Retirement Income

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The major changes you need to know starting from 1 January 2019

<p>With the new year right around the corner, you start to plan how you’re going to do things differently. But you’re not the only one who plans to bring about change.</p> <p>With the start of a new year, the government uses the occasion to introduce new laws and regulations, fees and charges, and taxes and benefits.</p> <p>So to prepare for January 1, 2019, here is what you need to know.</p> <p><strong>Increase in train fares</strong></p> <p>Victoria will see a spike in train fares by 2.2 per cent starting from January 1. The increase is according to the consumer price index and the government claims it is the lowest fare rise since 2014.</p> <p>A two-hour ticket which previously cost $4.30 will now be $4.40, with an all-day ticket costing travellers $8.80. Concession tickets will be priced at $2.20 and $4.40.</p> <p>A seven-day Myki pass will cost passengers $44 while concession passes will set commuters back $22. Annual passes will be increased to $1722.50 and if travelling on concession, then it will cost $861.25.</p> <p>Those residing in Brisbane should also expect an increase in fares starting from January 7, with adult tickets increasing from $4.70 to $4.80. But concession prices will remain the same at $2.40.</p> <p>Eight zone tickets will cost $28.90 for adult passengers and $14.50 for concession.</p> <p>Those who carry a TransLink Go card will pay $2.65-$3.31 for a single-zone adult fare and $1.32-$1.66 for concession holders.</p> <p>The eight-zone charges will increase to $15.97-$19.96 for adults and $7.98-$9.98 for concession.</p> <p><strong>Power price cuts</strong></p> <p>Customers who are with AGL in Victoria will see a decrease in electricity prices as they plan to come down by 1.6 per cent starting from January 1.</p> <p>Average households will see a saving of $23 a year and $60 for small businesses. Gas prices are also planned to become cheaper as families will save $11 and small businesses $56.</p> <p>Those living in NSW, ACT, Queensland and South Australia, and are owners of a concession card, will have an automatic 10 per cent discount applied to their electricity bill from January 1.</p> <p>The four states are also looking at an increase in gas prices, with households paying an extra $69 a year. But if you want a way around the hefty cost, then EnergyAustralia recommends switching to the Secure Saver plan which locks in 2018 rates for two years.</p> <p><strong>NAB’s ATM fees</strong></p> <p>If you’re an NAB customer then prepare yourself as from January 1, National Australia Bank members will be forced into paying $2 from over 3000 ATMs that used to be free since 2009.</p> <p>The fee comes after NAB ended its partnership with RediATM, but a spokesperson from NAB says that there will still be 7000 ATMs around the country that customers can use free of charge.</p> <p>“NAB has decided to no longer be part of the RediATM network from January 1, 2019,” they said. “The way Australians are using cash is changing fast with ATM use declining by 20 per cent over the past five years.”</p> <p><strong>Qantas Frequent Flyer changes</strong></p> <p>Members of Qantas’ Frequent Flyer program will not be able to earn points by booking meals from January 1, as the Australian carrier will be putting a stop to its Qantas Restaurants scheme.</p> <p>The airline partnered with TripAdvisor-owned company Dimmi.com.au, which rewarded members with points if they booked with one of over 4000 restaurants.</p> <p>“Due to changes in the program, from January 1, 2019 you will no longer be able to book a table or earn points via Qantas restaurants,” the website read. “You can book a table up until December 31 2018 and dine until January 31 2019.”</p>

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Why is the Australian government still paying the pension to 6000 dead people?

<p>Australian pensioners over 80 years old will soon have to produce a “proof of life certificate” to continue receiving the pension.</p> <p>The changes, which will come into effect from July 1, will mean that expats will have to go to an Australian embassy or consulate every two years to register that they are still alive and entitled to receive the payment.</p> <p>The change follows the recent revelation that thousands of deceased expats continued to receive their pension.</p> <p>Speaking about the major discrepancy, Social Services Minister Paul Fletcher, said: “We believe we will identify about 6000 people living overseas who are dead or whose families are wrongfully receiving taxpayer money.”</p> <p>Based on average death rates, the Government predicts the new procedure will save $150 million over four years.</p> <p>Mr Fletcher said the proof of life certificates were a fair way to make sure pension payments are only going to eligible recipients.</p> <p>"Countries like the UK, Germany, Netherlands, France and Italy all have systems in place to verify whether a pensioner living overseas is still alive and we're now going to introduce a similar system," he said.</p> <p>"We do have a duty to be careful and responsible with taxpayers' money and so it's appropriate to have a process in place to check that where a pension is being paid that that person continues to be alive."</p> <p>Until now, the government has relied on the voluntary reporting of an overseas death by a family member or friend, allowing many deaths to go unnotified.</p> <p>“The most likely explanation is that many Australians who were living overseas on a pension have died - but that has not been made known to the Government and we are continuing to pay their pension,” he said.</p> <p>“In some cases it could be fraud. In others, it could be that the former Australian pensioner's family incorrectly think that they remain entitled to receive the pension formerly paid to their loved one.”</p> <p>Expat pensioners will be given 13 weeks to tell the government they are alive before their payment is cancelled. </p>

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The outrageous advice Centrelink just gave this 55-year-old woman

<p>A devoted wife has been advised by Centrelink to divorce her husband of more than 20 years as he suffers through a devastating stroke.</p> <p>Wayne Mitchell, a former PDHPE teacher and a man who held a passion for sport, has been left unable to walk and talk after suffering from a stroke in August.</p> <p>Requiring round the clock care, the 55-year-old is forced to live in a nursing home which is proving to be a huge expense for his family.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 0px; height:0px;" src="/media/7821999/1.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/5884b4ca6eba43739a8a96cb97801e5b" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Photo: <a href="https://www.9now.com.au/a-current-affair/2017">A Current Affair</a></em></p> <p>Sitting down with <em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.9now.com.au/a-current-affair/2017" target="_blank">A Current Affair</a></em>, Colleen Mitchell said the government has recommended a divorce from her husband, so he can be eligible to receive the pension.</p> <p>“I’ve been told it would be cheaper to divorce, he’d go on a pension,” said Colleen.</p> <p>If Colleen decided to proceed with the divorce, Wayne will be entitled to complete care from the federal government as he would be a single disabled person.</p> <p>Due to the tragic circumstances, Colleen is considering taking the advice given even though she loves her husband dearly.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 500px; height:280.625px;" src="/media/7822000/http_2f2fprodstatic9netau2f_2fmedia2f20182f112f152f182f582fmd2.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/14f24862a95f488c9ee0e05a44a4b47e" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Photo: <a href="https://www.9now.com.au/a-current-affair/2017">A Current Affair</a></em></p> <p>The family have attempted to get through to Centrelink to request funding for Wayne’s condition but due to the couple owning a home, their requests have been denied due to the house being considered an asset.</p> <p>According to Colleen, she either divorces her husband or has to look into selling her home, which she shares with her daughter in order to cover the costs of nursing home care.</p> <p>“There’s no way he’d be saying, sell up, because I would have nowhere to live,” she said.</p> <p>But despite the struggles the family is currently facing, Colleen says divorcing her husband is an option she doesn’t want to take.</p> <p>“We’ve been together for 22 years, so that would be the last thing I would want to do but if it comes down to it,” she said.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 500px; height:281.25px;" src="/media/7822001/http_2f2fprodstatic9netau2f_2fmedia2f20182f112f152f182f582fmd6.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/6119de73b7864e4faa733a7a251f76f5" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Photo: <a href="https://www.9now.com.au/a-current-affair/2017">A Current Affair</a></em></p> <p>The family created a <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.gofundme.com/inspire-stroke-care-centre?fbclid=IwAR31-mXmv3OC87p1HRar_h2ousxnlmeVQA4Ra4UspaNDYrI2dNDVStIK1Ow" target="_blank">Go Fund Me</a> page in October to help raise money for a facility that hopes to help young stroke survivors that require the level of assistance only provided in residential care.</p> <p>“On the 27th of August 2018, my 55-year-old father (Wayne) suffered a major Basal Ganglia Haemorrhagic Stroke,” wrote Wayne’s daughter on the Go Fund Me page.</p> <p>“The original prognosis was that he would not survive the original bleed given its severity. He has pulled through, although it is still a long road of rehab and recovery.”</p> <p>Since the page went up, they have received over $25,000 worth of donations.</p> <p>“We want to create a residential care facility specialising in direct support for young stroke and ABI and TBI survivors or any young person who has been put into the situation of requiring 24-hour support,” the page read.</p> <p>“Being cared for around other young people, can provide more mental stimulation and promote rehab, healing and interactions.”</p>

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The sneaky hacks supermarkets use to make you buy more than you need

<p>Next time you go shopping at your supermarket you may want to keep an eye out for some cheeky tactics that are used to top up your trolley and make you spend more.</p> <p>Supermarket insiders have revealed the hacks in a <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.quora.com/What-are-some-psychological-tricks-that-supermarkets-use-to-get-customers-to-buy-more" target="_blank">Quora </a>thread, and while some tricks may not be too surprising, others are real eye-openers.</p> <p>Aishah Hannan, a former assistant psychologist, said there’s a reason that the bakery may be closest to a supermarket entrance, “as the smell of food instantly boosts your appetite".</p> <p>But the bakery may also be positioned at the back of the store, so customers have to wander through the aisles to get there, and spend more time shopping.</p> <p>She also suggested that fruit and vegetables are made to “appear bright and healthy” with enhanced lighting in that section. Hannan also says there’s a psychology behind why the fruit and veg section is often located at the front of a supermarket, so customers buy them first “and feel less guilty walking towards the treats aisle,” she wrote.</p> <p>Similarly, there’s a reason behind why you may have to look longer to find the dairy section, which is often located at the back of large grocery stores.</p> <p>“Everyone has milk and cheese on their shopping list so having them far away ensures that the customer walks throughout the whole supermarket for their item,” she said.</p> <p>And have you ever looked out for clocks at your local food shopping haunt? According to Ariel Dreyfus, a Business Administration student, supermarkets avoid obvious placement of clocks so as not to remind customers of the time they’re spending in store.</p> <p>Or have you ever had a good listen to the music playing in a supermarket? Dreyfus said that a slow-paced mood is encouraged using music with a slow tempo.</p> <p>“Slower music encourages shoppers to slowly walk, instead of rushing, which leaves more time to spend more of your money,” she writes.</p> <p>The psychology behind the layout and position of products in stores has long been known to direct us to make certain choices, but Dreyfus has a hack to look out for the next time you’re browsing the confectionary aisle – namely it’s designed to make your part with more cash, and arranged by demographic.</p> <p>“The top shelf of a candy aisle will have the options that the older generation leans towards, such as dark chocolate, because adults are taller than adolescents,” she theorises.</p> <p>“The candy a bit lower is meant to hit the eye level of the preteens so their fan favourites according to demographic will be slightly lower. Then between the waist high shelf and lower shelf will be candy favoured by toddlers because they are shorter and will be seen when a child is in a buggy or at mum’s hip height.”</p> <p>And if you feel like you’re being followed Dreyfus claims that you may be being shadowed so that your choice of items in your shopping trolley can be noted to measure consumer behaviour.</p> <p>Hannan suggests to be on the lookout for the psychological design behind the colours of price tags – red for sale items, yellow and gold for hunger, and blue “which is said to promote trust".</p> <p>Have you noticed any of these supermarket tricks? Let us know in the comment section below.</p>

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ALDI does it again! The hot ticket Special Buys item just in time for summer

<p>If you can’t wait for summer, one of ALDI’s latest Special Buys will help you get ready, at a bargain price.</p> <p>This weekend, the discount retailer will feature an inflatable spa in one of its bi-weekly Special Buys sales and it could have customers rushing to get in line for one because of the very reasonable price. You could pick up one for $499, when other outlets have them priced at $1000 or more.</p> <p>The spa can fit the whole family with enough room for four to six people according to consumer comparison site <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.canstarblue.com.au/home-garden/aldi-swimming-pool-gear/" target="_blank">Canstar Blue</a>, at the inflated size of 1.96m x 60cm.</p> <p>The heating and bubbling functions in the spa create a massage effect and the spa comes with a power saving system, heating to a maximum of 40C, and 87 air jets.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 300.625px; display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/media/7821683/spa.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/5fd7c3f9563a44c2abc826ff2fead1ff" /></p> <p>Another benefit is the spa’s easy portability, armed with two handles, making it light to carry before it’s filled with water.</p> <p>What’s more, it’s easy to set up, with a pump included with the spa to inflate it quickly.</p> <p>Stock of the inflatable spa is limited, but popular items may be in the line-up for future sales according to <a rel="noopener" href="https://au.news.yahoo.com/latest-aldi-special-tipped-cause-customer-chaos-121633380.html" target="_blank">7News</a>.  </p> <p>It reported that the chain decided to increase stock for Special Buys that raced off the shelves because customers were behaving aggressively as they rushed to secure a bargain.</p> <p>“People go running in for the discount, and that’s not the behaviour we want to see,” ALDI spokesman Adrian Christie said.</p> <p>Will you be heading to ALDI this weekend to check out their Specials Buys? </p>

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Why people are going nuts over ALDI's imitation of popular ice cream

<p>It’s an iconic ice cream that’s been an Australian favourite for decades, but it turns out there’s been an imposter lurking for some time now, and people are lapping it up.</p> <p>Could you ever top Streets’ Golden Gaytime? It turns out, maybe you can. ALDI has been selling the Milfina “Summer Delight” since 2015 according to <em><a rel="noopener" href="http://www.ausfoodnews.com.au/2015/12/07/aldi-launches-new-private-label-ice-cream-for-summer.html" target="_blank">Australian Food News</a></em>.</p> <p>It looks very similar to the original with the very familiar caramel and vanilla ice cream, covered in chocolate and biscuit pieces.</p> <p>Big supermarket chains like Coles and Woolworths also imitate popular product lines, using similar package designs but with more  generic names, but the Milfina “Summer Delight” seems to have been a sleeper hit according to <em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.mamamia.com.au/aldi-specials-golden-gaytime-dupe/" target="_blank">MamaMia</a></em>.</p> <p>On the ALDI Mum Facebook page, a review of the six-pack ALDI version of Golden Gaytimes has garnered over 100 comments with many praising the product and saying they prefer it over the real thing.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Faldimum%2Fposts%2F1105064149539591&amp;width=500" width="500" height="595" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media"></iframe></p> <p>“Yummy and personally I like them a little better than the actual Streets brand!! Good old ALDI have done it again,” commented one person.</p> <p>“They are amazing! Better than Golden Gaytimes by far,” said another.</p> <p>“Had to stop buying them as I eat a box in one night lol,” admitted another ALDI Mum member.</p> <p>And a key attraction is the price. A pack of four Golden Gaytimes at Coles and Woolworths currently costs $8.50, while <em>MamaMia</em> reports you can pick up a pack of ALDI's Milfina Summer Delights for $3.99 for six.</p> <p>Some on the ALDI Mum page said that they couldn’t actually tell the difference between ALDI’s Milfina “Summer Delights” and Golden Gaytimes</p> <p>“Amazing. Can’t tell the difference between this and a Gaytime. Oh sorry there is one difference. ...the price! Go Aldi!”</p> <p>But other people weren’t so impressed, with some saying the original is always best.</p> <p>“Great value and taste nice, but still not as good as a Gaytime,” said one person’s lukewarm review.</p> <p>Although another commenter dissed the ALDI version, they said they were still a fan of the discount supermarket chain's other ice cream lines</p> <p>“I was disappointed in my purchase – the crunch on the outside was very soggy and not overly pleasant,” they wrote. “I much prefer other Aldi ice creams.”</p> <p>And another could see the benefits of an imitation Golden Gaytime.</p> <p>“Pretty close but not the real deal… bit sweet but they still good for the price,” they said.</p> <p>It comes as Streets has introduced several limited editions of Golden Gaytimes, and other variations like ice cream sandwiches in a competitive market</p> <p>Have you tried the ALDI version of the Golden Gaytime? Let us know in the comment section below.</p>

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The sneaky loyalty card trick catching people out

<div class="replay"> <div class="reply_body body linkify"> <div class="reply_body"> <div class="body_text "> <p>A psychologist has put forward a fascinating theory as to why we’re hooked on loyalty programs. The impact of those plastic loyalty cards we carry with us could be having a surprising impact, changing our brain chemistry.</p> <p>Dr Rachel Grieve of the University of Tasmania says loyalty programs make us less “rational” as we chase rewards, even though consumers have to spend a lot to receive comparatively little in points or redemptions. (Coles’ Flybuys and Woolworths Rewards may return as little as 0.5 per cent of customer expenditure, for example.)</p> <p>“Receiving rewards actually changes our brain chemistry, with different neurotransmitters released in response to rewards,” she told <em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.news.com.au/finance/business/retail/loyalty-cards-change-our-brain-chemistry-and-make-us-less-rational-shoppers/news-story/69881f2ccf9326ac02897ae074af533a" target="_blank">news.com.au</a></em>. “These are often pleasurable in nature. Getting a reward feels good.</p> <p>“This means that we are more likely to engage in the behaviour that got us the reward in the first place, and then the cycle gets reinforced and begins again. It doesn’t matter that the reward might be very small.</p> <p>“With these strong neurological processes in place, it is unsurprising that people will stick with a program once they sign up.”</p> <p>And the huge companies behind these loyalty programs know how addictive the chase for rewards can be, openly using the <span>“spend stretch” technique offering, for example, extra points to encourage consumers to spend more than usual.</span></p> <p>According to a study by <em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.finder.com.au/" target="_blank">Finder.com.au</a></em>, 82 per cent of Australians are part of a loyalty program. The most popular of these are the Frequent Flyers program from Qantas, Woolworths Rewards, Coles’ Flybuys, Myer One, and Priceline Sisterhood.</p> <p>And if you’re encouraged to shop according to the brand your loyalty programme is attached to, you’re not alone, with 60 per cent of Australians doing the same.</p> <p>Dr Grieve separates the type of rewards loyalty programs offer into three categories: constant (points), intermittent (product), and social (status).</p> <p>“It is a powerful combination,” she said. “And in fact, our brains have particular neural networks that detect rewards, including anticipating rewards.”</p> <p>And some loyalty programs are also tapping into the social conscience of consumers, like the Priceline Sisterhood program where customers buy products at the chain with the company donating to charities, predominantly for women.</p> <p>“It’s emotional in nature and based on favourable attitudes towards the company itself,” Dr Grieve said.</p> <p>“These are social rewards and the more rewards a customer gets, the more this strengthens their emotional bond with the company, which makes them more likely to continue purchasing.”</p> <p>Dr Grieve says consumers can become addicted to reward programs, and their emotional pull.</p> <p>“As you get emotionally closer to each goal, like the new item or status level, it can make you less rational about purchasing decisions,” she said.</p> <p>If you find you’re addicted to chasing rewards, she says it may be time to avoid loyalty programs.</p> <p>And Dr Grieve cautioned that people should remember that nothing comes for free.</p> <p>“You are, in fact, paying for the rewards you receive. The money companies make from you is what pays for your reward,” she said.</p> <p>“So why not cut out the company and just make your own purchase? You’ll certainly get it quicker.”</p> </div> </div> </div> </div>

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Gold-digger grandma steals $300,000 from Centrelink

<p style="text-align: left;">A grandmother from Geelong in Victoria has admitted to the crime of stealing close to $300,000 in taxpayers' money in the hopes to secure her dead partner's multi-million-dollar assets.</p> <p>76-year-old Noel Newling was proven guilty after discovering she had been giving false information to Centrelink regarding her relationship status.</p> <p>Since 1997, Newling had accumulated up to $287,000 from taxpayers while she was in a relationship with a wealthy man.</p> <p>Newling had no intention to admit to the crime, but after her deceased partner's will stated to give the majority of his $4 million assets to charity, Newling had no other choice as she hoped to overturn the legal document, reports <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.9now.com.au/a-current-affair/2018/extras/latest/181017/great-granny-gold-digger?ocid=social-9ACA" target="_blank"><em>A Current Affair</em></a>.</p> <p>The government was under the impression that Newling had been single for the past decade, but the truth was far from it.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" width="698" height="573" scrolling="no" id="molvideoplayer" title="MailOnline Embed Player" src="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/embed/video/1784460.html"></iframe></p> <p>The 76-year-old had been in a relationship with a man named Michael Stansfield, who happened to have accumulated quite a bit of money throughout his years.</p> <p>Mr Stansfield was a share trader and passed away in 2016. Newling’s late partner left her with $50,000, a $185,000 property and a $34,000 car.</p> <p>He then proceeded to distribute the rest of his wealth to different charities.</p> <p>Newling claims she was unaware of Mr Stansfield wealth, but once his earnings came to light, she attempted to challenge the will to obtain the money for herself.</p> <p>In order to do that, Newling had to admit to fraudulent behaviour in the Geelong County Court, otherwise her chance of acquiring the money was close to zero.</p> <p><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.geelongadvertiser.com.au/news/crime-court/geelong-court-leopold-greatgrandmother-noel-jennifer-newling-jailed-for-centrelink-rort/news-story/2874acc65c3489c39c5e2b11fe84604a" target="_blank"><em>The Geelong Advertiser</em></a> reported that, Judge Susan Cohen issued a sentence for Newling, and gave her two years and 10 months in prison but would be released in four months with a two-and-a-half-year good behaviour bond.</p> <p>Newling was faced with an influx of reporters outside court, where she said that she knew that her behaviour was wrong but gave the excuse that she “had to live".</p> <p>She has now been asked to repay the government for all the money she has taken over the years, something that Newling says can only be paid back once she has her late partner's estate.</p>

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The $1.99 IKEA hack that solves household clutter

<p>Savvy shoppers have discovered a clever way to organise their homes without breaking the bank.</p> <p><a href="https://www.bhg.com.au/"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><em style="font-weight: inherit;">Better Homes and Gardens</em></strong></span></a><strong> </strong>have revealed the six ways shoppers are repurposing a $1.99 product from IKEA.</p> <p>The Variera plastic bag dispenser is designed to fit inside drawers and cabinets to keep things organised, but customers have shared the creative ways they use it around their homes.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 500px; height: 500px;" src="/media/7820792/1.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/9e169be8cc78465d89db4d344719dd02" /></p> <p>One popular way to use the budget-friendly product is to attach it inside a wardrobe door and then use it to store underwear and socks once they’ve been folded.</p> <p>For those who struggle to locate wrapping paper around the house, they also recommend storing the roles inside the dispenser.</p> <p>“You can also hang it inside the closet door for easy storage and access. Use another dispenser to store ribbons. You can poke the ends out of the holes,” they said.</p> <p>The affordable organiser can also be used to store winter accessories such as gloves, scarves and hats, together.</p> <p>A clever way to tidy your cleaning products is to hang the dispenser sideways and then hang spray bottles, sponges, brushes and gloves from the holes.</p> <p>The IKEA product can also fit a rolled yoga mat and kit for someone who wants to organise their exercise gear.</p> <p>“[You can also] grow a vertical wall of succulents or strawberries with the Variera. Fill it with compost and use it as a planter. Arrange the plants inside the holes,” they said.</p> <p>What is your best organisation tip? Let us know in the comments below. </p>

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From $2.50 to 10 cents: The major supermarket selling avocados for dirt cheap

<p>Avocado lovers rejoice! The popular fruit was available for a small price of 10 cents at a Coles supermarket, shocking customers as they made the discovery.</p> <p>Posting a photo of the rare finding to her Twitter page, Maddie Burke captioned it: “At a Coles in Perth.”</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en-gb"> <p dir="ltr">At a Coles in Perth. 😮🥑 <a href="https://t.co/AifePeYxnw">pic.twitter.com/AifePeYxnw</a></p> — Maddie Burke (@Maddie_Burke) <a href="https://twitter.com/Maddie_Burke/status/1039510339224649728?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">11 September 2018</a></blockquote> <p>The photo shows multiple boxes of Hass avocados slashed to ten cents on “special.”</p> <p>They were marked down at Wanneroo Coles, Perth after the store ordered too many avocados.</p> <p>As expected, the post soon gained traction and social media users were all rushing to catch the bargain.</p> <p>“Omg someone go get me a tray or two. I’ll even buy two for the delivery guy hahaha,” one person commented on Facebook.</p> <p>“Avo toast FOR DAYS!!!! No more paying for “lemons”, NO MORE SMASHED FETA AND LEMON TOAST!!” said another enthusiastic user.</p> <p>One was in disbelief, as they said “it’s not April … If this is real ….”</p> <p>Others chose to compare the average market price to the price being advertised at the Perth supermarket.</p> <p>“I paid $10 for four avocados yesterday,” commented one person.</p> <p>“Still can’t get a house though,” said another.</p> <p>On a regular day, Hass avocados are sold for $2.50 each at Coles supermarkets.</p> <p>Unfortunately, those living outside the region will still have to fork out money to purchase the superfood, but for those living in Perth, you should run not walk.</p> <p>The trendy superfood is predicted to have a major price drop as avocado growers are planting more trees in order to double production by 2025.</p> <p>Chief executive officer of Avocados Australia, John Tyas, said that there are lots of new plantings around the country, and he believes it will boost production in the coming years.</p> <p>“We expect production to be over 110,000 tonnes by 2025,” he said.</p>

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The brilliant $6 Kmart hack for storing your Coles Little Shop collectables

<p>As the dust settles on the Coles Little Shop phenomenon, people are coming up with clever hacks on how to re-use and store their tiny collectables.</p> <p>Little Shop – a promotion run by Coles of mini plastic goods that took the nation by storm – will be ending soon, and naturally, people’s interest is starting to wither. But one thrifty mum has an ultimate hack for that.</p> <p>Melbourne mum, Alannah Koch has used $6 magnetic tape from Kmart to turn her items into magnets.</p> <p>Speaking to <em><a href="https://www.mamamia.com.au/coles-little-shop-and-kmart-hack/">Mamamia</a></em>, Alannah said that she’s only been collecting the items for the past seven weeks, and she didn’t realise the hype around them.</p> <p>“At first, we had no idea what they were but found one in our shopping bag when we got home, opened it up and it was a mini Nutella and it was so cute. So, over the following days and weeks we really got to know what it was all about and we’re hooked!”</p> <p>Taking her three weeks to obtain the full collection, Alannah found that her sixteen-month-old son Oakland loved to play with them.</p> <p>“I’ve just got to watch him as he’s only sixteen-months-old so to him everything is edible,” she said.</p> <p>A few weeks into collecting, Alannah found that she owned several spares.</p> <p>“I wanted to do something creative with them as they are so cute I didn’t want to throw them away or waste them,” she said. Her creative juices started flowing and that was when Alannah thought of a brilliant way to repurpose the little items.</p> <p>“I was browsing the Kmart website one day and saw they sold magnetic tape, which works exactly like normal tape except it’s a magnet.</p> <p>“I started sticking it on the backs [of the minis] to make them into magnets, so when Oakland is older he can have them as magnets for his drawings on his part of the fridge.”</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/BnIsbt7hyke/?utm_source=ig_embed_loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/BnIsbt7hyke/?utm_source=ig_embed_loading" target="_blank">Creative Fridays✌🏻 So we’ve been getting our creative hats on around the house and turning our left over @coleslittleshop collectables into Magnets for the fridge! With this super easy $6 magnet tape from @kmartaus it’s Sooo easy! The tape is adhesive like normal tape and you just use the cutter on the end to the length you want, then stick it on.. it’s that simple! They look super cute, it’s a fun little activity to do at home and you don’t have to feel bad thinking you’d have to throw them out. _____________________________________________________________ What’s everyone else doing with theirs? #kmart #coleslittleshop #creative #creativefriday #creativedaily #repurpose #reuse #recycle #activities #activitiesforkids #activity #mumlife #motherhoodthroughinstagram #friday #fridaymood #sahmlife #sahm #raisingkids #kidscrafts #mummy #secondhand #magnet #creativity #parenthood #parentlife #parenting #getcreative #motherhoodunplugged #reality #instamum</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A post shared by <a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/new.mummy.life/?utm_source=ig_embed_loading" target="_blank"> Alannah🔅</a> (@new.mummy.life) on Aug 31, 2018 at 1:02am PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Alannah then went on to say, “They will not just be stuck in a collector’s case and eventually put in the cupboard, but they’ll be on our fridge for a very long time!”</p> <p>Oakland is also happy with the new setup.</p> <p>“He loves them on the fridge, pulling them off and throwing them on the floor mostly at this age!”</p>

Retirement Income

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Could you be owed $3000? Five million Aussies set to sue big banks

<p>Set to be the largest class action in the nation’s history, up to five million Australians could end up receiving over a thousand dollars from the country’s biggest banks.</p> <p>Expected to launch today, law firm Slater and Gordon will be responsible for a legal action on behalf of around one in three Australian workers who have invested their super with the banks involved.</p> <p>It is estimated the landmark lawsuits could compensate account holders as much as $3000 back and could cost the banks over $1 billion.</p> <p>The reason for the lawsuit is that bank-owned super funds have been caught putting members' money into the parent bank instead of the bank that offers the best interest rate – which means many workers are often paid between 0.5 and 1 per cent less interest than they should be.</p> <p>According to the firm, if someone has $100,000 in cash, a 0.5 per cent difference could make them $3000 out of pocket in six years.</p> <p>Another study shows that someone with $25,000 in cash in an AMP retail fund would be at a loss of $1600 after five years in comparison to someone in an industry fund, getting just 1.41 per cent interest and higher fees, compared to 2.59 per cent and lower fees.</p> <p>It is believed that around one in three working-age Australians – which is around five million in total – will be affected in some way as they have super in cash with retail funds, which most of the time are owned by big banks.</p> <p>Favoured by older Australians, cash is considered to be the safest form of super investment.</p> <p>The firm has launched a website called <em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.slatergordon.com.au/getyoursuperback/" target="_blank">getyoursuperback.com</a></em> where any Australians who fit the criteria by having their super in cash can register as part of an initiative to get as many people as possible.</p> <p>Ben Hardwick, head of Slater and Gordon’s class actions spoke to <em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.news.com.au/finance/business/banking/record-class-action-launched-against-australias-banks/news-story/e2fa23644d189b742e24cee49b40a84c" target="_blank">news.com.au</a></em> and said that low-interest rates combined with fee gouging by cash funds would have a negative impact on Australians in retirement.</p> <p>“This means that millions of Australians are out of pocket and a handful of banks have lined their pockets,” he said.</p> <p>“Slater and Gordon doesn’t think that’s fair and we are saying, enough is enough.”</p> <p>The first lawsuit announced today will be against Colonial First State, who are under Commonwealth Bank and AMP. From there, another 18 class actions are expected to follow.</p> <p>“What funds like Colonial First State have been doing is dumping super with a parent bank such as CBA. The interest from the parent bank is so low that investors in the cash option are receiving rates as low as 1.25 per cent a year. This is even below the RBA cash rate,” Mr Hardwick told <em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.news.com.au/finance/business/banking/record-class-action-launched-against-australias-banks/news-story/e2fa23644d189b742e24cee49b40a84c" target="_blank">news.com.au</a></em>.</p> <p>“This rate of return is ludicrously low. Standard bank interest should be around 2.0 to 2.5 per cent. That’s what most banks offer to ordinary customers with their normal term-deposits. And that’s what industry super fund members and some retail fund members have been getting.”</p> <p>While it’s hard to say how far the class action could go, official data shows that there are 28.6 million superannuation policies held by 14.8 million Australians.</p> <p>Around 55 per cent of those – or 8.2 million – have at least one retail account and it’s been said that majority of these consist of some form of cash component.</p> <p>These numbers show that this would be the biggest class action in Australian history.</p>

Retirement Income

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How much should I have in my emergency fund?

<p>An emergency fund is exactly that - it’s the money that will tide you over when an emergency happens.</p> <p>This includes losing your job, having to pay for urgent home or car repairs, and to pay for medical and dental emergencies.</p> <p>Because it’s meant to be accessed quickly, you should keep your emergency funds in a liquid bank account.</p> <p><strong>How much do I need?</strong></p> <p>First you should know how much you spend in a month.</p> <p>Keep track of your expenses for three to four months.</p> <p>You should already start saving some money while you do this exercise.<br /> <br />An emergency fund should only be used to cover the necessities and not the luxuries, which means bills such as transportation, utilities, groceries and your rent or mortgage.</p> <p>You should not be using this money for holidays or shopping.</p> <p><strong>How much should I save?</strong></p> <p>Once you know your monthly expenses, start working towards saving three months’ worth.</p> <p>For example, if you need $3000 a month to cover all your bills, you should have $9000 squared away for emergencies.</p> <p>Having that amount will give you peace of mind that you can weather the storm until you get back on your feet.<br /> <br />While it’s a good start, three months’ worth of savings is not nearly enough to cover larger costs.</p> <p>For example, if you lose your job, it may take you several months to find a suitable replacement.</p> <p>Which is why you should keep going and work towards having six months’ worth of expenses set aside.<br /> <br />One financial expert, former TV host Suze Orman, even advocates setting aside eight to 12 months’ worth of expenses to feel truly secure.</p> <p><strong>How can I start saving money?</strong></p> <p>No matter how much you earn, try sticking to the 50-20-30 rule.</p> <p>This means not more than 50 percent of your income should go towards living expenses and essentials, while 20 percent should go towards savings, investments and reducing your debt.</p> <p>The final 30 percent should be used for discretionary spending, such as travel, gifts and entertainment.</p> <p>Adjust your spending accordingly using the guide.</p> <p>For example, if you’re consistently exceeding 30 percent of your pay on discretionary spending, you might need to find cheaper entertainment alternatives or cut down on nights out.</p> <p>And if you’re just starting out, you might want to save a little more aggressively in order to squirrel away that emergency cash.</p> <p><strong>Do I keep going once I complete my emergency fund?</strong></p> <p>After you’re satisfied that the amount in your fund will keep you secure for a good amount of time, you should look into saving money for other purposes, such as buying a home of your own, or your retirement.</p> <p>You may even want to explore investing for potentially higher returns.</p> <p>Be aware though that investments come with risks, so you should speak with a qualified financial consultant whom you trust before committing to any investments.</p> <p>And, of course, if you ever need to withdraw from your emergency fund, you should start building it back up again as soon as you’re able.</p> <p><em>Written by Siti Rohani. This article first appeared in <span><a href="http://www.readersdigest.com.au/money/how-much-should-i-have-my-emergency-fund?items_per_page=All">Reader’s Digest</a></span>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="https://www.isubscribe.com.au/Readers-Digest-Magazine-Subscription.cfm">here’s our best subscription offer</a>.</em></p>

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The incredible wage to work at a supermarket: Ten $155k-a-year Aldi jobs on offer

<p>Aldi has announced the German supermarket is now hiring 10 Area Managers, with the salaries for the roles starting at $101,800 - $155,000 including a company car and iPhone.</p> <p>The supermarket has continued to grow in its success in Australia in recent years and is hiring the 10 managers as they open new stores in Victoria.</p> <p>The successful applicants will be responsible for overseeing three to five Aldi stores, which includes managing all aspects of their operation such as recruitment, training, profit and loss management.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 294.33611884865365px; height: 500px;" src="/media/7820645/1.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/cfb6a0cabd724a6da9f7bfa929a34d4f" /></p> <p>Aldi’s Victorian Store Operations Director, Hariet Honore, told the <a href="https://www.heraldsun.com.au"><strong><em style="font-weight: inherit;"><u>Herald Sun</u></em></strong></a> that applicants will be taught everything they need to know for the role in the “comprehensive” 12-month training program.</p> <p>“We believe what you don't know, you will learn. We teach about Aldi's unique business model and all the things that make it successful,” she said.</p> <p>“We are more focused on finding the right people with the 'Aldi Attitude'.”</p> <p>The minimum requirements for the role include having a completed Bachelor’s Degree or a Master’s Degree in any discipline, a strong academic record, three years business experience and proven success in leadership roles.</p> <p>Ms Honore said Aldi is looking for hardworking applicants who want to make a difference.</p> <p>“We are looking for determined, hardworking, motivated, positive and resilient Area Managers.”</p> <p>Once the year of training is complete, Area Managers will be assigned an area and will then manage up to 80 staff members.</p> <p>Do you shop at Aldi? Let us know in the comments below. </p>

Retirement Income

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Leigh Sales slams Westpac CEO: “Your latest profit was $4.2 billion, can’t you use that?”

<p>Yesterday, Westpac announced that they will be the first of the Big Four banks to increase its variable home loan rates, a move that is expected to be copied by the other financial institutions.</p> <p>In a statement, the bank said its rates would be raised by 0.14 per cent from September 19, saying that the price hike is due to an increase in its wholesale funding costs.</p> <p>However, Westpac made a profit of $4.2 billion, so <em style="font-weight: inherit;">7:30</em> host Leigh Sales questioned why the bank couldn’t put that money towards the increasing costs.</p> <p>Westpac CEO Brian Hartzer attempted to defend his decision, explaining why the cost had to be passed on to customers rather than decreasing the bank's profit.</p> <p>“This is a difficult decision. Any time we are affecting people’s cost of living, it is something that we take very seriously but we borrow the money to fund people’s home loans and the cost has gone up,” Mr Hartzer said.</p> <p>A family with a $300,000 home loan will soon be paying an extra $35 in interest per month, while Aussies with a $500,000 home loan will be forking out an extra $516 a year on interest.</p> <p>Sales put the figures to Mr Hartzer and asked: “An ordinary household has to work within their budget to pay the extra money on their mortgage yet one of the wealthiest institutions can’t do the same?”</p> <p>Mr Hartzer said Westpac had worn the cost for the past six months, hoping it would go down but “we sadly had to conclude this is a more permanent change or certainly it is going to persist for a little while”.</p> <p>Despite the bank’s last profit being up six per cent, Mr Hartzer said the margin has been “significantly impacted” since costs started to rise in February.</p> <p>“Part of my job sometimes is to make difficult decisions that are about the long-term sustainability of our business and that involves addressing increases in funding costs,” Mr Hartzer said.</p> <p>While the CEO said he understood customers “frustration” with the interest rate hike, he said: “At the same time, Leigh, we have to run our business and part of that is to acknowledge the realities of higher funding costs.”</p> <p>The higher interest rates will come into effect on September 9 for all new and existing customers for Westpac and Westpac-owned St George.</p> <p>Westpac said it variable mortgage rate for owner-occupier properties will increase to 5.38 per cent per annum for customers with principal and interest repayments, while residential investment properties will be hit with an interest rate of 5.93 per cent.</p> <p>“Customers wanting to switch from a variable interest only loan to the lower rate principal and interest loan can do so without any penalty or fee,” the bank said.</p> <p>RateCity research director Sally Tindall said Westpac had prolonged their rate hike for longer than the market expected.</p> <p> “Westpac has today asked their variable rate home loan customers to help ease their cost of funding pressures,” Ms Tindall said.</p> <p>“While banks are entitled to make a profit, some Westpac home loan customers will be disappointed with the bank’s decision to increase their interest rate.</p> <p>“Most households will be able to absorb the rate hike, however, anyone who overstretched to get in the market will feel burdened by this extra cost.</p> <p>“Now that Westpac has hiked, taking the brunt of the bad PR, we expect the other three banks to follow suit.</p> <p>“If your lender hikes your interest rate, it’s the perfect time to start considering your options.</p> <p>“Ironically the banks are desperately seeking out customers to boost their lagging profit margins. They’re doing this by offering rock-bottom rates, but only to new customers so if you’ve got a bit of equity in your home, now is a great time to consider refinancing,” she said.</p> <p><span>What do you think of Westpac boss Brian Hartzer's explanation? Let us know in the comments below. </span></p>

Retirement Income

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Phone scammers steal $100,000 from widow two days after husband’s death

<p>An 81-year-old widow has been swindled of $100,000 by scammers just two days after her husband passed away. </p> <p>The scam first started in June, when Christine “Kitty” Hansen received a call saying that she won a competition. </p> <p>The widow from North Dakota in the US told WDAY that she feels foolish, saying that they “caught her at a bad time”<span style="font-style: inherit; font-weight: inherit !important;">. </span></p> <p>“I got a phone call and the guy said he was from Publisher’s Clearing House, and that I’ve won $2.6 million and I’ve been entering their contests for years, so I didn’t think anything about it,” Mrs Hansen told the news outlet.</p> <p>However, Ms Hansen was told that she could not receive her prize money until she paid taxes on it. </p> <p>Over the following weeks, she was instructed to send seven boxes of cash to various addresses. </p> <p>Ms Hansen’s family believes the thieves targeted her after seeing her husband’s obituary shared online. </p> <p>They believe the 81-year-old didn’t tell them about the calls because she was being intimidated by the thieves, with the crooks claiming the Internal Revenue Service would take away her home if she didn’t make the tax payments. </p> <p>“She would never have spent money like that, they’re preying on her when she’s not even thinking straight,” the widow’s daughter Renee Anderson said.</p> <p>“They also coached her on what to say, because the bank tried several times to help her.”</p> <p>According to the <a href="https://www.gofundme.com/kitty-hansen"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong style="font-style: inherit;">GoFundMe</strong></span></a> page set up by Ms Hansen’s family, the widow did not only lose her life savings, but she was also convinced to take cash advances on credit cards, leaving her in debt. </p> <p>Although there is not much hope in recovering the entire amount that was stolen, the family started the fundraiser to help Ms Hansen pay off her debt. </p> <p>Renee said the scam taught them to make sure children of elderly parents are listed on their bank accounts. </p> <p>If Renee’s name was on her bank account, the bank would’ve been allowed to call her when they suspected fraudulent activity. </p> <p>Renee also highlighted the painful lesson the family have learnt from the experience: “Do not send cash, ever, to anyone.” </p>

Retirement Income

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Reserve Bank of Australia issues stern warning to homeowners

<p>The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has issued a stern warning to homeowners and mortgage holders that rising interest rates may hurt their hip pockets.</p> <p>RBA’s governor Philip Lowe issued the warning on Tuesday, saying that it's been eight years since the last interest rate hike and that “borrowers have never experienced a rise in official interest rates”.</p> <p>“Over recent times the Australian economy has been improving,’’ he said.</p> <p>“This is good news.</p> <p>“If we continue on this current improving track as we expect we will it is likely that the next move in official interest will be up, not down.”</p> <p>The RBA has kept the interest rate on hold at 1.5 per cent since August 2016.</p> <p>Mr Lowe said his advice to borrowers was to “make sure” they are in a good financial position for interest rates hike.</p> <p>The RBA is expected to increase interest rates in the second half of 2019, depending on inflation rates and the job market, the <a href="https://www.afr.com/markets/rba-governor-philip-lowe-tells-borrowers-to-prepare-for-rate-hikes-20180820-h148m3"><strong>Financial Review</strong></a> reported.</p> <p>Mr Lowe also said homeowners should not assume the value of their homes will continue to rise.</p> <p>“Most of our cities have seen falls in housing prices at some point over the past decade,” he said.</p> <p>“While I would expect housing prices to trend higher over time as our incomes increase, there is no guarantee that your home will be worth more tomorrow than it is today.</p> <p>“So plan accordingly.”</p>

Retirement Income

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Family's despair after power bills increase by 400% due to law change

<p>When Lee and Warren Mullaly purchased their new home in Forster, NSW they were thrilled. Having pre-installed solar panelling would ensure that their electricity bill would remain low, and while that was the case for a period of time, this year, the semi-retired couple are paying over $400 each quarter.</p> <p>“The government incentive finished and even though we were aware this was going to happen, we still thought our bills were going to be significantly lower,” Lee Mullaly told <em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.news.com.au/finance/money/costs/changes-to-solar-feedin-tariffs-have-caused-huge-increases-to-power-bills/news-story/a5bafadf063bcb2f99b0d739feac0296" target="_blank">News.com.au</a></em>.</p> <p>Without a battery, the Mullaly's only find their solar panels beneficial during the day as the power produced must be used immediately.</p> <p>And in the evenings when the panels are not generating electricity, any power they use during that period comes from the grid. With their bill previously coming in at $95 a quarter, they are now facing an increase of $1400 more than what they paid the year before.</p> <p>This is the consequence of the Solar Bonus Scheme that was initiated by the NSW Government, ending on 31 December 2016. With the scheme paying households 60c or 20c per kilowatt an hour for the electricity they provided to the grid, many families benefited greatly.</p> <p>Now, as the scheme has shut down, households have taken a hit, and with a battery costing $15,000 to install for the semi-retired couple, the Mullaly's believe that the outlay wouldn’t be worth it.</p> <p>“We’ve got to watch what we spend, we haven’t got a lot of money coming in and we’ve got to weigh up the benefits,” said Lee Mullally.</p> <p>The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) sets a recommended price for retailers, but it is not mandatory for retailers to follow. This year, the suggested benchmark dropped by 44 per cent due to below average wholesale electricity prices.</p> <p>Solar expert and ShineHub co-founder Alex Georgiou said this year’s changes to feed-in tariff rates could see families losing around $300 a year on a 5-kilowatt system.</p> <p>“If a person is not home to use solar power during the day, around 75 per cent of this is sent back to the grid,” he said.</p> <p>While an average household could have earned $657 a year selling power to the grid at a price of 12 cents, this year, that price would drop to $355 if they get 6.5 cents.</p> <p>When asked if she would consider a solar panelling system now, Mrs Mullaly said she would never do it without installing a battery first.</p> <p>“If you are thinking about getting panels you need to get a battery because ultimately it will be a huge saving and will take the worry away.”</p> <p>Do you have solar panelling on your home? Tell us in the comments below. </p>

Retirement Income

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$28 for instant coffee: The supermarkets ripping off Aussies

<p><span>The thought of paying $28 for a jar of coffee can be hard to imagine for many, but for those consumers living in remote areas of Australia, this inflated cost is a reality.</span></p> <p><em><a rel="noopener" href="http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-08-13/supermarkets-charging-remote-shoppers-nearly-double-city-prices/10107060" target="_blank">ABC News</a></em> launched an investigation on government-controlled supermarkets after it was said that people were paying up to $18 more for household items than those living in metro areas. The investigation compares the prices of products in Lockhart River in comparison to the same products in Brisbane.</p> <p>Products such as washing liquid had a difference of $10.80 compared to the price in Brisbane, and baby formula cost $9 more than the standard price.</p> <p>And it’s not just grocery prices that are inflated. Unleaded petrol in the region was priced at $1.93 per litre and $1.89 for diesel – also at a store run by the government.</p> <p>Lockhart River Mayor Wayne Butcher believes shoppers in remote indigenous regions are being ripped off.</p> <p>“I’m angry because it’s very expensive and it just makes life so much harder,” he said.</p> <p>“It’s not like you have choices either; you can’t just go to Coles or Woolworths. It’s an extra burden on each household and it’s not something we need.”</p> <p>Community Enterprise Queensland (CEQ) is in charge of more than 20 of the remote stores across the state and is a statutory body of the Queensland Government.</p> <p>A spokesperson from the government said they subsidise “fresh fruit, milk, eggs, some baby products and core basket essentials to ensure prices are kept low".</p> <p>“It also assists communities to have access to ‘best buys’ and ‘specials’ and price matches with Coles, Cairns, on online products,” the spokesperson said.</p> <p>“However, it must also be noted that there are still significant freight costs that have to be borne due to CEQ operating in very remote areas of the state.”</p> <p>A recent productivity commission review recommended the government to step away from assets such as retail stores, as they can ‘crowd out’ locals from business opportunities.</p> <p>In 2016, the government took over most of the remote supermarkets in Queensland.</p> <p>Mr Butcher has said they were promised a decrease in prices but instead, had to deal with prices increasing even further.</p> <p>“They said things would get better, but that’s a broken promise,” he said.</p> <p>“Because of the remoteness and lack of employment opportunities, they should consider more subsidies to make things affordable.”</p>

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Family's outrage after dementia-stricken grandmother hit with $4000 energy bills

<p>A family has expressed their outrage after their grandmother was unwillingly signed up to an energy company and then hit with a $4000 bill.</p> <p>Joan Ford, 86, lives at the View Hills Manor nursing home in Melbourne, where her residency fee covers all utilities.</p> <p>Despite this, Joan received an electricity bill in June from 1st Energy that totalled $1,384, reported the <a href="http://www.abc.net.au/news/"><strong><em style="font-weight: inherit;">ABC</em></strong></a>.</p> <p>Joan’s daughter and son-in-law, Patricia and Mark Matthys, were outraged by the letter, which claimed the energy was supplied in May to the unit at her nursing home.</p> <p>Mark said his mother-in-law was unable to recall what the bill was for.</p> <p>Speaking to ABC Radio Melbourne, Mark said: “How on earth would it even be possible to make up an account for a person who doesn't actually have anything to pay for?”</p> <p>The family contacted the energy provider and were told the error had been fixed.</p> <p>However, Joan then received a second bill for more than $2584, with the provider claiming the energy had been supplied between June and the beginning of July.</p> <p>The second bill was followed by two reminder notices and a phone call from a collection agency.</p> <p>Mark revealed that his mother-in-law had been targeted through a phone call, and that the incident had caused her a lot of stress.</p> <p>Victoria’s energy and water ombudsman, Cynthia Gebert, said she didn’t understand how the bill was calculated as nursing homes are generally not individually metered.</p> <p>She recommended that vulnerable people join the do-not-call register to avoid sales calls.</p> <p>The energy provider resolved the error and Joan was not required to pay the hefty amount.</p> <p>A spokeswoman from 1st Energy said the company had apologised for the incident, which was caused by an administration error.</p> <p>“Due to human error the matter was unfortunately not fully remedied when initially picked up. It has now been fully resolved,” she said.</p>

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