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Capitalising from quantitative easing; The psychology of stress; Tax servitude and charitable causes; Home economics and the working mother; The perils of rural retirement

Posted in Personal Finance

By Amanda Morrall (email)

1) Paper gold

If you missed out on the gold rush (the past year would have seen a 26% return on the investment in US$ terms)  you might want to think about padding your portfolio with paper -- stocks. With government printing presses working overtime to pump more money into the flailing economies and banks, companies supplying the raw materials to feed the quantitative easing frenzy are going gangbusters. According to this Wall Street Journal article, investors with stock in De La Rue, the British paper and print maker, would have seen a 35% return on their investment last year.

2) Good stress

I've always struggled to wrap my head around why stress is supposed to be good for me. I aspire toward that Zen-like state of being totally unphased and cucumber cool. A new study published in suggests a little known upside of stress is that it actually forces you to look at the positives. I would've thought the opposite to be true, but apparently the human mind, when mired in a stressful situation or confronted with a stressful decision, defaults to a positive in order to get through.

One example used is a person struggling with a decision on a new job offer. Amid a conflicting array of information, the mind under stress filters out the negatives (i.e. commuting time, extra responsibility, longer days etc) and fixes upon the most beneficial feature, typically salary. This is a good reminder to take time for serious reflection when it comes to important financial situations that require a Zen-like mind to fully evaluate.

3) Tax servitude

Even charities that get on the wrong side of the tax man can wind up in the poo. Forbes Money reports on how the U.S. Slavery Museum got itself into big trouble with the tax man by failing to file on time amid other blunders.

No tax mercy even for the best causes. Here's a link to the Charities Commission website where you can do the surveillance on your favourite pet charity or look up the rules to avoid similar woes with IRD.

4) Working women

I'm always interested to read these studies (see the latest published in the Economist) on the pros and cons of women in the workforce and the benefits for the child whose mummy stays at home. The conclusion drawn in this blog from the Economist is that there is a marginal benefit to the child during that first year at home with mummy compared to the economic benefit of mummy at work. I just feel grateful I had a year with both my babes because I hardly see them anymore. Surely, there's a balance somewhere?

5) City slickers should stay put

It's easy to imagine country life as being some kind of bucolic existence with leisurely cups of tea in the morning, crosswords and books and a slow-cooked meal that doesn't come from a box. City slickers with this ideal in mind are being told to get a grip, particularly those looking to retire from urban life into the country.

Retirees without a true sense of the labours involved in country living could find themselves beating a hasty (and expensive) retreat back to the city if they fail to do their research properly, according to this article from the Guardian. That splat you just heard is the sound of my bubble being burst.

To read other Take Fives by Amanda Morrall click here. You can also follow Amanda on Twitter@amandamorrall

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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  4) Working women:   From

4) Working women:
From the actual paper: "Yet, quantitative evidence on the link between early maternal employment and child development is so far mixed"
This type of research always makes me laugh. All the outputs are economic reductionisms, which are then used to justify policy adjustments framed in economic terms. 
When I see studies on outcomes in adulthood: criminal offending, relationship outcomes and so on, then i might take them more seriously. 
They are limited by data and their desire to see people are economic units. They aren't. 
This stuff is utter rubbish. 

Agreed. Outcomes measured are

Agreed. Outcomes measured are very narrow (ranging from getting into a good high school being the main good outcome, to average wage and employment status at 25/26). What kind of measurement is that... if that was your child's sole purpose to get into a good high school, and to get more money than others, of course you don't need to be there to raise them yourself when they are young... And the study wasn't measuring outcomes vs. stay-at-home parent, it was measuring outcomes prior to and after welfare policy reform re: maternity leave... how ridiculous, who pays people to put this rubbish out.

Amanda if you hardly see your

Amanda if you hardly see your babes anymore, I expect you realise that they hardly ever see you, as well. If you are in a position to do so, you really need to do something about your and your childrens work/daycare/school/life balance. Surely, handing your kids over to the state (as it is the state that dictates how education and care is run) is never ideal. I just hope one day that we take a long hard look at Scandinavian countries for a lead on how a nation should treat their families and children., then once that is established it should become as inviolable as those countries have it

Working Women: i consider

Working Women: i consider myself a feminist but rue the day we were ever told we could 'have it all!'.  Fulfilling career, family and a life are, in my world, only possible if you have a 'wife' at home.  Maybe there is something to polygamy after all...

Maybe Liz, if polygamy

Maybe Liz, if polygamy weren't such a one-sided equation.:)

Or you can be lucky and be a

Or you can be lucky and be a working from home mummy... Pretty full on, definitely trying, but well worth it.

Don't let anyone burst your

Don't let anyone burst your bubble, let alone the Guardian.
Of course change is hard. This doesn't mean it's not worth the effort.

I knew of a couple in the UK

I knew of a couple in the UK that retired to an idyllic country village.   It was their dream to kick back and enjoy life in a big house in the country.  They lasted a couple of years - and then decided to stop kidding themselves. 
They now live in an apartment in Westminster - high enough to be away from the noise and have a great view of the city.    Often on a whim, they go to the theatres, art galleries, museums, concert halls, cinemas and eat out often at a never-ending supply of different places.   They even saw the proximity of St Thomas' Hospital as a real bonus.   Their thinking is that if their health deteriorates, they are unlikely to be in-patients because they are so local.    

As to the work/life balance

As to the work/life balance my wife will go back part time. So yes that will help with the mortgage but also be the best we can for our boy :)