Financial Fitness

Right now, my sole financial plan is … don’t spend more money than I earn. It’s not very sophisticated, but I think I’ve done okay so far. It’s easy to let lifestyle expand to match income; to spend that bonus (speaking hypothetically here) on a fucking huge television instead of investing for the future. Plenty of people earning vastly more than the averate Australian income live paycheque to paycheque.

I think it’s time to move on to a slightly more complex plan…like investing in an emu farm, or helping out that nice sounding Nigerian man who keeps sending me emails. But, before I do that, I should probably do the following…

  • Full financial audit. Nothing says “fun” like a spreadsheet with graphs of money in vs. money out.
  • Read a book on financial stuff. I picked the smallest one I could find; more a pamplet thatn a book really. 10 Key Steps to Wealth by “Australia’s best known financial adviser” Paul Clitheroe is only 86 pages long – small enough to read in a couple of days on the train.
  • See a financial planner. The Financial Planning Association of Australia has a page that offers help to find a financial planner. I wonder if I’ll be able to find one who doesn’t get a cut out of anyone they refer to a specific product.
  • Think about superannuation. This one is left until last because retirement seems too far away to worry about (I’m sure I’ll end up regretting this eventually). Two websites – Calculating superannuation needs and the Federal government’s “super choice” website

For me, thinking about money stuff is like pulling teeth. Even writing this blog entry (which is more of a personal TODO list than anything that anyone else will be interested in reading) was painful. I purposely did not study this stuff when I had the chance because I found it, well, boring, and I wanted to spend my life playing with expensive toys (ie/ technology) instead.

As someone who studied engineering, I think the general perception of business students amongst fellow engineering students was…

  1. They’re kind of thick. They’re not studying engineering after all, and the level of mathematics they need to know is weak. A business lecturer might spend an entire lecture telling the class that profit is equal to income minus expenses.
  2. They’re kind of soulless. When people leave high school and feel that they have to pick something to do at uni, but still don’t know what they want to do with the rest of their lives they never pick a difficult course. The path of least resistance doesn’t lead to a degree in physics or mathematics. Out of any university course, Business probably has the smallest number of people who are actually passionate about what they do. The majority of people are there to keep their parents happy or have some vague idea that studying business will be a good way to help them earn money in the future.
  3. They’re kind of boring. You won’t find anyone with purple hair in the business faculty. Even though everyone has read Richard Branson’s biography and knows that they need to “think different” just like him, there seems to be a herd mentality.
  4. They’re kind of slimy. You just know they’re read the book that says that you can get people to like you if you have a firm handshake and use their name in conversation. Firm handshakes from business majors have the opposite effect.

Maybe, with all of our sniggering about people who wanted to be the pointy-haired boss from Dilbert, we’ve missed the fact that there might be a tiny bit of worthwhile content in a business course.

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