Author Archives: Marxa Dillan

About the author  ⁄ Marxa Dillan

What is a Google Home?

Google Home is a small smart speaker that offers a large number of services through Google Assistant. It has a cylindrical shape with LED lights on top that indicate its status and serve as touch buttons for other functions. It has speakers and a microphone that serve as its base. The speakers may be small but the sound quality will not disappoint for everyday use. It looks more like a small lamp or air diffuser, making it blend in well with the decor of your home.

Google Home Top Features

All you need are voice commands to interact with Google Home.  You can ask to listen to your playlist and Google Home will play it for you. You can get all sorts of information – from weather updates, current events, sports, and directions, to reminders for your appointments. With this smart gadget, you can also turn your lights off, check the laundry, and even update your shopping list, all by just using your voice. Just say “Hey Google” or “OK Google” to activate it, and then give a command or a question.

Some services that are integrated into Google Home include Google Play Music, Spotify, and iHeartRadio for those who love music. For videos and photos, it has Netflix, YouTube, and Google Photos.  You can also access Google Calendar and Google Keep, as well as news sites such as CNN, CNBC and The Wall Street Journal.

Google Assistant, an AI assistant from Google, is the main assistant in Google Home. It is able to make conversation with the user. With recent updates, Google Home can now recognise up to six voices using their accounts.

Google Home provides home automation features that make it a central hub for your smart gadgets. Supported devices include Chromecast digital media player, light bulbs and security devices from SmartThings, Philips Hue, LIFX, LightwaveRF, and Logitech Harmony.

Google has “Proactive Assistance” which notifies users with updates without being asked. “Visual Responses” enable users to send answers from Google Home to mobile devices. Google Home also now supports Bluetooth audio streaming through devices like phones, tablets, and computers, and reminders of calendar appointments.

Do you have other ideas about Google Home and smart gadgets?

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5 Budget Wedding Instagram Accounts You Should Follow

The digital age has brought a lot of technological possibilities that we can’t get enough of. Take Instagram as an example. It started as a photo-sharing platform for the most mundane things. But nowadays, there are so many ways to use Instagram. A lot of people all over the world use this social media platform to promote their products and services, much to the delight of numerous customers because of its convenience and accessibility. We also turn to Instagram to look for great ideas for any event or occasion, the same way that we turn to Pinterest to help us plan an event.

When it comes to weddings, Instagram has become a huge database of budget wedding ideas. You’ll be amazed at how much weddings have evolved. Thanks to this photo-sharing platform, you can look for cheap wedding ideas and inspiration that will help you have a memorable wedding without going over your wedding budget – from gowns and suits, to wedding cakes, flowers, and stationery.

In this article, let’s take a look at some popular budget wedding Instagram accounts that you should follow:

Savvy Brides

The thing with a wedding dress is, you will most likely wear it only once. That’s why some brides don’t mind wearing second-hand dresses. It also saves them a lot of money. If you’re looking for an online retailer of secondhand dresses, you may want to follow Savvy Brides. They also have new styles that don’t break the bank.

IG account: @Savvy_brides

Tinge Floral

This Instagram account is filled with a wide array of flower arrangements. It is run by florist Ashley Beyer, who also offers an online course twice a month. If you have time to spare, you can attend her course and learn the basics on sourcing and design.

IG account: @tingefloral

100 Layer Cake

If you’re looking for a one-stop Instagram account that covers all things weddings, look no further than 100 Layer Cake. To help you avoid going over your wedding budget, this account offers a wide range of DIY tips.

IG account: @100_layercake

Budget Savvy Bride

Well, its handle says it all. If you’re looking for budget wedding ideas, check out this Instagram account and learn simple tips and tricks on how to save money on your wedding.

IG account: @budgetsavvybride

Blossoms Events

Don’t be intimidated by their stunning decor and event productions. A lot of their decorations are pretty simple to make. You can recreate them and stick to your wedding budget.

IG account: @Blossoms_events

Do you have other budget wedding ideas? Share your tips on how to stay within your wedding budget in the comments section.

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Top Tips for Saving Money on Shipping Costs

In this digital age, more and more people are relying on the internet for their day-to-day activities, be it staying connected through social media, bill payments or entertainment. Many also use the internet for their shopping needs and for good reason.

Online shopping is convenient and accessible. There is no denying the convenience of not having to leave the house to go to the mall or shop. All you need is a decent internet connection and your PC or smartphone and you’re good to go.

When shopping online, the shipping fee is an important consideration. For many transactions, the shipping costs may be minimal, but for others especially those that are overseas, international shipping costs can be expensive, and if you’re shopping on a budget, it can be a letdown. But don’t worry. You can cut down your freight costs so you can fully enjoy online shopping.

Here are some cheap shopping tips:

Compare the costs from competitors

This may make shopping a lot less convenient, but consider the significant savings that you can get if you shop around for the vendor with the cheapest shipping charge before buying anything. If the item that you want is available at two or three retailers, consider comparing their shipping costs first then buy it from the retailer that offers the best deal.

Use the right mode of payment

When shopping overseas, make sure to take currency conversion charges into account. You want to use a credit card that does not charge excessive foreign currency fees.

Be on the lookout for shipping specials

There are retailers that offer free shipping for a limited period, say in the next 24 hours. Of course, you cannot take advantage of this cash-saving deal if you need to purchase the item as soon as possible. But if you can wait, shipping specials are actually worth waiting for.

Consolidate your orders with one sender

Save money on shipping costs by buying all items from one store, because when you buy five items from five different stores, you’ll obviously pay five shipping fees. But make sure to read the terms and conditions first before doing this, as retail sites such as Amazon also offer an option to order from affiliates, defeating the purpose of consolidating orders to one sender.

Do you have other cheap shopping tips for saving money on shipping costs? Share your ideas in the comments section.

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5 Ways to Get through University on a Budget

Getting through university is hard enough, but it becomes even more challenging if you’re on a budget. Day-to-day expenses can add up so you’ll be spending lots every month. Truth be told, it’s not really fun or easy to manage your finances and ensure that you’ll have funds throughout the week, or until your next allowance. To survive, you need to change perspective. We’re not talking about major lifestyle changes.

As they say, every little bit counts, and this holds true when it comes to maximising your budget at university. So how can you better manage your finances? Here are some options:

#1 Consider living in a share house

Accommodation takes a huge chunk of your monthly budget while you are at university. In general, it’s far more expensive if you live alone. If living at home is not an option, live in a share house so you can save money. You can do this with some friends. In this way, you’ll have some company and at the same time, share expenses.

#2 Prepare your meals

Takeaway food and dining in restaurants can be expensive. Many students save a lot of their allowance by preparing their own meals. You can get significant savings and at the same time, it’s quick, delicious, and good for your body. You can make a quick grocery trip and prepare your meals for the next few days.

#3 Use credit cards only for emergencies

By emergency, it doesn’t mean buying the latest phone or gadget. While having a credit card has its benefits, it will not help your savings strategy if you cannot pay in full and on time.

#4 Pay your bills on time

Even those who are not in a university should pay their bills on or before they’re due to avoid late charges, which are unnecessary expenses. If you often forget to pay your bills, you can set up direct debits. Of course, your account should always have sufficient funds to avoid inconvenience.

#5 Be a wise shopper

There are so many ways to save money when it comes to shopping. Look for stores that offer student discounts. If you want to buy some fresh produce, go to the local market. If time permits, wait for the items that you want to go on sale so you can save some cash.

Do you have other ideas on how to get through university on a budget? Share your tips in the comments section.

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Cheap Ways to Travel Across Europe

When you travel, one aspect that takes a big chunk of your holiday budget is transportation. That’s why many travellers seek cheap modes of transportation while on a holiday to save some cash. The cost of transportation obviously differs depending on the location. For instance, tourists in Australia would often say it’s expensive to take a vacation in the outback. If going to Australia is expensive, what about in other countries or regions? Imagine the costs to go to Europe, for instance.

But don’t worry. There are several ways to go on a vacation in Europe without breaking the bank. Here are some cheap travel ideas:

Avoid travelling on weekends

If you want to save money on airfares, consider travelling in the middle of the week. Also, check the late night flights especially if you don’t mind reaching your destination at odd hours. Sure, travelling on a weekday seems like the sensible option, but if time permits, you can get significant savings if you travel on a Saturday or Sunday.

Plan your trip

No matter where you’re going, it’s best to book in advance, and do your research about your destination. In most cases, scrambling to get tickets immediately will set you back hundreds of dollars compared to booking in advance. This also holds true for accommodation. Take note that prices tend to go higher during the summer season in Europe, so make sure to book early.

Take advantage of free walking tours

Want cheap transportation options? How about walking around European cities for free? Most cities offer free walking tours which are an ideal activity if you want to see Europe’s beauty from a local perspective. Not only will you be able to save money but walking is a great exercise to burn calories. It’s also a great avenue to meeting new friends!

Check travel review websites

Look at sites such as TripAdvisor. They have a wide array of firsthand reviews from other travellers. They will be able to tell you the cheap transportation modes across Europe, as well as tips on how to get the most out of your trip without shelling out a lot of money, not only in terms of getting around cities but also on food, tours, sites that are free to visit, and hotels.

Do you know other cheap ways to travel across Europe? Share your cheap transportation tips in the comments section.

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What is Renters’ Insurance?

Most people want to live in their own home. However, not everybody can afford it. The common solution is to rent. There are many types of accommodation and they all cost different amounts.

While renting may be a smaller investment than buying your own home, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have to think about your possessions. After all, your monthly rent can be expensive over time, and your belongings also cost money, so you need to get protection against unforeseen events. That’s where renters’ insurance comes in.

So what is Renters’ Insurance? Here are some of the things that you need to know about it:

  • Renters insurance offers protection in cases of unforeseen incidents resulting in loss or damages to your possessions such as appliances, furniture and other pieces of equipment in a rental property. With this insurance, your belongings will be protected against incidents such as theft and fire. Renters insurance policies can likewise offer financial protection against accidental leakage. Other insurers offer coverage for your belongings during incidents of explosion, water damage, vandalism, as well as natural disasters.
  • Insurers vary on the coverage that they offer, so make sure to compare home insurance and see which one offers better protection for your valuables.
  • Renters insurance can also come with extras that protect valuables such as jewellery, clothing, accessories, electronic devices, and other items against loss, theft or damage.

With so many insurers offering policies, it is important to do some home insurance comparisons. Choose several insurers and look at their insurance offerings. Weigh the pros and cons of each so you can narrow down your selection. It’s important to work out what you need.

Do you want to have the standard coverage for your possessions? Do you have expensive collections  that call for insurance policy extras? Can you afford to get comprehensive coverage?

These are just some of the considerations when choosing insurance, whether for your valuables or your home. When in doubt, you can always seek advice from a qualified individual. Don’t be shy of asking questions so you will better understand the ins and outs of the type of insurance that you need.

Do you have other ideas about renters insurance and home insurance comparison? Share your insights in the comments section.

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4 Things to Consider When Investing Interstate

Many people want a piece of real estate in Australia and for good reason. It can be a great investment if you fully understand what you’re getting yourself into. There are many opportunities to grow your money through investing in real estate. While you’re looking into the state of the industry, you may come across the idea of investing interstate.

Investing interstate is one way to diversify your portfolio and further grow your money. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s only for investors who want to add variety to their investments. Even first-time investors can try it.

If you’re thinking of investing interstate, here are some things to consider:

1. Understand how the market works

As with any investment and regardless of what your financial goals are, it’s essential to know and understand the market. Check property guides and market results to see the state of the economy, demographics in the area, your potential tenants, as well as the rate of population growth.

2. A property manager

What better way to understand interstate investment than to find a property manager who knows the local area. In general, property managers are competitive, which is understandable considering how tough the competition is in real estate in Australia.

3. The local area

If you’re planning to invest in an area, take time to visit it. It may look like you already have all the information you need, but it’s hard to beat firsthand knowledge. By visiting the area, you’ll see if the property is as good as what your research tells you.

4. Be wary about rental guarantees

The cost of a rental guarantee will be added by the vendor into the cost price of the property. If you receive one, you are actually paying the developer for money that they will give back to you as rent.

Be cautious about hidden fees and charges. Read the terms and conditions and ask professional real estate advice.

Do you have other ideas when it comes to investing interstate? Share your real estate tips in the comments section.

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Understanding Land Tax Exemptions in New South Wale

Taxation is a complex area. It’s such a broad topic that, sometimes, understanding it can be intimidating, not to mention time-consuming. But as taxpayers, it is our responsibility to know the taxes that we need to pay.

For instance, if you’re a land owner, there’s land tax that you need to be aware of. And it varies depending on the state or territory. In this article, let’s focus on land tax and exemptions in New South Wales.

Land tax refers to tax that is levied on landowners on December 31 every year. It is applicable to all land, whether income is generated from it or not. This includes vacant land, land with a house or residential unit, holiday homes, company title units, residential, commercial or industrial units, commercial properties such as shops and warehouses, as well as land that is leased from the State or Local government.

Land tax should be paid by any owner of one or more parcels of land. When it comes to determining land value, the Valuer General in New South Wales values all land every year and provides a value for taxation purposes.

When it comes to land tax exemptions in New South Wales, there are several things to consider:

Principal place of residence

You can claim a land tax exemption for land that serves as your principal place of residence. The value or size of the land does not have an impact on this exemption. Bear in mind that a family can only claim the exemption of principal place of residence for one property.

Principal place of residence concessions for mixed-use properties

If the land serves as both your principal place of residence and area where you operate your business, you may have eligibility for a land tax reduction for the part of the land that is used as your principal place of residence. Only the part of the land that is used for business activities will be up for land tax.

Boarding houses

Land tax exemption may be applied to land that is used and occupied mainly for boarding houses, as long as these meet the guidelines of the Treasurer.

Residential parks

If you’re an owner of a residential park that is mainly used and occupied by retirees, you may be eligible for a partial or full land tax exemption.

Do you have other ideas about land tax exemptions in New South Wales and land tax in Australia? Share your insights in the comments section.

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Cheap Holiday Ideas for Couples Over 50

It would be great if we could go on holiday on a whim. But for many, it is financially challenging. Depending on where you want to go and what you want to do there, the expenses can pile up and before you know it, your dream destination will leave a hole in your pocket.

The same thing holds true for retirees whose priority is to be able to enjoy life through travelling. It’s nice if you’ve saved up early for your retirement but what if you don’t have enough funds for going on holidays?

The good thing is, not having a lot of money doesn’t mean you cannot go to your dream location anymore. With some research and perfect timing, you can go on budget holidays.

Here are some things that you can consider to have a cheap holiday:

Check out low-cost destinations

There are several countries that offer cheap holidays. In Asia, consider booking a flight to Indonesia, Vietnam or Thailand. If you prefer Europe, try the southern part of Spain or Hungary. You’ll be surprised at the huge savings you can get by going on a holiday in low-cost destinations. In general, the round trip tickets can be expensive, but once you reach your destination, the day-to-day expenses will be lower.

Rent a car and go on a road trip

You can explore other parts of Australia by renting a car and going on a road trip. To maximise your budget, there are car rental companies that look for drivers who will move their vehicles to designated points of hire. The cost of driving a car back is much lower than standard hire charges.

Ride a coach

If you want to explore the east coast states as well as South Australia, you’ll find several bus companies that offer coach services at low prices. There’s a fly free offer to a departure point that is available in many guided holiday tours. There’s also a coach company that offers a hop on, hop off pass. This means that you can ride and alight the coach wherever you are.

As with everything that’s related to cheap holidays, plan and research. There are so many opportunities where you can save a lot of money. You just need to know where to look and anticipate upcoming deals and promos.

Do you have other cheap holiday ideas for couples who are over 50 years old? Share your tips in the comments section.

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Are You an Australian Resident for Tax Purposes?

If you’re an Australian resident, you need to file a tax return with the Australian Taxation Office and declare all income that you’ve received not only in this country but anywhere in the world for the last financial year. This also means that you need to pay the Medicare levy and are entitled to the tax-free threshold.

Bear in mind that the ATO and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection vary in standards used to identify whether an individual is an Australian resident or not.

In this article, learn how to determine if you’re an Australian resident or a foreign resident for taxation purposes:

ATO Residency Tests

The ATO uses several tests to find out if a person is an Australian resident or not. The main test of tax residency is called the resides test. It covers different factors such as the purpose of a person’s presence in the country, family and business ties, bank accounts, as well as social and living arrangements. These are assessed to find out whether an individual resides in the country. If that’s the case then he/she is a resident for taxation purposes.

If the individual fails the resides test, he/she needs to meet the requirements of any of these tests:

  • Domicile test – You will be considered an Australian resident for tax purposes if your permanent residence is in the country.
  • 183-day test – In this test, the individual should be in Australia for at least half of the income year, regardless of whether they are present in Australia continuously for half a year or with breaks.
  • Superannuation test – This is for employees of the Australian Government who work overseas at an Australian post. This is to ensure that they are considered Australian residents for taxation purposes.

So what if you are not an Australian resident? This means that you will only pay tax for income that is generated in the country. You are also not required to pay the Medicare levy, so you are not eligible to get Medicare health benefits. Likewise, you are not entitled to the tax-free threshold.

It can be a bit challenging to understand income tax in Australia. It would help if you do some research or seek tax advice from a qualified individual.

Do you have other ideas about income tax in Australia? Share your insights in the comments section.

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