Five-fold Friday: Peak coffee; cheap creditor threats ; rent relief; KiwiSaver tax cuts; Impotence and the thinking man's drug

Five-fold Friday: Peak coffee; cheap creditor threats ; rent relief; KiwiSaver tax cuts; Impotence and the thinking man's drug

1) Savings and spending

Never mind this conjecture about $4 a litre petrol. Try sipping on a $8 latte instead and see what kind of bitter aftertaste that leaves. How well prepared are you for that heart stopping shocker?

Okay, it's a crude calculation but here's the underlining equation inputs. Benchmark ICE arabica futures have more than doubled in the past nine months to 34-year highs. How long before that filters through to the price board?

Call it the triple C factor: Climate Change and China. Poor harvests are affecting high-grade arabic beans and China's growing middle class has acquired a taste for and is getting hooked on the bean. Brazilians, Indians and Indonesians are also embracing the coffee culture in growing numbers. Coffee handlers also have been hit hard with margins up 150 % in the six months to October 2010, increasing the cost of hedging coffee purchases in the futures market.

Time to give up the bean? Perish the thought. I'd sooner give up my car, wine and my left kidney before I forfeit my favourite addiction.

At the risk of depressing yourself, you can read more on the brewing storm in this Reuter's article.

2) Credit and Debt

I had two separate cases of consumer rage this week. One, when I found out the CEO of the financial institution where I bank earns an eye popping NZ$6 million a year.

It was a few days after I got stung NZ$25 by Westpac on an international draft for C$135 so the news didn't sit so well with me -- even if George Frazis comes from humble roots. It's a bit steep for a fancy paper cheque that requires a simple currency exchange calculation also bent in favour of the bank.

My second WTF moment was when a telephone operator at Telecom threatened to send the credit sharks after me for being a few weeks late on my phone bill. Now I could understand if I was regularly late but in more than four and a years with Telecom, I have not once defaulted or been late on a payment. Just so happened I got busy this month. I spat the dummy and let her have it.

How about instead Telecom offer me a nice juicy rebate for all the faithful years of paying on time and also a big fat apology to the public for gouging them on mobile phone prices? In the name of consumer justice when is this country going to introduce a positive credit rating system that rewards faithful and prompt payers with meaningful merits or cash rebates that give us a reason to stay loyal when the 12 month contractual handcuffs come off?

When I have a free moment, I'll be hanging up on Telecom -- and cutting the cord.

3) Real Estate

Landlords avert your eyes, this one's for renters of which I am one. A rare bit of happy news for us saps this week. Apart from two bedrooms flats in Auckland. April rents softened across the board in all main centers.

To read more on real estate market shifts see Bernard Hickey's article here.

Time for a rent renegotiation perchance? 

4) Death and taxes

A lot of speculation lately about whether Government will take the axe to KiwiSaver during next month's budget announcement.

What's going to go? The $1,000 kick-starts, $20 a week member tax credits or options on first-time home withdrawals?

Another possibility, and one you're not likely to have heard about is the removal of the current tax exemption on employer's contributions.

At present, KiwiSavers enjoy the full benefit of the 2% top up to their retirement fund from the boss. Not something you probably spent much time thinking about but it's a bonus.

So how bad is the tax bite if Government helps itself to that as well? Take an average salary of NZ$50,000. Government taxing the employer contribution would effectively mean you'll end up paying an additional NZ$320 a year in taxes, reducing your take home pay. Whereas if Government revoked member tax credits you'll end with NZ$1,043 less in a year in investable retirement savings money -- a blatant broken promise.

Hard to say which way they'll go, but if Government wants the continued buy-in of Kiwis, they're best taking their axe to another tree to give this one a proper chance to grow. Mind you, one way or another we'll still pay. Government's cumulative contributions to KiwiSaver are more than NZ$3.3 billion to date.

KiwiSaver at a glance (March 2011):

Payments to providers (gross) March 2011 ($) million Financial year 2010-2011 ($) million
Employee deductions 110.0 854.6
Employer contributions 70.9 543.6
Voluntary contributions 0.9 9.9
Total member contributions 181.8 1408.1
Member tax credit (MTC) 0.2 662.8
Kick-start 23.6 256.8
Fee subsidy 0.0 0.0
Interest 0.5 2.8
Total crown contributions 24.3 922.5
Total payments to providers 206.1 2330.6

5) Books and Film

Sticking with the coffee theme, beanaholics and readers will undoubtedly relish the latest from the Philosophy For Everyone Series "Coffee: Grounds for Debate."

This series of essays looks at the long standing love affair between coffee and philosophy. Editors Scott F Parker and Michael W Austin say the pair share an undeniably close and highly evocative relationship.

"The appropriate analogy is that coffee and philosophy go together like foreplay and sex. You can have one without the other, but the latter is better with the former and the former often leads to the latter.''

I was sold immediately on the book on the strength of this brilliant review by Guardian Weekly's Stuart Jeffries who questions whether one of coffee's downsides is impotence. Coffee a marriage wrecker? And to think I thought it was a salve.

Apparently one of the pernicious side-effects of the bean is that it steala a man's libido and worse yet turns the otherwise sharp witted philosopher's sperm into over-caffeinated, turbo-boosted projectiles that fail to hit the target.

Whaddya reckon gentlemen? Any truth to this deflating aspect of coffee? Or maybe that's a question better directed at  the opposite sex. Gals, your thoughts? Is coffee a relationship killer?

Non-caffeinated, non-financial, just a totally irrelevant but visually stunning tour of our planet captured by BBC.

Full screen viewing recommended.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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1) Coffee doesnt need to double...Ive gone from one most days a few years ago to now 1 or 2 per 2 weeks, basically a pay day treat......but I still make my own at home for $1.50 a bowl....so coffee doubles, it becomes $2 a bowl at home.....$7 a week on coffee for two to $15....I think I can cope.  Not all bad I think many coffees shops grossly over-charge for crap coffee...less starbucks isnt a bad thing IMHO.

regards

Here, here. At least you're not assaulted in NZ with Starbucks on every street corner. They killed the independents in N America. Home made def the way to go with the occasional coffee date. Have sourced organic milk for $4.50 per 2 litre and it makes the most delicious lattes.

Hey...remember that earthquake in Christchurch....yeah that one....how's this for a bit of Marlborough news....an area that never ever has any earthquakes!

 "Marlborough District Council has stuck notices on 21 buildings in Blenheim and Picton, saying they must be strengthened to meet earthquake codes, or demolished
The Marlborough Boys' College main block and the old nurses' home behind Wairau Hospital did not comply" express.

Doh...ok I think the old nurses home is empty......but what's that other building mentioned....isn't it full of young people on a regular basis...owned by the govt too....oh of course...silly me...govt buildings never fall down.....! tick tock tick tock.........

Ahhh Marlborough Boys. My old high school. Very fond memories of being in a decent (4 - 5 something) earthquake in '95 in that old building. David Paul was almost in tears of joy that an earthquake would hit during 5th form Geography.

Amanda this is your best effort yet IMHO.

Well coffee I can talk about at length, so forgive me if I do. Once a few stoned goats in Africa were first noticed, the result combined with electricity changed the industrial world forever. One provided the light to work 24 hrs, the other the stimulation to work in it. There is debate over its effects however, as it is known as an irritant to the small intestine. Whether this causes malabsorption of nutritional elements is the moot point. But with more aromatics than wine the result of a well executed shot of expresso combined with steamed mild is surely the drink of the gods.

The video is pretty amazing. As an aspiring Architect there is some great footage. A few chills down my spine in parts.

It had the same effect on me. A good reminder of the bigger picture....and humanity's interconnection. 

Glad you enjoyed it. :)

Yeah, good job. I've seen the vid before but every once in a while the awesomeness of people is good to remember. Remember what I said about using an ISP for telephone. Cheaper, more features, better service.
Also possible cuts/changes to kiwisaver is exactly why so many people didn't get involved in the first place. Looks like they may have been right. If the gov. removes incentives I WILL take a holiday and divert it elsewhere because it will stop providing advantages over other places I could put it.

My dog wants her daily morning walk and it is raining. When is this crazy weather going to dry up? My lawn looks like a jungle and I am getting vitamin deficiency from lack of sun.

5.

This is the one you should have shown,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Tc6ywqoL6o

Welcome to the land we are leaving our children and (for BBs) grandchildren............

regards

Aww Steven you ruined the uplifting moment of Amanda's link.

But some are doing their bit.

http://animal.discovery.com/videos/whale-wars-humpback-whale-sighting.html

"I can't/won't go without my...!"

This is the difference between self-disciplined people with willpower, and spoilt idiotic children.

The spoilt idiotic children are in the overwhelming majority today.

One of a life's little pleasures. Ask anyone I know, I'm hardly a spoilt brat and thanks to this profession I'm made of teflon now. Have a lovely day dear sir. xo

You're representative of a generation that refuses to do without, no matter what the cost to others. The preceding generation raised you to be this way, because they are at least as bad as the latest batch of spoiled 'gimme-gimme-gimme' brats.

Amanda

keep your coffee and your humour!

Judging harsh comments come normally only from a goody goody with a bloated ego.

a non-good nurse.

You are being a tad harsh don't you think?

Amanda has a rather charming, open writing style prone to a bit of exaggeration,sometimes indulged in by us females.

She has already made efforts at being a recessionista and is trying to save money, according to her earlier contribution.

Some things like chocolate (Elley) and now coffee (Amanda) are small but necessary luxuries. I have read that during past recessions, lipstick and music  did well because they were those small "affordable" luxuries that made life bearable.

Having said that, I have a Krup espresso machine bought at the flea market for $30

and we buy 500gm  Caffe Aurora beans ( $7.99 at Countdown or Pak n save.)

In a previous life we had a Gaggia Machine from a posh shop in London (it broke down) and bought expensive hand roasted snobby beans because we thought they would taste better

I honestly can't tell the difference in the coffees except its now a very inexpensive "luxury"and everyone loves the coffee I make them.

If I worked, I would have my recessionista coffee before leaving home and take a flask of tea for elevenses. 

I so agree with you. No one goes anywhere near my chocolate :) And I don't think I am a spoilt brat. The way I see it, I don't drink (alcohol) and never have, don't smoke, never have, and don't have any other worse addictions (pretty boring I know). I'm not into shopping at all, don't care for nice cars and flash stuff, and most of the activities I enjoy are free or cheap (not on purpose, just the way it is). So I reckon I can indulge myself as much as I like with good quality chocolate.

On coffee, I used to go 2-3 times a week to the coffee shop when I was at work but now that I work from home it's pretty much always at home, with our Krupp coffee machine bought 15 years ago. It makes good coffee but I am a chocolate lover, not so much into coffee so I'm not the best person to judge the merits of home-made coffee vs cafe coffee. 

Btw, try and serve a "bowl" of coffee with milk to French or Italian people and they'll have a fit. Coffee = espresso over there. It used to give us the giggles to see people making themselves huge bowls of coffee with milk through the day in the UK.

As for the, hmmm, side effects - my man is a 1-2 coffees a day drinker and I have no complaints thank you :) And if it decreases fertility I sure haven't noticed!

Mine gives me a freshly made coffee as I lay in bed every morning. Coffee=love. ;)

Sounds like you've got a keeper JD. Women aren't all that hard to please.:) 

@Elley ... that's not my experience.  The first time I saw a big bowl of coffee was in France, in the 1970s.   The Spanish take it that way too and I remember that from a trip I made in 1981.   A massive bowl of milky coffee with pastry dunked in was a breakfast-time treat for many in the Galicia area - might be just that region, though.  

Some people are purists when it comes to coffee and will maintain that it should be  espresso only and nothing else merits consideration.   Personally, I see that as like having shots of vodka.  

Rental shortage, what rental shortage?

Rents in Auckland appear to have eased last month and officials say rents elsewhere in the country are cheaper than three years ago.

Real estate firm Barfoot & Thompson estimates the average Auckland rent has eased by $13 a week after hitting an all-time high of $434 in March.

Barfoot's managing director Peter Thompson said the decline was expected "as demand for property normally quietens in April".

But he noted that the city's average rent was still nearly 6%, or $23, higher than 12 months ago.

Despite this, the Department of Building and Housing said in March there was no evidence to back up a tightening rental market or a rental shortage in Auckland.

The soggy national rental outlook was reinforced by Trade Me last month when it reported its March quarter listings pointed to an oversupply of rental properties, except in Auckland.

Good stuff Amanda.... it's hard to muscle in on BH's top ten recipe I know, but you're getting a nice little niche going. I'm sure Telecom must make nice margins on their late payment fees (something worth investigating?) but of course offer nothing for early payment.

If you brew your own coffee on a simple stove top machine then there's no reason you can't have it even if we've reached peak coffee I reckon. I  currently pay $7-8 for a 200g bag which lasts me a couple of weeks at least. If you bought bulk beans and a hand grinder I'm sure you could get it down to half that plus some exercise. While you don't get the cafe ambience it has it own type of possibilities for a intrinsic analogue ritual none the less.

Or BH could get you all a nice coffee machine for HQ? -Just think how cranky everyone is going to be when they don't get their morning cup.....(catalyst for insurrection?!).

Wolly....I'd hate to see the old M Boy's be destroyed. If for no other reason than I can share a laugh with my nephews under going 'character development' in the same Colditz like ambiance I did (they have heating and don't even beat them these days....hard to believe once State sanctified). Nothing like trying to pretended to do French vocab on a nice sunny day while staring catatonically out at that green grass. -Good for them!