Wednesday, July 27, 2011

HECS HELP Loan: Calculating final lump sum payment

You want to make a final lump sum payment on your loan right? I've got plenty of Googlers landing on this blog because they want to understand how much, when and where to make that final lump sum payment.

The latest budget is cutting lump sum payment discounts from 10% to 5% starting 1st January 2012. That's going to hurt for the current batch of University students and also for graduates like moi who make erratic extra lump sum repayments because there are heaps better returns on your money invested elsewhere rather than paying it off early.

A few important points about paying off your HELP loans (previously known as HECS debt):

* Lump sum payments of $500 and greater attracts the discount
* HELP loans are indexed to inflation(CPI) on 1st June every single year
* If you have spare money and wish to make lump sum payments, aim to make your lump sum payment in amounts of $500 or greater prior to 1st of June(saving yourself the indexation on that payment)
* If you plan to make a FINAL lump sum payment, ensure you pay the lump sum before you lodge your tax return so that you're applicable for the discount. If you did your tax return first, then you'll have to pay a compulsory amount which is not applicable for discounts. You can save yourself hundreds and possibly thousands depending on the final payment amount by paying that final lump sum before your lodge your tax return

If you're like me and plan to make a final payment to kiss that student loan goodbye, then I'll show you how you can calculate your final repayment:

A) My formula that you can use:

$Balance of your HECS&HELP debt /110 * 100 = $Final payout figure

B) If your final HELP loan amount is $8800 for example
$8800/110 * 100 = $8000 final payout figure (discount= $800)

C) If your final payout figure isn't a whole number, just round it up and pay the rounded up amount and any extra will be either be a refund or reduce your tax payable after you lodge your tax return.

Eg, if you HELP loan amount is $9000
$9000/110 * 100 = $8181.8181, just pay $8182 (discount =$818.20)

How you can make extra HELP repayments:

A) Call the ATO on 13 28 61 and ask them to send out your HELP debt statement with payment options
B) The statement will have a final payout figure- easy peasy
C) You can ask them for your balance and payout figure over the phone
D) You can ask the ATO for a repayment booklet which has information for payment options such as BPAY, direct credit, post office and mail payments

So before I lodge my 2010/2011 tax return, I'm going to make a final lump sum payment on my HELP loan and it will be FINIS! Time to celebrate the end of me babysitting my loan lol

Further reading on HECS/HELP debt:

1. Liabilities at tax time
2. Making a lump sum payment on my HECS/HELP loan

Thursday, July 14, 2011

New Zealand, Wanaka, Treble Cone & Cardrona

What you see is Lake Wanaka in New Zealand. Just before we drove back to Queenstown after a hardcore day at Treble Cone in 2008.

Only a few more weeks before we leave on our NZ snow trip for 2011. I'm pretty excited. My last memory of snow was spending three hours in solid rain at Falls Creek in Victoria trying to snowboard in slush and then fresh powder falling from the sky when we were packed up and ready to drive home.

Rain, hail or shine, I'm out there. Especially when it took us a total of 18 hours to drive down to Falls Creek and back home. This year the snow destination is New Zealand. We are praying for snow in New Zealand.

Powder + my board and I = perfection

“Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder…”– Thoreau

When I first came across this quote, I was 16 and thought it was such a powerful and meaningful quote. Several years later and it's still a meaningful quote. There are a few things in our lives that we have little or no control over and there's no need to worry yourself over what you can't control.

Happiness isn't the only thing that is like a butterfly. Relationships are like butterflies. If you chase after anything or anyone too much, they may never come to you. Sometimes you just have to accept your life, enjoy what you can and then happiness will come your way. And no, I'm not smoking weed or turning hippy on you ~ A friend of mine who I no longer keep in touch with much, was always unhappy and swinging between depression and feeling suicidal. He thought that he could find happiness by moving overseas but not only do problems follow you, misery does too because happiness really is a state of mind.

Escaping overseas to avoid problems that you have at home could be effective if you have a maniacal ex or some creepy stalker that you're trying to get away from. Otherwise, those same old troubles just follow wherever you go until you confront them and resolve those issues.

Anyhoo, I've been in a happy state recently. Life has reached a few milestones and almost everything that I thought I wanted when I was 18 have come around. As Meatloaf once sang, "2 out of 3 ain't bad". The world is always promising with so many events left to unfold. I'm young and healthy with a great family, great friends and plenty of people that I love and care about very much.

We are looking forward to our ski trip to New Zealand that's coming up shortly in a few weeks. Our last trip to NZ was awesome. If you've never been, it should be on your list of countries to visit. The craggiest mountains and the most beautiful vista.

Do you think happiness is a state of mind? Can happiness be elusive no matter how hard you try?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Beautiful Winter Weekends

Spring is tender green buds and pretty flowers blooming, Summer is fish and chips by the beach, Autumn is blazing red and oranges while Winter is suppose to be dull and dreary.

For the first time in a long time, I fell in love with Winter again for reasons other than snow sports. We enjoyed a Sri Lankan lunch at Roselea Community Centre, where a friend of mine was involved with organising a Sri Lankan fundraiser.

It's the first time I've tried Sri Lankan cuisine. It's similar to Indian cuisine (Dosai anyone?) but not as oily. Chilli was litterally used and that had me huffing and puffing but other than that, it was delicious-particulary the potatoes and the spice combination used. Fish hopper, pronounced as 'Op-pah' in Sri Lankan. It was delicious. The flour net had the consistency of a French crepe. It was a batter mixed with rice flour, coconut milk, water and a bit of salt? Cooked on a tiny gas stove pot:

Went for a much needed walk around the neighbourhood afterwards to aid in digesting all the rich and spicy food that we had consumed. It was amazing to see that all the succulent plants were blooming madly. Other winter plants that I adore are the Camellia trees, African daisies, Dandelions and well, pretty much anything except for huge electricity power plant poles ^.^

Ducked into a house that was having a for-sale-open-house and saw the oddest looking tree with what looked like a white fluffy beard dangling down. Also saw a fat, fluffy cat idly lazing on a table. It was adorable, cute and friendly. Contentedly meowing as I petted it :)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Books and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Found myself making a trip to the library last night. I ended up borrowing so many heavy books that I could barely even carry them back to the car. I needed a luggage or shopping trolley to cart them back! With the library closing at 9pm, I really didn't have much time to slowly deliberate, so randomly grabbed piles of books from different sections. The top ones are romance novels by Jude Deveraux, one of my favourite authors along with James Patterson. James Herbert is probably a better writer but I didn't see any of Herbert's books. The Ten Trillion Dollar Gamble is a book about the downfall of Wall Street and hypothesising about America's future. The Barefoot Investor is rather popular in Australia so I thought I'd have a read to see what the fuss is all about. Find It, Buy It, Fix It is a real estate book about renovating because I'll probably be doing some renovations in the near future. Female Entrepreneurs sounded interesting. Grow Herbs...well I've always loved gardening and am always looking to learn more about everything. Sunday Roast, The Country Table and The Food and Cooking of Vietnam and Cambodia are cookbooks.

With a name like mine, there's no disguising my Asian background. Although I've never mentioned it before, I'm an Australian Cambodian. My family migrated to Australia as refugees. Maybe someday soon I'll write about that part and how we can to be Australian citizens instead of French citizens. That's why I was excited to finally see a Cambodian cookbook that has pictures of food that my beautiful mum cooks. It was only earlier in the week that I stumbled across an American Cambodian blogger, blogging about Khmer/Cambodian food recipes.

Much as I love finance/accounting/economics, I also love food, cooking, gardening, outdoorsy stuff, snowboarding and plenty of other stuff and can only blog regularly if I make blogging detours. Anyhoo, whilst on the subjects of books and cooking, this is the cookbook section of the cupboard:

Recipes from friends, newspaper or magazines are filed into the ring binder folders in plastic sleeves as Entrees, Mains, Desserts and Favourites. With the books and magazines, I tag the recipes I plan to try so that I don't have to keep flicking through all the time. It's more inspiring to pick one up and see which one was on your to-try-cooking-wish-list.

Last weekend, I baked Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies from Stonesoup's recipe. I failed to salt them haha ..but they still tasted wickedly, deliciously good even without the salt. Good quality dark chocolate is KEY. I used 50% cocoa Lindt dark chocolate. The higher the cocoa content, the bitterer the chocolate. My baking efforts yielded GINORMOUS cookies about 9cm in diameter ;p~~