Monday, September 10, 2018

$50 energy bonus. Victoria energy compare.

The Victorian government is giving away money, $50 to be exact and it's pretty easy to get your $50. All you need to do is to go to the Victorian government's energy compare site and start the process to compare your current energy bill with other providers. Along the way you get the option to claim your $50.

What I've done is below is document the steps I took to claim the $50.

Visit https://compare.energy.vic.gov.au

Select Electricity
Select Home
Select I have a recent bill
Select your current retailer
Enter postcode
Do you get energy concession
Do you have a smart meter data file to upload. Select No. 

NOTE: I tried to upload a file but it failed with unrecognised format. Best to enter details from your recent bill.

Do you have solar panels. N0
Tick Disclaimer Agreement
Click Next
Answer Energy questionnaire
Enter Your Energy Usage

Your electricity offer screen appears. 

At this point on the right is a green box which reads “Claim your $50 Power Saving Bonus” and click on the link "click here".



The click here link takes you to the $50 Power Saving Bonus

Scroll down the agreement information
Tick the Disclaimer Agreement box
Click Next
Select I don’t have a PDF bill
Confirm your electricity account details (using your last bill)
Click Next
Tick I’m not a robot
Click Submit

That's it. Take a note of your customer reference number that appears. You never know when something may go wrong. You'll receive a confirmation email. In about a week I received another email letting me know I'd receive the power bonus in 2-4 weeks.

It's important to keep in mind the time it takes to get the bonus if you are moving house. You could be gone before the bonus arrives and redirecting mail costs nearly half the bonus. If you're moving house it may be best to move and wait for the first bill. Of course there's a risk you don't get the first bill in time and sometimes when people move the first bill can take an exceptionally long time to arrive. Electricity bills are usually done every 90 days, add the time to receive the bill and you're getting close to the end date of the offer.  Gas bills take less time as the billing period is around 60 days. The government's offer ends 31st of December 2018.

Also go back and complete the energy comparison and enter your information from your bill. In many cases you’ll find there may be a better offer. Make sure you double check the results that are presented.

The one issue I did have filling in the information was whether or not to include GST in the price. The forms do state to exclude GST. In addition I made an error with the service to the property amount. It does say total amount whereas initially I entered the daily amount. Hopefully those tips may help you fill out the forms and find cheaper providers.

Kelvin Eldridge
http://www.cheapestelectricityprovider.com.au


Update: This site may be good to help determine your electricity distributor.
https://www.energy.vic.gov.au/electricity/electricity-distributors

Friday, September 07, 2018

Mortgage Repayment Calculator now called Mortgage Repayment Calculator Australia.

One of the very handy calculators I've written is a mortgage repayment calculator. I used a domain with hyphens and frankly, the level of traffic has been low. That means people aren't getting to benefit from using the calculator.

Normally when a domain/calculator doesn't get used I tend to let the domain go. In this case however, I've personally found the mortgage repayment calculator and the features provided to be very useful.

For example you can work out your mortgage repayments, how long it would take to pay off a given mortgage given a known payment amount, and interestingly, if you're renting, how much of a mortgage the rent payments would cover. All useful information for those looking at purchasing a home. The mortgage repayment calculator also links to the Victorian Stamp Duty Calculator which is handy for determining government charges.

Right now interest rates are seeing a 0.14%-0.16% increase from the major banks. That doesn't sound like much but with loans in the many hundreds of thousands of dollars, even a small percentage change can add $500-$600 or more a year. Using the mortgage repayment calculator you can easily see how the interest rate change affects your home loan.

The mortgage repayment calculator is now called Mortgage Repayment Calculator Australia and can be found at www.MortgageRepaymentCalculatorAustralia.com.au.

Kelvin Eldridge

Friday, August 31, 2018

Costco Epping petrol station has significant impact on petrol prices in the area.

The recent opening of the Costco Epping store with the Costco petrol station has had an immediate impact on local petrol prices.



Whilst in the surrounding areas the price of petrol is close to the 140 cents range, around Costco the 7 Eleven prices are 131.7 and the Woolworths Petrol station at Epping Plaza is 127.7 and that's without using a discount docket. With discount the Woolworths Petrol station price would be 123.7 for unleaded petrol. That's currently a very good price and it looks like the lowest in Melbourne.

It will be interesting to watch how prices in the Epping area around Costco change over the coming months.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au


Petrol prices in Melbourne have shown signs of increasing to 159.9.

So far two Woolworths Petrol stations have increased their prices to 159.9. With the average gate price of 137.2 (the wholesale) the price could have easily ended up in the 160 range so this is lower than expected.

Keep an eye on the petrol prices in the coming days and don't forget to lock in the lowest price you can find using the 7 Eleven Fuel app. Last night I filled up for 131.9 in Templestowe using a 7 Eleven locked price from South Morang. The posted price was 138.9.

Happy hunting.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Hanging towels vertical or horizontal. Which dries faster?

Some people hang towels vertically and some people hang towels horizontally. As to the reason it's hard to say, some people believe hanging towels in one direction or the other helps the towel dry faster.



OK. This isn't exact science, but I decided since I had two towels which were the same, to hang one vertically and one horizontally. As you can see the towels were hung on a Hills type clothes line. This was in Melbourne and the weather wasn't that great. It was a 15 degree day. There was a short shower early on but the towels wouldn't have received much rain. The following is a table of the result.

The first column is the approximate time, the second the vertical towel's weight in kg and the third is the horizontal towel's weight in kg. The weight is measured in kilograms to two decimal places giving an accuracy of +/- 10 grams.

Time, Vertical, Horizontal
10:30 am, 1.19 kg, 1.19 kg
11:30 am, 1.03 kg, 1.03 kg
12:30 pm 0.73 kg, 0.73 kg
2:30 pm, 0.67 kg, 0.67 kg
3:35 pm, 0.66 kg, 0.66 kg

I must admit I was quite surprised to see no variation in the weight between the towels being hung vertical or horizontal. I didn't expect the drying times to overly differ, but even the weight of both towels being the same at the start surprised me.

In conclusion whilst this is not exactly a scientific test, hanging towels vertically or horizontally in order to achieve a faster drying time is busted. Now if you hang them vertically to take up less space, or horizontally to keep them higher above the ground to avoid catching on something, that's a different matter.

No matter which way you hang your towels, be happy you're making the right decision.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au

Fitzsimons Lane roundabout upgrade media release in April 2018.

As a local who regularly uses Fitzsimons Lane and the roundabout on Porter Street, Williamsons Road, Anderson Street and Fitzsimons Lane, it's pretty obvious this is a traffic bottle neck.

A couple of years ago the Liberal State Government pushed through changes to fix the roundabout area, but really all they ended up doing was putting in bus lanes and causing more cars to stop in the roundabout by putting a pedestrian crossing 50 metres south of the roundabout. Certainly not the fix that was required.

I just read today the media release by the Victorian State Government of an allocation of $2.2 billion to fix the roundabouts at each end of Fitzsimons Lane in Templestowe and Eltham as well as Main Road and Leane Drive in Eltham.

https://www.premier.vic.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/180430-Building-A-Better-Fitzsimons-Lane-1.pdf

Unfortunately I couldn't find any specific details of the plans so who knows what the end result will be.

Let's hope they do a better job this time.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Flight Centre article on ABC site mentioning consultants are marking up flight prices.

Yesterday I saw two items relating to Flight Centre I felt were interesting. The first was the article on the ABC site which mentioned some consultants marking up flight prices by 10-20%. According to the article this isn't illegal, but I feel it is interesting to know.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-08-22/flight-centre-accused-of-ripping-off-customers-underpaying-staff/10051474

The second was an advertisement in a bus I was travelling. The advertisement was a Flight Centre advertisement advertising a guarantee they'll match the price if the price drops. In hindsight I should have taken a picture and checked if there was any small print, as all I can find on their site is this type of offer is provided at an extra charge.

I've long considered Flight Centre to be a reasonable company. I once lodged a complaint about advertising I felt was deceptive, but overall I've had little problem with them. I've used them quite a few times. I suggest to others that if they're happy to pay Flight Centre's charge for booking flights that's their choice. I book my own flights as I'm don't feel the need to pay the additional charge.

I was under the belief that by using Flight Centre I'd incur an additional cost which would be clearly stated, they have margins on some of the products they sell, they receive commission from their suppliers but not all products or services, but never once did I feel they'd take a supplier's price and then add a margin, particularly if that suppliers price is publicly available and known. It does make sense that they could do this, but isn't something I'd have expected. It's good to know.

We can't tell from the ABC article whether or not the flight prices the consultants are adding margin to are special prices for Flight Centre or not. In addition, many businesses if they purchase a product or service from another supplier at full retail price, will often add an extra margin without letting their customer know. That's not good business practice, but it is common.

The extra information provided by the ABC means if I now get a quote from Flight Centre then I need to make sure I check the price online of the flights first before proceeding with the quote. Of course that does mean if you now need to do that work, you may consider booking your flights direct, since you'll almost have done the work needed to book the flight anyway. If you prefer the confidence using a travel agent such as Flight Centre gives you, then checking flight prices may be wise, or you may simply be happy paying the extra money.

As an additional comment, from what I've read online, Flight Centre, Student Flights, Travel Associates and Escape Travel are part of the Flight Centre group.

Kelvin Eldridge

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Melbourne petrol prices increasing to 159.9.

Just returned from holidays yesterday to notice petrol prices in Melbourne are again returning to the peak price of around 159.9. We're approaching the end of the peak phase where most petrol stations have raised their prices, so if you haven't filled up the cheaper prices will soon be gone.

Just locked in the local 7 Eleven to hold the price at 133.9 for the next week.

Kelvin Eldridge
Petrol Prices Melbourne
www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Melbourne petrol prices may be about to rise again to 159.9.

Time again to keep an eye on those petrol prices again around Melbourne. We're approaching the end of the school holidays and the price of petrol has gone up to 159.9 at a few locations across Melbourne.

I noticed a slight increase in the rate of petrol price drops recently which enabled the price to be hiked up just in time for people coming back from school holidays.

Use the tools available to find the lowest prices. I bought petrol tonight for 133.9 with an additional 4 cents off with the discount voucher. Much better than 139.9 at my local Woolworths Petrol.

Watch the prices over the next couple of days and use the 7 Eleven Fuel app if you get to drive past an even cheaper 7 Eleven than the five nearest your normal location.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Aldi Travel Adaptor Kit

I noticed the Aldi Travel Adaptor Kit on sale this Saturday and decided it would be very useful for travelling. A single convenient unit that could charge the devices we're likely to take with us and two normal power points.


GIVE THIS ONE A BIG MISS.

OK. I wrote "give this one a big miss" in capitals as I think like myself, most people will think this travel adaptor kit will provide the usual power using the two power point sockets, and with the four USB ports you'll be able to charge most of the devices at the same time. With the normal adaptor you may only be able to only charge one device at a time.

The limitations of this device are not stated on the Aldi site and they are significant. Only the 3.1A limit of the USB ports is mentioned on the packaging, whilst the power point limits are only mentioned in the manual and on the device itself. Without opening the package in the shop you wouldn't notice the power point limit and it's unlikely you'd expect it. I've never seen any power point before with such a limitation.

1. The power points can only provide up to 3A (3 amps). A normal power point can supply 10A. Most notebook computers require more more than 3A so if you want to charge your laptop computer you won't be able to charge it using this device. To me this is the biggest limitation. A person who thinks they can plug their hairdryer in what looks like a standard power point won't be able to and I don't if that is what they'd expect. It isn't what I would expect.

2. Whilst there's four USB ports the total power that can be provided across all the USB ports is 3.1A. That means if you have an iPad and a large screen mobile phone it's possible you won't be able to charge them at the same time as the USB ports may cut out.

Overall you'd be better off with a simple powerboard, a powerboard with USB ports, or even just a double adaptor, and use your own USB adaptors and stand-alone travel adaptors.

Most people who buy this device won't have enough knowledge about the power requirements and won't realise it may not end up doing what they want.

Aldi should have clearly published the specifications on their site and the fully limitations on the external packaging as these limitations are unusual.

Kelvin Eldridge

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Seniors Card exclusive AGL energy plan 38% electricity + 25% off gas offer easy to beat.

A person I know told me about the Seniors Card offer from AGL, which offers 38% off electricity and 25% off Gas usage. They asked if it was better than their current offer. Their current offer is with Red Energy for 12% off for electricity and 15% off for gas on the total bill.

I did a comparison for their current electricity bill and found they would be worse off with the AGL offer for Seniors Card holders. My own current provider is Dodo and with 40% off electricity usage and 25% off gas usage beats both AGL and Red Energy.

Today I also received the same letter from the government. This made me realise this is one of those paid for offers that uses the Seniors Card marketing database and makes money for the government, but may not be best for consumers, in particular Seniors Card holders.

You shouldn't take any of these offers at face value. Even if the offer is from the government doesn't mean it is the best value for you. The government really shouldn't be using our information in this way but that's their choice. Since people are receiving these offers from a trusted source it makes the ad more convincing to people. Don't trust these offers.

What you should do is create a spreadsheet and enter the figures for your current provider and any offer you receive. It's very easy for energy retailers to offer higher discounts, but in the end their actual charges may be higher to begin with. Only performing a calculation will let you know for sure if the offer is good or not for you.

So far the best offers I've seen have been from Alinta Energy and Dodo Power and Gas. Even so, prices change so it's best to check prices whenever you're reviewing your energy needs.

Kelvin Eldridge

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Microsoft Rewards value reduced by around a third.

Microsoft offers users of their Bing service the ability to earn points by using Bing for searches.  You get three points per search. Microsoft makes it easier to earn points by providing links to trending news and also each day offers bonus tasks.

Each day you can earn up to 60 points via mobile searches, 90 points via desktop searches, and an additional 12 points if you're using Microsoft Edge on the desktop. you get three points per search. That's a daily total of 162 points. The also often three bonus searches giving 10 points each. These appear most days or perhaps every couple of days. There's also Super Quizzes offering 30 points offered every few days taking a couple of minutes to answer. Sometimes there's an even bigger special bonus such as checking out a Microsoft product. Let's however look at what 162 points a day is worth.

Until recently you could convert 3600 points to a Microsoft $5 Gift Card. You'd add the gift card to your account and had three months to use the value of the gift card before the amount expires. Now you need 4,750 points for a Microsoft $5 Gift Card. That's a reduction in value of a third.

Earning points is fairly easy but time consuming. Supposedly you'll earn points for doing searches you do now, but if you did that you'll earn very little points each day. Say you did 10 searches a day you'd get 30 points a day, which would be a little over $10 a year. If you could earn the 162 points regularly available a day that would be around $60 a year. That's a lot of effort for not much return.

To be fair there's probably not much in your searches for Microsoft either. They'd probably rely on advertisers' ads appearing in the search result to make money themselves.

TIP. From what I've read it looks like Xbox Gift Cards work the same as the as Microsoft Gift Cards. If this is true you should be able to purchase a $5 Xbox Gift Card for 3,600 points rather than 4,750 points for a Microsoft Gift Card. I'll give that a go and let you know how I go. UPDATE: 22/06/2018 Points needed for Xbox Gift Card now also increased.

I wasn't too pleased when Microsoft recently devalued to value of points without notice, but that's life with the big companies.

Kelvin Eldridge

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Melbourne petrol prices increasing to 159.9 in time for school holidays.

A number of petrol stations increased their unleaded petrol price to 159.9 last night. A few more today.

Whilst it has been said the increase of petrol prices just before school holidays is a coincidence, interestingly, we now see prices going up the week before school holidays in Victoria. Yet here we are with signs of prices increasing.

Time to watch petrol prices closely and fill up if necessary. For those using the 7/11 Fuel App you can find some prices around Melbourne down to 134.9 if you're lucky to be going through one of the areas south east of Melbourne.

Kelvin Eldridge
https://www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Dodo Power and Gas increased my electricity and gas discounts.

I noticed a while ago that Dodo Power and Gas were offering higher discounts than when I signed up. When I signed up the discount was 30% for electricity and 20% for gas. The recent discount is 40% for electricity and 25% for gas.

I'm looking to change providers to save a little more money, but I thought until I get around to checking the providers again why not just take advantage of the increased discount. A short telephone call and the discount will be applied from the next bill. Too easy.

In addition they sent me a survey to complete. They support person was good so I gave them a good review. What was interesting is Dodo also provided a referral code to provide others. A refer a friend code. That code is SVY#JPB0H. By entering this code both a friend and myself will supposedly receive a $25 credit (* referral not applicable for post-paid dial up and prepaid products). Please feel free to use this code to save yourself some money if you decide to sign up to Dodo Power and Gas. Feel free to let me know so I can test if the code worked.

In any case the main point of this post today was to let those on Dodo Power and Gas, if you signed up some time ago, check the current discounts and if they're higher, a quick call will get your a better discount.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au

Friday, May 18, 2018

First signs Melbourne unleaded petrol price rising to 161.9.

Noticed tonight petrol prices in Melbourne look like they're about to hike. Some petrol stations have unleaded for 161.9. This is a new high for unleaded petrol in Melbourne.

This isn't unexpected as the average gate price (think wholesale price) today was 136.2. When prices go up the increase is usually between 25-30 cents, so the increase could have been worse.

Time to think about filling up. Watch the prices and if you're using the 7 Eleven fuel app pick a good time to lock in a good lower price for the next week. There's a few 7 Eleven stores with prices in the low 130 range.

Kelvin Eldridge
Petrol Prices Melbourne
https://www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au

Monday, May 14, 2018

Headline: ACCC says Coles Express petrol most expensive - quite misleading

Today's headlines stating "ACCC says Coles Express petrol most expensive" for a lot of people may be very misleading.

For a long time I've considered and found the local Coles Express to be one of the more expensive fuel outlets. It would be rare for us to buy petrol there anymore. Previously we mostly bought our petrol either at the local Coles Express, another in Doncaster East, or the Woolworths Petrol in Eltham. However, since creating Petrol Prices Melbourne which meant reviewing petrol prices in the area over an extended period of time, we found there were better places to purchase petrol.

At first glance this would appear to support the ACCC finding. However, we shop at Coles and one thing we do get like millions of other Australians is a discount voucher. By using the discount voucher the Coles Express outlets usually match or better the local 7 Eleven on United Petroleum outlets. Both 7 Eleven and United Petrol are usually prices around 3 cents a litre less. I suspect this pricing aims to largely negate the benefit of a discount voucher, but in the end it really means prices aren't significantly different.

If you read the ACCC report for Victoria you'll find Coles Express average price is 2.4 cents above the market average whereas the cheapest petrol is around 1 cent per litre below the market average. Put simply this means the difference is 3.4 cents and if you have a Coles petrol discount voucher at worst, on average, you'll be paying slightly less than the fuel outlets that do not provide a discount voucher.

So the attention grabbing headlines should probably read, "ACCC says Coles Express petrol most expensive, but with a discount voucher, one of the cheapest".

We use a number of strategies for buying petrol. Rather than buying near where we live, we often identify petrol stations selling cheaper petrol that we'll be driving past. Buying at the bottom of the petrol price cycle, locking in the price of petrol from 7 Eleven for an additional week, using discount vouchers at Woolworths Petrol and Coles Express. This approach saves us hundreds of dollars a year. Buying from the nearest local petrol station is generally the surest way to pay the most for petrol.

The ACCC is right in saying Coles Express petrol is the most expensive, but only for those not using discount vouchers. Those buying petrol from Coles Express and not using discount vouchers may be paying hundreds of dollars more a year for their petrol.

For more information on saving money when buying petrol visit www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au.

Kelvin Eldridge

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Age pension calculator.

Trying to plan for retirement and getting the information you need can be time consuming. However Centrelink's site provides an online service which can provide many of the answers you may be looking for.

https://www.centrelink.gov.au/custsite_pfe/pymtfinderest/paymentFinderEstimatorPage.jsf?wec-appid=pymtfinderest&wec-locale=en_US#stay

For example if you want to work out how much you'll get when you retire (based on what's happening today) just enter your information as though you're going to retire today. Things will change in the future, but at least you can get a rough of idea based on what's happening today.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Fox Sports app consumes 75 GB of mobile data in a very short period of time.

Recently a person found their mobile phone had chewed up around 241 GB of data on their Telstra plan. They woke up to find 141 messages from Telstra indicating they'd exceeded their 60GB of data. Each message was to indicate they were getting another 1 GB for $10. Nearly $2,000 of excess data.

This happened on April 1st and no, it wasn't an April fools joke.

Whilst it wasn't possible to identify all the apps which used the data, since many of the unused apps were deleted to clean up their system, the one app that stood out was Fox Sports. The Fox Sports app had reported it had used 75 GB of data. Of the 75 GB, 74 GB was used in the background.

There's a couple of issue here.

1. Make sure you check how much data your apps are using. If you're using an Android based mobile you can usually check the data usage per app.

2. You would think Telstra would have some limit on the amount of addition 1GB purchases that automatically apply before a person has to manually intervene. It appears this isn't the case. Bill shock is potentially a huge problem.

3. The data usage on a 4G network which can run at up to 150 Mbps can consume theoretically 15 MB per second. In one minute that's 900 MB or nearly a GB. Just one minute to consume nearly a GB. In an hour that's 48 GB.

4. How could the Fox Sports app possibly consume 75 GB of data in a matter of hours? This data usage was overnight and noticed in the morning. Something appears to be seriously wrong.

The person has now removed all unwanted apps just in case any of the apps were causing a problem. It is always be possible a malicious app had hijacked the mobile phone and given others access to Fox Sports and other apps. Without further information and in the short time available to check the mobile phone what actually happened was hard to ascertain.

What is important is to be aware that with Telstra you can end up with bill shook with excess data being automatically charged up to tens if not hundreds of gigabytes.

With the Fox Sports app turn the ability to run the app in the background off. If you don't know something is running it could be very costly.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au

Aerial map of development of Melbourne since 1985.

I found the map on the news.com.au site very interesting. The map shows an aerial view of Melbourne over time since 1985. If you slide the slider quickly you can see the changes more easily.

For example I didn't recall that Albert Park Lake was drained in 1993, but the map clearly shows the emptied Albert Park Lake, most likely because it become a large area of dry land.

Whilst the expansion of housing can be seen, what is far easier to see are the large white areas which are a large roofs of commercial buildings. For example the area near Tullamarine Airport.

The growth along Sydney Road and High whilst less obvious, shows the development of apartments along the major roads.

Here's a link to the article. Scroll down to the map and click on the button or slide the slider.

http://www.news.com.au/finance/economy/australian-economy/melbourne-population-to-soar-past-sydney-within-decade/news-story/e88a537f61de7b74c2897d102a40cc10

Kelvin Eldridge