Category: Relationships

How much should you spend on an engagement ring?

As Australians vote on marriage equality, and the phrase ‘diamonds are forever’ marks its 60th anniversary, I thought it appropriate  to ask how much you should spend on an engagement ring.

One usual answer is “three months’ salary”. Sometimes you may hear “as much as you can afford”. There are even (extremely depressing) calculators to “help” hopeful fiances to calculate an appropriate figure.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, however, you’ll realise “how much should you spend on an engagement ring?” is of course a trick question.

But it is one that is interesting for us all -of any gender, sex, sexual identity, or marital status – to consider.

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Are you your own boss?

‘You’re not the boss of me!’ It’s a common cry you might hear from a child. But as we get older, and go out to work, most of us do end up with someone we call our boss. Almost 90% of American workers work for someone else.

Early last year, I took out a T-shirt I had been waiting to wear for a while. It was one I designed myself.

Across the front, in the largest letters possible, it read ‘CEO of me’.

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What are apps teaching kids about money?

While both parents and children report schools aren’t doing enough to teach financial literacy, 75% of American parents (and 74% of kids) believe financial apps are ‘a good way to teach [kids] about financial matters’.

Games tied with food as the number one purchase made by kids, followed by toys (tied with clothes). A survey conducted by Australian parenting website raisingchildren.net.au also found that entertainment, toys and games represent the biggest pocket money spend.

But what kinds of lessons might kids be learning from apps?
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What are toys teaching kids about money?

Last year, I took some photos of my mother’s toy cash register for a blog post. Around the same time, a couple of our friends came to stay with their young daughter. She had a toy cash register of her own (which I also photographed). The two toys looked pretty similar (the newer version had an electronic display, and came with a paper ‘credit card’).

The role of artefacts like games in language development has long been an interest of mine. When I saw these two cash registers, I became interested in the role of toys and games in financial literacy.

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Are the wealthy rich because they’re smart?

Are rich people rich because they’re smart?

Or to put it another way, are you not rich because you’re not smart enough?

According to a study conducted by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 69% of people believe ‘there is enough opportunity for virtually everyone to get on in their life if they really want to’. In other words, if you’re poor, it’s your fault.

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How can I get my family on board with saving?

When it comes to spending, it’s easy to get excited. You don’t have to try hard – advertisers do all the work for you, making the acquisition of shiny new things look and sound fun and appealing.

Spending, however, requires a little more creativity on our part. But even if you manage to get hyped about saving yourself, your family might think you’re a grump if you’re constantly reminding them to switch off the lights and close the doors and buy the cheaper detergent.

So how can you get your family on board with saving? How can you use the same sorts of tricks advertisers do to make spending seem so appealing to convince your family – and perhaps yourself! – that saving is the best course of action?

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How can I escape the herd mentality?

The herd instinct is ‘a mentality characterized by a lack of individual decision-making or thoughtfulness, causing people to think and act in the same way as the majority of those around them’. It’s a familiar term in investing, where investors are influenced by the positivity – or negativity – of others, and their behaviour then feeds into the market, perpetuating this cycle and sometimes leading to bubbles or crashes.

But the herd mentality I want to talk about today is the one that is much bigger than the stock market, and permeates almost all of our money (and other) decisions.

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Do you have Affluenza?

‘Affluenza’ – a portmanteau or blend of the words ‘affluence’ and ‘influenza’ – is said to be a ‘virus’ caused by a combination of consumerism, property fever, and the battle of the sexes, resulting in consumer debt, overwork, waste, environmental harm, psychological disorders, alienation, and distress.

Over the past decade or so, a number of books have been published under the title Affluenza. The word first appeared sometime between the 50s and the 70s, taking off in the 1990s following the broadcast of the American documentary of the same name, and the subsequent book by John de Graaf, David Wann and Thomas Naylor in 2001. They define ‘Affluenza’ as:

‘a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more.’

Like many novel neologisms or coinages, the term is not without controversy. At least one psychologist wants to ‘eradicate this word from our vocabularies’.

So how can you know if you have ‘Affluenza’? And how can it be treated – or immunised against?

Click to play the ‘Do you have  Affluenza?’ podcast:

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Are we speaking the same language?

Do you feel like you and your partner are talking different languages when it comes to money?

In intercultural communication research, we talk of two different ways for communication problems to occur – miscommunication, where communication occurs but is misunderstood, and communication breakdown, where communication ceases.

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