Update Your Wardrobe With a Clothes Swap

woman picking clothes

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Whenever I look at my closet, I often think I need to update my wardrobe and that I should do a clothes swap with my more stylish friends.

The following is an excerpt from my latest post at Suburban Finance:

If you took a look inside my closet, you would see that I don’t have a lot of clothing to begin with.  My partner’s portion of our closet is filled with much more clothing. Despite the fact he keeps saying most of it is ugly, he doesn’t bother to get rid of things he doesn’t like or wear anymore.

Closet Purging

A few months ago, my sister helped me do a closet purge. Since she is the more fashionable one, the purge felt like something right out of a “What Not to Wear” episode. I tried to justify keeping some articles of clothing and a few things she said were: “Get rid of it.” “You have too many hoodies and too many things with flowers on them.” “That’s ugly.” After we were done, my closet looked even emptier, but at least it was filled with clothing I wore quite often. The clothing I had gotten rid of was donated to the Salvation Army.

Wishing everyone and their families a Happy Easter! :)

Speaking Up When It Matters

woman speaking up

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I’m a Listener and an Observer

If I had a dollar every time someone told me to speak up, I would have a lot more money in my bank account right now. I have a somewhat soft voice and I constantly have to repeat myself in order to be heard. Sometimes I feel I need to carry a microphone or a megaphone with me to amplify the sound of my voice.

It probably is one of the reasons why I’m not really into huge group discussions at the table. It’s too hard to talk over people. The smaller the group, the better. I’m more of a listener than a talker.  I would also say that I’m an observer. It’s amazing how much you can pick up on when you just sit and watch other people.

Their reactions, their facial expression and their body language.

I Was a People Pleaser

For most of my life, I haven’t really spoken up about anything. I’m that type of person who tries to avoid conflict at all costs and who cared so much about what others thought or thought of me.  I was the one who tried to get along with everyone and make everyone like me. It was only recently that I have come to terms that nobody how hard I try and no matter how nice I am, not everyone will like me.  I’m not sure why it took so long for me to accept it, but now I am at the point where I don’t care.  I think being in the current position I am in my career, has helped me develop a tougher skin. Certain situations have reached a point in which I’ve had no choice to speak up and in doing so, I am now not as afraid to say what needs to be said.

Speaking Up At Work

My program in university offered a work-study option, in which I would go to school for a term and the following term I would work. It was great for several reasons because I got a break from school, made some money for school, and got some relevant experience to put on my resume when I graduated.

Two of my work terms I really enjoyed because of the work environment, the people and I gained a lot of valuable work experience. Unfortunately, my other two work terms were the complete opposite.  I wasn’t doing much work relevant to what I was studying, so I was absolutely bored out of my mind- which I understand a lot of student jobs can be like that. However, I was paying extra money to be in the work-study program and I wasn’t just going to sit around and do nothing most of the day.  I eventually got the courage to talk to my supervisors and demanded more work. More fulfilling work. Work that I could actually put on my resume. Thankfully they listened and provided me with tasks in which I would learn something.

Looking back at both those situations, if I hadn’t said anything, I would have been extremely bored and would have had nothing to write up in my work report on what I did during my work term.

I would have to say those two somewhat crappy work terms were a turning point for me.

Being Brave Before Being Heard

For the longest time in my part-time job, I had an issue which was making my job difficult to do and affecting the people around me.  For the most part, I thought it was best to ignore it. I figure I could sweep it under the rug and was hoping it would go away.

Well, it didn’t.

It got to the point where I couldn’t do my job as well, it was distracting me and even other people were starting to get annoyed by it.  I finally decided to take a stand and speak up about it. Low and behold, the people causing the issue listened and it seems the situation was resolved.  Other people told me they were glad I spoke up about it and was brave in doing so.

It was somewhat of a minor issue that had escalated.  If only I had addressed in the first place, it wouldn’t have escalated.

I sometimes feel that I have to summon all my courage and be brave before I can be heard.

Do you feel you can voice your opinions easily when they need to be heard?

 

Side note: My full-time job and part-time job will keep me MIA for the next couple of weeks and I do apologize for that.  I hope to have at least a couple of more posts in before I leave for my trip to Greece (!) in mid-May.  If you would like to do a guest post for me next month, shoot me an email. :)

 Also, if you haven’t already done so, be sure to check out my post on why you actually may need to keep up with the Joneses.

GUEST POST: Moving to Australia? Top 7 reasons why you need health insurance

The following post is a guest post courtesy of HBF Health Limited Australia.

health insurance claim form

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If you are planning on moving to Australia, or you have recently arrived, there are numerous factors to consider and plan for. One important thing to think about is health insurance. While there is a public Medicare system that you may be eligible for, getting private health insurance can give you more choice on the treatment you receive, and peace of mind that you and your family is covered.

 

Mix and Match

When you are choosing health insurance, you can choose hospital cover, extras cover or a combination of both. You can choose hospital cover from one insurer, extras from another insurer, you could get combined cover from one insurer, or you could choose to only have one type of cover.

You can also tailor your policy to suit your needs. If you are planning on starting a family, you can get pregnancy-related cover, or if you are older, you can get cover for joint replacements and other age-related conditions. If you want the best health insurance in Australia, compare all your options and choose the policy – or policies – that provide the cover you need.

Choice of Extras

When you choose extras cover, there are generally a number of options to choose from. From optical and dental, to chiropractic and alternative services. Think about the extras you and your family would benefit from, and find an extras policy that gives you want you need.

 

Shorter Waiting Periods

Waiting lists in the public healthcare system can be long. However, if you have private health insurance, you may have shorter waiting periods for elective surgery, and you may be able to choose your doctor. Find out more about waiting periods from your insurer before you sign up.

 

Private Health Care Rebate

If you sign up for private health insurance in Australia, you may be entitled to a rebate. This rebate can go towards the cost of your health insurance, reducing premium prices. The private health insurance rebate is determined by your income, and can be claimed in a number of ways. Find out more are about the rebate on the government website.

 

SinglesFamilies ≤$88,000≤$176,000 $88,001-102,000$176,001-204,000 $102,001-136,000$204,001-272,000 ≥$136,001≥$272,001
Rebate
<   age 65 30% 20% 10% 0%
Age   65-69 35% 25% 15% 0%
Age   70+ 40% 30% 20% 0%
Medicare   Levy Surcharge
All   ages 0.0% 1.0% 1.25% 1.5%

 

 

Medicare Levy

The Medicare Levy is also means-tested. Depending on your income, you will pay a certain levy to the government to help cover the costs of Medicare. However, if you have private health insurance and you meet certain criteria, your Medicare Levy may be waived.

Lifetime Health Cover Loading

Lifetime Health Cover loading is designed as an incentive to encourage Australians to buy private health insurance. Get hospital cover before July 1 following your 31st birthday and you can avoid loading. If you miss this deadline, you will pay an extra 2% on top of your premiums for every year you are over 31 when you do sign up for health insurance.

For example, a 40-year-old who signs up for health insurance for the first time will pay 20% more for their policy than a 30-year-old. Loading is capped at 70%. Migrants to Australia have one year from their Medicare registration, or until July 1 following their 31st birthday to get private health insurance and avoid loading. Again, check the government website for more info.

 

Peace of Mind

Private health insurance can offer you peace of mind that if something bad were to happen to you or a member of your family, your health fund could cover your treatment (depending on your cover type and level). By choosing the right health insurance policy, you can relax in the knowledge that you are covered, no matter what.

 

GUEST POST: Tips For Buying a New Home

money being exchanged for house

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The following post is a guest post courtesy of IMB Ltd, one of Australia’s largest building societies.

 

Emigrating? Tips for buying a new home

Buying a house can be stressful enough. From finding the right home in the right neighbourhood, to finding a mortgage, to dealing with solicitors, real estate agents, conveyancers and lenders. It can be a demanding experience for even the most organised, relaxed person.

Buying a house in another country, however – perhaps a country you don’t know very well – is likely to be even more stressful. If you’re planning a move to another country, check out the following checklist for potential homebuyers.

 

Consider renting

If you don’t know the area you’re moving to it can be a good idea to rent before you buy. Each city or region has good areas and bad areas, and you are unlikely to know which areas to avoid unless you have spent some time there. Spend some time checking out different areas of town at different times of day, and find one that offers the atmosphere you’re looking for, and that suits your needs.

Renting can also take the pressure off, letting you take your time finding the right house to buy. Buying a house is a huge decision – one that shouldn’t be rushed.

 

Know your budget

Before you start looking for homes or home loans, you need to work out what you can afford. This can help you narrow the market and choose a home you can actually afford. Use a mortgage repayment calculator to work out a repayment schedule that fits within your budget, and use that information to work out how much you can afford to borrow overall.

 

Do your research

When you buy a house, there is a lot of research involved. When you buy overseas, there is even more research to be done. You will need to research neighbourhoods, mortgages, lenders, and real estate agents. You will need to find out how the house-buying process works in the country you’re moving to, and what you need to do to get things right.

 

Get pre-approval

Before you start looking at homes, it’s a good idea to get pre-approval on your home loan (if it’s available). This will let you work out a price range on houses, and it will give you the security to make an offer with confidence. If you’re moving to a new country, you may find it difficult to get a home loan without a credit history in that country. Find out which lenders are more likely to offer you a loan, and what you need to provide to convince them to lend to you.

 

Know what you want

Once you’ve done your research and got pre-approval, it’s time to decide what you want from your new house. Make a list of all the things that are important to you – the number of bedrooms, a yard, a garage, the location of the house, what facilities you would like nearby – to create a better idea of what you want and need.

 

Find a real estate agent

When you are buying a home in unfamiliar surroundings, it can be a good idea to employ the services of a real estate agent. While this is not essential, it can make life much easier. A  real estate agent can give you advice, telling you what you can expect for your budget, letting you know what’s possible and what’s not, and making sure you do everything correctly for the sale.

Haggling To Get the Best Deal

 

vegetables at a farmer's market

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“What do you think of when you first hear the word haggling? Do you imagine yourself at a flea market browsing the aisles for antiques? Or do you picture a garage sale with people looking through old boxes and milk crates full of odds and ends?

Most of my haggling has been done overseas while on vacation in a foreign country.

I absolutely love going to their local markets or even vendors on the side of the road and checking out their handicrafts. Locals know you’re a tourist and assume you have lots of money. In my experience, when I ask how much, I find they’ll often offer me a price which is pretty high (It helps to know the conversion rate to see if you’re being ripped off, as well as a bit of the language so you can ask how much and say things like too expensive).  And so begins the battle of bargaining, naming prices back and forth until either you’re satisfied or you walk away in search of a better bargain.”

Read more about my thoughts on haggling @ Suburban Finance.