Archive for September, 2012

Num8er P1ates

Friday, September 28th, 2012

Back in my younger days I had personalised number plates on my car that included the number 007 (yeah, I know, what was I thinking). Personalised plates were pretty popular in my hometown in NSW and part of the reason is because they were fairly priced. It wasn’t unheard of for a couple of people to chip in 20 bucks for an 18th or 21st birthday present to whack on a mate’s car.

When I moved to Canberra I wanted to keep my unique plates but, being a new resident of Canberra, was also wary that I should change my car registration from NSW to the ACT. I’d paid $120 for my number plates and reckoned it was a reasonable price to pay. But when I enquired about the cost in Canberra for the same product I was absolutely shocked to learn they would cost $1,500.

Needless to say, I’ve had the generic ACT blue and white Y series plates ever since. However, I have always been amazed at the huge quantity of ACT personalised number plates there are out there.

I needed to go to the motor registry the other day and while I was there I asked what people had to pay for personalised plates in the ACT these days. Turns out there are a range of prices, depending on what combination you decide on.

Two letters and three numbers (eg AB 123) will set you back upwards of $400. A plate consisting of any five numbers (eg 12345) sets you back $827. To let people know you support the Canberra Raiders or ACT Brumbies football teams costs up to $1,200. Three letters with three numbers (eg ABC 123) or a word of up to seven letters (eg WANKERS) will add $2,500 to your credit card bill.

But the one that nearly knocked me over was the cost of number plates with only three numbers. There are a ridiculous number of Canberrans who have paid over $6,000 for these plates. And remember, these are the costs for these plates on the primary market – the costs you pay to get them from the motor registry. Popular second hand number plates can be sold for whatever the person buying them is willing to pay. Want the number plate BKRUPT in Victoria and you’ll need a spare $100,000 (yes, these plates are currently on the market and that’s the asking price). Ironically, paying six figures for two thin pieces of metal would probably send you bankrupt.

I have often heard of gambling being referred to as a tax for stupid people, but I reckon that’s a harsh assessment for something that is an addiction for hundreds of thousands of people. Paying $6,085.30 for a three digit numerical number plate is a tax for stupid people.

What Do You Do?

Friday, September 21st, 2012

When you start a conversation with someone you have not met before, chances are the question “What do you do?” will be asked. It can be a question that spurs the conversation on (“I’m an astronaut”), is met with a dazed look (“I’m an electrical engineer”) or kills the chat altogether (“I’m a public servant”).

Many people define themselves, and others, by their occupations. There is an enormous amount of social importance that’s attached to that definition. So when you find yourself in a category that’s less glamorous it can be a difficult thing to handle.

I have been jobless twice, and in both circumstances I was studying before I was out of work. As well as the obvious problems that come with a lack of income, the most difficult thing to accept was waking up in the morning knowing that, in the eyes of society, I was unemployed. Sure, you can try to give yourself the title of the odd jobs you manage to get, but the words “I’m a pamphlet deliverer” never saw me pick up a hottie in a nightclub.

Let’s face it – being a surgeon, a hotel manager, a nurse or a fireman is downright sexy. Rightly or wrongly, society gives special importance to certain jobs, particularly those that pay the higher amounts. But if you take a close look at individuals in swanky inner city offices you realise that many of them are in worse financial situations than the people who clean those offices in the wee hours of the night, or the cab drivers who take them home after their meetings. Proof that financial success is not about what you earn, but what you do with it.

I remember a primary school teacher saying to me once that teachers had the most important job of all. Without teachers there are no doctors, nurses, midwives or any medical professionals who bring us into the world. As far as paid professions go, I reckon that’s pretty accurate. But, as they say, the best things in life are free.

Or unpaid.

Twenty years ago, official documents would have categories to choose for occupations, and among them was ‘housewife’. These days the politically correct term is ‘home duties’ and most of the time it’s referring to a stay at home parent.

I’d argue that the most important job in the world is a parent. It’s parents who guide those children who go on to become teachers. And the most intense form of parenting is done by the stay at home mums and dads.

They intensively teach their kids language, social, literacy, numeracy, physical and technological skills that will mould those kids into the adults of tomorrow. And their payment is love.

So next time you are at a party and someone says they are a stay at home mum or dad, keep listening, ‘cause I guarantee they can teach you a thing or two.

Kids And Money

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

Financial literacy has been part of the school curriculum for a few years and is now being taught as part of maths, science and English lessons. So kids these days are learning about money at school. In theory.

On the whole I think teachers do an amazing job. When I think back to some of the teachers I had at school I remember some people who had a wonderful ability to impart knowledge. Mr Baird was a fantastic English/history teacher, Mr Thompson was brilliant in Legal Studies and Mr Fox turned our Economics class around from a class who were going to fail to one that passed. But for all the good teachers, there were some shockers – people who shouldn’t have been passing on knowledge in their chosen field, let alone in something outside their area of expertise, like money.

In practice children learn about money every day – every school day, weekend, public holiday and right throughout the school holidays. They learn about money when they see mum get out cash from the grocery checkout, when dad pays for the takeaway with a credit card, when they see the daily coffee bought on the way to school or soccer, and when their parents argue about how the next big bill will be paid. Chances are, kids learn the same way that their parents learnt – from their family.

This means it’s up to the family – to mums and dads, aunts, uncles and grandparents to ensure the next generation is financially savvy. Of course, this means that those passing on the knowledge need to pass on the right information in the first place. They need to get the message across that money doesn’t come from the supermarket, but from work. Children must understand that when dinner is bought with a plastic card that there is an underlying exchange of money and often that means the purchaser is buying on credit. Kids learn by seeing their parents giving up buying the daily coffee for making one and putting the daily savings into a glass jar. And when parents argue about money without resolving it in front of the kids, their children get a negative message about finances.

It’s a bloody tough gig being a parent, partly because finding a resource that shows you how to sort your own finances out and how to pass that knowledge on to your children are very hard to find. Finding this resource that’s engaging, interactive, accessible, up to date, relevant for Australians, funny and interesting has been virtually impossible. Until now.

Kids And Money is a new chapter in Financial Freedom For Gens X and Y that covers everything you need to know about the topic. From what to expect before you fall pregnant, through to the best investments for children, how kids are affected by tax, available government assistance for parents and paying teenagers pocket money, Kids And Money is the new resource that parents need and it’s being launched today. With all the research I have done, I have found no resources that covered all these areas.

To celebrate the launch we are discounting our normal price of $24.95 to just $10 until the end of September. For less than the price of three takeaway coffees you can sort out your finances and learn how to teach your children the money message they will need for life. Visit our Facebook page for the discount code.