Monday 28 October 2013

Monday Slideshow (Oct #5)

OK so we are hopeless at keeping things together with this blog.  Last week I said I would blog about house projects and didn't.  Then the Friday Finance post didn't happen either, and today I didn't think I had anything for your in terms of a slideshow!!  Gahhhhhhh!  But then, maybe we do...
We went to Cairns at the weekend for Sasha's Irish Dancing, her last competition for the year, and unfortunately there was very little time for photography and/or sight seeing.  So my camera barely left it's bag.  I did try to take some decent shots of the nightlife while we were waiting for a firework display but a) the camera settings just weren't right - I am still learning and night time photography sans tripod with an SLR is like hell for me, I just can't get the settings right; and b) the firework display never eventuated.  Or that's what we thought, our hotel had told us it was 50K worth of fireworks at 9pm and we shouldn't miss it!!  After our dinner we rushed to the esplanade to get a decent seat and waited, and waited and waited til the kids were totally over it.  We got back to our hotel and asked about them...'oh no, the fireworks were at 8pm' Arrrghhhhh!!!!  We'd missed them!  The kids were not happy, and neither was I!
So all I can offer you is a miniature combined Friday Finance/Monday Slideshow, consisting of the few pictures I did take at the weekend plus this added finance tip...if your son or daughter ever comes home from school saying 'I'd like to start Irish Dancing" immediately talk to your financial advisor about some kind of trust fund to help pay for it over the next 10 or 15 years, it'll be worth it!!

This one's for you Mr Tully, even the arrow in the road points to your name!

Although it is a very stop/start kinda drive (60kph-80kph-100kph-80kph etc) it is also very picturesque.

We were lucky enough to have some points left at Hilton to get a free nights accommodation

Which they then kindly upgraded to a water view and spa room, they also gave us free breakfast which was an enormous buffet - loved it!

It was beautiful and we couldn't fault them - apart from the fireworks issue.

The girls made friends with the pool as soon as we arrived


My POOR attempt at night settings on my camera whilst talking to friends and watching the kids

They really are woeful, any tips from anyone about online DSLR courses and tutorials would be gratefully received

Of course if I'd had my tripod they would be infinitely better but I still need to learn about settings

Sasha received 3rd place in the Premiership part of the competition - a huge accomplishment.

She was one happy little girl!

Taken through the car window as we drove home, a gorgeous North Qld sunset to finish our weekend

Before she went to bed, there was just enough time for Sasha to make room for her new trophy and medal haul from the weekend. All teams and dancers did a wonderful job!

So there you have it - the slideshow you create when you don't think you have a slideshow to offer... Until next time!
K xx

Monday 21 October 2013

Monday Slideshow (Oct #4)

This one was a doozy, is picture heavy and has little need for words.  Apart from these; you will find this place at Kelso on Allambie Lane,  it's The Barra Fun Park

A great place for children's parties, this one was for 10 year olds and it was PERFECT.  Sasha is adamant she wants her birthday here next year, she totally loved it and is still talking about it 2 days later.  All we heard from the kids was how cool, amazing and AWESOME it was.  Being on a Barra Farm, they obviously have lots of ponds for fishing too, I've linked to their website here if you are in The Ville and want more details. 



The party after this one was mainly adults and I can tell you by the noise coming from them, that they were having as much fun as the kids!!

Hope to resume proper house blogging later this week!


Friday 18 October 2013

Friday’s Five Minute Finance: If you can’t afford travel insurance…

…then you can’t afford to travel.

We’ve heard it all before, from seasoned travelers, or well-meaning parents, or those who have had to call on their insurance while abroad, but the underlying message of the above quote is true. If you think you can afford to travel to Africa or the USA without travel insurance, then that is a very big risk to wager. Much the same as buying into one of the biggest purchases of your life – your home – and then failing to protect that asset. So in the spirit of Friday’s Five Minute Finance, today I’m going to devote a little time to general insurance, with an emphasis on general insurance and you.

General Insurance is summed up by the Insurance Council of Australia as falling into six main categories, being Home and Contents Insurance, Motor Vehicle Insurance, Business Insurance, Mortgage Insurance, Workers Compensation and Travel Insurance. For now I’m going to focus on two of those areas – Home and Contents, and Mortgage Insurance.
So what is insurance? Insurance is “a general term for products offered to consumers to mitigate risk and provide financial compensation in the event of adverse unforeseen circumstances”. Think of the Victorian Bushfires, or the Queensland floods – two typical examples of natural disasters or force majeure that people tend to buy insurance for. And when I say buy insurance, that’s a retail term. Insurance brokers don’t sell insurance, they buy risk. They are using statistical analysis to determine the likelihood of an ‘unforeseen event’ happening to you, and then them having to pay you compensation. When the statistics are right, they make money out of the fact that collectively they will receive more money in premiums than insurance claims they pay out on. Until the ‘One in a 100 year flood’ or other similar natural disaster occurs – hence think home insurance or contents insurance. Then there is the risk mitigation insurance designed to protect financial entities bottom lines when they loan you money – think of mortgage insurance you buy when you take out a loan if you have less than 20% equity as a deposit.
The after effect of the 'mass casualty' type incident that hits insurers hard is that premiums invariably go up. This helps them but hinders you. Invariably it will be an across the board type application of the higher premium that you end up paying along with those affected by the risk event. Imagine our surprise (putting it mildly) when upon returning from two years in the USA, we ring up to re-quote our home and contents insurance (usually around $400 for $50,000 cover) and get a quote for $2,000! When I ask why, I am politely told it’s to do with the Queensland floods. Which as I indicate, was in South East Queensland, and I live in a non-flooding area in Townsville – go figure!!
Well, given that quote (which I was never going to pay), I said goodbye to 10 years of being a loyal consumer and rang one of the big banks, and got $40,000 of cover for around $700. Big difference for a few phone calls, but the important thing was ensuring that we had the same relative level of cover even though we had changed insurance providers. Funnily enough (well, not really when you are paying large sums of money) our home building insurance renewal arrived the following week (from the same insurer we had used for contents for 10 years) and it had gone up by approximately 25%... obvious thing to do is ring the aforementioned big bank we went with for our contents insurance and get a price beating quote… or not as it turned out. Their quote for building insurance came in at around $1,700 – why? Queensland floods. So we stuck with the 25% increase from our existing insurer and saved around a grand.
So why the big difference? When you deal with retail insurance providers you are dealing with the retail shop front – who don’t necessarily hold the risk they buy from you. Their risk books are on-sold to reinsurers, of which there are approximately four major reinsurers servicing Australia. The impact of 'mass casualty' type events is felt by these organisations, who pass the cost back on to consumers, as is shown in the following article by the Sydney Morning Herald earlier this year:
So what can we do to try and gain the best value for money in a product we all need, that is expensive to purchase, and that we hope we may never need to use? Here are a few tips to consider when it comes time for policy renewal, or if you think now is a good time to speak with your insurance broker and try to broker a better deal yourself…
  • Shop around; the ability to use telephone and online quotes makes the issue of comparing insurance premiums relatively easy.
  • Look for insurers that offer discounts for bundling or multiple policies.
  • If your needs are more complicated, speak with an insurance broker and ask them to do you a better deal. If they are the broker you have used for many years, ask them to give you a loyalty discount, lest you consider taking your business elsewhere.
  • Don’t be swayed by blind loyalty – with our car insurance we actually found we got a better deal with a new provider than we could with our existing provider, simply because they offered a new customer discount that our existing insurance company wouldn’t match.
  • Understand the fine print and what any potential exclusions are – if you decide to shop solo – remember you are doing the due diligence on definitions of coverage and what your policy actually covers you for.
Anyway that’s it for another Friday, next week I’ll be delving into Personal Insurance, and the intricate world of Life, Total & Permanent Disability, Trauma, Income Protection and Business Expense Insurance.

Ambrose Bierce (1842 – 1914)
Until then, Go you good thing!
Cheers, Col
P.S. Just want to say we are thinking of everyone down south with the bushfires and hoping everyone stays safe. Homes can be replaced, but lives cannot, so please take care.

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Late Late Monday Slideshow...(Oct #2)

Ok, so there are two things wrong with the above statement...1) it's Tuesday and 2) it isn't a 'regular' slideshow...!

Truth be told, I completely forgot to do one yesterday and in all honesty had nothing for you anyway as we'd had a pretty relaxed week and weekend.  So while I was getting some admin sorted today...yawn!! I noticed Poppy nip off with my Nexus 7, she had been very quiet, so I poked my head around her bedroom door to see what she was up to.  She was taking heaps of pictures, she asked to use my phone as well, (the Nexus is great but it only has a front facing camera on it, so some shots are very hard to take).  So as a bit of fun for us and a whole heap of fun for her I decided she could be in charge of this weeks late Monday post in pictures...I told her she could take as many pictures as she wanted and I would make them into a blog post.  She was so excited and very decisive about what she wanted to here it is, take it away Poppy Mae...

She was adamant the fan would be the first picture

Love this pic

Love it!


My dad made these bunk beds for me when I was a kid, now Poppy loves them too.

Finishing with one of her favourite dolly's from Uncle Dave (which incidentally, Tully, she decided she didn't like the name Clara and changed it to Sara! You know Poppy!) 

Awesome job Poppy, thank you for today's blog, it was a great perspective from a little person..