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What's your back-up plan?; The cause of your debt; Feng Shui and personal finance; Getting out of debt a case study; Building fences on the cheap

Personal Finance
What's your back-up plan?; The cause of your debt; Feng Shui and personal finance; Getting out of debt a case study; Building fences on the cheap

By Amanda Morrall

1) Back-up plan

Given the nature of my job and a rather extensive, eclectic network of friends and contacts, I often find myself having conversations with people about money. In most social circumstances, it's considered gauche I know but people don't seem to mind sharing with me their thoughts, problems or issues.  They volunteer it.

Last week, I was having lunch (which consisted of home-made soup at my house) with a friend who was recently made redundant. Given this gal's great outlook, lack of self-pity and determination, she wasn't out of work for long and in less than 24 hours since we'd shared our lunch found a temporary assignment.  I have no doubt she'll move onto bigger and better things shortly and told her as much. Attitude is everything.

During our wide ranging conversation, which ran the gamut from boys to how to make your own dog food (she gave me a recipe) we talked about the worst case scenario in unemployment. While she'd made steps to register for an unemployment benefit (and hated every second of the experience) she said if push came to shove she'd get a job bagging groceries. Knowing that she could fall back on a plan, however undesirable, gave her comfort.

Whether you are contemplating the leap into self-employment and are terrified at the prospect of failure and cash-flow nightmares, or worry about the possibility of a lay-off, it helps to know there is a Plan B, even if it's not your ideal. What's yours?

This blog from the elaborates on the importance of having a back up plan.

2) The cause of debt

As I have noted before, 70% of all debt reportedly relates to a single event; divorce, death or unemployment. Whether we like it or not, there's a lot of things in life beyond our control, even divorce. I can think of two good friends whose husbands walked out on them, in each case they had two kids under two.  Marriage counselling or "let's talk about this" wasn't even on the cards. It was pretty ugly for both of them but I think they would both say, five years later, it worked out for the best, although the financial setbacks (for both of them) were not insignificant. Fortunately both of these gals were career gals so their standard of living wasn't affected.

And what about the other 30% of run of the mill debt? This is the debt over which we arguably have far more control. What are the causes and effects of that debt? takes a look at some of the usual suspects. Believe it or not, boredom is one of the culprits.  For pete's sake don't go shopping when you're bored, bake cookies, go for a walk, take up knitting or find a hobby. 

3) Feng Shui your way to wealth

Will rearranging your furniture open the way to greater prosperity? I'm a spiritual gal but have always been a bit sceptical about the Feng Shui thing. The following has me thinking twice. Apparently, the real art of Feng Shui comes down to intention and energy. The three areas of the home that matter the most supposedly are your entrance or front door, your kitchen (especially the stove) and your bedroom. Funny, just this morning I was looking at my crumb strewn stove thinking it needed desperate attention. I swiftly shut the door and moved on to my messy kitchen table. Both are on my to do list now. I'll let you know if I get a surprise cheque in the mail next week when I clear the crumbs and debris off my long table.

4) Bury the debt

What does it take to get out of debt? To begin with, it takes an intention. That's followed by a plan of action and a commitment. 

Here's one man's tale of how he tackled his US$14K debt and cleared it in just over a year. It might serve as inspiration for those who find themselves in a similar boat.

Have you conquered your debt? If so, I'd love to hear about it. I am still looking for a guest blogger to share their financial tales of victory or woe.

5) Building fences

I might have mastered my debt but I have yet to learn how to master my puppy who yesterday decided to play hide and seek and humiliate Amanda -- twice. Once after she snuck out the door when it was left ajar and a second time after I let her off the lead on a beach walk. In the end, a stranger managed to capture her much to my embarrassment.  I have resolved to never let her off the lead, well at least not until she's two. I have also resolved to get a fence built as clearly she needs more exercise than she's getting in my lounge.

I had to laugh coming across a personal finance blog on how to build a cheap(er) than normal fence.

It's full of practical advice and good suggestions; key planks of which are the following:

  1. Be born into a family with big dudes who can carry stuff
  2. Marry into a family that also has big dudes who can carry stuff
  3. Pizza and beer

My brother in law is a fence builder extraordinaire but flying him from Canada to Auckland wouldn't be much of a savings for me.  I'm divorced with no family so No.2 is also out. 

No.3 it is I guess.  


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


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"an average home in Christchurch would face a total power bill of up to $847 for June to August." the press......I take it they mean June and July...not including August....over $400 a month...

If that's the average....struth...what's the worst????


Fence,  parents of a friend of my son (who rent) built a fence out of packing wont last many years as its un-treated but then it was all free the cost was nails, effort and time...

Pizza and beer works here abouts quite well....I avoid the beer myself though....the thought of drinking and driving powertools (as well as cars) doesnt work for me....perperoni pizza though...yum....



Is the age of chivalry truly dead?  Come along chaps, who's going to offer to put up a fence for Amanda? 


I absolutely would do it for Pizza and Beer, with only the noble intention of impressing Amanda driving me, but I'm absolutely hopeless at building fences and would do more harm than good. 


I had to pay a Slovakian chap to fence my property, but he completely ripped me off then left the country, so I didn't even effectively manage to get somebody else to do it.


If you need tips on how to get your Labrador to behave however, I can help.  I have a half Lab, half Poodle black shaggy thing that I am reliably informed is a dog.  He is now 2 and a half years old and does everything I tell him to do.  Some of the time. 


The trick is - Lab's are driven by their stomachs, same as fence builders.  Bribe him into obedience with the Pizza crusts!


Hilarious! Thanks for the thought. 


Clearly you have not mastered the art of being the top dog yet.


And it's an interesting idea that a lot fo debt is caused by things we can't control because it puts even more focus on that backup plan.


One of the interesting things we did decades ago, when all we had was a happy marriage and a car broken down in Wellington while we lived in Auckland, was to save two months of gross salary so when stuff happened we didn't use credit to respond.


Okay Ralph. You're the man. Not the fence. The guest blog? Come' on. You're full of great advice. I'm sure I could turn Bernard upside down and get enough change to buy you a pizza and six-pack in return. 

Think about it.:)


You're over stating me - I just followed advice someone else gave us so can really take no credit.


.... whisper in it's ear your latest recipe for " hot dogs " ..... lick your lips , and make a Hannibal Lecter slobbering sound ......


Don't ever hit your dog. Positive reinforcement works a hell of a lot better, just like with kids.


....... ummm , how do you know that  ..... did you stop whacking the kids first , or clobbering  the dog ,  to verify this outcome ?


dogs are like people, you have to be the boss.

that is why they call it top dog.

so if you have to positive reinforce em, like kids you have lost the top dog status.

hence why most little darlings have taken over teaching the grown-ups how to behave.

some little bitches have even been known to rule the household.

the dogs are not much different either.

i know of two dogs who taught their masters to beg. and they still do not come a running.

don't seem very strange as most people are stupid with animals.

fitting em into a purse to carry em around with you is very fitting.

some even allow the owners to take em for a walk.

no wonder some dogs are obese, no wonder the wonder dogs are a breed apart these days.

it is a big problem, just like the kids.

you have to love em to death and mean it, discipline is a pack animals way of seeing who is top dog so they get what they want from the pack.

so i roll over and beg. initially.

then the bitches give me what i want. or they do not get what they want.

tis a fine line being top dog, or a top bitch.

still life a bitch...or is that a beach...i get confused with letters these days.