Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Don't squash a recovery, guys...

Don't let me scare my readers when I mention the words rising interest rates.

That's probably not going to happen until the end of next year when unemployment stops rising. We're in the middle of a welcome breather for those who need to borrow money to invest or buy property, thanks to the GEC (Global Economic Crisis), even if the banks aren't all that happy about lending for either purpose at the moment!

Anyway, Ross Gittins at SMH has something to say about the Commonwealth Bank's rate rise yesterday: these are skittish times, and don't scare the investors away by sending the message that rates are about to head up any time soon.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Flu Rage and the necessary "Sickie"

Today's article about Flu Rage prompts me to recall stories of my childhood (and the present, now that I have my own child!), and gives a cautionary financial tale to those who are both employers and employees.

My mother is a singer and a singing teacher, and her voice is her life. If she can't speak or sing to teach or perform, then she has no income.

Thus it has long been a rule that if you have a cold or flu, or something communicable, you - dear student - had to stay home and not come to lessons until you were better. For me, as my mother's daughter, it meant trying not to expose myself to people who could pass such diseases on to me. After several attempts at sending uninterested me to swimming carnivals (only to have me come back with laryngitis, which Mum invariably caught), I was banned from ever attending them again whilst at school.

I didn't mind... I hated sport with a vengeance anyway.

But seriously, it's true that you are being inconsiderate when you (for fear of losing your job or not being able to keep up with the workload on your return) make the decision to come to work instead of staying at home in bed and getting well.

Look at it this way:

In my mother's case, she would lose the price of a lesson from one student for one week. If that student came along and gave her their cold though, she would be unable to teach for a week or even two weeks. That's not just one student's fee. It's twenty. Times two if it's for two weeks!

Similarly, your time off may cost your employer a day or three in sick leave. But your staying at work will cost them for far longer in lost productivity (because the length of time you are feeling under-the-weather will extend for a week or three by pushing on). Hell, it will cost even more if you push it too far. I have a friend whose client died from pushing on with the same daily regimen (including gym classes) while suffering from an influenza virus. He had a heart attack after three days from the stress on his system!

Add to that the lost productivity you create by giving your disease to everyone around you, and you well deserve to be told off for coming in to work. How many people can you infect in a fully air-conditioned building? Just about everyone, potentially. That's weeks and weeks of lost productivity and cost to your boss. I have seen fifty percent of a workforce in one of my workplaces over the years out for a total of eight weeks because it just kept going around and around and around...

My erstwhile employer is similarly strict with us staff (as am I, as office manager, in any of the positions of "command" I have held). If you're sick, you don't come in. Long as it takes. Get better and keep it to yourself.

So, employees, do the right thing and stay home if you are sick. That's why the sick leave system is there!

To the employers out there who make staff feel bad for taking time off when they are ill, back off a bit. Get a grip.

Sure, get a medical certificate from your sick staff member by all means, but you'll have a LOT more to complain about financially if 50%+ of your staff are off for weeks on end because you made one person stay share the "joy".

Friday, 1 May 2009

Sweping tax reforms for starters?

Well, it's something we've been waiting for since the GST came in, but somehow the states of Australia have steadfasty refused to give up their hold on Stamp Duty for things like cars and property.

This morning's article on News.Com.au makes it look like that's going to change, now that Victoria, for a start, has submitted an application to the Federal tax review to suggest that they abolish it in return for a cut of income tax.

This could work.

Economists have said that they think it would increase government revenue by $4 Billion a year because it would free up the stamp duty money people try to avoid spending to be used for investments and other economic stimulation elsewhere.

If they have to start somewhere, then this is definitely the place...

Friday, 24 April 2009

I believe the comment here is: "Well DUH!"

Yeah, I know, I haven't had much time to post to my blog of late, and I apologise, but we have been planning a trip (and making that trip) to the Andamooka Opal fields in South Australia (of which more later). Subsequently, haven't really been near a computer or an internet connection for some of the last little while!

Anyway, saw this article on News.com.au yesterday and had to say "Well DUH..."

Of course it's going to take ages for the crisis to cool down. And I think it may take as much as ten years (as long as it took for Japan during their own recent recession) to come out of it all properly. It sounds corny, but my 94-year-old Grandma who went through the Great Depression said it would happen again just before she passed on Christmas Day in 2007. And she tended to be right about things like that.

Hopefully, the present scramble to produce results worldwide will continue and push us to make the major environmental and economical changes and reforms that we need to make to get us through the next century, let alone beyond...

Thursday, 5 March 2009

When is it smart to pay your HECS debt down?

This is a bit of an old article from the Sydney Morning Herald, but I stumbled across it today while checking some payroll matters for staff at work, and it's very useful to know.

If you have a HECS debt, then there are ways, and times, to pay it off, that are more sensible and cost effective than others. Be careful that you don't fall into a trap of borrowing to pay it off, for instance (it will cost you more than it would if you stuck to the indexed rate). Pay off your mortgage first if you can. It's better to pay 2% of your salary once you reach the threshold (currently over $41,000 per year in the 2008-09 tax year) than hold back on getting your home or other things.

Anyway, it's probably better to read what the author man says. Here.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Raking some of those insurance/superannuation/managed fund fees back.

Well, here's a useful little tip for those of you who care about all the mysterious fees you're paying to fund managers, Super and otherwise...

Did you know that in your first year in an insurance plan, the fees you pay can be as much as 130% of the annual premium? That's extreme, but they can typically run between 10-30% each year. Then when it comes to super funds and managed funds, there are residual commission trails of between 0.5% and 1.7%. So over time (especially when we are talking Super!) this can add up to tens of thousands of dollars paid to someone you'll never talk to again, so you won't actually be getting customer service either.

Now an Australian company I just heard about, Your Share is helping you to get most of this money right back in your pocket, in the form of an annual cheque. And you don't have to change funds to do it either. They simply cover you for the funds that you're already a part of.

They make their money by taking between 30-50% of the trailing fee they get back for administration. But you get the whole initial commission is all yours to keep, and can amount to a hefty cheque! They also guarantee to better any other rebate service out there.

So, I've just signed myself up. Go download their forms (at the "Get Your Cash Back Now" button at the bottom left), and see what you can get back!

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Thank you, PM Gordon Brown

Further to my post earlier about the banks in Australia being greedy bastards (yep, I've made up my mind: they are!), Britain's PM Gordon Brown just confirmed my sentiment by saying that in the banking system of the future, the banks should be the servants and not the masters of society as a whole.

Hear Hear! Here...