Category: Personal Finance

One Dollar Idea

dollar-signWhy pay a dollar for a bookmark?
Why not use the dollar for a bookmark?
– Steven Spielberg

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One Dollar Idea

Why not indeed! When a bookmark has ceased its usefulness, we get rid of it, whilst a dollar will always has value, which of course is subject to inflation. But a dollar is a dollar.

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big-pound-signIn the UK, the rough equivalent of a dollar is the pound. The pound has become really mighty in terms of its reputation of spendability.

Pound shops are growing exponentially. They are everywhere. Everyone goes out there to shop, the rich, the very rich, the middle classes, the working class and sometimes the down and outs.

Everything is for a pound but sometimes it is even less (especially if you shop at its sister company the 99p)

The first tine I went to a pound shop, I saw a huge Toblerone which I could not believe was only for a pound. I had to double check that it was for a pound, afterall just a few weeks before I paid £4.99 for the same size at the Duty Free. I just bought one because I know my Toblerone. I have been eating it regularly on a weekly basis for the past 29 years. I am an afficionado. 😉  Got home, unpacked the shopping. Sat down in front of the telly with my cup of tea and then slowly and rather gingerly unwrapped my Toblerone, I was rather half expecting that something untoward was about to happen. I don’t know, I thought it would be green or mouldy. But it was fresh, and delicious, and nougathy and crunchy and nutty and heavenly. It tasted like the kosher Toblerone. Result!!!

It gave food for concern thought.  Instead of Peter buying me the smallest size Toblerone weekly, I now have the full size one any day of the week? I don’t really want to get even fatter. Seriously!

Ooops I digress. Anyway in the pound shop you can almost get anything. They have even started selling milk, eggs, butter, bacon, sausages which I have to admit I would still prefer to buy from my local Sainsburys even if they could twice the price. I don’t know, it is just me.

Next Phase: Retirement

retirement

Next Phase: Retirement

Life begins at retirement.
– Anon

 

The phases of life are usually, from birth, getting an education, working for a living, retirement and then whatever comes next!  Of course this is not always the case as sometimes the grim reaper comes calling in before you even started to really live.

You also hear of cases now where the nanny state looks after the people in her very encompassing embrace and protection.  Just a few weeks ago I was talking to a man who was very proud of his disability.  He was only in his late 50s but he was half-boasting that he has not worked for more than 37 years and yet he and his family are comfortably housed, fed, and clothed.  (All he was worried about was how the new Universal Credit will apply to him and his family.  Again he is lucky as the Universal Credit is for the moment only affects those who are single claimants.)

I will not retire while I still have my legs and my make-up box.
– Bette Davis

At the other side of the spectrum, there are those who are only too happy to go on working as long as they can;  we have very dear friends who have worked all their lives, taking any kind of jobs along the way. They had just retired this year at the ages of 80 and mid-70.  They are both hale and hearty, probably because of their industrious ways and keeping busy all the time.

Peter and I attended a Retirement seminar a couple of weeks ago.  It was rather sobering to note that retirement is not all it’s cracked up to be.  Apparently, retirement is not really a time for that perceived and imagined comfortable life in the sun overlooking the seaside.  Retirement is just another obstacle course to navigate in one’s life.

I’m retired – goodbye tension, hello pension!
– Anon

If you don’t look after your money, your money won’t look after you.  The IFA conducting the seminar said that the number one foe of retirement is inflation. To start with, you might think that you have enough to live on, but can you still live comfortably in 10 years time when inflation has sunk its mighty claws into the basic necessities of everyday life?

Peter and I just hoped that the IFA gave us a frigthener to ensure that we invest the tax-free cash, which is 25 per cent of the pension pot.  But then again, he might have a point.  The salaries in the last 5 years have not really gone up but the prices of food, water, gas, electricity and fare have gone up exponentially.  These are basic necessities, things that we cannot do without.

It was only mentioned during the seminar that state pension is under consideration. It is being mulled about that it should be awarded at 70 of age for both men and women and that they needed to have both worked for a minimum of 35 years each (or to have previously claimed benefits for 35 years).

There are also the Inheritance Tax (IHT) to consider and most frighteningly, the dreaded Long Term Care.  If not thought out properly the home you paid for with crippling mortgage will not pass to your heirs.  Instead it could be forcibly taken out of your hands to pay for your long term care.

Another thing to really think about!!!

Saving for Retirement
And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.
– Abraham Lincoln

Retirement

download

Retirement is a phase in every working person’s life that comes sooner or later; many wish sooner rather than later.

But is retirement all what it is cracked up to be?

According to a British insurer, 1 in every 5 pensioners returns to work after retirement to alleviate boredom? Will you or are you one of the returnees?

Does life begins at retirement?

Is retirement an ending or a beginning?

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retirement

Fake Filipino Pesos from MLhuillier Money Transfer

Fake Monies from Money Transfer Agency

Someone from Facebook just posted this photo.  Apparently this P1000 note is a fake.   She was incandescent with rage and I do understand how she felt.

It is not right that the money transfers agencies like MLhuillier do not check for authenticity of monies they are issuing to their customers. It should be the first order of business to know that monies in their stocks are safe, secure and legitimate.   Afterall their clients pay premium fee to transfer monies to relatives back home to the Philippines.

Another thing, don’t make it too hard for a customer to put a complaint.  Try to cater to their concerns and not ignore them and sweep their problem under some dirty carpets.

To the customers, ensure that the money you received are not the fake ones. Probably a selfie while at MLhuillier or some other money transfer agencies showing the serial numbers of the money would help;  if you are a victim of the fakery,  report to the police this fake transaction at once.

fake money

Money, Money, Money

Money is human happiness in the abstract.
– Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)
 

Does Money make the World Go Round?!!!

I was taken aback when I read that there are so much that can’t be bought by money.   I thought everything has a price tag these days.

Anyway I saw a list of these 50 things in Facebook and I was forced to add my comment to a friend’s timeline disagreeing with some of those in the list.  I am afraid my comment was unappreciated. LOL

Below is that list and would appreciate your thoughts! 😉

money can't buy

I think most of the things above can be achieved more easily with money!

Below are quotes from the famous, the millionaires and the billionaires.  Surely they can give a better glimpse on how it is to have money, money, money!!! 🙂

 

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Money is power.
– Andrew Jackson

big-pound-sign
Money is the root of all evil, and yet it is such a useful root that we cannot get on without it any more than we can without potatoes.
– Louisa May Alcott
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A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes life merry, but money is the answer for everything.
– Ecclesiastes 10:19
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Always live within your income, even if you have to borrow money to do so.
– Josh Billings

😉
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Euro-sign At the back of every great fortune lies a great crime.
– Honore de Balzac
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Everytime you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.
– Anna Lappe
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I believe that the power to make money is a gift from God.
– John D Rockefeller
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If you can actually count your money, then you are not really a rich man.
– J. Paul Getty
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I’m not a paranoid deranged millionaire.
Goddammit, I’m a billionaire.
– Howard Hughes
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In suggesting gifts, money is appropriate, and one size fits all.
-William Randolph Hearst
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It is physically impossible for a well-educated, intellectual, or brave man t make money the chief object of his thoughts.
– John Ruskin

It isn’t necessary to be rich and famous to be happy. It’s only necessary to be rich.
– Alan Alda
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If money be not thy servant, it will be thy master. The covetous man cannot so properly be said to possess wealth, as that it may be said to possess him.
—Bacon
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I don’t like money, but it quiets my nerves.
– Joe Louis

LOST money is bewailed with deeper sighs
Than friends, or kindred, and with louder cries.
– Juvenal

Money is a good thing to have. It frees you from doing things you dislike. Since I dislike doing nearly everything, money is handy.
– Groucho Marx

Money, it turned out, was exactly like sex, you thought of nothing else if you didn’t have it and thought of other things if you did.
– James Baldwin

Not having to worry about money is almost like not having to worry about dying.
– Mario Puzo
One should look down on money, but never lose sight of it.
– Andre Prevot
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dollar-sign

PLAIN food is quite enough for me;
Three courses are as good as ten;
If Nature can subsist on three,
Thank heaven for three—Amen!
I always thought cold victual nice—
My choice should be vanilla-ice.

I care not much for gold or land;
Give me a mortgage here or there;
Some good bank-stock, some note of hand,
Or trifling railroad share:—
I only ask that fortune send
little more than I shall spend.

– Oliver Wendell Holmes.

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To be clever enough to get a great deal of money, one must be stupid enough to want it.
– George Bernard Shaw
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The only thing money gives is the freedom of not worrying about money.
– Johnny Carson
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The love of money is the root of all evil.
—1 Timothy 6:10.
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There’s certain part of the contented majority who love anybody who is worth a billion dollars.
– John Kenneth Galbraith
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yenWhoever said money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where to go shopping.

– Bo Derek

50p worth £120

Wouldn’t it be lovely if you reach into your pocket and find a 50p with the Kew Garden pagoda design.  Apparently these 50p coins are so rare and have become collectors’ items.  They are now worth £120. apiece.

I suppose it won’t hurt to go searching in your handbags, jackets, clothes with pockets, under the bed and don’t forget under the settee.  Lift those cushions, you never know…..

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Do you have a 50p worth £120?

Check your pockets – you could hold the rarest coin in circulation

Yahoo Finance UK

By  | Yahoo Finance UK The Kew Gardens 50p is the rarest coin in circulation

Yahoo Finance UK – The Kew Gardens 50p is the rarest coin in circulation

The 50p coin with a design of Kew Gardens on its face has been revealed as the rarest coin in circulation, with only 1 in every 300 people in the UK thought to have it in their change.

As a result, the commemorative coin is now being listed on eBay with a price of up to £120.

The Royal Mint unveiled the design in 2009 to celebrate the 250th Anniversary of the Royal Botanic Gardens.

But only 210,000 of the coins were released into circulation. This compares to 22.7million of the shield of the Royal Arms 50p design in 2008, and 7.5million of the Girlguiding 50p in 2010.

The Royal Mint is now encouraging people across the UK to check their change to see if have they have the “incredibly rare work of art” in their pockets.

Now that the coin has been announced as rare, it’s expected to fast disappear as people hold on to it, hoping that its value will further increase.

The UK’s Oldest Family Firms

It is amazing to see that England & Britain  have some  family owned and run businesses that from over 500 years ago are still trading today!

The UK’s Oldest Family Firms

Below is an interesting article By Lucy Wallis of BBC News.

Balson's butchers shop in the 1880sBalson’s butchers shop pictured in the 1880s

Some of the UK’s oldest family businesses have survived for almost 500 years. What have they been doing right to make them so enduring?

According to the Institute for Family Business (IFB), there are around three million family firms in the UK.

It says the 10 companies below are thought to be among the oldest. Each offers an example to other family firms hoping to keep going for generations.

RJ Balson & Son – Butcher – Established 1515

If Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon had visited Bridport in Dorset, they could have eaten meat sold by Balson’s the butcher.

Records show Robert Balson rented a market stall in 1515 in the “Shambles” – an open-air meat market where animals were slaughtered and blood would drip into the gutter on the street. A messy scene, the word shambles later came to be associated with disorder.

Descendants of Robert continued to rent a stall there. The family survived the arrival of bubonic plague in the town during the 17th Century.

In the Victorian era tragedy struck the business. Owner Arthur Balson, started living with a married woman and her young son Tom. During a game, Tom pretended to shoot Arthur with a gun, but did not realise it was loaded and accidentally shot Arthur dead in 1859. The business was taken over by Arthur’s younger brother Richard.

Balson’s is now run by Richard’s great-great-grandson Richard Balson and uses recipes handed down through the generations.

On sale are ox cheeks and Bath chaps – a west country term for pig’s cheeks.

Offering personal and attentive customer service has kept shoppers coming back over the centuries. Balson says he helps sort out his customers’ problems from behind the counter.

“Usually if they’ve got a problem it’s because they are not eating enough meat,” he adds.

R Durtnell & Sons – Construction – Established 1591

Durtnell's Builder's yardRichard Durtnell managed to raise £360 in 1802 to buy his new builders’ yard

Since the financial crash of 2008 over 7,000 UK building firms have gone out of business, but Durtnell and Sons, based in Brasted, Kent, has remained in business since the reign of Elizabeth I. Spotting new ways of working has helped the company thrive and in the early 1800s, owner at the time, Richard Durtnell, made a crucial decision to bring together all the craftspeople he needed, such as glaziers and bricklayers, in one yard. As a result of this innovation, he became one of the first general builders.

“I remember as a child going to London, there was a lot of arm-waving out the window, ‘We built this and we built that,'” says Alex Durtnell, who recently took over the business from his father.

“Sadly there weren’t in-car TVs back then, so we actually had to listen to what dad was saying, and I thought: ‘How boring is that.’ Of course now I do the same thing with my children.”

C Hoare & Co – Bank – Established 1672

A painting of the Fleet Street banking house dated 1829A painting of the Fleet Street banking house dated 1829

With two branches in London, this independent bank can trace its origins back to the reign of Charles II when founder Sir Richard Hoare began trading as a goldsmith and banker. His clients included diarist Samuel Pepys and Charles II’s widow Catherine of Braganza.

The bank’s headquarters in Fleet Street was built in 1829, where they issued cheque books and “washing books” or early bank statements. Since then the company has changed with the times, introducing online banking in 2008.

During World War Two, the headquarters was caught in a Nazi bombing raid, and staff had to use water from the bank’s well to extinguish the flames of the fire.

The tenth and eleventh generations of the Hoare family run the bank today and the company says the secret to their longevity is adhering to their core values and ethos – “to treat others as we would wish to be treated”.

Mornflake – Miller – Established 1675

Brereton Mill in Cheshire was also owned by Mornflake (image circa 1885)Brereton Mill in Cheshire was also owned by Mornflake (image circa 1885)

William Lea started milling oats at Swettenham Mill in 1675 in Cheshire and 15 generations later the company is still trading.

“Obviously technology has moved on and we have new equipment, especially to keep up with the demand for our oats, but the general milling principle has stayed the same,” says current managing director John Lea.

Mr Lea says constant innovation, investment and commitment to consumers is the key to staying in business. Innovation became particularly vital during World War Two. With home-grown, sustainable food a necessity in the war, then-owner Philip Lea was ordered by the Ministry of Food to leave the RAF and return home to Britain to “feed the nation”.

As the family mills struggled to cope with the excess demand, a new mill and factory was built. It was one of the few construction projects not involving munitions to get the go-ahead during World War Two.

James Lock & Co – Hatters – Established 1676

Lock & Co's shop in the 19th CenturyLock & Co’s shop in the 19th Century

Following the great plague of 1665 and the great fire of 1666, wealthy residents from the City of London moved to the west of the city in search of clean air. Entrepreneurial shopkeepers spotted the exodus and opened up businesses in the emerging West End.

Choosing the right location was crucial to establishing James Lock & Co. With a shop close to St James Palace, the firm became milliners to the gentry and the military.

Over the years customers included Admiral Lord Nelson, Sir Winston Churchill and Charlie Chaplin, but its most famous product was the very first bowler hat in 1850.

While its mainstay is traditional headwear, such as fedoras and Trilbies, the shop also makes sure it keeps up to date with the latest trends. So as well as holding Royal warrants to supply hats to the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales, Lock & Co says its hats have also been worn by Hollywood film stars and rappers.

Toye, Kenning & Spencer – Medals and regalia – Thought to have been established 1685

Toye & Co's metal work department in the 1930sThe metal work department of Toye, Kenning & Spencer in the 1930s

“It is an immense responsibility to take on a family firm like this. I think it’s very kin to a stately home, stately factory even,” says chief executive Fiona Toye.

Using traditional techniques, the company makes insignia and regalia, such as the ribbons and medals presented to awardees of OBEs and CBEs, and have even helped renovate state chairs for the Kremlin.

Starting out as artisan silk weavers in London’s East End, adapting to change and appealing to new markets has been the key to business survival.

In the 1850s, soldiers in the Crimean war wore bright red coats with detailed trimmings so they could be seen by their battalions amidst the smoke of the battlefield and Toye and Co were making this type of regalia by the late 1870s.

By the 1860s the company had already spotted opportunities for making silk trimming for working men’s groups like friendly societies, so when the military turned to khaki uniforms from the 1880s, the company spotted another gap in the market with other societies like the Freemasons.

The company also made epaulettes, a sash and a hat for leading suffragette Flora Drummond – nicknamed “The General” – in 1908, and embroidered four ornate banners for Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953.

“Family firms are experts at evolving, ensuring they remain competitive over the generations and relevant in the modern world,” says Fiona Graham of the IFB.

With the high costs of manufacturing in the UK, the firm may have to adapt to change again by moving production of some of their lower value stock overseas.

Folkes Group – Property and manufacture – Established 1697

An image from the old forge

Specialising in commercial property development and investment, this West Midlands-based company is now run by Constantine Folkes, the ninth generation to run the business.

Folkes evidently feels that staying true to the family’s roots has been crucial to keeping the business going. He still lives in the area where the firm was first created.

Berry Bros & Rudd – Wine merchants – Established 1698

Berry brothers shop exterior

Established by widow Bourne as a grocer’s in the neighbourhood of St James’s, London, the business supplied the new and popular coffee houses in the area.

In the middle of the 18th Century the tradition of weighing distinguished customers on the company’s scales began. Among those weighed were Beau Brummell and Lord Byron.

Berry brothers shop interior

In 1838, owner George Berry, became a special constable along with the future Emperor Napoleon III. During his exile in Britain, Napoleon III used the company’s cellars to conduct secret meetings ahead of his return to France.

The day after the sinking of The Titanic in 1912, the business received a letter from the White Star Line shipping company saying 69 cases of their spirits and wine had been lost on the ship. However the letter did not make any reference to the loss of life.

While preserving tradition, the company has stayed relevant in modern times by spotting new international opportunities, such as introducing wines from China to the shop in 2013.

Salts Healthcare – Healthcare products – Established 1701

Soldiers being fitted with prosthetic limbs at the Cherry street clinic in Birmingham

Former locksmiths John and William Salt started the business in the early 1700s manufacturing surgical instruments, but the company seems to have been adept over the years at responding to gaps in the market and social change.

In World War One they made artificial limbs for injured soldiers and now specialise in ostomy and orthotic products.

Aspall Cyder – Cider makers – Established 1728

A document dated 1729 contains information on the purchase of applesA document dated 1729 contains information on the purchase of apples

Tracing their history back to the Crusades as associates of the Knights Templar, Aspall Cyder is now run by Barry and Henry, the eighth generation of Chevalliers. According to their family tree, King Henry I can be counted as their great-grandfather, 26 times removed.

The business began when Clement Benjamin Chevallier, from Jersey, inherited Aspall Hall in Suffolk, but started to miss his favourite alcoholic drink.

Apple trees from Jersey were planted in the grounds and the brewery is still located at Aspall today.

As well as their long heritage, the company is not afraid to pioneer new techniques, producing vinegar as well as cider and apple juice.

Save Now to Spend Later: 52-Week Money Challenge

Making money is fun, but it’s pointless if you don’t use the power it brings.

-John Bentley

52-Week Money Challenge

This time of year is the perfect occasion to start saving.

Below are charts of how to start the money-saving; one in dollars and the other is in Philippine pesos. Just try to adapt it to your needs and liking. Easy does it. Not too much shock to the system so start low and when you have gotten used to the idea, it would be easier to increase the amount gradually.

The only challenge to this endeavour is to keep at it. Keep it going.

I shall definitely try this with my husband as we are saving for a trip to the Philippines next year. I shall be adapting it it to pound sterling!

money
IN PESOS

kuripot jar

In Pesos

money challenge

52 Week Money challenge. I have started with my pound coins. I was so excited I have done 3 weeks already. LOL

 

 

The Tea Kettle

Sometime we put the kettle on without any thought other than making that very welcome cup of tea. We are indifferent that the kettle is so full that we might as well be boiling enough for the tub to have a bath as well. LOL

It is only recently that I started boiling water which is enough for a cup of coffee/tea for me or for a couple of cups when my tea-drinking dearest husband is also at home.

This habit is not only money saving but causes less strain as well. Watching and waiting for a kettle to boil can be so stressful!!! 🙁

JXXX
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Overfilling kettle ‘wastes £68m’

Press AssociationPress Association – 59 minutes ago

 
Three quarters of households boil more water than they need, with overfilling costing them 68 million pounds a year, a report says


Press Association – Three quarters of households boil more water than they need, with overfilling costing them 68 million pounds a year, a report says

Three-quarters of British households are wasting £68 million a year by overfilling the kettle, according to a report.

Homes use nine billion litres of water every day, with showers using a quarter of the total and toilets taking 22%, the Energy Saving Trust (EST) Foundation found.

The study of 86,000 British homes found the average shower lasts seven-and-a-half minutes, while cutting 60 seconds off that time could save households £215 million on their energy bills each year.

Britons use more than two billion litres of water showering every day, with each person showering on average 4.4 times a week and taking 1.3 baths.

Just over a fifth (22%) of household water is used by kitchen appliances such as dishwashers, kettles, taps and washing machines.

The study found 95% of people boil the kettle every day, and 40% boil water five times a day or more. However, three quarters of households boil more water than they need, with overfilling costing them £68 million a year.

The average household washes dishes by hand 10 times a week and uses a dishwasher three times a week, the study found. But the EST said larger households could make greater energy and water savings by using an efficient, modern dishwasher rather than washing by hand.

EST water strategy manager Andrew Tucker said: “When people think of energy use they think of heating and lighting, running electrical appliances or filling the car with petrol. It’s all too easy to turn on the tap and not think about the consequences. But there is an environmental and energy cost attached to water which many people do not consider. On average, hot water use contributes £228 to the average annual combined energy bill.

“It’s clear that we are all using more water-consuming appliances regularly, especially showers, but that doesn’t mean we’re powerless to control our water use. By reducing the amount of water, especially hot water, that we use, we can cut down on the energy demands of our lifestyles, which have changed radically over the last 50 years.”

The EST said consumers could save money and water by installing an “eco” shower head, washing clothes at 30C and only filling the kettle to the required amount.

English & Poverty

This is a very interesting article which was tucked in somewhere in BBC News. Prof Chen at Yale had found out from research that the tense of a language is somehow dictates people’s habit of savings.

Languages that have future tenses tend to not save while the opposite applies to those without future tenses.

Other experts on his field have debunked his findings as saving is determined mainly by interest rate rather than tenses.

I would say saving is determined by having money to save in the first place and yes the discipline to put away money regularly no matter what language you speak.

Anyway Prof Chen might be into something but all we need is to keep an open mind as well as learn another language but not French. It should be either Mandarin or German.

Get enrolling for languages to get the lolly (money) for retirements or rainy days.

JXXX
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Why speaking English can make you poor when you retire

By Tim BowlerBusiness reporter, BBC News

Two heads in profile with dialogueNot all languages require the use of a future tense

Could the language we speak skew our financial decision-making, and does the fact that you’re reading this in English make you less likely than a Mandarin speaker to save for your old age?

It is a controversial theory which has been given some weight by new findings from a Yale University behavioural economist, Keith Chen.

Prof Chen says his research proves that the grammar of the language we speak affects both our finances and our health.

Bluntly, he says, if you speak English you are likely to save less for your old age, smoke more and get less exercise than if you speak a language like Mandarin, Yoruba or Malay.

Future-speak

Prof Chen divides the world’s languages into two groups, depending on how they treat the concept of time.

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“Start Quote

If your language separates the future and the present in its grammar, that seems to lead you to slightly disassociate the future from the present”

Keith Chen

Yale University

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Strong future-time reference languages (strong FTR) require their speakers to use a different tense when speaking of the future. Weak future-time reference (weak FTR) languages do not.

“If I wanted to explain to an English-speaking colleague why I can’t attend a meeting later today, I could not say ‘I go to a seminar’, English grammar would oblige me to say ‘I will go, am going, or have to go to a seminar’.

“If, on the other hand, I were speaking Mandarin, it would be quite natural for me to omit any marker of future time and say ‘I go listen seminar’ since the context leaves little room for misunderstanding,” says Prof Chen.

Even within European languages there are clear grammatical differences in the way they treat future events, he says.

“In English you have to say ‘it will rain tomorrow’ while in German you can say ‘morgen regnet es’ – it rains tomorrow.”

Disassociating the future

Speakers of languages which only use the present tense when dealing with the future are likely to save more money than those who speak languages which require the use a future tense, he argues.

English and French writing on a blackboard
  • Strong FTR languages: Chaha, English, French, Fula, Gamo, Hausa, Igbo, Italian, Moore, Russian, Tigrinya, Tamil
  • Weak FTR languages: Amharic, Dyula, Estonian, German, Malay, Mandarin, Oromo, Sidamo, Yoruba

So how does a mere difference in grammar cause people to save less for their retirement?

“The act of savings is fundamentally about understanding that your future self – the person you’re saving for – is in some sense equivalent to your present self,” Prof Chen told the BBC’s Business Daily.

“If your language separates the future and the present in its grammar that seems to lead you to slightly disassociate the future from the present every time you speak.

“That effectively makes it harder for you to save.”

Even more controversial, is Prof Chen’s assertion that language differences underpin wider differences in people’s behaviour.

In his research paper, he says that compared to speakers of languages which use a future tense, speakers of languages with no real future tense are:

  • Likely to have saved 39% more by the time they retire
  • 31% more likely to save in a year
  • 24% less likely to smoke
  • 29% more likely to be physically active
  • 13% less likely to be obese

Far-fetched?

Not surprisingly, Prof Chen’s findings have been criticised by both economists and linguists.

They argue there are a number of cultural, social, or economic reasons why different language speakers behave differently.

It is a point Prof Chen acknowledges, saying “I completely agree, it seemed far-fetched to me when I started doing this research as well.”

But he says his research has controlled for all these factors, by concentrating on nine multi-lingual countries: Belgium, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Estonia, DR Congo, Nigeria, Malaysia, Singapore, and Switzerland.

“You can find families that live right next door to each other, have exactly the same education levels, exactly the same income and even exactly same religion.

“Yet the family that speaks a language that doesn’t distinguish between the future and the present will save dramatically more,” he says.

In Nigeria, for example, Hausa has multiple future tenses, while Yoruba does not.

“You can find Nigerians who speak Hausa and Yoruba who live next to each other and yet have radically different savings behaviour.”

Findings challenged

“Start Quote

The extent to which the language shapes the thought is tiny”

John McWhorterColumbia University

But Morten Lau, director of Durham University’s Centre for Behavioural Economics, says the factors which affect how much people save have little to do with language.

“In my own work with savings, it is interest rates that determine savings behaviour.”

Prof Lau says there are often significant differences within language groups, and just using the average of these results in analysis can prove problematic.

“You have to be careful the inferences you make from correlations like these. It is very difficult to control for multiple factors.”

“For instance, in our own research in Denmark, we found that male smokers wanted a higher interest rate on their savings than did non-smokers. But that this did not apply to women smokers.”

‘A tempting idea’

Linguist John McWhorter, of Columbia University, says any influence a language’s structure has on the way its speakers see their world is extremely subtle.

“The extent to which the language shapes the thought is tiny. We’re talking about milliseconds of reaction.

Stack of language booksLanguage has very little effect on the way we think, say linguists

“None of it has ever been proven to have anything to do with how people see the world or experience life.

“It’s a tempting idea that simply doesn’t make any sense.”

Also, he says, some languages have been wrongly classified, thus undermining the statistical correlations.

“Russian, and languages like it, are a lot more like Mandarin than Keith Chen thinks.”

Despite his critics, Prof Chen insists his findings are robust.

“What’s remarkable, is when you find correlations this strong and that survive so many aggressive sets of controls, it’s actually hard to come up with a story of what else might be causing this.”

So what does Prof Chen think of the idea that if he is right, then English speakers who want to start saving more for their retirement, should start talking entirely in the present tense?

“It actually seems like encouraging yourself to think in the present tense makes it a little bit easier to engage in self-control.”

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