Archive for April, 2014

A Rule I’d Never Follow

Monday, April 28th, 2014

I was reading an article today about ridiculous rules for employees set by stupid bosses and came across one I thought was worth sharing:


“At my first job, you weren’t allowed to eat at your desk and you couldn’t have lunch before 2:30. Homemade lunches were banned for being “negative” (it was a financial services sales operation, the idea being you were doing so well selling pensions you could afford to buy your lunch everyday) so if you bought in homemade sandwiches, you would have to sneak off somewhere private to eat them, or colleagues would take them off you and you wouldn’t have any lunch.”


This speaks volumes about a few things.

Firstly, some bosses must eat big breakfasts to not need lunch before half past two.

Secondly, there are plenty of wankers around who think that “doing well” means things like you buy your lunch and show wealth in obvious ways, when in reality it only gives people the impression that you’ve got cash to splash around. There are so many stories about flashy people who don’t actually own the expensive car they drive and multi-million dollar house they live in, and who in fact have very little in the way of savings.

Thirdly, financial services are way too often about selling a product and showing a façade, and not about looking after customers’ best interests. Or their employees.

Whenever I see someone eating leftovers from last night’s roast, or sandwiches made around breakfast time I think to myself that person is on the right track.

In fact I have just learnt that a co-worker and mate of mine is about to leave the job he has been in for over 20 years to work for himself. When I asked about what sort of buffer he has in place he mentioned that he’d paid off his mortgage quite quickly by saving his arse off, helped, in part, by taking a leaf from my book and bringing in sandwiches for lunch.

I was proud as punch!

The Great Education Rip-off

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Claudia graduated university this week. After a long, hard slog involving countless late nights, juggling family life with lectures and tutorials, writing assignments, preparing for exams and giving up so much for those coveted letters after her name, she was able to finally receive her degree. It’s the same crap that everyone who’s been to uni will be able to relate to, but with a couple of differences.


Claudia studied while having children. Combine all the above with a screaming toddler while you’re pregnant with number two and it’s amazing she was able to graduate at all. The other thing that sets Claudia’s years of study apart from the average student is that she only recently became an Aussie. That means she was ineligible for FEE-HELP (HECS).


Although she was not a full fee paying student like many at Australian universities are, not being eligible for FEE-HELP meant that we had to pay each semester’s fees up front in full. Where Aussie students get a discount for up front payment, overseas citizens who are permanent residents on non-student visas don’t. So it was a costly experience for us as well.


The costs of getting a degree these days seem to be ever on the increase, and many young people start their careers with a sizable FEE-HELP debt. Especially those who decide on postgraduate qualifications. In fact, the costs of getting a university education are so high that many people are put off from thinking they can ever attend uni while others prepare for the costs years in advance. Some parents start saving well before the argument over what the baby’s name will be has started.


One place people decide to pour their cash into is Australian Scholarships Group. Before you sign up to many years of monthly payments with ASG, I strongly urge you to seek out the experiences of people who have gone before you. Even the quickest look at ASG’s Facebook page will show you how angry many of their clients are and how they wished they’d never put their money with ASG in the first place. Google “Australian Scholarships Group complaints” and it goes downhill from there.


It is kind of ironic that in an age when information delivered formally is so expensive, the entirety of human knowledge is accessible via the internet virtually for free. That’s how you can find out about groups like ASG. It’s also how you can find out about alternative was of investing for a university education, like a bank account, index funds or, probably the best savings vehicle for parents with young kids – an investment bond.


Don’t Eat The Marshmallow

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Back when I wrote the Kids And Money chapter, I searched high and low to find an appropriate book to have as a resource for readers to get further information from. I quickly discovered there is bugger all around written to show Aussie parents how to raise financially smart kids. Sure, there is unspecific crap written by ordinary authors like Robert Kiyosaki (the guy who wrote Rich Dad, Poor Dad) and plenty of material aimed at adults who want to know how to handle their own money. But as far as stuff written for mums and dads go it’s pretty thin on the ground.

This was all before I had heard of Victorian dad Robert Bihar. I’ve just read Bihar’s book Don’t Eat the Marshmallow which contains gems like “Don’t complain about your job in front of your kids” (Bihar argues that parents who pass on the message of not liking their job inadvertently also pass on a negative message about money to their kids if the children understand that money comes from work), “Do not teach that your kids that money is the only way to measure success – teach them that what they do with their money is more important”, and a tip that could be straight out of a Captain Financior video – “If your kids saw you pack a healthy lunch to take to work every day they might do the same. You could even make the sandwiches together and get them to choose what goes in them. In modelling your behaviour, your kids would spend less at the school canteen, but more importantly they will learn the value of healthy eating.”

If you thought Bihar and I were singing from the same song sheet, you’d be spot on.

Despite what my wife may sarcastically say to me, I don’t have all the answers (for the record, I don’t pretend to and I also accept that Claudia is right more often than I am, even when she’s not), but I do have a good idea where to find them. Don’t Eat The Marshmallow is another place to find more of those answers.

Bihar has self-published his book so you may struggle to find it in a library, but if you have $20 you can buy one via his website.

Ps As with every book, website or business I recommend, there is no kickback of any kind that Claudia or myself receive from recommending this book.