Posts Tagged ‘Finance’

Decided that I’d better post something on HCWHY before they drop me from the writing team altogether, so there’s another post up on the site from me. This time it’s about that friend we don’t really like to receive – that’s right, Bill.

The opening paragraph goes thusly…

Ah, bills. Those little envelopes with panelled windows arriving in the post that don’t offer the start of a pleasant conversation but rather a reminder that our resources have, for some reason or another, been committed to someone else this month. And the next and the next, in many cases. What do you do with them when they land in your “inbox”? There are a number of ways to approach this, from dealing with them immediately, to some kind of scheduled payment, to conveniently forgetting about them until they come marked with an angry red stamp. I’d like to suggest, for a number of reasons, that you should pay them as they arrive.

Hop onto this site if you’re curious to see more…


When sharks prey…

Posted: December 14, 2009 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

If you’re drowning in financial difficulties (or an overdose of Christmas wants), it’s always a tempting to swim a little further out in search of someone who’s willing to lend a solution. Tempting, but not always a good idea.

Hop onto the link at my latest HCWHY blog to see some of the issues around this.

How much is too little?

Posted: October 29, 2009 in Uncategorized
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Hmmm – time to play postbox again? I’ve put another post up at HCWHY, but I’m not sure how long it will stay on the front page. The link is here if you want to visit the post directly and the opening paragraph goes like this:

It’s not uncommon to hear people asking “How much is enough?” when thinking about their financial status and the prospect of what they can achieve once they’ve got things under control. Lately, though, I’ve been wondering if it wouldn’t be good also to ask “How much is too little?” After all, it seems to me that real financial freedom is about more than just good money management: it should be part of a greater freedom to pursue things that you feel really matter.

Have a look if you like, otherwise I’ll put it up on my blog in a little while.


Interested? Sneak a look at the blog post on How Can We Help You. I know, I know, I should post it in this blog but I have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility in pushing the hits up on that one…

That time of the month again, publishing a new post on my How Can We Help You blog. This time, I managed to sneak cellphones and technology into it! Aah, I love convergence…

hcwhylogoHave a peek if you want to ditch your little black finances book and move into the 21st century.

Yep, it’s there again…

Posted: August 4, 2009 in Uncategorized

hcwhylogoBudgets: a four letter word by any other spelling, but definitely a necessary evil. You’ll find plenty of good advice on this site on how to draw one up and how to make sure you stick to it, but it’s also important to know what tools to use when you’re doing that. How do you, practically, keep a record of your expenses and measure them against your budget?

Go to HCWHY to see more. You know you’re too busy when your biweekly obligation at another site is updated almost as regularly as your personal blog…

So click and look…

Posted: July 21, 2009 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

My biweekly post is up at How Can We Help You – though probably only for a day or so. After that you’d need to click on “Editorial Blogs” and “Stephen” to see what it is.


My opening paragraph goes like this:

It’s clear from even just a brief browse through this site that there’s a lot of good financial advice on offer – so much it can seem overwhelming, in fact. One of the dangers in this is that your focus on financial health can become pretty all consuming, which means in turn that you all too easily lose sight  of one of the important things I think we’re meant to do with our money: give it away!

I’ll be curious to see if it garners any kind of a reaction on the site. If you think you’d like to add something, click across and have a look.

Yep, another financial post up at How Can We Help You. I’m trying to apply some of the lessons we learn at work to our personal lives – hey, if companies pour millions into research around something we might as well see if it’s useful on a smaller scale…

hcwhylogoThe posts generally don’t stay on the front page too long, so scoot over if you want to have a look.

Cloning myself

Posted: March 24, 2009 in Uncategorized

So this blogging thing gets addictive. FNB has recently launched a personal finance website designed to provide tips and strategies on improving your money matters. It’s in large part driven by the contributions of Suzy Orman, the rock star of personal finance in the USA, but there is space for contributions by others and FNB went about recruiting some bloggers for this purpose. I couldn’t resist trying out for this and my contribution was accepted on condition that I maintained a blog there at least once a week.


Though I’m sure it will appear there, this is the post that I submitted:

Set medium to long term goals

You don’t have to be a keen follower of financial markets these days to realise that we are well and truly in the grip of a global economic crisis. The distant rumble of losses at overseas banks has become crashing thunder here at home as we’re treated to downpours of woeful news seemingly every day. One side effect of this is that people are suddenly very focused on managing their money properly: this is a good thing, but it needs to become a lifestyle change rather than just a reaction to a crisis. Eventually the crisis will dissipate and we don’t then just want to return to bad habits of old.

One piece of advice I’ve found invaluable in trying to master my own financial affairs is making sure I have a medium to long term view of what I want to do with my money, what goals I want to achieve. Of course, getting a handle on your current spending, working out a budget and then sticking to it are essential first steps but the discipline is hard to keep to when you can’t remind yourself of what you’re working for in the first place. In addition, I’ve found that the extra money that comes in unexpectedly disappears pretty quickly if you don’t have a goal to put it towards: the stress relief of blowing it on that wild night out feels pretty good at the time, but there’s always a vague feeling of an opportunity missed afterwards.

So the trick, for me, has been to sit down (with your spouse/partner!) and to list all the things that I would like to see in a five year time frame and a ten year one, without having to rely on credit. Sounds too long a period? Don’t forget you were unconsciously doing that when you signed up for your car or house purchase on credit. The list mounts up pretty quickly – an overseas trip, a new car, an education fund, no debt – but it’s an eye opening thing to have them all down on paper in front of you. You soon get an idea of what it would take to get there and (after that rude shock has pruned the list a little) it’s liberating to start working towards those goals slowly but surely.

I still have to be able to tell you what it’s like to achieve the goals, but I can tell you that just setting them is helpful and goes a long way to entrenching the financial discipline you start. Give it a try.

Could be fun – hey, who can resist a chance to pontificate? Plus the recruitment came with the offer of a prize of mobile technology: stay tuned for more details on that…

Just in case you missed your daily dose of doom and gloom, Moneyweb ran this interesting little article by Niles Jensen, looking at the extent of the global economic crisis in Europe and especially its impact on the financial system.

vs-closedJensen repeats a story heard elsewhere that a secret document produced by the EU Commission identifies the size of the impaired assets held by European banks to be in the order of 16.3 trillion pounds. Suck in your breath, that’s about 500-700% worse than the upper end of estimates for the size of the crisis in the US. Apparently brought about by regulatory anomalies which allow for far greater leveraging, and therefore greater assumption of risk (wasn’t Basel II supposed to help avoid this?) than in the US, the extent of the problem means that public finances will become increasingly strained and that entire nations, never mind banks, could go under.

Though the numbers that are coming out are increasingly horrific, I don’t believe that simply retreating into our own small spaces is the right thing to do. No matter what the circumstances, we should always be striving to move from the “me” to the “not-me” and closing our eyes to all needs but our own is not going to help this. We need to be cautious, sure, but we need to be reaching out at the same time. If we believe that we have a Great Gift to give, opportunity is going to abound for the giving of it.