While support for this blog from the sisterhood has been fantastic, I’ve also been delighted by the number of men who have got behind it. My dad is one of these honorary Fierce Guys, and because I am studying for my last exam, he offered to do a guest post. What a legend.
So, here are some tips from a guy who lives the ideal retirement lifestyle, after a long and intense career in the corporate world.
A Fierce Girl dad chips in – by David White
I’d better fess up at the outset. I’m one of those baby-boomers. You know, the ones who got a free university education, lucked out in the property market, got the best out of the super system. What could I possibly have to say to the Gen Ys and Xs who have to live in a much less opportunity-rich environment?
Trust me, I know how lucky I’ve been and the media keeps reminding me if I forget. But I think there are a few rules applicable at any time, which is what my Fierce Girl has been trying to tell you. So that you don’t have to listen for too long to an old bloke’s pontificating, I just want to suggest three ideas you might consider.
I know it’s getting hard to trust the system when they keep tinkering with super. Do you really want to put your money into a game where the goalposts keep moving? Here’s the thing, though – even this penny-pinching government won’t change the rules backwards. They had a go recently and their own hard-arsed conservative mates forced a backdown. All the rule-changing has confirmed this – every bit you can get into your super account before the next bit of tinkering is a bonus that will pay you back later on.
I would say to you, stuff every bit of left-over cash you can manage into your super account, while the rules let you still contribute. Do it to the point where it hurts you just a little bit. In 20 or 30 years’ time you will love yourself for it.
One thing you need to remember, though, is that your super balance (even though you might not be able to get your hands on it for decades), is counted at its face value as part of your total asset pool in some cases. So if you find your Mr Darcy, and he turns out to be Mr Wickham, all your hardscrabble super would fall into the pot to be divided between you. It will hurt you to have to give that creep anything, when he’s been out putting new gadgets on his four wheel drive and drinking fancy single malt Scotch while you’ve been sensibly trying to assure your financial future together. And now he wants some of your super!
But think about this if that shit happens to you – what you have in your super can never be replaced if you have to trade it away as part of the split, because of those changing rules. Maybe let that freeloader have a bit more of the hard assets, and hang on to as much of the super pie as you can. Down the track you ‘ll be feeling smug when all he can afford is Johnny Walker Red and a secondhand Hyundai.
Don’t buy a Porsche
That may be the wankiest piece of advice you will ever get in the Fierce Girl’s Guide. But there was this one time, late in my career, when for the only time ever via some fluke in the market, the company had a great result and we maxed out our bonuses. The executive team did particularly well out of it (yeah, I know, fat cat bosses). Out of the seven of us, the car park count was: two of the most expensive Harley Davidsons you could buy; two Porsches; one BMW. One of us (a girl of course) put it towards the house she was in the midst of buying. Being the tight-arse I am, I paid off my last bit of debt.
Now I’m never going to have another chance to buy a Porsche. But every time I see some grey-headed dude drive past in one, it reminds me that I made a good decision.
What should you do if a bundle of cash falls unexpectedly into your lap? I would apply the 80-10-10 rule. With 80% of it, do something boring and sensible: pay it off your mortgage, invest it, stick it into super. With 10%, blow it on yourself and get something you’ve really lusted after but couldn’t prudently afford. Then give the last 10% away, to your family, to charity, to some cause you’re passionate about – it will feel amazingly good. You’ll end up with a triple shot of self-esteem, instead of that hangover feeling after you pissed the money away.
It’s not all about you
Without wanting to contradict all the good advice you get from this Guide, I want to suggest that you don’t button yourself down so much financially that you might be hurting people you love. I asked my Fierce Girl if I was too much of a tight-arse when she was growing up. She said, “It wasn’t too bad, but you should have taken us to Disneyland.”
She’s right, I could have afforded it, and going to Disneyland in your thirties just isn’t the same. Thus my unrelenting financial prudence was in some ways not so clever. Precious memories can give just as good a return on investment as bluechip shares.
So, you go for it, all you Fierce Girls. It’s a hard world out there, but you can do it. Oh, and remember your dads love you, and we’re proud of you.
Note from Belinda: If you haven’t seen Beyonce sing Daddy Lessons with the Dixie Chicks, do yourself a favour and go here.
Also, my dad and I have blogged together for ages on http://www.lifein500words.wordpress.com if you’re interested. #nerdfamily