Monthly Archives: August 2019

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How personal finance is changing in the US

I am writing this in Los Angeles where I’ve been attending the premiere of the film Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy, which explains Napoleon Hill’s famous success principles, and features cameo appearances by people such as me whose lives have been transformed after reading the book Think and Grow Rich.
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The launch of the film was timed to coincide with the 80th anniversary of Hill’s book, which was released in 1937. It has since sold over 100 million copies and is still widely regarded as the best personal success book ever written. Film distribution is currently being negotiated, but I expect it will be available in Australia in the new year.

In Australia, we tend to get the impression that the United States is a dangerous country amid a sea of troubles, but the reality is different: this is the world’s biggest economy and it is booming. The freeways of Los Angeles are busier than ever, the restaurants and shopping malls are packed, and everywhere we went felt extremely safe.

We were surprised by the virtual invisibility of President Donald Trump. Anybody who has arrived at Los Angeles International Airport will remember the huge photo of the President of the day that usually welcomes all arrivals. Currently there is just a huge empty space where the photo normally hangs. Why? Nobody could offer an explanation.

When I tried to discuss politics with friends from both sides of politics nobody really wanted to talk much. The Republicans reckon Trump is doing a reasonable job despite being under constant attack from a hostile media, and the Democrats are taking the “I told you so” line. Most Americans I encountered were far more interested in football and baseball. We were surprised by all the bumper stickers supporting Bernie Sanders for President in 2020.

Two big changes are the growing dominance of cashless transactions and Uber. Apart from needing a few dollars in cash to tip hotel staff, I got by with my 28 Degrees MasterCard, which is still giving the best exchange rates. The Americans will accept a card for any amount – none of those ridiculous minimum amounts that some businesses foist on us in Australia.

Uber cars are everywhere, and the fares are so cheap they have become the most practical form of transport in most cities. But to use Uber you need a mobile phone connected to the internet, which can be a problem for travellers. Luckily, Telstra have come to the party in spades. Their international travel pass costs just $10 a day and includes all phone calls and text messages. Data of 100 megabytes is also included, but if you exceed that amount $10 buys you an additional 500 megabytes, which is good for 30 days. And, on days when you don’t use your phone no fees are charged. Believe me, it’s a comforting feeling to have a fully operational phone 24/7 and to know it’s only costing $10 a day.

Tips are a fact of life in America, where the basic hourly rate is less than $10, and two weeks’ annual holidays are the norm. But as the years pass, the standard tip has gone from 15 per cent to 20 per cent, with some places even adding another 4 per cent for health insurance. It does make dining out expensive, but American portions are so huge a couple can eat reasonably cheaply by ordering courses to share. The restaurants have no problem with this, and you will not go away hungry.

The US dollar strengthened as the days passed, making our spending more expensive, but I took solace in the knowledge that 30 per cent of my superannuation is invested in international managed funds heavily exposed to the US dollar. It was the perfect hedge.

Noel Whittaker is the author of Making Money Made Simple and numerous other books on personal finance. His advice is general in nature and readers should seek their own professional advice before making any financial decisions. Email: [email protected]南京夜网419论坛

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Three budget-friendly ways to revive the look of your kitchen

The kitchen is one of the most used rooms in the home, which means it’s especially prone to wear and tear. And walking into a kitchen that feels grimy, dated or dull can be particularly uninspiring when you want to cook or entertain.
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“[Kitchens] are highly functional spaces that need to work well for all tasks,” says interior stylist Emma Blomfeld. “If your kitchen is badly designed, it will affect the way you use the space and impact you daily.”

But not everyone has the time, money or inclination to devote to a full renovation. So here are three quick and easy ways to spruce up the look of your kitchen without breaking the bank. Re-jig the joinery

Cabinets, drawers and other storage spaces take up so much real estate in the average kitchen that they are some of the first things people consider when itching for a change. Quick cosmetic fixes, such repainting your cabinets, can go a long way toward brightening up the look of a dingy kitchen.

“If the cabinetry is in good condition, spraying it a new, fresh colour will change the look of the room immediately,” says Blomfield.

Even if you are happy with the colour of your cabinets, a new coat of paint can lift the grubby-looking fingerprint stains and scratches that usually come with years of use.

If you are considering a colour change, stick to the basics, says interior designer Therese Carrodus, of Full of Grace Interiors. Related: What a kitchen renovation actually costsRelated: The most common kitchen renovation questionsRelated: Is the kitchen the most important room?

“A simple, sophisticated kitchen will always look lovely in a neutral tone, so making the cabinetry white or light grey will keep things soft and clean.”

Switching out the cabinet handles can also be an easy fix. Carrodus recommends contemporary shapes with tactile finishes that hide finger marks, such as round beaten copper knobs or a slimline pull handle in aged brass.

New paint colours and handles may not be enough to revive cheap or old cabinet door fronts, but that doesn’t mean you have to shell out for new cabinets. Architect and renovator Amelia Lee, of Undercover Architect, suggests replacing only the cupboard fronts and drawers.

“It can be quite cost effective for you to pay a joiner to make up the door fronts and get them pre-drilled with a suitable hinge points based on how your cabinetry is arranged,” Lee says.

If you like the look of your tableware, glasses or small appliances, consider removing your cabinet doors all together. Open shelving can help make a sterile room feel more casual, welcoming and homey.

Before and after of a project by DIY specialist Natasha Dickins of Little Red Industries.Make a splash with a splashback

A splashback’s main purpose is to protect your walls from mess and splatter, but it’s often the unsung hero of the kitchen remodel.

“We kind of underestimate how a new splashback can dramatically change the look and feel of your kitchen,” says Lee.

Splashbacks come in a seemingly endless array of styles, from temporary acrylic wallpaper to elaborate mosaic tile. It’s also relatively affordable and easy to change, so a splashback is one of the best ways to showcase your personal taste.

“Joinery and benchtops can be very permanent choices. But with a splashback, people will often go for something that’s a bit more on trend,” Lee says. “It is something you can have a bit of fun with, or choose something that’s a bit bolder.”

A splashback can also help you connect the kitchen to the overall style of your home, says Carrodus.

“Selecting a marble splashback looks beautiful and will make the kitchen feel instantly more luxe, so it really depends on the look you’re going for,” she says. “I personally love coloured handmade ceramic tiles with texture to add interest to an otherwise crisp-clean looking kitchen.” Upgrade your appliances

It may not be the most exciting or creative way to update a space, but new appliances will add instant appeal to your kitchen, especially if you want to spend time cooking in it.

Lee says renovators on a budget can be drawn to the idea of painting or refurbishing the cabinets, when new appliances would have a bigger impact on their day-to-day experience in the kitchen.

“If you enjoy cooking and you’ve got a crappy oven and cooktop, new appliances will actually change how you feel in the kitchen.” This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Hunter pallet business at mercy of timber shortage

Tough times: Hunter Valley Pallets owners Tina and Simon Henriques with their daughter, and acting general manager, Daniela Matheson. Picture: Jonathan CarrollA shock timber shortage has threatened to ruin afamily business that’s been in the Hunter for two decades.
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Hunter Valley Pallets acting general manager Daniela Matheson said the Cameron Park business’supply of timber plummeted by about 75 per cent overnight last month and hasn’t picked up again.

It’s left the enterprise, which employs 20people andmakes pallets mainly for locally-based manufacturing and mining companies, on the brink of collapse.

“It came out of nowhere –there was no heads-up, nothing,” Ms Matheson said.

“Immediately, we freaked out. Secondly, we had to look around at what we could get on the market.

“Plywood was the one thing we could get plenty of –the cost of plywood pretty well tripled our customers’ current product and there was so much wastage.”

Ms Matheson said the business had the contacts, customers and staff numbersto grow, but the inability to source the basic material to make their product hadcreated uncertainty for their client base.

The business has already lost one of its major contracts, worth $1.2 million, in recent weeks. So Ms Matheson and her parents, business owners Simon and Tina Henriques, held talks on Thursday in an attemptto find a solution before the problem causesirreparable damage.

They met with Vacy hemp farmer Bob Doyle, to discuss the possibility of using his product to make their pallets, as well as Australian Industry Group regional manager Adrian Price and Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon –who is also the federal shadowminister for agriculture, fisheries and forestry.

“In Australiawe are rightfully more aware of the need for sustainable practices, so we’re not harvesting native forests like we used to do and we’re relying more and more heavily on plantation,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

“Plantation has a very long cycle –between 15 and 30 years –so you need a long-term strategy from the federal government and we just don’t have one. We need to get some security of supply of traditional products but we also need to diversify and I think using hemp is a fantastic idea.”

Rebels coach will play Hodge at No.10 if it benefits Australian rugby

CARDIFF: New Melbourne Rebels coach Dave Wessels says he was suitably impressed by Reece Hodge’s first start at No.10 for the Wallabies and has made it clear he is happy for the youngster to play there next Super Rugby season if it benefits Australian rugby.
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Before last weekend’s match, Hodge had played all 10 Wallabies Tests this year on the wing – half from the bench and half in the starting XV.

Bernard Foley’s late withdrawal due to illness presented Hodge with an opportunity to take on the role of chief playmaker and he did it with absolute aplomb as the Wallabies crushed Japan 63-30.

Although Hodge will move back to the wing this Saturday against Wales, one man who has been watching with interest is Wessels.

The former Western Force coach is putting the pieces of the puzzle together for his back-line next year, a group that contains the likes of Will Genia, Dane Haylett-Petty, Marika Koroibete and Jack Maddocks.

Wessels has been in regular dialogue with Wallabies coach Michael Cheika about what to do with Hodge, a player many believe could one day fill Foley’s shoes.

Rather than adopting a “let’s do things my way” approach, Wessels is more concerned about what is best for Australian rugby when it comes to discussing the number on Hodge’s back.

“It’s about deciding whether playing No.10 is best for Reece, best for us as a team and what is best for Australian rugby,” Wessels told Fairfax Media. “I’m very clear that we feel a responsibility to help the Wallabies achieve some of their goals and we know that if the Wallabies are going well, it has a knock-on effect for everybody in Australian rugby.

“To Cheik’s credit, I don’t think he’s dictating that to anybody. Cheik will probably be open to whatever we want to do but I value his opinion.

“I’ve had a couple of discussions with Reece and he’s really impressed me. He’s got a lot of appealing qualities. He’s got speed and played Test rugby in the outside backs. You’d say he’s got a lot of the things that could make him a really high-quality 10.

“The best thing of all is just how calm he is. It’s a big ask to have your first game in a long game at 10 and then do that at Test level. He just looked really calm and took it all on board.”

Wessels has also heaped praise on another Rebels young gun in Jack Maddocks.

The 20-year-old has been taken on the spring tour as a development player after catching Cheika’s eye in his debut Super Rugby season.

“I look at a guy there who I think could potentially play an important role at a World Cup,” Wessels said. “There’s a huge amount to do there between where he is now and where he is going to end up but I’m looking forward to working with him.”

The return of Force back-rower Ben McCalman and the rise of Matt Philip, who made his Test debut last week, have given Wessels immense satisfaction.

“I said to Cheik before the [Japan] game that I thought Ben was really going to blow it away,” Wessels said. “He came out and he was absolutely steaming. Ben’s a pretty special athlete. He showed what he was capable of.

“And you can’t be more proud of a guy like Matt and what he’s achieved. If I think to a year ago when he arrived in Perth, would he be a Wallaby? To be honest, I didn’t think so. I can tell you over the last couple of months I started to think that he could definitely be a Wallaby.”

On the topic of Adam Coleman potentially moving to Melbourne, as has been widely speculated, Wessels, who mentored the Wallabies second-rower at the Force, confirmed he was still a chance of joining the Rebels next season.

“We’re continuing to talk to him at this stage,” Wessels said. “Everybody in Australian rugby recognises that we’d like to keep Adam. I have a good relationship with Adzy and I enjoy working with him. Ultimately it really is the player’s decision.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.