The early bird discount that lets you eat out and save


Eat out for half price, how Blockheads can budget for reno costs, and a major super fund is sued for greenwashing. Here are five things you may have missed this week.

New platform lets diners save 50%

A new reservation platform could help you save big bucks on fine dining - as long as you're prepared to eat early.

first table restaurant discount website

The First Table website offers diners 50% off their food bill when they book the first table of a sitting at one of the site's partner restaurants.

Scoring a discount is easy.

Pick your restaurant for breakfast, lunch or dinner, then pay a $10 booking fee to lock in a 50% discount on the food bill for two, three or four people.

Make sure you arrive on time though. If you're more than 15 minutes late, the deal is off.

First Table lists 240 eateries Australia-wide, and about 1400 globally.

Will The Block deliver inspire a new season of renovators?

Long-running renovation reality show The Block is back for another season, ready to inspire a fresh wave of home improvements.

Before you start eyeing off doer-uppers, and collecting colour charts and carpet samples, be sure to keep a level head.

Die-hard Blockheads will recall the 2022 season, when two homes failed to sell at auction.

It was a clear lesson that even a no-expense-spared renovation doesn't guarantee a quick sale.

Still tempted? Jump onto the latest Archicentre Cost Guide to put together a renovation budget.

The Cost Guide breaks down the price of various projects. For instance, be prepared to allow:

  • $2300 to $4600 per square metre for new constructions including extensions
  • $1100 to $3300 per square metre for renovations inside an existing building
  • Up to $48,000 for wet area fit-outs such as kitchens and bathrooms.

More than a handy tool to build a home improvement budget, Archicentre says the Cost Guide also lets renovators compare the 'add on' of builders, and warns that you may be surprised.

Major super fund accused of greenwashing

Investment regulator, ASIC, is taking Active Super to court for alleged greenwashing.

According to ASIC, Active Super's website claimed the fund eliminated investments that posed a risk to the environment and the community such as tobacco manufacturing and gambling. Active Super also stated they added Russia to their list of excluded countries following the invasion of Ukraine.

However, ASIC says that until June 2023, Active Super held 28 investments that either directly or indirectly exposed fund members to securities it claimed to restrict, including:

  • Gambling -  Skycity Entertainment Group, PointsBet Holdings, The Star Entertainment Group, The Lottery Corporation and Tabcorp Holdings
  • Tobacco - Amcor PLC
  • Coal mining - Coronado Global Resources Inc., New Hope Corporation and Whitehaven Coal
  • Russian entities - Gazprom PJSC and Rosneft Oil Company; 

ASIC deputy chair Sarah Court says, "There is much competition among super funds for new members, and we know that funds seek to attract members with promises their investments will not be exposed to certain industries.

Court adds that super funds must have evidence to back up their claims and ensure they are not promising exclusions they cannot guarantee.

This is ASIC's third greenwashing court case after recent action against Mercer Super and Vanguard Investments Australia.

Looking for a second job? Here's a red flag to watch for

A cost of living crunch is seeing a record 950,000 Australians work multiple jobs, and predictably, scammers are trying to make a buck from it all.

Westpac's latest data shows a 1000% increase in job scams - rising from a handful of cases in 2022 to hundreds reported so far in 2023.

Westpac head of fraud, Ben Young, says these scams occur when a jobseeker is tricked into making a payment or sharing personal information through a fake job offer.

Scammers may request personal details such as a driver's licence, passport, or tax file number, or demand upfront payment for training or work-related equipment.

Therese Kaley, managing director of Sydney-based recruitment agency Better Staff, says job scams are increasingly arriving through messaging apps like WhatsApp.

Kayley adds, "While it's common to provide certain details in a job application, a legitimate Australian employer will never ask for things like your bank account details without a formal job offer.

If you're in the market for a job, Kayley recommends checking if a business website or recruitment firm is legitimate, and being very cautious if you're asked to make a payment as part of the application process.

Beware dodgy debt companies

In what's been a busy week for the regulator, ASIC is suing debt management business Bakken Holdings, operator of Solve My Debt Now, for leaving most of its customers financially worse off.

ASIC alleges customers of Solve My Debt Now were in financial hardship, with many facing default on personal loans and credit cards.

Solve My Debt Now offered to manage their debts by collecting funds from customers, passing the cash on to creditors and negotiating with creditors to reduce customers' debts.

However, ASIC claims that over several years, $3.6 million was collected from customers but only $1.1 million was handed to creditors.

Six out of 10 customers saw none of their payments forwarded to creditors at all.

Making matters worse, ASIC alleges that in many cases, the fees charged by Solve My Debt Now added up to more than the customer's debts, leaving clients deeper in hock.

Not surprisingly, ASIC is reminding Australians that it's not necessary to pay for help managing debt.

If you are having trouble keeping up with bills or loan repayments, contact your lender for assistance.

If you need additional support to get on top of debt, call the free National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 and speak to a financial counsellor.

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A former Chartered Accountant, Nicola Field has been a regular contributor to Money for 20 years, and writes on personal finance issues for some of Australia's largest financial institutions. She is the author of Investing in Your Child's Future and Baby or Bust, and has collaborated with Paul Clitheroe on a variety of projects including radio scripts, newspaper columns, and several books.