With official interest rates set to rise and the costly festive season looming large on the horizon there’s no doubt Australian’s budgeting skills will be put to the test over the next few months.
Financial skills are incredibly valuable but it’s often not until you get older that you begin to appreciate the small lessons about saving and spending your parents may have taught you when you were a kid.
Growing up on a farm meant my Mum and Dad generally made the most of having me and my two siblings around during school holidays to do the jobs that needed to be done. Often we were given the opportunity to make some cash carting hay or working in the wool sheds.
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Not since Paul Keating introduced compulsory superannuation contributions in the early 1990s has there been such an important opportunity to change the way Australians think about saving for their retirement.
This urgent need for change is magnified when Australians are asked how much they actually know about their superannuation. A recent survey by Suncorp Life found 49 per cent of us don’t understand our super, and 30 per cent of us don’t believe our super is even our own money. Annual changes to the superannuation system are also a constant and frustrating occurrence. That’s why it’s vital for the Government to get it right this time.
The results of the much-anticipated Cooper Review announced last week urge a range of sweeping reforms to superannuation, and herald an exciting new era for the industry. The question is whether the Government is prepared to do what’s needed to simplify the system, and restore Australian’s confidence in superannuation.
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The Budget this week has me thinking about how no one likes their finances meddled with, especially given the prospect of more or increased bills. I’m no exception.
When they arrive in my letter box I’m instantly in a bad mood. I know they’re due but somewhere in the back of my mind I still hope that just once in my lifetime, the “systems” will go down and all the slates will be wiped clean.
I find I’m actually quite defensive towards them. I sometimes wonder if I were to tear it up, would anyone notice?
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If it wasn’t enough that Australians consistently face some of the fastest growing food prices in the developed world as a result of the dominance of Coles and Woolworths, the major banks have decided to join the price gouging club.
With the Commonwealth Bank showing strong profit growth and Westpac announcing a profit upgrade, it’s clear the four major banks are some of most profitable in the world. Profitable banks are a good thing I hear you say. Yes, but profiteering banks are not a good thing for the economy and consumers. When does profitable become profiteering?
Simple. It’s when competition has diminished to a point where the four major banks can raise interest rates at will. It’s competition that keeps everyone honest and where that competition is removed the remaining players can price gouge. It doesn’t take an economics degree to work that out.
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According to numerous make-believe statisticians, there’s a 99.9% chance that you think banks are bastards. This obviously means whenever you see a bank advertisement, you’ll roll your eyes thinking, do they actually do half of the things they promise to do?
Here at The Punch, we’ve done the hard work. We visited five of Australia’s major banks in a “taste test” of their front-line customer service, to see whether it fit with the claims of their multi-million dollar marketing campaigns.
Is it scientific? Not at all. Fair? Nope. And it doesn’t review or take into account specific product details - so you can’t tell from this bank which suits your needs best. (David Koch addresses some of those questions in his first column on The Punch today here.) But it does paint a picture of actual service received. And the winner is ...
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I often get asked what will be the lasting effects of the Global Financial Crisis and the Australian recession on Australian attitudes and behaviours. What will be the lesson to be learnt from all this?
In many ways, it is early days for Australian consumers. Sure the finance media has been full of bad news for over twelve months.
But up until the end of January we were still finding that consumers were taking a cautiously optimistic approach to the economy.
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