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A fun and entertainingly educational forum, specifically designed for Australian “suburbanites".

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Removal of Wisdom – a great tip and another chance to win a prize.

I’m just back from sick leave after having my wisdom teeth removed (how brave am I showing you a photo – you have to give me points for good sportsmanship????). After putting the surgery off for more than ten years it turned out to be much ado about nothing.

Ok, so that’s two gratuitous literary references already, clearly I’m feeling the need to remind you of my History and English Literature background. I must be feeling insecure.

Actually, there is a reason, but you’ll need to follow my strange logic for a bit. When I had my teeth removed, a few of my friends made references to the Henry Handel Richardson novel, “The Getting of Wisdom.” It boasts possibly one of the best character names in history - Laura Tweedle Rambotham.

One of the themes of the book is “loss of innocence”. Remember when you were young and you didn’t have to even think about money? I can still recall at the age of 10 sitting with my girlfriends in the playground as we listed all the things we’d buy if only we had $100. If I could go back in time, I’d sure be able to burst 10 year old self’s bubble about how much she can actually get with $100…

Money begets choice, but it also brings with it much responsibility, stress, and yes, loss of innocence. And it can all get so complicated and overwhelming at times, that we can easily forget about the more simple money strategies that can make a big difference.

Being a Financial Planner and living with the world’s best Accountant (apologies to my dad, brother, uncle, and esteemed work colleagues) one thing I do well is budgeting. Don’t get me wrong, I like to spend as much as the next woman. In fact I’m currently trying to convince Mick that spending $200+ on a pair of Burberry gumboots is not a waste of money (if you’re male you just went “WHAAAAT?!!”, and if you’re female you just smiled and thought “wouldn’t that be lovely”). But I can save and I can budget. For the record I’m not winning the gumboot argument.

I’m often surprised when I discuss budgeting with my friends and clients, to learn that most people don’t actually have a weekly household budget. You know, the money you allocate to groceries, eating out, alcohol, petrol, dry-cleaning, getting your nails/hair done etc. This is one of the most simple budgeting tips and best of all – it really works.

Every Thursday, we take out a set amount to last us for the week, and for the most part we stick to it. Of course there are times when we have to go over the budget, but it’s a conscious decision and at least we know we’re doing it. Knowing what you’re spending is a critical element of any budget and that can’t always be achieved by handing over the plastic every time we make a purchase. On the other hand, opening the wallet/purse and seeing exactly how much cash you have for the rest of the week makes a huge difference to your decision making.

Do yourself a favour and don’t get so bogged down with the complicated money “stuff”. Take my simple tip and put it into practice. All you need to do is determine a realistic amount that you need to spend each week to meet those expenses, and that’s the amount to take out. It may take a bit of getting used to, but after a few months or so you won’t look back.

So there ya go, I still have my wisdom, and even some innocence. Now, if I can just get rid of these gaping holes in my gums….

Your chance to win – I’m currently compiling a list of budgeting tips for a paper I’m writing. Could you please send me any tips you have that I can include? You will receive full credit in my paper, and the best tip wins a bottle of wine (and for the record, it’s nice wine).

All you need to do is enter your tip in the comments section below, or email it to me at

Congrats Steve (Kernohan), a bottle of wine is on its way to you for your Fifth Element quote - "Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for conversation, but maybe you could just shut up for a moment?" Extremely apt, given my recent experience where I had no option (refer to photo).

Talk soon,

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Where is Bruce Willis when you need him?

My brother and I meet in the lunchroom each day to do the Herald Sun quiz. Sometimes when the clues for the “Who Am I?” are too easy, we make up our own. A few weeks ago Dean gave me the clue “we owe him everything.” Of course, too easy, that’s Bruce Willis.

You know what I’m talking about right? That feeling you get when you sit down to watch a movie and you see Bruce’s name in the credits. It’s relief. It’s conviction. Coz, you just know that it’s all going to be ok.

So where is he right now? The USA are up to their oozit in debt (oozit is a highly technical term, so don’t feel badly if you’re not familiar with it), Standard & Poor’s reduced their credit rating from AAA to AA+, and a minority government is not helping matters (MS Palin, you need to come back and answer me some questions ma’am….).
So exactly how did the US get themselves into this mess?

Well, the Treasury of the United States of America reached the legal limit of its debt in May of this year. In the past, this has never been a real problem because Congress (House of Representatives and the Senate) just kept increasing the “debt ceiling” as required, so that Treasury could continue to borrow in order to run the country and service the nation’s debts.

This time is different. In November last year, the Democrats lost control of the House of Representatives, and this has caused some major headaches, including a standoff regarding raising the debt ceiling. This came to a head when Treasury announced that as of 2 August 2011 it would not be able to meet all of its obligations, including social security cheques (due the following day), interest on its $14.3 trillion of bonds (due 15 August) and a host of other payments.

Of course, an agreement was reached at the last minute, reminding me of a famous Winston Churchill quote “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing—after they’ve tried everything else.” However, I’m still trying to work out if any party actually came out of the agreement as a winner.

I should mention that other than suburban Melbourne, America is my absolute favourite place in the world, and I love Americans. BUT (yes this is one of those some of my best friends are buts….) they’ve possibly been getting a tad too big for their star spangled britches.

I’ve no doubt that the government will act swiftly and sensibly to get their house in order (yep, a very deliberate pun), but it won’t be a smooth ride so fasten your seatbelts.

The big question on everyone’s quivering lips at the moment is – are we heading for GFC 2? Will all this uncertainty and tea party politics send us back into recession? Of course, no one knows the answer to that, but I think it’s highly unlikely.

The sharemarket is over-reacting at the moment (and how!!), but hopefully it will settle down soon and we can all breathe out.

In the meantime, Bruce if you’re reading this blog, it sure would be great if you could yippee-ki-yay yourself on over to save the day. Oh, I just realised, America can’t afford him right now….

So after a real rollercoaster of a week, let’s end on a fun note. Here’s one of my fave Bruce Willis quotes from Die Hard 2 - the lesser of the Die Hards let’s be honest, but still very watchable:

“Hey, well, as far as I'm concerned, progress peaked with frozen pizza.”

Ahhhh it makes me giggle. And after the past few days, I’m hearing ya Bruce, I’m hearing ya.

Add your favourite Bruce Willis movie quote in the comments section below, and I will award a nice bottle of red wine for the one I like best*.

* Please note that judging is completely arbitrary and subjective.

Talk soon,