Listen to the music money lessons; How to budget for the unanticipated; A higher education in debt; Workplace financial hazards; $5 of goodwill

Listen to the music money lessons; How to budget for the unanticipated; A higher education in debt; Workplace financial hazards; $5 of goodwill

By Amanda Morrall (email)

1) Listen to the music

Ever notice the freaky tendency of music to parallel one's moods? I'm not talking about the sad Ryan (not Bryan) Adams albums you masochastically select to deepen the funk of a broken heart, or Offspring to detach from a cloud of anger but the seemingly random songs that crop up on your iPod when you've got it on shuffle.

I'm a music junkie so I couldn't resist putting up this link today from Forbes Money with the lyrics of 10 songs that reflect a financial lesson or some sort of another. Frivolous but fun.

I'll add to it this from one of my favourite musicians:

2) Budgeting for the unexpected

This month was a doozy for me financially. I'd budgeted for the pooch but the $600 car servicing bill sort of stung. I'm scrapping through the rest of the month because I refuse to dig into my savings. I even had to say no to yet another charity that came calling. I still feel bad about it.

Here's some tips from on how to budget for those unexpected bills that bite you in the butt. It's a pretty good strategy that involves a bit of brutal honesty, time and number crunching.

3) A higher education in debt

I count myself lucky that when I went to university (a long, long time ago) tuition was relatively cheap. If my ageing memory serves me correctly, the highest the annual tuition ever got was CND$1,200 a year. Fortunately, I had a few scholarships to offset the costs, and held a variety of jobs through university to pay for rent and beer.

Bloomberg here profiles the regrettable situation of a gal who wound up with a very expensive lesson in choosing your degree carefully. Sadly, her situation is not uncommon. With fewer jobs to go around, many undergraduates have decided to roll through the recession by seeking a higher degree only to find themselves in deeper debt and insufficient means to pay it off.

4) Workplace hazards

The neighbourhood where I work in Auckland, Herne Bay, is a financial liability of sorts. It is full of my favourite things: books shops, cafes, there's even a yoga studio two blocks away. Unleashed, I could do myself a lot of financial harm. Thanks to a book reviewing gig with my former employer and my foray into yoga teaching, I have two of those temptations under firm control. The caffeine addiction was more difficult to tame but after my 30-day self-imposed challenge to abstain from the bean, I have scaled way back.  Also, as a Christmas present, the big boss, is generously feeding the addiction (for all of us) at his own expense. Cheers David.

My colleagues and I are also luckier than most in that our suburban location spares us having to empty half our weekly pay on parking.  Bernard preaches every day about biking so has zero transportation costs. I appreciate the fact that our situation is somewhat unique.

Here's a good little primer on how newcomers to the workforce can hang onto more of their precious money by watching the pennies closely.

5) $5  of goodwill

Blogging can be a labour of love. Not many figure out how to monetise it effectively. Here's a goodwill practise that one blogger came up with to reward his favourite writers.

If you enjoy mine, stuff a $5 note in the next charity box that you cross paths with.

And because I can't get enough of Franti, and I am busting with joy today, here's a bonus track for your weekend pleasure:

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

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The fastest-growing "education" sector in the USA by far is film school. Millions of kids are signing-up for US$100k+ film school courses in the belief that one day they will be the next Spielberg. Only an incredibly tiny percentage of them will score any kind of TV or movie position. The rest will be stuck with colossal debt and awesome part-time jobs at Burger King.

Same applies to taking music lessons .How many actually carry on to make it a career.

My biggest regret is giving up piano lessons to play rugby.two broken arms,hamstring injuries etc,young family etc ended that.Should have stuck with music.

So my question remains.....what are the charities with the lowest risk of losing one's donation to overhead, the most worthy, the most innovative etc? Surely, sore loser there are a few you can name for my top five charities column.

Hi Amanda, since you didn't get an answer I'll write one. Salvation Army, Unicef,  World Vision & NZ Red Cross all had overheads of 12-20%. I didn't want to get involved with any organisations where less than 3/4 of our donation $$$ got used for something other than its intended purpose.

From memory, the Salvation Army had the lowest overheads and NZ Red Cross the highest. That was nearly 10 years ago but I suppose it hasn't changed a lot. Others you might want to check out: KidsCan (24% overheads) & Starship (not sure about overheads but got involved anyway).

I too would say Salvation Army. Definitely.

Thanks Elley. Yikes, I donate to all three of those worst overhead offenders. It helped to get personal letters from the World Vision kids I sponsored. I've heard Starship is fantastic.  Recently, I've taken the approach that you can help, quite a bit, just by getting more involved with the people around you and in your neighborhood. The need is great wherever you look, even if it is not always financial.  Volunteering counts for a lot.


You're completely right and good on you for doing that. Right now, my spare time is near non-existent and giving money is just easier - direct debits set up so I don't even have to think about it. Giving time is much harder so basically I'm taking the easy option!

I can't see the youtube clip, so apologies for any double-ups.  There's a great deal of financial advice from rock and pop music - most of it very sensible.

George Harrison, despite his higher plane of spirituality, had a keen sense of what is deemed to be taxable income i.e. everything.  "My advice for those who die, declare the pennies on your eyes", is his tip.   

A new relationship is not just those funny, lovey-dovey feelings in your tummy and arguing about who puts the phone down first - in short, you need to keep your business head on before you get down to any, er, business.

Gwen Guthrie in her song "Ain't Nothing Goin' on but the Rent" advised checking financial status before embarking on a relationship,   "Fly girls like me need security" and "you gotta have a J-O-B if you wanna be with me" and, repeatedly,  "no romance without finance".

TLC in "No Scrubs" couldn't make the postion clearer  - "You wanna get with me, with no money? No No No".

So is the answer simply to hook up with a rich person?  Oran "Juice" Jones in "The Rain" offers a perspective which may challenge that.   He secretly follows his partner and sees her holding hands with some bloke in the rain.   He doesn't seek any explanation -he immediately cleans out the bank account and withdraws her authority to use any credit.  He sells her posessions so that she ends up with only with what she entered the relationship with.   These are the actions of a controlling, jealous and bitter person.   If only she had taken some good financial advice, she could have protected herself from that risk. 


All is not fair in love, to be sure.