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Cost of living: if you can’t afford as much fresh produce, are canned veggies or frozen fruit just as good?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/evangeline-mantzioris-153250">Evangeline Mantzioris</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180"><em>University of South Australia</em></a></em></p> <p>The cost of living crisis is affecting how we spend our money. For many people, this means tightening the budget on the weekly supermarket shop.</p> <p>One victim may be fresh fruit and vegetables. Data from the <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/media-centre/media-releases/australians-consuming-fewer-vegetables-fruit-and-less-milk#:%7E:text=Paul%20Atyeo%2C%20ABS%20health%20statistics,278%20to%20267%20to%20grams.%E2%80%9D">Australian Bureau of Statistics</a> (ABS) suggests Australians were consuming fewer fruit and vegetables in 2022–23 than the year before.</p> <p>The cost of living is likely compounding a problem that exists already – on the whole, Australians don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables. <a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/guidelines/australian-guide-healthy-eating">Australian dietary guidelines</a> recommend people aged nine and older should consume <a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/food-essentials/five-food-groups/fruit">two</a> serves of fruit and <a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/food-essentials/five-food-groups/vegetables-and-legumes-beans">five</a> serves of vegetables each day for optimal health. But in 2022 the <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/dietary-behaviour/latest-release">ABS reported</a> only 4% of Australians met the recommendations for both fruit and vegetable consumption.</p> <p>Fruit and vegetables are crucial for a healthy, balanced diet, providing a range of <a href="https://theconversation.com/were-told-to-eat-a-rainbow-of-fruit-and-vegetables-heres-what-each-colour-does-in-our-body-191337">vitamins</a> and minerals as well as fibre.</p> <p>If you can’t afford as much fresh produce at the moment, there are other ways to ensure you still get the benefits of these food groups. You might even be able to increase your intake of fruit and vegetables.</p> <h2>Frozen</h2> <p>Fresh produce is often touted as being the most nutritious (think of the old adage “fresh is best”). But this is not necessarily true.</p> <p>Nutrients can decline in transit from the paddock to your kitchen, and while the produce is stored in your fridge. Frozen vegetables may actually be higher in some nutrients such as <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25526594/">vitamin C and E</a> as they are snap frozen very close to the time of harvest. Variations in transport and storage can affect this slightly.</p> <p><a href="https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/jf504890k">Minerals</a> such as calcium, iron and magnesium stay at similar levels in frozen produce compared to fresh.</p> <p>Another advantage to frozen vegetables and fruit is the potential to reduce food waste, as you can use only what you need at the time.</p> <p>As well as buying frozen fruit and vegetables from the supermarket, you can freeze produce yourself at home if you have an oversupply from the garden, or when produce may be cheaper.</p> <p>A <a href="https://www.growveg.com.au/guides/freezing-vegetables-and-herbs-the-garden-foodie-version/">quick blanching</a> prior to freezing can improve the safety and quality of the produce. This is when food is briefly submerged in boiling water or steamed for a short time.</p> <p>Frozen vegetables won’t be suitable for salads but can be eaten roasted or steamed and used for soups, stews, casseroles, curries, pies and quiches. Frozen fruits can be added to breakfast dishes (with cereal or youghurt) or used in cooking for fruit pies and cakes, for example.</p> <h2>Canned</h2> <p>Canned vegetables and fruit similarly often offer a cheaper alternative to fresh produce. They’re also very convenient to have on hand. The <a href="https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can#gsc.tab=0">canning process</a> is the preservation technique, so there’s no need to add any additional preservatives, including salt.</p> <p>Due to the cooking process, levels of heat-sensitive nutrients <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/jsfa.2825">such as vitamin C</a> will decline a little compared to fresh produce. When you’re using canned vegetables in a hot dish, you can add them later in the cooking process to reduce the amount of nutrient loss.</p> <p>To minimise waste, you can freeze the portion you don’t need.</p> <h2>Fermented</h2> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6723656/">Fermentation</a> has recently come into fashion, but it’s actually one of the oldest food processing and preservation techniques.</p> <p>Fermentation largely retains the vitamins and minerals in fresh vegetables. But fermentation may also enhance the food’s nutritional profile by creating new nutrients and allowing existing ones to be <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9352655/">absorbed more easily</a>.</p> <p>Further, fermented foods contain probiotics, which are beneficial for our <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10051273/">gut microbiome</a>.</p> <h2>5 other tips to get your fresh fix</h2> <p>Although alternatives to fresh such as canned or frozen fruit and vegetables are good substitutes, if you’re looking to get more fresh produce into your diet on a tight budget, here are some things you can do.</p> <p><strong>1. Buy in season</strong></p> <p>Based on supply and demand principles, buying local seasonal vegetables and fruit will always be cheaper than those that are imported out of season from other countries.</p> <p><strong>2. Don’t shun the ugly fruit and vegetables</strong></p> <p>Most supermarkets now sell “ugly” fruit and vegetables, that are not physically perfect in some way. This does not affect the levels of nutrients in them at all, or their taste.</p> <p><strong>3. Reduce waste</strong></p> <p>On average, an Australian household throws out <a href="https://www.ozharvest.org/food-waste-facts/">A$2,000–$2,500</a> worth of food every year. Fruit, vegetables and bagged salad are the <a href="https://www.ozharvest.org/food-waste-facts/">three of the top five foods</a> thrown out in our homes. So properly managing fresh produce could help you save money (and benefit <a href="https://endfoodwaste.com.au/why-end-food-waste/">the environment</a>).</p> <p>To minimise waste, plan your meals and shopping ahead of time. And if you don’t think you’re going to get to eat the fruit and vegetables you have before they go off, freeze them.</p> <p><strong>4. Swap and share</strong></p> <p>There are many websites and apps which offer the opportunity to swap or even pick up free fresh produce if people have more than they need. Some <a href="https://www.charlessturt.sa.gov.au/environment/sustainable-lifestyles/community-fruit-and-vege-swaps">local councils are also encouraging</a> swaps on their websites, so dig around and see what you can find in your local area.</p> <p><strong>5. Gardening</strong></p> <p>Regardless of how small your garden is you can always <a href="https://www.gardeningaustraliamag.com.au/best-vegies-grow-pots/">plant produce in pots</a>. Herbs, rocket, cherry tomatoes, chillies and strawberries all grow well. In the long run, these will offset some of your cost on fresh produce.</p> <p>Plus, when you have put the effort in to grow your own produce, <a href="https://mdpi-res.com/sustainability/sustainability-07-02695/article_deploy/sustainability-07-02695.pdf?version=1425549154">you are less likely to waste it</a>.<!-- 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/229724/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/evangeline-mantzioris-153250"><em>Evangeline Mantzioris</em></a><em>, Program Director of Nutrition and Food Sciences, Accredited Practising Dietitian, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</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/cost-of-living-if-you-cant-afford-as-much-fresh-produce-are-canned-veggies-or-frozen-fruit-just-as-good-229724">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Food & Wine

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Brutal cost of Bruce Lehrmann’s failed defamation case

<p>Bruce Lehrmann has been ordered to pay the majority of Network Ten's multi-million dollar legal fees after his failed defamation case. </p> <p>In April, Lehrmann faced a huge loss after the Federal Court found an allegation that he raped Brittany Higgins in a Parliament House office in March 2019 was most likely true, therefore is unable to be defamed for the allegations. </p> <p>The 28-year-old had sued Network Ten for defamation over a February 2021 report on <em>The Project</em>, in which journalist Lisa Wilkinson interviewed Higgins over the rape allegation.</p> <p>Since the defamation case drew to a close, the parties have been in dispute over the legal costs and who should foot what is expected to amount to a sizeable legal bill for the long-running and high-profile case.</p> <p>On Friday afternoon, Justice Michael Lee found in favour of Ten's application for indemnity costs for most of the trial, as Lehrmann is now ordered to pay for the network's and Wilkinson's costs on an ordinary and indemnity basis, but he will not have to pay costs for some affidavits.</p> <p>"In the end, it comes down to the order for costs that best does overall justice in the circumstances," Lee told the court.</p> <p>"On balance, the appropriate exercise of discretion is to make an award that Network Ten recover its costs against Mr Lehrmann on an indemnity basis, except for costs incurred in relation to the statutory qualified privilege defence."</p> <p>In explaining his decision, the judge said he found Lehrmann had defended the criminal charge "on a false basis, lied to police, and then allowed that lie to go uncorrected before the jury".</p> <p>"He wrongly instructed his senior counsel to cross-examine a complainant of sexual assault, in two legal proceedings, including, relevantly for present purposes, this case, on a knowingly false premise," he said.</p> <p>Earlier in the week, the court heard Lehrmann had no financial backers and that his lawyers had agreed they did not need to be paid if he lost the case.</p> <p>The total amount he will have to pay will be determined at a hearing later in May.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 18px; line-height: 24px; color: #333333; caret-color: #333333; font-family: 'Proxima Nova', system-ui, -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif, 'Apple Color Emoji', 'Segoe UI Emoji', 'Segoe UI Symbol';"> </p>

Legal

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Undernourished, stressed and overworked: cost-of-living pressures are taking a toll on Australians’ health

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nicole-black-103425">Nicole Black</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/anthony-harris-7148">Anthony Harris</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/danusha-jayawardana-1406565">Danusha Jayawardana</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/david-johnston-1126643">David Johnston</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a></em></p> <p>For the past few years, it has been impossible to escape the impact of inflation. Meeting our most basic needs – such as food, housing and health care – now costs significantly more, and wage increases <a href="https://futurework.org.au/post/for-most-workers-wages-are-still-failing-to-keep-up-with-inflation/">haven’t kept up</a>.</p> <p>There are signs relief could be on the horizon. Inflation has fallen to its <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/economy/price-indexes-and-inflation/consumer-price-index-australia/latest-release">lowest levels</a> since January 2022.</p> <p>But Australia now also finds itself in the midst of an <a href="https://theconversation.com/prepare-to-hear-about-an-official-recession-unofficially-weve-been-in-one-for-some-time-224963">economic downturn</a>, putting further pressure on households.</p> <p>Rising prices have an obvious negative impact on our financial health. But they can also have a profound effect on our physical and mental wellbeing, which is often overlooked.</p> <p>Australians may continue to feel the health effects of high inflation for quite some time.</p> <h2>It’s costing more to live well</h2> <p>Between March 2021 and March 2023, the price of goods and services <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/economy/price-indexes-and-inflation/consumer-price-index-australia/jun-quarter-2023">rose substantially</a>, marking a period of high <a href="https://www.rba.gov.au/education/resources/explainers/inflation-and-its-measurement.html">inflation</a>.</p> <p><iframe id="5vFeh" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/5vFeh/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>Worryingly, the prices of basic needs that are important for staying healthy – nutritious food, health care, housing and utilities – rose between 11% and 36%.</p> <h2>Who is affected the most?</h2> <p>Higher prices on essentials are virtually impossible to dodge, but they impact certain groups of people more than others.</p> <p>Wealthier households have managed their higher expenses by <a href="https://www.rba.gov.au/publications/fsr/2023/oct/pdf/financial-stability-review-2023-10.pdf">cutting back on discretionary spending and dipping into savings</a>.</p> <p>However, lower income households spend <a href="https://www.rba.gov.au/publications/fsr/2023/oct/household-business-finances-in-australia.html#:%7E:text=Lower%20income%20households%2C%20including%20many,than%20households%20on%20higher%20incomes.">a much larger portion of their income</a> on housing and other essentials.</p> <p>Without a savings buffer, these households experience severe financial strain and poor health outcomes.</p> <h2>Financial stress affects our health</h2> <p>Our research shows that high inflation has <a href="https://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/resources/resource-download/high-inflation-and-implications-for-health">a range of effects</a> on people’s health.</p> <p>These effects fall into three main groups: material hardship, psychosocial, and behavioural.</p> <p><strong>1. Material hardship</strong></p> <p>People facing material hardship can’t meet their basic needs because they can’t afford to pay for them.</p> <p>Material hardship can present itself in a variety of ways:</p> <ul> <li><a href="https://theconversation.com/how-many-australians-are-going-hungry-we-dont-know-for-sure-and-thats-a-big-part-of-the-problem-195360">food insecurity</a> – not getting adequate nutrition</li> <li><a href="https://theconversation.com/1-in-4-households-struggle-to-pay-power-bills-here-are-5-ways-to-tackle-hidden-energy-poverty-204672">energy poverty</a> – struggling to pay for electricity and gas</li> <li>deferred health care – putting off medical treatment</li> <li>housing insecurity – struggling to find a stable place to live.</li> </ul> <p>Between August 2022 and February 2023, when inflation hit its highest levels in 33 years, over half (53%) of surveyed Australians reported <a href="https://melbourneinstitute.unimelb.edu.au/data/taking-the-pulse-of-the-nation-2022/2023/australians-face-challenging-budgetary-constraints">struggling to afford</a> their basic needs.</p> <p>Finding ourselves in this situation can have far-reaching implications for our health.</p> <p>For example, food insecurity is linked to <a href="https://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/VH_High-Inflation-Paper_FINAL_1.pdf">an increased risk of poor nutrition, obesity and chronic illness</a>, as households facing cost-of-living pressures shift towards cheaper, lower-quality food options.</p> <p>Energy poverty is linked to <a href="https://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/VH_High-Inflation-Paper_FINAL_1.pdf">physical and mental health problems</a> as people struggle to keep warm in wintertime, and cool in the summer.</p> <p>Delaying health care <a href="https://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/VH_High-Inflation-Paper_FINAL_1.pdf">increases</a> the risk of facing severe health problems, staying in hospital for longer, and being admitted to the emergency department. This isn’t just worse for individuals, it’s also far more costly for our health care system.</p> <p><strong>2. Psychosocial effects</strong></p> <p>Psychosocial effects are the ways in which cost-of-living pressures impact our mind and social relationships.</p> <p>Difficulties in meeting our basic needs are strongly associated with <a href="https://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/VH_High-Inflation-Paper_FINAL_1.pdf">increased levels of psychological distress</a>, including symptoms of anxiety and depression.</p> <p>This impact can worsen over time if individuals experience sustained financial stress.</p> <p>By undermining our ability to work well, the psychosocial effects of prolonged financial stress can initiate a “vicious cycle”, leading to reduced productivity and lower earnings.</p> <p>Financial stress can also have a detrimental impact on spousal relationships, which can affect the mental health of other household members such as children.</p> <p><strong>3. Behavioural effects</strong></p> <p>Cost-of-living pressures can also cause a number of changes in the way we behave.</p> <p>For many, these pressures have become a reason to work longer hours and gain additional income.</p> <p>Last year, Australians collectively worked 4.6% longer, an <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/employment-and-unemployment/labour-force-australia/aug-2023">extra 86 million hours</a>.</p> <p>But working longer hours <a href="https://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/VH_High-Inflation-Paper_FINAL_1.pdf">reduces people’s overall health</a>, especially among parents of young children facing greater time constraints.</p> <p>It also leaves less time for activities that help to keep people healthy, such as getting regular exercise and cooking healthy meals.</p> <h2>How can policymakers respond?</h2> <p>In theory, the Reserve Bank of Australia’s primary tool for combating inflation – raising interest rates – should help. By reducing aggregate spending in the economy, it is designed to put downward pressure on prices.</p> <p>But by bluntly increasing the cost of borrowing, it also puts significant short-term financial pressure on both lower-income mortgage holders and renters.</p> <p>Better acknowledgement of this fact, and of inflation’s broader impact on people’s physical and mental health, would be a great start.</p> <p>When formulating policy responses to high inflation, governments could factor health and wellbeing impacts into their assessment of the trade-offs between alternative policy responses.</p> <p>This could help minimise any policy’s long-term negative health consequences and its impact on the health care system.</p> <p>Policymakers could also focus on making sure affordable and timely access to health care, especially mental health support, is made available to those most vulnerable to cost-of-living pressures.<!-- 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/223625/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/nicole-black-103425">Nicole Black</a>, Associate Professor of Health Economics, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/anthony-harris-7148">Anthony Harris</a>, Professor of Health Economics, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/danusha-jayawardana-1406565">Danusha Jayawardana</a>, Research Fellow in Health Economics, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/david-johnston-1126643">David Johnston</a>, Professor of Health Economics, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</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/undernourished-stressed-and-overworked-cost-of-living-pressures-are-taking-a-toll-on-australians-health-223625">original article</a>.</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Jeweller shares the cost of Albo's custom engagement ring

<p>A jewellery expert has shared the estimated cost of the custom diamond ring Anthony Albanese bought to propose to his long-term partner Jodie Haydon. </p> <p>The Prime Minister shared the heart-warming news of the engagement on Valentine's Day, sharing a loved up snap of the happy couple, as Jodie showed off her ring. </p> <p>Albo revealed he chose Nicola Cerrone’s Leichhardt-based Cerrone Jewellers store to design the diamond ring before popping the question.</p> <p>Now, a different NSW jeweller has shared their estimated  cost of the impressive diamond, telling NCA NewsWire the ring could be worth up to $240,000. </p> <p>The jeweller, who wished to remain anonymous, admitted diamonds are incredibly varied in terms of pricing depending on colour, cut and clarity and difficult to evaluate from an image, but they confirmed Mr Albanese didn’t appear to spare any expense. </p> <p>“This looks to be roughly a 3ct Round Brilliant Cut Diamond on an 18ct Rose Gold Band,” the jeweller said.</p> <p>“The ring is a four prong solitaire with a slightly wider band - definitely a very popular style at the moment!”</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; 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margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/reel/C3W8CdZyXd5/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Anthony Albanese (@albomp)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>The jeweller said Mr Albanese chose a classic style ring but noted the personal touches. </p> <p>“A round brilliant cut solitaire is one of the most classic styles of engagement ring and is consistently the top pick regardless of current trends - however the rose gold band is definitely a more personalised pick,” they said. </p> <p>“As far as pricing goes, assuming the diamond is a natural stone rather than lab grown it could be worth anywhere from $60,000 to $240,000.”</p> <p>Mr Albanese told Triple M radio on Friday that he enlisted the help of the local jeweller in his electorate, with his dog Toto in tow for moral support. </p> <p>“They made it – it’s bespoken. One-off,” the Prime Minister said. </p> <p>“They took different aspects and came back to us with different text messages, photos, and put it together – and Nic was just amazing, the artistry that’s it's got.”</p> <p>“I know what I like – but I don’t know what any of it’s called,” he said. "Toto was with me too.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images / Instagram</em></p>

Relationships

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Coles shopper admits to stealing to feed her family amid cost of living crisis

<p>A woman has made a desperate plea to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese after overhearing a teary Coles shopper admit to shoplifting to feed her family. </p> <p>The woman was shopping in her local Coles supermarket when she overheard another shopper confess the desperate act to her friend, as the cost of living crisis continues to impact struggling Aussies. </p> <p>Australia’s cost of living crisis is continuing to see millions struggle with soaring interest rates and rent prices, high energy bills and rising supermarket costs, with many being forced to take drastic measures to survive. </p> <p>Sharing on Facebook, the woman said she was feeling “let down” and “hoodwinked” by the Albanese government after listening to the Coles customer’s heartbreaking story.</p> <p>“Anthony Albanese, I am so deeply saddened to hear someone shopping at Coles admit to her friend in tears that sometimes she now steals food because she simply can’t put food on the table any other way,” she wrote.</p> <p>“Of course there is food relief et al (but those services are also at breaking point). It’s disheartening to witness firsthand the desperation that leads someone to resort to theft just to put food on the table."</p> <p>“While I have you, I am feeling let down and somewhat hoodwinked by you. Your sentiment around truly understanding hardship because of your upbringing seems to have been just talk."</p> <p>“What I heard today made me realise that not enough is being done that was promised to make a positive impact on the lives of those struggling with adversity.”</p> <p>Many commented on the post saying not enough was being done to help battling Aussies, and urging the government to do more. </p> <p>“The line at ReachOut (food pantry) was around the corner and down the street this afternoon,” one said.</p> <p>Another added, “Food costs are beyond ridiculous right now. I fear that the horse has bolted and once it’s out ... it’s not coming back for pats.</p> <p>“And sorry to say but Albo is just another politician. Hope he sees this and listens but I’m not holding my breath. Sad state of affairs.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p>

Money & Banking

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The cost-of-living crisis is hitting hard. Here are 3 ways to soften the blow

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ama-samarasinghe-1386754">Ama Samarasinghe</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a></em></p> <p>As our wallets feel the strain from the cost-of-living crisis, many of us are looking for ways to soften the blow.</p> <p>While everyone’s circumstances are different, and ideally you should seek help from an accredited financial adviser, there are some tried and true ways to work out where all your money is going and why.</p> <p>Here are three practical tips to reduce the impact of the cost-of-living increases, and stretch every hard-earned dollar.</p> <h2>1. Hunt for a better loan rate</h2> <p>For many households, the biggest hit comes from the mortgage, so start there.</p> <p>Even a modest 0.5% reduction can translate into substantial savings. Call your bank today and just ask for rate reduction. If the answer is no, consider shopping around for a different lender.</p> <p>Your loyalty to your current lender might be costing you more than you realise. Banks often reserve their most attractive rates for new customers, leaving long-time customers paying higher-than-necessary interest.</p> <p>Even if your bank does agree to a rate reduction, explore the market anyway. There is a range of free rate-comparison websites, or you can directly check individual bank websites.</p> <p>If you find a lender offering a better rate, you might consider calling the competing bank to ask about switching your mortgage to them.</p> <p>Or, you might seek assistance from a mortgage broker, who can guide you through the process of securing a better deal (just remember they often take <a href="https://www.canstar.com.au/home-loans/mortgage-brokers-fees/">commissions</a> from lenders).</p> <p>Tread carefully and factor in any exit fees or charges from your current lender. Refinancing isn’t without risk, so a thorough cost-benefit analysis is important before making the switch.</p> <p>Also consider the value of features such as <a href="https://moneysmart.gov.au/glossary/offset-account">offset accounts</a>. An offset account, linked to your home loan, allows you to deposit money such as your salary and savings. This money is then “<a href="https://www.rba.gov.au/publications/smp/2015/aug/box-e-offset-account-balances-and-housing-credit.html">offset</a>” against your home loan balance.</p> <p>That means you only pay interest on the outstanding amount (the loan minus whatever salary and savings you put in the offset). This can accelerate loan repayment and reduce interest costs.</p> <p>Keep in mind that offset accounts are typically only available with variable interest rates. Offset accounts work best if you have considerable savings to put into the offset account that outweigh the additional fees and charges attached to offset accounts.</p> <h2>2. Trim your expenses and uncover hidden savings</h2> <p>It’s time to become a budget detective, identifying and cutting down on non-essential costs that might be quietly draining your wallet.</p> <p>Take a close look at those recurring memberships and subscriptions. How often do you actually use that gym membership or streaming service?</p> <p>Many banking apps have handy spending tracking features to help you set realistic budget goals for each spending category.</p> <p>According to the <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/economy/price-indexes-and-inflation/selected-living-cost-indexes-australia/latest-release">Australian Bureau of Statistics</a>, insurance and financial services are among the top risers in living cost indexes (which measure the price change of goods and services and its effect on living expenses). So search comparison websites for better insurance premiums.</p> <p>Australia’s insurance market is competitive, and you can often get discounts by bundling your insurances together (for example, having your home and contents insurance with the same company that also provides your car insurance). However, don’t shy away from exploring different insurers for potentially better value.</p> <p>Don’t overlook energy costs, either. Use comparison websites like <a href="https://www.energymadeeasy.gov.au/">Energy Made Easy</a> (or, if you’re in Victoria, the <a href="https://compare.energy.vic.gov.au/">Victorian Energy Compare</a> site) to find more cost-effective energy plans. Stay updated on rebates and concessions via the federal government’s <a href="https://energy.gov.au">Energy.gov.au</a> site, to ensure you’re maximising your entitlements.</p> <p>Use less energy, if you can. Small adjustments can make a significant dent in your bills. And for fuel costs, find websites and applications that allow you to lock in the lowest prices in your area.</p> <p>If you’re renting, ask yourself whether moving to a cheaper suburb or a cheaper home is an option.</p> <p>Many people use cashback sites like Cashrewards and ShopBack to accrue cashback incentives.</p> <h2>3. Maximise returns and tackle high-interest debts</h2> <p>While rising interest rates might make your mortgage climb, it also means high interest on your savings.</p> <p>Consider exploring high-yield savings accounts; with current interest rates, you could potentially earn around 5.5% with a bank savings account. Many people set up recurring transfers to help them stick to savings goals, increase deposits and maximise interest earnings.</p> <p>For those wrestling with high-interest debts such as credit cards or personal loans, prioritise settling outstanding balances to minimise interest payments. It can be hard to escape the long-term repercussions (such as a <a href="https://theconversation.com/payday-lending-trap-requires-a-credit-supply-rethink-39311">poor credit score</a>) of defaulting on <a href="https://www.sydney.edu.au/news-opinion/news/2022/09/21/researchers-uncover--pecking-order-of-defaults--as-belts-tighten.html">high-interest loans</a>.</p> <p>And approach buy-now, pay-later services with extreme caution. They may seem tempting but the <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/acfi.13100">debts can quickly add up</a>.</p> <p>And if you need more help, contact the government’s free National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.<!-- 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/218118/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/ama-samarasinghe-1386754"><em>Ama Samarasinghe</em></a><em>, Lecturer, Financial Planning and Tax, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</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-cost-of-living-crisis-is-hitting-hard-here-are-3-ways-to-soften-the-blow-218118">original article</a>.</em></p>

Money & Banking

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What is the ‘sunk cost fallacy’? Is it ever a good thing?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/aaron-nicholas-1487960">Aaron Nicholas</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p>Have you ever encountered a subpar hotel breakfast while on holiday? You don’t really like the food choices on offer, but since you already paid for the meal as part of your booking, you force yourself to eat something anyway rather than go down the road to a cafe.</p> <p><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0167268180900517">Economists</a> and <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0749597885900494">social scientists</a> argue that such behaviour can happen due to the “sunk cost fallacy” – an inability to ignore costs that have already been spent and can’t be recovered. In the hotel breakfast example, the sunk cost is the price you paid for the hotel package: at the time of deciding where to eat breakfast, such costs are unrecoverable and should therefore be ignored.</p> <p>Similar examples range from justifying finishing a banal, half-read book (or half-watched TV series) based on prior time already “invested” in the activity, to being less likely to quit exclusive groups such as sororities and sporting clubs the more <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1960-02853-001">effort it took to complete the initiation ritual</a>.</p> <p>While these behaviours are not rational, they’re all too common, so it helps to be aware of this tendency. In some circumstances, you might even use it for your benefit.</p> <h2>Sunk costs can affect high-stakes decisions</h2> <p>While the examples above may seem relatively trivial, they show how common the sunk cost fallacy is. And it can affect decisions with much higher stakes in our lives.</p> <p>Imagine that Bob previously bought a house for $1 million. Subsequently, there’s a nationwide housing market crash. All houses are now cheaper by 20% and Bob can only sell his house for $800,000. Bob’s been thinking of upgrading to a bigger house (and they are now cheaper!), but will need to sell his existing house to have funds for a downpayment.</p> <p>However, he refuses to upgrade because he perceives a loss of $200,000 relative to the original price he paid of $1 million. Bob is committing the sunk cost fallacy by letting the original price influence his decision making – only the house’s current and projected price should matter.</p> <p>Bob might be acting irrationally, but he’s only human. Part of the reason we may find it difficult to ignore such losses is because losses are psychologically more salient relative to gains – this is known as <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1985-05780-001">loss aversion</a>.</p> <p>While most of the evidence for the sunk cost fallacy comes from <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40685-014-0014-8">individual decisions</a>, it may also influence the decisions of groups. In fact, it is sometimes referred to as the <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/262131a0">Concord fallacy</a>, because the French and British governments continued funding the doomed supersonic airliner long after it was likely it would not be commercially viable.</p> <p>Another example is drawn-out armed conflict that involves a large loss of lives for the losing side. Some may think it impossible to capitulate because the casualties will have “died in vain”.</p> <h2>Knowing about sunk costs can help you</h2> <p>If you find yourself justifying behaviour due to costs you’ve paid in the past rather than circumstances of the present, or predictions of the future, it’s worth checking yourself.</p> <p>Identifying sunk costs allows you to cut your losses early and move on, rather than perpetuating larger losses. This is apparent in the housing example: the larger the crash, the cheaper the bigger house; and yet the larger the crash, the greater the perceived loss from selling the existing house. Hence, the greater the loss in opportunity inflicted by the sunk cost fallacy.</p> <p>If you find it difficult to overcome the sunk cost fallacy, it may help to delegate such decisions to others. This may include the decision of whether to <a href="https://direct.mit.edu/rest/article-abstract/93/1/193/57894/The-Flat-Rate-Pricing-Paradox-Conflicting-Effects">go to a buffet</a> or subscribe to Netflix, with the latter potentially being a double whammy: one may feel compelled to binge-watch due to the flat fee structure and, as mentioned earlier, to finish mediocre series once halfway through.</p> <h2>Use sunk costs to your advantage</h2> <p>A second, less obvious benefit is actively using the fallacy to your advantage. For example, many gym memberships require upfront payments regardless of how much you use the facilities. If you find it hard to ignore sunk costs, choosing gym memberships that have large upfront fees and minimal pay-per-usage fees may be a way to <a href="https://pubsonline.informs.org/doi/abs/10.1287/mnsc.2018.3032">commit yourself</a> to a regular gym habit.</p> <p>This can also apply to other activities that involve short-term pain for long-term gain – for example, paying for an online course will make you more likely to stick with it than if you found a free course.</p> <p>But be warned, this doesn’t work for everything: it seems that spending wildly on a <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/ecin.12206">wedding ceremony or engagement ring</a> doesn’t have a “sunk cost” effect – it fails to increase the likelihood of staying married.<!-- 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/217798/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/aaron-nicholas-1487960"><em>Aaron Nicholas</em></a><em>, Senior Lecturer in Economics, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin 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/what-is-the-sunk-cost-fallacy-is-it-ever-a-good-thing-217798">original article</a>.</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Downsizing cost trap awaits retirees – five reasons to be wary

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/erika-altmann-361218">Erika Altmann</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a></em></p> <p>It’s time to debunk the myth of zero housing costs in retirement if we want to understand why retirees resist downsizing. Retirees have at least five reasons to be wary of the costs of downsizing.</p> <p>Retirees living in middle-ring suburbs face frequent calls to downsize into apartments to free up larger allotments in these suburbs for redevelopment. Retirees who fail to downsize into smaller units and apartments are viewed as being a greedy, baby-boomer elite, stealing financial security from younger generations.</p> <p>It also makes sense to policymakers for retirees to move into less spacious accommodation and make way for high-density housing. Housing think-tank AHURI <a href="http://www.ahuri.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0021/14079/AHURI_Final_Report_No_286_Australian-demographic-trends-and-implications-for-housing-assistance-programs.pdf">fosters this view</a>. Yet seniors remain resistant to moving, in part because of the ongoing costs they would face.</p> <p>The concept of zero housing costs in retirement is based on a 1940s view of a well-maintained, single dwelling on a single allotment of land where the mortgage has been paid off. This concept is incompatible with medium- and high-density housing and refusing to acknowledge ongoing housing costs may cause significant poverty for retirees.</p> <h2>Reason 1 – upfront moving costs are high</h2> <p>When a house is sold the owner receives the sale funds minus the real estate and legal fees. When the same person then buys a different property to live in, they pay legal fees plus stamp duty.</p> <p>For cities such as Melbourne and Sydney, these costs are likely to exceed A$70,000.</p> <p>These high transfer costs may mean it is not cost-effective <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-older-australians-dont-downsize-and-the-limits-to-what-the-government-can-do-about-it-76931">for the person to move</a>.</p> <h2>Reason 2 – levies are high</h2> <p>Because apartment owners pay body corporate levies, people often assume this is just the same as periodic payment of rates, water, insurance and other costs. It is not.</p> <p>Fees remissions for low-income retirees for rates, power, insurance and water are difficult to apply within a body corporate environment. As a consequence, these are usually not applied to owners of apartments.</p> <p>The costs of maintaining essential services, such as mandatory fire-alarm testing, yearly engineering certification, lift and air-conditioning inspections, significantly increase ownership costs.</p> <p>When additional services are supplied, such as swimming pools, gyms and rooftop gardens, these also require periodic inspections. Garbage collection, cleaning, gardening, concierge and strata management services also <a href="https://eprints.utas.edu.au/cgi/users/home?screen=EPrint%3A%3AView&amp;eprintid=23322">must be paid</a>.</p> <p>Owners of standard suburban homes choose whether they want these services, with those on fixed incomes going without them.</p> <p>Annual levies for apartment buildings vary, but expect to pay between $10,000 and $15,000. They <a href="https://www.strata.community/understandingstrata/faqs">may be more than this</a>.</p> <h2>Reason 3 – costs of maintenance</h2> <figure class="align-right "><figcaption></figcaption></figure> <p>Apartments are often sold as a maintenance-free solution for older people. The maintenance is not free. It needs to be paid for.</p> <p>Maintenance costs are higher in an apartment than a standard suburban home because there are more items and services to be maintained and fixed. Lifts and air conditioning need periodic servicing and fixing. This is in addition to the mandatory inspections listed above.</p> <h2>Reason 4 – loss of financial security</h2> <p>It is a mistaken belief that the maintenance costs that form part of the body corporate fee include periodic property upgrades. This relates to items that are owned collectively with other apartment owners.</p> <p>Major servicing at the ten-year mark and usually each five-to-seven years after that include painting, floor-covering replacement, and lift and air-conditioning repair or replacement.</p> <p>Major upgrades may also include garden redesign or other external building enhancement including <a href="https://eprints.utas.edu.au/cgi/users/home?screen=EPrint%3A%3AView&amp;eprintid=23315">environmental upgrades</a>. All owners share these upgrade costs.</p> <p>Costs of upgrading the inside of an apartment (a bathroom disability upgrade, for example) are additional again.</p> <p>Once the body corporate committee members pledge funds towards an upgrade, all owners are required to raise their share of the funds, whether they can afford it or not. Communal choice outweighs an individual owner’s need to delay upgrade costs.</p> <p>Owners who buy apartments that are part of a body corporate effectively lose control of their future financial decisions.</p> <h2>Reason 5 – loss of security of tenure</h2> <p>Loss of security of tenure is usually associated with renters. However, the recent introduction of <a href="http://www.lpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/25965/Termination_of_a_strata_scheme_by_RG.pdf">termination legislation</a> in New South Wales gives other owners the right to vote to terminate a strata title scheme. When this occurs, all owners, including reluctant owners of apartments within that scheme, are compelled to sell.</p> <p>There are valid reasons why termination legislation is desirable, as many older apartment complexes are reaching the end of their useful life.</p> <p>Even so, as termination legislation is rolled out across the states, owner- occupiers effectively lose control of how long they will own a property for. They no longer have security of tenure, which means retirees may face an uncertain housing future in their old age.</p> <h2>Downsizing raises poverty risks</h2> <p>Because current data sets do not adequately take account of ongoing costs associated with apartment living, the effect of downsizing on individual households is masked.</p> <p>Downsizing retirees into the apartment sector creates ongoing financial stress for older people. Creating <a href="https://theconversation.com/it-will-take-more-than-piecemeal-reforms-to-convince-older-australians-to-downsize-51043">tax incentives to move</a> does not tackle these ongoing costs.</p> <p>Centrelink payments for of <a href="https://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/centrelink/age-pension">$404 per week</a> are well below <a href="http://acoss.wpengine.com/poverty-2/">the poverty line</a>. Yet we expect retirees to willingly downsize and to be able to cede most of their Centrelink payments to cover high body corporate costs.</p> <p>Requiring retirees to downsize for the greater urban good will shift poverty onto retirees who could barely manage in their previously owned standard suburban home.</p> <p>Failing to understand the effect of high ongoing costs associated with apartment living and reinforcing the myth of zero housing costs in retirement will continue to lead to poor policy 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/80895/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/erika-altmann-361218"><em>Erika Altmann</em></a><em>, Property and Housing Management Researcher, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</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/downsizing-cost-trap-awaits-retirees-five-reasons-to-be-wary-80895">original article</a>.</em></p>

Retirement Income

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Common car act could cost touchy drivers a hefty fine

<p>A worried driver has shared his concerns over being slapped with a potential fine after being caught holding his girlfriend's hand while driving. </p> <p>The man questioned whether the hand holding warranted a fine, after the couple passed a road safety camera in the "compromising" position. </p> <p>“Me and my girlfriend were holding hands and there was a camera on the left side, will they fine me?” the poster anonymously posted in a Facebook group for discussions about mobile phone detection camera locations in Australia.</p> <p>Online responses were varied from commenters, as many thought he driver could attract a fine as the act could be misconstrued as a more serious offence. </p> <p>One person wrote, “Was there a (mobile phone) between your hand and your girlfriends?" while another cheekily added “As long as she was just holding your hand.”</p> <p>But while some people mocked the question, others were closer to the mark, writing, “Holding her hand is no problem other than you may not have had effective control of the vehicle.”</p> <p>“Both hands on the steering wheel is my take on it,” another said.</p> <p>While police and transport authorities confirmed to <a href="https://7news.com.au/travel/driving/common-driving-act-that-could-cost-romantic-drivers-up-to-514-c-12217058" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>7News</em></a> that no specific rule exists for holding hands, if the hand-holding is deemed to constitute a failure to maintain proper control of a motor vehicle, that would be an offence under Australian Road Rule 297 of the Road Traffic Act 1961.</p> <p>The rule is observed nationally, but not all states fine offending motorists equally.</p> <p>Those who are caught red-handed could be fined between $215 and $514 depending on where they are.</p> <p>A Department of Transport and Main Roads spokesperson said that drivers should use their best judgement, saying, “Drivers must also drive with care and attention, as there are significant penalties for more serious offending.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

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Extraordinary cost of Delta Goodrem's engagement ring revealed

<p>A jewellery specialist has revealed the extraordinary cost of Delta Goodrem's stunning diamond engagement ring. </p> <p>The Aussie pop princess <a href="https://oversixty.com.au/lifestyle/relationships/delta-goodrem-is-engaged" target="_blank" rel="noopener">announced her engagement</a> to her partner, Matthew Copley, in a heartfelt Instagram post last week, as her partner asked the big question while they were on holiday in Malta.</p> <p>Now, a jewellery specialist at UK retailer Steven Stone has shared the estimated cost of the impressive ring. </p> <p>Zack Stone told the <a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-12554633/Delta-Goodrem-diamond-ring-engagement.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>Daily Mail</em></a> that the sparkling diamond ring is worth about $123,000.</p> <p>He said the three carat round cut diamond in a solitaire setting is "timeless" and is "believed to signal everlasting love and eternity".</p> <p>"The diamond is sat in a solitaire setting, which is a timeless choice for those in search of a style that will always be on trend," Stone said.</p> <p>"The timeless diamond is sat on a pave diamond band, which means that the shank of the ring is lined with small diamond that give it that extra element of radiance."</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CxcsmWPhGaF/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CxcsmWPhGaF/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Delta Goodrem AM (@deltagoodrem)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Delta delighted fans with the engagement announcement, as she shared the heart-warming post to Instagram.</p> <p>With the sun setting in the background, the couple embraced each other while holding glasses filled with sparkling bubbles, with Delta captioning the image, “My best friend asked me to marry him.”</p> <p>The subsequent slide featured a video capturing a live musical performance in what appeared to be a secluded grassy area, adorned with a sea of white rose petals.</p> <p>As the video unfolded, viewers were treated to a glimpse of Delta Goodrem's stunning engagement ring.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Instagram</em></p>

Relationships

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Easiest travel hack to save big on the cost of flights

<p>Planning your upcoming holiday and haven't nailed down your flight bookings just yet? Well, hold off a bit because there's an optimal strategy to maximise your savings.</p> <p>A recent research study conducted by Expedia has unveiled a golden nugget of advice: Booking your flights on a Sunday can lead to substantial savings, potentially up to 20 percent off your airfare.</p> <p>This valuable insight is part of Expedia's 2024 Air Travel Hacks Report, which is packed with useful information to simplify your trip planning process.</p> <p>Let's dive deeper into this Sunday-saving strategy. When you compare booking your flights on a Sunday to the common practice of booking on a Friday, you'll likely discover substantial cost savings. Considering that average ticket prices have soared by approximately 20 percent compared to last year, any opportunity to trim your expenses becomes paramount.</p> <p>Now, you might be wondering how far in advance you should secure your flights for optimal savings. If you're embarking on a domestic adventure and have your travel plans locked in more than three months ahead, you're in a prime position to economise. The study's findings indicate that travellers who booked their domestic flights at least 14 weeks before departure managed to pocket an average savings of 20 percent compared to those who procrastinated until the 11th hour.</p> <p>On the other hand, if your journey is taking you across international borders, there's less need for anxiety. International fares typically exhibit a fair degree of stability during the six months leading up to your travel date. The sweet spot for booking your flights for an overseas escapade is ideally at least one month prior to departure. This early booking ensures both availability and the potential for cost-effective fares.</p> <p>Here's a summary of the Expedia report's findings:</p> <p><strong>Book on a Sunday to save up to 20% on average<br /></strong>Travellers who booked on Sundays instead of Fridays tended to save, on average, around 20% on domestic flights and international flights. The best day of the week to book has been Sunday, while the day to avoid has been Friday, for the past four years.</p> <p><strong>Book at least three months before domestic flights to save 30% on average<br /></strong>The sweet spot for snagging the best price on domestic flights falls between 70 – 100 days before departure (so about three months in advance of travel). Travellers who booked during that period saved 30% on average compared to those who waited until the last minute (0 – 30 days before travel).</p> <p><strong>Book six months before international flights to save 25% on average<br /></strong>Travellers who booked around six months in advance of international travel saved an average of 25% compared to those who waited until three months or less to book. The key to booking international airfares is to book as soon as possible, with prices traditionally cheapest 160 days or earlier before departure.</p> <p>So be sure to set an alarm or mark your calendar for a Sunday when booking your flights, and if you have long-term travel plans, secure your domestic flights at least 14 weeks ahead. For international journeys, booking a month before your departure date will help you make the most of your travel budget. Happy travels!</p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

Travel Tips

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Going up! The rising cost of living

<p>You don’t need to watch the news to know the cost of living is rising – and for many products and services, well above the headline inflation rate. The evidence is there every time you walk down a supermarket aisle, fill your car with petrol and open an energy bill. It’s at the doctor’s surgery and the pharmacy, the butcher and the baker. It seems that inflation’s appetite for your retirement income is insatiable.</p> <p>Then there’s the other unknown that affects your retirement income – the number of years you need to fund. None of us know how long we have to budget our retirement savings for.</p> <p>When your income is fixed at a rate to make it last across many years of retirement, something has to give. And for many people, the first things to go are those they enjoy most. A restaurant meal, trips to the cinema, exercise classes at the local gym. For others, more critical things may fall by the wayside – heating in winter, nourishing food, critical repairs to the home or car.</p> <p>If you’re worried that your retirement income won’t stretch to cover the rising cost of living over an unknown number of years, there are ways to boost it. Despite a recent dip in home values, strong growth over many years has seen the value of retirees’ home equity skyrocket. And now, you can unlock the wealth accumulated in your home to <a href="https://householdcapital.com.au/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">improve your retirement funding</a>.</p> <p>This wealth in your home can be used to fund a monthly or fortnightly income stream, to top up pension payments received from your super fund or the government. It can also be drawn as a lump sum – or a mix of capital <em>and</em> income. Access to capital is important – you can use it to repair or renovate your home, buy a new car or enjoy a holiday.</p> <p>Unlocking the wealth in your home enables you to live the retirement lifestyle you deserve in the home you love…without watching every dollar you spend or foregoing the important things that make you happy.</p> <p><strong>About Household Capital</strong></p> <p><a href="https://householdcapital.com.au/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Household Capital</a> is a specialist retirement funding provider that provides responsible long-term access to home equity to meet the needs of an ageing population.</p> <p>We work with you to improve your retirement lifestyle: by enhancing retirement income, providing access to capital and improving retirement housing. Our approach aims to provide you with the best of both worlds – to continue living in your family home with the confidence to enjoy the retirement lifestyle you deserve.</p> <p>In providing access to your <a href="https://householdcapital.com.au/household-loan/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">home equity</a>, we offer you the choice and flexibility to use the wealth in your home in a variety of ways that suit you, today and in the future. These might include:</p> <ul> <li>Providing <a href="https://householdcapital.com.au/testimonials/bill/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a regular income stream</a> through a regular drawdown facility, so the rising cost of living doesn’t mean going without</li> <li>Paying off <a href="https://householdcapital.com.au/testimonials/dennis/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">an existing mortgage</a> or other debt to free up your cashflow</li> <li>Setting up <a href="https://householdcapital.com.au/testimonials/john/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a contingency fund</a> for those unexpected expenses, which can be drawn on as you need</li> <li>Covering the costs of in-home or residential aged care.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Our customers – Lynne, Raylene and Suzanne</strong></p> <p><iframe title="YouTube video player" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/8Czho7sfH8I?si=Ih6vH8COkfvGR3xK" width="770" height="433" frameborder="0" data-mce-fragment="1"><span data-mce-type="bookmark" style="display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;" class="mce_SELRES_start"></span><span data-mce-type="bookmark" style="display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;" class="mce_SELRES_start"></span></iframe></p> <p>Lynne, Raylene and Suzanne have been friends for more than 30 years and although they no longer live in neighbouring suburbs, they get together at least weekly to laugh, to talk and to sew. The three of them sew quilts to donate to aged care facilities, where they are gratefully received by the residents.</p> <p>Lynne was the first to approach Household Capital. She needed a reliable car – but as a widow in her 70s, banks would not lend to her. Instead, Lynne unlocked her home wealth to purchase her new car and to set up a contingency fund to draw on in the event of unexpected expenses. She told her friends Raylene and Suzanne about Household Capital, as both were struggling to make ends meet. Raylene and Suzanne have now used their home wealth to each establish a regular income stream and a contingency fund, giving them confidence in their future and the flexibility to meet their financial needs.</p> <p>Despite the rising cost of living, you can take control of your retirement and Live Well At Home<sup>TM</sup> – and it’s Household Capital’s mission to facilitate that. After all, home can be both the best place to live and the right way to fund your retirement.</p> <p>To find out more about the retirement wealth source that most Australian retirees aren’t using, and see how much wealth you can unlock visit <a href="https://householdcapital.com.au/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">householdcapital.com.au</a> or call us <strong>1300 734 720</strong> to have an obligation free chat with one of our Australian based retirement funding specialists.</p> <p><em>Applications for credit are subject to eligibility and lending criteria. Fees and charges are payable, and terms and conditions apply (available upon request). Household Capital Pty Limited ACN 618 068 214, Australian Credit Licence 545906, is the Servicer for the credit provider Household Capital Services Pty Limited ACN 625 860 764</em></p> <p><em>Image: Supplied. </em></p> <p><em>This is a sponsored article produced in partnership with Household Capital.</em></p>

Retirement Life

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Coles praised for helping small town through cost of living crisis

<p dir="ltr">Coles has been praised for the innovative way they are helping a small Aussie town to combat the ongoing cost of living crisis. </p> <p dir="ltr">The supermarket giant has started contributing to a community pantry in the coastal town of Ulladulla, 200km south of Sydney, which gives struggling locals basic grocery staples.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Little Free Food Pantry in Ulladulla was set up by local woman Coralie Smith and her mother Melissa, who were on a mission to reduce food waste, while also give back to their community as the cost of living continues to take hold. </p> <p dir="ltr">The motto "take what you need, give what you can" is plastered along the top of the pantry, set up outside the local scout hall, designed for people to help themselves to food to feed their families.</p> <p dir="ltr">Most of the food in the community cupboard has been donated by the local Coles supermarket, which provides a range of baked items, meats and fresh produce daily.</p> <p dir="ltr">Woolworths has also contributed items to the pantry every week, while also being topped up by generous locals. </p> <p dir="ltr">One local woman named Michelle has been using the service for almost three months. </p> <p dir="ltr">Before the pantry was established, Michelle was only able to afford to eat just one meal a day. </p> <p dir="ltr">"I'm working three jobs because of the high interest rates and the cost of living," she told <em>Yahoo News Australia</em>. "When I collected my first hamper all I could do is cry".</p> <p dir="ltr">The first time she was offered food she felt extremely "overwhelmed" but "now I'm definitely eating more, and am able to keep up with my mortgage and bills".</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Facebook / Shutterstock</em></p>

Money & Banking

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You don’t have to be an economist to know Australia is in a cost of living crisis. What are the signs and what needs to change

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/john-hawkins-746285">John Hawkins</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-canberra-865">University of Canberra</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is part of The Conversation’s series examining Australia’s cost of living crisis.</em></p> <hr /> <p>Every day the higher price of seemingly everything is mentioned in the news or in conversations with friends and acquaintances.</p> <p>The impact is clear as we are required to pay more for most things from our weekly shop and power bills, to filling the car and swimming lessons.</p> <p>So what is the cost of living and how is it measured?</p> <p>The “cost of living” refers to the prices people need to pay to meet their needs in their everyday lives.</p> <p>The most commonly cited measure is the <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/websitedbs/d3310114.nsf/home/Consumer+Price+Index+FAQs">Consumer Price Index</a> compiled by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.</p> <p>This represents the price of a fixed basket of goods and services. The items in the basket reflect the spending of metropolitan households. Each item is given a weight corresponding to its share in the spending of these households. The CPI does not include the price of land or financial assets such as shares.</p> <p>The rate of change of prices is known as <a href="https://www.rba.gov.au/education/resources/explainers/inflation-and-its-measurement.html">inflation</a>.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="WV21a" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/WV21a/1/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <p>Inflation rose sharply in the 1970s, especially after the oil price shocks. It took a long while to get it down. The Reserve Bank adopted an <a href="https://www.rba.gov.au/education/resources/explainers/australias-inflation-target.html">inflation target of 2-3%</a> in the <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10370196.2019.1615401">early 1990s</a> to keep inflation low over the medium term. After a long period of low inflation, it rose sharply again during 2022.</p> <p>It is now declining.</p> <p>A similar pattern is seen in comparable economies such as the United States and New Zealand. The supply bottlenecks caused by COVID have eased and economic activity is slowing in response to the increases in interest rates in most economies.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="XtUKa" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/XtUKa/3/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <h2>Not all prices rise at the same rate</h2> <p>Some prices rise fairly smoothly in line with the overall CPI. Others, such as petrol and fresh food, are much more volatile.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="XKmuL" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/XKmuL/2/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <p>Since 1972 the price of the CPI basket has increased almost 12-fold. But some prices have increased much more.</p> <p>Cigarettes cost almost 60 times as much (reflecting increased taxes). Labour-intensive hairdressing costs 20 times as much. Prices of other goods have gone up much less, especially after Australia cut tariffs and started importing more from low-cost producers. Over the past decade the prices of clothing and computers have fallen.</p> <p>People often believe inflation is higher than the CPI reports. Big price rises are more noticeable. You seldom see headlines about prices that have <em>not</em> changed. And when was the last time you heard a discussion about how clothing has been getting cheaper?</p> <p>House prices are now more than 50 times as high as in 1972, a much larger increase than the CPI. Some of this, however, represents quality changes rather than pure price changes. The average Australian house has roughly doubled in size and may now be the <a href="https://theconversation.com/size-does-matter-australias-addiction-to-big-houses-is-blowing-the-energy-budget-70271">largest in the world</a>.</p> <h2>My inflation is not the same as yours</h2> <p>The CPI reflects the prices faced by an <em>average</em> household. About half of households will have experienced a higher increase in the prices they pay, and half will have seen a lower increase.</p> <p>Different households consume different goods and services. Retirees tend to spend more on health care and less on childminding. A higher proportion of the spending of lower income households goes on necessities rather than luxuries.</p> <p>For the “average” household, almost 4% of spending is on tobacco. But of course non-smokers spend nothing while heavy smokers spend much more. So that large rise in cigarette prices affects some people significantly and others not at all.</p> <p>The ABS publishes some separate <em><a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/economy/price-indexes-and-inflation/selected-living-cost-indexes-australia/jun-2023">living cost indices</a></em>. The data get much less attention, partly because they are released after the CPI. These differ from the CPI in that they <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/6467.0Feature+Article1Mar+2017">include interest charges</a>. They are also prepared relating to different classes of people.</p> <p>Over the year to June 2023, the living costs of employees rose by 9.6% but those of self-funded retirees by 6.3% and age pensioners by 6.7%. The main reason for the difference was that interest rates increased and employees are more likely to have a mortgage than are retirees.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="1OagU" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/1OagU/3/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <p>These compare to the <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/economy/price-indexes-and-inflation/consumer-price-index-australia/latest-release">6% increase in the CPI</a> over the same period.</p> <h2>Cost of living problem</h2> <p>The cost of living becomes an increasing problem when incomes, notably wages, fail to keep up with it. Over long periods of time, wages tend to grow faster than prices. The economy becomes more productive over time and the gains flow to both workers and companies.</p> <p>But over shorter periods, this may not be the case. Last week’s <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/economy/price-indexes-and-inflation/wage-price-index-australia/jun-2023">data</a> show wages grew by only 3.6% over the year to the June quarter. This is well below the current inflation rate of 6%. But it is around the growth in prices <a href="https://www.rba.gov.au/publications/smp/2023/aug/pdf/05-economic-outlook.pdf">forecast</a> by the Reserve Bank for the coming year.</p> <p>As well as an income for workers, wages are a major cost for businesses. So if wages grow too fast, and particularly were they to accelerate, there is a risk of a wage-price spiral.</p> <p>The 3.6% annual wage increase for the June quarter is slightly less than the 3.7% recorded in the March quarter. The quarterly growth rate has been steady at 0.8% for the past three quarters. If labour productivity grows close to its medium-term average, this size of wage increase should not be a concern.</p> <p>If business starts to expect raw material and input prices, and prices charged by their competitors, to keep growing strongly, they will be likely to keep increasing their own prices a lot. This risks a <a href="https://www.axios.com/2023/05/18/once-a-fringe-theory-greedflation-gets-its-due">price-price spiral</a>.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="dfh40" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/dfh40/2/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <p>The Reserve Bank is trying to steer the economy along what it calls a narrow path.</p> <p>It hopes it has raised interest rates enough to slow the economy and return inflation to its 2-3% target within a reasonable time frame. But it hopes it has not raised them too far, which would push the economy into a recession and lead to a large rise in unemployment.</p> <p>The bank’s goal is to have the cost of living rising by around 2-3% per year and incomes a bit more than this, so living standards steadily improve for all Australians over time.<!-- 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/210373/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/john-hawkins-746285">John Hawkins</a>, Senior Lecturer, Canberra School of Politics, Economics and Society, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-canberra-865">University of Canberra</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</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/you-dont-have-to-be-an-economist-to-know-australia-is-in-a-cost-of-living-crisis-what-are-the-signs-and-what-needs-to-change-210373">original article</a>.</em></p>

Money & Banking

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The cost of living is biting. Here’s how to spend less on meat and dairy

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/clare-collins-7316">Clare Collins</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-newcastle-1060">University of Newcastle</a></em></p> <p>The cost of groceries has risen substantially <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/economy/price-indexes-and-inflation/monthly-consumer-price-index-indicator/may-2023">over the last year</a>. Food and non-alcoholic drinks rose by 7.9% in the year to May, with biggest increases in dairy products (15.1%), breads and cereals (12.8%) and processed foods (11.5%).</p> <p>Meat costs rose by 3.8%, but the absolute increase was high, with a kilo of fillet steak costing up to A$60 for a kilogram.</p> <p>Australians spend around <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/6530.0Main+Features12009-10?OpenDocument">15% of their weekly food budget</a> on meat and half that (7.4%) on dairy products.</p> <p>About <a href="https://www.finder.com.au/cost-of-living-report">43% of householders</a> say grocery prices are a cause of financial stress, with half trying to reduce spending.</p> <p>So how can you save money on meat and dairy products without skimping on nutrients?</p> <h2>Meat</h2> <p><a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/food-essentials/five-food-groups/lean-meat-and-poultry-fish-eggs-tofu-nuts-and-seeds-and">Meat</a> is a good source of protein, iron, zinc and vitamin B12.</p> <p>Recommendations are for a maximum of three serves of cooked lean red meat a week. This includes beef, lamb, veal, pork, or kangaroo, with a serve being 65g cooked, which equates to 90–100g raw. This means purchasing 270–300g per person per week.</p> <p>Check prices online and weekly specials. Less expensive cuts include oyster blade, chuck or rump steak ($22–$25 per kilogram). They can be tougher, making them better for casseroles or slow cook recipes, like this <a href="https://nomoneynotime.com.au/healthy-easy-recipes/clares-slow-cooked-beef-stroganoff">beef stroganoff</a>.</p> <p>One exception is mince because higher star, lower fat, more expensive products shrink less during cooking compared to regular mince, which shrinks by 25–30%.</p> <p>Extend casserole and mince dishes by adding vegetarian protein sources, such as dried or canned beans and legumes.</p> <p>A 400g can of red kidney beans costs about $1.50 and contains 240g of cooked beans, equivalent to 1.6 standard serves. Add a can of any type of legume (black, adzuki, cannelloni, butter, chickpeas, four-bean mix, brown lentils) or use dried versions that don’t need pre-soaking like dried red lentils at about $5 per kilogram.</p> <p>This <a href="https://www.glnc.org.au/resource/legumes-nutrition/">adds nutrients</a> including protein, B vitamins, iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium and dietary fibre.</p> <h2>Dairy</h2> <p>Dairy products are important sources of protein, calcium, magnesium, zinc, potassium and vitamins A, B2 and B12. <a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/food-essentials/how-much-do-we-need-each-day/recommended-number-serves-adults">Australian recommendations</a> are for two to three serves a day for adults and four serves for women over 50. One serve is <a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/food-essentials/how-much-do-we-need-each-day/serve-sizes">equivalent to</a> a cup of milk or 40g cheese.</p> <p>Fresh milk costs between $1.50 and $3.00 per litre depending on type and brand, while UHT milk is cheaper, about $1.60 per litre. It’s even cheaper to buy powdered milk ($10 per kilogram pack, which makes ten litres), equating to $1 per litre.</p> <p>Making yoghurt at home costs about $5–6 per kilogram using a powder mix and yoghurt maker ($25). Once set, divide into smaller tubs yourself. Use as a substitute for cream or sour cream.</p> <p>Fresh yoghurt varies from $11–$18 per kilogram, with individual serves and flavoured varieties more expensive (but not always). Compare per kilogram or per 100g prices and check for specials.</p> <p>Cheese prices vary a lot so compare prices per kilogram. As a guide, block cheese is cheaper than pre-sliced or grated cheese. Home brand products are cheaper than branded ones. Mature cheeses are more expensive and processed cheese least expensive. But, if you cut block cheese really thick you end up using more. Block cheese ranges from $15 to $30 a kilogram, while packets of pre-sliced cheese vary from $18 to over $30.</p> <p>Pre-grated cheeses range from $14 to $30 per kilo, with most around $20, and processed cheese varies from $10 to $15. Extend grated cheese by mixing with grated carrot (about $2 a kilogram) and use as a topper for tacos, wraps, pasta and pizza. Use processed cheese slices for toasted sandwiches. Most recipes work adding less cheese than specified.</p> <p>A high-calcium alternative to cheese in sandwiches is canned salmon, but at $15–$30 per kilogram ($6–$7 per 210g can) you add variety but may not save money.</p> <h2>3 tips to save on your food bills</h2> <p><strong>1. Have a household food budget</strong></p> <p>Ensure everyone is on the same page about <a href="https://nomoneynotime.com.au/hacks-myths-faqs/how-to-save-money-at-the-supermarket">saving money on food and drinks</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://www.suncorpgroup.com.au/news/features/food-for-thought-australians-spend-272-billion-on-food-annually">About 50% of household food dollars</a> are spent on takeaway, eating out, coffee, alcohol, food-delivery services and extras, so have a budget for <a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/food-essentials/discretionary-food-and-drink-choices">discretionary</a> food items. This is where you can make big savings.</p> <p>Your household might need an incentive to stick to the budget, like voting on which “discretionary” items food dollars get spent on.</p> <p><strong>2. Have a rough weekly meal plan</strong></p> <p>Use your meal plan to write a grocery list. Check <a href="https://nomoneynotime.com.au/hacks-myths-faqs/ingredient-swaps-to-limit-supermarket-trips-during-lockdown">what you already have</a> in the pantry, fridge and freezer.</p> <p>If you’re not sure where to start, look at ours at <a href="https://nomoneynotime.com.au">No Money No Time</a>, <a href="https://nomoneynotime.com.au/hacks-myths-faqs/take-our-nmnt-2-week-food-budget-challenge-and-eat-for-55-a-week">either for one person</a> or a <a href="https://nomoneynotime.com.au/ebooks-meal-plans-more/feeding-a-growing-family-on-a-budget-meal-plan-1">family with young children</a>.</p> <p><strong>3. Avoid food waste</strong></p> <p>Australians <a href="https://www.ozharvest.org/food-waste-facts/">waste 7.6 million tonnes of food</a> each year yet 70% is edible. Before heading to the shops, check your <a href="https://nomoneynotime.com.au/hacks-myths-faqs/creating-kitchen-space-for-christmas-and-preventing-food-waste-too">fridge</a>.</p> <p>Turn <a href="https://nomoneynotime.com.au/hacks-myths-faqs/managing-kitchen-stock-and-using-leftovers-to-minimise-food-waste">leftovers</a> into tomorrow’s lunch or dinner. When clearing the dinner table, pack leftovers straight into lunch containers so it’s grab and go in the morning (or freeze for days you’re too busy to cook).</p> <p><em>Use our resources at <a href="https://nomoneynotime.com.au/hacks-myths-faqs?search=budget">No Money No Time</a> for ideas on how to help your food dollars go further. If you need food help right now, the <a href="https://askizzy.org.au/">Ask Izzy</a> website can locate services in your area.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. 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More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></em></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/clare-collins-7316">Clare Collins</a>, Laureate Professor in Nutrition and Dietetics, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-newcastle-1060">University of Newcastle</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</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-cost-of-living-is-biting-heres-how-to-spend-less-on-meat-and-dairy-206703">original article</a>.</em></p>

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King Charles hit hard by cost of living crisis

<p>As the cost of living crisis continues around the world, it seems even those at the very top are not as immune from the financial uncertainty as expected. </p> <p>King Charles and the royal family are the latest hit by the crisis, with the Crown Estate losing half a billion pounds (approx. $950 million AUD) on its London property portfolio after the value of retail space crashed.</p> <p>King Charles was reportedly forced to dip into the royal reserves by £21 million (approx. $40 million AUD) due to overspending by the Palace, while staff have implemented a number of cost-cutting measures across the various royal estates including turning down the heating.</p> <p>Following a year of "unprecedented" royal activity that saw both the death of Queen Elizabeth and the coronation of King Charles, Buckingham Palace's net expenditure grew by more than £5 million this year, to £107.5 million (approx. $203 million AUD) in just a few short months. </p> <p>The spending was used on events such as the Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee, the Queen's funeral, preparation for the King's coronation and the joining of two royal households.</p> <p>During a media briefing on Tuesday, Sir Michael Stevens, keeper of the royal family's Sovereign Grant, emphasised that it had been "an exceptional year" for the royal household.</p> <p>He said the financial strain related to a year of "grief, change and celebration, the like of which our nation has not witnessed for seven decades".</p> <p>The historic events, he said, have "inevitably entailed additional burdens on resources" to ensure that they were "delivered safely and smoothly, and that the change of reign was effected as seamlessly as possible at a time of great national and international interest".</p> <p>The Platinum Jubilee cost £700,000 (approx. $1.3 million AUD), while the Queen's funeral cost £1.6 million (approx. $3.5 million AUD).</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

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Ready-made foods you should avoid at all costs

<h2>Pasta dishes</h2> <p>Those ready-made spaghetti Bolognese and creamy pasta dishes are comfort foods at their finest, but they’re not the best for your body. Skip the frozen dishes, which tend to be loaded with sodium and fat, and throw your own healthy pasta recipe together, suggests paediatric dietitian Jodi Greebel. Not only is boiling pasta quick and easy, but you also have more control over what goes into the sauce and sides. Load yours up with nutritious veggies and throw in a tin of lentils for a healthier twist on your guilty-pleasure pasta.</p> <h2>Kids’ meals</h2> <p>Parenting is a 24/7 job, and if you cook separate meals for your little ones, sometimes you lack the energy and time. It’s tempting to pop a frozen kids’ meal in the oven and serve dinner 20 minutes later, but that meal probably isn’t something you really want in your child’s belly. “Some meals have more than half the amount of fat a child needs for the whole day,” says Greebel. With just a teensy bit more effort, you can dish up something you can feel confident feeding your child. For standby freezer aisle meals, Greebel recommends baked chicken nuggets with frozen veggies, but fresh food can be just as easy. Pick up a rotisserie chicken to serve with two vegetables – food that will feed not just your children but the adults in the house too. Any leftovers use in tacos for tomorrow night’s meal.</p> <h2>Low-protein veggie burgers</h2> <p>Skipping the traditional cheeseburger for a meatless option can be better for your belly and the planet, but there’s a catch. A lot of people look at all plant-based burgers as healthy protein substitutes, but some are much higher in carbohydrates and fat than protein, says nutrition program creator Ilana Muhlstein. “Protein is important for keeping us full and preventing overeating.” Leave it on the shelf if the nutrition facts say just five grams of protein, and hunt down another veggie patty with ten grams or more, she suggests.</p> <h2>Frozen stir-fries</h2> <p>Frozen meals like stir-fries are loaded with sodium, thanks in part to the sauces they come in. Luckily, a healthier version is just as easy and freezer-friendly. Buy a pack of plain frozen veggies – some stores even sell stir-fry vegetables without the sauce – and throw them in your wok or frying pan with chicken or beef, suggests Greebel. Use just a bit of low-sodium soy or teriyaki sauce to keep the salt to a minimum.</p> <h2>Fried foods</h2> <p>So, how bad are fried foods? Chips and other frozen fried food is tasty, but it shouldn’t be a part of your regular diet. Loaded with sodium and saturated fats, it could increase your risk of heart disease and obesity. Keep some healthier snack options on hand so you’re not tempted by the fried stuff. Throw together a pita pizza instead of frozen pizza, or make chicken tacos.</p> <h2>Two-serving meals</h2> <p>When you’re looking for a quick and healthy single-serving dinner, buyer beware: some frozen foods look reasonable in calories, fat, and sodium at first glance, but they’re actually two servings disguised as one. Double-check the portion size before you dig in to make sure you’re not biting off more than you’d want to chew. Swap the poser out for a single-serving meal, or set half aside for leftovers.</p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/kitchen-tips/ready-made-foods-you-should-avoid-at-all-costs" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

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Cost of living relief on the way for struggling Aussies

<p>As the ongoing cost of living crisis continues to affect hard-working Aussies, a series of changes set to be introduced by the government will ease the financial burden for a few select groups. </p> <p>As the new financial year begins on July 1st, a 15 per cent pay rise for aged care workers, cheaper childcare and changes to paid parental leave will come into effect. </p> <p>The policies promised in the last federal budget will come into effect, including electricity bill relief for some households and a small business incentive to help eligible companies become more energy efficient.</p> <p>Five million households will be eligible for up to $500 in power price relief while one million small businesses will be able to access up to $650.</p> <p>As well as this, eligibility for the first home guarantee and regional first home guarantee will now include any two borrowers beyond married and de facto couples.</p> <p>It will also apply to non-first home buyers who have not owned a property in Australia in the previous 10 years.</p> <p>Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the new measures are designed the help Aussies who are doing it tough. </p> <p>"The suite of policies which will start to roll out from Saturday, will make a real difference in the lives of millions of hardworking Australians while delivering an economic dividend and laying the foundations for future growth," he said.</p> <p>"Key policies like energy price relief will directly reduce inflation, while others like cheaper childcare and enhanced paid parental leave will boost the capacity of our economy."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

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9 cost-effective ways to warm your home this winter

<p>Sick of hearing about the same old heating methods that never quite do the job? Try these nine unconventional heating hacks. </p> <p><strong>1. Preheat your pyjamas</strong></p> <p>While you shower, put your pyjamas in the dryer to ensure that you have toasty warm clothing to change into as soon as you leave the warmth of the bathroom. For a slightly more affordable version, wrap your PJs in a hot water bottle or heat bag, not only will it heat your clothes but it will make your bed toasty warm too, just be sure to remove the hot water bottle from your bed before you settle down to sleep for the night. </p> <p><strong>2. Join the fan club</strong></p> <p>It might seem counter-productive but turning a fan on at the lowest setting will help circulate heat throughout the room. Don't knock it until you try it!</p> <p><strong>3. Hottie in the car</strong></p> <p>Dreading your chilly morning commute to work? Make your early start a little easier to stomach by putting hand warmers into your pockets or heat up a hot water bottle with warm water or a heat bag and put it on your lap as you drive. </p> <p><strong>4. Utilise bubble wrap</strong></p> <p>For those whose home insulation isn't up to scratch, a budget-friendly trick is to use bubble wrap to insulate your windows from the inside. To create the DIY double glazing, simply get some bubble wrap and use a product like blue-tac to hold it in place on your windows.</p> <p><strong>5. Make use of your curtains</strong></p> <p>Keep your house warmer for longer by making use of your curtains and the limited winter sun. To do this, open all of your curtains on a sunny morning and allow the house to soak up as much heat as possible during the day. As night falls, let your curtains act as an additional piece of insulation by closing them at dusk and trapping heat inside the house.</p> <p><strong>6. Cuddle your pet</strong></p> <p>When in doubt, a great way to stay warm on a cold night is by sharing body heat. While snuggling up with your partner might make you a little bit warmer, cuddling a furry pet will heat you up a lot faster. The key to success with this hack is to cuddle up with the fluffiest animal possible, so try and find a friend with a Ragdoll cat or a St Bernard.</p> <p>7. Go camping… indoors</p> <p><strong>Just because it's winter does</strong>n't mean you can't go camping... well, as long as it's in the living room. For a warm night's sleep, fill up a tent with pillows and blankets, make sure it's all zipped up and settle down for the night. The enclosed space will heat up by trapping the air and using your body warmth to make the space nice and cosy.</p> <p><strong>8. Redecorate</strong></p> <p>Positioning your favourite seat in front of the heater might feel great when you're sitting in it, but when you put furniture too close to a heating source you're actually stopping the hot air from circulating throughout the rest of the room. Fix this problem by repositioning your furniture and allowing the hot air to fill the whole room, rather than just absorbing it all up in one spot.</p> <p><strong>9. Get in the kitchen</strong></p> <p>There's nothing like a good soup or a roast to make you feel better on a cold winter’s night. Cooking is an easy way to warm up the air in your home, while also providing you with something warm to eat at the same time. </p> <p><em>Republished with permission of <a href="http://www.stuff.co.nz/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><strong><span>Stuff.co.nz</span></strong></a>.</em></p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

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