Monday, July 23, 2012

Tax, super and you resource

"Tax, Super + You"  is a new and recently launched resource from the ATO designed to help high school students understand Australia's tax and superannuation systems.
As individuals, we all have our aspirations – a desire to make money, to achieve success in life and maybe raise a family. But no matter how successful we are as individuals, we all rely upon others because we are part of a community.
The basic goods and services that we all need – schools, roads, hospitals and social services – are available because we have all contributed to the tax system to provide government with the funds they need to deliver these services on our behalf. 
Regardless of what you want to do in life, you need to understand the tax system. You do not have to be a tax lawyer or an accountant but you need to understand your obligations – paying your tax is a serious matter, regardless of what area of employment you end up in.
-- the Assistant Treasurer the Honourable David Bradbury MP, during the program launch at MacGregor State High School
I was never taught financial literacy during my school years. Whilst still far from perfect, I think my financial literacy is generally passable these days, thanks to more than a decade in the workforce, doing my own tax returns, engaging the services of a financial advisor, making some pretty big mistakes (some of which I was able to recover from), and time spent dealing with the tax and superannuation systems in the course of my employment.

I can't recommend more highly the the benefit of starting this aspect of education earlier. If you think your knowledge in these areas is lacking but you're past your high school days, fear not as you can still access the material by registering here as a member of the public, and you can also take a preview and sample one of the lessons without registering.

One of the first things you are presented with is this perhaps sobering statement:
You have a legal responsibility to know what taxes you are liable to pay. You can't claim, 'I didn't know I had to pay tax on it'. The Australian income tax system relies on taxpayers self-assessing, which means you are responsible for working out how much you need to declare and can claim on your tax return.
Check it out.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

food truck dining

food trucks - not the kind like these that bring/sell breakfast/morning tea/lunch fare to workplaces (sometimes known as smoko vans), but the more gourmet versions helmed by the likes of ex-restaurant level chefs, typically selling a fairly limited menu of items. there's one in brisbane that i know of, the bun mobile, but i've not yet tried it. there are a few more options in melbourne and sydney, and when this type of dining option becomes more mainstream, (who have recently added brisbane/the bun mobile to its coverage) will probably be the best place to track them all down and find out, well where they're at!

Image source: FaceBook's photos of The Bun Mobile
btw the bun mobile's offerings are essentially what's known in singapore as a kong bak bao (扣肉包 or chinese braised pork burger), but with a twist on the fillings available. well if you have to copy an idea, might as well copy a good one, cos a good kong bak bao is quite the mouthful of deliciousness ;)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

how safe is your email password?

another day, another piece of news about the leaking of email account passwords. this time it's a yahoo server that's been hacked, but the leak includes addresses from gmail and hotmail among other domains.

the security company involved have created a tool where you can check to see if your address was involved in the leak -

for a more general check to see if your password is known to have been compromised, go to some would argue that you should change your password every so often anyway, and this is certainly the requirement in many workplaces. however others argue that such policies either offer no benefits, or actually reduces security - see for example this discussion on an IT security professionals website.

at the very least, use a strong password, and consider using a password manager to help you manage all the various strong passwords you have around the place. i use UPM - universal password manager, and have found it suitable for my needs.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Union Shopper - what you, I and they all need to know

NB minor edit/updated 20160329 

it's been a while since i mentioned union shopper. (it's also been a while since i blogged, but that's another story.) i've used it recently to help friends buy a fridge and an oven, with some pretty nice savings each time, eg $113 saved last week on an oven that retails for around $600+ (i'm not supposed to quote the actual prices i get from union shopper, hence i'm not giving the exact figures).

anyway, to save me the trouble of repeating this in future, if i'm doing you the favour of trying to save you some money through the union shopper electrical buying service, i'll direct you to this post so that you'll know what i need to know from you, in order to submit an enquiry:
Product type?



(eg white, black, s/steel) / other options (eg for fridge, left/right/double hinge, freezer top/bottom mount, etc)

Other product type specific details? (eg for oven, runs on: electric / gas; type: single / double / portable)

Is item urgent (ie check for available stock)? When do you need it by?

Best price?

Is best price for pickup or delivery? 
From store (name & suburb)?

Choose preferred payment method: American Express / Bank Card / Cash / Cheque / Diners Club / Direct Deposit / EFTPOS / Mastercard / Money Order / Visa

Delivery address? (full, including suburb, state and postcode)

Contact person name and number?

Are you committed to purchase the item if Union Shopper finds a lower price?
a few more things to note before you proceed:
  • this is not a price enquiry service, but a shopping service designed to try to help you save money on something you've already decided to buy. so you need to be committed to purchasing the item assuming union shopper can source a lower price.
  • they'll respond within 4 business hours with an outcome (ie. either a cheaper price, or that they can't beat your best price).
  • assuming they can get a cheaper price, i confirm with union shopper that i want to place an order, they'll pass the order details to the supplier who gave the lowest price. i will not know who the supplier is until they contact me.
  • the supplier contacts me to arrange payment and delivery if required - at this point i'll request they contact you directly, and if possible note your name and address somewhere on the invoice (this might be just a comment). if for any reason this is not possible, i may need to pay for the item first, in which case you will need to reimburse me promptly.
  • this service does not cater for extended warranties (ie. pricing is for product only, plus delivery if required), nor installation (ie. delivery is just that). there is no scope for me to include these details at the enquiry stage; the winning supplier may offer one or both, however i cannot be certain until the supplier contacts me (which only happens after i confirm with union shopper that i want to place your order).
happy shopping :)