There is scarcely anything that will drag you down like debt.
Basically there are two ways we can have more cash to spend on the things we really like, want, and desire ~ one is to go out and get more money, earn it, marry it, inherit it, steal it….
The other way to have more cash to spend on the things we really like is to spend less on ‘essentials’ ~ the things we have to buy to survive.
For if we remember our Dickens and what Mr. Micawber said in David Copperfield, happiness lies in spending less than we earn, and unhappiness lies in spending more than we actually have.
There are some tried and tested ways to spend less on the boring essentials. In my quest for minimalistic living, I have personal, (sometimes very bitter), experience of all of these following ideas:
- Live in a smaller place. Smaller homes cost less to buy, attract lower property taxes, and use less utilities; water, gas, electricity.
- If you can, switch your utilities provider to a better and cheaper company. All utilities companies are money-grabbing vultures, but try to choose the best of a bad lot.
- Drive a smaller car. Smaller cars are less expensive to buy and insure, and in general use much less gas than a bigger car with more weight and a bigger engine. If you buy a classic smaller car, as opposed to the latest model, then you won’t even suffer from depreciation.
- Switch your car insurance to a better and cheaper company.
- Learn some DIY skills. You don’t have to use expensive and useless contractors, car mechanics, cleaners, or gardeners. It’s cheaper and better if you do as much as you can for yourself.
- Cut out impulse purchases. On impulse, too many of us buy too much stuff that we don’t actually need, want, or really like. All that stuff clutters up our home and convinces us that we need to move to a bigger place.
- Don’t marry a sexy trophy wife, (or toy boy), who will also want you to move into a bigger place. A trophy wife, (or toy boy), will end up costing you most of your treasure, and you’ll end up with a broken heart.
- Don’t try to buy love. It doesn’t work, it will cost you a fortune, and you’ll end up with a broken heart.
- Control your addictions….. booze, drugs, gambling, pornography, casual sex, smoking….. All of these will all cost you just about everything you have, including your self-respect.
- Resist the urge to have the latest and most expensive technologies. You don’t need a huge TV, costly cable, the newest computer, the best tablet, the most expensive iPhone with the most expensive contract.
- Buy whole foods rather than processed, heavily packaged, and generally bad for you costly crap.
- Buy generic brands. Trust me, I’ve been into factories where the expensive labels and generic brands are actually made on the same production line with exactly the same content. Only the packaging is different.
- If you can, then buy in bulk.
- Stop going out to lunch at work, instead take a packed lunch. Those people you go to lunch with are probably boring and certainly aren’t your real friends anyway. And, if you’re an average guy the women you take to lunch are never going to have sex with you, so you’re wasting your time and money.
- Don’t join a gym. Most of the people who have gym membership never go there. For great exercise take a long walk in the sunshine instead.
- Visit thrift stores, and if you find clothes you like, then save money and buy ‘pre-loved’ stuff.
- Don’t give to a big charity. (Have you any idea how much the bosses of the big charities pay themselves? The average pay across the top 100 charities is more than £250,000 a year, plus huge bonuses.)
- Don’t spend all your time drinking in pubs and bars ~ the booze is expensive there, and nobody in your favourite pub is your real friend anyway.
And finally, don’t spend on borrowed money, especially credit cards which all charge usury rates of interest. Credit cards are NOT money. Really, really, really NEVER use a payday lender, which all charge eye-watering criminal rates of interest.
You can probably think of some other money-saving tips of your own. For a month try making a note of what you actually spend your hard-earned on ~ I guarantee that you will be surprised and shocked. Learn what you actually spend your money on, and then you can start to control your finances.
Some say that money can’t buy happiness. And that a fool and his money are soon parted. All I know is that having money makes misery more bearable.
you can take the idea of living in a tiny home to the extreme…..
Only I can change my life ~ no one can do it for me.
Life is about change. Without change, without variety, without some stress in Life, all will stultify and diminish. Without change there can be no growth, and without growth and development all things will wither away and die.
I will not meddle with that which I cannot mend. ~ Thomas Fuller
But, as the Serenity prayer tells us, there are some things that we cannot change, some things that have to be accepted, and the wise learn to know the difference. I can think of a myriad of people, places, and things I cannot change. In reality no one can change another person, unless that other absolutely wants to change. This is why it is mostly pointless trying to talk to most addicts in an effort to make them change their ways. This is why many relationships, and many marriages, end in failure and recriminations. This is why there are wars.
A while ago I resolved to stop trying to change others and instead decided to work on myself to become a better person. That is now my lifetime’s project, and it doesn’t always go smoothly. Sometimes it doesn’t work at all. Sometimes I make progress, and sometimes I go backwards a couple of steps or more ~ it’s like a man walking into a gale, sometimes he wins and sometimes the storm wins. In the last few days I think the wind won more than I did. In the last few days I went with the wind and my negative emotions, and that meant I really staggered in the wrong direction. In other words I totally fucked-up, again. For me, going with the flow is usually the wrong choice.
Life will do it’s best to deceive you. You may get knocked down, but you must always get up again. The mark of a really great boxer is not that he never gets knocked down. A really great boxer can get knocked down, but he will always get up again. And that’s up to and including Mohammed Ali in his all prime and pomp.
Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.’ ~ Thomas Edison
The English language is filled with wise sayings, allegories, parables, and proverbs. As you would expect a lot are by Churchill; ‘To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often…’ Then from Scotland we have the allegory of Robert the Bruce and the spider, which gave us the saying; ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, and try again…’ But we also have almost the converse of that saying…
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. ~ Albert Einstein.
The Goddess knows I have been there often enough ~ every time I took a drink I expected it to be different from the last time, and it never was. But, somehow I usually got away with it.
Back in my illustrious career in banking I once went into a meeting on Madison Avenue with no ideas and nothing but blank pieces of paper in my briefcase. I had got good and drunk in the Plaza the night before, so I both looked and felt far from my very my best. But I stood up in front of the board of the world’s biggest advertising agency and tried just one more time. I told them not what they wanted to hear, but what I wanted to make happen. It worked. The thing is I didn’t give up, and I didn’t try to change anything except myself.
After that almost debacle I resolved to make a big change by giving up banking for good. It was the wrong change ~ I should have given up booze for good. Back then I didn’t have enough serenity within me to even think about being sober for life.
Right now, today, all I try to do is be the best Jack Collier I can be, sober. That is difficult enough for anyone. I realise that life is difficult and painful. I know that the causes of my problems and pain are my own cravings, lusts, and the blaming others for my faults. I now know that I can’t change others and I can’t change what happens to me, but I can change what I do, and how I react to people places, and events.
I know that the warrior’s road to freedom from continual distress, pain, and suffering is through self-discipline in body, mind, spirit… and that’s a hard road to walk in honour, honesty, and truth. I try to always walk that road, and often I fail. But, at least I try, and perhaps not one in ten men even do that.
The world and the sky is ours if we want it enough.
Never lie, never cheat, never steal.
Mostly that doesn’t matter one little bit. Deep down we know when we are being lied to and we act accordingly. Little lies are what makes the world go around. Little lies are the lubrication in relationships. Little lies are what keeps us sane.
I firmly believe that lying is wrong, but I also believe that, in the big scheme of things, little lies may not matter so much.
Big dark lies are destructive, damaging, and dangerous.
Big Lies Matter.
But everybody lies, and that matters when the liars are scientists, doctors, bankers, lawyers, judges, charities, the police, the military, the security services, politicians, prime ministers, and presidents. Big dark lies by the ‘Fat Cats’, and ‘Important People’ ruin lives, affect interest rates, cause financial crashes, get people hurt, and start wars.
This is a nation that has lost the ability to be self-critical, and that makes a lie out of the freedoms. ~ Joni Mitchell
Big dark lies reported in just one newspaper today, (Tuesday April 11th 2017), involve airlines, bankers, more bankers, politicians, more politicians and generals, presidents… And now, we are but a short step and a few lies from WWIII. Take your choice of the spark that starts WWIII, the Middle East, or North Korea?
Clinton lied. A man might forget where he parks or where he lives, but he never forgets oral sex, no matter how bad it is. ~ Barbara Bush
You would really think that a President would follow the example of George Washington and be unable to tell a lie.
Big dark lies by the people you care for ruin relationships, imperil your health, imperil your mental health, cost you a fortune, and lead to nasty things like alcoholism, drug addiction, infidelity, domestic violence… A big dark lie by someone you love can kill you. And, thinking your loved one will ever change and stop lying to you is nothing but wishful thinking.
Cheating and lying aren’t struggles, they’re reasons to break up. ~ Patti Callahan Henry
If you catch someone out in a lie, what can you do about it? Almost nothing.
The chances are that if you have caught someone telling a big dark lie it’s because you’ve been investigating them, for example by following their twitter feed, hacking their emails, listening in on their conversations…. and do you want to admit to that? Spying on liars is almost as bad as lying ~ almost.
The only thing you can do about being lied to is know that you are dealing with a liar, and take everything they say with a very large pinch of salt. In other words, when you know someone is a liar, believe nothing they say until you have got yourself some independent proof. All lies, and all liars, get found out eventually.
Besides, leopards never change their spots, and liars don’t ever stop lying. Catch a liar in a lie and they’ll just strive to become better liars in future.
Lying is addictive. And, once a liar, always a liar.
Some liars are so expert they deceive themselves. ~ Austin O’Malley
But you know what? Once you stop believing the lie, it loses all power over you. Once you know someone is a liar, everything they say is just pointless noise.
I’m sorry, what language are you speaking? It sounds like bullshit.
Have a nice day.
Banks Today Seem To Be Run By Liars and Crooks.
Another day another banking scandal.
Another day and another bank is hit by a huge set of fines for criminal wrongdoing that should have some senior executives facing a total loss of all they own and some serious jail time. This time it’s RBS, (Royal Bank of Scotland), and this failed organisation has just set aside another £3.1 billion, $3.8 billion), to cover claims by the United States authorities that it mis-sold mortgage products. (Mis-selling is a polite way of saying lying and cheating). This makes a total of £6.7 billion this useless bank has had to set aside to cover fines for selling toxic mortgages. RBS is 72% owned by British Taxpayers, so just who is paying these fines? Me and you, that’s who.
I sincerely believe that banking establishments are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. ~ Thomas Jefferson
Name any bank or financial institution, or any of the world’s major financial centres. from ABN AMRO, Barclays, Deutsche Bank, (just fined £500 million), HBOS, to Wells Fargo, and if you turn over a rock you will find people who only care for themselves and nothing for their customers, staff, shareholders, or the wider world and greater good.
I can pull the name of any bank out of the Bankers Almanac, and without trying very hard find that it’s rotten to the core.
Another wrinkle recently to come to light is a product called Shared Appreciation Mortgages sold by Barclays and Bank of Scotland. These complicated mortgages were deliberately targeted at older people, who were then rushed into taking unsuitable loans without having had proper financial advice. Which just goes to prove that one should never buy a product or take out a loan you don’t fully understand, and you should never, ever believe anything a salesperson tells you. (Never, ever date a salesman either.) Even a salesperson working for your bank.
To give you some more examples of dodgy dealing by banks, that pillar of German financial prudence, Deutsche Bank, owes $7.2 Billion to the US department of Justice for fines and penalties imposed for Deutsche’s role in the toxic mortgage crisis. Royal Bank of Scotland remains a basket case after Fred ‘The Shred’ Goodwin ruined the venerable institution through spending more time thinking about screwing his female junior assistant than he did about proper banking. And the oldest bank in the world, Italian Monte dei Paschi de Siena, has just been bailed out to the tune of £17 Billion by the equally broke Italian Government because of chronic bad lending that threatens the savings of a third of hard struck Italians.
How in the World did Banking become synonymous with dirty dealing, thievery, and dishonourable behaviour?
It isn’t because today’s bankers are struggling to turn loss-making institutions into banks that, at least, make a profit. And, it isn’t because there isn’t honest money to be made in the world of banking and finance today. Rather it’s because today’s generation of money-men want instant results, rather than slow and steady growth accompanied by slow and steady profits.
Slow and steady profits aren’t exciting enough for today’s young Masters of the Universe, who want instant and huge money-making schemes and products to justify their equally huge salaries and bonus packages. It’s estimated that in the City of London this year’s round of bonus payments will top $15 billion.
It is our priority to seek the best outcome for our shareholders, customers, and employees. ~ Ross McEwan, Chief Executive, Royal Bank of Scotland
I don’t believe a word of it. If the banks cared anything about their employees and customers they wouldn’t keep closing branches. Not to mention paying failed politicians like David Cameron and George Osborne a fortune to schmooze in Davos.
My advice is; stop trusting your bank, always carefully check your bank and credit card statements, never buy anything your bank tries to sell you, and never sign anything you don’t fully understand. Personally, I wouldn’t buy shares in a bank either, their roller-coaster world is far too crooked and exciting for me.
Proper banking is as safe and boring as watching paint dry.
these thoughts are mine, and mine alone
Easy Lifestyle Changes Could Save You A Small Fortune.
There some very basic things you can do which, added together, will save you a great deal of money. These changes to the way you live your life are not difficult, they’re not complicated, and they will not take up a lot of your time. In fact, all of these things are what my granny used to call; ‘basic common sense’. Get on with it, smell the roses, save yourself some money, and live a better life.
- Pay off all your credit and store card bills. The average interest rate on credit card debt is around 16%, with some banks charging as much as 79.9% per annum, this is just extortion and usury. Far better to borrow elsewhere, at a cheaper rate, and pay off your plastic.
- Use the internet and find cheaper providers for your gas, electricity, water, mobile phone, (cell phone), land line telephone, internet, cable television, and car insurance. Switch to the cheapest provider because customer service will always suck, no matter who you are with. And, by the way, do you really need all those rubbish TV channels?
- Lower the temperature of your heating, and raise the temperature of your air conditioning by a couple of degrees. We all pay far too much for heating and cooling our homes.
- Lower the temperature at which you wash your clothes. There is a 30C setting on my washing machine, (about 90F), and most of the time that’s what I use. This gets rid of most dirt and stains, but it does not get rid of germs, and it’s not hot enough to get whites clean. So, I still always wash my bed linen and whites at 90C, (about 200F). Mind you, I always use biological washing powder which works well at lower temperatures.
- Always make a shopping list. Far too many people go into a store and come out with a whole bunch of stuff they don’t really want or need, while forgetting the important thing they went in for. Make a shopping list and never, ever make impulse purchases.
- Try own-brand goods. Very often the own-brand products are just as good as the more expensive named-brands. Quite often own-brand products are made in the same factories and on the same production lines as named brands. Stores always try to make you buy the most expensive, premium goods.
- Never buy ‘designer labels’ ~ don’t be a logo whore, and who wants some other guy’s name on their clothes and shoes anyway? It’s pathetic.
- Learn to do DIY. I hate contractors, repair men, decorators, gardeners, with a passion. If it needs doing then 90% of the time I do it myself. Learn to decorate, put up a shelf, fix a leaky tap, (faucet), and save yourself an absolute fortune.
- Make your travel arrangements early and do it on the internet. Always shop around for the cheapest deal. Always pay by credit card. Get a brochure from the travel agent for information and to give you a comparison.
- Learn to drive properly. Almost everyone I know is a crap driver, especially women. Almost everyone I know drives too fast, races between the lights, uses the accelerator hard and the brakes hard, and sits in the wrong gear. Drive a little slower and learn what anticipation means and you will not only use less petrol, (gas), there will be much less wear and tear on your car.
- Don’t always buy the newest, top-of-the-range car. A low mileage used car, or the basic model in the new car range can save you thousands. Remember, the biggest cost of owning a car is depreciation. Most cars will lose between 50% – 60% of their value in the first 3 years. (Just don’t buy an Edsel ~ people will laugh.)
- Walk, don’t drive. If you don’t have far to go and don’t have much to carry, don’t drive, walk instead. That won’t only save you money, walking will do wonders for your health and fitness.
- Give up smoking / vaping. Both will seriously damage your health, both can kill you, and both will cost you a fortune. A pack of 20 cigarettes will cost you about £7 in the UK and about $7 in California, (USA prices vary by state). So, a 10 a day habit will cost you about £1,300 per annum in the UK and $1,300 a year in California ~ a lot of money for a disgusting habit that’s killing you.
- Cut down on your drinking. Too much booze will make you fat, ill, and temporarily or permanently stupid ~ it will eventually kill you. How much booze is too much? If you drink a bottle of wine a night, or 4 bottles of beer, or a quarter of a bottle of spirits, then you are drinking far too much. Decent booze is hellishly expensive.
- STOP GAMBLING. Gambling is exactly the same as throwing your hard-earned money in the trash. Gambling is an addiction, and all gamblers lose heavily over time, always, with no exceptions, (not even the Cincinnati Kid).
- Never, ever, join a gym, and if you have gym membership, then cancel it. Most people with gym memberships don’t go often enough to get their money’s worth. Gyms are poor value for money and bad places for most people to exercise ~ you’re breathing stale air, being made to listen to loud music, and you’re indoors under artificial lights. Nasty. Exercise for free instead.
- Plan ahead and buy stuff in the sales, at discount stores, and in thrift stores.
- Claim all your tax and other benefits. Use the internet at learn what you can really claim.
- Never use pay per view TV or TV services such as Netflix ~ this is just stupid. Do you really need to dumb down so much as to sit in front of the TV, and pay extra for the privilege, over and above whatever stupid cable subscription you are already paying for this crap?
- Never, ever buy extended warranties on things like a car, new washing machine, or television. These warranties are scams, not worth the paper they’re printed on, and cost a fortune.
- Stop buying expensive pre-prepared, ready meals. Learn to cook instead. ‘Ready meals’ are full of unmentionable crap, and are terrible value for money.
Remember, when you want to save money, when you want to stop wasting money, the internet is your friend. You may think you don’t have the time to spend on internet research, trust me, you do have loads of spare time, it’s just that you waste that too. Stop ruining your mind by watching hours of drivel on the TV, stop ruining your health by spending time in your usual sleazy pub / bar, and stop making excuses.
Never, ever, sign anything you don’t understand. Never, ever, trust a salesperson.
The Steel Of The New Iron Lady.
There is a wailing and gnashing of teeth among Britain’s left-leaning inner city liberal elite today. The snowflake Guardian newspaper has completely thrown its toys out of the pram. Tim Farron, the pathetic failed Leader of the Liberal Party, says that Teresa May has completely betrayed Britain.
All because, in a landmark speech yesterday, British Prime Minister Teresa May signaled that she fully accepts the will of the majority of the English Peoples and will negotiate the hardest of hard Brexit with the moribund European Union.
There is a 12 point plan for when Britain finally exits European Super State, the major elements of which are;
- Britain will leave the European Single Market.
- We will end freedom of movement and take control of immigration.
- Britain will no longer accept rulings from the European Court of Justice.
- We will leave the European Customs Union.
- Britain will look to the whole world when we make our own trade agreements.
The Prime Minister gave European politicians a stinging ultimatum and said that she will just walk away from a bad deal, and that if they don’t negotiate a mutually beneficial trade deal with the United Kingdom they will be committing an ‘act of calamitous self harm’.
Addressing stunned European Union ambassadors she threatened that Britain will set itself up as a low tax rival if European leaders tried to impose a punitive exit deal on Britain. If Europe doesn’t play ball, then Britain will just walk away and let them get on with it. Anyhow, it’s likely that the European Union will implode after Britain leaves.
Teresa May is waving both the carrot and the stick, and it’s a pretty big stick. Britain is the fastest growing G7 economy, the fourth biggest economy in the world, the second biggest contributor to NATO after the USA, London is the world’s greatest financial centre, and English is the only truly world language.
The original Iron Lady was British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who had a close political relationship with President Ronald Reagan. Perhaps Teresa May and Donald Trump will forge a similar history making Special Relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Perhaps Mr. Trump could even persuade Teresa May to throw cold water on the whole stupid, tax funded, man-made climate change CO2 hysteria. After all, England has bugger all in common with Europe, and a hell of a lot of shared history and culture in common with America.
Some say that all Britain will regret turning our backs on the European Union. And, that our economy will falter and fail. All I know is Europe ain’t seen nothing yet.
these opinions are mine and mine alone
there are no workable get rich quick schemes
A naive lady named Deanne Forrest lost all her savings, and some money she borrowed, (a total of £12,500 in all), by dabbling in on-line stock market trading. Specifically Deanne got involved with something called binary options trading, which is as risky as betting all your worldly goods on one spin of the roulette wheel in a Las Vegas casino.
Investing should be more like watching paint dry or watching grass grow. If you want excitement, take $800 and go to Las Vegas. ~ Paul Samuelson
Let me make one thing abundantly clear, this kind of on-line trading is not dealing on the stock market in any sensible way, this is gambling, pure and simple. It’s even called spread betting, and spread betting is a very fast way for you to lose a
hell heck of a lot of money. It’s not investing, it’s just high-risk gambling, and has as much to do with real finance as on-line dating has to do with real relationships.
Investing in the stock market is something totally different from these fast, on-line, get rich quick scams.
The stock market is a place, (real or virtual), where the prices of stocks and shares of major companies are quoted, and those stocks and shares can be bought and sold at those quoted prices. The major shares are also grouped to give an indication of the overall strength of the market; for example the FTSE 100, in London, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average, on Wall Street.
In general, one buys and sells stocks and shares through a broker, either by telephone, or increasingly these days through an on-line service. There are specialist stock brokers, but most people are most likely to use their bank to buy and sell shares. If you want to invest in your national stock market, check with your bank first. I can almost guarantee they will offer stock market services.
If it’s not a get rich quick scheme, why would you want to invest in the stock market?
In general, the stock market is an indicator of the overall health of a country’s economy. If the overall economy of the USA is doing well, then Wall Street will generally do well. If the overall economy of the United Kingdom is doing well, then the City of London will generally do well. But, every now and again the markets will go crazy, for no readily apparent reason.
Every once in a while the market does something so stupid it takes your breath away. ~ Jim Cramer
There are two basic ways of investing in the stock market;
- You can buy into a unit investment trust, (however it’s named or described). This allows you to invest in a group of shares, thereby spreading your risk. Unit trusts are the way most people get involved with the stock markets. The main downside of a unit trust is that your profits can get eaten up by the trust manager’s fees and charges.
- You can buy the shares of specific companies in your own right.
You also make money through stock market investments in two ways.
- An increase in the market price of the shares you have bought. For example, if you had bought shares in The Boeing Company on February 12th 2016, you would have paid $105.12 per share. If you’d sold those same shares on December 16th 2016 you would have received $154.50 per share, a handy 50% profit. But remember,the price of shares can go down as well as up.
- Receipt of regular dividends from the company. These dividends represent your share of the company’s earnings. For example, shares in Royal Dutch Shell, an oil and gas company, had a yield of 6.05% in the last year. It’s easy to find out which companies have paid the most back to their shareholders. The Boeing dividend yield is currently 2.82%.
Historically, investments in the stock markets have outperformed all other liquid investments, and all other personal investments with the exception of real estate, (property). However, the value of all assets can fall as well as rise. Many ‘expert pundits‘ (there’s an oxymoron for you), are predicting an imminent crash in the stock markets. These things have a nasty habit of becoming self-fulfilling prophecies.
Should you want to invest in the stock market, then your first choice is whether to buy into a unit trust, or buy the shares of particular companies for yourself ~ cutting out the middle-man. These choices are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
It’s very easy to find information on investment trusts ~ just type something like best performing unit trusts into your search engine. Whatever you do, don’t believe most of what the sales teams at these companies tell you.
Choosing companies whose shares you’re going to buy for yourself is more difficult, but you could try typing something like best performing US stocks into your search engine. If you are buying shares in particular companies in your own right, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Spread your investment among different companies and different market sectors.
Stock market investments should easily out-perform most other ways of saving and investing, with the exception of buying property, (real estate). The caveats are; choose wisely, don’t put all your eggs in one basket, never borrow money to invest, pay off all your debts before investing in the stock market, and stock market investments are for the long term. Expect to hold your shares for years rather than weeks or months.
The stock market is not a get rich quick scheme, never was, and never will be, no matter what some silver-tongued salesperson might have you believe. A good rule is, don’t believe sales people, some of them
tell lies are economical with the truth.
these opinions are mine and mine alone
Before we go any further to talk about the most common types on insurance ~ and do you need them or not? ~ there is something you should know about insurance agreements. Any contract of insurance is a contract uberrimae fidei ~ a contract of utmost good faith. This means that you must tell your insurance company everything and anything which may have a bearing on the risk they are taking on. If you keep any significant information back, the chances are you are not insured at all.
For example, if you have put bigger wheels and tyres than standard on your car, you should tell your car insurance company. If you’re an alcoholic / drug addict / smoker / overweight / pyromaniac, you should tell your Life Assurance company. If you have ever been refused insurance, you should tell your insurance company. And when you advise your insurance company of something pertinent, do it in writing.
All insurance companies love to collect premiums. All insurance companies hate to pay out for any claims, and will do anything and everything to avoid paying a claim. For example, you not telling your car insurance company that you have recently been found guilty of driving while intoxicated will most likely void your insurance entirely, and they will not pay out under any circumstances. So if in doubt, tell all, in writing ~ else you’re probably not insured at all. And, always pay your insurance premiums by automated bank transfer / direct debit / ACH transfer.
Your best friends when it comes to making a claim are photographs. Always take plenty of pictures of everything, including your home / car / self as it is right now, before anything bad happens. Store these pictures in a cloud, on your blog, in social media… so you can always get at them if the worst happens.
The five most common and necessary types of insurance are;
- Motor / car / vehicle / driver’s cover. In civilised countries it is a legal requirement for you to be insured for the exact car you are driving. The penalties for driving while uninsured are severe. In the small print of your insurance policy it probably says that you should not drive while you are incapable, and that includes driving after drinking. Have an accident drink driving and the chances are you are uninsured.
- Home and contents insurance. Because of the inflexible nature of the laws of probability, you should have your home and its contents fully insured, or face a life on the streets. Maybe add a margin of 10% in excess of the estimated values, to account for unexpected expenses while you put your life back together after your home has burned down, blown up due to a gas leak, been destroyed in an earthquake, flooded…
- Travel insurance. When travelling abroad you may, or probably may not, be entitled to medical services in the country you are visiting. You may have an accident, lose your luggage, get hijacked, robbed… any number of disasters may happen. Travel is by its very nature hazardous and stressful. Things which would be a minor inconvenience at home may become a catastrophe if they happen in a foreign country, or even a different state. If you are travelling abroad, or a very long way, you need comprehensive travel insurance. Only idiots don’t buy travel insurance.
- Medical / health insurance. I’m English and I don’t have any medical insurance, and that doesn’t bother me in the slightest, (for reasons that are too complicated to go into here I do have dental). In the United Kingdom we have a National Health Service, (NHS), which provides free treatment at the point of care. The NHS is paid for out of taxation. Canada has a similar system. If you live anywhere else you really, really need comprehensive medical cover. But remember, you must tell your insurer everything there is to know about your degenerate lifestyle.
- Life Assurance. (not life insurance, you are going to die, you can’t insure against it). A whole life policy pays out a sum of money when you die. You don’t need this. However, if you have a dependant family, then you may want to look after them when you’re dead, therefore most heads of households buy one or more life policies. You don’t actually need to do this. It’s actually much more cost-effective to just save the money you would have paid in premiums. But nobody has that much self-discipline. I have no dependants, therefore my life assurance policies are utterly pointless, except to pay for my funeral.
Getting life insurance is like making a bet you can’t win. If you live, you don’t get the money. If you die, you don’t get to enjoy the money. ~ Oliver Gaspirtz
There are many, many other common forms of insurance, and some really esoteric insurance policies. Lloyds of London will insure against just about anything. You could probably have got insured at Lloyds against Donald Trump being the 45th President of the United States. After all, insurance is really just a bet.
Even Life Assurance is just a bet. The bet isn’t about if you’re going to die or not ~ no matter how much you pray you are going to die. With life assurance the bet is about when you are going to die, not if. And, if you think about it, that’s just creepy.
these opinions are mine and mine alone
Most of the news media has confidently predicted that Hillary Clinton will be the next President of the United States.
Most of the news media confidently predicted that the United Kingdom would vote to remain in the European Union in our referendum of 23rd of June 2016.
In the event England decisively voted to leave the European Union, and a new word entered the language; Brexit.
Leave aside the political rights and wrongs, and instead look at the effect that politics has on the Pound or Dollar in your pocket.
The immediate impact of Brexit has been twofold.
- The value of the pound fell dramatically on the foreign exchange markets, (FOREX). There was no good reason for this other than the Political Establishment creating alarm and despondency in Project Fear, in an effort to persuade voters to opt to remain in the hated European Union.
- The price to the consumer of all kinds of goods and services has been increased by mostly unscrupulous suppliers and retailers off the back of Brexit and the fall in the value of the pound. Some of these price increases are fairly justifiable, for example the UK price of petrol, (gasoline), has soared. But then oil is priced and traded in US Dollars. Some price increases blamed on Brexit are just fatuous, for example Walkers Crisps, (chips), have increased their prices by 10% and blamed it on Brexit. Walkers crisps are made in Britain from British potatoes.
There is one lesson to be learned from this. Markets, manufacturers, retailers, service companies, and politicians will use any change in the world order to justify price rises / tax increases / rapid falls in the financial markets. What they are saying to the man in the street is; ‘don’t blame us, it’s all your own fault for voting for the wrong result’.
What you didn’t know is that the major players in any market; banks, brokers, governments, insurance companies, speculators and the like, can all make money in a falling market, (aka a bear market). Principally they do this by ‘selling short‘, that is they sell stocks, commodities, foreign exchange that they don’t actually own for delivery at a future date. Then, when the market concerned falls, they buy the stocks, shares, commodities, foreign exchange they need to complete the contract ~ but here’s the thing, they buy at a lower price because the market has fallen.
Now, you or I can potentially make money in a falling market by selling short through our broker, but this is a very bad idea, because what you are doing is creating a risk where none exists, and that’s just gambling. Entering into this kind of deal is a very fast way to go broke.
However, it benefits the major players in any market to create uncertainty, because where there is uncertainty and chaos there is profit for them. And, where does this profit come from? Actually it comes from you and I, the average man in the street. Because of political uncertainties the cost of just about everything I buy, including my overseas road trips, has gone up. The value of almost everything I own has fallen, including stocks, bonds, and hard cash.
Should Donald Trump be elected President it is likely that chaos will hit the US financial markets. You can even take a bet on what will happen to Wall Street after the election. I can firmly predict that if Clinton loses the value of the US Dollar will fall, as will the Dow Jones Industrial Average. And why is that? Because it suits the speculators to make it so.
As it happens, nobody yet knows what will happen to the UK economy now that we are committed to leaving the European Union. Nobody yet knows what kind of President Mr Trump will make, nor what kind of handle on the US Economy Mrs Clinton has either. Most of the short-term economic impact of politics is down to speculation and not fact.
Personally, I disagree with just about everyone in that I believe Trump will make a better president than Clinton, (as far as the US Economy is concerned), and that Brexit is better for the UK Economy than staying in the European Union and Single Market could ever have been.
But then, I’ve never been one to have fashionable views.
these opinions are mine, and mine alone
There has been much talk about the fall in the value of the Pound Sterling against the United States Dollar and the bastard Euro since Britain voted to leave the European Union. Without getting into the politics of it, what’s all this about, and what does it all mean?
To start with; the exchange rate, or foreign currency exchange rate, or Forex rate, measures the value of a base currency, (your own currency usually), against a foreign currency. Thus the $ / £ rate is currently about 1.22, which means one pound sterling gets you one dollar and twenty-two cents. The exchange rate is the price of one currency against another. Some people also use movements in exchange rates to measure the strength of a currency’s underlying economy. This is like measuring global warming by looking out of window at today’s weather. It’s a
piss very poor gauge.
However, long-term trends do tell you something ~ like the recent fall in the value of the pound could have been predicted years ago because of the amount of UK debt sloshing around. The fall in the value of the pound has very little to do with Brexit, and a lot to do with the UK government printing too much money for years, and years, and years…
A weak economy is the sign of a weak economy, and a weak economy is the sign of a weak nation. ~ Ross Perot
Ross Perot doesn’t know much about Forex either.
What does this mean to you and me? Well, for a start, the exchange rate tells you very little about how much your savings / salary / holiday money is worth in your preferred destination. For that you need to know about purchasing power parity. What this theory says is that my money still goes a hell of a long way in Orange County, California, USA. As an example, car rental and the price of petrol / gasoline, is still cheaper for me in the USA than it is in England. So is the cost hotels, eating out, and etc. I have suffered a potential windfall loss in the change in the price of the USD against GBP, but on the scale of things does that worry me? Nope.
Worrying about movements in currency exchange rates is a lot like worrying about what the weather is going to be like next week. It’s interesting, but pointless.
Forex rates do have an effect on people, but not in the way you’d think. Forex rates, interest rates, purchasing power, inflation, government fiscal policy, all these factors kind of mush together to create an amorphous mess that hardly anybody understands. So let me break it down for you.
- The man in the street and small businesses. Forex rates hardly affect you at all, in relative terms. When it comes to the cost of your vacation abroad the movement in exchange rates is a tiny proportion of your overall spend. Here in England stuff you buy at home may get slightly more expensive, but that’s really down to lying politicians and the bosses of big businesses using exchange rate movements as an excuse for price hikes. If exchange rates had gone the other way do you think things at home would get cheaper? Of course not.
- Businesses buying and selling overseas. Here the sterling / dollar / euro / yuan exchange rates actually mean something. It means stuff you sell in pounds sterling has become better value abroad, while product you buy abroad in foreign currency has become more expensive. So what? That’s what management is all about, and if you don’t understand Forex, why are you dealing in foreign currencies anyway?
- Multi-national companies. Forex rates affect the big multinationals not at all, it’s merely another variable in their international treasury management operations. When a multinational like Unilever says they have to increase their prices to UK supermarkets because of the fall in the value of the pound, they’re lying.
What really impacts on everyone is this purchasing power parity thing, and that’s a lot more complicated than just exchange rates. For example, the national minimum wage and cost of health care has a lot to do with purchasing power parity.
As far as governments, central banks, and politicians are concerned, they could care less about Forex rates. They may talk a good talk, and wring their hands from time to time, but they really, really don’t care.
What should you do about movements in foreign currency exchange rates?
- Don’t worry about it, because it’s as pointless as worrying about the weather.
- Don’t create translation exposure. Pay for stuff in your own currency, and if you’re selling abroad, then sell in your own currency ~ (if you can, if not consider forward currency cover). Don’t ever borrow money in a currency you don’t earn. Also, don’t save in a currency you don’t want to spend.
- Don’t buy complicated Forex products, (if you don’t understand it, don’t buy it), or pay for advice on exchange rates. In fact never, ever, pay for financial advice of any kind.
- Shop around. Buying or selling foreign currency is the same as buying and selling anything else. Spend a little while looking for the best deal. But beware, there are more crooks in this market than there are in the used car business.
- Forget exchange rates and look instead at purchasing power. If I can buy the exact same thing on Amazon.com in $ as I can on Amazon.co.uk in £ which is going to be the better deal? You know what? 99% of the time it depends on where I want it shipped to.
The true currency of life is time, not money, and we’ve all got a limited stock of that. ~ Robert Harris
Mostly, movements in foreign currency exchange rates are simple ~ they will affect you in ways you cannot understand, cannot predict, and can do nothing about, so forget it. For some people, foreign currency exchange rates are frighteningly complicated and dangerous animals, but given that these people usually work deep in the research engine rooms of the world’s biggest banks, it’s safe to let them get on with whatever it is they do, which is not a lot.