Aussies have lost sight of what is important in life
You may think you want cool clothes, an Apple watch, or a fancy car. But you really don't. You don't need status symbols, or gadgets, or fancy brand labels. All you need to get ahead in life is to be a hard worker.
(If you've read my latest book, you might think you know how this story ends … but trust me, you don't).
Her name is Betty, and she's an old sheep dog from the Mallee.
Betty was kindly given to me years ago by my uncle, who told me she was the hardest-working dog he'd ever had.
No one knew exactly how old she was, because she'd been passed from farmer to farmer for years.
And now she was at my farm.
The first night we bought her home, I put her food in a shiny new doggie bowl. Betty cocked her head and wouldn't eat.
"Maybe she's feeling insecure about her new environment, and she's off her food," proffered my animal-loving wife.
My uncle had other ideas: "Just tip the food on the ground."
Betty dutifully started chowing down.
It was the same deal with her newly bought kennel (with an expensive sheepskin for warmth). Betty sleeps on the dirt underneath the ute … so she doesn't miss one minute of work.
And work she does. She's unstoppable.
Betty is a legend in our family. And years from now we'll use her story to teach our kids about life: Kids, you may think you want cool clothes, an Apple watch, or a fancy car. But you really don't.
What you really want is to be loved and respected.
And marketers manipulate these deep-seated desires to get us to buy their stuff. Yet it's a trillion dollar lie.
The truth is that to be loved and respected … you don't need status symbols, or gadgets, or fancy brand labels.
No. If you want to be loved and respected, just do all you need is two things: be kind and be a hard worker.
And even then, some people may still not love and respect you - but the right people will.
Betty died this week. For a sheep dog (age unknown), who was passed around from owner to owner, Betty finally found her home.
Rest In Peace Betty. You were loved and respected.
Tread Your Own Path!
P.S. I'm off for a couple of weeks for the school holidays to hang out with my kids.
LIGHT MY FIRE
SARAH WRITES: What are your thoughts on the financial independence/retire early ('FIRE') movement that is becoming popular. What negatives or positives do you see with following this idea?
BAREFOOT REPLIES: So FIRE stands for Financial Independence Retire Early.
Basically, you work hard, save and invest your money, so you retire early and live off the dividends.
There are three things to keep in mind when playing with FIRE: First, you need to make sure that FIRE isn't simply a decoy for just hating your job.
(And if you're miserable at your job, don't do it just for the money. That's like saving up sex for your old age).
Second, the FIRE movement's origins come from the US, where a lot of unhappy highly paid tech workers (see above) are saving their huge salaries to get their retirement number. Aussies' FIRE number will likely blow out because we have higher house prices and kids are notorious but glorious money pits.
Finally, it's said the two most dangerous years of your life are the year you are born and the year you retire.
Personally, I've followed the FIRE plan in my life: I've worked hard, saved, and now have passive income from dividends.
However I haven't retired, and I doubt I ever will. If anything, I'm busier today than I've ever been!
AND THE JUDGE'S GAVEL FELL
NATALIE WRITES: I have a court judgment against me for a $10,000 credit card debt, along with other credit card and personal loan debts that have accumulated to over $20,000. Over the last three years I have recovered from addiction and mental health issues, as well as homelessness.
Through hard work I have finally landed myself a stable job in the industry I studied at uni for, earning $96,500 a year. Still I cannot get ahead.
I would like to go bankrupt to wipe the slate clean and start again. Is this a good idea?
BAREFOOT REPLIES: Rising strong! Congratulations on your continued recovery. That shows courage and perseverance. You're a fighter.
Bankruptcy in my opinion, is not an option (you're earning too much dough!).
First things first, get a copy of your credit file, and see what's on it.
Then, you have a couple of options.
You could contact your lenders (specifically, their hardship department), and disclose that you took out the debt when you were suffering from addiction, mental health issues, and homelessness.
If you can provide supporting documentation from doctors and case study workers, you may be able to have the debt waived, under hardship and compassionate grounds (and there may also be ways to have the $10,000 court judgment waived as well).
Or you could choose to negotiate a realistic repayment schedule.
On your income you'd pay if off inside of a year. You Got This!
I'M NOT THE HIGH EARNER ANYMORE
DELIA WRITES: For the last 16 years with my partner I have been the higher earner and at times he has been unemployed.
We have always pulled through together but I have mostly carried the financial burden.
This year he has nailed a great contract and will earn 50 per cent more than me.
I don't know how to begin a conversation about where that money is going to go.
I don't want to sound like I am holding a grudge, but I also don't want him building a tidy nest egg while I have little to show for the sacrifices I have made. What do I say?
BAREFOOT REPLIES: You should blame me. Seriously, here are the exact steps you can take.
Step 1: Buy a copy of my book.
Step 2: Announce: 'I'm reading this book and it says we need to go on a date night to discuss our finances'.
Step 3: With a beverage in hand, say something like "for 16 years we've been a team - we've looked after each other financially - but for the first time in our relationship I feel financially vulnerable".
Step 4: 'The book says one way couples in long-term committed relationship can work through this is to open a joint transaction account, with a no questions asked pre-agreed spending limit. The book has instructions on the best account to set up, and we can do it before the entree arrives ….'
Step 5: Then stop talking. Listen to what he says.
If you have a burning money question, or you want to win a fight with your hubby, go to barefootinvestor.com and ask a question.
DISCLAIMER: The Barefoot Investor holds an Australian Financial Services Licence (302081). This is general advice only. It should not replace individual, independent, personal financial advice.