Here are a few excerpts from the bulletin I send every Friday. The bulletin is a collection of 5 things you may find helpful.
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Thought of the week
“In theory there’s no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is.”
-Jan L. A. van de Snepscheut, computer scientist
What are you theorising about that you just need to put into practice to test?
Turning an old laptop into a Chromebook
Another project I’ve completed is converting an old Dell Inspiron Mini laptop into a Chromebook for the kids.
I’ve had this laptop for about 10 years and eventually the Windows 7 starter edition it came with just wouldn’t boot up. So I erased it all and made it a simple Chromebook. You can surf the net, watch movies and do basic tasks on it. It’s given it another few years of life!
Here’s the step by step guide that I used.
PI tip: Charitable trusts in NZ
Did you know that you can view the annual reports and financial information of all charitable trusts and incorporated societies in NZ?
Why do I mention this? Kiwis are some of the most generous people in the world (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Giving_Index). I think it’s important that there’s transparency in who or what we’re giving to.
Take a look. I think you’ll be amazed at what some of these smaller charities are doing on limited budgets and volunteer hours. By the same token, it’s amazing how much some of the larger ones spend on getting donations!
Stocard – declutter your wallet
It’s surprising how many loyalty cards we carry around. I spent a while looking for an app that I could load them onto. Stocard was the best I could find. My wallet is now half the size.
Make sure you create an account, in order to back your data up. So if you lose your phone, you can just log in and get all your cards back.
You can scan the barcode, or just take a photo of the front and back of the card. I currently have over 20 cards on mine.
Even though many of these have their own app, I find Stocard easier to use and it takes less space on your phone than 100 different apps.
Available on Android or Apple:
PI tip: Google reverse image search
Did you know that you can search Google using an image, not just text? I’ve included the link below. Just drag an image into the search bar and it will show you every website that uses that image.
Help available to small businesses over COVID-19
If you have a small to medium business, there are a few ways you can get help over this time. No doubt you’ve looked into some already.
The ones that have been helpful to me are:
- Wage subsidy. None of us are able to work at the moment, and there is no revenue coming in. This helps businesses continue to pay their employees, provided they keep the employees once this is over. You also have to see or predict a 30% drop in revenue in any given month, related to COVID-19. This is also available to self-employed people and charities.
- Business finance guarantee scheme. This is where businesses with annual revenue between $250,000 and $80 million can apply to their banks for loans up to $500,000, for up to three years. I got a short term loan for 3 months (from Kiwibank) just to help with cash-flow over this time. It was approved in 3 days. Interest still applies of course, but the government guarantees 80% of it and the bank the other 20%.
- IRD penalties and interest write-off. If your business is unable to pay its taxes on time due to the impact of COVID-19, they understand. Get in touch with them when you can, and they’ll write-off any penalties and interest. Since GST and terminal tax are due over the next few weeks, this is going to help.
Number to give out if you don’t want a callback
Ever needed to give out a fake number? Maybe you don’t need to as much as I do as a PI. But you can use it too.
Especially for loyalty schemes or pushy sales people. Instead of mysteriously ending up on a list where everyone calls you, you can give this number out and know that instead of wasting your time with sales or scam calls, they’re wasting their own time.
It rings a few times, connects and plays ‘Never gonna give you up’ by Rick Astley, and then hangs up.
It’s called Rickrolling. Give it a try.
09 886 0565
Investing in shares with small brokerage fees
I’ve dabbled in shares for a while now, and luckily we’ve had a great market for almost 10 years (getting rocky now). Of course there will be a correction, nobody knows when though. My view on shares is a long term one, buy good companies and hold. Stock prices can fluctuate wildly over the short term, but over the long term almost all of them go up (including the depression(s) and subsequent financial crises).
As Warren Buffett says: “Only buy something that you’d be perfectly happy to hold if the market shut down for 10 years.”
I don’t invest a lot, but I find it’s a great training ground to teach me how to take a long term view, how to analyse companies and markets, and how to take emotions out of it. It’s not for everyone, and that’s ok.
If it is something you’d like to try, often the big turn off is the $30+ brokerage fee per trade.
Sharesies is a fairly new company that I’ve used since they started. They’ve just started trading in individual companies on the NZX and the big news is their brokerage fee is 0.5%. So on a $1,000 purchase, it would be $5. Much less than $30.
So you can buy a small amount of shares as you go along and not spend most of your money on trading fees.
In their words: “We want someone with $50 to have the same investment opportunities as someone with $50,000.”
Check them out:
Thought of the week
4 things that are incredibly simple but not easy.
- Keeping fit and healthy.
- Saving money.
- Doing customer research.
- Working on your top priority for today.
Upwork and Fiverr
These are a couple of remote assistant (or virtual assistant) sites that I’ve been using for years. You can basically get any task done, that can be done remotely. I’ve used them for:
- Logo design
- SEO (search engine optimisation) work
- Web design
- Copy writing
- Database management
- Product research
- Target market research
I’ve found Upwork better for longer term projects, and Fiverr for one-off projects. The key thing is setting clear guidelines and expectations, before getting them to start work for you. Most are great at following instructions, but not so good at taking initiative or mind-reading.
By the way, those telemarketers, or SEO experts who call you all the time? They’ll most likely be from something similar to this. So use them wisely, don’t annoy people with them like other companies do!
I have a personal interest in Dutch films. We just finished watching ‘The Resistance Banker’. A very well acted film, based on a true story. The story of how a few bankers forged the bank bonds of the German controlled Dutch national bank to pay for the ongoing resistance in WW2.
An eye-opening look at life under occupation. Especially poignant since my grandfather was in the Dutch resistance. We’re used to seeing movies about the soldiers, or about unoccupied countries. But there aren’t that many films about Holland during the war.
It’s on Netflix. Watch the trailer here:
Let the kids see ‘real’ wild animals in your house
This has kept the kids entertained for quite some time. If you type an animal’s name into Google (on an iPhone or Android) and then press ‘View in 3D’. It brings up your camera and then 30 seconds later you have that animal in 3D in your house! You can take a photo of the kids with them and they can walk around it.
There are a heap of different animals available. Give it a try.
Guttersmart foam gutter protection
I don’t intend to advertise my own products through here, but I did want to mention this one. We’ve just started selling this and to be honest it’s still a bit of an unknown product. Hence why it needs a bit of a boost.
It’s an easy-to-install gutter foam insert that stops leaves and debris from sitting in your gutters. Similar to gutter whiskers, but performs much better. You lay it in the gutters like whiskers, but it’s a solid foam wedge so leaves and debris don’t get stuck in the bristles.
It’s $9 per metre length. If you need any, let me know and I’ll do you a deal. Feel free to mention it to anyone else who may need it.
Aged care means test and trusts
Following on from last week’s topic on family trusts. Some people were wondering how much protection trusts offer from an aged care subsidy means test.
In most cases, not much…WINZ will look at everything. And with more people coming into care, it’ll only get more rigorous. Here’s a good overview:
Handy flight checkers
Here are a couple of websites I’ve used to get cheap flights. They work better for simple, direct flights. For long-haul with stopovers or complications, I still generally go through a travel agent.
Skyscanner (this has been around for years):
In the last few weeks I’ve had two friends ask me about scams they’ve seen. As a PI, I’ve come across quite a few different ones. In fact, I’ve been the victim of two about 10-15 years ago! Nobody is immune and everyone has their trigger (as advanced scammers know).
I know someone who is currently paying around $5-10k a year on a scam. Ask me about it sometime. Despite all the evidence, they’re convinced the promises will eventually be fulfilled! In fact, my intervention only made them more determined to see it through. Some people you just need to leave to it. It’s not impacting their finances much.
If you have anything you’d like to run by me, feel free. Most scams go unreported due to embarrassment. Better to get it checked out first, before being sucked in.
Here’s a fairly detailed article on current scams:
PI tip: Property sales data in NZ
If you want to know what your neighbour’s house recently sold for (let’s face it, we’re all a bit obsessed with house prices) take a look at www.homes.co.nz
It will also give you a very rough estimate of what yours is worth.
New healthy homes standards for rental properties
For those of you who own a rental property in NZ (or are renting) here is the definitive guide on what landlords need to do to comply with the new standards. The key points are:
From 1 July 2019
- Homes in Auckland must have ceiling insulation of at least R 2.9 (or thickness of 120mm for existing) and underfloor insulation of at least R 1.3 (existing silver foil is ok if in good condition).
From 1 July 2021
- All properties must have at least one fixed heater which can heat the main living room to at least 18°C .
- There must be an extraction fan or rangehood in kitchens and bathrooms.
- If the property has an enclosed subfloor (i.e. dirt basement) it must have a moisture barrier installed.
Full details can be found here:
If in doubt, there are plenty of insulation companies who will conduct a free audit on your property.
Family trust changes
Many of you have a family trust, or will eventually be the beneficiary of one. There is currently a bill in parliament that proposes the biggest changes to trust law since 60’s. Once it passes it would be worthwhile consulting your lawyer as to if/how it affects you. In brief:
- Will replace current trust law.
- More clarity around keeping beneficiaries informed. E.g. must inform them they are a beneficiary!
- Clearer compulsory trustee’s duties.
- Obligation to keep trust records.
- Wider court powers around trustee’s decisions.
So there’s a lot more focus on keeping good records and actively managing it. No more forming one and forgetting about it! Actually keeping a copy of your trust deed is a good start.
Here’s an overview of how trusts currently work (if you’re thinking of forming one):
A couple of people have asked me how much protection a trust offers in case of bankruptcy (not that they’re going bankrupt but more out of interest…I hope). As far as I can tell it depends on how solvent you were when you formed the trust and gifted your assets to it. I.e. if you were already in financial trouble then the courts can rule that your trust was only formed in order to not pay your debts. If you go bankrupt within 2 years of forming the trust, creditors are usually entitled to it. If it’s within 5 years, it’ll be closely looked at. Anyway, some interesting reading. If you’re looking at it seriously, best to talk to a lawyer.
I recently ordered 100 Komelon tape measures from Snappy. Why would I need 100 tape measures? Buy some polycarbonate from Sunnyside and you’ll find out! But I found Snappy had the best price (and were willing to negotiate on bulk orders), and their customer service was amazing (especially the online chat).
If you’re in the market for tools, check them out:
The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly
Understanding the 12 technological forces that will shape our future.
I finished reading this book a while ago, but keep coming back to it. It’s a thought-provoking look into where we are headed with technology. If you’re interested in tech, and the future, this is a great (albeit geeky) read.
You can request it through Auckland Libraries.