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Prosperity and productivity in 2013; Scroogenomics and the deadweight loss of Xmas gifting; The case for passive investing; Financial opposites; Do you know how your broker is paid?

Personal Finance
Prosperity and productivity in 2013; Scroogenomics and the deadweight loss of Xmas gifting; The case for passive investing; Financial opposites; Do you know how your broker is paid?

By Amanda Morrall

1) Prosperity and productivity in 2013

Like many people I know, my appetite for the mainstream media has shrunken dramatically in recent years. The negative filter that defines what constitutes news means that views, news and content we are fed represent an entirely distorted picture of our external world. I missed this tweet last week from Alain de Botton but would agree strongly with the message;

"To have a chance to achieve something that will one day be in the news, we have to spend quite a lot of time away from the news."

The Reformed Broker takes the same position in his blog on Seven Way to Make 2013 your Most Productive Year Ever.''

Some great suggestions here. I know I'll be acting on a few of them.

2) Scroogenomics

Freakeconomics authors Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, in their latest podcast, get philosophical about the economics of Christmas, weighing in with their views and personal practices.

Levitt explains why he gets away with buying bling for his wife - and why a pair of tweezers turned out to be the best ever gift. Break out your headphones and have a listen.

3) DIY is RIP?

Investment blogger Monevator cracks out the charts and looks at the contraction of household equity investors and pension funds. While Monevator is an active investor he says the case for index trackers keeps getting stronger.

4) Financial opposites

Financial compatibility in marriage is a good (nay great) thing but fairly uncommon from my observations. This first person confession from Nancy Holt offers some sound advice for financial opposites who want to keep the peace and avoid the divorce court.

5) Do you know how your broker is paid?

First time home buyers can get good value from using a mortgage broker IF that broker gets them the most competitive rate and structures the mortgage properly for them. However, as John Collette of the Age newspaper points out, you can't assume that brokers are always acting in your best interests. Make sure you understand how your broker is paid, if they have exclusive relationships with certain banks (which might obscure from you a better deal) and what their experience is. 

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

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I'd have to say getting in the news would be on my avoid at all costs list rather than any measure of success.


Found this gem on retirement:

Wally to Dilbert;

'Retirement planning is all about timing"

"I'm planning to die from global wamring on the same day I run out of money"

"That's one advantage of being frail. I figure an hour without sunscreen ought to do the trick."



My favorite Dilbert gem (which I've finally just found again for the first time since I saw it):

Dilbert: Nature is so wonderful... they say we don't leave the planet to future generations, we borrow it from our children

Dogbert: It's even better than that:- we don't have children, so we're borrowing it from complete strangers. And there's no collateral. We can use up the planet, have great lives, and leave an empty smoking shell to the strangers!

Which actually sums up my child-free attitude to environmental issues perfectly...

Strip is here:


#1 Good article!

I've made a 2013 NYs resolution that I am not longer going to read ZH, or other columns about how useless the Euro elite are (and David Cameron), how Australia's resources boom is over, how the world is going to financially meltdown, how we are all going to be chinese etc etc. I'm only going to read positive news for the year. All the spare time I have had at the bank to read financial information and become informed about the financial issues facing Australia and the world have not increased my general health, wealth, or wellbeing one bit. So it's positive news from now on, or nothing.

I don't use Twitter and have scaled back FB massively, and removed it from my phone.

I don't listen to bands like Radiohead or Coldplay or anyone who takes music seriously and writes songs about emotional 'moments' (clearly U2 were dropped from my CD collection around the time of the Joshua Tree *yawn*, although they redeemed themselves briefly with Achtung Baby before they spiraled out of control into endless mediocrity). If it doesn't make me want to jump up and down, it doesn't get playtime. The author likes hip-hop, I find it a bit too mysogynist for my liking, would rather listen to Diplo or Knife Party or this:-

And I already read a book a week, so no change there for 2013.


Sorry never heard of it. But while we are on the book hunt if anyone knows where there is a copy of Gavin Wainrights Kiwi Jokers Book(s) please let me know, I still have fond memories of certain parts of The Kiwi Jokers Guide To Sex, and The Kiwi Jokers Guide to Sport, eg

Cricketing terms:

First Eleven: One can short of the first dozen

Full Toss: involuntary reaction after consumption of the first dozen (see above)

Members stand: reaction to a decent sheila walking past

etc LOL


Good plan Stan. Can you recommend some musical methadone to stop me from listening to The National? I'm back on the book reviewing gig for 2013 so my bookshelf will be restocked for free with added bonus of payment.Lucky me. Hopefully you'll keep my Take Five and new blog on your approved reading list. :)


Cheers Amanda I might steer clear of recommending music though because your music taste seems a bit different from mine. I don't think I've ever bought/downloaded or even listened to an album by a "band" since I left London in 2001. There is the odd single that may catch my attention for a while (like Rudimentals "Feel The Love") but everything else I listen to is some variation of dance music*

I just prefer music without lyrics. Never listen to the radio** or watch Music TV (especially reality TV!). Sometimes put some dance 'channels' on the playstation, but that's it. My normal commuting music is just some psy trance I find on youtube and download.

Yes blogs with good articles about investing etc are still on my reading list. Is it just financial books you review or all books?

*DJs that feature vocalists are OK - Groove Armada, Way Out West, Faithless etc (as long as the vocals don't get more meaningful than I see you baby, shakin that ass)

**if all else fails and I'm stuck somewhere with nothing other than a radio (long car trips), then the Country Music station gets an airing. Can't beat a bit of country and western (both kinds!).


3. The thing I ave about passive trackers is they strike me as the last man standing in a bad event. Now in good times the "word" has been passive trackers are low cost and do very well over the longer term.  ie an actively managed fund might do better for 3 or 4 years then fall away.

I used to DIY because I liked to be in as liquid as its possible to be.

I do think the market is rigged and 2 fold,

1) now instead of looking after a company long term CEO's etc just look at the share price in the short term, ditto pension fund managers, So Im not so sure its possible to hold shares for many years and not get ripped a new one.  

2) The fed pumping up the market via dodgy we have a massive mal-investment and bubble...

Just not a place to play any more.



#5. Yes....he's not me anyway!