The newest tech craze is … books
Each night I tuck the kids into bed and read them a story. Yet lately … I’ve been cheating. When the kids are listening with their eyes closed, I pull out my phone and press ‘play’ on my brandnew audiobook – Barefoot Kids – and then sneak out to spend some quality time with Mrs Barefoot.
They don’t know the difference! Well, until they open their eyes, and then come searching for us.
(And the game is really up.) Seriously, though, audio is so hot right now. Yet I was shocked to learn that the fastest-growing segment isn’t podcasts … it’s audiobooks.
Yes, the hottest thing in book publishing is … books you don’t read!
That explains why streaming behemoth Spotify recently launched its own audiobook service. Founder Daniel Ek has suggested that the market could grow from its current $US10bn to as much as $US70bn in a few years’ time.
And it also explains why Apple is trying to beat other audiobook publishers to the punch by releasing its own AI audiobook narrator, complete with voice inflection.
However, I didn’t go with the robot. I decided to go all in with my audiobook because of the sheer number of people who wrote to me saying their kids couldn’t or wouldn’t read.
So I spent hours and hours in the recording studio. I even got some child actors to narrate the kid bits, and hired a voice actor for the dog (which ended up sounding a bit woofy, so we gave it the chop).
I’m super proud of the audiobook we’ve created, and I think it’s going to provide some awesome family listening for long car trips. And I think the parents in the front will get as much out of it as the kids in the back. It’s available in Audible today. Happy Easter!
Tread Your Own Path!
MAKING YOUR CREDIT CARDS DISAPPEAR
In your recent column (“Thanks for NOTHING, Barefoot”), I was, like you, shocked when Lisa blatantly decided to stop paying her credit card debt, which somehow seemed to magically make her debt disappear into the ether.
At the same time, curiosity got the better of me (for the record, I’m debt free thanks to your book). From a quick Google read, it seems possible to essentially make a debt disappear! Apparently there is this thing called a statute-barred debt which (if certain conditions are met) means you can walk away from having to pay old debts. However, I feel I do not fully understand if and when this may apply to someone. Could you please explain it to me in simpler terms so my smooth brain can understand it? Tim
SCOTT SAYS: In the olden days, you’d be locked up in debtors’ prison, and only released when you coughed up. Today the law is more civilised: you no longer get put in jail, and there are limits for how long a lender can chase you for the debt.
So here’s the spell to get your credit card wiped:
Lenders have six years to chase up an unsecured debt like a credit card. If at that time you haven’t made a repayment, or admitted that you owe the money, then it gets classified as statute-barred debt, and you legally no longer have to pay it.
Abracadabra! Sounds like magic, right? Just wait out six years and you’re home free!
In reality, lenders are very aware of the law, which is why they’ll generally take you to court to get a judgment against you, which both ups the ante and extends the period they can chase you for (to 15 years).
And if your lender still can’t get you to pay, they can sell your debt off to a debt collector, and then they will hassle your kneecaps off … for years.
Thankfully that will never apply to you, Tim.
I AM SHOCKED, DEVASTATED, HEARTBROKEN, NUMB
After becoming Barefoot about five years ago now, my husband and I got our finances in order, saved a nice little nest egg, and decided it was time to upsize our modest little home. We bought a block of land pre-Covid to build our ‘Forever Home’, with a group called Porter Davis. Now I am one of the more than 1,500 families that were building when Porter Davis went bust. I am shocked, devastated, heartbroken, numb. We are currently waiting to hear further from the liquidators and have filed an insurance claim. But I am so anxious about where this leaves us and what to expect next. Please help. Colleen
SCOTT SAYS: I’m so sorry.
You have every right to feel totally betrayed: you gave your life savings to a builder who promised they’d create your forever home, and they dudded you.
So what you deserve now is honesty. You want to know what to expect? Expect it to suck for a good year, and
“I’m super proud of the audiobook we’ve created …
possibly longer. You’ll be hit with increased rent, increased debt repayments, and increased costs to complete your home. And it’s going to take way too much time: it’ll take a few months to process your insurance warranty claim, but the real time-killer will be finding another builder to take over your project.
All of this is outside of your control. So, focus on the things you can control: your income, your expenses, and the most important thing of all – your relationship – in what is going to be a very tough year for the both of you.
Sadly, you’re not alone.
I read an article this week which shocked me:
Hutchinson is Australia’s largest private builder and the country’s thirdlargest residential builder. The group’s chairman, Scott Hutchinson, candidly told the Herald Sun:
“Current conditions are terrible. It’s ridiculous. I have never seen it like this. There will be more builders going broke. There’s nothing governments can do. People simply should not build … I don’t think there should be any private building.”
That’s a bloody big call!
Buyer (and builder) beware!
MY REAL ESTATE AGENT IS A ROGUE
We had a terrible 2022, starting with listing our apartment for sale in May – right at the time interest rates went up in record succession. It ultimately resulted in our agent pulling all sorts of manoeuvres to get us to drop our price. We didn’t take the bait, and he delisted our property, meaning we lost the upfront marketing costs of $7000. Two complaints to Consumer Affairs to no avail, so we lost that
money. I’ve taken it really badly – it’s been a big confidence hit, not to mention the daily guilt I feel for putting my family in this situation. What can I do to get some of this money back? How are consumers able to hold businesses accountable when there are no consequences for unethical behavior?
SCOTT SAYS: It’s a hard one. So perhaps the agent got you on the books by touting an unrealistically high price … and then began knocking you down to reality. It happens a lot, especially with numbskull agents.
Or maybe it was the fact that you listed your house at the tail end of the Covid property boom and got caught out. From May to January, house prices in capital cities pulled back
8.6 per cent.
I know I sound unsympathetic, but you can’t blame your real estate agent for that. His one and only job is to go out and find the highest price the market is prepared to pay.
It’s your job to decide whether you’ll accept it. And if you’ve anchored your price 10 per cent higher than the market is prepared to pay, that’s not his fault. I think it would be a hard ask to get a refund on the dough his agency has spent marketing your property to the property portals.
Please don’t beat yourself up. This is all part of the emotionally and financially taxing process of selling a property. From here on out, focus on the reason you decided to sell in the first place … and what your next steps are.
Information and opinions provided in this column are general in nature and have been prepared for educational purposes only. Always seek personal financial advice tailored to your specific needs before making financial and investment decisions.