3 Things That Got my Goat (or Tickled My Fancy) This Week
WHY I'D NEVER DREAM OF BUYING GROCERIES ONLINE
I have bought a number of items online which once I would never have considered: running shoes for example.
But I wonder if I would ever, unlike many of my Baby Boomer cohort who have turned onto the habit, buy my groceries online?
In a blow to the usual gender stereotype, my father used to do all the family shopping, and as a child I’d go with him.
He taught me to read the labels, compare the contents, find the actual value not just the lowest price, and be open to trying new varieties and fresh produce.
These experiences helped turn me into a consumer campaigner who got paid to check out, consider and comment on these very matters.
For me a trip to the supermarket can be as much an adventure as a chore. The joy of discovering how prices have shifted, what new apple species is around and what new wonder product is being hyped on special.
It’s online shopping which is the chore. You can’t see or smell the fresh produce. You can’t lift up the package or shake it.
Yes, there’s the same nutritional and unit price information on packaged goods, but frankly, it’s not the same.
But, despite my hesitation, online groceries have boomed, especially with baby boomers. At Woolies over the COVID period, they have increased from 29 to 34% of customers.
Many will be shopping this way as a precaution against the virus as much as a convenience. But will they return to the stores with all their deliberate seductions to spend?
I’ll be very interested to see. Please carry on shopping online if it serves you well. Rather like the local cinema, where I go to see actual films instead of wantonly ‘bingeing’ on streaming services, I shall be at different supermarkets for the perverse experience of doing something called ‘shopping.’
How about you do you get a thrill doing everyday shopping, or is it just a drag better done online?
COMMENT OF THE WEEK
In response to my piece last week about older Australians adapting or even building new homes to accommodate the challenges of ageing came the following comment from anonymous in NSW:
"What government assistance is given to elderly non-pensioners who wish to install, for example, a lift to ease their movement and future proof their home?"
The couple said they are considering installing a lift in their three-storey home after many of their older friends have fallen and broken bones. Above all, if they do have a fall they don't need to move into a retirement/nursing home as they age.
But what government assistance is available? It's complicated depending on if you are an older claimant, under 65 and covered by the NDIS, a veteran etc.
The most thorough guide I could find on options in Australia, which says also stairlifts are GST-free because they aid mobility, is from supplier Stannah.
They are an international company that makes these kinds of products and so is naturally interested in selling them. However, their checklist here refers you to various government and other websites to do more thorough research.
Above all, they warn you to secure any government grants before ordering the lifts.
By the way, my mother-in-law has just had a stairlift installed after a significant operation which cost around $5,000 without any government assistance. It was a much better option for her than the choice of moving to a single storey home or shifting her bedroom downstairs.
CASH NO LONGER KING. IT CAN EVEN BE A LIABILITY!
The decline in the use of hard cash in our digital and pandemic age is well-documented and rarely lamented.
But I didn't know whether to laugh or cry recently when an establishment happily took my cash but just wouldn't give any change!
The latest survey from the Reserve bank indicates many more of us come across businesses or events which will not take cash as the law allows. Plus, there's the fear of COVID-infested banknotes.
I usually carry cash, a credit card and my transaction-enabled mobile. Just in case.
But one afternoon I had to be in town and took advantage of my wife's offer of a lift in a little too quickly, leaving my wallet with notes and cards at home.
I still had my phone, which had a credit card loaded on it but just to be on the safe side like a bit of cash too in case the battery crashes etc
My wife was gracious enough to lend, not give mind, all the change she had in the shape of a crisp $50. I met my mate at the Art Gallery of NSW as arranged and we slipped downstairs to the café.
I asked the concierge at the front desk that they took cash, she said yes, as we checked in with the COVID-safe QR code (try doing that without a digital device).
We ordered two coffees at the checkout, and I whipped out the phone only to discover I hadn't replaced the card details after the last one was hacked a few weeks ago.
I proffered the new $50 note for the $8.50 bill only to be told while they take cash in payment, they do not in any circumstances give any change as a COVID precaution!
Faced with one of the world's most expensive flat whites outside of the San Marco clipjoint cafés in Venice, we made our excuses and left. (My mate's on a pension, and with his payday still 18 hours away, he was dead skint).
While businesses can choose whether to take cash or not, I have not found a legal judgement yet as to if they do whether they have to give you the correct change.
So, like the scouts, be prepared. I have changed the card on my phone, always double check to take my wallet and will pay back the $50.
PS Later that day, I found a health food store that would happily take cash for a $7.50 packet of liquorice tea. They dug under to the counter for a locked wooden box that held some old and grubby notes and tarnished coins in various plastic bags. They confirmed it was a sign of how rarely they took cash or had to give change.
Read more of transition from cash and its actual costs here but beware the story might be behind is a paywall.
Any information is general advice, it does not take into account your individual circumstances, objectives, financial situation or needs.