Finance

13 Hacks For Getting A Pay Rise From High-Flying Women

How to ask for what you deserve. 

September 28, 2016

Throwback Thursday: 5 Ways to Look A Million Dollars On a Budget

October 8, 2013

Is it possible to look a million dollars on a shoestring budget? Money expert Kerry Lotzof gives her top tips for frugal fashionistas.

Stylist to the stars Rachel Zoe is known for her chic fusion of high end designer fashion with vintage touches and quirky second-hand accessories.  You may not have Rachel’s budget, but by channelling her open minded approach to style you can put together fashion forward looks that won’t empty your bank account.

Whether you take inspiration from Dita Von Teese’s impeccable retro look or mix it up like Kate Bosworth, with her irreverent combinations of high and low fashion, these tips will help you build an enviable wardrobe for a lot less than you’d think.

1. Shop like a collector

Stop thinking about yourself as a shopaholic and start thinking of yourself as a collector. Once you’ve got all your basics covered an item that looks “ok” shouldn’t be enough to have you reach for your wallet. If a new piece doesn’t move you and make you want to wear it every single day, put it back on the rack. Collectors wouldn’t spend on something second rate or ill fitting and neither should you. Whether you’re shopping at Target or Chanel, keep an eye on the detail and make designers work for your hard earned.

Spending time at vintage fairs, flea markets and second hand stores in posh neighbourhoods can yield amazing finds like immaculate vintage dresses and unwanted Ferragamo or Bally heels for less than $10. You can also check out what’s available online through Etsy and eBay, and mix it up with high street basics and the odd designer splurge. Behaving like a collector (and the fussier the better) will give you an inimitable style and ensure your closet doesn’t fill up with unloved impulse purchases.

2. Designer crush? Find it cheaper online

If you’ve fallen in love with a designer piece that’s a must-have budget breaker, take a deep breath before you swipe – a quick coffee with your smartphone to shop the item out online can save you hundreds of dollars. You’ll be surprised what current fashions can be found in as-new form for a fraction of the price. Savvy fashionistas treat stores as a place to look and try then go home to buy online.

3. Coupons – not just for grandma

Today, coupon websites like retailmenot.com.au and Ozbargain.com.au are making it ridiculously easy to take your fashion dollar further. Don’t swipe your card or proceed to checkout ever again before checking if there’s a coupon for what you’re about to buy. A 30 second search can bring up coupons for things like free delivery and loyalty gifts, and anywhere between $5 and 75% off your fashion purchases. On average, retailmenot.com.au customers find a way to save $20 from a quick visit to the site and most retailers will accept them at the counter as well as online.

4. Make sure your shopping loyalty is actually being rewarded

How you pay can make a big difference to how rewarding your purchase is. The bad news for loyal ‘points collectors’ is that the goalposts keep moving. In fact, Mozo recently found that over a third of rewards cards now lose you money, charging higher annual fees than can realistically be earned each year in rewards. If you’re spending less than $17,000 a year on your rewards card it’s probably not working in your favour meaning you’d be much better off with a low fee credit or debit card. The fastest way to find out if your card is eating into your fashion budget is to jump on mozo.com.au and see how your card compares. If you aren’t getting a good deal, be ruthless – a better card means less fees and more shoes!

5.  Swap, sell, up-cycle

Most of us only use about 10% of our wardrobes, throwing on the same easy favourites every day and neglecting a growing pile of barely-worn impulse purchases. If you don’t love an item, think about swapping it, selling it or up-cycling. If you have friends the same size as you, organise a closet swap to freshen up your look, or pop unwanted items on eBay and free up the cash (and closet space) for new stuff you really want. Also if you’re handy with needle and thread a little embellishment can go a long way, turning a neglected T-shirt or cardi into a compliment generator.

Kerry Lotzof, a.k.a. “The girl in the green” is a vintage fashion addict and writer, covering lifestyle and finance topics for comparison site mozo.com.au, Australia’s money saving zone.

April 30, 2015

How To Beat The Heat This Summer

Well it’s that time of year again and the mercury is set to soar! It can be particularly deadly for the elderly, babies or young children unless the air con is continuously cranked. The problem is, with the price of power continuously skyrocketing, many of us are getting more and more reluctant to flick the switch. We still want to stay cool but also want enough money for a well deserved holiday. Luckily, it’s possible to have both!

Fans and air conditioning

Fans or air con isn’t a tough choice when it’s stinking hot. Yeah, there’s the environmental impact and all of that, but in the heat of the day during a long hot Aussie summer, who cares about the few bucks you might save? Plus, when it comes to the actual savings of using a fan or the air con, there’s some really technical advice out there and let’s face it, there are so many variables that it’s tricky to calculate.

Basically, I wanted to know if I was going to save dollars or cents by opting to use a fan instead of my air con, during those times when there is a choice. You know those days when you turn on the air con but know you could probably get away with using the fan?  I found the answer and it looks like it’s dollars and a lot of them! According to moneygeek.com.au ceiling or pedestal fans cost a fraction of the running cost of air cons.

In fact, air cons can cost 36.5 times more! To put a dollar value on it, imagine using a fan and it costs $20 to run. If you ran your air con for the same amount of time the cost would be a whopping $730!

Of course, there are variables which effect running costs. A couple of biggie’s are the temperature setting which the air con is programmed to reach and how hard it needs to work to achieve it. If you are going to use your air con, there are some ways to reduce the running costs.

Now, I found a great little tip which recommends using a combination of both to save me some hard earned dollars. Weird right, using the two instead of just one? Apparently if you drop the temperature setting 2-4 degrees and use a fan, you will reduce costs significantly (up to 10 per cent per degree). Your air con will need to work a lot less to achieve its desired output and adding the fan will help circulate the air and drop the temperature. Also, don’t forget to clean the air con filter regularly and that too will reduce the workload.

Window tint and dressings

I’ve recently applied window tint and it’s super easy, cost effective and looks great! Plus, if you rent there are removable versions which are easy to install and are re-usable. It’s a one time investment which can be as low as $100 for 1 x 30 metre lengths, if you shop around. That should cover a fair few windows.

Doing this will make a substantial difference to the amount of heat which passes through the glass, reducing temperature control costs all year round. Some varieties stop as much as 68 per cent of the sun’s heat.

While we’re talking windows, dressings like curtains, indoor or outdoor blinds are really important. Leave all window dressings shut or down during hot days and only open them when the heat recedes. Often people open up their homes too early and end up trying to sleep in excessive heat.

Creating cool air

There are a few ways to create cool air using fans or even the warm night time air which enters via windows. For example, placing ice or damp sheets in front of a fan lowers the temperature of the air as the fan circulates it. Sheets can be easily hung in front of windows to produce the same effect.

This is basically how air coolers work. If you use one of these instead of an air con, add some iced water to produce cooler air.

Use water

Water is by far the best way to cool down without air con. Use spray bottles to keep you, the kids and the pets cool. Soaked or damp towels on the back of the neck are great, especially in hot cars. Large buckets of water can be used to submerge feet (or compete in the ice bucket challenge). Cooling your feet will reduce your overall body temperature.

On especially hot nights, having a bath or cool shower just before bed will also reduce your overall body temperature and enable sleep. Submerge your entire body, including your head. The head retains heat and cooling it will drop the temperature of your entire body.

For the kids, grab some water toys or a small pool. Water is great to entertain, calm and cool the kids and pets. If you create a body of water for the kids it will likely be their favourite place in hot weather. You can fill the bath or if you don’t have one, fill a small pool in the bathroom or laundry when the heat is to extreme to be outside. Be sure to invest in a child lock for access doors and ALWAYS supervise kids around water.

Remember to drink plenty of cool water and always carry some when you leave the house. Even spending $2 a day on bottled water will amount to over $700 over a year. Pack your own and go on a holiday with your savings!

Image via assets.inhabitat.com

January 8, 2015

Weekend Wit: The spirit of Christmas

Ho ho ho, (are we still allowed to say that?) it’s almost another year gone and Christmas is right about to peak! Parents are frantically wrapping all those gifts to slide under the tree labelled “From Santa”. The family Christmas party is all planned, including transport to pick up poor old nanna from her forgotten nursing home. For whoever has the courage to escape, their travel plans are all booked and basically everyone is buzzing around like it’s the second coming of Christ.

When you stop and think about it though, the true meaning of Christmas has basically been bypassed for this commercialised reality, we all now experience as Christmas. TV ads are pushing more and more must have items down our throats. Then they throw in finance commercials to counteract the fact that 90 percent of the population has just maxed out their credit cards.

Then there are the ‘plan for next years Christmas’ messages, before any of us have actually gotten through this one! No wonder the suicide rates boom this time of year. It really is enough to push financially strained individuals over the edge. Plus, there’s no end in sight! Year after year people are subjected to this commercialisation of Christmas and, need I say, it’s only going to get worse.

Now I’ve often thought about approaching the family and saying, “Christmas is a time for being together, to celebrate, eat, drink, rejoice and by-the-way, next year there will be no presents. Not a one. So, heartily enjoy what you got this year because that’s it. I’m out.” I’d bet good money that next year’s Christmas invitation will somehow go missing and I’d be labelled the family Grinch!

Despite the fact that most of us are well and truly over this commercialization, very few of us have the balls to do anything about it. As a society we have successfully set ourselves up to endure this and the true meaning of Christmas is slipping further and further into the ibis.

It does make me wonder though, when this commercialisation began? How did it replace the true spirit of Christmas? Which evil soul or souls thought, “Mmm, Christmas, how can we profit from this annual event? How do we get everyone to spend their hard earned cash, regardless of their religious affiliations?”

Can you picture the scenario? A few business men sat around in their suits and wanted to boost profits, so they called in the advertising gurus who came up with the campaign of a lifetime. Together they made Christmas a commercial event most of us now participate in. They managed to completely bypass all religious considerations. It didn’t matter if people believe in God and Jesus or not. From that day forward Christmas became all about the money; profit making and pumping money into the economy. Talk about a marvelous campaign!

So, in a few days most of us will celebrate Christmas. Yes the credit cards are maxed out, the gifts will be piled high under lavishly decorated tress, seafood and fine food will complete the picture. The kids will open gift number 10 and look to you as if to say, “Is that it?” Glory be the spirit of Christmas. Whatever it’s been created to mean?!

Image source: media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com

December 20, 2014

Expecting Your Annual Christmas Delivery?

Over the next few days and weeks, many thousands of families across this mighty nation are getting ready to fill their pantries, fridges, freezers and receive those Christmas gifts that they have been paying for all year. Painstakingly selected about 12 months ago, 26 or 52 payments later, here it comes. There might be some cool toys for the kids, a bar set for dad, some grog for the old uncle or even a five-star holiday for the family.

You might have guessed that I’m talking about Chrisco, Hamper King, Castle Hampers and others that cash in on Christmas via payment plan industry. These have been around for years and now the variety has stretched way beyond the humble tin of baked beans in a Chrissy hamper.

Now, I’ve looked into these before and seen many friends and family members empty their energy-sucking fridges and freezers to accommodate the goods they’ve purchased. Not only have they paid decent sums of money for this stuff all year, but then they pay overpriced energy companies for food storage all the way through summer and beyond. What, the air-con isn’t going to add to the price; you need to store excess food as well! Bad luck if the power goes out or someone mistakenly turns off the freezer. Now, I’ve seen that happen too. OMG what a waste!

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been handed catalogues and marvelled each year at the ever-increasing range. Gee, that quad bike looks amazing, the kids would love that Metallica pool table and OMG I’d love that new computer. Now, that stuff I understand why people would be tempted. But tempted is all I’ve ever been.

My main deterrent has always been the price. I fail to understand why intelligent women and some men, for that matter, still go through these companies to load up at Christmas time. If I were to head down to the local shops or jump online and have it delivered, I’d be paying around 25% less than what people are paying these companies. That’s $25 for every $100, people!

I’m not the greatest mathematician, but I can certainly see when I’m being ripped off so significantly! So why is this still popular? Why are many struggling families doing this each year? Doesn’t anyone have a smartphone, table, laptop or PC where they can shop on-line and get a Christmas delivery to save a bit of cash? Personally, I’d rather pocket that extra cash. Don’t people do this because Christmas can be so difficult to afford?

Not necessarily. Sheer convenience is all that I can put it down to. I totally understand that it’s much easier to break down Christmas spending into a weekly or fortnightly payment, but there are much better ways to do it.

For example: There are some smaller supermarket chains which you can deposit funds into specifically for Christmas shopping. They offer the same thing and don’t charge you any extra; 100% of the money you pay each week or fortnight is given back to you to spend in-store. They provide a voucher and you don’t need to spend it in one big hit either. You can shop when you like and won’t end up paying extra for food storage.

Then there’s banks or saving institutions. Why not hunt around for a low-fee, high-interest account where you can get a small portion of your pay slipped in there each payday and withdraw the lot at Christmas and shop where the specials are? You can do the Christmas crawl to the shops or shop on-line. It doesn’t matter, because it’s your money to spend anyway you like.

You certainly won’t be limited to what’s in a few catalogues, that’s for sure! You can even pay off holidays and cruises these days, so why on earth are people still doing this? My only advice is, that before you order next years goods, check out the supermarket prices on-line and look into other options. You might still want to pay for the convenience, but with on-line shopping and other options, you can still have that, without the hefty price tag.

Anyway, hopefully I’ve given you something to think about while you’re gearing up for a great Christmas!

Image source: http://automediya.ru/wa-data/public/blog/img/Christmas-Delivery-Dates.jpg

November 25, 2014

10 Ways to Have Fun with Finance (cont’d)

  1. Stop saving for a rainy day – Invest for some sunny days!

    ‘Play’ or ‘Freedom’ money is cash set aside to give you the freedom to take advantage of an opportunity when it comes along. And those opportunities are definitely out there. Saving for a rainy day means putting money aside for when the cappuccino maker blows up, or the plumbing packs it in. Useful situations to have money for, but what about putting that saved money to work for you and building on it. Talk to a financial planner.

  2. Do you suffer from the Cinderella complex?

    Any Cinderella clones out there? Do you secretly harbour a belief or hope that one day a dashing Prince Charming will rescue you from financial destitution, and take care of you forever? This belief will single-handedly block you from achieving your true financial potential unless you do something about it now! As financial strategist Belinda Cheong says, Prince Charming may come along on his white horse, but what if he’s broke! Or he’s rich, but a bastard! Remember, any Prince Charming worth his salt will find a financially independent woman ten times sexier than a co-dependent one.

  3. Believe that Wealth and Happiness can go hand in hand.

    Let go of all your ‘scarcity’ beliefs about money, such as “money is the root of all evil”, or “you can’t be happy and rich”. Whatever you choose to believe, will happen. You can be rich and happy – but only if you believe it, and only if you put a plan in place to make it happen. Remove the words “I can’t afford that” from your vocabulary. Instead, choose to say, “I am awaiting abundance”, or “Soon, I will be able to afford that.” The more you reinforce the positive state of your finances, the faster it will happen for you. Remember, being broke is temporary; being poor is a state of mind.

  4. Write your own shower statement!

    Constantly focusing on your lack of wealth, the debts and bills to pay, and your financial stress means all that will come into your life is poverty, bills, and stress. Yuck. Start focusing on what you do want. Write a financial vision statement – listing your financial goals and dreams. Write a ‘shower statement’ such as ‘every day, I am becoming more financially successful”, or “I am financially and emotionally abundant, I experience wealth in my life every day.” Stick it on your shower wall, and repeat it aloud every morning. Start making yourself feel good.

  5. Make a decision to start now.

    It’s easy to say that you’ll start paying attention to your finances as soon as you’ve paid off your debts, or as soon as you’ve settled these whopping bills. Stop procrastinating. The time to start is now. When you are in charge of your finances, you are in charge of your life. Go and see a financial planner for advice and get the money ball rolling. As Napoleon Hill in ‘Think & Grow Rich’ said, “Anybody can wish for riches, and most people do, but only a few know that a definite plan plus a burning desire for wealth, are the only dependable means of accumulating wealth.”

Kate Hurdley, a qualified Personal Success & Values Coach/Therapist, works with action-oriented women who want to live passionate, rewarding lives. Kate also runs Serenity & Success, an inspirational seminar series targeted at business owners, entrepreneurs and ‘career girls’. These seminars are aimed at helping busy, ambitious people achieve life balance, inspiration and self-awareness.

For details about upcoming seminars, or personal success coaching/therapy, contact Kate at Inspired Excellence on 0414 389 354 or by email: kate@inspiredexcellence.com.au

Belinda Cheong was a speaker at the launch of Serenity & Success seminar series run by Inspired Excellence (0414 389 354). A financial strategist and planner, Belinda is committed to educating people about finance and wealth creation in a fun, uncomplicated way. For more information contact Belinda at Argyle Financial Strategists (Canberra), on (02) 6234 8111, or email her at: argylefinancialstrategists@hotmail.com

January 1, 2001