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Investing 101; The tax man nudgeth; Big number scare tactics; Being Buffett; Cost control for the big D

Personal Finance
Investing 101; The tax man nudgeth; Big number scare tactics; Being Buffett; Cost control for the big D

By Amanda Morrall

1) Investing 101

My mother, one of my financial mentors, is big on DIY. She does her own investing and is cracking good at it. Incidentally most of my financial mentors are women who excel both at making money and managing it. Mum scoffs at using a fund manager, a financial advisor or an accountant and decries the high fees they charge.

She is quite right and I don't quarrel with her on that although I do think there is a role for these players particularly for those individuals who will never get around to learning what they need to know to do the job justice. 

That said, it goes without saying Amanda is a big proponent of getting informed and improving financial literacy levels.

To that end, has recently added a new tool to its on-line tool kit aimed at helping investors to understand asset allocation, risk and age appropriate investing.

For those who haven't yet stumbled across this excellent new resource, I strongly recommend checking it out.

2) Being Buffett

Staying on the theme of investing, here (via are 10 bite sized financial lessons we can learn from Warren Buffett in a well presented Infographic format. Number 5 ought to be distributed to students leaving university along with their diplomas.

3) The Nudge

The pen is mightier than the printer apparently when it comes to tax collection success rates. To boost compliance in the UK, the tax office there has adopted a new strategy of writing (in pen on the envelope portion of correspondence) to citizens reminding them to file tax returns.

Inspired by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein's internationally acclaimed book "The Nudge", the tax department's behavioural insights team reports a $2,000 return rate for each personalised hand written envelope that is posted.

Freakeconomist author Stephen Dubner explores this and other timely tax issues in the latest Freakeconomics podcast entitled  "The Tax Man Nudgeth.''

Here's a fun fact: approximately 17% of US taxes (around US$450 B) go uncollected each year because of tax dodgers working with cash.

4) Crazy big numbers

Since the GFC, and now the eurozone crisis, the media has had a field day reporting on crazy big numbers. The numbers (usually raised in relation to debt levels) are so staggeringly huge as to totally confound the reader and in doing so cloud a much needed perspective. UK investment blogger Monevator has a unique take on these scare tactics and underscores the importance of seeing the bigger picture and the also other  important numbers that often go unreported.

Here Monevator shares his law of crazy big numbers.

5) Cutting costs in divorce

I thought I could lay claim to the cheapest divorce in history (filing fee of only NZ$200) however over in the UK spouses separating on speaking terms that don't require the use of a lawyer can do it for £37. The DIY divorce is one of the best ways to control costs in a divorce and yet because most partings are so hate fuelled and emotionally hyped up there's not many able to go this route.

The DIY divorce doesn't work so well either when there is big money and assets at stake. As a general rule, the more toxic the parting, the more expensive the divorce. The Guardian reports on other way to control costs under various scenarios.

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"The Queenstown postal worker who stole thousands of pieces of mail from Wakatipu residents has been jailed for 17 months." herald.......the director who fleeced millions from investors gets to stay at home with a bracelet in his mansion and a stiff telling off ....welcome to NZ.



#4 to reiterate the columnists point, yesterday China announced that they may have underestimated the debt held by local councils by... ooooooh, a mere trillion or so dollars (not yen).

Also I agree with his comment that everyone is all doom and gloom (and not just over at ZH either - everyone). If I didn't read any financial news at all I'd assume everything was going swimmingly - my income has more than doubled since 2007, my property is going up in value again, my job prospects are excellent, and everyone I know seems to be having a wonderful time of it.

I realise that may not be the case for everyone, but it's hardly the return of the Great Depression that everyone forcast.


#5 +1 on keeping it amicable. It worked for me and it's the advice I give to all the people I meet about to embark on that funnest of lifes little moments (he says sarcastically). It may suck for a year or two, but if you can keep it friendly the battle is half over.


#3 - the book is just called Nudge, there is no "The". If you haven't read it, I suggest you do as it has some very interesting chapters on savings and pensions.