Category Archives: Borrowing

Skills Men Should Have

learning is not compulsory, neither is survival

learn woodworking and gardening

There was a time when most men could turn their hand to just about anything; from growing their own vegetables to completing their tax returns, from plumbing to motor maintenance.  Yet I know some young guys who are so impractical they can’t even put up a shelf.  I once met a guy who didn’t know how to open the bonnet, (hood), on his car ~ let alone check the oil.  Hell, I once met a blonde girl who couldn’t open her fuel filler cap.

But we are not talking about girls here, we are talking about real urban survival skills for real men.  What does a guy need to be able to do to survive and thrive?  Leave out the whole surviving alone in the deep woods thing, (with a camera crew, doctor, and evac helicopter on standby).  Let’s concentrate instead on what a cool guy living a great life should be able to do, and most can’t even make a decent attempt at. In no particular order;

  • cooking ~ from making an omelette to an impressive signature dish. including doing the shopping and cleaning afterwards.
  • DIY ~ how to you loosen a bolt?
  • finance ~ budgeting, balancing your income and expenditure, completing official paperwork, negotiating a loan.
  • first aid and CPR ~ from the Heimlich Maneuver, to using a tourniquet.
  • health and fitness ~ fresh air, diet, food supplements, exercise.
  • motor maintenance ~ from checking the tyres, lights, and fluids to doing a complete exhaust rebuild, to building an entire damn car.
  • navigate from A to B without sat-nav ~ can you find north, use a compass, read a map, know how far a mile is?
  • read, write, and do arithmetic ~ do you read interesting and challenging books? can you write a letter in cursive script? Can you make change, approximate pi, and work out a right-angle?
  • safety and security ~ is your home safe and secure and can you walk the streets at night?
  • disaster recovery ~ what will you do if there’s an earthquake, or a wild-fire, or flood, or your home just suddenly becomes uninhabitable?

For once, I haven’t given you lots of links, because a man should be able to find appropriate stuff on the internet, and not just be able to find his own particular taste in porn.  So whatever you can’t do, start learning…..

There are a lot more things that a true Renaissance Man is capable of, from building and sailing a boat, to building a car, to building his own home from scratch.  In extremis a real man knows how to survive natural and man-made disasters.  There is even a list of 100 skills every man should know, (but no Englishman needs to know how to throw a good spiral).  And, a real man understands the art of attracting women and keeping her happy once he has won her.

Some say they don’t need to do anything because they can always hire someone else to do it.  And that guys don’t cook, clean, or do the laundry, real guys just have fun.  All I know is that I can’t bake a cake.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

learn car mechanics

The High Cost of Money

Before borrowing money from a friend, decide which you need more.

In The Merchant of Venice Shakespeare explores the dangers of borrowing money, and in Hamlet, Shakespeare says; ‘neither a borrower nor a lender be…..’  And, especially think twice, and twice again before borrowing money from a friend.  Think about what you need the most ~ the friendship or the money, for money is often the cause of acrimony and breakups of even the closest of relationships.  Your friend may not charge you financial interest on the sums you borrow, but there are likely to be charges and obligations other than strictly monetary.

In order of the least to most desirable lenders from whom you could think of approaching are;

  • Friends and lovers.  Borrow from a friend and be prepared to soon lose a friend.
  • Parents and family.
  • Payday Lenders, who will charge you usuary rates of interest ~ 250% to over 1,000% per annum.
  • Guarantor Lenders.  If you have a poor credit rating you could get a friend or family member to guarantee your loan.  These are doubly bad, with all the disadvantages of actually borrowing from friends, lovers, parents and family ~ plus very high rates of interest 50% per annum being about the norm.
  • Credit card debt.  These insidious borrowings can cost you 25% or more over a year ~ if you go on using that card you may never be debt free.
  • Bank loans.  If your bank will lend you money you may expect to pay a low rate of interest, maybe between 3% and 10% per annum.
  • Mortgages and other secured loans from your bank or a  mortgage company / broker.  Personally, I could get a mortgage at 2% per annum.
  • Car loans.  If you should want to buy a new car, many dealers will offer you a car loan at 0%.

And, why do you want a loan anyhow?  The very worst reason for borrowing is to feed your addiction; gambling, drugs, booze, sex…. and the second worst reason for borrowing money is to pay off another debt.  Both of those are likely to get you into deeper and even worse trouble.  Maybe the only good reasons for  borrowing are to buy a home, or car,  (or in some places to pay medical fees).  Vacations, wide-screen TVs, plush furniture,  jewellery, fancy clothes, expensive shoes, are all not worth getting yourself into debt for.

So, just beware of borrowing anything from anyone.

Some say a fool and his money are soon parted.  And that a man in love never counts the cost of anything.  All I know is that Shakespeare was a pretty smart guy.

~

Jack Collier

jackcollier7@ talktalk.net

Maybe a convertible Mustang isn’t the most prudent purchase.

Live Within Your Means

To achieve your goals and dreams you are going to need money.

Back in the day I worked in banking and finance, and I saw first-hand just how much of a mess most people could make of their finances ~ usually due to buying things they couldn’t really afford.  The three main culprits when it came to unaffordable and expensive purchases were; cars, clothes / shoes, and vacations ~ none of which are essential.  (There’s a caveat, in that you may actually need a car and you do need clothes and shoes, but you can buy the cheapest used stuff you can find, rather than flashy and expensive.)

You do not need to be a millionaire, or act like a millionaire, to be successful or feel successful.  Financial wealth is only one indicator of success.  However, you’re going to need money just to live day-to-day, and no successful person has ever ignored their finances.  Conversely, all successful people know how to manage their money and plan their finances.  And rule #1 is Borrowing is Bad, especially if you borrow money you can’t easily pay off.

Financial planning begins with these 4 questions;

  1. How much money do you take home each month?
  2. What are your regular bills; mortgage, utilities, taxes, loan repayments?
  3. How much do you spend each month in the various stores you use; clothes, groceries, gas, booze, cigarettes, etc?
  4. What assets and debts do you have?

If you are in the fortunate position of making more money than you regularly spend, then you should also be able to work out how much you are saving each month.

You need to write all this down, either just pen and paper, or on a spreadsheet.

If you are regularly spending more than you earn, then you are heading for deep shit.

If you are regularly spending more than you earn, then you need to totally cut out some of your expenditure.  Stop buying booze, cigarettes, chocolate, and anything else you may be addicted to; gambling, porn, sex, drugs…..  Always buy the cheapest gas, buy less expensive groceries, stop eating out, stop using the deli to buy your lunchtime sandwiches and make them at home instead…..

Borrowing is Bad.  Some borrowing is worse.  PAY OFF YOUR CREDIT CARDS.  Credit card debt is ruinously expensive.  In this day and age if your paying more than 10% as an annual interest rate on a loan, then stop eating until that debt is paid off.

Some say that they can make money playing online poker.  And, that its good to go to the pub most nights a week.  All I know is that some people end up on the street.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

life on the street is no fun

Your House Is Worth Nothing

Land is the far greatest of fraudulent perpetual monopolies.  ~  Winston Churchill

As it goes, and speaking as a guy with 30 odd years of banking under his belt, in the long term, financially, your beach home / house / apartment is worth less than nothing.

You may say that it’s been valued at $1,350,000 but what does that actually mean?

It means that if you sell the place, then that’s what you’ll get.  Less all the bloodsucking bankers, lawyers, and realtors fees.

Then what?

You’ll probably plough the $1,350,000 into a bigger place that’s notionally worth $1,450,000.  And, in human terms that new place is worth even less than nothing.  You will work much harder to keep it.

All you are doing is paying rent, and working harder to keep the place…..  And, then you’ll die.

The only way your $1,500,000 place is worth anything at all to you is if you sell up and live in a van.

Real Estate is all about cost.  Look at your monthly / annual bills and you will see that your house is costing you a fucking fortune.  Any bum can have 80% of what you have for nothing.  Trust me, I know, I’ve been there.

Any First Nations elder will tell you that property is expensive theft.

Banking and the real estate industry is built on the notion that your property is intrinsically worth something, and it isn’t.  You can’t take it with you, and when the next Big One comes it won’t even be there.

But, even though I know that the Wizard is a fraud, I will never persuade you.

For the truth means you have too much to lose.

~

jack collier

jackcollier@talktalk.net

I thought about a school bus once,

but then I’d want a woman to share it with me,

 

How to have more spending money

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:

  1. Live in a smaller place.  Smaller homes cost less to buy, attract lower property taxes, and use less utilities; water, gas, electricity.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Switch your car insurance to a better and cheaper company.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Buy whole foods rather than processed, heavily packaged, and generally bad for you costly crap.
  12. 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.
  13. If you can, then buy in bulk.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Visit thrift stores, and if you find clothes you like, then save money and buy ‘pre-loved’ stuff.
  17. 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.)
  18. 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.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

you can take the idea of living in a tiny home to the extreme…..

21 ways to save money

Easy Lifestyle Changes Could Save You A Small Fortune.

Red_RoseThere 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. p1020966Don’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.)
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Cincinnati KidSTOP 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).
  16. 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.
  17. Plan ahead and buy stuff in the sales, at discount stores, and in thrift stores.
  18. Claim all your tax and other benefits.  Use the internet at learn what you can really claim.
  19. 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?
  20. 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.
  21. 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.

Take back control of your own life, and take control of your finances, it’s a lot easier than you think.

~

Wall Streetjack collier

jack collier7@talktalk.net

Stock Market Investments

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

Wall StreetLet 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;

  1. 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.
  2. You can buy the shares of specific companies in your own right.

You also make money through stock market investments in two ways.

  1. 737-300wAn 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.
  2. 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%.

If you buy into a unit trust, then the fund manager takes all the income from the markets they invest in, and then adds the profits to the value of your units.

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.

p1030876Stock 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.

~

christmas-cardsthese opinions are mine and mine alone

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Save Money ~ Have a Budget

Most People Don’t Really Manage Their Money.

shylockAfter more years in Banking and Finance than I care to admit, I can remember very few people who took responsibility for, and properly managed, their personal finances.  In my bitter experience, most people lived from one month to another without knowing where their money was going, or what they could really afford, or what was totally outside their budget.

If it comes to that, very few people have a proper, written, up to date, personal and household budget.  If you can put your hand up and say that you do, and that it is actually written down, (or on a spreadsheet, or otherwise on your computer), then you can skip the rest of this post and award yourself a gold star.

The point of having a budget is that it stops you being caught out by unpleasant financial surprises.  A budget also lets you plan ahead, for the rest of this year, next year, for the next two or three years, for a wedding, your kid’s college, for your retirement…

These are the steps you need to follow if you are going to create or revise your budget.

  1. Make a list of all the money you owe.  Before you save anything, before you make any investments, you should work towards paying off any and all loans and credit cards balances you have.  And, you can’t plan to pay off your loans early if you don’t have a proper budget.
  2. Make a list of all the regular payments you have to make.  These will range from your mortgage, property taxes, utilities bills, right through to charitable donations, cable TV, and gym membership…
  3. Make a list of your usual necessary expenses that you pay as you go along.  How much petrol do you put in your car each month?  How much do you spend on groceries, clothes, shoes…
  4. Make a list of how much your usual discretionary purchases are costing you.  These are things you don’t actually need.  How much do you spend at your local bar or any bars.  How much does eating out cost you each month?  What do you pay for cigarettes / vaping supplies each month.  How much do you waste on gambling and booze.
  5. Write down anything else that you buy on a regular basis, and how much it costs you.  Add in an amount for contingencies; all that stuff you can’t remember buying, and those weird impulse purchases.
  6. Put all these lists of the money you spend into order of importance.
  7. Turn all these lists into a monthly budget, which might look something like this;

budget

Obviously your numbers will be totally different, and you may have some different categories, for example; health insurance, pet care insurance, cigarettes, booze, sports club membership….  (And as it goes, the example I’ve shown is poorly ordered, for example Transportation should be above toiletries and grooming.)

This kind of budget lets you begin to do some real financial planning.

Maslow_Triangle_1Look at your budget, the most vital things should be at the top, and the things you could really get by without should be at the bottom.  It should fit with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  (albeit turned on its head)

If your monthly total is less than you earn, all well and good.  Don’t save or invest your spare cash, use it to pay off some of the money you owe, like your mortgage.  Saving or investing while you owe money elsewhere is stupid money management.

If your monthly total is more than you earn, you’re in trouble.  You need to cut your spending, and you start by cutting at the bottom of your budget, not at the top.  Spend less money in bars, buying cigarettes, eating out, gambling, buying booze, being the member of a gym…

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds, nineteen shillings and sixpence, result happiness.  Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds and six pence, result misery.  ~  Mr Mcawber, by Charles Dickens

Don’t even think about saving, investing, buying a new car, or building your pension fund, if you don’t have a proper realistic and honest written budget, one that you can stick to.  You know it’s good advice, the kind of advice George Bailey would give you.

~

1x-1these opinions are mine and mine alone

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

 

 

Food on Friday # 51

Brussels Sprouts are one of those vegetables which should be much better liked than it is ~ it’s a superfood packed with nutrients and health-giving trace elements. In England we typically only serve brussels sprouts at Christmas, but I guess that in the USA they are a popular side dish at Thanksgiving.

Other than the slightly bitter and boring taste, there is one very good reason the polite English don’t eat brussels sprouts very often ~ wind.  Brussels sprouts really stink up the house.

At Thanksgiving and Christmas you need all the oven space you can get, so first up this week we have a crockpot dish.  From Chungah at Damn Delicious we have slow cooker balsamic brussels sprouts, and while this may take 4 hours to cook, it only takes 10 minutes to prepare.

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Slow Cooker Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

Next from the lovely Southern California girl Averie, at Averie Cooks, we have another slant on balsamic brussels sprouts ~ roasted this time.  This is a 35 minute dish, so it will cook while the turkey is resting.

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Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Here’s something fun and very different from Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest; nutty wild rice & shredded brussels sprouts stuffed mini pumkins.  This dish may persuade even the hardest die hard brussels sprouts hater to try the damn things.

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Nutty Wild Rice and Shredded Brussels Sprouts Stuffed Mini Pumpkins

Another roasted brussels sprouts recipe, this time from Andrea at Cooking With A Wallflower; teriyaki glazed roasted brussels sprouts.  Andrea says this is only a 15 minute dish, so it’s great if you’re pressed for time.

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Teriyaki Glazed Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Another interest in recipe, from Cooking Up The Pantry, brussels sprouts with chorizo and red onion.  Add some garlic and you have a really powerful dish.

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Brussels Sprouts with Chorizo and Red Onion

Or, you could just boil your brussels sprouts and add a little butter.  This is a very simple recipe from Epicurious.

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Buttered Brussels Sprouts

Finally for this week, from Cooking at the New York times we have their 17 best brussels sprouts recipes for Thanksgiving, including this 45 minute dish of roasted brussels sprouts with garlic by Mark Bittman.  One thing’s for certain, this dish is going to make you stink a little bit.

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic

dscf0002A very big thank you

to all the great cooks

featured in this week’s

Food on Friday

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Money ~ Currency Exchange Rates

flagThere 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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.

~

London 048jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

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