Sunday Tasmanian - - News -

ALTHOUGH I must con­fess, last year it didn’t work out so well. I bought my mother-in-law Marie Kondo’s The Life Chang­ing Magic of Clean­ing Up. She opened the present, scanned the ti­tle, and the look on her face said it all.

“Oh, I’m not say­ing you’re a hoarder … it’s just … a re­ally good book. Merry … Christ­mas”, I added. Si­lence. Any­way, you’re not go­ing to be that stupid, so here are the books I’ve got in my Santa sack this year:

(1) Fact­ful­ness: Ten Rea­sons We’re Wrong About the World — and Why Things Are Bet­ter Than You Think

Bill Gates says this is one of the most im­por­tant books he’s ever read. Au­thor Hans Rosling sys­tem­at­i­cally un­packs fake news, sen­sa­tion­al­ist click­bait, and doom and gloom head­lines with cold hard facts: ac­tu­ally, in al­most ev­ery way, the world is get­ting much bet­ter.

While the me­dia re­ports ob­ses­sively on the lat­est drama of the mo­ment, the up­ward move­ment of hu­man progress marches on with lit­tle fan­fare.

This book shows you how to look at the world in a ra­tio­nal, fact-based way. A per­fect gift for your manic de­pres­sive, we’re go­ing to hell in a hand­bas­ket, MAGA hat-wear­ing broth­erin-law.

(2) Where Are The Cus­tomers’ Yachts?

This year we’ve watched — gobs agape — at the sheer rat cun­ning of fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions: charg­ing dead peo­ple for ad­vice, rip­ping off those with a men­tal dis­abil­ity, and billing for ad­vice they never gave. Has it al­ways been this bad? Hell, yes! Al­most 80 years ago Fred Sch­wed wrote the book Where Are The Cus­tomers Yachts? The ti­tle of the book comes from a leg­endary story about a vis­i­tor to New York who stands ad­mir­ing the ex­pen­sive yachts of the Wall Street bro­kers. He naively asks, ‘where are all the cus­tomers yachts?’.

Of course, there were none. As ev­ery bank CEO knows in­tu­itively, the re­ally big money is made in pro­vid­ing fi­nan­cial ad­vice, rather than re­ceiv­ing it. This book will make you laugh and cry. A great book for any­one who is re­view­ing their su­per fund fees over the hol­i­days.

(3) How to Break Up with Your Phone

Our phones (and the apps on them) are de­signed to be highly ad­dic­tive. They ma­nip­u­late our brain, suck up ever in­creas­ing amounts of our at­ten­tion, and cap­ture the one true re­source we can never re­place: our pre­cious time.

Au­thor Cather­ine Price ex­plains how phones are chang­ing our brains, and pro­vides a four-week pro­gram that shows you how to break up with your phone, and form a health­ier re­la­tion­ship with your screen. (4) And here’s a great gift for … me. Yes, I’ll also be gift­ing my book, The Bare­foot In­vestor for Fam­i­lies.

I’ll con­fess: while I orig­i­nally wrote the book for par­ents and grand­par­ents, a huge sur­prise for me has been how suc­cess­ful the book has been with kids.

I’m pitch­ing it as a per­fect stock­ing filler. Af­ter all, the skills the book teaches will set their kids up for life. And that’s a pretty cool Christ­mas present to give, right?


I pur­chased your lat­est book, The Bare­foot In­vestor for Fam­i­lies, and gave it to my nine-year-old son, who has taken to it like a duck to wa­ter.

He is en­thu­si­as­ti­cally help­ing with cook­ing and has set up his three jam jars. He has a pre­sen­ta­tion at school com­ing up and, due to in­spi­ra­tion from your book, he wants to do his talk on why his school should give Comm­Bank the flick.

I don’t want to dis­cour­age him, as I too be­lieve in the cause — but is it some­thing best left for par­ents to bring up with the school?

What do I reckon? I reckon this sounds like a life les­son he’ll re­mem­ber for years to come. Here are a few things I’d talk through with your son: Ex­plain that a credit card is a very ex­pen­sive loan from a bank. Young peo­ple of­ten get them­selves in a lot of trou­ble with credit cards by bor­row­ing too much.

Credit cards tend to make ev­ery­thing you buy much more ex­pen­sive. For most peo­ple — es­pe­cially young peo­ple — the best credit card is no credit card.

And per­haps he could ask: Why does Comm­Bank’s Start Smart Pro­gram teach kids — in grade three — about the ben­e­fits of credit cards?

Then he could ask his teach­ers: Have you ever got in trou­ble with a credit card? When we get older, should we get one?

A big part of fi­nan­cial ed­u­ca­tion is to be scep­ti­cal about what banks (and ad­ver­tis­ers in gen­eral) of­fer up. You’re teach­ing your son to be an in­de­pen­dent thinker and to in­tel­li­gently and re­spect­fully ques­tion au­thor­ity.

In this case, he’s got truth on his side: there is no jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for al­low­ing a bank to spend mil­lions of dol­lars for the ex­clu­sive right to teach our kids this core life skill, much less for rolling out a mar­ket­ing pro­gram that is worth, ac­cord­ing to one an­a­lyst, as much as $10 bil­lion!

My daugh­ter would like to donate the con­tents of her money box to a char­ity. I re­ally want to take her to one in per­son, rather than do­ing it on­line, so she can be a part of the process. But I am find­ing it in­creas­ingly chal­leng­ing to find in­for­ma­tion on where we can do this — none of them seem to want to in­ter­act in per­son. Any ideas?

I think there are more mean­ing­ful ways to teach giv­ing than hand­ing over cash. In­stead, my ex­pe­ri­ence is that food is the per­fect way to teach your kids about giv­ing.

Rea­son be­ing, ev­ery kid knows what it’s like to be hun­gry: you can’t con­cen­trate, and you’re ir­ri­ta­ble un­til you eat. So, you can ex­plain that on a typ­i­cal day roughly three kids in her class will ar­rive at school hun­gry or with­out hav­ing eaten break­fast, ac­cord­ing to Food­bank. (This ex­plains why about 1750 schools across the coun­try have Break­fast Clubs,)

You can also ex­plain that just be­cause you can’t see their tum­mies rum­bling doesn’t mean they’re not hun­gry. Not only is food a pow­er­ful metaphor for kids, even bet­ter, your kid has the chance to do some­thing about it.

Last year char­i­ties across Aus­tralia had to turn away 65,000 hun­gry peo­ple each month be­cause there wasn’t enough food to go around. How­ever, there’s no need to start feed­ing the masses bread and fish like a mo­ti­vated mes­siah.

In­stead, when you’re next walk­ing around the su­per­mar­ket, ask your kids, “What can we buy for hun­gry peo­ple?” You can donate things like canned foods, spreads, cof­fee, flour, sugar and baby food.

Have your kids bring along some money from their Give Jar so they can buy food with their own money, and then on the way home you can drop it off at the lo­cal Food­bank ware­house, or your lo­cal com­mu­nity char­ity that dis­trib­utes food in your area (you can find their con­tact de­tails from your lo­cal coun­cil).

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