Thursday, November 21, 2019

Medicare Near Me?

Ever asked the question, "where's the Medicare near me?" I have and I'm sure many others have as well.

A few years ago you could find a Medicare office at far more locations than you can today. I seem to recall Medicare offices could be found in the local shopping centres. However, a few years ago that all seemed to change and now if we need to find a Medicare office, there's none where they used to be.

From what I can tell the Medicare offices were merged with other government offices. For example we now find our local Medicare office is located at the Centrelink office.

Since it was confusing for me I decided to create a web app based on the government's provided data dated the 9th of October 2019, and use the mapping software I've created, to provide a convenient map of the Medicare office locations near where a person is located.

If you need to find your nearest Medicare office then give Medicare Near Me a go. You can also go to the web site

Kelvin Eldridge

Friday, November 15, 2019

Petrol prices in Melbourne are on the rise to 174.9 cents per litre for unleaded.

Late Wednesday night I noticed the first signed of petrol prices starting to hike. The price hike will take the price of petrol to 174.9.

For the past couple of years when the petrol price hiked it would consistently jump between 25-30 above the average gate price (think wholesale price), but now for the last few months the price jump is closer to the 40 cent mark. I'm quite surprised the media hasn't caught on and nothing is being said from the ACCC. The average gate price on Wednesday was 135.5 cents per litre so a hike to 174.9 is what would be expected based on recent price hikes.

At the moment prices around Melbourne can go as low as 127.9 at Woolworths Caltex in Patterson Lakes, less with a discount voucher. There's plenty of places in the low 130's. Woolworths tends to be better value with a discount value than Coles Express, but sometimes Coles Express can surprise you.

It's time to keep an eye on petrol prices and fill up before the petrol price cycle peaks. Also don't forget to lock using the 7 Eleven Fuel app to give yourself an extra week of lower priced fuel.

Kelvin Eldridge

Monday, November 11, 2019

Videos for Speed Camera Locations site now listed on a separate page.

As I've been adding videos to the Speed Camera Locations site I've found a few ways to help let people know a video has been added for a particular location. For example, the red light camera / speed camera icon for a location with a video available has the lens coloured red.

You can also find on the detail page for a red light camera / speed camera a link to the video.

I kept thinking however, it might also be handy to have a list of locations where a video is available. As the number of videos available grows that list could also grow. To achieve this I've now added a Videos page to the Speed Camera Locations site.

I hope others find this useful.

Kelvin Eldridge
Speed Camera Locations

Thursday, November 07, 2019

New red light cameras / speed cameras on Rosanna Road and Darebin Road / Banyule Road Heidelberg

Recently I've been updating the Speed Camera Locations site with more recent government data covering the 2017-2018 period. Previously the site covered 2014-2015 period. In addition previously the cameras were averaged when there were two or more cameras covering a section of road or intersection. Now if there's a camera covering say the left lanes and another covering the right lanes, the camera locations are separate. In addition for red light cameras instead of using the camera location, the location is being updated to be the stop line and the middle of the lanes covered.

I'd also recently noticed four upcoming (or pre-commissioned) camera locations. These are camera locations that may flash but tickets are not yet being issued. They will be in the near future. Two of the cameras were located on Rosanna Road and Darebin Street Heidelberg. One for northbound traffic and one for southbound traffic.

By pure chance I was driving along Rosanna Road, Heidelberg and saw the new cameras as well as videoing them using the dashcam. Not only were there two new cameras at the intersection of Rosanna Road and Darebin Street, but there were also two new cameras at Rosanna Road and Banyule Road, Heidelberg.

The new cameras have a modern design that I've not seen before. One person on the internet described them as spaceship looking. What I felt was odd was not only was there the usual arrangement of the camera and separate flash, but facing the car on the other side of the intersection was another pole and device. At first I thought could this be taking a front on picture. However checking the site for the group company site that provides the cameras (Sensys Gatso Australia) their demonstration video makes me think the additional camera is a radar which is used to locate the position of the car instead of the in-road induction loops. That means the road didn't need to be cut to lay loops into the road. In time I'll check to see if my hunch is right.

For those interested in more information, the contracts for the work for the cameras was worth around $900,000. That's about $225,000 per camera. In addition there's an interesting letter published on Facebook I found which I thought I'd share. You can see the letter by clicking on the pictures.

Videos of all four cameras can be viewed using the links provided in the detail page for each camera (click on the icon) on the Speed Camera Locations site.

NOTE: What will catch people out is there also appears to be a speed limit change to 40km/h coming to Rosanna Road, Heidelberg between Banksia Street in the south to Brown Street in the north according to the VicRoads site.

The combination of the speed camera and the lower speed limit is one that in others location raises a lot of revenue and will probably do the same at Rosanna Road and Darebin Street, Heidelberg.

Probably a common mistake people make is thinking they are in the intersection if the front of the car is over the stop line. They aren't. There's an imaginary line which goes from the kerb of the road to the other side of the intersection. You need to be over that line to be in the intersection. That means fully over the stop line and the pedestrian lines. For those turning and waiting for pedestrians, there's even a greater chance of getting booked. If you check the northern approach to Darebin Street the stop line has a huge angle and probably two cars can be over the stop line, yet still not in the intersection. Combine that with slowing down to turn and there's going to be a lot of cars being booked. Perhaps the new technology may make it fairer to those who think they're in the intersection when they're over the stop line. Only time will tell.

Kelvin Eldridge

Update: 13/11/2019
My earlier thought these cameras might be the new laser based, not requiring induction loops in the road was wrong. I checked the road and the road has induction loops placed before and after the stop line. The additional camera as you exist the intersection may be a camera and flash unit to take a picture of the driver. In time no doubt people will find out.

Monday, November 04, 2019

CityLink speed camera locations added to Speed Camera Locations.

I've been updating Speed Camera Locations to correspond with Victoria's data for fines, which details in some cases the individual lanes. The CityLink speed cameras have data for each lane, but identifying the actual location was more difficult since the location is underground.

Google maps is good for above ground and Google Street View shows you the view underground, but given the poor light, seeing where the camera is located wasn't possible. However, fixed speed cameras generally work using sensors in the ground. It took a while, but if you know what you're looking for, you can find the sensors and thus the location. The following screen capture from Google Street View shows the in-ground sensors for one set of CityLink cameras.

I hope you find this as interesting as I did.

Kelvin Eldridge
Speed Camera Locations

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

List of locations for videos added to the Speed Camera Locations site.

The Speed Camera Locations site is now being updated to provide a link to videos for the following locations. As time and opportunity permits it is hope to produce a video for each location.

Canterbury Road and Mitcham Road, Vermont
Cemetery Road West And Royal Parade, Parkville
Elgar Road And Arnold Street, Box Hill
Fitzroy Street And Lakeside Drive, St Kilda
Flinders Street And William Street, Melbourne
High Street And Verene Avenue, Templestowe Lower
Hoddle Street And Victoria Street, Abbotsford
Lonsdale Street And Webster Street, Dandenong
Manningham Road And Macedon Road, Templestowe Lower
Maroondah Highway and Mount Dandenong Road, Ringwood
Maroondah Highway and Ringwood Bypass, Ringwood
Maroondah Highway And Springvale Road, Nunawading
Middleborough Road And Eastern Freeway, Box Hill North
Peninsula Link Freeway, Frankston, Northbound, Skye Road BridgeP
Peninsula Link Freeway, Moorooduc, Northbound, Eramosa Road West Bridge
Peninsula Link Freeway, Moorooduc, Northbound, Loders Road Bridge
Ringwood Street And Maroondah Highway, Ringwood
Royal Parade And Gatehouse Street, Parkville
Springvale Road And Lower Dandenong Road, Braeside
Station Street And Thames Street, Box Hill
Stud Road And Ferntree Gully Road, Scoresby
Stud Road And Heatherton Road, Dandenong
Victoria Street And Doncaster Road, Doncaster
Warrigal Road And Batesford Road, Chadstone
Whitehorse Road And Elgar Road, Box Hill
Whitehorse Road And Surrey Road, Blackburn
Williamsons Road And Doncaster Road, Doncaster

Previously I announced by clicking on a speed camera, a detail page will be displayed and on that page is a direct link to the location using Google Street View. This is great for looking around the location. Now by adding videos people can also see from a driver's perspective what they see as they approach and leave an intersection, which has a red light camera/speed camera.

Kelvin Eldridge
Speed Camera Locations

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Free Victorian Seniors Card off-peak travel vouchers changing from 2020.

I received my free Victorian Seniors Card off-peak travel vouchers this year but this time there was a noticed included. From 2020 you need to register. This is pretty easy to do and only takes a few minutes.

The site to go to is

I've blogged about this because when I talk to others they're often not aware of their seniors' perks and this page will enable me to quickly provide the link.

I hope you find the link handy.

Kelvin Eldridge

Red light camera / speed camera at Boronia Road And Wantirna Road, Wantirna

The Speed Camera Locations site is now being updated to provide a link to a video for the location. It will take me a long time to produce a video for each location. The following is a link for:

Boronia Road And Wantirna Road, Wantirna

Previously I announced by clicking on a speed camera, a detail page will be displayed and on that page is a direct link to the location using Google Street View. This is great for looking around the location. Now by adding videos people can also see from a driver's perspective what they see as they approach and leave an intersection, which has a red light camera/speed camera.

Kelvin Eldridge
Speed Camera Locations

Woolworths Qantas points or Woolworths Rewards. Which is better?

Woolworths recently changed the conversion rate of Woolworths Rewards point to one Qantas point for two Woolworths Rewards points. So which is better value? Is it better to convert the Woolworths Rewards points to money off your shop, or is it better value to convert the points to Qantas points?

The value of Woolworths Rewards points is easy to calculate. For 2,000 Woolworths Rewards points you get $10 off your shopping.

If you wanted to you could even double the value of Woolworths Rewards points by only buying products that are half price meaning 2,000 Rewards point could potentially get you $20 worth of groceries.

How much is 1,000 Qantas points worth?

Working out how much Qantas points is worth is much harder. The fares for flights can vary considerably. You may even use Qantas points for upgrades or buying products from the Qantas store.

Let's check the value of buying products from the Qantas store.

Logging onto the Qantas store the first item shown was the Tefal UltraGlide Steam Iron for 14,780 points.

A search of Google gives the following prices. Keep in mind the online sites will probably charge postage.

ClearanceOutlet $58.90 $64.48
Billy Guyatts $62
The Goodguys $69.95

Worst case then the iron is worth around $70. At 14,780 points that gives us 1,000 Qantas points is worth around $4.74 or using Billy Guyatts price of $62, the value of 1,000 Qantas points is $4.19.

Selecting a second item I picked a Fitbit Charge 3. No particular reason except it's a product I recognise. The number of Qantas points required is 36,020.

Officeworks $168.00
Myer $179.00
Bing Lee Electronics $168.00

Using the above the value of Qantas points is from $4.66 to $4.96.

This gives us a guide that buying a product from the Qantas stores isn't good value as 1,000 points is worth $4 to $5. Better to spend it on groceries at $10 or better if spent on specials.

What about Qantas flights?

From the first page we see the following and then I checked the points for a long distance flight.

Melbourne to Sydney for 6,400 points plus $32.37.
Melbourne to Perth for 14,400 points plus $27.42.
Melbourne to London (Heathrow) for  55,200 points plus $199.

NOTE: Return flight taxes and charges are quite a bit higher at 212GBP (approx $398AUD).

The real problem with flights is there's such a range of prices and if you're paying with money you'll probably pick a cheaper flight, but with points the price doesn't change. Changing your day and luggage also can change prices. Qantas isn't the only airline so you have choice of cheaper options.

Let's take a flight over the next couple of days to each location.

Melbourne to Sydney Thursday 24/10/19
Cheapest Jetstar - $131 @ 5:35am
A more reasonable time plus luggage could cost $200-$300.

Melbourne to Perth
Cheapest Qantas - $350 @ 7:10am
A more reasonable time plus luggage could cost $400-$500.

Melbourne to London
Cheapest Virgin - $697 @ 8:00am
Other reasonable prices could range $800-$1,000.
However one way flights from London to Melbourne start at $1,333.

To make things easy lets take the cheapest flight option.

Melbourne to Sydney Jetstar @ $131. That means a 1,000 Qantas points is worth $15.41. That's good as it's better than the $10 for Woolworths Rewards. It only gets better as the prices for flights go up.

Melbourne to Perth Qantas @ $350. That means a 1,000 Qantas points is worth $22.40. Again better than Woolworths Rewards points.

Melbourne to London Virgin at $697. That means a 1,000 Qantas points is worth $9.02. For the return flight 1,000 Qantas points is worth $16.93. Given these are the lowest prices, using Qantas points for long distance flights is looking better than Woolworths Rewards.

Overall using Qantas points for flights is looking better than using Woolworths Rewards points for groceries. I have to admit that was something I didn't expect especially as you have to pay money as well as use points using Qantas Classic Rewards.

This doesn't take into account whether or not you can get a flight sometime around when you want to fly.

The other thing to consider is how long it will take you to build up points. We purchase around $100-$150 a week in groceries. That's $5,000-$7,500 a year. With one point for each dollar spent that's potentially 5,000-7,500 Woolworths Rewards points a year or 2,500 to 3,750 Qantas points. Not even a one way trip to Sydney. That's pretty sad. About two years to get a one way trip to Sydney. Perhaps best to stick with buying half price specials, at least I'd get that reward up to four times a year.

Kelvin Eldridge

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Speed Camera Locations site updated to link to Google Street View for red light camera and speed camera locations

Let's face it, most of us make minor mistakes on the road and the ones we notice the most is when we get fined. Ouch. It really hurts to have to pay and often we don't even know what we've done wrong.

I've been caught out once with an unusual school zone that ended at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon. Luckily I was travelling at 45 km/h or otherwise it could have been a very costly mistake. A mistake that costs others millions each year at the same intersection.

Another costly and common mistake are turn arrows on higher speed roads. Few people realise the timing on the turn arrows is much shorter than if going straight ahead and people are required to brake harder on many turn arrows when lights start to change, than on lanes going straight ahead. One can't help feel this is revenue raising as all it takes is to make the amber turn light last as long as the amber light for going straight ahead lane and many people would not get booked. I read once for every half a second the amber is reduced increases the number of bookings by 50%. Since amber turn arrows can be around 1.5 seconds shorter than straight through lanes and people are travelling much slower, it's very easy to get booked when turning. The real irony is when people brake because the light changes to amber they actually increase their risk of getting booked significantly as they now take longer to enter the intersection. Of course many people push the boundaries when turning as well.

When you've received a red light camera or speeding camera fine it's often handy to be able to easily check the location and Google Street View enables you to closely examine the location. Sometimes checking the location can help you see what you may have done wrong. Knowing what you've done wrong and why, can help make sure you don't make the same mistake again.

The Speed Camera Locations site shows the majority of red light cameras and speed cameras around Victoria. When you click on a camera icon you'll go to the details screen which provides further information. I've now added Google Street View as an option so you can easily view the intersection.

It should be noted the location is an average where there's a couple of red light/speed cameras in the same section of road, such as lanes going straight ahead covered by one camera and lanes turning covered by another camera. This was done to provide a better indication of the total value of fines for all cameras in a section of road. In the future I hope to update the Speed Camera Locations site with the individual camera locations. This will help in proving a better location and provide options for further development of the site.

I hope you find the update of including Google Street View handy.

Kelvin Eldridge

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Sorrento to Queenscliff ferry High Tea online booking system error shows cost of failing online system.

A person contacted me letting me know they couldn't book the Sorrento to Queenscliff ferry High Tea for Sunday at 2pm. Perhaps it was their debit card so I decided to use my credit card in case that was the problem.

I also received the following error message.

That got me thinking, at $330 for six people that's a lot of business lost as a result of their computer system. I decided to let them know their system was failing using their online form. That also failed with a reCAPTCHA error message even though the reCAPTCHA feature (where you enter letters or numbers to show you're human) wasn't displaying.

It makes you wonder just how much business is lost as a result of failing or faulty systems.

Apart from the spelling error in the error message, it does make me wonder if perhaps they shouldn't provide a phone number in the error message people can call if their system isn't working. That might help retain some business.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support

Update: 22/10/2019
Calls to the telephone number to the book the high tea were also not answered on the Sunday morning. Had a good day at Arthurs Seat instead. Great views and good to try the new chairlift.

Petrol prices Melbourne petrol price hike.

Last Thursday I noticed the petrol prices around Melbourne had started to increase to the higher price of 173.9 for unleaded fuel. As of today around 40% of petrol stations have increased their prices.

The average gate price (think wholesale) was 136.6 cents per litre. The price hike is in the expected range of 35-40 cents above the average gate price. The lowest prices around Melbourne dropped quite a bit below the 136.6 down to under the 130 mark.

There's still around 60% of petrol stations yet to have increased their petrol prices.

I noticed a number of petrol stations around Bayswater that have prices under the 130 mark and since I'll be going down the Eastern Freeway I'm hoping to be able to lock in a better price using the 7/11 Fuel app. The good thing about the 7/11 Fuel app is you can lock in a better price than your local area whilst travelling and then use that lower price in around a week's time when prices are much higher. In my case I've only used around a quarter of a tank so filling up in a week's time would be a good time for me. The 7/11 prices around Bayswater are better than the local prices around my, area even with the discount vouchers.

Kelvin Eldridge

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Aldi Onix dashcam a waste of money.

A dashcam can be very handy. When there's an event that's happened you can go back and review the event. However, that doesn't work with the Aldi Onix dashcam because when it deletes older files to make more room, it doesn't delete the oldest first as expected. In fact you'll find there doesn't appear to be any logic to which files are deleted.

The following is a list of files on the SD card in the Aldi dashcam today.

I was interested in the recordings for the 23rd of September 2019. As you can see there's only one recording for a single journey. On that day there were three journeys with perhaps more recordings as recordings are for a time slice of five minutes and not the entire single journey.

Just to make sure the dashcam is recording all of the trip, I checked today's journeys and all of the journeys were recorded, so there's no reason to feel the dashcam isn't recording the journeys.

For the previous day not all the journeys had been recorded. Some at the beginning of the day had been deleted.

I think we'd all expect older recordings would be deleted first to make room for new recordings, but this isn't happening with the Aldi Onix dashcam.

A second issue (although not as important) is the packaging for the Aldi Onix dashcam has a clear night-time picture on the box. The Aldi Onyx dashcam has no ability to take night-time pictures. A night time feature isn't mentioned on the box but the packaging could mislead people to think the dashcam can work at night. It does work at night, but you don't get anything you could use.

A third issue which is very important is the quality of the images. A car in a shopping centre damaged the side of my car when it left. I had the number plate details of the car caught on the dashcam, but the quality was so poor number plate was not able to be read.

In hindsight, at the time of buying I felt the Aldi Onix dashcam was good value. However, if the dashcam doesn't provide what you need when it's needed, then really it isn't very good.

I'd suggest giving the Aldi Onix dashcam a miss.

Kelvin Eldridge

Friday, September 27, 2019

Compound interest calculator shows the impact of tax and the Medicare Levy on savings.

We're always told with investments, you can't beat the effect of compound interest. With compound interest you earn interest on your interest. The calculators you find online can all show the benefit of compound interest, but what they don't show, is just how much impact taxes can have on the end result. Even the government's ASIC Moneysmart site doesn't include the option to enter a tax rate.
The Compound Interest Calculator shows quite clearly the impact of taxes on your savings and depending in the interest rate, can make quite a significant difference to the end savings.
For example:

Initial amount: $10,000
Interest rate: 5%
Number of years: 10

End result: $16,470
Interest: $6,470

Now let's enter 32.5% and Medicare Levy of 2%.

End result: $13,904
Interest: $3,904

The impact on your savings due to taxes is very significant giving just 60% of the interest that could otherwise be made if the government didn't take taxes each year. If taxes were taken out at the end of the period, the interest earned would be $4,237, or about 8.5% more.

For those interested extend the time out to 30 years and you can really see the difference taxes make.
Generally compound interest calculators aren't particularly useful in the real world because they don't take into account the government needs to collect taxes. The Compound Interest Calculator provides a better estimate of the return on your investment that ends up in your pocket.

Kelvin Eldridge
Compound Interest Calculator

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Petrol Price Alert - Petrol prices have unexpectedly gone even higher at 171.9 cents per litre for unleaded.

Recently I wrote a post to let people know petrol prices were on the increase. However, I have to say I've never seen this before, even as prices at those first stations to lift prices started to drop, we've seen prices go even higher. The petrol price hike looked like it was going to go to 167.9 but now a number of petrol stations have put prices up to 171.9.

The average gate price(think wholesale) today was 130.7 so this price has also increased 1.2 cents. That doesn't explain the additional 4 cent jump. As a consumer you can only think this is taking advantage of the hype recently in the media with the Saudi Arabia oil plant being bombed.

What will happen in the future is hard to say but the media is conditioning people to expect higher prices and since we're expecting it, it will probably happen.

There's still time to shop around so it's hard to tell if prices from now will go up fairly quickly or whether some will hold back. Certainly paying 171.9 when you can currently pay 126.5-129.9 elsewhere doesn't make much sense.

Now I'm not an economist but what I find interesting is higher petrol prices have an impact on inflation. I read a 10 cent increase in petrol gives a 0.6% increase in inflation. Since we're seeing that an more recently with the petrol price hikes, higher than expected inflation appears to reduce the chances of an interest rate drop. It is amazing how all these things seem connected. For the consumer all we see is higher prices in one area.

Keep a close eye on petrol prices over the coming days. Don't forget to lock in using the 7 Eleven Fuel App to keep prices low for another week.

Kelvin Eldridge
Petrol Prices Melbourne

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Petrol Price Alert - Prices around Melbourne have started to increase to 167.9 but dropped to 166.9.

A couple of days ago I noticed a couple of petrol stations around Melbourne had increased their prices to 167.9. Today some of those petrol stations have dropped their price to 166.9.

The current average gate price (think wholesale) of unleaded petrol is 129.5 so we're seeing a price increase of 35-40 cents. This price hike range has now occurred for the last few price hikes which is higher than the 25-30 cent price hike seen over the past few years.

The media has also reported the drone bombing of Saudi Arabia's biggest oil plant and it's been suggested prices may go up as a result. Prices were already on their way up before the bombing occurred so this may add additional pressure to oil prices.

How quickly petrol prices will rise is hard to tell as we approach the next school holiday period, since it's still around two weeks away.

Time to keep on eye on petrol prices over the coming week to two weeks.

Kelvin Eldridge
Petrol Prices Melbourne

Friday, September 13, 2019

Is your variable rate home loan with mortgage offset account costing you more than a fixed rate home loan?

I suspect more of us when we get a home loan look at the fixed rate and variable rate and make a pretty quick decision for one or the other. Variable even though it currently has a higher rate but have an offset account to save money, or fixed because it saves money now.

Of course the big one is which way are interest rates going to go in the near future (1-2 years) and if they're going to go up, fixing the rate is a good idea, but if they're going to go down, variable is a good idea or is it?

When I wrote the Fixed vs Variable loans calculator I recently released, the first version of the calculator only went as far as showing how much money was needed in the offset account to recover the difference of the lower fixed interest rate. That in itself required understanding the financial calculations and formulas, even going back to basics to work out the formula.

However the problem is this solution was incomplete. It assumes the money in the mortgage offset account isn't otherwise generating any interest. That's not realistic. If you have a reasonable sum of money it should be in an account earning interest. In addition each year you need to pay tax on that interest.

So the question really is, how much do you need in the mortgage offset account to not only cover the fixed and variable interest rate difference, but also how much to cover any interest the money would otherwise earn in an interest bearing account, whilst also taking into account tax and the Medicare Levy?

The Fixed vs Variable loans calculator has now been updated to handle the complete picture. By entering the savings interest rate, tax and Medicare Levy, the calculator provides how much is required in the mortgage offset account taking in all those factors.

I have to admit even I wasn't expecting the amount to be as large as it is. If people don't take this into account many people will be paying more for their loan than even they think they are. In a way this is deceptive on the part of the banks. Banks aren't informing people how much they really need in their mortgage offset accounts.

This reminds me of the days when people were buying items just to get rewards points, where the cost of the items often meant they were wasting money since the points had such low value.

I certainly had no idea of how much money really is needed in the mortgage offset account to break even. Now at least people can be better informed by using the calculator.

The only remaining issue is whether interest rates will go up or down. A small change in the rates can have a huge impact on the break-even point.

I hope others find the Fixed vs Variable loans calculator to be useful. If you have a home loan you really should plug in your figures and see if there's a better option for you.

Kelvin Eldridge
Fixed vs Variable loans calculator

Monday, September 09, 2019

Fixed vs Variable Home Loan - How much is needed in a mortgage offset account to break even?

Currently the fixed interest rate on home loans is lower than the variable interest rate. It makes sense then to take out the fixed interest rate doesn't it?

Well the answer isn't quite that simple.

When you first take out the loan it may make sense. People won't have much in the way of savings. However it really depends on how much people have left in savings. Variable rate loans often include a nice feature called a mortgage offset account. When you put money into the mortgage offset account the interest on your mortgage is calculated on the balance of the mortgage less the amount of money in the offset account. The best part is it's tax free. If you put the same money in an interest bearing account you'd get taxed on any interest earned every year plus you have to pay the Medicare Levy. Not so with a mortgage offset account.

So the answer to this question really is how much money do you need in your mortgage offset account to break even. This isn't a simple calculation so I decided to write the Fixed vs Variable Loans calculator to provide the answer.

It may sound strange, but if you have some savings, the variable interest rate loan may be the better option even thought the rate is higher. Give the calculator a go and see what is best for you.

Kelvin Eldridge 

Thursday, September 05, 2019

Centrelink PDF upload error - Unexpected error happend. Please try again later. Error code - undefined

If you're trying to upload a PDF document to Centrelink and receive the error message: "Unexpected error happend. Please try again later. Error code - undefined", the following may help.

This type of error has been occurring for years. Not sure why, but it can be frustrating when you're trying to upload a document. If the document is a single page document that can be viewed on a computer screen the following tip may help.

To get around the "Unexpected error..." you can try to convert your PDF file to an image file. The image file can then be uploaded and this has worked.

Convert the PDF document into a PNG graphic file as follows.

Open the PDF document either using your browser or Acrobat PDF Reader. Other PDF readers may also work.

Enlarge the document to full-screen mode. That is you can only see the document and it takes up the entire screen. You may also wish to rotate the document so the document takes up more of the screen and the information is larger. For example if you have an A4 document rotating the document may give a better result.

Press PrtSc to perform a print screen (this captures an image of the screen into the clipboard)

Open Microsoft Paint

Paste the captured image into Paint (use the Paste option or Control+V)

Save the image as a PNG file

Now you can upload the file to Centrelink.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support

Wednesday, September 04, 2019