Better Ways

Who's been caught selling junk insurance policies?

Line up of new cars

You’ve decided you want a new or near new car. It’s easy to get carried away with all the excitement; you might be tempted to buy on impulse. And the car dealerships know that. But don’t get carried away. For most, your car is the second biggest investment you’ll make in your life (after your house). Doing some homework, getting savvy to dealer tricks and learning to negotiate can save you thousands.

Before we give you the vital tips to getting the best deal, let’s talk about the biggest waste of money to avoid – a ‘junk’ insurance policy. This is the add-on the dealership sells you for hundreds or thousands of dollars but offers no real benefit, in your moment of weakness and excitement.

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Danger Zone

Are your household items out to get you?

An episode from Tales from the Darkside

Is it a case of a horror movies come to life – are our everyday items out to get us? Last year, there were 670 product safety recalls  – up 12.4 per cent from the previous year. We better get accustomed to more recalls. Brands are worried about what happens to their reputation if they don’t do a recall, so you better start paying attention.

In an episode from Tales from the Darkside, a babysitter entertains a bunch of kids by inventing a creature that eats sounds. Things turn nasty when the vacuum starts eating everything and everyone in the house.

In real life, we’ve had:

  • chocolate laced with plastic,
  • washing machines catching fire,
  • furniture falling on kids, and
  • cars rolling away when left in ‘park’.

This year, we’ve had more cars recalled than ever before. There are plenty of disgruntled car owners, some even taking to youtube or kickstarter to raise awareness to what they perceive as a ‘lemon’ car.

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Better Ways

Will TV streaming have the fastest take-up rate for consumer technology in Australian history?

Couple watching TV

Aussie viewer behaviour is stunning the experts. Subscriptions to TV and movie streaming services such as Netflix and Presto may prove to have the fastest take-up rate of new technology in Australian history. Even more intriguing is the rapid drop in piracy.

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Better Ways

Don't let a disaster ruin your wedding day

Wedding cake with bride and groom decoration

You’ll spend 36 whole days planning your wedding. You’ll cross your fingers and hope that your big day runs exactly to schedule. But despite your best efforts, there’s bound to be something that goes wrong on the day.

A UK survey revealed that nearly one in five couples were unhappy with at least one of the services at their wedding, but most did nothing about it.

Australian couples are forking out an average of $36,000. If you think that’s a staggering sum, some bridal publications claim the average is as high as $65,000. So when you’re spending that much money, it’s important to know that when things do go wrong, you can do something about it!

We’ve compiled the following tips to minimise wedding day dilemmas and what you should do if they occur.

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Better Ways

How loyalty programs sucker you into giving up personal information

Wallet with many credit cards with loyalty programs

If you’re not paying for a product, then you might be the product. Wise words to consider next time you’re thinking of joining a loyalty program.

We love a freebie, but loyalty programs offering everything from free coffees to discounted flights aren’t actually free. Businesses increase their profits with loyalty programs in two ways. A loyalty program encourages you to shop with those participating outlets more than you would otherwise. And the other way is to sell your data, either to market research companies or to other companies that then send you unsolicited emails, instant messages, SMS or MMS also called SPAM.

So are these programs worth the effort or are we being suckered into giving up our personal information for little return?

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Better Ways

The ultimate guide to gym memberships and personal training

Spring is in the air, finally. It’s time to come out of hibernation and peel off the extra layers of clothing. If, like me, you’re now lamenting those extra serves of sticky date pudding, then your mind is searching for ways to reverse the months spent under a blanket rather than outdoors being active.

Walk through any major shopping strip and you’ll be met with fit and charming sales staff trying to lure you into signing up to the local gym and personal training sessions. And the offers will be tempting… more than 4.6 million Australians are members of a gym. A staggering $1.4 billion will be spent on fitness this year.

What starts with the good intention of getting back into shape, sometimes results in heavy sales pressure and lock-in contracts. The final blow – you might be stuck paying for an expensive membership that doesn’t get used.

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Better Ways

Films, hotels now food. Can this system really get you making good choices?

Picture of woman's hand raising a donut

What do films, hotels, appliances and now food all have in common? They have a star rating system designed to help us make better choices. And while sitting through a mediocre film does little more than waste our time, the star rating system on packaged foods has promised better health. But can a simple label on packaged food be the answer to rising obesity?

The recently introduced system has got its detractors. For starters, how does a system rating healthiness give a better score to hot chips than greek yogurt? We’ll get to that shortly.  And how can we make best use of the labels despite their limitations?

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Danger Zone

This love will rock your world – but not in a good way

Picture of champagne glasses in romantic setting

As dating websites and apps become more popular, so do the number of online romance scams. In Australia, $28 million last year was lost in romance schemes. These figures are only the tip of the iceberg as many victims are reluctant to admit to friends, family or authorities that they fell for a scam.

We’ve spoken to many people who have fallen victim to romance scams and what’s important to know is that these aren’t silly people handing over cash within the first five minutes of meeting someone. They are regular folk looking for friendship or love.

So how likely is it that your new internet love interest will go after your bank account? And what are the signs to look out for?

We’ve compiled the Top 5 strategies used by love scammers.

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Better Ways

7 foods you’re better off eating out than at home

Picture of a restaurant table with food

Aussies love to eat out. A recent report found that we visit cafes, takeaway shops and restaurants around four times a month and spend around $70 per week dining out.

Our love affair with eating out has grown over the years. 20 years ago, Australian households spent around 20 per cent of their weekly food budget on eating out. Today, it’s around 30 per cent.

So are we heading the way of the United States? A recent report claims that American’s are spending more eating out than at the grocery store.

A major supermarket brand claims that the weekly supermarket shop is dead. We now use the supermarket more like a panty with last minute shops of the necessary ingredients to whip up the latest MasterChef inspired recipe.

When we considered $70 per week is spent dining out compared with $139 per week on groceries, we thought we’d answer the following question.

When are you better off eating out and when are you better off eating in?

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Better Ways

The Green Debate: Front Loaders vs Top Loaders

Image of washing hanging between two buildings

Your current washing machine has probably lasted at least 10 years, so if you’re looking for a replacement, a lot has changed since your last purchase.

The average Australian household does 4-5 loads of washing per week. We rely on our washing machine almost as much as our refrigerator. So it’s no surprise that performance rather than price is what most people care about when making their decision on which type to buy.

To help you make the right decision, the Two Hoots team has compared the modern day front loaders and top loaders on price, performance and longevity. Our results will surprise you.

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