel insurance policy that you can find and pay a lot on premiums. The key is to focus on what you need to be covered for and remove everything else that you don’t need. This ensures that you’ll have coverage without spending more than you need to.

Also, read and understand the fine print, and know how much you will have to spend if something goes wrong and your travel insurance will not cover all of it.

Do you have other ideas on travel insurance in Australia? Share your insights in the comments section.

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Is Samsung Galaxy S9 Worth the Money?

New smartphones often have little new to offer over their predecessors aside from minor updates and tweaks here and there. Sometimes, it is only the aesthetics that are improved because there is little room to improve performance. So, if you currently have a Samsung S8, is it worth upgrading to the new S9?

  • The Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S9 are almost the same physically, with the S9 only 1.2mm shorter. The Galaxy S9 has 5.8-inch 1440p OLED display, much like the S8. Both have 64GB storage, not including the SD card, 4GB of RAM, and wireless charging.
  • The biggest design change is the placement of the fingerprint sensor which is moved to a position below the camera lens in the Galaxy S9. In the Galaxy S8, the fingerprint sensor is next to the camera lens making it easy to accidentally smudge it with your finger. Another design change is the addition of stereo speakers.
  • The S9’s main camera is 12MP and it produces crisp outdoor images. This is a substantial improvement. The new camera setup is comprised of a “Super Speed” Dual Pixel sensor and the lense has a variable aperture. The sensor produces great images in low light which was a weakness for the GS8.
  • Performance-wise, the S9 may not be the fastest phone on the market but it is faster than the S8. The new Snapdragon 845 on the S9 offers a 25% boost in performance. Graphics have improved by 30% over the Snapdragon 835 on the S8.
  • The battery hasn’t changed. The S8 and S9 feature 3000mAh battery packs. But you can expect better battery performance with the S9’s Snapdragon 845 processor because the new chip has a 30% power efficiency improvement.

So, is it worth the upgrade? If you own an S8, you are already enjoying most of the features of the S9. If mobile photography is your thing, then go and get the Galaxy S9. Most people don’t think it’s worth the upgrade because the new camera is the only selling point of the S9. So, if you’re not into camera technology or mobile photography, then stick with the S8 or whatever smartphone you have at the moment. As with any other gadget, it pays to do your research, compare phones, and check which features suit you best.

Do you have ideas on how to compare phones? Share your tips in the comments section.

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Which State has the Most Expensive Land Tax in Australia?

As the name implies, land tax is a tax on the value of land that is based on the total value of all unimproved land that you own, excluding your principal place of residence (PPR). In Australia, the rate of land tax varies from state to state (eg. In the Northern Territory there is no land tax). Each state or territory government has its own tax rate as well as specific exemptions.

That is why it is essential to know the laws and regulations related to land tax that cover the state (or potentially states – if you’re an investor with property in multiple states) you’re in.

So which state imposes the most expensive land tax in Australia?

Queensland

In Queensland, land tax is calculated on the total taxable value of the freehold land that you own on June 30 each year (excluding your PPR). Rates vary depending on the total value of the land as well as the type of owner that you are. As an individual, you are liable when the total taxable value of your land is $600,000 or more. Companies, trustees or absentees are liable when the land to be taxed is worth $350,000 or more. The liability may also change when certain events occur and a reassessment of your land tax is necessary.

Victoria

In Victoria, your bills for 2017 and 2018 will be based on the 2016 council site valuation. Land tax is assessed using the appropriate rate and the total site value of your land holdings. You are required to pay land tax when the total value of your property as of midnight on December 31 is equal to or more than $250,000, or $25,000 for trustees.

NSW

Land values in NSW are determined as at July 1, preceding each land tax year. To calculate land tax for 2018, the threshold is $629,000, with a rate of $100 plus 1.6% up to the premium threshold. Speaking of the premium threshold, it is $3,846,000 with a rate of $51,572 for the first $3,846,000 then 2% over that.

Western Australia

Land tax is calculated by applying the appropriate tax rate to land owned on June 30.

Aggregated Taxable Value of Land Land Tax Rate
$0 – $300,000 Nil
$300,001 – $420,000 Flat rate of $300
$420,000 – $1,000,000 $300 + 0.25 cent for each $1 in excess of $420,000
$1,000,000 – $1,800,000 $1,750 + 0.90 cent for each $1 in excess of $1,000,000
$1,800,000 – $5,000,000 $8,950 + 1.80 cents for each $1 in excess of $1,800,000
$5,000,000 – $11,000,000 $66,550 + 2.00 cents for each $1 in excess of $5,000,000
$11,000,000 $186,550 + 2.67 cents for each $1 in excess of $11,000,000

Tasmania

Land tax in Tasmania is assessed as on July 1, using the appropriate tax rate.

Taxable Value of Land Land Tax Rate
$0 – $24,999 Nil
$25,000 – $349,999 $50 plus 0.55% of value above $25,000
$350,000 and above $1,837.50 plus 1.5% of value above $350,000

ACT

In the ACT, land tax is computed based on a fixed charge, which is $1,145, and a valuation charge, which is determined using a formula based on the property value.

Do you have ideas on land tax and how to use the land tax calculator? Share your insights in the comments section.

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