Money won’t fix your problems

It’s a common misconception that money will fix all problems. If only it were that simple.

If you’re comfortable (i.e. earning around $50k a year or more) and you’ve been waiting for a windfall thinking it will be the answer to your worries, it might be time to think again.

What I’d like you to take away from this article is:

  1. Money will not solve much by itself.
  2. If you have any of the following problems, stop waiting for money to do something about them.

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Should I pay down my mortgage or use an offset account?

Once every six months or so, my husband brings up paying off a chunk of our mortgage in a lump sum and I argue in favour of the offset account. The discussion that ensues is a well-rehearsed dance:

Me: “But if we pay off a lump sum, if we need that cash we’ll have to redraw, and maybe the bank won’t let us.”

Hubby: “But if we pay it down, we can drop our mortgage repayments.”

Me: “What’s the point in that? You’ll be charged the same amount of interest either way.”

Hubby: “How can that be? Surely I’ll be charged less interest if I pay it off?”

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The gender pay gap: is your Lisa Wilkinson moment here?

Lisa Wilkinson’s refusal to accept a pay packet half the size of her male co-host’s was a laudable moment. I hope I will describe it to my daughter as the point at which the tide turned and the gender pay gap began to close.

Right now, it raises several questions:

Why hasn’t Karl – a man who wore the same suit for a year to demonstrate how much abuse his co-host got for her appearance – resigned in solidarity? Does he condone Channel 9 paying Lisa less? Or does he think he’s worth twice as much as she is, or does twice as much work? Does he just really, really need that pay packet after his divorce settlement? Read more

Bitcoin, Blockchain and Banking

David Yermack is a Professor of Finance at NYU Stern. He teaches Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies. When the opportunity arose to hear him speak at UWA recently, I leapt at it. Now, after years of saying ‘it’s just another currency’ and ignoring it, I understand what all the fuss is about
 
The main takeaways were:
  • Cryptocurrency is coming for you, regardless of whether you want it to. Possibly sooner than you think. Seems unlikely there will be an ‘opt out’ available. You’ll have an online cryptocurrency account or you won’t have money.
  • Encourage those considering careers in law, accounting and banking to look elsewhere. Employment prospects for those professions look dim.
So, what did I learn to draw these conclusions? Read on…
(PS. If I’ve gotten any of this wrong, it’s my fault, not the Professor’s. Apologies for Professor Yermack in advance if I’ve butchered his eloquent explanations).

What I learned in prison

Before you start worrying about the validity of my ‘Working with Children’ card… I’m part of the ‘Women in Leadership Driving Change’ group that visits women in prison. We deliver training on re-entering the workforce. The program is called ‘Tall Poppies’. It’s a name the residents (the preferred term for prisoners) selected. We cover all sorts: social media, interview prep, what to wear, mindset and, of course, personal finance. Which is where I come in.

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Money and Your Mind: Interview with David Levin, author

If you’ve ever said the following out loud or in your head:

“I am terrible with money.”

“I spend too much.”

“I don’t have control over my money.”

“I just can’t seem to break the habit of <insert annoying/destructive/wasteful financial action>.”

…this post is for you! You can skip to the interview at the end or read on for some background.

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Introducing Rebbecca Devitt, author and homeschool advocate

I grew up in the mainstream education system, attending the local public primary school and later a private high school, then onto one of the ‘sandstone’ universities. I didn’t encounter any homeschoolers growing up, so the whole concept seemed rather mysterious to me.

Through my work with Money School and Maker Kids, I encounter a number of homeschool families, many of whom have become my clients – so the mystery has somewhat dissipated, but it has been replaced with respect. I find it refreshing that these families actively pursue teaching their children about entrepreneurship and money, and I was keen to learn more.

Enter Rebbecca Devitt. Read more

Should I pay off my mortgage or make extra superannuation contributions?

Hands down the most common question asked in our recent ‘Women and Superannuation’ seminars for Department of Local Government and Communities is:

“I have some extra income at the moment.
Should I use it to pay off my mortgage
or put it into superannuation?”

Spoiler alert: the mathematics is crystal clear on this one, which is why most financial advisors won’t hesitate to reply: “Put it in superannuation”. This fails to account for your emotions and stress levels, which aren’t nearly so clear-cut. Read more