Finance News

Are you still typing in the BPAY Biller Code?

Life’s too short to be manually typing in BPAY Biller Biller and Reference codes. Do you slice your own pizza?
Save yourself time by scanning your bills. All you need is your mobile phone’s camera and the Sniip app. 

Once you have scanned in your first bill, you will never go back to typing. But don’t just take our word for it, test it out for yourself!

The Sniip app auto-magically captures your bill’s BPAY Biller Code and Reference Code with a single scan. Then, all you need to do is confirm your details and choose your payment method.

Here’s how you do it. Simple!

1. Open the Sniip app on your phone

If you don’t have the Sniip app yet, no worries. download it from the Apple app store or the Google Play store.


2. Tap “+” to add your bill


3. Tap “Scan” 


4. Scan the BPAY Biller Code and Reference

Hover your phone camera over the BPAY Biller Code and Reference Code on your bill. The camera will automatically scan in the codes to your Sniip app.


5. Enter the amount you’re paying and your bill’s due date


6. Tap “Add Bill”


7. Tap “Pay” to pay now, or select the clock icon to schedule the payment for later

That’s right, you can schedule your bills for later payment when it suits you better.


8. Select/ Add payment type

Select a payment type you previously added or tap “+” to add a new payment type, like your debit card or credit card. And still get your reward points when using your credit card.


9. Review the details and tap “Confirm”


10. Enter your Sniip PIN or use your Face ID (for iPhones)


11. Tap “Pay”


12. All done 😉

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Sniip has so many amazing features to make your life easier. You’ll love the ability to set reminders for bills and to save your bill history for easy access later. 


Are you embarrassed by your late payment charges?

You’re not alone. Late fees are costing Australians around $286m a year according to research from one of the big four banks. 

Some energy bills can have late fees of up to 40 percent.

But despite this, 27 per cent of Australians pay at least one bill late each year.

In times like these, with unemployment up to 7.5 percent, we simply cannot afford to throw money away. 

So what’s the answer? 

Lining up at your local post office to pay your utilities bills is not only time consuming, with COVID-19, it’s less appealing than ever before.

Then there’s paying bills via internet banking. What should be easy enough tends to be a real chore. You start off your regular bill paying session with a coffee and a biscuit but after getting through a stack of bills and data-entry, you’re ready to drink something a little harder.

And let’s not forget to mention the bills you never even saw. Maybe the paper bill that never arrived, or got accidentally thrown into the bin with the latest wad of junkmail. 

Electronic bills sent by email definitely help. But why is it that most important bills end up in junk mail or spam? Or if you’re like us, you need someone to remind you to check your email regularly – both junk and spam too. 

Surely there’s a better way!? Well there is. 

There’s Sniip. 

Sniip is a Brisbane-based, Australian owned bill paying mobile app that makes bill payments super easy.

Better yet, Sniip’s bill scheduling feature helps you say goodbye to those late payments fees. 

Sniip’s m-billing (mobile billing) subscriptions means your regular bills can be sent straight to the app with push notification alerts for you when they arrive. This is in addition to any paper or electronic version you may wish to receive.

You can then pay your m-bill directly in the app with just a few clicks. Goodbye manual data entry and wrong digits! 

With Sniip, you can pay any BPAY bill. That’s right. Simply take a picture of the BPAY or Sniip code with your phone and let the Sniip app do the rest.

But our favourite feature? Bill scheduling of course! 

We’ve all paid a bill late because we’re waiting for our pay to come in, or wanted to push the bill into the next credit card cycle. There’s usually a good reason for not paying straight away, but then we often get distracted and completely forget about the damn bill.

With Sniip, you can schedule payment for when it best suits you. As soon as you get the bill, simply schedule the bill, and then forget about it. No worries!

But don’t just take our word for it. The results speak for themselves with 90 percent of bills paid using Sniip paid before the due date. 

That’s compared to our 63 per cent national average. 

It’s time for you to start getting back those late fees? You deserve to spend your money on what you want to spend it on, and we bet it’s not late fees. 

Sign up for Sniip today and together, we’ll make your life easier and less stressful.

A Sniippet of weekly news #20 – Sep 2020

Santa is thrilled to know that borders will likely be open by Christmas. The stock market was up again for another month and China is banning more Australian imports. 

The AUD continues to perform strongly with some economists tipping US80¢. We also had another record for the current account surplus.

The government passed JobKeeper 2.0 and a NSW Supreme Court ruling promises extended rent relief for small businesses.

In other news, Elon Musk is putting implants in pigs’ brains, Germany is getting tough on dog walking, and Domino is using AI to predict when you will order your next pizza.

The one-minute weekly recap

A Sniippet for You

What will happen to property this spring (AFR, 31 Aug)

  • Except for Sydney, the stock of houses for sale is well down
  • Potential sellers are waiting to see if the pandemic and the economy will improve
  • Demand has been persistent during the pandemic

Small business rent relief to last until April after court ruling (AFR, 1 Sep)

  • Retailers who received rent relief under the federal government’s COVID-19 mandatory code of conduct should continue to enjoy concessions for six months after the regulations expire in October according to the NSW Supreme Court
  • Retailers and landlords who fail to reach agreement will have to pursue mediation
  • The decision would affect all small and medium sized businesses (including retailers) in NSW and perhaps nationally

AI tells Domino’s when you will want a pizza with uncanny accuracy (AFR, 31 Aug)

  • Domino’s is trialing a new AI system to predict deliveries 3 weeks in advance
  • The goal is to make rosters more efficient to save on wage costs
  • The system takes the TV guide, sporting fixtures, and past sales into account

Afterpay, Sezzle hit as PayPal unveils US push (AFR, 1 Sep)

  • PayPal has unveiled plans to launch a buy-now pay-later product in the US
  • The announcement led to a sell off in the buy-now pay-later sector in Australia on Tuesday
  • PayPal can roll this out to its merchants very easily and has many more merchants and customers in the US than Afterpay

‘Sitting for just 90 minutes could be fatal’ – working from home (AFR, 1 Sep)

  • Sitting for just 90 minutes slows the blood flow behind the legs by 50 per cent. The slower the flow of blood, the more risk there is of it becoming ‘sticky’ and forming dangerous clots.
  • Anyone of any age can get a clot and if untreated, death can incur
  • In the UK, working from home has seen the number of people who sit at their desk for four and half hours a day increase by 22.5 per cent

Competition rises for low-cost rental housing (AFR, 1 Sep)

  • Rental supply has increased but demand for low-cost rentals has increased according to Anglicare
  • Middle-cost renters are moving to low-cost rentals to save costs
  • This has prevented rents falling in the low-cost category

QLD Premier cancels schoolies (AFR, 31 Aug)

  • Last week, Palaszczuk announced schoolies week was cancelled
  • QLD opened its borders to the rest of Australia (except Victoria) on July 10, but snapped them shut again three weeks later with the 2nd wave in Victoria
  • Palaszczuk said she would not be pressured to open the borders by the PM or anyone else

How Australia could become the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy (The Guardian, 27 Aug )

  • A massive 5,000-megawatt renewable hydrogen export operation has been proposed for the small WA town of Kalbarri and could be a model going forward
  • Historically the production of hydrogen relied on fossil fuels 
  • But advances in renewable energy means hydrogen production can now be green
  • Countries such as Japan, Korea and Germany have already approached Australia for renewable hydrogen exports

A Sniippet of Finance advice

Why getting better with money starts with habits not spreadsheets (ABC)

  • Choose a medium to long-term goal to motivate you e.g. holiday, education, new car, etc
  • Break it down into small goals that take only one to three months to achieve
  • On a day-to-day basis, come up with steps you can take towards the small goals

A Sniippet of Brain food

Elon Musk showcases brain implant in pig (The Verge, 28 Aug)

  • Elon Musk’s brain-machine interface company Neuralink showcased a pig outfitted with the company’s brain implant
  • It’s “like a Fitbit in your skull with tiny wires,” Musk said
  • Merging human brains with AI is why Musk wants to create the devices 
  • The device hasn’t been tested in humans yet, though the USFDA has designated it a breakthrough device

A Sniippet of Trivia

Germans must walk their dogs twice a day, new law will say (The Guardian, 19 Aug)

  • Germany’s 9.4 million dogs are not getting enough exercise according to lawmakers
  • Owners will need to take them out daily for at least one hour in total
  • Doubts are being raised over enforcement

A Sniippet of weekly news #19 – Aug 2020

Last week, local politics was dominated by border-closure-wars and covid. Victoria continues to struggle. It was the only state not to see retail sales increase in July. Now QLD may host the AFL grand final. 

China has once again flexed its muscle on Australian exports with the wine industry now in its sights. Nothing like a Barossa red?

In the US ghost kitchens are replacing local restaurants as covid accelerates the delivery only category. Will we see this trend here?

In finance advice we look at the benefits of using an asset allocation for your portfolio. And in trivia we look at the dangers of riding Sydney ferries!

The one-minute weekly recap

A Sniippet for You

Is Australia’s ‘peak China’ moment here? (AFR, 19 Aug)

  • China’s move to put heavy import duties on Australian wines because of allegations of dumping could mark a big change in Australia’s economic relations with China
  • Has Australian exporters to China naively ignored the political risks?
  • What will Australia do when the Chinese iron-ore boom tapers?
  • Is the safer bet for investors to buy shares in Chinese companies?

Victoria’s stage four lockdown could last until end of September (AFR, 20 Aug)

  • Melbourne University epidemiologist Professor James McCaw, who is leading virus modelling for the Commonwealth, predicts that Victoria’s stage 4 restrictions will last until the end of September
  • Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng indicated “single digits, low double digits” are needed to lift restrictions
  • Business groups and medical experts have called for greater disclosure on Victoria’s contact tracing efforts amid concerns

How to covid-proof your holiday bookings (ABC, 24 Aug)

  • Pay with credit cards — they’re often protected by chargeback in case of cancellations 
  • Book last minute 
  • Drive rather than fly
  • Read cancellation policies carefully
  • Travel insurance will not generally cover trips booked after March 2020

Workers to lose $33k a year without reforms (AFR, 19 Aug)

  • NSW Productivity Commissioner has warned that people will be $33,000 a year worse off and living standards will slip, unless governments stop relying on the mining boom
  • The federal government had done “most of the heavy lifting” on productivity reforms in the 1980s and 1990s but now it is the states’ turn
  • He has made 55 recommendations in a green paper including best-practice teaching, smarter infrastructure, and a better mix of state and local taxes

CEOs back apprenticeship scheme to train IT workers (AFR, 19 Aug)

  •  6 CEOs have called for a formal IT apprenticeship scheme to address a labour shortage in the industry
  • The federal Employment Minister has given tentative support

Despite everything, being a landlord is still the best job (AFR, 21 Aug)

  • Landlords make more money than an average income earner – especially if they bought more than 10 years ago
  • In 16 of the 29 quarters leading up to June 2019, the median Sydney home earned more than the median full-time worker earned from wages
  • But according to the chief economist at AMP the good times could be ending, “There’s a high probability, particularly if immigration doesn’t return in strong numbers and we continue to see excess stock in the rental market, that prices and rent will fall and stay weak for a very long time”.

CBA is looking to help SMEs (AFR, 25 August )

  • CBA is looking at ways to increase their SME share this includes: 
    • allowing receivable and inventory as collateral
    • growing their SME digital loan channel BizExpress: under a pilot program, SMEs can get access to unsecured loans of up to $50,000 within 15 minutes
    • putting about 120 business bankers back into branches by December

Are ghost kitchens the future of restaurants? (Wired, 8 Aug)

  • Ghost or virtual kitchens are co-working spaces for restaurants who specialise in delivery only
  • There are 119 in the US but that is expected to double over the next 12 months
  • The coronavirus is playing a part with many traditional restaurants going delivery only
  • Ghost kitchens save restaurants money on rent, servers, and other dine-in costs
  • But is something lost when customers can’t dine in?

What happens to the markets if there’s a vaccine? (AFR, 20 Aug)

  • Scenario 1: Taper tantrum: as governments pull back from their enormous fiscal stimulus, investors get nervous, and markets become volatile
  • Scenario 2: The market jumps and expensive stocks get more expensive
  • Scenario 3: Big recoveries in airline, travel, and other covid affected stocks
  • Of course, a successful vaccine is not guaranteed

A Sniippet of Finance advice

Asset allocation as a guiding light (AFR, 24 August)

  • Choosing investments based on current market conditions is unlikely to be a winning strategy in the long run
  • Having an asset allocation rule based on diverse assets reduces return volatility
  • Choose asset classes that have little correlation between them
  • Within asset classes diversify between domestic and international
  • Having an asset allocation rule also takes emotions out of trading

A Sniippet of Brain food

3 Brain Hacks To Be More Decisive (Forbes, 6 Aug)

  • According to a recent McKinsey Global Survey, only 20 percent of respondents said their organizations excelled at decision-making
  • Acknowledge that making NO decision IS a decision
  • Accept that the future is unknown. Our brains like certainty but we need to get over it.
  • Pursue growth not perfection. A great decision-maker isn’t hard on themselves when things don’t work out perfectly.

A Sniippet of Trivia

Low blow: Sydney’s new ferries won’t fit under bridges with passengers on top deck (The Guardian, 24 Aug)

  • 10 newly purchased ferries will not be able to safely pass under bridges along the Parramatta River if commuters are sitting on the top decks
  • Commuters may risk decapitation if they do not move below decks
  •  In 2018, the NSW government bought 55 new trains worth $2bn that were too wide to safely fit through some tunnels

A Sniippet of weekly news #18 – Aug 2020

Unemployment increased slightly to 7.5 percent in July; the RBA predicts it will reach 10 percent by the end of the year.

A new report says that Australia is lagging in robots and AI, which will result in lower paid jobs in the future. Public policy champion, Ross Garnaut, argues for increased public and private investment to increase Australia’s productivity as an antidote to the dog days following the pandemic.

Meanwhile there has been a surge in demand for rescue dogs and some smart people are storing critical open-source computer code under the arctic permafrost to safeguard against the apocalypse or at least the next major solar flare.

And if your finances are in hot water, we have some advice for reducing your hot water bill.

The one-minute weekly recap

A Sniippet for You

Future of the NBN (AFR, 18 Aug)

  • CEO says high wholesale prices need to continue so the NBN can have cash to upgrade the network in the future
  • The NBN has met its revised target of reaching 11.5m households by 2020
  • Optus says it has developed a 5G fixed-wireless service that was no more expensive than the NBN, is easier to install, and in many cases is much faster

Australian tradies and teachers to be able to work across borders under new licence rules (The Guardian, 17 Aug)

  • A uniform scheme will be created that will allow workers to move from one jurisdiction to another without the need to apply for another licence
  • It will apply to tradies, teachers, and real estate agents
  • Increased labour mobility should help with unemployment

Coronavirus bank loan repayment deferral guidance issued by regulator ASIC (ABC, 14 Aug)

  • At its peak, 10 percent of home loan customers were given a loan repayment holiday from their bank
  • The banks will be looking to end the payment holidays from the end of September
  • ASIC has issued guidelines on how banks should do this
  • If you have any complaints regarding your bank’s communication or treatment over the end of a payment holiday, you can contact the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA)

The robots are not taking your job (ABC, 12 Aug)

  • Australia is lagging the world in the uptake of robots and new technology according to a new report by the Centre for Future Work
  • Since 2017, business investment in machinery and equipment has averaged just 3.75 percent of GDP, which is the weakest pace since WW2
  • Most new jobs will be low paid in low tech industries

CSIRO boss on the pandemic (AFR, 12 Aug)

  • He rejected claims Australia was lagging behind in securing vaccine supplies, suggesting progress was more advanced than he could publicly say
  • Dr Marshall believed technology offered a better way ultimately to manage outbreaks than closing borders: “What we need to do is use science and technology to isolate the hot spots of the virus because the virus doesn’t recognise state lines or state borders and exponentials never quite go to zero,”

University students who fail half their first-year courses could lose HELP (The Guardian, 14 Aug)

  • Under the proposal a student who fails half of their first eight subjects in a degree would lose access to a government-subsidised place and Help loans
  • The government reportedly held $66.6bn worth of Help debt in 2018-19 and more than 15 percent of that was not expected to be repaid

Dog gone: rescue pet shelters emptied by surge in demand during pandemic

(The Guardian, 16 Aug)

  • Dog shelters across Australia have been emptied after a huge surge in demand for a rescued companion during the Covid-19 pandemic, forcing some desperate prospective dog owners to wait months.
  • In Victoria there have been 20,000 online adoption applications; the average stay in the RSPCA Victoria’s adoption shelters is down to less than four days
  • Some puppies are listed with adoption fees of $1,800

The potential longer-term damage to the economy from the pandemic (AFR, 18 Aug)

  • According to Ross Garnuat, the post-pandemic dog days will be worse than 2013-19 because of:
    • increased public debt
    • reduced business investment
    • long-term effects on skills from increased unemployment
    • lower productivity growth
    • climate change
    • an ageing population
  • The alternative is post-pandemic reconstruction: 
    • large public and private investment to raise productive investment and productivity
    • embrace of opportunities in emerging low-carbon world

A Sniippet of Finance advice

How to reduce the amount of energy your hot water system burns through (ABC, 12 Aug)

  • An estimated 21 percent of home energy is used for heating water
  • If you’ve got a storage hot water system, set the temperature to 60 degrees; 50 degrees for a continuous flow system
  • insulating the pipes will save around $185 a year
  • Service the unit every 2 years
  • Releasing the pressure valve every 6 months will extend the life of the unit
  • Use cold water instead of hot wherever possible

A Sniippet of Brain food

The Ultimate Guide to Summarizing Books (Forte Labs, 10 Aug)

  • Read and highlight: only highlight what is unique, interesting, or helpful. Scribble on a physical book or use the highlighting and note taking features of your reading app.
  • Export highlights from your reading app (skip if you’ve used a physical book)
  • Progressive summarizing: summarise your highlights over a number of passes
  • Outline the main points
  • Write a curated summary: synthesise the information and make it your own

A Sniippet of Trivia

Computer code put into cold storage in case of the apocalypse (ABC, 14 August)

  • Critical open-source code has been archived in a vault that should protect it for 1,000 years
  • The vault is under a mountain in the arctic island of Svalbard and is just down the road from the Global Seed Vault
  • 21 terabytes of data is stored as tiny QRcodes on 186 film reels that can be read by the human eye
  • Australian data has found a home in the archive, too, including the Atlas of Living Australia.
  • The GitHub Archive Program is also working with partners to figure out a way to store all public repositories for 10,000 years

A Sniippet of weekly news #17 – Aug 2020

Australian financial news is again dominated by the lockdown in Victoria and its impact on the Australian economy.

We also look at cancelled holidays and the pandemic’s impact on travel agents.

However, not everyone is doing it tough, with a 25 year-old YouTube gamer buying a $9m beach house in Sydney.

In other good news, scientists have come up with a blood test for Alzheimer’s which should allow for detection many years before symptoms kick in. 

The one-minute weekly recap

A Sniippet for You

Supermarkets head off food shortages in Victoria (AFR, 6 Aug)

  • Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has agreed to allow supermarket retailers to reduce staff levels in other parts of their businesses so as to avoid reductions in their distribution centres
  • There has been a 20 percent increase in demand from consumers fearing stock shortages
  • There’s no shortage of product, but the disruption of the supply chain could lead to some shortage of products at the supermarket level

Government will ease JobKeeper criteria, adding $15 billion to the coronavirus recovery scheme (ABC, 6 August)

  • Businesses will now only need to show GST turnover has fallen over one quarter, instead of multiple, to be eligible for the scheme’s extension
  • Workers will also qualify if they were already employed on 1 Jul, rather than on the previous 1 March
  • About 530,000 extra Victorian employees will now join the JobKeeper program over the September quarter

Superannuation early withdrawal won’t hurt retirement for most workers, argues Grattan (ABC, 7 Aug)

  • The typical worker would see a fall in their retirement income of just over 1 percent if they took out the full $20,000 allowed under the early super release
  • Much of the fall in super income for middle-income earners will be made-up with increased pension payments
  • For the very poor and very rich, a loss in future super income will not be made up by larger pension payments: the poor were already relying on the pension while the rich are not going to get any pension payments

The 25-year-old YouTuber who just bought a $9m home in Sydney (Domain, 7 Aug)

  • Watkins was a former intern at Gilbert+Tobin in 2014 when he dropped out of law to pursue a career in gaming
  • In 2017 he co-founded a talent agency for gamers, influencers and eSports players called Click Management and in the past month alone has averaged 53.65 million views ranking him eighth among Australia’s top YouTubers 

Australia experiencing critical shortage of antidepressants, contraceptives and HRT (The Guardian, 8 Aug)

  • Australia is experiencing a critical shortage of key drugs including antidepressants, contraceptives and hormone replacement therapies
  • The shortages are generally unrelated to the pandemic
  • Big Pharma is difficult to hold to account
  • The Therapeutic Goods Administration has authorised the import of products but these drugs cannot be subsidised under the PBS

Australians have cancelled holidays worth an estimated $10 billion, leaving travel agents decimated (ABC, 10 Aug)

  • Consumer bodies have received thousands of complaints
  • Travel agents are dealing with millions of cancelled booking and it could take 12 months to deal with them all
  • Without government support, 3,000 travel agents could go bust by Christmas resulting in 20,000 job losses

Breakthrough new blood test could diagnose Alzheimer’s decades earlier (ABC, 4 Aug)

  • Researchers have developed a new blood test which can diagnose Alzheimer’s disease with 96 percent accuracy
  • Doctors hope the test could allow for diagnosis before symptoms appear
  • The test could also speed up the search for treatment of the disease

Beirut explosion raises fresh concern about Newcastle’s much larger ammonium nitrate stockpile (ABC, 5 Aug)

  • Orica’s ammonium nitrate production and storage facility in Newcastle is four times larger than the stockpile that detonated in Beirut
  • The Orica facility is only three kilometres from Newcastle’s CBD and only 800 metres from North Stockton residents
  • The factory has has a controversial history in Newcastle, after a leak of carcinogenic chemical hexavalent chromium in the air over Stockton in 2011

A Sniippet of Finance advice

Three tips on handling SMSF assets if your relationship breaks down (AFR, 6 Aug)

  • A couple’s shared SMSF is one of the many assets that are considered “property” in a divorce
  • The two parties cannot informally decide to split up a SMSF, it requires a binding “Superannuation Agreement” or a court order
  • Get an accountant involved to make sure the split is fair in the broadest sense e.g. taking into capital gains tax for any sale of super assets made

A Sniippet of Brain food

Landmark study on 11,196 couples pinpoints what dating apps get so wrong (Inverse)

  • The person we choose is not nearly as important as the relationship we build
  • The most powerful predictors of relationship quality are the characteristics of the relationship itself
  • The shared norms, the in-jokes, the shared experiences are more important than the separate individuals who make up that relationship

A Sniippet of Trivia

The new space race (ABC, 10 Aug)

  • In the last five years,  almost a quarter of all objects ever sent into space have been launched
  • Elon Musk’s SpaceX is scheduled to launch another 57 of its micro-satellites into space as part of its Starlink internet service
  • More than 70 percent of all 2,600 active satellites are in Low Earth Orbit
  • There are forecasts that by 2030, as many as 57,000 new satellites could be jostling for an orbital position

A Sniippet of weekly news #16 – Aug 2020

As coronavirus cases increase in Victoria, the state has gone into full lock-down. Other states are scrambling.

Aged care homes have been particularly hard hit and the federal government has sent in emergency health teams to help.

On the lighter side, we look at electric cars in Australia, plant-based meat in supermarkets, and 5G conspiracies.

We also look at chefs to former dictators – giving a new definition to “your last meal”.

The one-minute weekly recap

A Sniippet for You

Electric cars have few downsides except price (The Guardian, 30 July)

  • Electric cars are easier to maintain and will have longer life-spans than petrol cars
  • 100 percent torque with zero RPM
  • Out of the 19.9m cars on Australian roads in 2020, only 14,253 are electric
  • There are very few second-hand electric cars available, and Australia has become dumping ground for second-hand petrol cars
  • A new company in Tasmania is trying to bulk import electric cars

Federal rescue teams sent to Victorian aged homes (AFR, 28 July)

  • Australian Medical Assistance Teams (AUSMAT) have been sent to Victoria to help aged care homes
  • Over 170 elderly patients have been moved to hospitals
  • “Some of the stories we’ve seen are unacceptable and I wouldn’t want my mum in some of those places.” Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews.

Before you buy a holiday property in Queensland, read this (AFR, 31 July)

  • QLD developers sell off building management rights with apartment owners having no say – illegal in NSW
  • Caretakers can also sell their management contracts for a building, with apartment owners still having no say
  •  Management companies recoup the contract purchase price in fees

Home listings jump in July as vendors rush to sell (AFR, 4 Aug )

  • Listings jumped 40.8 percent in Canberra, 34.2 percent in Hobart, 21.6 percent in Sydney, 15.7 percent in Brisbane, and 10.3 percent in Melbourne
  • The increase is unusual for this time of year
  • The large rise in Sydney and Melbourne’s listings over the past 12 months shows that the markets are deteriorating

Recessions are awful for young people – but things were already bad for Australians under 35 (The Guardian, 2 August)

  • Since the GFC the average labour income of those under 25 has fallen by 14 percent in real terms because of a fall in hours worked and little wage increases
  • 25-34 year-olds with bachelor degrees are substantially worse off in 2018 than in 2001
  • Only 36 percent of twenty-somethings have a full-time job

V2food’s plant-based meat is heading to supermarkets (AFR, 4 Aug)

  • Plant-based v2mince and v2burgers will be positioned in the meat aisles at Drakes outlets and had been priced so they weren’t any more expensive than actual meat
  • V2food is a joint venture between CSIRO and Jack Cowin’s Competitive Foods (owner of Hungry Jacks)
  •  Research by YouGov found that 49 percent of Australians want to cut down their meat consumption for health or sustainability reasons

A Sniippet of Finance advice

How to Know If You’ve Been Hacked, and What to Do About It (Wired, 19 July)

  • The clearest sign that you’ve been hacked is when something has changed e.g. you can’t login with your usual username and password
  •  Get in touch with the company that owns your account; they have policies covering hacked accounts
  • As well as a password manager, multi-factor authentication (MFA) should be turned on for as many sites and services as possible

A Sniippet of Brain food

What is the truth about 5G? (ABC Four Corners, 3 August)

  • Full 5G (millimetre wave) promises data speeds more than 100 times faster than 4G and with less latency
  • People are concerned about 5G’s radiofrequency radiation but it is similar levels to TV, microwaves, radio, and 4G
  • 5G waves don’t travel as far as 4G and will require more antennas 
  • The first suggestion of a link between coronavirus and 5G was from an anonymous account that regularly posts pro-Russian government content on 19 January

A Sniippet of Trivia

Cooking for dictators — chilling stories from the chefs of Fidel Castro and Saddam Hussein (ABC, 29 July)

  • Fidel Castro’s passion for dairy products verged on addiction. He had a daily milkshake and once had 18 scoops of ice cream after a meal
  • Saddam Hussein once emptied a bottle of Tabasco sauce into his chef’s kofta mix as a joke. When guests ate the koftas, they thought Saddam was trying to poison them.
  • Many of the chefs have never recovered from the trauma of working for someone who could have had them killed at any moment

A Sniippet of weekly news #15 – July 2020

While coronavirus numbers continue to grow in Victoria and Queensland shuts the borders to Sydney, a survey by the ABS finds Australians are split on when life will return to normal. Meanwhile Bunnings has been dealing with customers who refuse to wear masks – the new normal.

On the good news front, the government has extended early access to super and electricity prices are down. 

We also look at how poker provides lessons for investing, and sharks.

The one-minute weekly recap

A Sniippet for You

Australians split on when life will return to normal (ABS, 28 July)

  • Just over 50 percent of Australian believe that life will return to normal in 6 months; 18 percent believe it will take a year
  • 9 percent do not believe their pre-pandemic lives will ever return
  • 60 percent considered their mental health to be excellent or very good
  • 29 percent would like to continue spending more time with family and friends after restrictions are lifted
  • 28 percent do not want to continue any restriction inspired behaviour once restrictions lift

Bunnings beefs up security against anti-maskers (AFR, 27 July)

  • Bunnings has beefed up security and says it will call the police on customers who refuse to wear masks at its stores in coronavirus lockdown zones in Victoria
  • Mobile phone footage of a woman refusing to wear a mask and confronting Bunnings staff at a store in Melbourne’s south-east on Sunday has gone viral
  • Victorian police have the power to arrest people who choose not to wear face coverings and subsequently fail to comply with a police directive to provide proof of identity

 Electricity prices plunge to lowest in five years (AFR, 22 July)

  • Wholesale electricity prices traded at the lowest in five years as commercial demand has fallen during the pandemic
  • Wholesale prices make up about one-third of residential electricity bills
  • Wholesale prices could fall another 20 percent over the next two years

‘A national crisis’: 16,000 Australian community sport clubs face collapse in wake of Covid-19 (The Guardian, 22 July)

  • 25 percent of local sports clubs are at risk of folding if financing is not found soon
  • An estimated $1.6bn has already been lost by local clubs since the pandemic hit
  • Clubs need $1.2bn to survive pandemic
  • ““These clubs are about more than the sport itself – they are the lifeblood of communities all over Australia.”

Australia’s biggest workers compensation system faces looming financial disaster (ABC, 27 July)

  • Australia’s two largest workers compensation schemes are losing hundreds of millions of dollars each year
  • The Victorian ombudsman describes the behaviour of some insurers as “downright immoral and unethical.”
  • According to NSW Treasury documents icare has underpaid approximately 52,000 people around $80 million

A Sniippet of Finance advice

What poker can teach you about investing (Bloomberg, 24 July)

  • A doctor in psychology became a professional poker player to better understand research on risk.
  • You need to lose to get better. Winning blinds you while losing forces you to learn
  • You need to remain objective when you lose
  • Focus on the process not the outcome
  • Know why you make your decisions

A Sniippet of Brain food

How to exercise your judgement during a pandemic (London Business School)

  • Good judgement is the ability to combine personal qualities with relevant knowledge and experience to form opinions and take decisions
  • It means taking decisions in the right way at the right time – a bad decision is better than not taking a decision
  • Do you have enough information and do you understand the information?
  • Use a rolling plan not fixed forecasts
  • Since right now most leaders don’t have the data they need or enough experience of pandemics, this is probably not a great time to trust your gut.

A Sniippet of Trivia

Australia among the countries with the most sharks but sharks are now “extinct” in some countries (The Guardian, 23 July)

  • Worldwide study finds Australia among nations with highest shark numbers
  • Sharks are functionally extinct in 20 percent of reefs surveyed
  • Destructive and unsustainable fishing has caused a crash in shark numbers across many of the world’s coral reefs

A Sniippet of weekly news #14 – July 2020

Good news on the global front with several vaccines progressing well in stage three trials. Meanwhile, Victoria continues to see increased coronavirus cases and measures.

The anti-viral medication Remdesivir has now been approved for use in Australia.

PM Morrison has ruled out an elimination strategy for the coronavirus and has announced extensions for JobKeeper and the supplement for JobSeeker.

The RBA governor laments the tough job market for young people while young people are protesting the possible US ban of TikTok.

With most flights grounded, one Greek student couldn’t wait and rode a bicycle back to Athens all the way from Scotland.

The one-minute weekly recap

A Sniippet for You

What are the changes to JobKeeper and JobSeeker? (ABC, 21 July)

  • JobKeeper: from the end of September, payments for full-time workers are decreasing from $1,500 to $1,200 a fortnight. It will then drop to $1,000 in January before ending in March.
  • For part-time workers, payments are falling to $750 in September and then to $650 in January.
  • Employers will have to meet the hardship criteria in September and again in January.
  • JobSeeker: After September the supplemental payment will decrease from $550 to $250 a fortnight.
  • But, from the end of September, you will be able to earn $300 a fortnight, instead of the previous $106, before your JobSeeker payment is affected.
  • From 4 Aug, JobSeeker recipients will be required to start actively looking for work again


Australia’s first COVID-19 treatment approved (, 13 July)

  • Remdesivir has been given provisional approval for use in adults and adolescent patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms who have been hospitalised
  • Remdesivir has been found to reduce hospital time for those suffering from severe COVID
  • The Government is working to secure a sustainable supply of the medicine

Kogan faces big fines for lifting prices before ‘taxtime discounts’ (AFR, 17 July)

  • Kogan misled customers by lifting prices just before tax-time discounts according to the Federal Court
  • The discounts were around 10 percent but Kogan had lifted the price of over 600 products by at least 10 percent before the promotion
  • Kogan also reduced the prices of these products shortly after the promotion ended, many back to their pre-promotion levels

Please don’t take my TikTok away (AFR, 17 July)

  • A potential US ban has sparked an anit-Trump backlash among young users of TikTok
  • Some TikTok stars have already migrated to YouTube
  • Other apps like Byte are also looking to benefit

What you can do if your office isn’t adopting coronavirus-safe practices (ABC, 19 July)

  • All employers have a legal obligation to ensure the health and safety of their workers at their workplace
  • If an employer fails to provide a safe workplace within the requirements of government directives and taking the safe workplace principles into account, an employee could contact the workplace health and safety (WHS) enforcement body in their state or territory
  • The Government has introduced the National COVID-19 safe workplace principles but by themselves they are not legally binding

Some good news on the COVID-19 vaccine front (Axios, 20 July)

  • The Oxford vaccine produces an immune response and is safe 
  • It is in phase three trials, the last step before possible approval
  • Other vaccines in phase three include, Moderna (US) and at least six Chinese vaccines
  • According to the Milken Institute’s tracker, there are 197 candidate vaccines in development, 19 of which are in some stage of clinical trials

The worst laser and inkjet printers we’ve tested (Choice, 17 July)

  • Worst inkjet: Canon Pixma TS3160; Worst colour laser: HP Colour LaserJet Pro M283fdw
  • It’s important to be realistic about what sort of printing you are likely to do most, and what features are essential for you
  • Ink is usually a bigger component of total cost than the printer itself

A Sniippet of Finance advice

11 investment lessons (Switzer Daily)

  •  The average fund manager does not beat indexes so that’s why index funds are a good option. Good fund managers deserve their premium.
  •  An investment property with a tax strategy can be a great way to build wealth pretty safely
  •  I like to have 20 shares in my portfolio so I only have 5 per cent exposure to any one company, but some people I respect think 10 to 15 can be okay

A Sniippet of Brain food

12 secrets of the brain to use in marketing (Lifehack)

  • Aim for a gut reaction: we have gut reactions in three seconds or less
  • Our brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text and 90 percent of the data that our brain processes is visual
  • We are drawn to pictures of human faces

A Sniippet of Trivia

Greek student bikes home from Scotland after flights were repeatedly canceled (UPI, 13 July)

  • The student was studying at the University of Aberdeen but could not fly home to Athens after his flights kept getting canceled 
  • He decided to bicycle the 3,500 kms home; it took 48 days
  • He cycled through England, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Italy before catching a ferry from Italy to Greece

A Sniippet of weekly news #13 – July 2020

Australia looks headed for lockdown 2.0 with the number of coronavirus cases climbing in Victoria and Sydney.

Concerned about the impact of the Victorian lockdown on the nascent economic recovery, the Treasurer is looking to bring its tax cuts forward. Other measures are pending.

Declassified letters have cleared the Queen from any direct involvement in Whitlam’s dismissal.

In the personal finance section, we look at how to improve your credit score.

And on Japanese roller coasters, no one can hear you scream! 

The one-minute weekly recap

A Sniippet for You

Biggest drop in apartment rents in 15 years (AFR, 9 July)

  • National apartment rents fell 3.2 percent in the June quarter, the biggest drop in more than 15 years
  • Hobart’s rents fell by 8.4 percent while Sydney’s fell 3.8 per cent 
  • Sydney rents are now at their lowest in five years, having fallen 9.1 per cent from their 2017 peak

Retail investors pile in as professionals exit (AFR, 13 July)

  • Retail investors have bought $9bn in shares since March while institutional investors have sold $11bn according to research by Vesparum Capital
  • ASIC has reported a spike in first-time investors
  • Despite warnings early in the crisis, investing during the crisis has paid dividends so far

Frydenberg could bring forward tax cuts (AFR, 8 July)

  • The government could bring forward already legislated personal income tax cuts in response to the outbreak in Victoria and its effect on the national economy
  • The government is also considering  targeted income support measures for workers post-September
  • The government will announce the future of JobKeeper and JobSeeker on July 23

NSW government awards $1m grant to develop ‘flying car’ (The Guardian, 10 July)

  • Startup AMSL Aero is building an electric aircraft that takes off and lands like a helicopter but flies like a plane
  • The prototype will be the size of a family car with a range of Canberra to Sydney
  • The grant will be used to build a test facility in Narromine

The fish in your “Fish & Chips” has been listed as critically endangered (The Guardian, 13 July)

  • ‘Flake’, the fish used by fish and chip shops is actually the school shark
  • The school shark was designated critically endangered last week by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
  • In Australia, the species is listed as “conservation dependent”, which allows commercial sales to continue

Queen Elizabeth given no warning of Whitlam dismissal (AFR, July 14)

  • Kerr was in frequent communication with the Queen’s Private Secretary over the crisis. He feared Whitlam was going to replace him.
  • Kerr decided it was best not to tell the Queen he was going to sack Whitlam
  • Whitlam wanted the Queen to reinstate him

A Sniippet of Finance advice

How to fix your credit score (

  • Contact the credit provider or credit reporting agency if they have obvious details wrong e.g. a debt is listed twice or they don’t show that you have entered into a payment plan for a debt
  • lower your credit card limits
  • limit you applications for credit cards and loans
  • pay your bills within 60 days

A Sniippet of Brain food

Different physical exercises to help different brain functions (The Guardian)

  • Walk or cycle while revising something to improve retention
  • Both aerobic and resistance exercise can be “moderately effective” in treating depressive symptoms
  • Walking leads to more creative thinking
  • Weightlifting has positive effects on the brain

A Sniippet of Trivia

Japanese theme parks reopened but with screaming on roller coasters banned (The Daily Mail, 13 July)

  • Japanese theme parks reopened last month but with a ban on screaming because of the risk of coronavirus
  • Visitors have been complaining about the rule
  • In response to complaints, two Japanese theme park executives have filmed themselves riding their park’s roller coaster in silence
  • When opened in 1996, it was the world’s largest roller coaster