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Could you go a year without shopping?

Could you go a year without shopping?

Many Australians are very good at buying and accumulating stuff and, unlike generations before us, not so good at re-using and repairing old stuff. But if it meant giving your bank balance – and the planet – a boost, could you go without shopping for one year?

There’s a movement, called Buy Nothing New, which challenges consumers to stop buying non-essential stuff and reassess what you need. At the same time it asks us to think about where things come from and the finite resources used to make them.

There’s a clever explanation on YouTube, which serves up startling revelations about the impact of consumption on the planet. The Story of Stuff, by American activist and filmmaker Annie Leonard reveals that we are running out of resources because we are using too much stuff. Ninety-nine percent of the stuff we harvest, mine, process, and transport is trashed within six months of sale in North America, says Leonard.

Tips for buying nothing new

While you have to pay for food, medicine and basic living items, pay the mortgage, utilities and credit card bills, Buy Nothing New campaign, asks consumers to stop spending money on the stuff we don’t need so we can increase our savings for the things we do.

Recycling, up-cycling, free-cycling and swishing… whatever you want to call it, Australians are increasingly swapping clothes, shoes and accessories rather than buying brand new. It’s ethical, eco-friendly, frugal and fun. Not only do people hold ‘swishing parties’ – swapping items with friends either as a charity event or just for fun (while recycling and saving money at the same time) but, there are several websites that have online swishes taking place; check out bigwardrobe.com and whatsmineisyours.com.

Buy Nothing New is not about going without nor is it Buy Nothing New, never. Visiting online markets and second-hand stores is encouraged, as is renting items and repairing goods, where possible. Don’t shop to alleviate boredom and consider your purchases carefully when you start buying new again. And for the big ticket items, be prepared to pay a premium for quality because you’re more likely to guarantee longevity of goods.

Finally, if you need further motivation to steer clear of the shops then consider the potential savings to be made in 12 months of buying nothing new. By reducing your monthly shopping bill by $500 and instead depositing it into a high-interest savings account with a rate of 6 percent, within the first year you’d be almost $6000 ahead! As for the environmental implications, the savings are even more significant.  So the next time you find yourself at the till, ask yourself this: “Do I really need it?”

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Learn more about home loans

What are the features of home loans for expats from Westpac?

If you’re an Australian citizen living and working abroad, you can borrow to buy a property in Australia. With a Westpac non-resident home loan, you can borrow up to 80 per cent of the property value to purchase a property whilst living overseas. The minimum loan amount for these loans is $25,000, with a maximum loan term of 30 years.

The interest rates and other fees for Westpac non-resident home loans are the same as regular home loans offered to borrowers living in Australia. You’ll have to submit proof of income, six-month bank statements, an employment letter, and your last two payslips. You may also be required to submit a copy of your passport and visa that shows you’re allowed to live and work abroad.

Why does Westpac charge an early termination fee for home loans?

The Westpac home loan early termination fee or break cost is applicable if you have a fixed rate home loan and repay part of or the whole outstanding amount before the fixed period ends. If you’re switching between products before the fixed period ends, you’ll pay a switching break cost and an administrative fee. 

The Westpac home loan early termination fee may not apply if you repay an amount below the prepayment threshold. The prepayment threshold is the amount Westpac allows you to repay during the fixed period outside your regular repayments.

Westpac charges this fee because when you take out a home loan, the bank borrows the funds with wholesale rates available to banks and lenders. Westpac will then work out your interest rate based on you making regular repayments for a fixed period. If you repay before this period ends, the lender may incur a loss if there is any change in the wholesale rate of interest.

When do mortgage payments start after settlement?

Generally speaking, your first mortgage payment falls due one month after the settlement date. However, this may vary based on your mortgage terms. You can check the exact date by contacting your lender.

Usually your settlement agent will meet the seller’s representatives to exchange documents at an agreed place and time. The balance purchase price is paid to the seller. The lender will register a mortgage against your title and give you the funds to purchase the new home.

Once the settlement process is complete, the lender allows you to draw down the loan. The loan amount is debited from your loan account. As soon as the settlement paperwork is sorted, you can collect the keys to your new home and work your way through the moving-in checklist.

Cash or mortgage – which is more suitable to buy an investment property?

Deciding whether to buy an investment property with cash or a mortgage is a matter or personal choice and will often depend on your financial situation. Using cash may seem logical if you have the money in reserve and it can allow you to later use the equity in your home. However, there may be other factors to think about, such as whether there are other debts to pay down and whether it will tie up all of your spare cash. Again, it’s a personal choice and may be worth seeking personal advice.

A mortgage is a popular option for people who don’t have enough cash in the bank to pay for an investment property. Sometimes when you take out a mortgage you can offset your loan interest against the rental income you may earn. The rental income can also help to pay down the loan.