By Amanda Morrall
1) What are you saving for?
I've been inspired. During a long overdue phone catch up with my best friend in Canada she told me of her plans for financial freedom. As she's half way across the planet she won't mind me blabbing that's she's 42. In eight years she'll be mortgage free. What's impressive, to me, about her plan is that a) she's doing it under her own steam -- she's a single working yummy mummy b) she devised three or four scenarios to cover all eventualities and c) her plan involves topping up her kids' education savings plans to the tune of $80k. The benefit of doing this is that the Government there will match her annual savings up to $2K per child. The idea is that neither she, nor the ex or their offspring, will have to go into debt to fund their university education.
Having an end goal for savings is crucial as without one, you'll end up rudderless and far more likely to dip into your savings along the way.
2) Junior ISA Tax Free Savings
I read with interest plans in the U.K. to create tax free savings accounts for children. This is a brilliant idea. It's seems ludicrous to me to tax children before they even have a means of paying for it. Given the NZ$10 billion in unpaid student loans the Government is trying to deal with, why not give kids (and their parents) a tax free incentive to save for their education to preempt this problem for future generations. I don't expect Prime Minister John Key's own children will have much to worry about financially when they set off to university. Their debt-ridden peers on the other hand won't be so lucky. Make it a good wish when you blow those candles out Mr. Key.
3) Emergency funds
Talk to any financial planner or pick up any personal finance book and you'll hear/read about the importance of having an emergency fund in place.
How big should it be? The advisers I have talked to suggest, as a minimum, three months worth of living expenses. Optimally, they suggest six months.
Wealth informatrics sets out a few scenarios for optimists and pessimists. Good food for thought.
4) I failed spectacularly
Failure is an integral part of success. Whenever I get down or demoralised about my own failures in life, I remind myself of this. It's how you respond to failure and more importantly what you learn from it that turns negative into a positive.
Harvard business professor Shawn Achor in the "Happiness Advantage" calls it "falling up." Pretty much every book I've read about leaders and millionaires also addresses the inevitability of failure and its benefits.
5) DC's undies
The first thing that greeted me upon turning on my computer this morning was a Trade Me ad, flagging the sale of an autographed pair of Dan Carter's underwear. Okay, I admit this guy has a killer physique and I drooled ever so slightly at his sculpted god-esque 30-foot image plastered on a billboard in downtown Auckland, but owning a pair of his undergarments?
Of course my mind instantly turned to the possibility of exploiting this racy Trade Me auction for the sake of a personal finance story. No, I don't recommend selling your undies for a sideline.
When I went looking for details, I found out the $400 starting bid on DC's dainties has a higher goal. The money raised from the sale will be used to help send a two-year old cancer patient named Tayler Gailey to a special clinic in Mexico. Sadly, she's reached the end of her treatment options in New Zealand. (See this New Zealand Herald story for more details).
Okay Dan, all of a sudden your jockey's seem a bit more appealing. Hope they fetch a fortune for the sake of young Tayler and her family.