10 Things To Consider Before Purchasing a House

Photo: Under creative commons license: Flickr

Photo: Under creative commons license: Flickr

Purchasing a home is a big decision that should not be taken lightly. To help you get started, below is a list of things to consider before taking the plunge.

1. What Can You Afford?

Before you even start to consider purchasing a house, you have to make sure it’s something you can afford to do. Have your finances assessed by an accountant or financial consultant to find out what your price range will be.

2. Home Loans

Every bank or financial institution has different loans to suit different needs and incomes. Many banks, such as Heritage Bank, also provide prospective customers with convenient and practical home loan calculators. These calculators will take into account factors such as the loan amount, loan term, loan type, frequency of repayment, stamp duty, and insurance, giving you a clear indication of what your repayments will look like. Click here to discover more.

3. The Return

It is not a smart move to dive in without considering what the real estate market is like. This is only the first part of it though, as you also need to consider what the return on investment will be like 10, 20, or 30 years down the track.

4. Work with Professionals

As much as your parents’ advice is worth considering, the best advice you will receive is from someone who deals with house purchases every day. This includes an established real estate agency, and a financial consultant or accountant.

5. The Reason for Purchasing

Why are you buying this house in the first place? Knowing the answer to this question will help in narrowing down your search in regards to location, size and price. Consider whether you actually want to live in this house or if you simply want to buy the house as an investment.

6. What Your Needs Are

This refers to what your needs are now, as well as what your needs will be in the future. You need to consider space if you plan on having a family, as well as what the location is like. Is it safe? Is it close to schools?

7. The Neighbourhood

The neighbourhood is a vital component to consider before purchasing a house. It is worth researching neighbourhood information online for any future council developments or issues with the location.

8. Negotiating

If you’re like most people, the thought of negotiating on the costs of something as substantial as a house can be quite intimidating. You should feel in control of this decision at all times. Agents may negotiate for you, but they probably aren’t going to push as hard for it as you will.

9. Find Problems Early

Just because a house looks good on the surface doesn’t mean this is the case all the way to its foundations. Take the time to assess any possible issues the house may have, including mould, termite damage and water pressure. Everything counts when it comes to the final dollar amount exchanged.

10. Test It

Everyone has their own needs when it comes to what they expect from a home, and it’s important to tick these boxes. Visit the home at different times to understand what its surroundings are like; test the commute to work; and see what community activities or amenities are close by.

Research is of course the most important thing to do before purchasing a home, and doing this extensively in regards to the tips above will put you on the right track.

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4 Things You Must Have For A Day On The Water

Photo Jet Ski Bribie Island - Creative Commons JAM Project

Photo Jet Ski Bribie Island – Creative Commons JAM Project

Everyone loves a day out on the water! The sun, the surf, food, drinks and friends… It all combines to create some fantastic memories. The water is so ingrained in many cultures that it’s quite common for people to spend days on the water – or even live on it (e.g. in a houseboat). If you’re new to the scene or just need a refresher, here’s a checklist of the things you’ll want to have on hand next time you hit the beach, ocean or lake.

1. Entertainment

What’s the point of going on the water if you can’t enjoy it? There are plenty of ways to have fun. Paragliding, jet skiing, surfing, and fishing all provide great thrills. If skimming through the water on a motored vehicle sounds like a dream come true, for example, be sure to pick up a top-notch jet ski from a store such as JSW Powersports before you head out. There’s a myriad of ways to have fun while out on the water; do your research and see which activities you’d like to pursue for your next voyage.

2. Water

This is probably the most important necessity that you’ll need to bring with you when going out on the water. While it may be all around you, ensure you bring enough of the drinking variety with you to prevent dehydration. When out on the water, the sun is beating down on you and water is lost more rapidly through sweating and other general physical activity. Drinking alcohol on board can also exacerbate dehydration, so stock up on plenty of extra water if you’re planning to have a few beers or champagnes.

3. Sun Screen

Another necessity in the hot sun, sunscreen is an absolute must-have. Not only will it prevent you getting burnt, but it can also prevent health problems like skin cancer. There are many different varieties out there on the market, for all types of skin and in many different strengths. Make sure you get the correct one for your skin type and at the strongest SPF rating possible. Overexposure to sun can result in many health issues, so combine your layer of sun screen with protective clothing and seek shade whenever possible.

4. Emergency Materials

It’s an unfortunate reality, but sometimes not all goes well once out on the water. Bad weather, rowdy passengers, marauding wildlife and sporting accidents can all occur without warning. It’s therefore imperative that emergency materials are stored on board at all times. This can include emergency flares, a radio, torches and other lights, life jackets and perhaps an inflatable raft. All of these items are relatively compact and can be stored in various places on board. If you haven’t been on that specific vessel before, it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with the location of these items before departing.

Spending a day on the water can be a lot of fun! Before you depart, make sure you have compiled a checklist of all the items you will need when you are on board. Entertainment items, emergency provisions, water and sunscreen are four things you must have on that list.

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The Top 5 Fishing Locations in Australia

Photo: Fraser Mummery Creative Commons License

Photo: Fraser Mummery Creative Commons License

Australia’s gorgeous coastline has made fishing one of the most popular activities in the country. There are so many fishing locations throughout Australia offering freshwater or saltwater fishing. Pack your fishing gear and head out to explore the best locations to reel in a giant catch.

1. Port Lincoln, South Australia

Whether you choose to jump on a charter boat or fish from one of the jetties, Port Lincoln is a haven for fishing action. Giant yellowtail kingfish, blue gropers, snappers and tuna are all found in these waters. Before you venture out to enjoy some fantastic fishing, stock up on the highest-quality tackle and equipment if you are hoping to reel in these bad boys. A store like MOTackle can assist you in matching the right equipment with the type of fishing you are planning to do; click here to see the range of saltwater and freshwater tackle available.

2. Weipa, North Queensland

Marlin, giant trevally, mangrove jack and barramundi are just some of the fish you can be lucky enough to catch on a fishing trip to Weipa. At some 2,400km from Brisbane, a trip to Weipa is not usually done on a whim. But planning a fishing trip to the northern-most regions of Queensland is worth it to experience inshore coasts, offshore reefs and five river systems. July and August are popular times to visit, perfectly timed to get away from the cold conditions of the southern states.

3. Exmouth, Western Australia

Located in the northern region of Western Australia, Exmouth is home to hundreds of fish species. This beautiful area is perfect for both land and sea fishing, with charter companies running daily trips out to sea. Many anglers choose to take their own boat and see some of the stunning coastline while they enjoy the local fishing scene. Exmouth has a range of accommodation options, including hotels and caravan parks, for those planning on staying a while.

4. Port Phillip Bay, Victoria

A tidal lagoon stretching more than 2,000m2 and no more than 30 metres deep, Port Phillip Bay is home to a range of fish species. It is renowned as the best snapper fishing spot in Australia, thanks to the annual migration known as Crimson Tide. The best area for game fishers to focus on is ‘The Rip’ at the entrance of the bay. Port Phillip Bay is perfect for weekend fishing trips, but pack warmly for early morning ventures.

5. South West Rocks, New South Wales

Most visitors to South West Rocks regard the town as ‘quaint’. Fishermen regard it as a hidden gem in a sleepy village. This beautiful coastal town is located on the mouth of the Macleay River in the northern region of New South Wales and offers both deep-sea and river fishing. Fishing charters run regularly and accommodation is affordable, so you can even bring the family. Looking for game fish? Mahi mahi, striped marlin and blue marlin can all be found in the area.

Get ready to hit the water and experience some of the best fishing Australia has to offer. There are so many fantastic places to visit if you are a keen fisherman. What are some of your favourite spots?

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Why it’s a bad idea to just want to lose weight

Nowadays when you ask many people at the gym what their ultimate goal is, there’s one common answer: ‘I want to lose weight’.

But although this is a common goal, it’s misguided and unless you are overweight, you could be doing more harm than good if you only focus on the number on the scale.

We’re told by the media and diet companies to watch our weight and ‘go to the gym to lose weight’ – and instead the focus on being fit, strong and healthy appears to have been completely lost.

So why is it a bad idea only to focus on losing weight? Read on below to find out why your scale isn’t necessarily the best judge of your overall health.

The number on the scale is not an accurate indication of overall health

Weight can only tell us a limited number of things about the body. Yes, BMI is calculated from weight – but what that and your magic number don’t tell you is what’s going on inside your body. For example going on weight and BMI alone, a body builder could be classed as obese. That’s because if he is short in height, but carries a lot of muscle (which is dense and pound for pound ‘heavier’ than fat), he may weigh more than a person who is the same height, but has little muscle and a lot of fat. If you went off their weights alone, you’d probably say the second man was healthier – but in actual fact it’s the first. So you see, weight really is a vague indicator when it comes to overall health and fitness.

Weighing yourself religiously can de-motivate you

If you’re constantly weighing yourself and don’t see results (or see a gain or loss when you were hoping for the opposite), a poor result can actually cause a drop in morale. It can also mean you end up indulging in bad habits – like not eating enough or eating the wrong types of food in order to get that number lower. These habits not only harm our metabolism and other bodily functions, but they also hamper your mission for good health.

‘Losing weight’ doesn’t specify what you’re losing

You could chop off a limb and lose a lot of weight – but it’s fairly likely you wouldn’t be pleased about that! It’s an extreme example, but it demonstrates that the number on the scale will go up and down and will be affected by a number of factors – some you can see, some you can’t. For women especially hormonal changes and water retention can alter the result. If your goal is toning up and reducing in size, the only accurate way to understand your progress at the gym is to have a professional use fat callipers or other technology which will give you a clear picture of how much fat you have in relation to muscle, and where it is on your body, so that you can train smarter not harder.

If you want to tone up, chances are you may end up weighing more

Many people are disheartened when after weeks of eating right and hard gym sessions they’re seeing the number on the scale creeping up. However this is common – it is a good sign and can mean that your body is building muscle. As before, you can be heavier, but slimmer – because weight doesn’t show what you’re made of inside.

To maintain a healthy weight for your body and for overall good nutrition and fitness, get your cheap supplements from supps r us, and enjoy good nutrition whilst you train.

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Property – Joint Ownership Disputes and Partitions of Land

Its well understood that the Family Court of Australia has jurisdiction to resolve issues as to Joint ownership of property between couples. It is less well understood that the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, pursuant to the Property Law Act (1958), has jurisdiction to resolve issues between joint owners who are not in a relationship.

Joint ownership in property commonly arises amongst business partners who may own a business premises jointly and groups of friends and family involved in property investment. While joint ownership may make commercial sense and allow for the costs of a property to be shared jointly sadly at times parties may differ as to how to best manage the property or they may simply just no longer wish to have much to do with each other.

Part IV of the Property Law Act allows VCAT to intervene upon the application of a party to such a dispute and make various orders in respect to the property including orders to sell the land and distribute the proceeds or even divide the land amongst co-owners.

Essentially if you are a part owner in a property and wish to sell your interest but your co-owners aren’t interested in buying you out at market value you can ask VCAT to force the sale of the property.

Such applications are generally fairly straight forward. There is no requirement for the party seeking such orders to demonstrate some sort of unsatisfactory behaviour on the part of his/her co-owners[1].  Indeed, the requirement to ensure that any relief granted by the Tribunal is just and fair is related to the form of the relief rather than the question of whether relief should be granted.

A party opposing such an application on the grounds the property should simply not be sold will not find favour with the Tribunal. However the Tribunal may consider issues relating to the timing of the sale where there is strong evidence that all parties would be better served were some intervening event, such as the issue of a planning permit, to occur before the sale proceeds.

Generally speaking the Tribunal’s powers in relation to the sale of land are discretionary but the Tribunal clearly favours the general policy of the alienability of interests in property [2] and has a broad discretion to make appropriate orders including:-

  1. Appointing independent agents to value the property and set reserves;
  2. Appointing independent agents to market and sell the property ;
  3. Appointing independent lawyers to manage to the sale of the property and the distribution of proceeds.

If you require assistance with obtaining orders for the sale of a jointly owned property or wish to oppose such an application call Eales and Mackenzie Lawyers for a free 15-minute consultation.

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Why working from home isn’t always awesome

When you’re thinking about starting a new business from home, there are a lot of different things you need to think about as part of your plan. One of the things you need to consider is whether you have the right temperament for working from home in the first place. If you’ve decided you do, then that’s great! You’re on the right track.

That being said, working from home isn’t always as awesome as you think it might be. While an excellent component of working from home is being able to get up and begin working in your pyjamas, you may find your productivity goes down as your proximity to The Simpsons and your remote control get closer…

There are many ways  you can ensure you’re as successful as possible in a new home business. Making sure you’re the right kind of person to work from home is a great place to start.

Noise Distractors

The first thing you need to do is to think about where your office is going to be located in your home. You need to make sure that wherever you’re setting up, it’s a safe haven for you to work in, since it’s where you’re (hopefully) going to get your work done. If you happen to have kids or live in a share house (pretty much the same thing), working from home may not be as awesome as you thought it was going to be.

Sadly, the prevalence of kids and/or housemates rising at 11 AM to put on some Shakira while they scrub the toilet, may interrupt your work flow. If you decided to work from home and you know there are going to be possible distractions, consider investing in some awesome noise cancelling headphones to balance things out.

Ignore the haters

As people who work from home, they get a lot of envy from their mates. These are friends who think that when you work from home all you do is go out for coffee all day (occasionally true for some who quickly end up back in a job!) It’s not always the case that you have the freedom to do what you want, and when you work from home, as when you work from an office, they are still deadlines to meet and clients to speak to. So ignore the haters.

Where the heck is the IT guy?

Another aspect of working from home that can really suck is that you no longer have the freedom and flexibility to consult with an IT person whenever anything goes wrong! That means that if you’re not the most savvy of computer users, you had better learn how to use Google search to find the answers to your problems!

Also, whenever you need something from the stationery cupboard – guess what? It doesn’t exist any more. You have to go down to Officeworks and buy whatever you need yourself. If you’re looking to print something out, it’s probably best you get your own printer set up instead of borrowing your neighbour’s printer all the time, otherwise locate the best Printers Melbourne for all of your printing needs.

Snacking All The Time

If you’re anything like most people, the presence of some biscuits means they need to be eaten… Immediately! If you find yourself getting up to snack all the time when you’re at home ‘working’, why not think about going out to work in the library or at a café for a few hours during the week. Preferably, choose places without snacks. Breaking up your routine like this may mean you’ll be less inclined to snack, and will find the time to get that really important proposal done.

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The Sunshine Coast – A Perfect Place to Drive

If you’re traveling in Australia, then you will no doubt have an idea of the places you want to visit, but make sure you don’t miss out on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. As the third largest populated area in Australia, it’s brimming with culture, nature, beaches and so much more that a visit there will really make your holiday.

Located just north of Brisbane on the North East coast of Australia, the Sunshine Coast is the perfect place to drive. There’s so much to explore in this glorious location. It really has it all with beautiful and pristine beaches, freshwater lakes and rivers, mountain ranges and subtropical forests that are bursting with life.

With so much to see and do you’ll be spoilt for choice, so why not hire a car, and you can make sure you see as much as possible on your trip. Plus you’ll have the flexibility of traveling at your own pace on your own personal route too!  You may enjoy it so much you’ll want to go there permanently, and you can do so with campervan relocations, allowing you to take the basics with you as you travel.

But, before we get ahead of ourselves, for a holiday, there are plenty of scenic drives to take in on the Sunshine Coast. With a car, you have the freedom to stop anywhere you like for a picture opportunity or to simply relax with a picnic on your travels.

The coastal path

For picture perfect beaches that are incredibly inviting, take the coastal road and drive up the Sunshine Coast. The beaches have some of the most breath-taking ocean views that stretch for miles. Caloundra is a great place to start your trip, and simply let the coastal road guide you along its array of beaches towns and villages along the way. The Sunshine Coast has some of the best beaches around, with plenty of idyllic places to stop along the way. You just have to make a decision on which ones you like best!

The calm, sheltered beaches like Kings Beach, Bulcock Beach, Malooba Split and Cotton Tree are perfect for families with children, where they can have fun, relax and swim.  Whereas those looking for good waves perfect for surfing should head to Point Cartwright, Alexandra Headland, Moffat Beach and Sunshine Beach.

A worthy detour

Why not take a detour from the coast, and head inland to the Glass House Mountains, where volcanic plugs jut out of the landscape to create unique rock formations? The mountain roads wend their way through stunning scenery, and the Glass House Mountains National Park offers plenty of camping spots, hiking trails and viewing points that will give you a real taste of the landscape. Take your time through the mountains and stop at one of the numerous picnic spots along the way or maybe take a swim in the Ewan Maddock Dam to freshen up.

Also, inland is the Blackall Range Hinterland, which is home to picturesque and historic mountain towns and villages such as Montville, Flaxton and Maleny. The locals take advantage of the fertile land and fresh, cooler air to create inspirational art, food and wine, making it a must visit place. Driving through the Blackall Range Hinterland you will discover so much wildlife and natural wonders that will blow you away.

Wherever you decide to drive to in the Sunshine Coast, you’re sure to encounter spectacular beaches, mountain views that will take your breath away and local wine and cuisine that will leave a lasting impression on your taste buds. This beautiful region’s laid-back attitude is simply perfect for a lazy drive on your holidays.

 

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How To Clean Up The Office

If you work in an office, chances are that you’ve seen an old or broken down printer (or god forbid – fax) sitting around at some point or another in some dusty unused corner of the office. You might have thought to yourself, “I wonder why we’ve still got that here? No one uses it, and I think it’s broken!” Then that thought probably passes, and before you know it yet another year goes by and whatever it is that’s broken down is still sitting there, or it might have been shuffled away, out of sight.

It seems that many Aussie businesses are falling prey to leaving old and broken down machines just sitting around, and are failing to safely and properly look after them by disposing of them in the right way. If you have an old printer sitting around in the office, then you are missing an opportunity to dispose of an old machine in the right way, and to clear a space for a newer, more environmentally friendly machine.

Your old printers, faxes, phones and other such equipment are called e-waste, and it’s not something you can just toss out into the local garbage collection. You need to ensure you have disposed of these kinds of things in the right way, otherwise they contaminate the landfill.

The reason you need to ensure you dispose of your e-waste in the correct way is because often, there are ways you can recycle  e-waste so it can be reused in other office equipment. By giving up the opportunity to reuse or recycle your e-waste you’re missing out on an opportunity to reduce the environmental impact of your business.

Not only is it vital to ensure you are recycling your old electronic equipment in the correct way, but you need to ensure that any new devices you are buying for the business are environmentally friendly as well as suit your business’ needs and requirements.

There are plenty of different things  you can do to ensure you choose the right equipment for your office:

  • Buy recycled paper for your business. By buying recycled paper you are showing your staff you care about the environment, and this will prompt them to do the same. You should also implement a program to ensure they are using less paper and that recycle their used paper. This sort of initiative will really have an impact on the environment. You’ll part of the solution instead of the problem.
  • Use recycled ink and toner cartridges. By buying reconditioned or re-manufactured cartridges you’re going to find a reduction in cost and also a reduction on the environmental impact.
  • Buy indoor plants for the office. Encourage staff to use office space to grow plants including palms, fronds and other kinds of plants with foliage. They will do wonders for morale and your overall working environment. You can also find a rental company that can fit out and look after a jungle of indoor plants in your office that will be recycling the air in the office!

Make sure whatever you do involves employees every step of the way and in every possible area you need help with. Creating a feeling and a sense of community will allow you to grow the business as a whole, and will ensure  your team moves as a single unit – giving you greater scope to achieve your environmental as well as corporate goals.

 

 

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Education Costs In Australia

Australian parents want lots of things for their children; they have big dreams for them which include a happy life, a solid education and a fulfilling job with lots of opportunities. But what does all of this cost?

The average amount spent on education for an Australian family with two children varies based on the family income. On average a low-income family will spend approximately $22,076; a middle-income family will spend $44,644 whereas a high-income family will spend $191,608. The cost of bringing up two children for a typical middle-income family rose to $812,000, up from $537,000 in 2007; a rise of 50% since 2007 but the household incomes over that same period only grew 25%.

Parents are spending more
on their children than ever before

Based on a report by The National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling, Australian parents spend on average a total of $50,000 on their education and childcare. According to The Australian Scholarships Group, a not-for-profit provider of education savings plans, the total cost of putting a child through a government primary and secondary school can be as much as $65,829. That cost includes tuition fees and levies (including fundraising contributions), uniforms, school bags, music and sporting materials, computer costs as well as incidentals like private tuition, camps and extra curricular activities. ASG estimates that the private education figure can be as much as $428,723 per child.

The Australian Scholarships Group forecasts the cost of private schooling in Sydney to be $541,275, making it the most expensive city in Australia to educate a child. The breakdown is $175,109 for primary school and $359,043 for high school.

Is your child’s education really worth
half a million dollars?!?!

Education costs are on the rise. The cost of education in Australia has almost doubled the rate of inflation over the last 20 years. According to 2009 figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, education costs rose at 5.6 percent compared to the overall inflation rate of 1.3 percent. There are a number of reasons for this including rising teacher salaries as well as technology, infrastructure and maintenance costs.

Couples with an eldest child aged 5-14 years in 2009-10 spent at least double what their 1984 counterparts spent on housing costs, miscellaneous goods and services (which includes education fees), and household services and operation (which includes net child care costs). Their weekly disposable income had increased by 77% ($820) to $1,891 in 2009-10.

The average tuition for senior students at Catholic schools in the Sydney diocese is about $2,200. Public school cost in Sydney is about $71,000 and parents could spend up to $234,877 for their child to attend systemic Catholic schools. In 2011/12, NSW spent $14,123 per full-time primary student in the classroom and $16,749 per full-time secondary student.

In higher education, expenditure per student over the last decade has been relatively stable, while spending per student in government secondary and primary schools has increased 20 per cent and 30 per cent respectively. Meanwhile expenditure per hour of training in VET actually decreased around 25 per cent over the same period. Over the period 2012 – 2013 total expenditure grew only 15 per cent for VET, while schools and higher education experienced growth of 23 and 40 per cent respectively over the same period.

To a certain extent the costs to parents of sending their children to university are reduced by the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS). While there are substantial costs associated with attending university other than fees (for example text books, travel and possibly accommodation fees and the income foregone while participating in full-time study), HECS allows students to defer payment of their fees until after they graduate and begin to earn an income over $49,096 (ATO, 2012). So although many parents will incur substantial costs supporting their children who are studying, those who are not able to help with their children’s fees up-front, part of the cost will eventually be paid by the children after they have graduated and have joined the labour force.

Australian Scholarships Group, a not-for-profit provider of education savings plans, estimates that the total cost of putting a child through a government primary and secondary school to be about $65,829. This figure includes tuition fees and levies (including fundraising contributions), uniforms, school bags, music and sporting materials, computer costs as well as incidentals like private tuition, camps and extra curricular activities. For private education, ASG estimates the figure to be up to $428,723 per child.

It is a fact that Education is one of life’s major investments – in some instances it is probably a bigger investment than a family home. By saving regularly, parents are more likely to achieve the goals and aspirations they have for their children. It is never too late to start saving; obviously the sooner the better.

There are a few specific education funds set up that can help you put money aside for your child’s education. These are called scholarship funds and are offered by the below friendly societies:

Don’t get me wrong, I am a HUGE proponent of education in all its forms, however like any investment – the Return On Investment (ROI) has to be worth it. I hear horror stories in the United States where people are graduating from University with $250,000 of student loan debt with degrees that are commercially worthless – which begs the question — what were they thinking?!?!

They weren’t thinking… They “thought” a degree was a must-have… It might be, but not just “any” degree and not at “any cost”…

Junior is probably not the next Einstein

Simply put – most students are not worth the investment parents are making. Many parents over-compensate falsely thinking it’s worth the investment when it clearly is not. I am sure it’s a tough realisation when the moment comes that “junior” is not the next Einstein. Throwing money at the problem has never proven to improve IQ…

Sorry for calling it like it is. Someone has to, otherwise keep spending as you are and hope for a miracle!

 

 

 

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How to Prepare To Buy An Investment Property

Are you beginning to save for an investment property? If so, you’re probably aware that you are going to have to make some sacrifices in your life. Luckily, saving for an investment property really doesn’t have to include huge sacrifices, but you are going to have to have to make some lifestyle adjustments. That is if you want to reach your financial and investment goals sooner rather than later. It’s often the case that people aren’t sure where to start and where to cut back to get maximum benefits.

Luckily, there are plenty of people who have gone before you, and who are only too willing to tell you the secrets of they have learned about how to save! If you don’t have any property, or if you’re saving for your first investment, you’ll have to save up a deposit of some sort. Even if you’re using lender’s mortgage insurance you will still have to have some sort of cash accessible as a deposit at the bank.

The thing about owning one investment property already – or even your own home – is that there is the potential that they will have had some capital growth. That means that there might be some collateral available in your home already to use as a deposit.

If you think  this might be the case, it’s advisable that you go and see your bank or mortgage advisor who can help you choose a Homestart home loan and who can advise you on the best way to proceed.

Now let’s take a look at how you can start saving for your first, second or even third deposit.

Take a look at how you can cut back and then make sure that you do it. Don’t just say you will. If you happen to get a coffee every morning – even though it’s a tired old adage – think about how much it’s costing you every year. If you’re just getting a standard long black then it’s probably around $1,000.  If you’re getting some fancy coffee where the cost is up to six or even seven dollars, then the cost is going to be sadly quite a bit higher.

Are you spending money on things that might be a huge waste of cash at a frugal time? You might have a big phone plan, or even just go out for lunch outside the office a few times a week. Maybe you have a gym membership that you don’t even use, or a subscription to something that continues to take money out of your account and that you mean to cancel, but haven’t.

It’s easy to ignore these kind of seemingly small expenses when you’re not saving for anything in particular, but once you start counting the pennies every single bit helps. If you have a partner, why don’t you look at each other’s finances and find ways that you can cut costs for each other? Try making lunch for each other on alternate days as well. Simple gestures can make saving a lot easier.

Put all of your savings into a high interest bank account that you really can’t touch. This is a great option for people who love to spend, because you can’t access the account when you want to make an impulse buy or last minute purchase. Perhaps think about not taking the credit card when you go out on a Friday or Saturday night or controlling your spending with a budgeting app. You’ll soon see the savings mounting up and you’ll have your first/next deposit in no time!

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Why You Should Work in Pathology

Anyone who watches TV hospital and detective shows would be under the impression that pathology is a little-known back-room discipline practised by anonymous people in white coats. But actually, pathologists could be described as the strong supporting backbone of medical science.  Working with doctors and other medical practitioners or within a pathology laboratory, pathologists occupy a consultancy role within a medical team working to provide diagnosis and treatments.

What is pathology?

Pathology is the process that studies body tissue, blood and other bodily fluids to determine the changes that cause disease, as well as showing how severe a condition is and how treatment needs to be monitored.

According to the 2015 Pathology Australia Federal Budget Submission report 70% of all medical diagnoses and 100% of all cancer diagnoses rely on a pathology report for diagnosis and care management.  Pathology is essential in the management of chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and HIV, to name but a few and pathology testing is especially required for the majority of preventive public health programmes.  Over a typical twelve month period more than 50% of all Australians will need pathology testing for one condition or another, whether it is disease, surgical or trauma related, so pathology testing is undoubtedly responsible for saving lives. Not bad is you’re looking for a career that you can enjoy and feel like you’re doing something good at the same time.

How to get into pathology

Because of how the referral and funding of pathology services works in Australia, with the majority of referrals coming directly from GPs and funding being provided through a mix of private and public funding bodies, Australia has a supremely efficient and accessible pathology service; in fact one of the best in the world.

Working in Pathology in Australia

The medical institutions and facilities in Australia are at the forefront of the medical disciplines and pathology work offers many opportunities to expand and upgrade through ongoing education and research, as well as in teaching.  Pathology laboratory facilities can vary from in size from small 2/3 person operations up to large-scale commercial ones which could employ up to 30 pathologists.  And the hours within private facilities will probably be along the lines of a standard 38 hour week.  Pathologists employed in a laboratory setting will rarely be on-call whereas hospital based pathologists will, of course be required to work some on-call hours because of the sometimes urgent nature of particular conditions.  An advantage of working within a hospital can mean that there are opportunities for further training and specialisation, and for the supervision of trainees.  Australia has many opportunities for pathology training and work, with high demand particularly in the field of Anatomical Pathology (Histopathy) and Haemotology.

So, Is It For You?

The most common misconception people have about pathology is that pathologists work only with the dead; that the work is repetitive and isolated, shut away from the rest of the world!  The reality is that forensic pathology is just one branch of pathology.  There are a range of disciplines in a variety of settings.  Pathology is intellectually challenging and you can work family-friendly hours in many cases. Check out some of the job openings on offer right now. As the world evolves, more and more of these types of jobs will open up, and if you’ve started right, with Pathology courses, then you could soon be filling one of these positions.

So if you’re the type who is fascinated by how things work, why things go wrong, how to put things back together, then pathology may be your dream career.

 

 

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Australia’s Top Five Tourist Destinations

Planning a trip around Australia? Australia has some of the greatest tourist destinations in the entire world. A country renowned for its great weather and laid back atmosphere, why wouldn’t you want to visit? But, before you come, you probably want to visit somewhere like Luggage Direct Online, so you have something to put all your souvenirs in. Below are five of Australia’s best tourist destinations.

Gold Coast

Queensland’s beautiful Gold Coast is a tourist destination with something for everyone. With a mix between exciting theme parks, crazy night life and natural wonders it is a must see. The Gold Coast is named after its famous golden beaches, stretching from its most southern to its most northern points. Beaches such as Kirra, Burleigh and Surfers Paradise are renowned throughout the world. If beaches aren’t your thing, then just thirty minutes inland you will find some of the oldest rainforests in the world, along with stunning views and waterfalls.

Tasmania

The entire island state of Tasmania is an unbelievably amazing tourist destination. Tasmania is home to some of the most untouched forests and national parks in the world. It is the unspoilt gem of Australia. But Tasmania isn’t just wilderness – the city of Hobart and towns like Launceston are historic representations of the states convict heritage. All across Tasmania are small villages and homesteads, reminiscent of England, with small stone walls and cottages. Driving across the state is a real treat for history lovers and naturalists alike – watch out for abundant wildlife at dusk and night time!

Great Barrier Reef

Visible from space, the Great Barrier Reef is one of Australia’s most famous tourist hotspots. The reef stretches down almost the entire length of the eastern Queensland coastline and is home to some of the rarest plant and animal species in the world. Unfortunately the reef is endangered by both the mining industry and the infamous Crown of Thorns Starfish. Being the world’s largest reef, there is a lot to see and do, including scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing and fishing.

Sydney

Sydney Opera HouseAustralia’s largest city is also one of its most popular to visit. And there are a lot of reasons to visit. Sydney offers some of the best shopping in the country, alongside a thriving artistic community. There are national wonders to see in the harbour, like the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, as well as the harbour itself. Not far down the road is the world famous Bondi beach, home to the TV series ‘Bondi Rescue’. The suburb of Bondi offers fantastic art stores and cafés.

Uluru

UluruWhat list could be complete without one of the most photographed wonders in the world, Uluru. Formally known as Ayers Rock, Uluru is situated in the heart of the country. Reaching 350 metres above the surrounding plains, Uluru is the largest bare rock formation in the world, with most of it hidden beneath the soil. While visiting Uluru you can also see the less famous Olgas, also a sandstone rock formation.

Australia has a lot to offer when it comes to places to see and things to do. These are just some of the best on offer.

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House Hunting Checklist For First-Timers

House Photo by Nicolás BoullosaWhen house hunting, either as a renter in search of a new place to live or a first-time investor looking to purchase a rental property, certain things absolutely must be taken into account. For owners, despite the fact that you may never actually live in it yourself, your property needs to be attractive to potential renters. For renters, the place needs to fulfill your needs not only now but also into the future – something many renters tend to forget. Here are a couple of items that should feature on your house hunting checklist.

Property Managers

You need a property manager that is attentive and organised. Unfortunately, not all property managers match these criteria; you may need to spend some time on sites like http://www.localagentfinder.com.au to find one that both does their job and won’t charge you an arm and a leg in real estate agent commissions. A good, reliable property manager is essential for renters and owners alike. And they do exist… you may just have to do a bit of research to find one!

Kitchen

Does the kitchen accommodate only one person at a time? If so, renters should look elsewhere and investors should renovate it immediately if they choose to buy. Particularly for a rental property, a kitchen should be able to comfortably fit three people preparing different things at the same time. Kitchens are traditionally a massive human bottleneck in rental properties and cause otherwise good properties to remain unoccupied for long periods of time.

Yard And Gardens

Yards and gardens often go overlooked by tenants when it comes to rental properties, so potential owners should be making it easier for tenants and themselves by minimising the on-going garden upkeep. Ensuring proper weed mats are installed and maintained periodically is an excellent start. Hardy grasses are perfect for the lawn because they don’t require much looking after and that should keep everyone happy.

Power Points

Take note of the amount of power points there are in the house (unit) and their locations. For many houses built specifically to be investment properties, power points are, unfortunately a bit of an afterthought. They get put in strange, irritatingly unwieldy places that necessitate the use of extension cords. Renters should be on the lookout for this and owners should be ready to add more to make the space more accommodating and enjoyable. We all know the feeling when staying in hotels and we have to get on our hands and knees to plug in our laptop underneath and behind the desk!

Insulation

Proper insulation is another thing that often gets overlooked in investment properties because it’s rather expensive. Renters should be making absolutely sure that any house they consider is properly insulated. Investors should be taking this into account from the start on any property they consider for purchase because if it hasn’t been installed already, it will need to be. A house that gets hot during the day in summer and stays hot well into the night is not an attractive one for renters. Sure renters probably won’t realise it when they FIRST rent, but they will only reluctantly renew the lease which means you will have the constant cost of re-marketing the property for new tenants.

These are just a handful of things first-time house hunters should be looking for when inspecting a property. Whether you’re a first-time investor making your first foray into the property market or a first-time renter looking to get out on your own, these are things that will haunt you continually if they aren’t looked at from the very start.

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How To Be Cool At Your High School Reunion

We all dread the high school reunion – well the first one at least, the ten year reunion – because it’s a time when your high school friends from your formative years all gather together to sip some tepid sparkling wine out of some plastic glasses and all shuffle around to nervously size each other up. Old emotions come flooding back and depending on how much you’ve since secretly admired your former classmates on Facebook, you might be in for a few surprises!

Regardless, you have one goal and one goal alone at your high school reunion: to look as good as possible and to sound as awesome as possible. Ever seen the movie Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion? Yeah it’s kinda like that. You really need to hype up the wins and downplay the losses.

Here are a few things you want to do to make the best impression that will last until the next reunion!

Step One: Get A New Outfit

And a haircut, preferably. You might think your every-day clothes will suit the reunion crowd but trust me, everyone else is going to be making sure they are dressed to thrill. Make sure you don’t under or overdress – you don’t want to be the object of everyone’s stares (again?!?!). Whatever you do – don’t wear a tux or prom dress!

Step Two: Pimp Up Your Online Profile

This one requires a little bit of forward planning, but with a little ingenuity you can ensure your school mates will be impressed with your social media profile. If you don’t own a boat – hire one! Pimp it out with boat accessories and then pose like you own it! Get some of your friends – hell, get all of them – and hold a huge party. Take a LOT of pictures, and make sure they all end up flooding the Internet with selfies. You want to look as popular as possible.

Step Three: Get Yourself A Kick-Ass Date

OK, we’re not talking about hiring an escort, but if that’s your thing then that’s your call. If you’re not married or don’t have a significant other in your life right now, then consider enlisting the help of one of your awesome mates who you can trust to big-note you all night. Your ultimate wingman/woman is going to be a great asset you can trust to not only sing your praises but to tell everyone about how awesome you are, how you volunteer helping orphans in war torn countries, rescue kittens etc. LOL

Step Four: Don’t Get Drunk And Ruin The Illusion

You need to come across as cool and calm, not as the frantic and alcohol sozzled party animal you might usually be at parties. Just because the booze is free does not give you carte blanche to plough into the chardonnay like you were aboard Snoop’s yacht. Have some decorum, this hangover will last another decade!

OR…

Just be your authentic self and let bygones be bygones.

It might be scary, but being true to yourself might finally liberate you from the prison of your past. Empowering you to be the person you wished back then you could be and are today.

If you are not happy with who you are, have become, consider some self-awareness and get yourself back on track. High school was a long time ago – you are not that person. Take this opportunity to assert your new self and see what happens. You might find new friends, rekindle a long-lost romance or “kiss and make up” with an old flame.

Whatever you do, make it count – there won’t be another reunion for years to come and many won’t be at the next one. This is often a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity…

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Storage Solutions for Your Retail Shop

Retail ShopWhether you’re a small business owner or an employee of a large company, if you work in the retail sector, you know the importance of storage in retail environments. It is a crucial, often overlooked element of the store’s design and is integral to its success.

So, how do you make your storage solution work for you and not against you? You must have strength, flexibility, and convenience on your side.

Strength

A strong, sturdy storage solution for the backroom or stockroom is a must. Whether you’re selling homeware, shoes, books, or concrete pots, sturdy shelving will allow you to maximise the storage space. You’ll be able to get all of your excess stock off the floor – giving you a clear workspace – and store everything you need to keep the shop running and turning over a profit in an orderly fashion. To keep everything tidy, safe, and in a functional space, a strong storage solution, such as pallet racking, will do the trick. If you’re in doubt, see here for some inspiration from the experts at Elbowroom.

Flexibility

When it comes to in-store storage, flexibility is key as it will give you versatility and organisation for both the business and customers. Shelves that can be altered in height are perfect for in-store displays because they can be adjusted to complement the product on hand and display its features in a visually appealing way.

Not only is a flexible storage system good for displaying your products in the store, but it is also good for storing excess stock and supplies too. This is especially important if your store sells homeware, clothes, or accessories, as new items of all different shapes and sizes are constantly rolling in the door. Combat the fear of fitting in another new collection by having a flexible storage space that can be adapted with ease.

Convenience

A storage solution must be convenient for all of the business’s stakeholders. Nothing is worse than seeing a customer awkwardly attempt to look at a product that is stored inconveniently and surrounded by clutter. People love to look and feel products before purchasing them because, after all, that’s the beauty of bricks-and-mortar retail. By having a storage solution that is easily accessible to the customer, without causing fear of them breaking it, disrupting the display and causing a scene, you are likely to sell more products and turn over more revenue. More often than not, when a customer cannot subtly access the product, they will leave the store frustrated and empty-handed.

Furthermore, a convenient storage solution benefits the business because it enables easy resupply of stock to the shelves after it has been delivered by the distributor. If your storage system is conveniently located onsite and you are able to access it from the shop floor, you are more likely to have a larger range of available products. As with a strong and flexible storage solution, this will in turn bring higher turnover to your business.

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3 Tips for Buying the Right Investment Property

1. Know What Property You Want

There are a multitude of property opportunities and you need to ask yourself what you are looking for. If you are looking for a family home, the answer may be fairly easy. You will want to live in the house, pay it off and maybe sell it for more than you paid. This is standard for the majority of investors and a safe move.

Alternatively, you may be looking at property investment as more of a financial opportunity. Investing into a rental apartment complex or a storage warehouse can become a second income for you. Many people pursue this direction while some undertake both paths. There is a lot of advice written about these two kinds of property investment, but you will probably know which one you are looking for already.

2. Consider Location

Is the location exactly what you want for the property? For example, buying a home for a family should be weighed against what the area offers. Where are the nearby schools? What kind of school is it, are there public transit stops nearby and are there grocery stores nearby. Many more questions become very relevant as you begin to think about it.

If you are looking into the financial side of property investment, the location is arguably more important. Does the area have the requirements to create a successful property opportunity? Nearby commercial zoning is important for creating attractive options for potential renters. Nearby malls, stores, restaurants and parks can be a big green light indicating a prime area for investment. Does the income of the area support your idea for a property? Creating an eco-friendly, designer brand apartment complex may not work in low income housing as well as it might in a hip neighbourhood area. Buying the right property heavily depends on what you want and what is around it.

3. Property Condition

Consider what you will need to bring the property up to your idea of acceptable. Is the property you have your eye on going to need repairs? Investing in newer properties generally means you will not have to worry about condition immediately, but will bring about a higher price (usually). Conversely, an older building may be worth less, but with a little hard work you can make it look incredible.

Before investing in a property, new or old, hire a contractor or architect to inspect the grounds and the property itself. Make sure that the person you hire is certified in their field as this inspection will influence what you will end up spending on this property. Similarly, hire an exterminator or animal control officer to take a quick look around the house and grounds. An infestation of funnel web spiders in the basement would be nice to know about before you sign on that dotted line.

The best thing about this is that it’s an exciting new time in your life, and you should embrace the opportunity to get ahead financially with property investment. The home loans from NPBS are great for new home buyers and investors alike, so no matter what kind of property you’re looking to buy or when, consider the team at NPBS for your next property purchase.

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BRW Rich Women 2015

This year’s list of the BRW Rich Women is out. This is the list of self-made women, inherited wealth recipients not included.

Check out this cool, interactive graphic!

BRW Richest self-made women

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Aussie Homelessness

I never would have thought Australian homelessness was this high. Donate to the Red Cross and let’s help them reduce the numbers.

Aussie Homelessness - Red Cross

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How to stay safe on a boat

Phanis Koumpis via Wikimedia Commons

Phanis Koumpis via Wikimedia Commons

We Aussies love our boats, fishing, being on the water and in it.

When the weather turns warmer, everyone’s thoughts naturally turn to the best possible ways to keep cool! One of the best possible ways to stay cool is to get out on the water, whether you’re out in a kayak, a surfboard, or splashing around in the shallows. If you’re exceptionally lucky you’re going to be out on a boat. While boats are a great way to explore the water, it’s vital  you stay safe while you’re zipping around the harbour or  open water.

Below are a few quick tips to keep you safe while on a boat.

Wear a lifejacket

Every Australian boater, no matter what they’re doing, no matter how good of a swimmer that they are, should wear a lifejacket at all times. This dramatically decreases the risk of drowning should you have an accident or fall overboard unexpectedly. By making safety a priority, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy yourself. A great way to ensure everyone wears a lifejacket is to make sure everyone has one (that fits) and to not make a big deal out of it. The statistics are crystal clear: Lifejackets save lives. It’s important your lifejackets are well fitted to each person on the boat. Properly fitted life jackets are more effective than an ill-fitted ones. That means you need to have a wide range of sizes for your boating guests.

Don’t drink

This sort of goes without saying, but then a nice hot day on the boat also lends itself to having a few. Alcohol is not the best thing to be drinking, because you’re going to get dehydrated and thirsty the more you drink. Make sure your fridge or esky is well packed with plenty of fruit juices, water, cordials and other kinds of non-alcoholic drinks. Alcohol also impairs judgment, vision, balance, coordination and you’ll find that it is just as deadly as drinking and driving when you’re out on the open water. It’s not just people who are driving the boat who will be affected by drinking either, it’s passengers as well. Owing in large part to the sun and heat, people who drink on board a boat will find their judgement impaired and it’s been shown they’ll drink more and more quickly in that sort of environment. It’s best to just steer clear altogether than to try and limit and monitor everyone’s drinking. If you are captaining the boat, you and your sailing staff should not be drinking.

Check Your Boat

While marine engines are pretty hardy, there’s nothing worse than the thought of being stranded out in the middle of the ocean, bobbing around and waiting for someone to come and rescue you – especially when help might be hours away. The best way to stay safe on the water is to check your boat and the engine regularly. You should also check the flares, safety equipment and anything else related to your boat regularly to ensure it’s all there and in good working order.

Take a boating course

For all Aussie boat owners or boaters, it pays to be as prepared as you can be when you’re on the open water and being educated about the possible pitfalls and mishaps that can occur will ensure you’re ready if a challenge presents itself. Even if it’s unlikely a disaster will happen – it’s most likely going to be just a small mishap – but you and everyone else around you will feel a whole lot better knowing that you’re prepared for anything and everything that could possibly happen while you’re navigating the waters. Often, it’s the little things that ruin an otherwise great day out on the water.

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What Changes Need To Happen To The Online Gaming Community In 2015?

The online gaming landscape is far from perfect. Last year, gamers all around the world experienced major problems that hindered their enjoyment of video gaming. This year, gamers are hoping for a better gaming experience that’s free from lag and hate from other users.

Testing Before Releasing

2014 was considered to be a problematic year for gaming. Next-gen consoles are still fairly new and developers are still figuring out how to utilise the hardware to its full advantage. Games like PS4’s DriveClub, Xbox One’s Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Assassins’ Creed: Unity are just some of the examples on how to NOT TO launch a game.

Gamers are criticizing the games as being broken and developers are pointing their fingers at the lack of time to test the games in the real world setting. Online-only games with mult-iplayer function experienced failed servers and irritating lagging. For the gaming landscape to change, developers need to produce quality content that actually works BEFORE they release it.

Minimize Microtransactions

Downloadable content (DLC) is quickly becoming a new norm, but most gamers feel developers are cheating them. Instead of launching full games, some maps, gear and modes of game play are only accessible if you pay for it. Compare this to the time when games were shipped in full, contributing to the overall enjoyment of it. With the gaming landscape shifting gears to mobile, gamers can expect that microtransactions will continue to proliferate as a money-making business model. Gamers only hope that they keep it to a minimum before it backfires and gamers quit because it becomes too expensive.

New Ways To Play

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) needs to be a part of our games today. Oculus Rift has been teasing gamers all over the world about their innovative way on how to play, yet gamers are still treated to the same modes over and over again. The online gaming landscape should be more inclusive for brand new technologies, paving more ways for people to play. We’ve already seen demos of VR being used in games like Minecraft and first-person shooters. Our only hope now is to finally be able to play these games using these new reality advancements.

No More Hate

Streaming your gameplay allows others to view how you achieved your high score, but it can also be a way for you to get hurt and mocked by those watching. Swatting is a well-known prank that involves making fake calls to 911 to disrupt game streamers. These pranks are not only hurtful, they also waste the time and effort of the emergency services. We hope those guilty of this practice are brought to justice and this hateful practice finally stops.

Better Matchmaking

While some games excel in their matchmaking capabilities, others continue to lag in this field. Servers can crash when over encumbered and some of the biggest hacks last year affected big gaming networks like the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live. Gamers want to experience a world of games and that is only possible if the games allow us to connect to anyone out there. The algorithm for matchmaking capabilities, from simple online casino games to bigger triple A games, should be improved so that gamers easily access and enjoy the games they love.

 

 

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