Thursday, 27 January 2011

Investing for the future

I've been reading a lot these days about investing for the future.  I'll be the first to admit that I've not been the best with my finances in the past.  I did pick up the odd credit card and I'm still facing the consequences of those wrong choices.  However, I'm slowly but surely breaking away from a spendthrift mentality into that of a structured saver.

Our society has gone mad on credit, and the tempting offers are everywhere.  We have been brought up on the promise of instant gratification, and in attempting to live that life, many of us have come unstuck along the way.  I'm learning now things I really should have imbibed a long time ago.  It's sort of like reading "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" all over again, but this time with a mind mature enough to take the necessary action.

I wish I'd paid attention to my father all those years ago, as he meticulously taught me and my brother to save.  Instead, I accepted the philosophy that money is for spending, not hoarding.  In attempting not to "lay up treasures on the earth" where the moth, rust and thieves can get at it, I fear I've become a poor steward of the little entrusted to me.

It's time to change.  I've started closing my credit accounts, one after another.  It will take a while, but soon I hope to be in a good position to start saving again.  From there, the master plan is to dive headlong into investing, with as diverse a portfolio as is possible.

Watch this space.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

Having joined again a few months ago, I'm revelling in the experience of watching many movies that I've been wanting to see for a while.  I haven't had much time for the cinema, so I have been able to satiate my love for movies with the excellent service from Lovefilm!

I watched 'The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas" with my wife the other day.  It was a very well executed movie, based in 2nd World War Germany.  The story is told from the perspective of the child of a Nazi officer as he moves from a position of innocence to one of trying to make sense of the changes occurring in his world.  The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is a moving tale, but not one filled with unnecessary cinematic unpleasantness.

Check out the movie trailer when you can as it will give you a good idea of whether or not this movie is for you. For me, I highly recommend it for the well developed story, believable rounded characters and undisguised message:  "Whatever a man sows, this he will also reap."

Monday, 10 January 2011

The Perfect Christmas

I've noticed a trend on British TV for things to be advertised using the phrase "the perfect..." as in "the perfect Christmas" or "the perfect kitchen".  You might think I'm overstating things, but the unnecessary raising of one's expectations in this way is more likely than not to result in disappointment.

How many of us, I wonder, had "the perfect Christmas?"  Indeed, what is the perfect Christmas?!  What makes a meal, or a birthday, or a fancy new kitchen installation "perfect"?  Are we not more used to that sensation of looking forward to something for weeks or months, only for the final event not to live up to the hype? Is this not a recurring phenomenon?  Why do we not learn to reset our expectations accordingly?

I guess that's the difference between optimism and realism.  The optimist is always looking on the bright side, regardless of the facts.  The realist hopes for the best but knows things could go otherwise.  The pessimist... well, let's leave him well alone.  I opt for the middle ground on this one.

Human beings are insatiable.  We will always want more, no matter how much we get.  I think it's important for us to understand that we live in a broken world, filled with both good and bad, and that it's unrealistic to expect things to go "perfectly" for any prolonged period of time.

So, Mr. Marketing Man, please stop trying to sell me "the perfect" anything.  I know you're just selling me a lie.