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Telstra giving free phones to elderly and remote

<p>With the 3G network set to shut down completely on August 31, Telstra announced that it will be giving 12,000 mobile phones away for free in a bid to help the most vulnerable customers switch to 4G. </p> <p>Starting from Tuesday, the telecommunications company will be issuing complimentary phones to customers who are elderly, live rurally or are facing difficult situations. </p> <p>These include those facing financial issues, recovering from natural disasters, or those who have a life-threatening medical condition and therefore rely on a working phone. </p> <p>Telstra have also identified those who live regionally or are over 80 years old and may require extra transition support, as they may have difficulty accessing a physical store to make the switch. </p> <p>Those who are flagged as eligible will be contacted by the telco company, and they are encouraging customers who receive the message to follow the instructions given to make the switch. </p> <p>Major Brendan Nottle from The Salvation Army has praised this initiative for helping the "most vulnerable members of our community."</p> <p>“Connection is one of the most important things to maintain in our society, whether it is with friends and family or with housing and support services,” he said.</p> <p>“Ensuring that every Australian, from any background or level of income, can take part in our modern digital society is crucial.</p> <p>“A phone can be a gateway to social inclusion, community connection and support, and with the upcoming closure of 3G networks in Australia it is important for us to reach out and ensure that this can continue for everyone.”</p> <p>Customers who are yet to upgrade are also told to make the switch sooner than later. </p> <p>Other devices that will be affected by the shutdown include certain smart watches, tablets, medical alarms, EFTPOS terminals and security monitors.</p> <p><em>Images: Shutterstock</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Aussies hit with "hidden fees" for using common payment method

<p>Millions of Aussies have copped up to $1 billion in "hidden fees" for choosing to use one common payment method. </p> <p>Many are unaware about the secret extra charges that come with using the tap-and-go payment method, as millions of customers use it as the preferred way to pay and go. </p> <p>However, according to financial counsellor Scott Pape, also known as The Barefoot Investor, while tapping your card may be easier, it might not be great for your bank account.</p> <p>“What most people don’t know is that, when they tap, their bank generally defaults that payment through Visa or MasterCard, who pays them a fee — instead of defaulting that payment through the much cheaper bank-owned EFTPOS,” Pape said in his column for the <em><a href="https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/business/barefoot-investor/the-common-smartphone-app-thats-ripping-you-off/news-story/0b71afa29c86faf2b938c44f93bbc8d6?amp" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-link-type="article-inline">Daily Telegraph</a></em>.</p> <p>While some businesses choose to absorb the cost, others pass it on to the customer as a surcharge, as Pape says, “Talk about a rort.”</p> <p>According to the Royal Bank of Australia (RBA), Visa and Mastercard are generally more expensive for merchants than the EFTPOS network.</p> <p>Payments through EFTPOS are generally about 0.3 per cent of the transaction value, while Debit Mastercard and Visa Debit may cost many some people about 0.5 per cent.</p> <p>Mastercard and Visa credit could cost customers more than 0.75 per cent of the transaction, while American Express card payments are even more, charging merchants 1 to 1.5 per cent.</p> <p>Thankfully, according to Pape, there are ways to avoid paying the extra fees. </p> <p>If your bank card is attached to your smartphone, you can change the default payment setting.</p> <p>“On an iPhone, open ‘Settings’, go to ‘Wallet & Apple Pay’, then tap your debit card,” Pape said.</p> <p>“Then look for ‘Payment Option’. It will generally have ‘MasterCard’ or ‘Visa’ preselected, but instead you should select ‘EFTPOS SAV’.”</p> <p>This is not allowed on all cards, however, and those who use Android will need to check with their bank if a possible solution exists.</p> <div> </div> <p>The other way to avoid paying the surcharges is to just start inserting or swiping your card again.</p> <p>“I know it’s annoying, but if you swipe and insert your card you can choose ‘cheque’ or ‘savings’ and it’ll go through the EFTPOS system, which at the bigger retailers means you’ll be less likely to be charged,” Pape said.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p>

Money & Banking

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

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

Money & Banking

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How to sign up for energy bill relief

<p>In the face of rising living costs, thousands of Australians have turned to their energy providers for financial assistance, highlighting the community spirit and support available during these challenging times. Energy companies like AGL Australia and Energy Australia are stepping up to help their customers manage their bills and find relief.</p> <p>AGL Australia has seen a significant increase in its financial hardship program, with 10,000 customers joining in the past year. Energy Australia receives 1,000 calls every weekday from customers seeking bill relief. These numbers reflect the proactive measures Australians are taking to manage their expenses and the readiness of energy providers to offer support.</p> <p>Crystal Noronha, who has worked at the AGL call centre for 11 years, has witnessed firsthand the growing need for assistance. "There's a lot of distress in their voice, there's anxiety," Noronha <a href="https://www.9news.com.au/national/thousands-of-customers-signing-up-for-energy-bill-relief-with-millions-more-eligible/9dc9535b-f94b-42f4-aeaf-6534dc898df2" target="_blank" rel="noopener">shared with 9NEWS</a>. "Some hide away from sharing their difficulties, but we're here to help them."</p> <p>Customers need not face extreme financial hardship to seek help, as everyone is eligible for some form of assistance.</p> <p>Gavin Dufty, from the charity St Vincent De Paul, underscores the commitment of energy companies to support their customers. "Every energy company has a legal obligation to provide support for all households regardless," Dufty explains. The assistance offered varies based on the provider and individual circumstances, ranging from bill extensions and more manageable payment plans to, in some cases, complete debt waivers.</p> <p>Adding to this support, the federal government is taking significant steps to ease the burden on households. Starting July 1, every household will receive a $300 credit into their energy account, providing substantial relief. Additionally, a free government website is available for customers to compare energy plan prices and find the most cost-effective options.</p> <p>These measures reflect a collaborative effort between energy providers and the government to ensure Australians can navigate the financial challenges of today's world. By offering practical solutions and financial relief, they are making a positive impact on the lives of many, ensuring that no one is left to face these difficulties alone.</p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Beware of ‘tax hacks’ to maximise your return this year. The tax office is taking a close look at incorrect claims

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ann-kayis-kumar-466422">Ann Kayis-Kumar</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p>For many people a tax refund is a much-anticipated lump sum of money.</p> <p>So, it is understandable Australians will be looking for ways to maximise their returns – particularly we are in a cost-of-living crisis.</p> <p>But, whether you do your own return or use a tax agent, taking risks is not advised.</p> <h2>Be wary of tax hacks</h2> <p>But be wary of “tax hacks” you might hear about from online sources (I’m looking at you, <a href="https://www.afr.com/companies/professional-services/tiktok-gst-fraud-hit-on-tax-office-blows-out-to-4-6b-20230813-p5dw2y">TikTok</a>). Two truisms spring to mind:</p> <p><strong>1. Don’t let the tax tail wag the dog</strong></p> <p>Many tax hacks suggest you spend considerable money on purchases up front to claim tax deductions. But a tax deduction isn’t actually worth the value amount of your spend.</p> <p>For example: let’s say you’re on a taxable income of A$60,000 per year, which puts you roughly in the <a href="https://www.afr.com/politics/how-wealthy-are-you-compared-to-everyone-else-in-eight-charts-20221214-p5c6a8">50th percentile</a> of income earners and means your <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/tax-rates-and-codes/tax-rates-australian-residents#ato-Australianresidenttaxrates2020to2025">marginal tax rate is 32.5 cents</a>.</p> <p>You might spend $1,000 on a purchase in the hope of getting a sweet $1,000 tax deduction. However, you’re going to be $675 out of pocket. This is because that $1,000 deduction is only worth $325 (because tax is calculated on your taxable income, which is assessable income less allowable deductions).</p> <p>It will be worth even less next year because of the introduction of the <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-02-27/stage-three-tax-cut-changes-pass-senate/103519338">revised Stage 3 tax cuts</a> and that’s a good thing because you’ll be paying less tax overall.</p> <p><strong>2. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is</strong></p> <p>Even if you use a registered tax agent (and it’s important to check they are registered by checking <a href="https://www.tpb.gov.au/public-register">the Tax Practitioners’ Board</a>), it’s a common pitfall to think any aggressive deductions they might suggest are their responsibility if the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) comes knocking. That’s not the case.</p> <p>Taxpayers are responsible for errors in returns made by their tax agents, so the ATO will hold you responsible.</p> <p>Indeed, the <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/media-centre/ato-flags-3-key-focus-areas-for-this-tax-time">ATO has announced</a> it will be taking a close look at three common errors being made by taxpayers:</p> <ul> <li> <p>incorrectly claiming work-related expenses</p> </li> <li> <p>inflating claims for rental properties</p> </li> <li> <p>failing to include all income when lodging.</p> </li> </ul> <p>It might be tempting to think you’ve got away with over claiming deductions or under reporting income but the ATO has sophisticated systems to <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/About-ATO/Commitments-and-reporting/Information-and-privacy/How-we-use-data-and-analytics">analyse your data</a>) and track your claims.</p> <p>You’ll need to substantiate your claims, so keep records. If the tax office finds mistakes, you could face <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/paying-the-ato/interest-and-penalties/penalties/penalties-for-making-false-or-misleading-statements">financial penalties</a>, even jail time.</p> <p>Two months ago, a woman was sentenced to two years and six months jail and ordered to repay $39,600 after she lodged three fraudulent Business Activity Statements and received a GST refund to which she wasn’t entitled. While under investigation, she then sent eight false statements to the ATO and tried to claim more money.</p> <p>This is one on many individuals named on the <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/about-ato/tax-avoidance/the-fight-against-tax-crime/our-focus/refund-fraud/gst-refund-fraud-attempts/operation-protego">ATO’s website</a> highlighting the results of regular crackdowns.</p> <h2>So, should I use a tax agent?</h2> <p>There are nearly 20.5 million active tax file numbers registered to individuals in Australia and last tax year the ATO received 13.7 million individual tax return lodgements. This was a 3% increase on the previous year. Of these lodgements more than 5.6 million were lodged by self-preparers and more than 8 million were lodged by tax agents.</p> <p>It <a href="https://theconversation.com/does-paying-for-tax-advice-save-money-only-if-youre-wealthy-184641">makes sense</a> most Australians use agents to prepare and lodge their tax returns. It’s easier, less stressful, gives you confidence the job is being done right and saves time.</p> <p>Having said that, it does come at a price (see above on the value of deductions), and previous research which finds that <a href="https://theconversation.com/does-paying-for-tax-advice-save-money-only-if-youre-wealthy-184641">every extra dollar spent on a tax agent</a> only yields an estimated tax savings of 20 cents), and if you have simple tax affairs then it’s relatively easy and quick to do it yourself.</p> <h2>How do I prepare my tax return?</h2> <p>Generally, everyone should be lodging an income tax return each year (or, if you don’t need to lodge a tax return, lodging a non-lodgement advice). The ATO has a “Do I need to lodge a tax return?” tool <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/your-tax-return/before-you-prepare-your-tax-return/work-out-if-you-need-to-lodge-a-tax-return">if you’re unsure</a>.</p> <p>It also has a useful <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/your-tax-return/how-to-lodge-your-tax-return/lodge-your-tax-return-online-with-mytax">two minute video</a> which steps you through the process for lodging with their online system myTax.</p> <p>For those of us with simple tax affairs, you just need to follow these steps:</p> <ol> <li> <p>gather and prepare all your information regarding income from work, interest, dividends and any other income such as capital gains from crypto assets or sale of shares</p> </li> <li> <p>then gather and prepare all your information on deductions and work expenses to be claimed making sure you have the evidence to back up your claims. This can be in the form receipts, invoices, log books and diary entries</p> </li> <li> <p>if you are a self-preparer you can log onto your myGov or the ATO’s app to prepare and lodge your return. If you wait until late-July you’ll have the benefit of the ATO’s pre-filled data, too. This gives you plenty of time to make the October 31 deadline.</p> </li> </ol> <p>There’s also the option to use the ATO’s free, volunteer-run TaxHelp program (provided you meet the <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/your-tax-return/help-and-support-to-lodge-your-tax-return/tax-help-program">eligibility criteria</a>), your local Tax Clinic (<a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/financial-difficulties-and-disasters/support-to-lodge-and-pay/national-tax-clinic-program">details here</a>), or by seeking help from a registered tax agent. Just make sure you engage them before the October 31 deadline.</p> <h2>Where it might get tricky</h2> <p>But for others, for example if you have an ABN, it gets a bit more complicated. If you operate your business as a sole trader, you must lodge a tax return, even if your income is below the tax-free threshold.</p> <p>And if you have registered for GST – which you must do when your business or enterprise has a GST turnover of $75,000 or more, or if you are a taxi driver or Uber driver – then you will also need to submit quarterly BAS.</p> <p>It gets even more complicated for partnerships, trusts and companies, so it is best to seek the guidance and professional expertise of a registered tax agent, if you aren’t already.</p> <h2>What if I can’t afford a tax agent?</h2> <p>This year, many Australians are doing it tough. Indeed, research by the ASIC’s Moneysmart program estimates <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-06-04/asic-survey-millions-of-australians-facing-financial-difficulty/103926704">more than five million Australians</a> are in financial strife.</p> <p>Many people will find it hard to prioritise paying a registered tax agent when they cannot afford basic necessities like food.</p> <p>If you’re in this situation, you might find it useful to get in touch with a free financial counsellor via the <a href="https://ndh.org.au/">National Debt Helpline</a> or the <a href="https://sbdh.org.au/">Small Business Debt Helpline</a>.</p> <h2>Don’t procrastinate</h2> <p>Don’t put off doing your tax. If you’re behind, it might seem daunting to get back on track, especially if you think you’ll have to pay extra tax this year instead of getting a refund. But not lodging your returns will backfire. Like avoiding a trip to the doctor to get a skin check, the longer you wait, the more the problem will grow.</p> <p>Reaching out to the ATO is the key because they have tools to support you, including payment plans. It also shows the ATO that you are willing to comply. Ultimately, being up to date will save you fines, interest and penalties.</p> <p>If you are one of the <a href="https://theconversation.com/worried-youll-lodge-a-late-tax-return-at-least-80-000-australians-cant-afford-tax-advice-211267">80,000 Australians in serious hardship</a> who need but can’t afford professional help to complete and lodge overdue returns, the government-funded <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/General/Gen/National-Tax-Clinic-program/">National Tax Clinics Program</a> can help with free tax advice.<!-- 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/231693/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/ann-kayis-kumar-466422">Ann Kayis-Kumar</a>, Associate Professor Ann Kayis-Kumar is the Founding Director of UNSW Tax and Business Advisory Clinic, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</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/beware-of-tax-hacks-to-maximise-your-return-this-year-the-tax-office-is-taking-a-close-look-at-incorrect-claims-231693">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Money & Banking

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Super funds are using ‘nudges’ to help you make financial decisions. How do they work?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/fernanda-mata-1533222">Fernanda Mata</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/breanna-wright-267597">Breanna Wright</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/liam-smith-5152">Liam Smith</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a></em></p> <p>Late last year the federal government announced <a href="https://ministers.treasury.gov.au/ministers/stephen-jones-2022/media-releases/government-unveils-comprehensive-financial-advice">measures</a> to make it easier for Australians to access financial advice.</p> <p>As part of this, the government wants super funds to use “nudges” to get members to engage more with their retirement investments and superannuation, especially when they’re starting work and approaching retirement.</p> <p>While the legislation containing the changes is still in the consultation phase, super funds are <a href="https://www.afr.com/companies/financial-services/super-funds-spend-big-ahead-of-advice-reforms-20240418-p5fkx6">upskilling staff</a> and making other changes to improve customer service or risk a government crackdown.</p> <p>Telling funds to use <a href="https://www.behaviourworksaustralia.org/blog/nudging-what-is-it-and-how-can-we-use-it-forgood">nudge theory</a> to advise on super comes as more than five million Australians are heading towards retirement.</p> <h2>What is nudge theory?</h2> <p>Nudging is used to encourage people to pick the “better” option, without taking away their freedom to choose differently.</p> <p>For example, sending regular reminders to members about the benefits of voluntary contributions can get them to increase the amount they put in. This nudge makes it easier for them to contribute more – the better option – while still allowing them to choose not to.</p> <p>Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones <a href="https://ministers.treasury.gov.au/ministers/stephen-jones-2022/media-releases/government-unveils-comprehensive-financial-advice">explained</a> the government’s changes were needed because so-called “fin-fluencers” were providing unregulated financial advice on social media platforms to Australians unable to pay an adviser.</p> <h2>Helping people protect their interests</h2> <p>There are three ways, supported by research, nudges can help Australians engage with their super.</p> <p><strong>1. Future self visualisation</strong></p> <p>This involves getting young people to think about their <a href="https://www.halhershfield.com/considering-the-future-self">future selves</a> and visualise their life in retirement. This can help them to recognise the long-term benefits of getting actively involved with their super.</p> <p>Showing fund members how they might look when older by using an ageing filter software, for example, can make this visualisation more real for them and <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/23794607231190607">enhance understanding of their future selves, leading to higher engagement</a>.</p> <p><strong>2. Simplification</strong></p> <p>We all know financial products and superannuation can be complicated. The information and choices presented can lead to <a href="https://thedecisionlab.com/biases/choice-overload-bias">decision paralysis</a>, causing people to delay or opt out of making a decision. By simplifying the process, funds can motivate people to get more engaged with their super.</p> <p>To get people to make voluntary contributions, for example, it might be more effective for funds to recommend <a href="https://siepr.stanford.edu/news/how-simple-nudge-can-motivate-workers-save-retirement">a specific percentage of their salary</a> rather than offering several options. Deciding whether to boost contributions by an extra 3%, 4% or 5% can be overwhelming, especially for people with poor <a href="https://theconversation.com/are-you-financially-literate-here-are-7-signs-youre-on-the-right-track-202331">financial literacy</a>.</p> <p><strong>3. Language and framing</strong></p> <p>The way options are framed and the language super funds use can significantly impact member engagement.</p> <p>Australians may be more likely to make higher voluntary contributions if they are asked how much they want <a href="https://www.bi.team/press-releases/the-small-nudges-that-could-make-young-people-142000-better-off-in-retirement/">to “invest” in their super </a> instead of how much they want to “contribute” or “add”.</p> <p>The word “invest” encourages people to think about future benefits, motivating them to make higher contributions.</p> <p>How options are labelled can also have an impact on <a href="https://www.bi.team/press-releases/the-small-nudges-that-could-make-young-people-142000-better-off-in-retirement/">member engagement</a> and decision making.</p> <p>For example, highlighting concrete benefits of different voluntary payments, such as “a 4% contribution keeps you above the poverty line”, and “a 10% contribution allows for a comfortable retirement according to Australian standards” can increase how much people are willing to contribute.</p> <h2>Ethical use of nudges</h2> <p>The <a href="https://www.superreview.com.au/news/superannuation/industry-body-backs-super-fund-nudges-though-parameters-need-be-set">Financial Services Council</a> backs the government on getting super funds to nudge members about contributions and investments but says there are limits.</p> <p>Parameters around nudging should be set […] to ensure that the language is appropriate and does not ultimately amount to defaulting.</p> <p>For example, letting a customer know that as they approach retirement, they need to make a decision about what retirement product they wish to utilise would be an acceptable nudge, while contacting a customer to let them know that they will be placed in a product when they retire, would not necessarily be acceptable.</p> <p>The council emphasises the importance of super funds recognising <a href="https://www.superreview.com.au/news/superannuation/industry-body-backs-super-fund-nudges-though-parameters-need-be-set">people’s autonomy</a> when delivering a “soft” or “hard” nudge.</p> <p>Soft nudges are gentle prompts and reminders designed to guide people to make good choices without pressuring them, such as sending an email reminder to review their investment options. Hard nudges are more direct in their guidance. These might include recommending specific investment options.</p> <p>Despite these differences, <a href="https://www.behaviourworksaustralia.org/blog/can-we-have-a-quiet-word-about-behavioural-science">ethical use of nudges</a> should encourage engagement while respecting people’s autonomy by making it easy for them to opt out.</p> <p>The use of nudges presents a valuable opportunity to increase superannuation fund members’ engagement.</p> <p>Whether through future self visualisation, simplification or language framing, ethical nudges can motivate members to take action, leading to greater confidence in navigating the retirement transition and achieving retirement goals.<!-- 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/230404/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/fernanda-mata-1533222">Fernanda Mata</a>, Research Fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/breanna-wright-267597">Breanna Wright</a>, Research fellow, BehaviourWorks Australia, Monash Sustainable Development Institute, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/liam-smith-5152">Liam Smith</a>, Director, BehaviourWorks, Monash Sustainable Development Institute, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash 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/super-funds-are-using-nudges-to-help-you-make-financial-decisions-how-do-they-work-230404">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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"Rentirement": Bold new proposition for housing crisis

<p>Aussies over 67 are being urged to rent out their homes and retire overseas in a bold new housing proposition floated by Suburbtrends. </p> <p>The property sector market researchers said that “rentirement” is a viable solution to the nation’s current housing crisis, as it would open up  over 137,000 homes. </p> <p>Suburbtrends founder Kent Lardner said that current attempts of easing rental stress is not adequate enough.</p> <p>“While increasing housing supply is essential, it simply won’t come fast enough to address the immediate needs of renters.”</p> <p>Rentirement encourages those aged 67 to 77 to release their homes into the rental pool, and retire overseas, with Southeast Asia proposed as an ideal destination due to its significantly lower cost of living. </p> <p>“Our data shows that over 137,000 homes could be released into the rental market if just 10 per cent of the Rentirees cohort participated,” he said.</p> <p>“This represents a substantial untapped resource that could drastically ease rental pressures.”</p> <p>The initiative would offer a five-year moratorium on the loss of the primary place of residence benefit, which they believe this would be a “win-win” situation retirees, renters, and the government, as it could help provide more housing options.</p> <p>“Rentirees can enjoy a higher quality of life at a fraction of the cost, renters gain access to more housing, and the government can alleviate pressure on the housing market without significant expenditure,”  he said. </p> <p>Lardner added that “rentirement” would lead to an immediate influx of rental properties, stabilising prices and reducing vacancy rates.</p> <p>“We believe rentirement offers a practical and timely solution to Australia’s rental crisis,” he said. </p> <p>“It’s time to think outside the box and explore every avenue to ensure a stable, affordable housing market for all Australians.”</p> <p>This comes after PropTrack reported that there has been a drastic reduction in affordable rental homes, with the amount of rental properties costing less than $400 a week plummeting from 43.2 per cent at the start of the pandemic to just 10.4 per cent now.</p> <p><em>Image: Steve Tritton/ Shutterstock</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Trying to save money? Our research suggests paying in cash – while you still can

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lachlan-schomburgk-1535737">Lachlan Schomburgk</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-adelaide-1119">University of Adelaide</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/alex-belli-1538870">Alex Belli</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/arvid-o-i-hoffmann-1150527">Arvid O. I. Hoffmann</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-adelaide-1119">University of Adelaide</a></em></p> <p>Cash is in crisis. In Australia, it’s now only used for 16% of in-person transactions, down from <a href="https://www.rba.gov.au/publications/bulletin/2023/jun/cash-use-and-attitudes-in-australia.html">about 70%</a> in 2007.</p> <p>The situation is so dire that on Monday, independent federal MP Andrew Gee introduced a <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/saving-the-lobster-prawn-and-pineapple-mps-fight-to-force-shops-to-take-cash-20240603-p5jit4.html">private member’s bill</a> that would force businesses to accept cash or else face big fines.</p> <p>The reality is that over the past decade, technological advancements have utterly transformed the way we pay for goods and services.</p> <p>Phones and smartwatches can now easily be used to pay by card, and buy-now-pay-later schemes and cryptocurrency payments offer further alternatives.</p> <p>The shift away from cash only <a href="https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2022/06/29/covid-19-drives-global-surge-in-use-of-digital-payments">accelerated</a> throughout the COVID pandemic, as health experts recommended avoiding using it for hygiene reasons.</p> <p>Despite these big changes in <em>how</em> we spend money, Australians have perhaps been more focused on <em>how much</em> amid a stubborn cost-of-living crisis.</p> <p>In light of this, our research team wanted to investigate how our choice of payment method can interact with our actual spending habits.</p> <p>Our <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022435924000216#bib0104">latest research</a> offers a simple solution for anyone looking to save money — carry more cash!</p> <h2>We pay less when we pay cash</h2> <p>Drawing on both academic and industry sources, our research team combined the results from more than four decades of prior research on spending behaviour and payment methods into a large dataset.</p> <p>This data spanned 71 research papers, 17 countries, and more than 11,000 participants. State-of-the-art meta-analysis techniques then allowed us to collectively analyse the results from all these prior studies, and re-examine their insights.</p> <p>We found that cashless payments were indeed associated with higher levels of consumer spending compared to cash transactions, something that is referred to in the literature as the “cashless effect”.</p> <p>This cashless effect was consistent across all other payment methods in the data set.</p> <p>Put simply, it doesn’t matter whether you use a credit card, debit card or a buy-now-pay-later service – you are likely to spend more money using cashless methods than when you pay with cash.</p> <h2>The pain of paying</h2> <p>Under the traditional economic view that consumers behave rationally, there should be no differences in spending behaviour between different payment methods – money is money after all.</p> <p>But the existence of the cashless effect shows that the payment methods we use do indeed influence our spending behaviour.</p> <p>The leading theory to explain this effect attributes it to differences in the “pain of paying”, a concept <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/280711796_The_Pain_of_Paying">first coined in 1996</a> that describes the emotions we feel when spending money.</p> <p>Importantly, our choice of payment method can influence the level of pain felt.</p> <p>When paying with cash, we have to physically count out notes and coins and hand them over. Humans seek to avoid losses, and paying by cash sees us physically lose a tangible object.</p> <p>Conversely, nothing has to be handed over to pay cashlessly. We don’t lose anything tangible with a swipe or a tap, so it feels less painful.</p> <p>Preliminary neurological evidence suggests that the “pain of paying” isn’t just an abstract metaphor, and we may feel actual psychological pain with each transaction we make.</p> <p><a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2901808">Research</a> employing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans to observe brain activity in consumers has shown that paying activates brain regions related to experiencing psychological discomfort.</p> <p>Picture this: You’re at a theme park, excited for a fun day. You use your smartwatch to pay for snacks, souvenirs and rides. It’s all so convenient that you don’t realise how much you’re spending until you check your account later and see that you have completely blown your budget!</p> <p>This is the cashless effect in action − if nothing is physically handed over, it’s easy to lose track of how much is spent.</p> <h2>A great tool for budgeting – while it lasts</h2> <p>The cost of living crisis has made spending control front-of-mind for many people. Our meta-analysis suggests that returning to “cold hard cash” whenever possible could be one valuable tool to help.</p> <p>The increased friction felt when using cash could help people better control their money, even just by providing a moment to pause and consider whether a transaction is necessary.</p> <p>This could help individuals make more mindful decisions, saving money while they can in an increasingly cashless world.<!-- 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/231499/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/lachlan-schomburgk-1535737">Lachlan Schomburgk</a>, PhD Researcher in Marketing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-adelaide-1119">University of Adelaide</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/alex-belli-1538870">Alex Belli</a>, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/arvid-o-i-hoffmann-1150527">Arvid O. I. Hoffmann</a>, Professor of Marketing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-adelaide-1119">University of Adelaide</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/trying-to-save-money-our-research-suggests-paying-in-cash-while-you-still-can-231499">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Tourism Australia staff caught spending $140k of taxpayers' money on personal travel

<p>Three Tourism Australia employees have been fired after spending $137,441 of taxpayers' money for personal travel expenses, with the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) called in to investigate.  </p> <p>Tourism Australia is the government agency in charge of promoting Australia's tourism industry abroad. </p> <p>Tourism Australia chief executive Phillipa Harrison appeared before a Senate committee in Canberra on Tuesday and confirmed the breach of the agency’s travel policy. </p> <p>The spending  had been uncovered in October 2023 when the agency's own staff detected the misuse of funds and “immediately reported and escalated” it. </p> <p>“The three employees undertook personal travel that was booked through Tourism Australia’s corporate travel agent and was invoiced to Tourism Australia,” she told the committee. </p> <p>“Tourism Australia demanded that the three individuals repay the full amount of this travel.”</p> <p>She added that the full amount was repaid to Tourism Australia last December, and the three employees have since been sacked. </p> <p>Harrison also said that Deloitte was hired to do an extensive audit dating back to 2021 “to ensure that we understood the full extent of the issue” but “no further instances of wrongdoing were identified”.</p> <p>“Off the back of the audit I have overseen a strengthening of our travel policy processes to ensure the conduct cannot be repeated,” she said.</p> <p>Tourism Australia have referred the matter to the NACC and are awaiting a response. </p> <p>When asked by New South Wales Nationals senator Ross Cadell about the identities of the staff and whether the agency's chief financial officer was among those involved, she replied: "The NACC has advised me that I'm unable to provide the further details on the roles and the people involved until they have finished their investigations." </p> <p>"To do so may compromise current or potential investigations, and prematurely impact the reputations of individuals in circumstances where the legislation enacted by parliament intends to avoid that by requiring that investigations, generally, be conducted in private and that information concerning them is not to be disclosed."</p> <p>She took a question on notice about how many trips were booked by the staff and the destinations for the travel. </p> <p>Her refusal to answer the questions caught the senator off-guard and he said: “I am shooketh, shaken, by not being able to ask these questions,” before calling a short suspension to discuss the concerns. </p> <p>On return, she officially claimed “public interest immunity” and was told she had to outline the situation in writing. </p> <p>"I have to say, this is the first time in my experience where a direction from the NACC has directed an official not to make a public statement," Tourism and Trade Minister Don Farrell said. </p> <p>"This does present some significant issues which I myself would like to get clarified.</p> <p>"You and I both voted for this legislation and obviously this is how it's being applied. The witness, obviously, has to comply with the direction of the NACC, she has no choice."</p> <p>The matter has not been referred to authorities. </p> <p><em>Image: Tourism Australia/ news.com.au</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Australia's most trusted brands for 2024 revealed

<p>Despite the rise in cost-of-living, there are some brands that Aussies continue to have confidence in, and are willing to spend their money on. </p> <p>Over 4,000 Australians were surveyed by market research agency Catalyst, who were commissioned by Reader's Digest, and they were asked to choose the brands they trusted the most across nearly 70 different categories. </p> <p>"It's been a very challenging few years, but ultimately our category winners share a key common trait," Catalyst Research director Cameron Gentle said.</p> <p>"They consistently deliver on their promise. People have an expectation of what they're going to get, and the particular product or organisation delivers what they're after. Time and again."</p> <p>The survey, now in its 25th year, has crowned Bunnings as the ‘most iconic’ retailer and the fourth most trusted brand. </p> <p>Other noteworthy winners include Singapore Airlines for the most trusted brand to fly with, Panadol for pain relief, and Toyota for cars. </p> <p>Dettol was ultimately crowned the most trusted brand, earning the number one spot. </p> <p>"Since its humble beginnings in 1935, when Dettol Antiseptic Liquid was used as a post-surgery antiseptic skin wash in hospitals, Dettol has evolved to become the trusted brand in germ protection around the home," Readers Digest wrote.</p> <p><strong>Check out the list of Australia's top 20 most trusted brands below: </strong></p> <p>20. Yates</p> <p>19. Finish</p> <p>18. Lipton</p> <p>17. Woolworths</p> <p>16. Weet-bix</p> <p>15. Selleys</p> <p>14. Glen 20</p> <p>13. Dairy Farmers</p> <p>12. Royal Flying Doctors Service</p> <p>11. Weber</p> <p>10. Bega</p> <p>9. Toyota</p> <p>8. Panadol</p> <p>7. Bridgestone</p> <p>6. Cancer Council</p> <p>5. Dulux</p> <p>4. Bunnings</p> <p>3. Cadbury</p> <p>2. Band-Aid</p> <p>1. Dettol</p> <p><em>Image: Trusted Brands</em></p>

Money & Banking

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

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

Money & Banking

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Millions of Aussies set for pay rise

<p>Millions of Aussies are in line for a boost on July 1, with the Fair Work Commission set to hand down their decision on minimum pay rates on Monday morning. </p> <p>The workplace umpire's annual wage review, which affects minimum and award wage earners, is expected to hand down an increase of between 3.5 per cent and 4 per cent on the pay rate of $23.23 an hour.</p> <p>These wage increases factor in economic conditions and broader goals such as closing the gender pay gap. </p> <p>A substantial boost was handed out last year - 5.75 per cent for awards and 8.6 per cent for the national minimum - with the commission basing their decision on factors like low unemployment, falling wages and high inflation.</p> <p>The Albanese government has submitted that it would prefer the “real wages of Australia’s low-paid workers do not go backwards." </p> <p>“We want to see strong and sustainable wages growth because we see this as part of the solution to the cost-of-living challenge, not part of the problem,” Treasurer Jim Chalmers said ahead of the decision.</p> <p>No number was specified but they are advocating to an increase which keeps up with inflation, which was at 4.1 per cent annually in the March quarter. </p> <p>In their submission, the government also said that tax relief due to kick in mid-year should not be viewed as a replacement to a wage boost. </p> <p>Meanwhile, peak employee representative the ACTU, has advocated for an increase of 5 per cent, arguing that workers affected by the cost-of-living pressures deserve a hike to their pay. </p> <p>Australian Industry Group has proposed a wage increase of 2.8 per cent, warning that an excessive pay boost could increase the risk of job losses, as the economy is slowing and labour market is weakening. </p> <p>Economists have also warned that an increase of over 4 per cent could further complicate the Reserve Bank’s efforts in fighting inflation, which  have already slugged borrowers with 13 rate hikes in the last two years. </p> <p>But AMP chief economist Shane Oliver said that an increase of at or just below 4 per cent, could help the RBA return inflation back to its target band of two to three per cent. </p> <p>“A rise around 4 per cent would give workers a real wage rise, it’s not so high as to add to the risk of a wage price spiral, … and in line with the rough assessment that 4 per cent wages growth is consistent with 2 per cent to 3 per cent inflation.”</p> <p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p> <p> </p>

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Australia can afford to bulk bill all GP visits. So why don’t we?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/yuting-zhang-1144393">Yuting Zhang</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/karinna-saxby-1045932">Karinna Saxby</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p>Being able to afford health care is a <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/media-centre/media-releases/more-people-putting-seeing-health-professionals-due-cost">pressing issue</a> for many Australians. And encouraging GPs to bulk bill is <a href="https://theconversation.com/cheaper-medicines-and-a-new-approach-for-mental-health-care-will-the-budget-make-us-healthier-229612">one measure</a> the government is taking to ease the strain.</p> <p>So what would it take for GPs to bulk bill everyone? In our <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1467-8462.12553">recent paper</a>, we calculated this is possible and affordable, given the current health budget.</p> <p>But we show recent incentives for GPs to bulk bill aren’t enough to get us there.</p> <p>Instead, we need to adjust health policies to increase bulk-billing rates and to make our health system more sustainable.</p> <h2>How do the incentives work?</h2> <p>In recent years, the government has introduced various incentives to try and encourage GPs to bulk bill (so patients pay nothing out-of-pocket).</p> <p>The most recent has been the “<a href="https://www.health.gov.au/our-work/increases-to-bulk-billing-incentive-payments#1-november-2023-changes">triple bulk-billing incentives</a>” or “triple bonus” for short. These have been in place since November 2023.</p> <p>Under these incentives, GPs in metropolitan areas are paid a A$20.65 bonus if they bulk bill concession card holders or children under 16 years. GPs in rural and remote areas are paid $31.35-$39.65 extra. These bonus payments are in addition to regular Medicare rebates GPs receive.</p> <p>But when we looked at whether these latest incentives are likely to work to boost bulk billing, we found a city-country divide.</p> <h2>City GPs may not be convinced</h2> <p>We worked out the triple bonus will not help most people in metropolitan areas.</p> <p>That’s because in these areas the bonus is much lower than what patients currently pay out-of-pocket. In other words, if GPs did bulk bill these groups, their income would be lower than what they could have charged. So the bonus wouldn’t be enough incentive for them to bulk bill.</p> <p>For example, we found in greater Melbourne, the average out-of-pocket costs for a non-bulk billed GP visit <a href="https://melbourneinstitute.unimelb.edu.au/research/HALE-Hub/data">is about</a> $30-$56 depending on the suburb. This is much higher than the $20.65 triple bonus amount in metropolitan regions. We see similar patterns across all metropolitan areas.</p> <h2>But country GPs may be swayed</h2> <p>The picture is different in rural and remote areas. Here, the average out-of-pocket cost for a non-bulk billed GP visit <a href="https://melbourneinstitute.unimelb.edu.au/research/HALE-Hub/data">varies substantially</a> – around $28-52 in rural regions and $32-123 in remote areas. The highest cost on the mainland was $79 but GP visits on Lord Howe Island were the most expensive overall, at $123.</p> <p>For patients living in areas where their actual payment is less than the bonus amount, the incentive does help. In other words, it would be financially advantageous for GPs to bulk bill these patients, but not where the out-of-pocket costs are higher than the bonus.</p> <p>Our <a href="https://melbourneinstitute.unimelb.edu.au/research/HALE-Hub/data">online map</a> shows where GPs are most likely to bulk bill. The map below shows how out-of-pocket costs vary around Australia.</p> <p><iframe id="SPzgj" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/SPzgj/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <h2>How about bulk billing for all?</h2> <p>The picture is a little more complex when we start talking about bulk billing all GP visits – regardless of location or patients’ concession card status.</p> <p>We worked out this would cost about $950 million a year for all GP services, or $700 million a year for face-to-face GP consultations.</p> <p>This is within reach under the current budget, especially for face-to-face GP consultations.</p> <p>The government has earmarked <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/ministers/the-hon-mark-butler-mp/media/budget-2023-24-building-a-stronger-medicare#:%7E:text=%243.5%20billion%20in%20bulk%20billing,40%2Dyear%20history%20of%20Medicare">$3.5 billion</a> over <a href="https://archive.budget.gov.au/2023-24/bp2/download/bp2_2023-24.pdf">five years</a> for the “triple bonus” incentives. That’s $700 million a year.</p> <h2>We can afford to, but should we?</h2> <p>Introducing free GP visits for all would require careful consideration, as it would encourage more GP visits.</p> <p>This might be a good thing, particularly if people had previously skipped beneficial care <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/media-centre/media-releases/more-people-putting-seeing-health-professionals-due-cost">due to high costs</a>. However, it may encourage more people to see their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1574006400801675">GP unnecessarily</a>, taking away limited resources from those who really need them. This could ultimately increase wait times for everyone.</p> <p>So providing free GP visits for all may not be efficient or sustainable, even if it’s within the budget.</p> <p>But paying more than $50 for a GP visit, as many do, seems too expensive and also makes the health-care system less efficient.</p> <p>That’s because primary care is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/primary-health-care">often considered</a> high-value and preventive care. So if people can’t afford to go to the GP, it can lead to more expensive hospital and emergency room costs down the track.</p> <p>So we need to strike a balance to make primary care more affordable <em>and</em> sustainable.</p> <h2>How do we strike a balance?</h2> <p>One, concession card holders and children should get free primary care regardless of where they live. This would allow more equitable care to populations who need health care the most. Bulk bulling children is a <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S016726812200292X#:%7E:text=Beside%20the%20benefits%20for%20the,and%20Kuh%2C%202002%3B%20Centers%20for">long-term investment</a>, which may delay onset of diseases, and prevent intergenerational poverty and poor health.</p> <p>Two, the government could also provide free primary care to all people in rural and remote areas. It can do this by lowering the triple bonus to match what GPs currently charge. Over time, GPs and the government can evaluate and <a href="https://www.auspublaw.org/blog/2023/4/the-civil-conscription-sub-clause-in-section-51xxiiia-of-the-australian-constitution-no-impediment-to-reform-of-medicare">negotiate</a> fair prices for GPs to charge. This can be adjusted in line with inflation and other measures.</p> <p>Three, the government can increase Medicare rebates (the amount Medicare pays a doctor for a GP visit) so patients not covered above only pay about $20-30 a visit. We consider this an affordable amount that will not result in more use of primary care than necessary.</p> <p>Four, the government can design a policy to reduce unnecessary GP visits that take away limited GP time from high-need patients. For example, patients currently need to see GPs to get <a href="https://theconversation.com/specialist-referral-rules-havent-changed-much-since-the-70s-but-australias-health-needs-sure-have-144506">referral letters</a> although they already have an established specialist for their ongoing chronic conditions.</p> <p>Five, the government can provide GPs funding needed to improve patient outcomes and reward GPs who provide <a href="https://bmjopenquality.bmj.com/content/10/1/e001127.abstract">high-quality preventive care</a>. The current fee-for-service funding model hurts good doctors who keep their patients healthy because doctors are not paid if their patients do not come back.<!-- 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/230204/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/yuting-zhang-1144393"><em>Yuting Zhang</em></a><em>, Professor of Health Economics, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/karinna-saxby-1045932">Karinna Saxby</a>, Research Fellow, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</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/australia-can-afford-to-bulk-bill-all-gp-visits-so-why-dont-we-230204">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Money & Banking

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Donald Trump facing jail after guilty verdict

<p>Former US president Donald Trump is facing the possibility of jail time after being found guilty on all 34 counts of a hush money trial in New York. </p> <p>Trump was found to be unanimously guilty by the jury on Thursday afternoon, making him the first former US President with a criminal conviction.</p> <p>In the New York courtroom, he was accused of 34 counts of fraud by falsifying business records to cover up payments of $200,000 ($US130,000) to adult star Stormy Daniels.</p> <p>It was reported that Mr Trump wanted to buy her silence about an alleged extramarital sexual encounter which was in danger of becoming public knowledge in the run up to the 2016 US Presidential election.</p> <p>While paying hush money to cover up a potentially damning story isn't illegal, Trump's falsifying of business records to bury the payments is a criminal offence in the state of New York. </p> <p>Mr Trump, 77, denied a sexual encounter with Ms Daniels took place and denied all the charges.</p> <p>After the guilty verdict was handed down, Trump spoke to reporters outside the courtroom, saying the trial was “rigged” and a “disgrace”.</p> <p>“This was a rigged trial by a conflicted judge who is corrupt,” he said.</p> <p>“The real verdict is going to be November 5 by the people and they know what happened here and everybody knows what happened here.”</p> <p>He insisted “we didn’t do anything wrong”.</p> <p>“I’m a very innocent man and it’s OK, I’m fighting for our country, I’m fighting for our Constitution,” he said.</p> <p>A sentencing hearing has been set for July 11th, just four days before the Republican National Convention, when the party will officially nominate him for President ahead of the election in November.</p> <p>He faces a minimum of probation and a maximum of up to four years in prison.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-46607c99-7fff-4305-1a14-3fd4a2e9d2b3"><em>Image credits: Justin Lane/UPI/Shutterstock Editorial</em> </span></p>

Legal

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Dad forced to live in tent amid housing crisis

<p>An Aussie dad is the latest to fall victim to the housing crisis, with soaring rent and low vacancy rates forcing him to live in a tent. </p> <p>Peter Woodforde, 58, has been forced to live makeshift gazebo wrapped in tarps that's set up in an Adelaide park, and while his children know that he is doing it tough, they don't know that he is homeless and living in a tent. </p> <p>The father has yet to tell his kids, who live with their mother, that he's unable to find a suitable place to live as he said that they would be distraught if they found out. </p> <p>He admitted his 15-year-old daughter once told him that it "hurt her" to know her dad was struggling to find a comfortable place to live - but she doesn't know the extent of it. </p> <p>Speaking to <em>7News</em>, Woodforde said it's been difficult not being able to offer his kids a place to sleep. </p> <p>“Every parent wants to give their kids everything they possibly can and wants to give them the best chance of having a good life,” he told the publication. </p> <p>“What I say to them is that this is only temporary, Dad will get back on his feet.</p> <p>“(But) you’re missing out on some golden years ... I help where I can, I might pick them up and drop them off from school, but now they’re too far for me to do that,” he added. </p> <p>"I have to get myself off the street. I have to get my family into a house." </p> <p>Woodforde is sharing his story because he believes that homelessness is in a “state of emergency”,  especially with winter approaching. </p> <p>He is also unsure about whether his makeshift tent will collapse when heavier rain hits, and hopes that more could be done to help these people facing desperate circumstances. </p> <p>“We’re coming into the colder months - what’s the bill going to be for all the health problems that are going to arise out of this?" he said. </p> <p><em>Images: 7News</em></p> <p> </p>

Money & Banking

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New study reveals people who do this daily make more money over their lifetimes

<p>You’ve heard that regular exercise can help you live richly. Frequent movement, even in short bursts throughout the day, has been linked to lower all-cause mortality rates and reduced risk of heart disease, type-2 diabetes and other age-related conditions, helping you age healthfully and stay independent.</p> <p>Now, new research suggests frequent exercise might help you live well in another meaningful way; in terms of income. In a recent study published in the journal Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, doctors from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), which is part of the National Institute of Health (NIH), investigated whether individuals who stayed active would earn more money as a result of their active lifestyle.</p> <p>The researchers’ findings revealed that staying active not only resulted in higher present earnings, but also predicted increased future income throughout one’s life. In essence, the science was clear: Getting more exercise could make you wealthier.</p> <h2>How exercise predicted future earnings</h2> <p>The researchers set out to explore three key correlations: How mobility affected income, how mobility influenced income over time, and whether exercise could help people maintain their mobility as they aged.</p> <p>The team analysed data from the US-federally-supported Health and Retirement Study (HRS), the largest study tracking changes over time in Americans aged 50 and above. This comprehensive study takes into account various life aspects, including work, socio-economic status, health, psychology and family matters, as individuals age.</p> <p>To assess the impact of current mobility on income, the researchers examined data from over 19,000 respondents to determine how well they could perform simple tasks, such as walking several blocks, climbing multiple flights of stairs, or moving around a room. Each person received a numerical score, with 5 indicating full mobility and 0 indicating difficulties with these tasks.</p> <h2>What earnings over time revealed</h2> <p>The researchers found that for each decrease in the mobility category, individuals lost out on an average of US$3000 in annual income compared to their peers. Those who were active were also significantly more likely to remain working for longer than the other group. It appeared that engaging in exercise enabled individuals to maintain mobility and engage in professional life for a longer period of time than those who were less active.</p> <p>Looking at earnings over time revealed even more substantial benefits for those who remained active throughout their lives. Active individuals showed an overall income level that was US$6500 higher, along with higher rates of employment.</p> <p>For the third part of the study, it’s not surprising that those who engaged in exercise continued to maintain their mobility after the age of 55 and had higher employment rates. Even exercising just one day a week showed improvements in mobility outcomes.</p> <h2>Moving more benefits more than just health</h2> <p>While this study doesn’t definitively prove that leading a healthy lifestyle directly leads to higher earnings, it strongly suggests that staying healthy and mobile brings benefits beyond just lower levels of disease (which is a type of wealth in and of itself). NIAMS Director Lindsey A. Criswell, M.D., M.P.H., underscores this point: “We have long understood that greater mobility is an important indicator of good health … The notion that mobility can have economic rewards further extends the evidence for the benefits of exercise and maintaining an active lifestyle.”</p> <p>If this science inspires you to make a healthy lifestyle change, speak with a licensed healthcare provider to determine the right exercise programme for you.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/money/new-study-reveals-people-who-do-this-daily-make-more-money-over-their-lifetimes" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>.</em> </p>

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David Beckham's incredible offer for 'stealing' couple's wedding venue

<p>David Beckham has reportedly made a huge offer to a couple in a bid to steal the venue from them. </p> <p>The couple had booked the luxury resort Gleneagles in Scotland, UK for their dream wedding, but the football legend - who has reportedly been busy hunting for the perfect location to celebrate his 50th birthday - also wanted to book the venue to mark the milestone birthday. </p> <p>According to <em><a href="https://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/david-beckham-steals-couples-wedding-32864115" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Mirror</a>,</em> Beckham has apparently convinced the couple to move their wedding date and venue by helping them pay off their wedding and a few other special offers. </p> <p>A “friend of a friend” took to X, to share the claim this week. </p> <p>“A friend of a friend is getting married at Gleneagles next year but David Beckham wants the date for his 50th, so to get the friend to move it so he can have the hotel, Gleneagles are paying for their new wedding date, honeymoon AND paying off their mortgage … the power of Becks," user Ollienarrator wrote in a tweet. </p> <p>Fans of Beckham praised the football legend for being so generous. </p> <p>“OMG!!!! That’s absolutely wild! Ah but so worth it,” wrote one person. </p> <p>“What a wedding present!” added another, to which the original poster responded:  “I bet Beckham won’t have to pay either! But yeah, mortgage paid off will do!” </p> <p><em>The Mirror</em> reported that they have contacted Beckham's representatives for a comment. </p> <p><em>Image: Ryan Browne/ Shutterstock Editorial</em></p> <p> </p>

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Gina Rinehart's financial advice for Anthony Albanese

<p>Gina Rinehart has offered some free and unsolicited financial advice to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in the wake of his divisive Federal Budget. </p> <p>Australia's richest woman, who has no experience in politics, suggested cutting the fuel excise and halting immigration would have a greater positive impact on the economy, as opposed to the Albanese government's measures to curb the cost of living. </p> <p>Rinehart has been critical of the $300 handout to combat energy bills regardless of household income, and believes that a big-spending budget is not the best way forward.</p> <p>Rather than tax Australians more to hand the money out again through handouts and welfare, she said lower taxes overall was a better way forward.</p> <p>Ms Rinehart said cutting fuel tax, which the government has rejected as too expensive, was one option.</p> <p>“I have advocated strongly for the government to directly reduce costs of living for Australians by cutting their fuel excise taxes, which would spread not only to car users, but all products that require transport,’’ she told <a href="https://www.news.com.au/finance/economy/australian-economy/gina-rinehart-tells-anthony-albanese-to-cut-fuel-excise-migration/news-story/bb84ef69e8a19506e7e3ae3e1f678e7c" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>news.com.au</em></a>.</p> <p>“I have also advocated for cutting other taxes, payroll tax, stamp duty and license fees, that not only would bring down the cost of living, but were supposed to have been cut when GST was introduced decades ago."</p> <p>“Big spending, big government costs all (which I advocate against), and adds to the costs of living."</p> <p>“Recycling taxes paid is very inefficient, the taxpayer is actually better off paying less tax, and spending their income as they prefer.”</p> <p>Ms Rinehart, who has racked up a net worth of over $46.5 billion AUD through her investments into mining, has previously suggested a better way is to cut taxes and allow people to keep more of what they earn.</p> <p>“To help people suffering the most on low incomes, such as veterans, pensioners and uni students, if the government really cared about these fellow Australians struggling with high costs, they would remove the onerous government paperwork and their unfair limits on pensioners, veterans and students working hours, each of whom face higher effective tax rates than me if they choose to work above a very small threshold of hours,’’ she said.</p> <p>“Letting Australians who want to work, work, would be not only better for those Australians and their families, but would save the need for the government’s very expensive policy of hugely increased immigration, to allegedly bring in more workers.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Darren England/EPA-EFE & LUKAS COCH/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock Editorial</em></p> <p> </p>

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Telstra announces thousands of job losses

<p>Telstra is set to axe 2,800 jobs, or 9 percent of their total workforce, by the end of 2024 in a bid to save a whopping $350 million. </p> <p>The telco giant announced that the job cuts would "begin immediately" as a result of the impending business "reset" strategy. </p> <p>Chief executive officer Vicki Brady announced the cuts on Tuesday, and said the job cuts were "difficult" but "necessary" as parts of Telstra were not performing to the required levels.</p> <div> <div>"We need to be a more efficient and sustainable business to ensure we can keep investing at the levels required to meet the ever-increasing demand for our connectivity and services for our customers right across the country," she said.</div> </div> <p>Ms Brady also assured Telstra customers that the job losses would not affect customer service teams. </p> <p>“We have invested significantly in our customer service over recent years. That includes on-shoring our call centres for consumer and small business customers, it includes buying back our stores to deliver consistently good experience,” she said.</p> <p>“None of these changes impact those commitments." </p> <p>“As we work through the further changes still to come that I expect to be able to share with our employees in mid-July, customer service and experience will continue to be a key priority in that.”</p> <p>Despite Ms Brady's claims, Communication Workers Union (CWU) National Assistant Secretary, James Perkins, who represents Telstra workers said there was no way the substantial job cuts would not affect services.</p> <p>“While the detail of where exactly these jobs are being cut from is still unclear, one thing is certain – it will have a devastating impact on services,” Mr Perkins said. </p> <p>“You can’t slash thousands of jobs without seriously impacting the delivery of services across the country. Telstra has to answer to this.”</p> <p>The job cuts come as Telstra continues to scale up AI adoption, after the company announced in February it was expanding two in-house developed generative AI solutions following “promising pilots with frontline team members, enabling faster and more successful interactions with customers”.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p>

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