Kindling a Revolution

Just travelled back from Melbourne and sat next to an extremely spry gentleman of 71 years who spent the entire trip reading on his Kindle.

He told me how much he loved this new way of reading. That it can hold 1500 books and he only recharges it infrequently, less than once a month.

As a frequent traveller he enjoys the convenience of his great collection of books in a compact package and at a reasonable price per book. And he’s found that it’s good to read both indoors and outdoors.

I felt quite old-fashioned with a thick book on my lap next to this new-fangled gadget.

As this elderly gentleman said:

“the book industry is in real trouble, it’s not like we’ll stop reading but this will kill the book industry as we know it”

Thus we see again a change in the nature of our media of production is revolutionising existing industries.

We have already seen the changes sweep the music industry. Shifting us from physical objects that we bought and took home to virtual objects that we store on our mobile phones.

Now we are about to see the same kind of revolution sweep through our books.

Even this elderly gentlemen can see this. It will be interesting to see what futile rearguard actions the book industry puts up in resistance to this tide of change.

Why I’m supporting #Febusave

Sound finances give women true freedom of choice, it is the key to giving women options in life.

When @fibendall approached me about supporting the ANZ Bank’s Febusave campaign I was interested because I have first hand experience of the challenges raised by poor money management skills.

I met with the ANZ people and asked why they wanted to run this campaign.  Our conversations revealed how secret and underground women’s financial lives remain. We share openly about relationships and other personal stuff but finances remain a taboo subject. I saw that there was a genuine desire to raise awareness about these issues and to use social channels to reach women. It was clear that if ANZ gets more women customers that is a good byproduct of the campaign. But it was also clear that this was not a direct aim of the campaign. And it was on that basis that I agreed to support it.

I met with Fi & the ANZ team and we talked about the kind of issues I would like to write about.  My focus is on sharing some financial lessons learned over the years. Some of the other bloggers were interested in focusing on different aspects of women and money.  It’s been really helpful to talk with the amazing group of women who are also supporting this campaign. The open sharing of real life experiences by these women is resonating with many people.

This campaign interested me because, while ANZ has clearly identified women as a target customer segment and they have a commercial interest in more women becoming customers, they have also been running their Be Money Confident site for several years. The Febusave campaign combines the social good of breaking a taboo about women talking about and taking action on their finances with the Bank’s goal of raising awareness in a key customer segment.

Febusave is a tool in raising awareness of the importance of good financial health for women. One of the reasons I support this initiative is that it sits under the be money confident banner.

Women face different financial issues to men.  Men are already well served by financial information and spaces to share information. Some key facts about women’s ability to store up financial resources remain:

  • Women have not yet achieved pay equity with men & thus their baseline earning rate is lower over the course of their working lives.
  • Women often have gaps in their key earning years due to time out for childcare, either not working or working part-time, and thus they do not amass sufficient superannuation for old age.
  • Women often undertake elder care responsibilities in their later career, again impacting on full-time workloads and ability to add to their superannuation stores.
  • Almost 50% of marriages fail and in 2006 87% of single parent families are headed  women & the ability of these women to participate in full time work is limited.

My pledge for Febusave is to catch public transport & save the money from not using my car. What are you going to do? Why not go sign up now?

Savings and managing credit – a hard lesson to learn #febusave

coinsWe do not often share stories about our personal finances (except perhaps to boast of some great success?) but here are some hard won lessons I have learned.

My parents were not great savers, subsisting from pay to pay in the way that many workers do. Thus I did not learn much about saving as a child.

By the time I was 21 both parents and all grandparents had passed away and I had lost contact with the few remaining older aunts and uncles. Both of my parents died intestate leaving me to sort out the disposition of their few assets for the benefit of my younger siblings. I was left to look after the family finances, leaving university and geting a job to help support the family.

Settling my parents few debts, arranging for the sale of their house and investing the proceeds for the maintenance of my youngest siblings was done by the Public Trustee.

All went well as I repeated my parent’s habit of living from pay to pay. Then a bank offered me a credit card which I accepted. It was like all my Christmases had come at once and I shopped happily, buying all the clothing and accessories I’d always loved.

I dutifully paid off the minimum balance every month and all remained well. But then I lost my job, laid off due to a downturn, and was only able to find lower paid work. No longer able to afford to pay both my rent and the credit card bill I was in trouble.

How did I get out of this problem?

  1. Borrowed money from friends to pay the rent.
  2. Made a payment agreement with the credit card provider (it took me years to pay that debt off).
  3. Setup a budget and followed it religiously.
  4. Ran my life on cash only for the next five years.
  5. Built up a savings buffer so I did not have to borrow money from friends again.

What did I learn from all of this?

Everybody needs a will – those you leave behind have a hard enough time of it without dealing with intestacy. In Australia the Public Trustee in each State can help you with this (for NSW click here).

Having a household budget is important – knowing your expenses and income & keeping them in balance  reduces stress.

A savings buffer brings peace of mind – a few dollars in the bank for an emergency makes all the difference during stressful times. I found an an automatic savings plan that takes the money right from my pay directly to the bank works best for me.

Parents need to share good financial habits with their children – you will not always be around to help them and it is better for them to learn good financial habits from childhood.

Some more useful information is at Febusave.