Saturday, January 13, 2018

Do You Have a Contingency Plan?

Most people eventually draft their Last Will and Testament knowing that one day they will die and be unable to take all their earthly possessions with them. It's good practice and saves a lot of angst for those we leave behind.

Sliding Gate - Stuck Open
But, few if any, have a Contingency Plan* for other things that can go wrong about the house. This was highlighted to me recently while house-sitting a friend's house while he and his family are on holidays interstate.

The house is full of electronic and equipment whizz-bangery; a water softener, swimming pool filter and Dolphin machine that runs about on the bottom of the pool picking up leaves and seeds that have blown into the pool. There's an external video security system and last of all, an electronically operated sliding gate. It's with the gate I ran into challenges.

The gate decided, for some reason better known to itself, to begin operating erratically. Instead of pushing the open button and having the gate slide right open, it would jerk forward about three inches and stop. So it took dozens of presses of the remote to get the bloody gate open.

Press close and it closes one time and doesn't the next. Now it won't go anywhere. (See photo above).

I rang my friend to find out where he keeps the key to the controller box and to ask if he has a user manual. He has no idea where the key is and no user manual. Not to worry, I quickly accessed an online manual (ain't the internet wonderful?) which was of little use because I can't access the controller box.

Probably because I'm a pedant and highly organised, I have a special folder where I store all of my user manuals. And I mean all, from wristwatches to washing machines. When I no longer have the product, I give the manual the flick so that I don't get bogged down with a lot of useless stuff.

I have a special place for keys and each has a tag identifying what it unlocks.

When something goes amuck, I can find the manual and if there is a key or something else associated with it, like spare blades, I know exactly where to find them. It's not exactly a Contingency Plan, but it works as a Contingency Plan.

The point is, I can't do anything to rectify the gate issue and will need to leave it open until the house owner returns.

Do you have a Contingency Plan for something that may unexpectedly go wrong in your life? Although you can't prepare for everything that could possibly go wrong, you can still have a plan to deal with high probability events eg, like a flat car battery.

Better to be organised than inconvenienced.


* A plan to deal with something that might happen unexpectedly

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Are you still wasting money on snail mail?

When I lived in the United Arab Emirates between 2005-2008, I received an SMS message every time I needed to pay my motor vehicle registration.

Until recently, in my home country, Australia, I received an annual letter with a renewal notice.

Imagine a bank with millions of customers despatching a quarterly statement of account; each statement needs to be printed on paper, folded and placed into an envelope. The envelope is then sealed and processed through a mail service provider incurring a considerable expense.

Today, at least in Australia, prices for posting mail is expensive.

More organisations are using online media for statements, renewal notices, newsletters and anything else that was once posted. They are saving thousands, if not millions on their bottom line.

If you are still using the pony express, snail mail service, then you are doing yourself a disservice.


Thursday, December 21, 2017

Getting the Most from Your Credit Cards

Acknowledgement: Westpac Australia
Most credit cards these days come with a range of loyalty points. Are you using them to gain the best advantage?

When I had my businesses, I put as much of my business expenditure on a credit card as possible. The benefits for me were:

  1. I got about 50 days free credit
  2. The credit card provider supplied me with a monthly statement and,
  3. Each transaction accrued loyalty points
There's a word of caution however, if you want to benefit from using credit cards, you MUST pay the whole amount on the card by the due date, otherwise you will be required to pay interest.

I paid my business credit card my personal credit card on the due date. The bank makes nothing from me except for the annual $100 fee.

There is a range of different things you can do with your points including, using them for air fares, getting discounts on Uber taxis, or buying merchandise or gift cards. As I have all the gadgets I'll ever need, I usually request Caltex fuel cards for my points.

Last year when I drove all over Western Australia, I had picked up $1,500 (AUD) worth of fuel cards which cut down my fuel expense considerably.

Each month, when the bank statement arrives in my inbox, I check each line item to ensure there have been no ripoffs and then file it. At tax time, I can use the statements to see what I have paid that is claimable on tax (not much, unfortunately).

Are you using credit cards to their best advantage? Do you use them for your business expenses?