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"I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference." -Robert Frost


Personal Finances

Spending Smart in Australia


With spiking petrol prices, we suggest the following for you to try & save money:

1. Shop around -- don't just wait until you're running on an empty tank before you fill up. Instead, when you see cheap petrol prices, fill up your tank to the max!

2. Shopping dockets -- occasionally, Coles & Woolworths have dockets that allow you to scrap 4c/litre of petrol off. Use them whenever you can.

3. Public transport -- it can be a bummer, but buying weekly travel passes can be a real cost-saver.

Entertainment & Communication

1. Movies -- Tuesday nights at Hoyts are cheap ('Tightarse Tuesdays') with prices at $9 (instead of $12 for students & $15 for adults). Overnight movies/new releases at the local video store usually costs between $6-$10 depending on the store. Try Quickflix -- they send you DVDs to your home at a set monthly charge of between $10 to $50 for unlimited DVDs. The plan I use is $30 monthly for '2 out at a time' unlimited which allows me to borrow 2 DVDs at a time &, as soon as I say I've returned them via their website, they send the next 2 DVDs to me. I usually get an average of 8-14 DVDs (mix of new releases, foreign movies etc) depending on how busy I am. Very convenient & cost-effective.

2. Mobile -- They aren't as good as they used to be which is a disappointment given that advances in technology usually means decreasing prices (look at computer prices, internet prices, CD & mp3 players). Be very, very cautious when signing up for a 24-month "phone deal" or the like as it's no longer just pay $25 or whatever to get the phone AND $25 worth of free calls. Now, it's a bit more like, pay $49 for your calls + $25 just for the phone. Of course, you do get $230 worth of credit (which, in my opinion, really isn't worth THAT much given the prices for the average call!). If you're on prepaid with Optus, you can get a bit of a discount if you purchase credit at Woolworths, apparently.

3. Home Entertainment System -- If you want to buy any particular electronical goods, generally, eBay is the best place to shop (in my opinion). But you do need to spend quite some time to make sure that the seller is not just going to take your money & claim he/she never received it. Important things to look at when shopping on eBay is: a) looking at how long the person's been established for (the longer, the better); b) how much the seller has sold (the more, the better); c) feedback -- this is THE most important factor: if they've sold 500 or so goods without a single negative rating then it's a good sign; if however, they don't have a single negative rating but lots & lots of "mutual withdrawals" it's probably better to stay away; d) the location of the goods (check the postage rates & whether or not registered post/insurace is provided; if it doesn't say - email the seller first, NOT bid first); e) the good itself -- is it new or refurbished? what do others sell it for? what does it retail for in the market? does it come with warranty? does it come with a receipt? If you can positively answer most of these questions for the good/s in question, then it'll be a worthwhile bet. As I said, you probably do need to spend some time browsing around -- especially if you're intending on purchasing an LCD TV, DVD player, laptop & the like. If you don't feel comfortable with purchasing on the internet, then try Bing Lee ("where everything's negotiable") or Myer during their Stocktake sales.

Internet $$

Although there are money "get-rich-at-home!" programs (most of which are barely worth looking at), there are some genuine programs for you to make cash on the side (read: not $200-$2,200!!).

1. Surveys: the one I like the most by far is pureprofile where I've had $20-$50 coming in on a monthly basis. For only a couple of Y/N questions, you get $1-$2 credited straight away! For anything that takes longer, they reward you very well. Once you accrue a minimum of $25.00, you can deposit it directly to your bank account (& then straight to your credit card).

2. Emails: emailcash is worthwhile taking a look at if you work on a computer (& log on to the internet everyday) & make substantial purchases online from places like; be wary of their "exchange rates" which can go very low at times. Surveys are generally not worth the money they give you ($1-$2 depending on the exchange for 15+ min of your time). Although interest rates are very attractive (unfortunately, 25,000 - roughly $250.00 - is the max you can deposit).

3. Writing: this is for those of you that can spare a lot of time & write something of interest on a daily basis. You can get a blog & write about anything you like. You can then sign up with Google Adsense (an advertising program) where you get paid whenever someone clicks on an ad displayed on your blog page.


1. Savings/Cheque Account: if you're a student, make sure you're with a bank that doesn't charge anything for your savings account. Usually, they don't charge you once you can prove that you are a student but there are limitations. You pay a fee after a certain amount of withdrawals, for example. The Commonwealth Bank is one that allows you unlimited withdrawals (always check). If not, find a bank that charges a set fee ($5 for ANZ & Commonwealth) for unlimited transactions if you do a lot of banking. Otherwise, look for a savings bank (or even credit unions) that waive the fee for people that maintain a balance of, say, $1000 (St. George). When withdrawing, try and find the ATM to your bank to avoid additional charges (withdrawal from other ATMs always incur a charge).

2. Credit: I'll only cover this part briefly (I'll soon add a section devoted to credit issues). If you have a large debt at the normal interest rate (find out if you don't know -- it's important, especially if you're paying 15% +), then consider applying for a new credit card with a low balance transfer rate. This lets you transfer the debt & pay interest at a much lower rate -- sometimes even at 0%. If you think you'll need more than 6 mths to pay off your credit card debt, consider life of balance transfers. This allows you to pay off your debt at a set interest rate (usually 4% - 9%; look at another product if it's higher) that's (almost always) lower than the purchase interest rate (usually 9% to 30%) but higher than a balance transfer rate that only applies for a short-term of, say, 6 months or so (0% to 6%). If you're paying a fee on the card for features you don't bother using (eg. travel insurance, purchase protection, points etc), consider finding one that's fee-free. Make sure you're not withdrawing directly from your credit card account instead of your savings unless you really need to. Interest accrues from the day you withdraw & the rate at which it does so can be higher than your ordinary rate. Some banks also charge a fee for the fact that you're taking cash out. Note that making bPay payment directly from your credit account online is exactly the same -- you'll be hit with the same amount of fees. Use your savings/cheque account or make the payments on the merchant's website with your credit card (this will allow the interest free period if you have one).

Make your payments on time. Arrange for direct debit if you think you'll forget.



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