Aussies turn to No Interest Loans to pay for back-to-school shopping


Aussie families are feeling the pinch when it comes to back-to-school shopping, low interest rates could be gone for good, and how much are you willing to spend for a memento of your favourite show? Here are five things you might have missed this week.

No Interest Loans boom as cost of living crisis hits back to school season

The number of Australians turning to No Interest Loans to equip their kids for the return to school has jumped 73% since 2018.

no interest loans boom as cost of living crisis hits back to school season

In partnership with Good Shepherd, NAB expects to fund more than $640,000 worth of No Interest Loans next month, which will help purchase school uniforms, computers, stationery and books.

Mother-of-four Belinda says the cost of back-to-school shopping for her children was overwhelming.

"It has become so hard at the end of the year, just before Christmas when the schools release the uniform, book lists and now technology requirements and I think how on earth are we going to pay for this?" Belinda says.

"My kids are at an age where they all need to bring their own device to school. That wasn't a requirement 10 years ago."

Belinda said that despite her budgeting throughout the year it's getting more expensive.

"I start doing things for the kids during the year to prepare and help cover the costs. I look at second hand uniform options, what I can recycle from one child to another, but sometimes they need it new, and it all still overwhelms me.

"I don't want my kids to miss out. That's an emotional roller coaster on top of the financial roller coaster. I honestly don't know what we would have done without No Interest Loans, things would be dire, to be honest."

Good Shepherd's executive general manager of client services Dave Vicary says No Interest Loans could aid families who are already struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.

"There are no hidden fees or charges and you only pay back what you borrow," he says.

Rate cut predicted but higher rates are here to stay

One in three experts may expect a cash rate cut by August, but Aussies need to get used to high interest rates sticking around, according to Mozo.

"The RBA may start cutting the cash rate later this year, but it's unlikely we'll get back to those ultra-low interest rates starting with 1 or 2 we saw during covid in the near future. In fact, they may never return at all," says Mozo's money expert Rachel Wastell.

"Borrowers need to get used to this higher-for-longer interest rate environment, which means they should be savvy with who they choose as a home loan lender."

There are currently 25 lenders offering rates starting with 5, according to Mozo, 85 lenders offering rates starting with 6, 62 lenders offering rates starting with 7, and 39 lenders offering rates over 8% p.a.

"When as little as half a percentage point difference in home loan rates can equate to tens of thousands of dollars more in interest you're paying over the course of the loan, paying the 'loyalty tax' on a home loan can be very expensive."

"When you look at the 0.10% difference in rates between the two lowest rate home loans on the Mozo database, you can see that 10 basis points equates to an extra $11,000 difference in interest paid over 25 years."

Saxo slashes broker fees

Saxo says it is taking on hidden broker fees, slashing its brokerage fees by up to 62% for the ASX and up to 87% for US markets.

Investors can now trade US equities for as little as $USD1, UK equities for as little as £3, and the local ASX for as little as $AUD3.

"As the cost of living continues to creep upwards for many, we strongly believe our clients should still be able to invest into their future and make the most of their money and investments," says Saxo Australia CEO Adam Smith.

"By making prices much more competitive in the markets that Saxo operates in, particularly our 'home' ASX, we want to make it easier for new and existing clients to be invested and stay invested in the financial markets."

The new ASX brokerage fees put Saxo on par with Stake, and below CommSec ($5) and SelfWealth ($9.50) standard pricing.

Saxo has also dropped its currency conversion fees to 0.25% for those trading in global markets, and done away with inactivity fees for traders.

Succession mementos auctioned off

Not ready to let go of TV drama Succession just yet?

While the show's fourth and final season finished airing last May, eager fans last week snapped up some memorable mementos from the show.

The 236 items auctioned off by Heritage Auctions ranged from the luxury - a Prada suit and Saint Laurent dress shirt, to the loopy - a six-foot dog costume.

You could even bid on a New York State driver's licence and American Express Platinum cards in the name of Succession character Kendall Roy, though we don't like your chance of using them to pay for your next Burberry shopping haul.

Speaking of Burberry, its distinctive tote derided in the show as "ludicrously capacious", fetched $USD18,750 in the online auction.

The auction brought in $627,825 total which, once the auction house has taken a cut, will go to HBO, the network behind the successful drama.

Don't forget about your Christmas gift cards

If you remember opening gift cards on Christmas Day but aren't quite sure where they are now, you're not alone.

New research from Finder reveals that one in three Aussies has at least one unused gift card.

The average balance on each of these forgotten cards is $198, totalling a whopping $1.4 billion around the country.

"Luckily any gift cards purchased after November 2019 must come with a minimum three-year expiry period, but don't delay," says Finder personal finance expert Sarah Megginson.

"Retailers can still go out of business or move locations, leaving you holding the bag."

Need a reminder to use up your languishing gift cards?

Set a reminder on your phone each month to spend the card, she suggests.

Received a well-meaning voucher for Dan Murphy's but feeling sober curious? Sell the gift card online at a discount and buy yourself something you like.

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Sharyn McCowen is Money's digital editor. She has a degree in journalism from Charles Sturt University, and was a newspaper reporter for 10 years before moving to magazines and finance.