February 25, 2018

What is a Saver Plus Program?

As most parents would know, a child’s education is important, but it can also come with a hefty price tag. From tuition and school uniforms and shoes, to supplies and fees for activities, the cost of sending your kids to school can be really expensive. It’s not surprising that many parents look for ways to prepare for it.

There are a lot of ways to prepare for your children’s education. Do your research and see which works best for your needs and preferences. If you’re looking for a program that will help you with your finances and to save for your child’s education, you may want to look at Saver Plus.

What is a Saver Plus Program? Here are some of the things that you need to know about it:

Established in 2003, Saver Plus is a financial education and matched savings program that helps families gain financial skills that will enable them to achieve their savings goals, develop sound saving habits, and learn how to manage their money. It is run by the Brotherhood of St Laurence and ANZ, together with The Smith Family, Berry Street, The Benevolent Society, as well as other community agencies.

This 10-month program gives incentives to those who complete it. Participants can get up to $500 in matched savings from ANZ. This can be of great help for different education-related expenses such as computers, supplies, books, uniforms, and sports equipment.

To join the Saver Plus program, you should be at least 18 years of age, have a Centrelink Health Care or Pensioner Concession Card, and have some form of regular income. You should also have a child at school located in an area where Saver Plus is delivered. The program is offered by different community agencies in 60 locations across states and territories in Australia.

A Saver Plus Coordinator will provide support and guidance to eligible participants throughout the program. They will determine a savings goal and make deposits regularly for 10 months. There’s also MoneyMinded training that comes with four fun and informative workshops, aimed at improving their financial skills.

Saver Plus participants enjoy taking part in the financial education workshops. They improve their money management and saving skills. Another great thing about the program is that the participants can use what they learn even after the program by growing their savings.

Do you have other ideas about education savings plans? Share your insights in the comments section.

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5 Financial Skills that Should be Learned at School

Managing your finances is a key life skill. It affects almost all aspects of our lives, from our security and health to the opportunities that are available to us. For this reason, it would be great if financial skills were included in your child’s education.

Here are some of the financial skills that children should learn:

1. Fundamentals of Money

Your child’s education should include learning the nature and function of money. Age-appropriate lessons can be about saving their daily allowance, opening a bank account, and determining how much they need to make a purchase.

2. Budgeting

Those who are already in primary school are old enough to learn how to create personal budgets. It’s an essential skill especially since their needs and wants are different. They may want to buy a mobile phone. With a budget, they will know how much money is needed to buy it and what they need to do to make it happen.

3. Saving

Their budget should include savings, another essential financial aspect. Nothing beats saving money as early as possible, giving it a lot of time to grow and work for you. Putting away a small amount, but on a regular basis, can significantly help you build your savings. It’s likewise important to set a financial goal that will keep you motivated to improve your finances.

4. Compound Interest

Speaking of letting your money grow and work for you, the concept of compound interest should be learned at school. Once you understand how it works, it’s an effective tool to grow your savings will minimal effort on your part. Knowing how to calculate compound interest will help you better understand your cash flow and savings.

5. Debit/Credit

Using a debit card enables you to make cashless transactions, which is convenient for many. It also helps in managing your finances since you can only spend what you have. But it’s a different story with a credit card. It’s essentially borrowing money then paying it back later. If kids learn the effects of paying only the minimum amount every month, or failing to do so, it will have an impact to their understanding of how money should be spent. It will also teach them to be responsible enough to think long and hard before using a credit card.

What other financial skills should be included in your children’s education? Share your ideas in the comments section.

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HECS Loan Repayment: An Overview

Parents want only the best for their children, and what better way to ensure that they’ll have a bright future than sending them to school and making sure that they finish their studies? Everybody knows that sending kids to school is an expensive affair, that’s why many prepare for it early on by building an education savings plan.

For students who are struggling financially and can’t keep up with the expenses in school. There are ways to address it. One of these is to get a loan.

Here are some of the things that you need to know about the loan and the loan repayment:

  • The Australian Government has announced several reforms in an attempt to improve the higher education sector. With these reforms, students will have more options and as for the higher education sector, transparency and accountability will be improved.
  • Check the myGov website. It now offers features that enable you to view your HELP debt, check your payment reference number, as well as identify the payment options available online. All you have to do it to create a myGov account that is linked to the ATO. You can also reach out to the ATOP to find out how much you owe.
  • Once your repayment income is beyond the compulsory repayment threshold, you need to start making loan repayments. Bear in mind that the compulsory repayment threshold is updated every year.
  • Repayment income is affected by several factors. These include your taxable income, reportable fringe benefits, total net investment loss, reportable super contributions, as well as the exempt foreign employment income amounts. The ATO will calculate your compulsory repayment for a particular year. This will be included in your income tax notice of assessment.
  • The amount of your repayments is a percentage of your income. Of course, it increases when your income increases. In other words, the higher your income is, the higher your repayments will be.
  • Voluntary repayments, any amount, can be done at the ATO anytime. These are additional payments to the compulsory repayments that are made through your tax return.
  • Voluntary repayments can be done by BPAY or direct credit. These can also be done through a credit card or check to the ATO. Prepare your PRN when making voluntary repayments. You can always reach out to the ATO if you need assistance on making voluntary repayments.

Do you have other ideas on HELP loan repayment and children’s education? Share your insights in the comments section.

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How does an Education Savings Plan (ESP) Work? 

Regardless of nationality and background, parents all over the world want their kids to have the best education possible. Many save for their children’s education as early as possible because in reality, school and university fees and expenses don’t come cheap. In fact, these can be one of the biggest expenses of the family. As early as possible, try to save money for your children’s education to ensure that you’ll have sufficient funds until they enter university.

In Australia, parents can look into the education savings plan (ESP). It’s a tax-free investment for your child’s education. With the ESP, you are saving for the tertiary education. The returns from the investments directly go to the nominated child, and are taxed as income for the student.

How much money do you need for your children’s education? Ask yourself: do you want your kids to study at public or private schools? Public schools are much cheaper, though you also need to consider other expenses such as textbooks and uniforms. Will they go to a college or a university? Will your child be eligible for HECS-HELP, a government loan designed for tertiary students? Your answers will help you determine the amount of money that you need.

Top Main Features of the ESP:

  • The education savings plan enables you to make regular ad-hoc contributions, with funds invested to grow your money for a particular period.
  • You may not be able to access education savings to pay for other expenses as these are separate from other savings or investments.
  • The earnings from the ESP are tax-effective. If these are used to cover education-related costs, the tax paid will be refunded to you. You can withdraw the earnings to cover costs that are not related to education but keep in mind that the tax refund may not be as favourable.
  • The ESP covers a wide range of costs. These include books, school fees, uniforms, as well as extra-curricular activities.
  • When you redeem your investment, there’s no need to pay any capital gains.
  • ESP is usually invested in property and fixed interest investments, as well as in shares. This is to allow your money to grow for a long time. This is invested in different products, so you may see fluctuations when there are changes in the market.
  • There are newer education savings plans that offer more flexibility in the sense that you can gain access to your money when necessary.

Do you have other ideas on education savings plan and children’s education? Share your insights in the comments section.

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Understanding Tertiary Education Fees in Australia

Since education fees continuously increase, many parents prepare for their children’s education early on. Some get an education savings plan to ensure that they’ll be able to provide for school fees and requirements up to tertiary education.

Higher education or tertiary education is provided by different universities and institutions in Australia. These include the Technical and Further Education institutes and Registered Training Organisations. The country’s higher education system plays a significant role in ensuring that students are equipped with skills that they need to have a successful future, and policies and programs are implemented by the government to support tertiary education. Of course, there are fees involved. In this article, know more about tertiary education fees in Australia:

Tertiary Education Fees for Domestic Students

Higher education involves choosing a course that you want to pursue, and where you want to get your degree. Another consideration is the cost of the course. In general, it depends on the fee structure of your chosen course.

Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP) vs. Full-fee Place – The tertiary education fees depend on your course as well as the qualification level and whether you will get it at a university or a private provider. If you’re planning to get a research degree, you don’t have to worry about fees. Government schemes fund students who are undertaking a master’s degree by research or a research doctorate.

Degree Loans – There are government loans available that can help you manage your tertiary education fees. The government can defer all or part of your fees, though this will depend on whether you get a CSP or a full-fee place. One loan type is the HECS-HELP that is for students who get a CSP, and is available at public universities and in some courses offered by private institutions. The other loan type is FEE-HELP that is available for those who receive a full-fee place. Bear in mind that only postgraduate students are eligible for this loan type.

Tertiary Education for International Students

The fees will depend on the level of study and where you want to attend. If you’re an international student, you will be required to pay fees before you study. Take note that there may be additional costs such as payment for course materials and access to facilities. To give you an idea, here are estimates for different types of qualifications:

  • School – from $7,800 up to $30,000
  • English language studies – $300 per week, depending on the course length
  • Vocational education and training – from $4,000 to $22,000
  • Undergraduate bachelor’s degree – from $15,000
  • Postgraduate Master’s degree – from $20,000
  • Doctoral degree – from $14,000

Got other ideas on child’s education and tertiary education fees in Australia? Share your tips in the comments section.

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Top 6 Apps that can Help You Learn New Skills

Education is important, no matter where you’re from or what your background is. It’s such an essential part of our lives that many parents prepare for their children’s education as early as possible. There are also those who get an education savings plan to ensure that they’ll be able to provide the needs of their kids in school.

Another thing to remember is that learning is a never-ending process. Even adults still need to learn new skills, whether to be more suitable for a certain job or simply to know more about other things. Thanks to technological advancements, learning has become a lot easier with apps. In this section, check out six apps that can help you learn new skills:

1. Ready4

Preparing for an exam? Use Ready4 app to help you ace that test. It offers more than just practice questions. It’s convenient to use that you can study wherever you are, thanks to its mobile-friendly features. You can download it for free.

2. GradeProof

If you want to learn how to write effectively or further hone your writing skills, consider downloading the GradeProof app. It’s like having your own editor who will show you how to improve your writing, from checking your grammar to ensuring that its original and ideas flow smoothly. It’s free of charge, but you can upgrade to GradeProof Premium to access more features.

3. EdX

As long as you have a smartphone, you can use EdX and learn from well-known institutions such as MIT and McGill. It offers online lectures, assignments, and quizzes. It is also possible to earn a certificate, with a fee of course.

4. Coursera

With more than 1,000 courses on a wide range of topics including math, science, and technology, you can learn a lot from the Coursera app. It’s like an online school wherein lessons and classes are available, with reading assignments and video content. Some courses are free of charge, and you can earn a certificate when you complete a course.

5. Duolingo

Fancy learning a new language? Duolingo may be the app for you. Since 2014, it has been offering language lessons through mini games that kids and adults alike can enjoy. It offers more than 12 languages, plus it’s completely free.

6. SoloLearn

If you want to learn computer programming, you may want to check out SoloLearn, which is a Google Play developer. HTML, Java, and C++ are some of the languages that they offer. There’s a corresponding app for each language. It’s also free.

Do you know other apps that can help you learn new skills? Share your ideas in the comments section.

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Ways to Support Your Children’s Learning

When it comes to our children’s education, we only want the best that we can possibly give. That’s why many parents manage the education savings plan as early as possible to ensure that they can provide for their child’s education. Kids are natural learners. Every day, they learn new things not only from school but also in their surroundings and their interactions with family and friends. And it’s essential that parents support their children’s learning. Here are some points to consider when it comes to supporting your children’s learning:

Talk with your child every day

Ask what happens in school or encourage your children to tell you about their day. Letting them know that you’re open to listening to whatever they want to say is essential in their performance at school. You and your children can also discuss movies, books or TV shows that they’re interested in.

Encourage them to pursue their interests

In some cases, parents impose their own dreams to their children, out of frustration that they weren’t able to do them while they’re young. What’s ideal is to let your kids pursue their own passion and interests, be it in sports, music, arts or literature. The more involved they become with their favourite activity, there’s a higher possibility that they will learn.

Set a good example

Children are observant, and they quickly pick up the way we speak and behave, and treat other people. To support children’s learning, be a role model. Initiate conversations over dinner or after watching a movie. When they see that learning is an integral part of our lives, they’ll be more inclined to learn.

Let your children learn the value of failure

When there’s success, there’s also failure. While we don’t want our kids to feel upset because of failing on something, let them understand what it means and how to rise from it.

Instill some routines

In a classroom setting, the curriculum comes with routines to provide structure on the way kids learn. You can do the same at home to establish a good learning environment. You can set some rituals and routines during playtime or when they’re doing their favourite activity.

Your child’s education at school can be supported by creating a healthy environment at home. Keep these tips in mind so you can support your children’s learning.

Do you have other tips on child’s education and how to support your children’s learning? Share your ideas in the comments section.

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How much does it really cost to study abroad?

Education is one great investment you can give to your child. Many parents start with their education savings plan as early as possible to ensure that they’ll be able to provide for their children’s education. Of course, the cost differs depending on whether your kid will go to a public or private school, college or university. But what about studying abroad?

The cost of studying abroad varies depending on several factors, particularly the cost of living in your destination. Consider costs such as airfare, student visa, travel and health insurance, food, accommodation, textbooks, entertainment, incidental expenses, as well as working while on exchange. In this article, let’s take a look at how much does it really cost to study overseas:

  1. If you are an exchange student, you will be required to pay tuition to your home institution. While in Australia, international students are provided with the Overseas Student Health Cover or OSHC. This covers basic medical and hospital-related costs. Prices differ depending on several factors and is a requirement for the student visa.
  2. There are host institutions that require students to pay a fee for Student Services or public transportation concessions.
  3. Australian citizens, permanent residents, as well as New Zealand citizens will have their student contribution at the Band 1 rate which is $396.81 per unit in 2017. For postgraduate domestic students on exchange, expect to pay fees under the Band 2 domestic student tuition rate at $1090 per unit (in 2017).
  4. For exchange courses, Australian citizens will still be eligible for FEE-HELP. On the other hand, permanent residents and New Zealand citizens need to pay their tuition up-front.
  5. As for the living arrangements, expect to pay AUD$17,400 to AUD$25,920 per year for shared accommodation outside of the campus.
  6. Should you decide to work while on exchange, make sure to know the work rights for international students as these differ from country to country. You can inquire about your visa restrictions at the embassy of your host country.

Studying abroad is a great opportunity to learn new things and be independent at the same time. The new environment, people, and culture will provide avenues for learning even outside the classroom. Do some research and save enough funds to prepare for the expenses when planning to study abroad.

Got other ideas on the costs of studying abroad and children’s education? Share your insights in the comments section.

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15 New Skills that You can Learn for Free!

Child education includes teaching kids new skills that are necessary as they grow older, but as an adult, are there skills that you wish to learn? Whether you need it for school or at work, or even just as a hobby, you can still learn a new skill or two. And the best thing is, you can learn without paying anything! In this list, we’ve rounded up 15 new skills that you can learn for free.

1. Play an instrument

It doesn’t matter if you want to play the guitar, drums, violin, piano or flute. YouTube video tutorials and other websites can guide you towards playing a new instrument.

2. Repair stuff

Of course, it’s more convenient to just hire someone to do the repair work for you, but channel your DIY spirit and learn something new in the process. Knowing how to repair just about anything is also rewarding.

3. Be a better photographer

Take better photos, whether you’re using your smartphone or a DSLR camera. There are free online resources that offer tips on photography.

4. Learn self-defense

You can learn even just the basic moves that will improve your endurance and hopefully prevent you from getting hurt in case of an attack.

5. Improve your sense of style

There are resources online that provide useful information on how to look visually appealing at all times. Learning even the basics of design can make a big difference.

6. Do your own make-up

Know how to apply make-up properly and learn new tricks by watching beauty video tutorials.

7. Go back to your old subjects in school

Brush up on your mathematics or science knowledge by checking out online education courses.

8. Be a DIY expert

Arts and crafts never get old. A quick search online will lead you to a wide range of sites that offer DIY tips and tricks.

9. Cook better dishes

It’s easy to learn how to cook, with so many recipe sites and how-to videos online.

10. Be fluent in another language

Depending on the language that you want to learn, this may take some time, but give it a try and you’ll be able to speak a new language.

11. Write for the web

Everything seems to be online, so you might as well learn how to write for the web.

12. Analyse web statistics

There are free online resources that will help you learn how to use Google Analytics.

13. Create an app or a website

This is a highly marketable skill so make sure to learn basic programming and how to make a website.

14. Maintain your own website

There are video tutorials that will teach you the basics of WordPress so you can create and maintain your personal website

15. Be more confident in public speaking

Overcome your fear of speaking in front of a crowd through online courses on how to handle interviews and other engagements.

Got other tips? Share your ideas in the comments section.

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Top 5 Education Blogs that You Should Read

The ever evolving world of technological advancements has paved the way for more avenues of learning. What used to be held only inside classrooms can now be done online, through education blogs. These are greatly useful for child education. Some tackle general knowledge while others focus on a specific subject. Some education blogs also come with exercises so educators and students can learn from each other. Here are five education blogs that you may want to consider.

1. The Innovative Educator

Lisa Nielsen was the person behind this education blog that focuses on innovative ways to make classes more relevant and engaging. As a public school educator, she aims to share her ideas on how to change the school and learning experience for students. She offers tips on how to implement processes that educators can use without having to worry about restrictions on budget and other factors.

2. The Daring Librarian

This education blog was the brainchild of Gwyneth A. Jones, a Google Certified Teacher. She has a lot of accolades under her belt, including Best of the Best and a Visionary Leader by Teacher Librarian Magazine in 2012. Her education blog approaches ed-tech with cartoon and a sense of humour. She offers a lot of content that deals with apps and other ideas on how websites can be used as learning opportunities.

3. Edudemic

This is considered as the largest portal for education content. It offers a wide range of ideas and plans on how to use and integrate technology into the classroom. The website looks daunting at first, but take your time in browsing through the site and you’ll find a lot of ideas that can be used for learning.

4. My Paperless Classroom

K-5 tech integration specialist Sam Patterson is the person behind this education blog which covers his personal experiences to implement tech ideas in the classroom. For him, tech integration can be done using toys and video games. On the other hand, he also shares his insights about the challenges of these technologies in classes.

5. Cycles of Learning

Cycles of Learning is all about learning hacks. Developed by Ramsay Musallam, this blog is filled with a range of practical hacks that can be used in classrooms. If you’re a fan of TED Talk, you may have come across his speech on how to spark learning.

Do you know other education blogs that can help in your child’s education? Share your ideas in the comments section.

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