If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it at least three times: don’t take financial advice from Joe Hockey.
After the Reserve Bank cut interest rates this week to (new) historic lows, Joe covered his curlies by advising us that “now is the time to borrow and invest…now is the time to have a go”.
I walk past a line-up of well-to-do, middle-aged women, decked out in puffy coats and Gucci handbags — camping out on the sidewalk. They’ve been here all night in the freezing cold, lining up to secure the best seats. It’s worth it. By the time the sun rises, the line behind them will stretch literally as far as the eye can see.
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We’ve just had an historic week for Australia. So I decided to speak with someone who has lived through a century of our history: one-hundred-year-old Lorna Rickert, from the tiny town of Nobby, Queensland. I found her phone number and gave her a call. Barefoot: “Hello Mrs Rickert, I’d like to interview you for my newspaper column.” Mrs Rickert: “Well, I have an opening at 11.00 am. Otherwise I’m …
You’re earning how much? I asked, eyebrows raised, head cocked to the side.
“Well, I’m earning three times what you’re getting on your piddly UBank USaver, bucko”, said Craig, a fifty-something executive I met this week.
Craig wasn’t investing in shares. He wasn’t investing in property. He was investing in — get this — credit cards. But Craig isn’t a hacker — though he is using the latest technology, ‘Peer to Peer’ lending. (Which is pretty boring, so I call it ‘Dude to Dude’ lending.)
How does it work?
It was a corker of a deal.
In 2012 the Labor Government, fresh from ballsing up GroceryWatch, FuelWatch and RuddWatch, announced they were putting the screws on the Big Four banks.
It was pure political gold: Australians get slugged with some of the highest bank fees in the world, and we’re as mad as hell about it. Or at least A Current Affair is, as told through the eyes of some angry old bird they always seem to find walking out of a Westpac in Western Sydney.
Tuesday, 5pm, bath time.
I’m going toe to toe with my toddler Louie, and losing. Badly.
“Oh come on! You brush your teeth for your mother every single night! If she comes in here and finds you haven’t done your teeth, we’re both in trouble.”
But it was no use. The more I pleaded, the tighter he gritted his teeth.
I knew what he wanted.
It’s official: we’re a bunch of financial fatties. This week it was revealed that Australian households have the world’s biggest level of debt.
There’s a standoff at the high chair. Louie studies my face intently — looking for the slightest bit of leeway. I give him nothing, so he proceeds to chuck a tanty, throwing his corncob on the floor and crying like Bob Hawke. Thirty seconds later he’s giggling and eating his carrots again.
I had my very own “shoeshine boy” moment this week.
In 1929, wealthy investor, Joe Kennedy (JFK’s old man) was sitting down in New York City getting his shoes shined. When the shoeshine boy began giving him advice on which stocks to buy, Kennedy had an epiphany: it was time to sell. Legend has it that he rushed back and sold out all his holdings, just in time to avoid the 1929 stock market crash.