Advice for Money Week
Money week is upon us again so expect a lot of advice to come your way.
To me, Money Week, which starts on September 5, is a bit like Father’s Day.
It’s nice to get a bit of extra attention, but it doesn’t feel special.
When you’ve got children who make you proud, every day is Father’s Day.
Similarly, every week is Money Week when your job is writing about money.
Money Week does have a use though, and it is similar to the use many people put birthdays, Christmas and New Year to.
Dates on the calendar can provide moments to judge our progress.
I no longer get excited about my birthday (you don’t when you’re 45) but it’s a day on which I take stock, and judge my achievements and failures in the previous 12 months in the life of Rob. Ditto New Year’s Day. Some of the musing is moneyrelated, though lately the nagging sense I should have finished that best-selling novel has been growing.
A once-a-year date to focus on your financial progress isn’t a bad thing.
You could use Money Week, your birthday, New Year’s Day, any darned date you choose.
Keeping track helps keep us focused.
Aspirations will range from the modest to the grandiose.
For most people the focus will be two or three aspects of their money lives:
One: How rich they are as measured by their net worth (value of assets minus amount owed in debt).
Most people’s asset wealth is made up of two elements. The equity in property, and their KiwiSaver/retirement savings.
You will note I do not include the value of their ‘‘stuff’’. Stuff just makes you feel rich rather than signifying real wealth.
Debt mostly means the mortgage and consumer debt like credit cards.
Two: Their sense of financial resilience.
A survey by insurer Cigna shows four in 10 people who lose their job will run out of money to pay their bills within one month.
One month? That’s terrible. There has to be a better way to live.
Add in those who could manage for ‘‘a few months’’ and six in 10 people lack any meaningful financial stability.
Those are shocking figures. We are people teetering on the edge of insolvency.
Three: How secure their income is, whether employed, or self-employed.
As a wage slave, I have traditionally focused on killing the mortgage and saving/investing.
I haven’t had consumer debt in 20 years, and feel blessed for it.
I gave myself the liberty of saving at the same time as going hell for leather at the mortgage because I was willing to both sacrifice some of the luxuries of life as well as paying the price for not being among the six in 10 who’d be effectively bust within a few weeks of losing their job.
Choose a date, any date, Money Week, if you like, and make it your date for checking on your progress, and setting goals for the coming year. If you are anything like me, you will know what you need to work on. Access to health care can be a political and economic decision, as much as a medical one. Unmet need is rife within the public health system, high burnout rates are being recorded among medical staff, and – reportedly – most of the country’s district health boards are operating in the red, to the tune of $54 million of DHB debt overall, nationwide. Hardly an ideal backdrop as New Zealand assesses its ability to purchase the new generation of ultra-expensive ‘biologics’ drugs, which are coming to market just as the baby boomer generation hits the age brackets associated with an increased risk of cancer.
The new anti-cancer drugs – Keytruda and Opdivo have become household names – cost well into six figures per patient annually. Earlier this year, patients with melanomas campaigned publicly for access to these drugs. Eventually, Pharmac (and the ministers holding the purse strings) decided to provide state funding only to those patients with advanced skin cancer.
Last week, lung cancer patients found themselves in exactly the same position, of having to mount a very public – and highly political – campaign to qualify for similar state funding of their treatments. Meanwhile, equally expensive drugs (and stem cell treatments) for multiple sclerosis are hovering on the horizon.
All these drugs offer life changing – and in some cases, life saving – relief to people in desperate need. Pharmac is the meat in the sandwich, caught between rising public demand for sky-high expensive treatments on one hand, and Beehive-driven
Your money Talking politics