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Can you change your mind after you buy a house?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rosemary-gibson-1544081">Rosemary Gibson</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p>In the Bluey episode “<a href="https://iview.abc.net.au/show/bluey-the-sign">The Sign</a>”, the Heeler family enters a contract to sell their family home to a pair of English Sheepdogs, or as Bluey calls them, “the dogs with no eyes”.</p> <p>But towards the end of the episode, the Sheepdogs spy another house that they prefer. Unlike Bluey’s house, the new place has a pool.</p> <p>They telephone Bandit and tell him that they have changed their mind. Happily for Bluey’s family – and let’s face it, most of Australia – Bandit decides not to press ahead with the sale and the Heelers end up staying put in their family home.</p> <p>But aside from the fact that the contracting parties are all cartoon dogs – how realistic is this scenario? Is it possible to end a contract to purchase or sell a house simply because you’ve changed your mind?</p> <p>The reality is that once a contract of sale is signed, there are only limited circumstances in which buyers and sellers can bring the contract to an end.</p> <h2>What do you sign when buying or selling a house?</h2> <p>In Australia, each state and territory has its own standard form contract for the sale of land that buyers and sellers must sign.</p> <p>The terms of these contracts mirror relevant state or territory laws, meaning they differ throughout Australia. It is important for parties to obtain advice from a property lawyer with experience in a particular jurisdiction’s contract.</p> <h2>Can you change your mind after signing?</h2> <p>Once a contract has been signed, a buyer may only end it for a “change of mind” during the “cooling off period”. The cooling off period is a short period of time – usually between two and five business days – after the contract is signed.</p> <p>During this time, the buyer can end the contract, “no questions asked”. But there are usually financial consequences for terminating during the cooling off period.</p> <p>For example, in New South Wales, Queensland and the ACT, a buyer who ends the contract during the cooling off period must pay the seller 0.25% of the purchase price. For a house purchase of A$1 million, this termination penalty would be $2,500.</p> <p>But not all states and territories guarantee a cooling off period for buyers. And in such a hot property market, an individual seller may be unlikely to agree to include such a term in a contract.</p> <h2>What if something goes wrong down the track?</h2> <p>When negotiating the contract terms, the parties may agree that the sale is subject to certain conditions. Typically, these conditions are in the purchaser’s favour. If one of the conditions is not satisfied in time, then the contract can be brought to an end.</p> <p>It is up to the parties to negotiate which conditions (if any) are included in the contract, and the time by which the conditions must be satisfied. The most common conditions of sale are:</p> <ul> <li>the buyer obtains finance by a certain date (a finance clause)</li> <li>the buyer obtains satisfactory building and pest inspection reports by a certain date (a building and pest clause).</li> </ul> <p>The buyer may also want the sale to be subject to the buyer first selling an existing property.</p> <p>Once all of the conditions of sale are satisfied, the contract is said to be “unconditional”. From this time, there are no express circumstances in which either party may bring the contract to an end.</p> <p>When the Sheepdogs telephoned Bandit, the Heelers had already moved all their furniture out of the house. Clearly, the sale had already gone unconditional. There was no express basis on which the Sheepdogs could have terminated the contract.</p> <h2>Could the Heelers have sued for breach of contact?</h2> <p>A party who ends a contract without justification is liable to pay compensation to the other party.</p> <p>A house purchaser who wrongly terminates a contract would almost certainly lose their deposit. They may also be liable for additional losses the seller suffers as a result of the breach, including any deficiency in price on a resale of the property.</p> <p>But a buyer and seller may bring a contract to an end by “mutual agreement”, which seems to be what happened in Bluey. The Sheepdogs sought to end the contract and – to the relief of all Australians – the Heelers agreed.</p> <p>This is, however, unlikely to occur “in real life”, especially in today’s highly competitive property market.</p> <p>At the very least, the seller would be entitled to retain the purchaser’s deposit. There would also be the issue of who bears the costs incurred in advertising and agency fees.</p> <p>It seems Bandit followed his heart rather than the strict terms of the contract — and Australia is the better for it.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/234659/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rosemary-gibson-1544081">Rosemary Gibson</a>, Lecturer in Contract Law, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/can-you-change-your-mind-after-you-buy-a-house-234659">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Money & Banking

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Think you’ve decided what to buy? Actually, your brain is still deciding – even as you put it in your basket

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/tijl-grootswagers-954175">Tijl Grootswagers</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/western-sydney-university-1092">Western Sydney University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/genevieve-l-quek-1447582">Genevieve L Quek</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/western-sydney-university-1092">Western Sydney University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/manuel-varlet-156210">Manuel Varlet</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/western-sydney-university-1092">Western Sydney University</a></em></p> <p>You are standing in the cereal aisle, weighing up whether to buy a healthy bran or a sugary chocolate-flavoured alternative.</p> <p>Your hand hovers momentarily before you make the final grab.</p> <p>But did you know that during those last few seconds, while you’re reaching out, your brain is still evaluating the pros and cons – influenced by everything from your last meal, the health star rating, the catchy jingle in the ad, and the colours of the letters on the box?</p> <p>Our recently published <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-024-62135-7">research</a> shows our brains do not just think first and then act. Even while you are reaching for a product on a supermarket shelf, your brain is still evaluating whether you are making the right choice.</p> <p>Further, we found measuring hand movements offers an accurate window into the brain’s ongoing evaluation of the decision – you don’t have to hook people up to expensive brain scanners.</p> <p>What does this say about our decision-making? And what does it mean for consumers and the people marketing to them?</p> <h2>What hand movements tell us about decision-making</h2> <p>There has been <a href="https://www.annualreviews.org/content/journals/10.1146/annurev-psych-010419-051053">debate within neuroscience</a> on whether a person’s movements to enact a decision can be modified once the brain’s “motor plan” has been made.</p> <p>Our research revealed not only that movements can be changed after a decision – “in flight” – but also the changes matched incoming information from a person’s senses.</p> <p>To study <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-024-62135-7">how our decisions unfold over time</a>, we tracked people’s hand movements as they reached for different options shown in pictures – for example, in response to the question “is this picture a face or an object?”</p> <p>When choices were easy, their hands moved straight to the right option. But when choices were harder, new information made the brain change its mind, and this was reflected in the trajectory of their hand movements.</p> <p>When we compared these hand movement trajectories to brain activity recorded using neuroimaging, we found that the timing and amount of evidence of the brain’s evaluation matched the movement pattern.</p> <p>Put simply, reaching movements are shaped by ongoing thinking and decision-making.</p> <p>By showing that brain patterns match movement trajectories, our research also highlights that large, expensive brain scanners may not always be required to study the brain’s decision evaluation processes, as movement tracking is much more cost-effective and much easier to test on a large scale.</p> <h2>What does this mean for consumers and marketers?</h2> <p>For consumers, knowing our brains are always reevaluating decisions we might think of as “final” can help us be more aware of our choices.</p> <p>For simple decisions such as choosing a breakfast cereal, the impact may be small. Even if you have preemptively decided on a healthy option, you might be tempted at the last minute by the flashy packaging of a less healthy choice.</p> <p>But for important long-term decisions such as choosing a mortgage, it can have serious effects.</p> <p>On the other side of the coin, marketers have long known that many purchase decisions are <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0969698912000781">made on the spot</a>.</p> <p>They use strategies such as attractive packaging and strategic product placement to influence people’s decisions.</p> <p>New ways of studying how people’s brains process information – right up to the last minute – can help marketers design more effective strategies.</p> <h2>Opportunities for further research</h2> <p>Further research in this area could explore how different types of information, such as environmental cues or memories, affect this continuous decision evaluation process in different groups of people. For example, how do people of different ages process information while making decisions?</p> <p>Our finding – that hand movements reflect the inner workings of the brain’s decision making process – could make future studies cheaper and more efficient.</p> <p>The ability to fine-tune marketing in this way has implications beyond just selling products. It can also make public strategic messaging far more effective.</p> <p>This could include tailoring a public health campaign on vaping specifically for people aged under 30, or targeting messaging about superannuation scams more effectively at those of retirement age.</p> <p>The act of reaching for a product is not a simple consequence of a decision already made; it’s a highly dynamic process. Being aware of what influences our last-minute decision-making can help us make better choices that have better outcomes.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/234167/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/tijl-grootswagers-954175">Tijl Grootswagers</a>, Senior Research Fellow in Cognitive Neuroscience, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/western-sydney-university-1092">Western Sydney University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/genevieve-l-quek-1447582">Genevieve L Quek</a>, Research Fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/western-sydney-university-1092">Western Sydney University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/manuel-varlet-156210">Manuel Varlet</a>, Associate Professor in Cognitive Neuroscience, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/western-sydney-university-1092">Western Sydney University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/think-youve-decided-what-to-buy-actually-your-brain-is-still-deciding-even-as-you-put-it-in-your-basket-234167">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Mind

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Is an electric bike right for you? Here’s what to consider before you buy

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/muhammad-rizwan-azhar-1472288">Muhammad Rizwan Azhar</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/waqas-uzair-1486684">Waqas Uzair</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a></em></p> <p><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/oct/08/its-also-just-fun-why-a-growing-number-of-australia-families-are-ditching-cars-for-e-bikes">More Australians than ever</a> are riding electric bikes – a fact you may have noticed on the streets of our cities and towns.</p> <p>Electric bikes, or e-bikes, are typically equipped with an electric motor and a battery, providing power to help you pedal. Some allow you to boost and lower the amount of pedalling assistance you get.</p> <p>Globally, the transport sector produces <a href="https://www.un.org/sites/un2.un.org/files/media_gstc/FACT_SHEET_Climate_Change.pdf">about one-quarter</a> of greenhouse gas emissions. Finding cleaner ways to get around is vital to combating the climate crisis. E-bikes also offer solutions to the problems of traffic congestion, fuel costs and sedentary lifestyles.</p> <p>But is an electric bike right for you? Below, we discuss the pros and cons, to help you decide.</p> <h2>The pros</h2> <p><strong>– Reduce carbon emissions</strong></p> <p>In developed countries, transport can be one of the largest proportions of an individual’s carbon footprint. But you can <a href="https://sustainability.anu.edu.au/options-for-owning-an-e-bike">reduce your travel emissions</a> by 75% if you replace car use with an e-bike for short trips such as the work commute.</p> <p><a href="https://www.creds.ac.uk/publications/e-bike-carbon-savings-how-much-and-where/">Research has found</a> e-bikes, if used to replace cars, could cut carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions by up to 50% in England – or about 30 million tonnes a year. Other analysis showed the potential was <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0967070X21003401">greatest</a> in rural areas.</p> <p><strong>– Connect with your community</strong></p> <p>The “car-rification” of our cities changed community dynamics. Retail became concentrated in <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0264837716312479">out-of-town shopping centres</a>, leading to a decline in smaller town centres. This provided fewer opportunities to meet our neighbours and has contributed to high rates of <a href="https://www.vox.com/features/23191527/urban-planning-friendship-houston-cars-loneliness">loneliness and social isolation</a>.</p> <p>Similar to <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/308794595_From_Pedal_to_People_The_Social_Effects_of_Biking">regular cycling</a>, riding e-bikes helps create community bonds. It makes us more likely to engage with our surroundings and interact with people around us. You can even join an <a href="https://www.meetup.com/topics/electric-bicycles/au/">e-bike group</a> or community ride.</p> <p><strong>– Save money</strong></p> <p>E-bikes offer substantial long-term financial benefits to owners.</p> <p>In Australia, an e-bike costs from about A$1,000 to more than $5,000. An annual e-bike service will set you back <a href="https://www.choice.com.au/transport/bikes/electric/articles/how-to-maintain-your-electric-bike#:%7E:text=How%20much%20does%20an%20e,%24300%2C%20depending%20on%20what's%20included.">between $100 and $300</a>. And retailers <a href="https://crooze.com.au/blogs/news/the-costs-of-owning-an-ebike#:%7E:text=This%20means%20it%20costs%20roughly,electricity%20charges%20per%2030kms%20ridden.">currently</a> <a href="https://www.glowwormbicycles.com.au/blogs/electric-bikes/how-much-should-i-spend-on-an-e-bike">put the cost</a> of a full battery charge at 10–15 cents, translating to roughly $20 per year for an average commuter.</p> <p>Cars, of course, cost far more to run. For example, Victorian motoring body RACV <a href="https://www.racv.com.au/about-racv/newsroom/victorias-cheapest-cars-2023.html">last year found</a> the state’s cheapest car to own and operate was the MG3 Core light Hatch, with monthly costs of $734.84. Even taking into account charging costs and maintenance, you can see how quickly an e-bike would pay for itself.</p> <p><strong>– Get active</strong></p> <p>E-bikes are clearly better for your health than riding in a car.</p> <p>A <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9790588/">2019 study investigated</a> e‐bike commuting for inactive, overweight people living in regional Australia. It found e-bike users increased their physical activity by an average 90 minutes a week.</p> <p>A <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/sms.14155">literature review in 2022</a> found e-biking was a moderately intense physical activity on measures such as energy expenditure, heart rate and oxygen consumption. The benefits were lower than conventional cycling, but generally greater than walking.</p> <p>Women, in particular, have reported benefits from e-bike use. A <a href="https://activetravelstudies.org/article/id/991/">New Zealand study</a> showed e-bikes provided less fit women with “more empowering physical activity experiences” and increased their cycling confidence.</p> <h2>The cons</h2> <p><strong>– Safety challenges</strong></p> <p>Like any form of mobility, e-bikes must be used safely. Concerns around e-bikes include <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-09-13/fat-bike-boom-in-sydney-sparks-safety-fears/102823330">speeding</a>, <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/video/concerns-grow-over-safety-of-e-bikes-amid-reports-of-accidents-192619077845">accidents</a> and people riding <a href="https://www.nbnnews.com.au/2024/03/20/e-bike-safety-concerns-spark-in-lennox-head/">without helmets</a>.</p> <p>In May this year, Sydney’s Northern Beaches Council <a href="https://www.northernbeaches.nsw.gov.au/e-bike-and-e-scooter-safety">launched a public awareness</a> campaign on e-bike safety. <a href="https://www.northernbeaches.nsw.gov.au/council/news/media-releases/northern-beaches-council-leads-pack-e-bike-safety-campaign">The advice includes</a>:</p> <ul> <li>slow to walking pace when others are on the path</li> <li>ring your bell to signal your approach</li> <li>be ready for sudden changes.</li> </ul> <p>Government regulation on e-bikes is also important for public safety. For example <a href="https://fit-ebike.com/en-en/about-us/blog/s-pedelecs/">in Germany</a>, high-speed e-bikes are classed as mopeds and cannot be ridden on bike paths.</p> <p>Separately, e-bikes usually contain lithium-ion batteries which can explode and start fires – particularly in e-bikes bought from overseas retailers that don’t meet Australian standards. Before buying, <a href="https://www.fire.nsw.gov.au/page.php?id=9406">check advice from fire authorities</a>.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/U58Pv7-7fnE?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p><strong>– Lack of cycling and charging infrastructure</strong></p> <p>Well-designed <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214140519301033">cycling infrastructure</a> encourages e-bike use. In Australia, governments are <a href="https://www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au/sites/default/files/2019-06/Cycling_Infrastructure_Background_Paper_16Mar09_WEB.pdf">slowly accepting</a> the need for infrastructure such as dedicated bike lanes and <a href="https://www.transport.nsw.gov.au/get-nsw-active/emicro-smart-micro-mobility-infrastructure">charging stations</a>, but <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-do-so-few-people-cycle-for-transport-in-australia-6-ideas-on-how-to-reap-all-the-benefits-of-bikes-229811">more money</a> is needed.</p> <p>In the Netherlands, a surge in e-bike sales has <a href="https://www.government.nl/topics/bicycles">driven</a> investments in cycling paths, improvements in bicycle parking at train stations, and other efforts to promote cycling and e-bike use.</p> <p><strong>– Higher upfront cost than a regular bike</strong></p> <p>The cost of buying an e-bike can be a barrier for some. For example, <a href="https://activetravelstudies.org/article/id/991/">NZ-based research</a> found the purchase cost meant the benefits were less likely to be available to lower-income women.</p> <p>So how can the cost barrier be overcome? In Australia, some companies offer e-bike rentals, via a weekly <a href="https://lug-carrie.com">subscription service</a>. And overseas, <a href="https://www.pbsc.com/blog/2021/09/pbsc-e-bike-sharing-schemes-in-15-cities-around-the-world">share schemes</a> mean people can access e-bikes without having to buy one.</p> <p>In 2023, <a href="https://www.service.tas.gov.au/services/government-help-and-support/concessions-and-discounts/apply-for-an-electric-vehicle-or-e-mobility-rebate">Tasmania became the first Australian state</a> to offer a subsidy for e-bike purchases, and the uptake was rapid. However, the scheme has now closed.</p> <p><strong>– Environmental impacts</strong></p> <p>Almost everything we buy has an environmental impact, and electric bikes are no exception. However, they are obviously a better alternative to conventional cars – and also have less impact than electric vehicles.</p> <p>Over the total lifecycle of the product, including manufacturing, an e-bike emits <a href="https://ecf.com/resources/cycling-facts-and-figures/environmental">about 10%</a> of the CO₂ emissions associated with producing an electric car, according to the European Cyclists Federation. And e-bikes <a href="https://electrek.co/2023/05/04/you-cant-trust-electric-bike-companies-battery-range/">consume</a> about <a href="https://ebikes.ca/learn/solar.html#:%7E:text=6%20wh%2Fkm%20would%20be,heavy%20loads%20and%20riding%20fast.">15 watt-hours per kilometre</a>, compared to electric cars which <a href="https://www.drive.com.au/caradvice/what-is-a-good-energy-consumption-figure-for-electric-vehicles/">consume around</a> 150 to 200 watt-hours per kilometre.</p> <p>E-bike battery systems also typically require fewer raw materials and simpler design than an electric vehicle, which <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0892687524000293">simplifies</a> the battery recycling process.</p> <h2>Cleaner, cheaper, better</h2> <p>Electric cars are crucial for replacing traditional vehicles on longer routes and for family travel. However, e-bikes offer a more affordable and lower-impact solution for commuting and short-distance travel – and if you buy a cargo e-bike, you can even take your family.</p> <p>Mass adoption of e-bikes in Australia requires better cycling infrastructure, new government regulation and price incentives. But in the meantime, thousands of Australians are already enjoying the benefits of e-bikes. Perhaps you could too?</p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/muhammad-rizwan-azhar-1472288">Muhammad Rizwan Azhar</a>, Lecturer of Chemical Engineering, Sustainable Energy and Resources, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/waqas-uzair-1486684">Waqas Uzair</a>, Research Associate, Advanced Battery Systems and Safety, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/is-an-electric-bike-right-for-you-heres-what-to-consider-before-you-buy-230024">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Travel Trouble

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How to buy a home: 7 tips for negotiating like a pro

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/park-thaichon-175182">Park Thaichon</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-southern-queensland-1069">University of Southern Queensland</a></em></p> <p>The main purpose of negotiation is to find a mutually acceptable solution for buyers and sellers. Good negotiations greatly improve relationships between buyers, sellers and agents. They also help avoid future problems and conflicts.</p> <p>Negotiating skills become even more important for home buyers in a “seller’s market”, where demand from buyers exceeds supply from sellers. That’s <a href="https://propertyupdate.com.au/australian-property-market-predictions/">currently the case</a> in all Australian capital cities and major regional cities such as Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and others.</p> <p>Many home buyers mistakenly believe negotiation only occurs during the signing of the sale contract. However, it involves distinct stages: <em>pre-negotiation</em> and <em>during negotiation</em>.</p> <p>So how can people maximise their chances of successfully negotiating a purchase in a seller’s market? I offer the following tips.</p> <h2>Be someone the seller’s agent wants to do business with</h2> <p>Buyers often communicate solely with the seller’s agent, rather than directly with the seller. It’s crucial to ensure the agent views the buyer positively. Ultimately, it’s the agent who presents offers to the seller for their decision.</p> <p>It’s important, then, to understand what might motivate the seller’s agent to choose your offer. The key performance indicator for the agent often revolves around closing a property sale at a reasonable price within a certain time.</p> <p>This means price is a crucial factor. However, other factors can influence the seller’s agent and seller.</p> <p>For example, having pre-approved finance can increase the agent’s confidence in the buyer. If the buyer appears serious, can make quick decisions and makes a good impression, the agent may be more motivated to push for them, even if their offer is slightly lower than others without pre-approved finance.</p> <h2>Be a big fish (for the seller’s agent)</h2> <p>The next strategy is to give the seller’s agent extra incentive to favour you and your offer. <a href="https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/MIP-09-2019-0489/full/html">Our research</a> in customer behaviour suggests businesses value customers who make frequent purchases or engage them for long-term services.</p> <p>For example, the agent would be pleased to learn that the buyer might be interested in buying another property in the near future or in using their rental service for the new property. You have an advantage if you can position yourself as someone who could provide them with extra business.</p> <h2>Point to competing options</h2> <p>In a positive manner, let the seller’s agent know you are considering two or three properties, and this specific property is among those you are inclined to make an offer on.</p> <p>In certain situations, it may stimulate competitive pricing when multiple properties of similar quality are available in the same area. Make it clear to the agent you will choose the property that offers you the best overall value.</p> <p>While this strategy might not necessarily lower the price in a seller’s market, it can prompt the agent to have a fuller discussion with you.</p> <h2>Think beyond price</h2> <p>The next set of tips focuses on the <em>during negotiation</em> stages. It can be challenging for buyers to negotiate a lower price in a market with low supply and high demand. You might have to “think outside the price box”.</p> <p>Buyers often have a specific price range or fixed budget in mind when they start discussions with a seller. However, other factors besides price can influence a property’s overall value.</p> <p>So if a seller won’t adjust the price, consider negotiating for other concessions that could reduce your expenses.</p> <p>These may include:</p> <p><strong>Settlement period</strong></p> <p>Consider the expenses associated with the settlement period. A shorter settlement period could enable buyers to move into the property sooner and save on rent. For example, if a buyer is paying $600 per week in rent, an early settlement could save them around $2,400 per month.</p> <p><strong>Insurance costs after contract signing</strong></p> <p>In many states, buyers’ <a href="https://www.finder.com.au/home-insurance/home-insurance-cost">home insurance cover</a> is required to begin from the date of contract signing. It’s reasonable for buyers to include a special condition requesting the seller to bear the insurance costs until settlement. On average, home insurance may amount to about $140 per month.</p> <p><strong>Cleaning expenses</strong></p> <p>Consider negotiating a condition stipulating that the seller must ensure the property is professionally cleaned by settlement. Failure to do so could result in a $500 adjustment in the buyer’s favour at settlement.</p> <p>In some states, like Queensland, sellers are not obligated to deliver a clean property. Based on typical end-of-lease cleaning charges, internal cleaning of a four-bedroom property could cost <a href="https://firstcallhomeservices.com.au/service-menu/bond-exit-end-lease-cleaning/">$455 to $590</a>.</p> <p><strong>Building and pest inspection costs</strong></p> <p>Buyers should always include a 14-day pre-purchase inspection clause for <a href="https://www.topdogpestcontrol.com.au/building-pest-inspections-gold-coast/">building and pest inspections</a> in their offer. Although they may cost $300 to $600, these inspections provide a clear report that could lead to negotiations after contract signing if they find any issues with the property.</p> <h2>Be careful with your first offer</h2> <p>Don’t present the first offer in writing. It can be challenging to negotiate down the price once it has been written in an offer document.</p> <p>Instead, the buyer should begin by testing the expected price of the property. As well as obtaining property reports from multiple banks, the buyer could talk with the seller’s agent in person about a price range that would be agreeable to the seller.</p> <p>You could include phrases like “a price that will make the seller happy” or “a price that will make the seller accept the offer”. While the agent might not provide a specific price, this talk can provide a guideline for the buyer. All properties up for auction or private sale should have an expected price set, which may or may not be discussed with potential buyers.</p> <p>It’s also advisable to consult a solicitor before submitting an offer or signing a contract. They can offer valuable suggestions to smooth the purchase process and identify any issues.</p> <h2>Use the power of 900</h2> <p>Buyers often submit offers with round numbers, such as $700,000 or $750,000. In a competitive seller’s market, aim to submit an offer with a number that stands out from the rest, yet remains within your budget.</p> <p>An example of such a number is $900. For instance, comparing $700,000 to $700,900, the extra $900 makes the offer feel closer to $710,000.</p> <h2>Write a personalised letter</h2> <p>It’s true the most important point of selling a house for many sellers is price. But they are human and have emotions. Finishing a purchasing offer with a personal letter to the seller can make a difference.</p> <p>Often that $3,000 to $20,000 could be a lot of money for a buyer, but it may not be as much for someone selling a house for $700,000 or $1,000,000. Write the letter to express your feelings about the property in a way that makes it clear you will care for it. Most people selling their home would prefer to have someone look after it well.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/226237/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/park-thaichon-175182">Park Thaichon</a>, Associate Professor of Marketing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-southern-queensland-1069">University of Southern Queensland</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-buy-a-home-7-tips-for-negotiating-like-a-pro-226237">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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What you should know before you start chasing bargains at the EOFY sales

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/park-thaichon-175182">Park Thaichon</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-southern-queensland-1069">University of Southern Queensland</a></em></p> <p>What cost-of-living crisis? Millions of Australians are expected to spend <a href="https://www.roymorgan.com/findings/9592-ara-roy-morgan-media-release-eofy-mid-year-sales-2024">A$10.1 billion</a> during the end of financial year (EOFY) sales.</p> <p>Many products, from cars and holiday packages to clothing and white goods will be available at marked down prices over the next few weeks.</p> <p>Clothing and accessories will attract the biggest spend, followed by electronics and technology, household items and decorations and then appliances and white goods.</p> <p>To put the estimated $10.1 billion EOFY spend in perspective, in 2023 Australians spent <a href="https://ecommerce-report.auspost.com.au/">$361 billion on retail goods</a>, with $63.6 billion of that spent online.</p> <p>With such high spending, consumers need to make informed decisions to maximise their savings and avoid pitfalls.</p> <h2>Buyer beware</h2> <p>It is important to understand the return and exchange policies of the different retail stores.</p> <p>Most retailers allow shoppers who change their mind up to 30 days to return and receive a refund or exchange the product. Some may have shorter return periods or may not accept returns on sale items.</p> <p>These items are sometimes referred to as final sales, non-refundable purchases, last-chance deals, no-return sales and clearance items. This means if a customer bought something on sale and later doesn’t want it, they can’t return or exchange it.</p> <p>Some retailers have specific conditions about where items can be returned. For example, in Melbourne <a href="https://www.davidjones.com/return-options">David Jones</a> requires boutique brands to be returned to specific branch locations. For example, items purchased instore from Chanel can only be returned at Elizabeth Street and Bourke Street Mall branches.</p> <p>Other conditions might include <a href="https://www.myer.com.au/content/returns-exchanges">no refunds/no exchanges</a> on large electrical items, furniture or mattresses unless faulty or damaged. Or retailers may only offer instore credit or charge a <a href="https://www.davidjones.com/return-options">25% restocking fee</a> when a customer cancels an order for a large or bulky item.</p> <p>Many retailers, such as streetwear brand <a href="https://www.culturekings.com.au/pages/shipping-returns">Culture Kings</a>, also require a payment if the return process involves shipping.</p> <p>As well as these conditions, retailers require any returned items to be in their original condition and sometimes, their original packaging. Being aware of these policies can help customers make more informed decisions and avoid being stuck with items they don’t want.</p> <h2>What to buy and where to get it</h2> <p>Certain items, such as off-season clothing, electronics and furniture are often discounted during EOFY sales, making it a good time to get them at reduced cost.</p> <p>However, some items, like the latest Playstation or newest smart phone, may not be as heavily discounted and might be better bought at other times of the year.</p> <p>Shoppers should also avoid buying items they are unlikely to use or consume before they expire including perishable goods like food, cosmetics and vitamins.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="dnC1Y" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/dnC1Y/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <p>It’s also important to consider the value of the item and whether the discount offered during sales justifies the purchase, especially for big-ticket items that may require significant storage space or maintenance.</p> <p>Customers should also consider where to buy their items. Online retailers often have competitive prices and a wide selection, but some customers may prefer to see the item before they purchase instore.</p> <p><a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/14413582231167664">Multi-channel shopping</a> is a combination of both instore and online shopping. It gives customers the flexibility to choose how and where they want to browse and purchase.</p> <p>For example, some customers prefer to touch, feel and try a product instore but then make the purchase online for convenience, taking advantage of any free shipping offers and online discount.</p> <h2>Pressure tactics</h2> <p>It is important to be wary any deceptive tactics to persuade you to buy unwanted products.</p> <p>For example, some stores might use misleading advertising or pressure tactics to convince customers to make purchases with the feeling of fear of missing out (FOMO).</p> <p><a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/ijcs.12649?casa_token=271MN72XdP8AAAAA%3AfhYF_2yUJtM7KGv5jvFdXn5UsXQLkMcIM_F6hffYa30QaSdRivjf2mhFX-cr5C7ttCuLl1-e2OFYXBA">Our research found</a> FOMO played a role in panic buying.</p> <p>During the EOFY sales, businesses may try to create a sense of urgency by claiming that items are selling out quickly or prices will increase soon.</p> <p>For example, online sites might state a product is “low in stock”, “151 items have been sold today” or “25 people are watching this item”.</p> <p>By being aware these tactics are intended to lock them into buying, customers can take their time to consider purchases carefully and avoid being swayed into buying things they do not really want or need.</p> <p>Ultimately, the best approach for customers is to plan ahead, research prices and shop around to find the best deals for their needs.</p> <h2>Why we have EOFY sales</h2> <p>The original purpose of the EOFY is to mark the end of a 12-month accounting period for businesses and individuals. EOFY sales help businesses clear out last year’s stock and make way for new.</p> <p>Moving stock also helps to improve the bottom line by converting unsold goods into revenue.</p> <p>If consumers are savvy, they can find ways to make savings while also putting money back into the economy.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/232568/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/park-thaichon-175182"><em>Park Thaichon</em></a><em>, Associate Professor of Marketing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-southern-queensland-1069">University of Southern Queensland</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-you-should-know-before-you-start-chasing-bargains-at-the-eofy-sales-232568">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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The hidden risks of buy now, pay later: What shoppers need to know

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/vivek-astvansh-1318943">Vivek Astvansh</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/mcgill-university-827">McGill University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/chandan-kumar-behera-1479139">Chandan Kumar Behera</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/indian-institute-of-management-lucknow-6023">Indian Institute of Management Lucknow</a> </em><iframe style="width: 100%; height: 100px; border: none; position: relative; z-index: 1;" src="https://narrations.ad-auris.com/widget/the-conversation-canada/the-hidden-risks-of-buy-now-pay-later-what-shoppers-need-to-know" width="100%" height="400"></iframe></p> <p><a href="https://www.canada.ca/en/financial-consumer-agency/services/loans/buy-now-pay-later.html">Buy now, pay later</a> is a relatively new form of financial technology that allows consumers to purchase an item immediately and repay the balance at a later time in instalments.</p> <p>Unlike applying for a credit card, buy now, pay later <a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4591446">doesn’t require a credit check</a>. Instead, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1108/EJM-11-2021-0923">these programs use algorithms</a> to perform <a href="https://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/soft-inquiry.asp">“soft” credit checks</a> to determine <a href="https://theconversation.com/if-it-looks-like-debt-lets-treat-it-like-debt-buy-now-pay-later-schemes-need-firmer-regulation-in-nz-211820">a shopper’s eligibility</a>.</p> <p>This means buy now, pay later loans target <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2022/jan/27/buy-now-pay-later-schemes-entice-consumers-spend-more">low-income, tech-savvy</a> <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2022/10/27/gen-z-and-millennials-prefer-buy-now-pay-later-services.html">millennials and Gen Z shoppers</a> in an effort to <a href="https://libertystreeteconomics.newyorkfed.org/2023/09/who-uses-buy-now-pay-later/">supposedly improve financial inclusion</a> for these groups.</p> <p>However, the newness of buy now, pay later programs means existing <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/acfi.13100">consumer credit laws don’t cover it</a>. This lack of regulation puts shoppers at financial risk of accumulating higher levels of debt.</p> <h2>Credit cards versus buy now, pay later</h2> <p>There are three key differences between credit cards and buy now, pay later loans. First, while buy now, pay later loans are a line of credit like credit cards are, <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2022/05/04/klarna-to-report-buy-now-pay-later-data-to-uk-credit-bureaus.html">they don’t impact credit reports</a>. Because of this, shoppers might be less cautious when using buy now, pay later services.</p> <p>Credit cards typically have annual interest rates ranging from <a href="https://www.bankrate.com/finance/credit-cards/what-is-credit-card-apr/#credit-card-apr-vs-credit-card-interest">15 to 26 per cent</a>. While most buy now, pay later loans have no interest, longer term loans have <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/buy-now-pay-later-loans-interest-rate-fees-tips-what-to-know/">annual interest rates of about 37 per cent</a>.</p> <p>Shoppers are <a href="https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/buy-now-pay-later-how-retails-hot-feature-hurts-lower-income-shoppers">at risk of overusing buy now, pay later programs</a> and accumulating more debt than they can manage. In addition, formal lenders, such as banks, currently have no way of knowing what buy now, pay later debt a person is carrying. The lender, therefore, likely incurs more risk than they are aware of.</p> <p>Second, credit cards typically provide <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2022.2161830">an interest-free period</a>, after which <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/03128962211032448">borrowers must pay interest</a>. In contrast, buy now, pay later users typically don’t have interest fees, but can incur <a href="https://doi.org/10.1108/IJBM-07-2022-0324">late fees for missed or late payments</a>.</p> <p>Falling behind on payment terms <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/andriacheng/2020/12/16/why-retailers-are-embracing-buy-now-pay-later-service-this-holiday-season/">can result in charges</a> that exceed <a href="https://stateline.org/2022/02/02/regulators-scrutinize-buy-now-pay-later-plans/">typical credit card interest rates</a>, causing more harm than interest payments. Low-income buy now, pay later users are <a href="https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/buy-now-pay-later-how-retails-hot-feature-hurts-lower-income-shoppers">particularly vulnerable</a> to <a href="https://www.consumerfinance.gov/data-research/research-reports/consumer-use-of-buy-now-pay-later-insights-from-the-cfpb-making-ends-meet-survey/">using overdrafts to cover their buy now, pay later payments</a>.</p> <p>Third, people typically have just a few credit cards, making it easier to keep track of payments. Buy now, pay later users, on the other hand, usually engage with multiple buy now, pay later lenders through retailers. As a result, it’s difficult for them to keep track of all the buy now, pay later lenders and retailers they made purchases from.</p> <h2>What are the Canadian governments doing?</h2> <p>Canada classifies buy now, pay later as an unsecured instalment loan, which means lenders are subject to laws at the federal and provincial levels.</p> <p>Under federal law, there is an <a href="https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1711291/000171129122000011/curo-20211231.htm">annual interest rate cap of 60 per cent</a>. Provincial laws require buy now, pay later lenders to disclose the cost of credit and extend consumer protection rights to buy now, pay later shoppers.</p> <p>At the provincial level, <a href="https://www.canada.ca/en/financial-consumer-agency/services/loans/buy-now-pay-later.html">specific laws come into play</a>. Manitoba, Alberta, Québec, and Ontario have passed laws that require lenders to be licensed before they offer these products and be subject to regulatory oversight.</p> <p>These laws regulate high-cost credit products that have annual rates of 32 per cent or higher. This means buy now, pay later services <em>should</em> fall under this category. However, I found no evidence of buy now, pay later lenders being licensed in Canada. This means either lenders are not aware they fall under these laws, or no one is enforcing them.</p> <p>This ambiguity over whether or not buy now, pay later lenders are subject to regulatory oversight could be a hindrance for banks like the <a href="https://financialpost.com/fp-finance/fintech/why-higher-interest-rates-threaten-the-buy-now-pay-later-bubble">Bank of Nova Scotia and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce</a>, as it deters them from entering the buy now, pay later market despite its profitability.</p> <h2>Questions to ask before using buy now, pay later</h2> <p>Before signing up for a buy now, pay later loan, shoppers should consider the following six questions.</p> <p><strong>1. Payment structure.</strong> How much of the invoice amount needs to be paid upfront? The norm is typically 25 per cent. What is the number of remaining instalments? The answer to this is usually four. Lastly, what is the frequency of instalments? The norm is biweekly.</p> <p><strong>2. Sensitive information.</strong> Does the lender require you to provide information about your chequing account? This is sensitive information to give away and puts you at risk of data breaches. Most buy now, pay later lenders withdraw instalment amounts from chequing accounts or debit cards, potentially exposing shoppers to greater risks than credit cards.</p> <p><strong>3. Interest charges</strong> Does the buy now, pay later lender charge interest on instalment payments? The norm is no.</p> <p><strong>4. Late fees</strong> How much is the late fee, when does it apply and what is the maximum amount of the late fee? Typically, late fees don’t exceed $8 or one-quarter of the invoice amount. Late fees usually kick in if your scheduled payment remains unpaid after 10 days.</p> <p><strong>5. Data responsibility.</strong> Who is responsible for your data? Whether it’s the retailer, the buy now, pay later lender or a company whose cloud storage the provider may be using, you should know. In general, the buy now, pay later lender holds this responsibility.</p> <p><strong>6. Licensing.</strong> Is the buy now, pay later lender licensed to sell the loan? Usually, the <a href="https://dfpi.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/337/2020/03/afterpay-settlement.pdf">answer to this question is no</a>.</p> <h2>Buy now, pay later regulation</h2> <p>Two sets of laws and regulations should be implemented to address some of these issues. The first set of regulations focuses on how buy now, pay later lenders interact with consumers. These lenders should clearly communicate <a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4359956">all terms and conditions of their loans</a>, including late charges, interest charges and payment schedules, on their platforms to ensure shoppers are fully informed of their financial obligations.</p> <p>The Financial Conduct Authority in the United Kingdom recently issued guidelines allowing buy now, pay later lenders to <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/ca428bc8-65c3-49ed-8ba6-0d6f206098aa">terminate, suspend or restrict access to shopper accounts</a> for any reason without notice. Effective September 2024, New Zealand will require buy now, pay later lenders to <a href="https://theconversation.com/if-it-looks-like-debt-lets-treat-it-like-debt-buy-now-pay-later-schemes-need-firmer-regulation-in-nz-211820">check a shopper’s credit</a> before providing them a buy now, pay later loan.</p> <p>The second set of regulations defines the scope and boundaries of buy now, pay later lenders. On Dec. 9, 2022, California became the first American state to <a href="https://dfpi.ca.gov/2022/12/09/buy-now-pay-later-protect-yourself-before-you-check-out/">classify buy now, pay later as a loan</a>. Such classifications allowed California regulators to <a href="https://stateline.org/2022/02/02/regulators-scrutinize-buy-now-pay-later-plans/">question lenders about their transparency in disclosing the terms of their offerings</a>.</p> <p>The hope is that these laws and regulations will facilitate microlending and not impede the existence of buy now, pay later services, but rather make it safer and more secure for both lenders and users.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/215421/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/vivek-astvansh-1318943"><em>Vivek Astvansh</em></a><em>, Associate Professor of Quantitative Marketing and Analytics, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/mcgill-university-827">McGill University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/chandan-kumar-behera-1479139">Chandan Kumar Behera</a>, PhD Student in Marketing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/indian-institute-of-management-lucknow-6023">Indian Institute of Management Lucknow</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-hidden-risks-of-buy-now-pay-later-what-shoppers-need-to-know-215421">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Science finally proves "Money doesn't buy happiness"

<p>A new study has proven that the old adage "money can't buy you happiness" is true. </p> <p>Historically, economic wealth and higher income households are often seen to have an increased level of wellbeing and happiness, with the extra money making way for less stress and more general comfortability. </p> <p>However, researchers from Canada and Spain have concluded this may not be true, with such surveys often including responses from people in industrialised areas only. </p> <p>People in small-scale societies where money does not play a central role in every day life are often excluded from these studies, as the livelihood of residents in these small communities usually depend more on nature. </p> <p>Now, 2,966 people from Indigenous and local communities in 19 locations across the globe have been included in a study, with researchers now finding that societies of Indigenous people and those in small, local communities report living very satisfying lives despite not having a lot of money. </p> <p>The researchers wrote, "The striking aspect of our findings... is that reported life satisfaction in very low-income communities can meet and even exceed that reported at the highest average levels of material wealth provided by industrial ways of life."</p> <p>Researchers concluded the findings are strong evidence that economic growth is not needed to be happy, with only 64 percent of households included in the survey reported having any cash income.</p> <p>Eric Galbraith, lead author of the study, said, "Surprisingly, many populations with very low monetary incomes report very high average levels of life satisfaction, with scores similar to those in wealthy countries."</p> <p>Researchers added that high life satisfaction is shown in these communities "despite many of these societies having suffered histories of marginalisation and oppression."</p> <p>Galbraith added, "I would hope that, by learning more about what makes life satisfying in these diverse communities, it might help many others to lead more satisfying lives while addressing the sustainability crisis."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Mum slammed for being "stingy" after refusing to buy $2 snack for daughter's playdate

<p>A mum has come under fire for being "selfish" and "stingy" after refusing to buy a $2 snack for her 11-year-old daughter’s best friend.</p> <p>The woman, believed to be from the US, and her daughter Ellie were invited for a playdate at an indoor playground with 12-year-old Sophie and her mum.</p> <p>Sophie's mum offered to put them on her membership card so that Ellie and her mum could go to the indoor playground for free. </p> <p>“Sophie’s mum called me... and Sophie wanted to know if Ellie could come and play," she began in a Reddit thread called <em>Am I the a****** .</em></p> <p>"She offered to put me on her membership card so it would be free for me so I got Ellie in the car and we met them at the playground.” </p> <p>Trouble started when the girls got hungry after an hour of playing, and Ellie's mum only packed a snack for her daughter. </p> <p>“Sophie’s mum didn’t have any snacks on her,” she said.</p> <p>“I told her they sell snacks in the front but she claimed that she didn’t have any money on her and asked me to buy Sophie some Goldfish."</p> <p>Ellie's mum agreed to grab the crackers on one condition - Sophie's mum had to transfer the money to her. </p> <p>“She says she paid for my kid to get in so I could cover the $2 for the Goldfish. I said no, I took care of my kid and it’s not my job to take care of hers too.</p> <p>“I told her if she wanted me to bring snacks she should’ve told me when she invited me but I won’t be wasting $2 for a 50 cent bag of Goldfish because she was unprepared.”</p> <p>She added that Sophie's mum eventually managed to get snacks for her own daughter, and wondered "if she lied about not having money".</p> <p>She then accused Sophie's mum of being "petty" for asking her to pay back for “all the times” she's used her membership to get a guest pass at the indoor playground, adding that "they regularly pay for us to join them on outings.”</p> <p>Her post was met with over 2500 comments slamming her for being “selfish”, “stingy” and “ungrateful”.</p> <p>“You were invited to a place for free that you would otherwise have had to pay for. You only packed snacks for your child? Why didn’t you also take snacks for the other child?" one wrote. </p> <p>“Yes, you did not have to do so, and that child is not your responsibility, but if I was meeting someone for a playdate for my child, not paying to get in, knowing, at some point both girls were going to be hungry, I would have packed snacks for both, as a thank you for the invitation and just because," the commenter continued. </p> <p>“If someone asked me to transfer them $2, I’m rolling my eyes big time. It’s petty, especially when someone gave you something likely far more valuable," another added. </p> <p>“Seriously. I don’t even think I could tell a stranger no when it comes to feeding their hungry child, much less a person I know and spend time with," a third commented. </p> <p>Others called the mum a "fool", for potentially causing Ellie to lose her best friend.</p> <p>“Don’t be an idiot. Apologise. You might care about 50 cents. But your daughter will lose her best friend. And that is worth a lot more. Your daughter might never get a friend like that... And the fact that universe gift wrapped a friend for your daughter. And you choose to throw it in the trash. Wow, you are truly a fool," they said. </p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p> <p> </p>

Family & Pets

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Why Dave Hughes didn't buy the final Block house

<p>David ‘Hughesy’ Hughes was the surprise guest at this year's <em>The Block</em> auctions, and the Aussie comedian was keen on buying the final home to go on auction <span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">– </span><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;"> Leah and Ash’s house. </span></p> <p>Hughes was one move away from buying House 2 - which was passed in after it failed to hit reserve - but his wife blocked him from buying the home. </p> <p>“I was accosted as I left the auction, trying to get out of there, because one house didn’t sell and I said, ‘I’ll go talk to my wife’,” Hughes said on KIIS FM’s <em>Hughesy, Ed &amp; Erin </em>on Tuesday morning. </p> <p>The radio host then called his wife Holly live-on-air so she could explain the reason why they did not buy House 2. </p> <p>Holly revealed that she "was being asked by students and teachers,” about whether or not the couple bought the <em>Block</em> house. </p> <p>“You [Hughes] came home and as we were getting into bed, you said, ‘How would you have felt if I just bought that house?’ And I said, ‘Furious’," Holly revealed. </p> <p>She then called out her husband, claiming that he only wanted to buy the house to "show off". </p> <p>“If you bought a third house [in Melbourne] without consulting with me …” she said. </p> <p>“He never expressed any interesting in investing in that part of Melbourne, it’s so random, he would’ve just been buying a house to show off.</p> <p>“He had not looked at the houses or anything. He hadn’t watched an episode.”</p> <p>Although Hughes didn't get a property this season, his <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/finance/money-banking/dave-hughes-sets-the-record-straight-over-famous-block-house-purchase" target="_blank" rel="noopener">previous <em>Block</em> buy</a> in 2017 was a huge success.</p> <p><em>Image: Nine</em></p>

Money & Banking

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"She's my heartbeat": Man's touching move after mum buys him $730k winning lottery ticket

<p>A man from South Australia has vowed to shower his mother in gifts after she bought him a winning lottery ticket for his birthday. </p> <p>The man held one of the seven winning division one tickets, seeing him rake in a hefty prize of $738,668.19. </p> <p>The winning ticket was purchased by the man's mother, at the George Avenue Deli in Whyalla Norrie, north of Adelaide, with the family in disbelief at the extraordinary win. </p> <p>"My mum bought me this ticket for my birthday last week,” the man said.</p> <p>“I rang her yesterday after calling The Lott and she didn’t believe me at all.”</p> <p>The man said that while he is thrilled with the win, it still doesn't seem real. </p> <p>“Honestly, I’ve been holding off getting excited until the money is in my account,” he said. </p> <p>The grateful winner has promised to repay his mother for all she’s done for him by spoiling her “rotten” with his winnings. </p> <p>“She’s my heartbeat, she’s everything to me,” he said.</p> <p>“I wouldn’t have had a great birthday if it wasn’t for her, so I look forward to giving back to her.”</p> <p>The owner of George Avenue Deli, Lorna-Jane Anderson, said learning of the winning entry had been “wonderful news”.</p> <p>“There’s no doubt the local community will be happy to hear another Whyalla Norrie customer has won big with a ticket purchased at our outlet,” she said.</p> <p>“We’ve sold many major lottery prizes in the past two years and in fact, almost a year ago we sold a top prize-winning Instant Scratch-Its ticket worth $100,000."</p> <p>“We’re glad to hear the mystery winner has come forward to claim their prize and we wish him all the best with the win.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: The Lott</em></p>

Money & Banking

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The top 11 situations to always haggle for a lower price

<p><strong>Mortgage rates</strong></p> <p>Buying a new home is probably the biggest purchase you will make over the course of your life, so every last penny you can save is worth it. “Borrowers should shop their business around to many banks/lenders to see what rates are available,” says mortgage broker Ade Labinjo. “Then use the rates obtained to pit the banks against each other for the purpose of either matching or driving down the rates they were quoted.”</p> <p>Labinjo says that by getting at least one extra quote rate, the average borrower could save up to $1,500. Never settle for the initial quote rate that the bank offers you – haggle for a better price because chances are, they’re not giving you their absolute best offer upfront.</p> <p><strong>Flea markets, farmers markets, garage sales</strong></p> <p>At flea markets, farmers markets, and garage sales the sellers typically set their own price. If you know how to haggle, this is a great opportunity to get a really good deal. Also, see if buying in bulk or large quantities can get you a price reduction.</p> <p><strong>Hotel rooms</strong></p> <p>Hotels want their rooms filled, so it never hurts to haggle with the people at the front desk for a better price or room upgrades. “Hotels have to pay a commission to booking websites, and pass on some of that as a benefit to the user,” says Saurabh Jindal, founder of Talk Travel.</p> <p>If you find that the price is the same on the booking website and the hotel’s website, ask the hotel for a room with a better view or more amenities. “Hotels have rooms allocated to various booking platforms and may give you a better option which has not yet been sold.”</p> <p><strong>Memberships</strong></p> <p>Memberships always come along with extra fees. It might be a renewal fee, startup fee, or a maintenance fee if it’s your gym membership. Ask if they can waive some of the fees or threaten to cancel and go somewhere else. They want to keep making money off of you and might just give you a discount.</p> <p><strong>Lease renewal </strong></p> <p>If you’re considering re-signing your lease, know that it is most likely more expensive for the landlord to prepare your apartment for a new tenant than to lease to you for another year. If you’ve had a good relationship with your landlord, try to negotiate in a deal before you re-sign. If the landlord is going to increase your rent, ask if you can increase it by less or not at all. If you consistently pay rent on time, are a respectful neighbour, and take good care of your apartment they may keep your rent from increasing.</p> <p>It’s important to remember who your lease is with though, says Julie Ramhold, Consumer Expert at DealNews.com. If your apartment is owned by a management company, they probably won’t offer any wiggle room. But, if you’re renting from a single landlord or owner, try negotiating for a lower price.</p> <p><strong>Online selling platforms </strong></p> <p>People who post items for sale online are typically moving or looking to get rid of unwanted items. Use that to your advantage and ask for a lower price – the worst they can say is no. You could also offer to come and pick it up quickly if they give you a better deal.</p> <p><strong>Internet and phone bill</strong></p> <p>As annoying as your internet and phone provider may be, they don’t want to lose you as a customer. “If you’re signing up or looking to renew, sometimes you can get a lower rate by telling a rep what the competitor is offering and saying it works better with your budget,” says Ramhold.</p> <p>A lot of cable companies give you a promotional price for your first year, make sure to call right before the price goes up for your second year. The competitors will most likely offer better prices for new customers and that can work in your advantage and possibly get you a better deal with your current provider.</p> <p><strong>Insurance rates</strong></p> <p>Just like internet providers, insurance companies don’t want you to switch to a different provider. “Use your customer loyalty to your advantage and try to talk to the right person on the phone,” says Kelan Kline a personal finance expert and co-founder of The Savvy Couple. “Tell them the service you are receiving is not good enough for the price.” They might offer you a discount to keep you.</p> <p><strong>Home services</strong></p> <p>If you’re renovating your kitchen or getting some landscaping done, make sure to shop around and get a few different quotes first. Use those quotes to negotiate with the contractor you want to work with. Also, you may be able to haggle for a better price if you offer to pay upfront in cash or schedule a contractor during the winter months when business is typically slower.</p> <p><strong>Jewellery</strong></p> <p>“You should know that the markup on diamond jewellery is anywhere from 50 to 200 per cent and more,” says Chhavi Agarwal, a personal finance expert. There is always room for haggling. Agarwal suggests politely making a counteroffer. You’d be surprised the changes they are willing to make to the bill. If they refuse to come down in price, try to haggle the labour charges.</p> <p><strong>Returned items </strong></p> <p>Never miss an opportunity to haggle for a better price on items that have been returned to stores. Stores will typically mark returned items that have been slightly used or have a ding with a price reduction, but it doesn’t hurt to ask for more off. They know that items that have already been opened aren’t as appealing to customers and they want to get them sold.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; border: 0px; margin: 0px 0px 20px; outline: 0px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; line-height: 26px;"><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/money/11-times-you-should-always-haggle-for-a-better-price?pages=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Money & Banking

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How to buy the best eggs

<p><strong>Brown eggs vs. white eggs</strong></p> <p>There are a lot of misconceptions about eggs, and chief among them is that there’s a difference in the health benefits of brown and white eggs. Unlike bread, brown and white eggs are equally nutritious. An eggshell’s hue is simply determined by the breed of hen laying it.</p> <p><strong>Free-run vs. free-range eggs</strong></p> <div> <p>Free run eggs are laid by hens housed in barns equipped with nests and perches. More space to scratch, peck and stretch their wings means less stress for the birds.</p> <p>In the case of free range eggs, the hens can roam inside barns as well as outdoors, weather permitting. Outside, they can sunbathe, dust bathe, and eat bugs, worms and grass.</p> <p><strong>Are organic eggs the best eggs?</strong></p> <p>When a carton of eggs is labelled as “organic,” it means the hens’ feed is free of herbicides, pesticides, fungicides and preservatives. A study by researchers at Pennsylvania State University found that organic eggs tend to have more vitamin A, D and E.</p> <p>What’s more, many pro chefs claim they taste richer. Certified organic farms adhere to specific standards and are inspected regularly, making their products the surest choice.</p> <p><strong>What does it mean when eggs are Omega-3-enriched?</strong></p> <p>The label “Omega-3-enriched” indicates the hens laying the eggs were fed high levels of polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids – essential dietary nutrients for human growth, development and general health.</p> <p>In most cases, flaxseed or fish oil has been added to the feed, occasionally lending the eggs a mild fishy flavour and aroma.</p> <p><strong>The best eggs for baking</strong></p> <p>From peewee to jumbo, eggs are graded by weight. Unless otherwise specified, choose large eggs (approximately 60 grams) when following recipes – especially when baking, where precision matters.</p> <p><strong>Health matters</strong></p> <p>Pregnant women, young children, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems should stay away from raw or partially cooked eggs to avoid the risk, however slight, of salmonella poisoning.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/how-to-buy-the-best-eggs" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p> </div>

Food & Wine

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15 things chefs always buy frozen

<p><strong>The best frozen foods you'll want on hand </strong></p> <p>The best frozen foods are just as much a godsend for professional chefs as they are for home cooks. Trust me – I’ve been cooking professionally since 2002, I’ve written multiple cookbooks and my freezer is perpetually packed to the gills with more than just ice cream. (Though there is a lot of ice cream.)</p> <p>And here’s a food fact you may not realise: just because a food is frozen doesn’t mean it’s not as good as one that’s fresh. The method for freezing food industrially is far different from how you freeze food at home, so you don’t have to worry about things like freezer burn. Special flash-freezing technology allows fruits and vegetables to be ‘suspended in time’ at peak freshness in mere minutes, or even seconds. This not only preserves flavour and texture but nutrients as well, making some frozen foods healthier than fresh.</p> <p>There are many reasons for chefs to turn to the best frozen foods, both at home and on the job, from saving time and kitchen space to simply sourcing a better product. (No one wants to use inferior ingredients when making their best recipes!) Here are some chef picks for the best frozen foods you’ll want to stock up on.</p> <p><strong>Berries</strong></p> <p>The season for fresh berries is short, which is why frozen berries are such a good buy. Not only are they preserved at the peak of freshness, but they also can be easier to cook with in their frozen state. “I bake with frozen berries because they are so easy to add to batters without getting mushy,” says chef, Megan Moore. “You do need to fold in the berries directly from the freezer or they get wet, but the flavour and sweetness are peak season. They are also consistently sized, so they are really perfect for things like muffins, quick breads or pancakes.”</p> <p>Just be aware that while freezing preserves the flavour of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries, it deteriorates their structural integrity. When water freezes into jagged ice crystals, it shreds their delicate cellular structures like tissue paper. So if you’re buying berries to use whole, like for decorating cakes or tarts, it’s best to spring for fresh.</p> <p><strong>Prawns</strong></p> <p>When it comes to buying prawns, frozen almost always beats fresh. Unless you live in a coastal prawning community where you’re able to buy your crustaceans directly from the docks, nearly all the prawns you’ve ever encountered have been individually quick-frozen (IQF) directly on the boat shortly after being caught. Fresh raw prawns quickly degrade in quality as they sit, so by running them through a blast chiller almost immediately, their flavour, texture and freshness are preserved.</p> <p>As for the ‘fresh’ prawns you see on ice at fish counter? They’re more than likely previously frozen prawns that have been fully thawed. In some cases, thawed prawns may be treated with chemicals like sodium tripolyphosphate, which causes them to absorb water so they look plumper and fresher – and so they will weigh more when put on the pricing scale. One word of caution: according to chef, Cynthia Valles, you should always check the ingredients list when buying frozen prawns. The only thing that should be listed there is (of course) ‘prawns’.</p> <p><strong>Fish</strong></p> <p>Just like prawns, much of the fish you’ll find at the seafood counter isn’t as ‘fresh’ as you think. “Many popular seafood picks like scallops, Chilean sea bass, tuna and swordfish are all flash-frozen on the boat, so I always buy them frozen instead of thawed out at the fish counter,” says Moore. “Also, you never want to double-freeze fish, because the texture changes and it becomes gluey. Buying frozen fish means you don’t need to cook it immediately. If you’re not planning to prepare your fish the same day you bring it home from the market, you’re better off buying it frozen.”</p> <p>Another major plus: buying frozen is a good way to support sustainable-fishing practices. Many frozen fish products come from fisheries that follow strict sustainability guidelines to maintain the fish population and reduce the impact on marine ecosystems. Look for frozen fish with certification labels, such as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), so you can be sure they were sourced from sustainable fisheries or responsible aquaculture operations.</p> <p><strong>French fries</strong></p> <p>We all know fast-food chains use frozen French fries, but if you peek into most restaurant kitchens, you’ll find many chefs do too! Making French fries from scratch is a lengthy process. First, potatoes need to be cut and soaked in water to remove excess starch. Next, they’re fried (or blanched) for a few minutes in 177-degree oil, which cooks the potatoes through and leaves them pillowy soft.</p> <p>After that, they’re fried once more in oil that’s 177 degrees, which gives them their crispy, golden-brown exterior. Frozen French fries have already been pre-cooked, so when it’s time to eat, all that needs to be done is that quick final fry.</p> <p><strong>Large cuts of beef, pork and lamb</strong></p> <p>Just like bulk buyers, chefs like purchasing large quantities of meat to save money. When it comes to steaks and chops, they call the butcher, but for cheaper, braise-able cuts of meat like pork shoulder or beef brisket, it’s fine to go frozen. In fact, it can even have some benefits beyond longer storage. As the water in meat freezes, it expands, solidifying into ice crystals with jagged edges that break down muscle and connective tissues. This can help tenderise tough cuts of meat that require low and slow cooking if they’re going to stand a chance of being chewable.</p> <p>Plus, of course, you’ll have these ingredients on hand when you need them. “I prefer to buy certain meats frozen versus fresh because I don’t know if I’ll use it before it expires,” says chef, Ciro Coppola. “I’m also not sure how long food has been sitting in the food company warehouse.”</p> <p><strong>Corn</strong></p> <p>Believe it or not, corn is a food that’s quite often better frozen than fresh. That’s because corn loses flavour and nutrients as it sits at room temperature. So depending on whether it’s in season, by the time it’s gone from the farm to the market to your kitchen, fresh corn might pale in comparison to the frozen kind.</p> <p>“I love frozen corn because it’s always sweet and already cleaned,” says Moore. “It’s frozen so quickly, it isn’t starchy. I make pantry dinners like a canned black bean and frozen corn salad with a fresh lime pimentón vinaigrette. Add some fresh elements like a little red onion and chopped red bell pepper, and it tastes like you spent all day cooking! I always make a big batch – it tastes even better the next day, so it’s great for meal prep and make-ahead lunches.”</p> <p><strong>Dumplings</strong></p> <p>Making dumplings from scratch is something many chefs would rather do at work than at home. Not only that, but air-frying a bag of frozen dumplings is a lot faster than takeout! “I use frozen dumplings to make a chicken soup with bok choy, frozen broccoli and ginger,” says Moore.</p> <p>“Dress the bowls with Sriracha, soy sauce and sesame oil. Everyone loves them! It’s faster than takeout and really delicious if you have a cold.” Having these items on hand will also help you when meal planning – and when you forget to figure out your menu for the week.</p> <p><strong>Peas</strong></p> <p>You’ll rarely, if ever, find fresh peas at the supermarket, nor would you want to. These delicate pulses have a short shelf life once picked, so by flash-freezing peas shortly after harvesting, they can make it to market without losing any quality.</p> <p>“Frozen peas are one of the rare things that generally taste better than fresh,” says Moore. “They are so sweet and plump. I love adding them to pastas, stir fries and pot pies. They are also amazing as a simple salad when thawed, tossed with lemon zest, parmesan and olive oil, and served cold.”</p> <p><strong>Filo pastry</strong></p> <p>It’s rare that you’ll find a chef or baker who makes their own paper-thin filo pastry from scratch. “I love filo, and it’s super easy to use,” says Moore. “Thaw it slowly in the refrigerator or on the counter – the thin sheets will crumble if it’s not thawed correctly and will dry out if you don’t keep the pastry covered while not actively working with it."</p> <p>"But as long as your ingredients and tools are ready to go, building a spanakopita from scratch can be done in about 30 minutes. You can use frozen filo to make all sorts of sweet and savoury dishes, and the thin layers of crispy pastry are always impressive.”</p> <p><strong>Puff pastry</strong></p> <p>Any chef can tell you that making puff pastry by hand is a long, laborious process, which is why many of them prefer buying it frozen. But there is an important caveat: it must be made with real butter, not oils or shortenings. Without butter, frozen puff pastry is nearly flavourless, which can lead to disappointing results when using it in recipes. All-butter puff pastry, however, is often better than homemade, since industrial rolling machines ensure every layer of butter is equal and even.</p> <p>“I love it to make hand pies, like barbecue pulled chicken and cheddar with sautéed onions, or a chicken pot pie,” says Moore. “Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter and cut straight down so it rises high and even.”</p> <p><strong>Stock</strong></p> <p>When considering which frozen foods to buy, think of the foods chefs like to freeze themselves. “We keep our stocks and sauces like birria consommé frozen, because they’re time-consuming to make,” says Valles. Making a large amount of stock from scratch can use up every burner in a small restaurant kitchen, so leaning on freezers is key to having excellent stock to cook with later on instead of relying on canned or powdered stocks and broths.</p> <p>And yes, you can buy frozen stock or condensed frozen stock bases that you can constitute. They’re total game-changers.</p> <p><strong>Chicken breasts</strong></p> <p>Chicken is by far the most popular meat in Australia – and one of the most popular frozen foods too. Frozen chicken breasts thaw quickly and cook quickly, so by keeping them stockpiled in your freezer, you’ll always have an answer when someone in your house asks, “What’s for dinner?” And you won’t have to worry about using them up before they go bad in the fridge.</p> <p>“Frozen chicken is the main thing I buy because so many people love it,” says Moore, who says that frozen chicken cooks and tastes just as good as fresh. With no drop in quality, this is one of the best frozen foods to always keep on hand for quick and easy dinners. “For meal prep, thaw chicken breasts, marinate and grill for fast meals that taste good. With basic pantry or freezer items, you can do tacos, salads or even dice it and add to risotto. There are so many different ways to make a meal.”</p> <p><strong>Chicken nuggets</strong></p> <p>As a culinary professional who’s also the mother of two teenage boys, allow me to share a universal truth: all children prefer frozen chicken nuggets to homemade, which is why most restaurants buy them as such. It doesn’t matter how much work you put into making them from scratch or if you use any secret ingredients. This is not what kids (or most adults) want – which is finely ground chicken moulded into nugget shapes, dipped in batter and deep-fried till golden.</p> <p>And even if you do make outstanding chicken nuggets at home, your kids most certainly will not appreciate them … and they’ll probably complain that they’re “not the same” as their favourite. So just do what the chefs do: buy them frozen, save yourself the headache and have a peaceful meal.</p> <p><strong>Spinach</strong></p> <p>If you’ve ever cooked fresh spinach before, you know just how much it shrinks. To end up with one cup of cooked spinach, you’ll need about 10 cups of fresh leaves! So unless you absolutely need to use it raw, like in a salad, it makes a lot more sense to buy spinach that’s already been cooked down so you can use it immediately.</p> <p>Frozen cooked spinach tastes as good as if you’d done it yourself, which is why chefs reach for it over and over again. Plus, even with their restaurants’ big walk-in refrigerators, they still have only so much space for spinach storage.</p> <p><strong>Bread</strong></p> <p>Everyone loves being greeted at a restaurant with warm, freshly baked bread. But here’s an insider secret: most restaurants – even the ones that claim they bake their bread in-house every day – aren’t actually making their bread from scratch.</p> <p>Instead, they get loaves, rolls and breadsticks that have been partially cooked and rapidly frozen for long-term storage. When it’s time to make ‘fresh’ bread, they put it into a hot oven to bake the rest of the way. By going with frozen over fresh, you’ll never end up with a stale slice of bread.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/15-things-chefs-always-buy-frozen?pages=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Food & Wine

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Pizza chain's delightfully devilish scheme lets you pay when you die

<p>A delightfully devilish pizza chain is taking the 'buy now, pay later' scheme to the next level, giving customers the chance to pay for their pizza when they die. </p> <p>HELL Pizza is inviting pizza fans to apply for the trial scheme, which involves amending their wills to have their total cost included. </p> <p>The chain has one store in Brisbane, with the rest of its stores located around New Zealand, with customers from both countries able to apply for the scheme, which involves no late fees or penalties.</p> <p>The restaurant will select 666 applicants from each country, who will be invited to sign a real amendment to their wills allowing the cost of their pizza to be collected upon death.</p> <p>According to HELL Pizza CEO Ben Cumming, pizza is one of the simple joys of life, and AfterLife Pay means diners can get their fix without having to dip into the bank account immediately.</p> <p>The scheme emerged after the business was approached by popular 'buy now, pay later' providers who wanted HELL Pizza to offer the service to its customers. </p> <p>The pizza chain's unique AfterLife Pay came as a direct response to this proposal, as a statement against “schemes trapping a growing number of Aussies in spirals of debt”, Cumming said.</p> <p>“We’re seeing a growing number of people using the schemes to buy essential items like food, and we think it’s taking it a step too far when you’ve got quick service restaurants like ours being asked to offer BNPL for what is considered a treat,” he said.</p> <p>“Especially when you consider people are falling behind in their payments and 10.5 percent of loans are in arrears."</p> <p>“AfterLife Pay is a light-hearted campaign that reinforces HELL’s stance on BNPL schemes - you can have your pizza and eat it too without any pesky late fees or penalties.”</p> <p>Applicants can apply for the scheme <a href="https://afterlife.hellpizza.au/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">online</a>, with the chain's restaurant assuring that you will you won't pay anything for your order until "you're resting six feet under". </p> <p><em>Image credits: HELL Pizza</em></p>

Food & Wine

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8 best winter bedding sets to buy online in Australia

<p>As we bid farewell to sunny days and welcome the chilly season, it's time to dig out your trusty winter duvets from storage and embark on the journey for new bedding sets that will keep you warm and feeling snug. With many options available, it’s often overwhelming to navigate the world of bedding. There's a lot to consider, from different materials like <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=204849X1683982&xs=13&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.harrisscarfe.com.au%2Fhome%2Fbed-linen%2Fcomforters-coverlets%2Framesses-shaggy-fleece-comforter-set%2FBP642421001-charcoal&xcust=sen_winter_bedding" target="_blank" rel="noopener">fleece</a> and <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=204849X1683982&xs=13&url=https%3A%2F%2Fbedthreads.com.au%2Fproducts%2Folive-stripe-terracotta-oatmeal-bedding-bundle%3Fvariant%3D39886462681222&xcust=sen_winter_bedding" target="_blank" rel="noopener">linen</a> to varying thread counts that determine their luxurious softness. And, of course, let's not forget about the aesthetic appeal, which is just as important. </p> <p>To make your life easier, we've carefully curated our very own collection of winter bedding sets that cater to a wide range of budgets and styles. Whether you prefer a classic, elegant design or a bold, <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=204849X1683982&xs=13&url=https%3A%2F%2Fbedthreads.com.au%2Fproducts%2Folive-stripe-terracotta-oatmeal-bedding-bundle%3Fvariant%3D39886462681222&xcust=sen_winter_bedding" target="_blank" rel="noopener">trendy pattern</a>, we've got you covered. </p> <p>No matter your taste or <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=204849X1683982&xs=13&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.canningvale.com%2Fvintage-softwash-cotton-quilt-cover-set%2F%3Fnosto_source%3Dcmp%26nosto%3D861845714&xcust=sen_winter_bedding" target="_blank" rel="noopener">budget</a>, our winter bedding collection is here to help you create a cosy sanctuary during the colder months. So, snuggle up, explore our handpicked sets of the season, and prepare to transform your bedroom into a haven of warmth and style. </p> <p> </p> <h4>1. Most luxurious duvet cover</h4> <h4><a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=204849X1683982&xs=13&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.sheridan.com.au%2F1200tc-palais-quilt-cover-s142-b110-c195-001-white.html&xcust=sen_winter_bedding" target="_blank" rel="noopener">1200tc Palais Quilt Cover, $419.99 - $479.99, was $699.99 - $799.99, Sheridan</a></h4> <h3><a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=204849X1683982&xs=13&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.sheridan.com.au%2F1200tc-palais-quilt-cover-s142-b110-c195-001-white.html&xcust=sen_winter_bedding" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2023/05/1bedding.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="1280" /></a></h3> <p>When it comes to cotton thread count, the threshold for luxury is usually set above 800. However, the Palais' flawless white cotton, boasting an impressive thread count of 1200 and crafted from exceptional long-staple fibres, surpasses any other duvet we've come across. It showcases remarkable attention to detail, such as the neat 5cm border along the edges, and is adorned with the iconic Palais trademark triple-stitched embroidery.</p> <h3><a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=204849X1683982&xs=13&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.sheridan.com.au%2F1200tc-palais-quilt-cover-s142-b110-c195-001-white.html&xcust=sen_winter_bedding" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Buy it here</a></h3> <p> </p> <h4>2. Most luxurious pillowcases to match</h4> <h4><a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=204849X1683982&xs=13&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.sheridan.com.au%2F1200tc-palais-tailored-pillowcase-s142-b120-c195-001-white.html&xcust=sen_winter_bedding" target="_blank" rel="noopener">1200tc Palais Tailored Pillowcase, $77.99, was $129.99, Sheridan</a></h4> <p><a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=204849X1683982&xs=13&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.sheridan.com.au%2F1200tc-palais-tailored-pillowcase-s142-b120-c195-001-white.html&xcust=sen_winter_bedding" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2023/05/2bedding.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="1280" /></a></p> <p>Of course, you need the pillowcases to match, it wouldn’t be luxurious otherwise!</p> <p>Featuring the same detailing and materials.</p> <h3><a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=204849X1683982&xs=13&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.sheridan.com.au%2F1200tc-palais-tailored-pillowcase-s142-b120-c195-001-white.html&xcust=sen_winter_bedding" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Buy it here</a></h3> <p> </p> <h4>3. Cosiest bedding set</h4> <h4><a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=204849X1683982&xs=13&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.myer.com.au%2Fp%2Fvue-ashley-corduroy-quilted-quilt-cover-set-in-green&xcust=sen_winter_bedding" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Vue Ashley Corduroy Quilted Quilt Cover Set, $19.98 - $104.98, was $39.95 - $209.95, Myer</a></h4> <p><a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=204849X1683982&xs=13&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.myer.com.au%2Fp%2Fvue-ashley-corduroy-quilted-quilt-cover-set-in-green&xcust=sen_winter_bedding" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2023/05/6bedding.jpg" alt="" width="1080" height="1061" /></a></p> <p>This delightfully soft to-the-touch, budget-friendly, charming quilted corduroy quilt cover set features a cosy moss green tone which exudes a warmly welcoming and homely aura, especially when paired with a warm orange bedtime lamp. Set includes 1 Duvet cover and 2 Pillowcases.</p> <h3><a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=204849X1683982&xs=13&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.myer.com.au%2Fp%2Fvue-ashley-corduroy-quilted-quilt-cover-set-in-green&xcust=sen_winter_bedding" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Buy it here</a></h3> <p> </p> <h4>4. Best aesthetically-pleasing bedding set</h4> <h4><a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=204849X1683982&xs=13&url=https%3A%2F%2Fbedthreads.com.au%2Fproducts%2Folive-stripe-terracotta-oatmeal-bedding-bundle%3Fvariant%3D39886462681222&xcust=sen_winter_bedding" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Olive Stripe, Terracotta & Oatmeal Bedding Bundle, $472.00, was $590.00, BedThreads</a></h4> <h4> <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=204849X1683982&xs=13&url=https%3A%2F%2Fbedthreads.com.au%2Fproducts%2Folive-stripe-terracotta-oatmeal-bedding-bundle%3Fvariant%3D39886462681222&xcust=sen_winter_bedding" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2023/05/8bedding.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="1604" /></a></h4> <p>If you appreciate an earthy and natural aesthetic, this delightful bedding set in warm olive stripe, terracotta, and oatmeal colours is the ultimate bundle for you. Designed to evoke a sense of tranquillity, it serves as the perfect retreat. It’s crafted from linen, which in itself offers numerous advantages for the colder seasons; linen is naturally highly insulating, creating optimal warmth during chilly weather, and it’s also breathable, preventing overheating. The best thing about linen is that it gets better with age, as the best things in life often do, with every wash, it’ll get softer to the touch. </p> <p>Set includes:</p> <ul> <li>1 Duvet cover</li> <li>1 Fitted sheet</li> <li>1 Flat sheet</li> <li>4 Standard pillowcases</li> <li>2 European pillowcases</li> </ul> <h3><a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=204849X1683982&xs=13&url=https%3A%2F%2Fbedthreads.com.au%2Fproducts%2Folive-stripe-terracotta-oatmeal-bedding-bundle%3Fvariant%3D39886462681222&xcust=sen_winter_bedding" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Buy it here</a></h3> <p> </p> <h4>5. Best affordable winter bedding set</h4> <h4><a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=204849X1683982&xs=13&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.canningvale.com%2Fvintage-softwash-cotton-quilt-cover-set%2F%3Fnosto_source%3Dcmp%26nosto%3D861845714&xcust=sen_winter_bedding" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Vintage Softwash Cotton Quilt Cover Sets, $69.99 - $109.99, was $139.99 - $219.99, Canningvale</a></h4> <p> <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=204849X1683982&xs=13&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.canningvale.com%2Fvintage-softwash-cotton-quilt-cover-set%2F%3Fnosto_source%3Dcmp%26nosto%3D861845714&xcust=sen_winter_bedding" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2023/05/3bedding.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="1280" /></a></p> <p>Many of us face budget constraints that impact our purchasing decisions. But that doesn’t always mean we have to compromise on quality when it comes to bedding. Enter the Softwash Cotton Quilt Cover Set - a wallet-friendly option that delivers on both affordability and lasting quality. Much like linen, it becomes increasingly softer with each wash. The neutral tones of this set effortlessly complement any interior style. The versatility of the neutral tones opens up opportunities for mixing and matching with other bedding items in similar hues. With the Softwash Cotton Quilt Cover Set, you can enjoy the combination of affordability, durability, and style without stretching your budget. Set Includes 1<span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;"> Duvet and </span>2 European pillowcases.</p> <h3><a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=204849X1683982&xs=13&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.canningvale.com%2Fvintage-softwash-cotton-quilt-cover-set%2F%3Fnosto_source%3Dcmp%26nosto%3D861845714&xcust=sen_winter_bedding" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Buy it here</a></h3> <p> </p> <h4>6. Best all-round affordable luxury</h4> <h4><a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=204849X1683982&xs=13&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bedbathntable.com.au%2Fwindsor-white-010801&xcust=sen_winter_bedding" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Windsor Quilt Cover, $104.95, was $149.95, Bed Bath N’ Table</a></h4> <p><a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=204849X1683982&xs=13&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bedbathntable.com.au%2Fwindsor-white-010801&xcust=sen_winter_bedding" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2023/05/4bedding.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="1280" /></a></p> <p>The Windsor is like the perfect sweet spot between luxury and affordability. It's woven with a seriously impressive 400-thread count Egyptian cotton sateen that feels amazingly soft to the touch. And let's not forget about its cool box-quilted design, adding that extra touch of style. When you cosy up with the Windsor, you're treating yourself to a slice of luxury without breaking the bank. Includes duvet. Pillowcases can be added to the basket near the shop now button for an additional charge. </p> <h3><a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=204849X1683982&xs=13&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bedbathntable.com.au%2Fwindsor-white-010801&xcust=sen_winter_bedding" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Buy it here</a></h3> <p> </p> <h4>7. Best moisture-wicking bedding</h4> <h4><a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=204849X1683982&xs=13&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.adairs.com.au%2Fbedroom%2Fquilt-covers-coverlets%2Fhome-republic%2F600tc-cotton-bamboo-quilt-cover-white%2F&xcust=sen_winter_bedding" target="_blank" rel="noopener">600TC Bamboo Cotton White Quilt Cover Separates, From $119.99, Adairs</a></h4> <p><a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=204849X1683982&xs=13&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.adairs.com.au%2Fbedroom%2Fquilt-covers-coverlets%2Fhome-republic%2F600tc-cotton-bamboo-quilt-cover-white%2F&xcust=sen_winter_bedding" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2023/05/5bedding.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="1280" /></a></p> <p>Combat the discomfort of cold night sweats with this 600-thread count cotton and bamboo blend duvet cover. With a 40:60 ratio offers a silky smooth sateen finish and benefits from bamboo's natural anti-bacterial properties and moisture-wicking abilities. Stay cosy as it regulates body temperature while resisting odours, mould, and bacteria for a fresh and comfortable sleep. Build your own bundle. </p> <h3><a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=204849X1683982&xs=13&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.adairs.com.au%2Fbedroom%2Fquilt-covers-coverlets%2Fhome-republic%2F600tc-cotton-bamboo-quilt-cover-white%2F&xcust=sen_winter_bedding" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Buy it here</a></h3> <p> </p> <h4>8. The best fleece comforter set</h4> <h4><a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=204849X1683982&xs=13&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.harrisscarfe.com.au%2Fhome%2Fbed-linen%2Fcomforters-coverlets%2Framesses-shaggy-fleece-comforter-set%2FBP642421001-charcoal&xcust=sen_winter_bedding" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Ramesses Shaggy Fleece Comforter Set Charcoal, $169.99 - $209.99 Harris Scarfe</a></h4> <p><a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=204849X1683982&xs=13&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.harrisscarfe.com.au%2Fhome%2Fbed-linen%2Fcomforters-coverlets%2Framesses-shaggy-fleece-comforter-set%2FBP642421001-charcoal&xcust=sen_winter_bedding" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2023/05/7bedding.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="1132" /></a></p> <p>If you haven't heard of the teddy bear fleece comforter set before, now's the time to catch up! Don't miss out on this popular item that flew off the shelves last year. The Ramesses Shaggy Fleece Comforter Set is designed to provide a luxurious velvet-like feel, reminiscent of cuddling up to your cherished teddy bear from your childhood. Made from a soft fuzzy fleece material, it offers unparalleled comfort. With a range of rich shades, you can find the perfect match for your bedroom decor.  Set includes 1 Comforter, 2 Pillowcases and 2 Cushions.</p> <h3><a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=204849X1683982&xs=13&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.harrisscarfe.com.au%2Fhome%2Fbed-linen%2Fcomforters-coverlets%2Framesses-shaggy-fleece-comforter-set%2FBP642421001-charcoal&xcust=sen_winter_bedding" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Buy it here</a></h3> <p><em>Editor's note: When you buy something using the retail links in our stories, Over60 may earn a small commission. We do not accept money for editorial reviews, and we only write about products we feel comfortable recommending to our readers. Thank you. </em></p> <p><em>Images, Top: Toa Heftiba on Unsplash. All others: Supplied</em></p>

Home & Garden

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“Most reviewed bucket in bucket history”: Bizarre Bunnings buy achieves legendary status

<p dir="ltr">Everyone knows that a good review can make or break a product, but for Bunnings, some particularly enthusiastic reviewers have done more than just get their bucket’s name out there - they’ve established a new legend.</p> <p dir="ltr">The<a href="https://www.bunnings.com.au/bunnings-20l-pail-bucket_p0138319"> Bunnings-branded 20L Pail Bucket</a>, which sells for $8, is now even considered to be the “most reviewed bucket in bucket history”. And if the feedback from its top fans is anything to go by, it’s all for good reason.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Wow. The legends are true,” one declared. “This bucket does far more than just bucket. Paired together with a set of drumsticks, these make fantastic drums … Do yourself a favour and buy a whole set so you can have drumming parties with a group of friends out the back with a few beers and some snags on the barbie.”</p> <p dir="ltr">And as another wrote, “attention, fellow bucket enthusiasts! Feast your eyes upon the legendary Bunnings 20L Bucket, a miraculous marvel that puts all other buckets to shame … Prepare for bucket greatness, my friends. The Bunnings 20L Bucket is here to show you what a real bucket is capable of. Bow down to the bucket supremacy and embrace the bucket revolution! Your world will never be the same again. Bucket on, my comrades!”</p> <p dir="ltr">One wrote up their success using the bucket in a practical manner, titling their take as “the bucket to end all buckets”. </p> <p dir="ltr">One proud bucket owner took a slightly different approach, sharing the tale of their noble pail when they wrote that “once upon a time, there was a humble bucket named Bertie. Bertie the Bunnings Bucket, lived in a small shed in the backyard of a cosy cottage. Every day, Bertie eagerly awaited his owner, a retired landscaper named Gus, to fill him with water. Bertie took pride in nourishing the vibrant flowers and lush plants in the garden. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Over time, Bertie became more than just a vessel; he became a symbol of growth and the beauty that can bloom with a little care.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Another wrote a poem that went a little something like “oh Bunnings buckets, sturdy and strong. So useful for tasks all day long. For gardening, cleaning, and DIY too. There's nothing these buckets can't do … Oh Bunnings buckets, you're the best. Easy to use and always impressed. With you by my side, I can't go wrong. My go-to tool, all day long!”</p> <p dir="ltr">“I purchased this because it was on my bucket list,” shared one fan of puns and buckets alike. “I was so excited I couldn’t keep a lid on it.”</p> <p dir="ltr">And even for those who couldn’t yet fork out the $8 to take the life-changing item home, respect was in the air, with one writing that they would keep saving because “this is THE Bunnings bucket. The bucket. All my mates have one, even my flash neighbours have one. It's a statement bucket.”</p> <p dir="ltr">A labrador, who goes by Tim Tam, even had their humans leave a positive message on their behalf, declaring that “my hoo mans took me to Bunnings and brought me 2 of these buckets, they are my favourite … every day I am excited to see the bucket!”</p> <p dir="ltr">And as one shopper put it quite simply, “it’s a bucket that buckets”. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: Bunnings</em></p>

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5 essential tips for buying clothes online

<p>It all seems so easy – a few clicks and you can have a pretty pile of clothes (or shoes, bags, jewellery – anything you like really) delivered to your door.</p> <p>But if you’ve ever gotten a bit click-happy with your online shop and then had buyer’s remorse, read on. We’ve got some advice that will ensure you’re left with nothing but five-star reviews for the items you purchased.</p> <p><strong>1. Buy from stores you trust</strong></p> <p>Often we are left dissatisfied when we buy clothes from a brand we don’t know. The fit isn’t quite right, or the quality might be off. Try to point your credit card at labels that you know and love. You’ll know your true size, you’ll know how well the clothes stay in shape after ten washes, and you’ll know you can return it with no hassles.</p> <p><strong>2. Check your wardrobe</strong></p> <p>Often we are attracted to clothes that we think we love, but it turns out we already own something pretty similar. This could explain why you might have five blue and white striped tops (and so perhaps you don’t need another?). Think about whether the items you want to buy fit into your current collection. If you’re buying shorts, do you have some shirts to go with them? If you have your eye on a dress, do your sandals go with it?</p> <p><strong>3. Check the returns policy</strong></p> <p>Many online shopping hubs offer free returns – but it always pays to check the details. Some will only offer store credit, while others offer your money back (no question asked). You’ll also want to be sure that you can either return the items in the post (without paying for postage), or that you can pop in-store to get a refund in person. Don’t get stuck with a bag full of ill-fitting clothes that you can’t easily give back.</p> <p><strong>4. Look for discounts first</strong></p> <p>Many sites offer discounts online, but you have to know where to look to find them. Simply search online for the store name and the word ‘discount coupon’ and you should find a few options to try. Or if you want to save time, download the Honey app, which automatically applies any working coupon available on the web. Then just enjoy the savings.</p> <p><strong>5. Sign up to be notified about sales</strong></p> <p>If there is a brand or site you use often, sign up to the newsletter so that you’re in the loop about big discount sales. Often there are change of season sales, pre- and post-Christmas offers, and more. Stay in the know and plan your splurges accordingly, rather than buying now and then seeing everything half price the following week.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Beauty & Style

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Financial guru reveals how to shop at Costco without membership

<p>With the cost of living crisis, people have started abandoning their local supermarkets and heading to Costco to do a shop that doesn't break the bank.</p> <p>While best known for its deals, shoppers must have a membership with the wholesaler, meaning they pay a yearly fee of $60 to shop there.</p> <p>However, one bargain hunter and money-saving expert has revealed how to shop at the supermarket without paying the membership fee.</p> <p>To access a Costco without a membership, shoppers need a shop card, financial guru Little Birdie explained.</p> <p>The cards can be preloaded with any amount from $25 to $999.99, with recipients then able to use them for purchase in store.</p> <p>There is a catch - the cards have to be bought by a current member, and can’t be used online, or in fuel stations, Birdie continued in her TikTok.</p> <p>Currently, there are only 15 stores across Australia.</p> <p>Parents of larger families have reported getting hundreds of dollars off their grocery bills by buying in bulk at Costco.</p> <p>“Every time I go to Costco, my favourite part is seeing how much money I saved. Yesterday was my first trip there in a few years. I spent $593,” one woman wrote on Facebook.</p> <p>“I did a (fake) online order with Coles, selecting equal quantities as what I have purchased at Costco. Coles would have cost me $783.”</p> <p>She claimed the quality of the products, particularly meat, is better than other stores and is the ideal place to purchase expensive dog food in bulk at a quarter of the price.</p> <p>“We actually ended up saving around $35, on approximately six weeks food for our dogs. But the real win is that we have it already, and don't have to get stress when we're running out and all the supermarkets are out of stock!”</p> <p>The wholesaler has served to help many families in desperate times with one woman saying she <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/lifestyle/food-wine/groceries-option-even-cheaper-than-aldi" target="_blank" rel="noopener">saved a whopping $600</a> by shopping at Costco.</p> <p><em>Image credit: TikTok</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Woman buys three homes in Italy for $5

<p>In 2019, a US woman saw houses in Italy going for dirt-cheap prices, and within days she jetted over to Europe to see for herself.</p> <p>Originally from Brazil but living in California, Rubia Daniels now owns three of the abandoned homes, which she bought for just $US3.30 (around $AUD5) combined, according to the <em>New York Post</em>.</p> <p>However, snapping up these homes comes with a catch: the buyers must renovate the properties within a certain time frame, something that the 49-year-old is well underway with.</p> <p>When Ms Daniels, who works in the solar industry, first heard of the dirt-cheap homes being offered to help repopulate abandoned towns in Italy, she realised she had found her calling.</p> <p>“I was so amazed. It was one of those things where you have to see it to make sure it’s true,” the San Francisco resident told the outlet.</p> <p>“I did my research, and within three days I had my plane ticket, a rental car, the hotel, and I left.”</p> <p>The place she was headed for was Mussomeli, a town with a population of around 10,000 in the centre of Sicily.</p> <p>Mussomeli is just one of the many towns and villages in Italy offering up properties for remarkably low prices in an attempt to help combat dwindling populations.</p> <p>It’s a trend that predates the COVID pandemic.</p> <p>Back in 2019, the Sicilian town of Sambuca di Sicilia gained substantial traction for selling its abandoned homes for €1 (around $A1.60 at the time).</p> <p>In 2021, another string of homes were up for sale there, bringing the price up to €2.<br />The southern Italian town of Laurenzana jumped on the trend in 2021 and offered up its own abounded homes for €1 each.</p> <p>Although prices remained astoundingly low, the properties required anywhere between $A35,000 to $A135,000 to restore, with owners having three years to complete the job.</p> <p>In Mussomeli, Ms Daniels has different plans for each structure she purchased.</p> <p>One property will be dedicated to when she stays in town. Meanwhile, in an effort to give back to the community, she has plans to convert the second into an art gallery and the third into a wellness centre. The wellness centre will be her most significant renovation.</p> <p>After her initial purchase in July 2019, Ms Daniels began her restoration process later that year.<br />Currently, the exteriors of two properties are completed, with the last one yet to begin, but 2020 slowed down the initial progress.</p> <p>“Covid-19 happened and we weren’t allowed to go back, so I just started renovations again last year,” she said.</p> <p>Mussomeli is special for Ms Daniels as it reminded her of her hometown near the Brazilian capital of Brasilia.</p> <p>Aside from hitting the jackpot with her properties, she’s received a warm welcome from the community.</p> <p>“People were super welcoming and everyone wanted to have a coffee with me,” she told <em>Insider</em>.</p> <p>“The realtors embraced me like a sister – they were with me every single day through the time I was there.”</p> <p><em>Image credit: Instagram</em></p>

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