Personal finance topics I’m so over

personal finance topics i'm so overSaving for your kids’ university vs saving for your retirement

I may be biased.

In New Zealand, everyone can get an education, if they are so inclined. Schooling is “free” (annual fees, or “donations” as they call them, are just short of being compulsory – but you can get away without paying them. I didn’t pay my fees in the last year of high school as I was financially supporting myself and that $150 or whatever was a lot of money. It does mean you might miss out on certain things, like getting a yearbook, and of course you have to pay for school trips and stationery and whatnot). And everybody is entitled to an interest-free government student loan to cover your tertiary education.

But you know what? No matter where in the world you live, some things don’t change. You, and you alone, are responsible for your financial situation. Nobody else will put your interests first. So if you don’t, what do you expect to happen to you?

Sure, you can help out your kids, if you would like to and can swing it. I know fees in the US are reaching ridiculous new highs. But you won’t be doing anybody any good by jeopardising your own twilight future and potentially becoming a burden on your offspring later down the track.

Do both by all means. But put one of these priorities – yourself – first, and don’t go for the other on its own.

Why buying name brand items is a waste of money and how a kitten/fairy/unicorn dies every time you do it

Look, there really is no difference sometimes. Budget milk is the same as Anchor (and even if not, the price difference is too staggering to make me fork out for the blue label). Budget pasta is the same as the next brand up, and a few more beyond that. Heck, T gets by just fine wearing Warehouse own-label jeans, though he does spend most of his time in Dickies.

Here’s the thing, though. Some generic brands are downright godawful. No-name ketchup. Instant noodles. Canned vegetables. I’ve done it, and never again. That’s wasted food I couldn’t stomach, that never got finished, and money down the drain. I know what items it pays to pay a little more for, and I stick to it.

Cellphones are a luxury and if you think otherwise, you’re a spoilt, entitled Gen Yer

I work in media. Having a cellphone is expected (and in fact I now have a work phone). But even when I worked in hospitality, I was still expected to be easily reachable for last-minute shift changes or in the case of another job, to be contacted in regard to my availability to serve at various functions and events. You don’t have to be super important and way up the hierarchy to be needed, if you know what I mean.

Cellphones don’t need to be expensive, either. I’ve had a phone since about 16 (I’m now 23) and in those years, I rarely spent more than $20 a month. A home phone costs more than that, with extra for voicemail. (Incidentally, we do have a landline with our broadband package, but doesn’t actually work with our modem – we have to unplug it to use the phone – and we use it so infrequently I can’t be bothered doing anything to remedy the situation.)

Any blog topics you’ve had enough of, finance or otherwise?

33 thoughts on “Personal finance topics I’m so over

  • Reply addvodka March 27, 2012 at 17:00

    The last one is the worst. I’m in HR, and some employees almost lose their jobs by not having cell phones; their availability is shot, ignore home phone calls or let their kids take messages that they never relay and therefore don’t comply with important laws and regulations (like criminal record checks). I wouldn’t be graduating school without my cell phone; my classmates expect that I have one and expect that I answer their texts/calls about group projects. A home phone would be downright ridiculous for somebody who is out of the house for 17 hours a day.

    • Reply Funny about Money March 20, 2013 at 03:46

      Who wants to be on call 24-7? And when did employers get the idea that they’re entitled to pester employees after working hours? Could there be a reason your employees refuse to carry an electronic tether? And if they lose their jobs and find a less intrusive employer, possibly that would not be a tragedy. 😉

  • Reply Tracey March 27, 2012 at 19:17

    I agree with all three topics. Another one I’d add is “cut out your daily coffee and save $X each year!”. Seriously, how many people actually buy a $5 coffee every day? What about the struggling couple or single mother trying to feed and house a family on minimum wage? What can they cut out? Ditto all the articles on trying to earn more. For many people it’s a struggle to find the time to take on a part time job or entrepreneurial venture, especially if they have young kids or a disability, or act as a caregiver in any other capacity.

    I’d like to see more articles on frugal cooking or practical skills you can learn that ACTUALLY save money (often they don’t, have a huge initial outlay cost or the savings just aren’t worth the extra effort). Or, taking your cue, perhaps articles on what budget-brand food items are identical to name-brands and which are poor quality (homebrand cola is the worst!).

  • Reply Cassie March 27, 2012 at 19:33

    I’m with you on the cell phone one. I got rid of my landline and went cell phone only a few years ago. My parents live almost 800km away from me; it’s one of our few modes of contact. I’m almost never home. Am I supposed to give up the cell phone and reinstall the landline that never got used because I’m away from home 75% of the time? I think not. Times change.

  • Reply liquidindependence March 27, 2012 at 19:44

    I agree that buying brand name products can make better sense. I scrub like it’s serious business so I need a quality loofah, and those cheap poufs at the dollar store break apart too easily.

  • Reply Leigh March 28, 2012 at 04:18

    Ugh, I totally hear you on the brand names. One of my college roommates refused to buy Campbell’s soups, in favor of the generic ones and oh god did those taste awful. I’m sticking with the brand. Same thing with tissues.

  • Reply nicoleandmaggie March 28, 2012 at 05:32

    Work-life balance for mothers. *yawn* Maybe in general I still have some interest in the topic, but man, I’m so sick of the working moms aspect.

    (Disagree on milk– the brands that are local taste AMAZING compared to the brands that are from out of state. Of course, one of our store brands is local.)

    • Reply eemusings March 28, 2012 at 07:38

      We’re a tiny country, so “local” milk doesn’t really exist here… (and being a dairy country we don’t import it)

  • Reply ambergwtrh March 28, 2012 at 07:38

    I plan on saving for my retirement AND my kids education. How? By starting now at age 23 (actually age 22 was when I first started putting money in an RRSP). I will also start saving for my kids education as soon as they’re born. When you start early and put a little bit away each paycheque it’s really not that big of a deal!!

  • Reply Mo' Money Mo' Houses (@momoneymohouses) March 28, 2012 at 10:35

    Love it! Totally agree with you in regards to saving money for your kids education. I paid for my degree myself and I’m glad I did. I don’t think I would have been the independent person I am today if it was all paid for me and I didn’t have to have a job to support myself while at school.

  • Reply Jane March 28, 2012 at 11:27

    I agree with all three, and I think you worded them well. With regards to #3, I don’t think (as a relatively young person) that it would be a smart career move not to have a cell phone. Most job opportunities in my area are in Gen X/Y, tech-savvy industries, and I would be considered an odd duck (or more likely, not considered for a job or promotion at all) without a cell phone.

  • Reply insomniaclabrat March 28, 2012 at 15:36

    I agree, with all 3!

    Most processed things I’ll buy generic, except peanut butter, which I will only buy Jiff. I don’t like the taste of generic. I try to buy local for produce, meat, and milk, and I’d rather support my community and know (at least a little) where my food is coming from. There is one processed food item that is made/company is headquartered in my hometown, and I always feel like I’m supporting my hometown when I buy that brand…

    And when it comes to cell phones, I’m much more comfortable driving if I have a phone on me. I’ve been in accidents before, once in the middle of the night, and I’m REALLY glad I didn’t have to walk around in the middle of the night trying to find a phone.

  • Reply My Broken Coin (@MyBrokenCoin) March 28, 2012 at 16:45

    Can I add a few, please, please? 🙂 How to save on groceries, Roth IRA vs Traditional IRA, how to reduce your expenses by cutting cable out of your budget, how to pay off debt in ten steps, how to choose the right bank, how to close a bank account … Oh boy… I think most of the PR topics are getting to me lately. 🙂

  • Reply youngprofessionalfinances March 29, 2012 at 09:05

    I’m so tired of the “How to spend less on gas!” posts. I understand that rising gas prices are a concern but really, I think it’s pretty obvious that you can save money by walking or taking public transportation. Also, I’m not sure how much excess stuff I can take out of my car that will help me save any significant amount on gas. And thank you for telling me to drive slower. I’ll do that.

    • Reply Nathalie April 2, 2012 at 18:14

      I so disagree on that. Not everyone lives in a metropolitan area, you know. In my neck of the woods there is NO public transportation and very few sidewalks. My husband has been commuting (by car, the only option) 1 hour each way for 10 years because jobs in his field just don’t exist near our house. And biking isn’t an option either. Ever tried riding a bike in your work clothes in Florida during most of the year? Yeah. The heat and humidity will kill you if the local drivers don’t first 🙂

      • Reply youngprofessionalfinances April 7, 2012 at 07:52

        Oh, I didn’t mean that! I meant that I’m so tired of seeing people write the SAME things – always writing that to save gas, people should walk/take public transportation. I think it’s “obvious” that those ways save money but that they definitely aren’t an option for everyone – there’s a reason I still have to drive to work.

        Sorry my comment didn’t come across like that!

  • Reply The Happy Homeowner March 29, 2012 at 09:39

    Awesome post! I agree with everything, especially the brand-name one. While I may purchase generic convenience items (paper towels, cleaning supplies I know are the same as the brand-names, etc.), I do choose to buy brand-name when quality and/or taste are most important. When I purchase new shoes, I’ll pay a bit more for ones I know will last me because I’m not going to just wear them once and completely forget about them/toss them away.

  • Reply bluecollarworkman March 30, 2012 at 03:29

    Cell phones ARE a luxury! THANK YOU! I feel like I”ve been the only one saying that. My 10 year old has been begging me for a cell phone because everyone else has one, but I’m not sure she realizes what a luxury it is!

  • Reply bluecollarworkman March 30, 2012 at 03:32

    Not sure if my comment went up or not — Just wanted to say THANK YOU for the part about cell phones being a luxury. They are sort of expected these days, even if you’re a lowly worker bee and so they really aren’t a luxury then. Now I just have to decide what to do about my 10 year old begging for one now.

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  • Reply Melissa April 2, 2012 at 01:21

    Oh man, the cell phone thing! I am so with you! If one more person writes about spoiled Gen Yers that are “constantly fiddling with their cell phones and not paying attention to the world around them,” I’m going to lose it! I also work in he media, and a cell phone and high-speed Internet are absolutely necessitates. Without either, I would be totally unable to work. But apparently to the entire over-35 set, that just makes me entitled and silly and poor with money.

    That’s another personal finance topic that I’m totally over, that owning or doing X always means you’re bad with money, just because it *sometimes* means you’re bad with money.

  • Reply Michelle April 2, 2012 at 17:47

    I agree with you on these! I also hate the “don’t have fun if you’re in debt.” What am I supposed to do? Just eat ramen, drink water and live in a box (and rent it out) until my house is paid off?

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  • Reply hopetoprosper April 4, 2012 at 11:30

    I’m over the endless Rent vs. Own debate, especially from snarky idealists with faulty statistics. The people who can’t save up a down-payment, have no business telling others that a house is a bad investment. The smug homeowner needs to understand that others want the freedom to move or they may not want the huge liability.

    I say, to each his own.

    • Reply eemusings April 4, 2012 at 12:58

      Oooh, good one! Can’t believe I left it out.

    • Reply oilandgarlic April 10, 2012 at 09:18

      Good one! Home owners seem to think a house is ALWAYS an investment, even if they only put 5% down and have a high interest rate. I’m a renter but I see both sides.

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