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Have Your Best Holiday Ever – at Home

Love where you live but can’t seem to relax and switch off enough to make a week at home seem like a holiday? Here are five top tips from business owner and mum of four, Cath Loiacono on how to make the most of spending a holiday at home. You’ll save a fortune and still go back to work feeling like a million dollars.

Cath and Paul Loiacono have been parents for 11 amazing years and now have four kids to keep them busy, plus their own businesses to run. As two people who are self-employed, it’s hard enough to find the time to hand over the reins for a week and just relax. And with the kids to entertain, there are few opportunities on a family holiday to enjoy time together as a couple.

“Paul has run his own company for more than 10 years and I started my online sports and active wear store Fibre15 in the last 12 months,” says Cath. “The last time we went away together was a long weekend in Singapore to see the Formula One Grand Prix and that was five years ago! It was great but took a big effort to organise everything so we could get away without the kids and we just haven’t had the time or energy to do it again.”

So when the couple were out for dinner and daydreaming about having a mini-break, Paul had the idea of taking a week off and staying at home as a way of having some couple time without all the preparation involved in leaving the kids with their grandparents.

Here are Cath’s five tips for making the most of holiday time spent at home, so you can benefit from the best of their experience.

1. Stick to term time

Having the kids in school every day gave us six clear hours to spend just as we wanted. When we holiday with the kids we dedicate most of our time away to doing things they’ll enjoy. The chances of having a five-minute conversation without being interrupted, or lingering over a coffee after lunch are non-existent! And knowing we’d see the kids after school everyday was great. Although we welcome the time alone together, it’s hard not to be thinking about them when we’re away, wondering if they’re OK and that’s not very relaxing either!

2. Get ahead on…

Laundry, shopping and housework etc. A little time spent the week before can spare you from some of those routine chores that get in the way of your holiday time. I did a big grocery shop and had clean school uniforms all hung up and ready to go for the week ahead. I also did a big push on the housework so there would be less to do in the week. Plus, I had Paul around to help in the afternoons when the kids got home so that really cut down on the time it took to stay on top of chores.

3. Be spontaneous

Life with a large family can be very routine. So the thing that made it feel most like a holiday was having the freedom to just make it up as we went along. We might chat about what we’d like to do the night before and depending on the weather forecast we’d decide to check out a movie, walk to the surf club for coffee or take a drive to a new restaurant. The day we went to Sydney was fantastic, because we could just take our time, stop for coffee en route when we felt like it, linger over lunch at the Opera Bar and take a long stroll in the Botanic Gardens. Nothing felt like a rush which made a lovely change from the norm!

4. Hit the road and explore

We had about six hours between sending the kids off to school and being there to welcome them home. So once we’d waved them off, we didn’t hang about and would make tracks for a lunch outing, beach walk or a trip to the city. We’re very lucky to be living in a beautiful part of the NSW Central Coast so being in nature was very easy to do without travelling far. But even spending time in the car talking, just the two of us, was a novelty and something to enjoy. When you take a long drive to visit somewhere special, the journey itself is a rare chance to be together and chat.

5. Make time for kids at the weekend

We rounded off the holiday week by enjoying a couple of nights away with the whole family in the Hunter Valley. It was the perfect way to share the holiday feeling with our four children and give them the best of ourselves and our full attention for an entire weekend. We’d spent the whole week reconnecting with each other so it was really easy to be relaxed. Exploring the Mega Creatures expo in the Hunter Valley Gardens made it feel like a special occasion for our little ones.

So was Cath and Paul’s experiment in holidaying at a home a success? “This is something we’ll be doing every year from now on,” says Cath. “The money you save on travel and accommodation is just the beginning of the benefits of taking a break at home. When you go on holiday, there’s a lot of luck involved in choosing the right location and accommodation that has everything you need. Holidaying at home takes away all that uncertainty and you don’t need to worry about packing enough of the right clothes for changeable weather or extra activities you might want to do. All in all, it’s a really easy way to relax and switch-off without all the stress and hassle that can be part of travelling with a big family.


article source here.

6 Emergency Numbers To Have On Hand

There are some phone numbers it is important to have easy access to, particularly in an emergency situation or if you find yourself stranded for whatever reason.

Everyone’s situation is different though so it’s worth sitting down and compiling a list for yourself. Write them down and keep them in your wallet or by your landline, or store them in your mobile, either way, make sure they are easy to get to. Below are a few suggestions to get you started.


  1. Emergency services
    000 (Australia) and 111 (New Zealand).
  2. After hours medical assistance
    National GP Help Line (Aus) 1800 022 222 and National Healthline (NZ) 0800 611 116.
  3. Poison information Centre
    13 11 26 (Aus) and 0800 764 766 (NZ).
  4. Roadside help
    Your roadside assistance or vehicle insurer in the case of theft, accident or breakdown.
  5. Next of kin
    Your next of kin or a reliable friend’s phone number in case you need to get hold of someone.
  6. Banking
    Your bank or credit card provider’s emergency hotline in the case your card is missing or stolen.


Article source here.

Most Young Adults Will Live To 70

The risk of dying during middle age has dropped substantially and Australians in their twenties have an almost 90 per cent chance of surviving until the age of 70, according to a new study.

In light of the findings, researchers have called for more to be done to help Australians live disability-free lives in old age.

Researchers at Monash University analysed epidemiological data from the Human Mortality Database to predict the chance of a 20-year-old living to 70 for every decade between 1960 to 2010.

According to the analysis, the chance of young men and women living to this age was 54 per cent and 72 per cent respectively.

This rose to 82 per cent and 89 per cent respectively in 2010.

The study found the risk of dying during middle age dropped substantially, especially when it came to dying from cardiovascular diseases.

Looking at the 1960 mortality rates, 29 per cent of men and 16 per cent of women died of cardiovascular disease (CVD) before age 70, compared with five per cent of men and two per cent of women in 2010.

Cancer mortality also declined, by 21 per cent in men, 22 per cent in women.

While the declining mortality among middle-aged Australians is good news, the researchers say it has serious implications for an ageing population.


“In 2012, 53 per cent of the 3.3 million Australians aged 65 years or more had some form of disability, compared with 16 per cent of those aged 25-64 years.

“While the disability rate among older Australians has been relatively steady since 1981, projections based on 1998 prevalence rates predict that the absolute number of older people with profound disabilities will double between 2006 and 2031.”


Article source here.

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Sharp rise in living costs for pensioners.

Workers may be getting a little excited about the prospect of a tax cut in next week’s federal budget to help with their cost of living pressures, but new figures suggest it is retirees who may need a greater helping hand.

Consumer confidence, according to one survey, has risen for three straight weeks heading into next Tuesday’s budget where personal income tax cuts are expected to be its centrepiece.

However, despite this better mood, respondents may have been a little surprised by the benign result of the latest quarterly inflation figures released last month, particularly if they are struggling to make ends meet in a low wage growth environment.

The consumer price index, which measures a basket of goods and services, rose just 0.4 per cent in the March quarter for an annual rate of 1.9 per cent, below the Reserve Bank two to three per cent target band.

However, the Australian Bureau of Statistics also produces its cost of living indexes every three months, which measure the impact of inflation on various households.

They gauge how much after-tax incomes need to change to allow different types of households to purchase the same quantity of consumer goods in a given period.

For employee households, the cost of living is calculated to have grown at a slightly higher rate than the CPI would suggest, increasing at 0.5 per cent for an annual rate of two per cent.

The bureau blames this on a 2.8 per cent increase in education fees at the start of the new school year and a 1.1 per cent rise in transport costs through rising petrol prices.

This assumes employee households are raising children and need to travel to and from work while enjoying falls in international holiday travel if they took advantage of winter off-peak sales.

However, age pensioner households are deemed to have a greater reliance on health products and services, which rose 5.5 per cent in the March quarter.

The bureau also calculated such households would have endured a 0.7 per cent increase in housing costs, including electricity.

Overall, pensioners would have seen a cost of living increase of 0.8 per cent over the quarter, double the quarterly rate of CPI.


Article source here.

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Fairer wages for Aussies with disabilities.

Working Australians with disabilities should get fairer a pay deal after the Fair Work Commission ordered a new classification and wage structure to address the loopholes in the existing framework.

Stakeholders and the federal government are expected to work together with the commission to develop the new wage framework within a “reasonable time” for supported employees’ fair pay.

Australian Disability Enterprises employ people with disabilities at award wages and who need ongoing support, with tasks adjusted to suit abilities.

But under the current award, they are required to use the Supported Wage System tool to determine wage rates for supported employees which the commission found was inadequate.

“It does not take into account the proper range of work value consideration used to assess award wage rates … it may not adequately measure non-productive time at work … does not provide a sufficiently objective and relevant means of identifying the performance benchmark by which any SWS assessment is conducted,” the April 16 statement reads.

It comes after another wage assessment tool was removed from the award list in 2015 after it was found to have discriminated against workers and breached the Disability Discrimination Act.

The report found employers were able to make their own rates and classification structures, pay people differently for equivalent tasks and may even be in contravention of the Disability Discrimination Act.

Despite a modified version of the SWS to take effect on July 1, the commission found it did not go far enough to resolve the problems.

“We consider that the use of all existing wage assessment tools should be phased out over a period of time. They should be replaced by a redesigned classification structure for Grades 1-3 of the award which sets the full award age rates for supported employees,” it states.

The new national wage assessment tool will give an assessment of the size of the job and the output of the supported employee compared to a full award rate at the same grade, the report states.

The new mechanism would be trialled early in the phase-out to determine wage cost impacts and any other issues before the commission approves it into the award.

NSW-based disability enterprise The Flagstaff Group CEO Roy Rogers said the commission listened to the ADEs, supported employees, families and carers.

“It is an informed and practical decision that we can work with to ensure secure, supported, and long-term employment for people with a disability now and in the future,” he said.



Article source here.

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How supermarkets influence your buying.

When you walk into a supermarket, the game begins between you and the sales/marketing team of that supermarket. Your goal is usually to get in and out with the groceries that you need. Whereas, their goal is to influence your buying in an attempt to get you to spend as much money as possible. Largely, this is done by specifically designing a supermarket that leverages off the findings from behavioural economics research.

The entrance

A humble trolley
Prior to walking into the supermarket, you will often head over to the trolley area. Unfortunately, there is more to that humble trolley than you might think.

One of the first shopping trolleys, referred to as a ‘folding basket carrier’, was introduced in 1937. It consisted of a foldable metal frame that moved around on wheels and could hold two small baskets. Since then, the design has undergone numerous changes. However, of most note has been its size and carrying capacity. For example, most trolleys that you find today in supermarkets are much larger in size and carrying capacity than their predecessors.

Whilst there are many good reasons for this change, a larger array of items available in supermarkets to purchasefor example, a major reason is the impact that a trolley’s size and carry capacity has on us from a psychological point of view. Namely, the bigger the trolley, the greater the likelihood that we will be inclined to fill it further.

First impressions 
You have probably heard the phrase, ‘First impressions matter’. When it comes to supermarkets, this is particularly relevant. As we often have multiple competing priorities, setting the time aside to do the shopping can be quite stressful (especially if we have children that need to tag along). This means that our initial mood when we step through the entrance of a supermarket can often not be ideal from the point of view of a supermarket’s sales/marketing team. Namely, we want to get the experience over and done with as quickly as possible.

Consequently, after negotiating the trolley selection, the first thing that confronts you in a supermarket is often the bakery and fresh produce sections, as well as some ambient music playing over the internal speakers. The smell of freshly baked goods, the brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, and the often slow tempo music are all attempts to try to ‘recalibrate’ your mood to something more conducive. They are looking to elicit two main responses, relaxation and hunger, because studies have shown that these things can influence your spending behaviour:

  • Relaxed = more time spent in the supermarket, leading to increased purchasing.
  • Hunger = more food item purchases.

The layout

Department locations
Have you ever had to pick up some mid-week supplies, such as bread and milk, and found yourself with a few extra items when you reach the checkout area? One of the reasons for this is the layout of the supermarket departments (bakery, fresh produce, meat/deli, general grocery, dairy, frozen goods etc.).

By placing essential items, such as the bread and milk example above, at different ends of a store, it requires you to walk through other departments to get to what you want. This tactic is aimed at distracting and enticing you towards other items that you see along the way.

There are many tactics employed by the sales/marketing team when it comes to aisles, such as displays and general product placement. We have listed a few here:

  • Displays. Research has shown that when people shop, they tend to go around the edges of the supermarket, dipping in and out of the aisles. Consequently, items on display at the end of aisles aim to entice you. Unfortunately, despite them often being accompanied by signs saying ‘SPECIAL’, they are usually highly priced items (with high-profit margins) when compared to alternatives.
  • Aisle width. You will often find that the aisles are quite wide in supermarkets, noticeably more so than in the past. This is not just for your convenience when manoeuvring your oversized trolley around other people (and their oversized trolley). Wide aisles, just like the freshly baked goods, the brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, and the slow tempo music, aim to make you feel relaxed and… relaxed = more time spent in the supermarket, leading to increased purchasing.
  • Eye level. It’s often human nature to focus on things that are at eye level. The sales/marketing team frequently take advantage of this by putting expensive items at eye level (even if they have a SPECIAL sign). As such, by looking above and below eye level, you may find cheaper, but still good quality alternatives. However, importantly, certain aisles are set to influence two different eye levels, namely, adults and children. You can probably guess which aisles these are.
  • Charm pricing. By marking an item with a nine at the end ($5.99), many of us are still falling victim to the belief that it’s a good deal. This can be in terms of a comparison between a rounded alternative ($6.00) or with shopping in general.
  • Spend and save. You have probably seen multiple purchase pricing many times before, the five-for-$5 deals for example. Often people that are enticed by this offer tend to buy five items when in fact they probably only needed one. A slight variation to multiple purchase pricing, but with a similar premise, is the ‘buying one item and getting the second for half price’ example.
  • Emotional purchases. There are some items in the supermarket that you may engage with on an emotional level, coffee/tea or baby food for example. Because of this, you may spend a little more time before making a decision. As such, you will often find these types of items in the middle of the aisle. The rationale behind this can be as follows:
    • It draws you further into the aisle so that you interact with other items.
    • It stops you from obstructing others from entering the aisle.
  • Layout swaps. When you have been shopping in a particular supermarket for some time, you might reach a point where you think you have figured out where everything is located. This serves to not only make you more efficient in your shopping time, but also less susceptible to distractions and enticements. Consequently, from time to time, a supermarket will undergo a layout swap, with the aim of disorientating you and subsequently exposing you to other items.

The finish line

Checkouts and those last minute purchases
You made it, albeit probably with a little more in your trolley than expected. Now it’s time to put everything through the checkout. But wait, what about those chocolates, magazines, and chewing gum that are just within arm’s reach. This is one of the last attempts by the sales/marketing team to get you to purchase more items. Unfortunately, this can often be especially difficult to navigate past if you have children accompanying you.

Moving forward

As you might have already been aware, the supermarket is a complex place. Thought has been put into every little detail often with the sole aim of influencing your buying. So when you do your next grocery shop take some time to be mindful of all the different tactics that are employed by a supermarket’s sales/marketing team – you might just find that you spend less and save more.

Lastly, we leave you with a few handy tips for your next shop:

  1.  Plan your meals in advance.
  2.  Consult your fridge/freezer/pantry for items you already have.
  3.  Write a shopping list before heading to the supermarket.
  4.  Although, not always possible, consider leaving children at home with the spouse.
  5.  Opt for a basket over the shopping trolley.
  6.  Look at the unit prices between packaged and unpackaged items.
  7.  Despite rewards programs, don’t be afraid to shop around for a better price.


Article source here.