Points of Interest – Summer 2015 Do the time, earn a dime

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Selling sand in the Sahara

This article, by Justin Baiocchi, was originally published in The Northern Daily Leader on 13 February 2016.

A couple of people recently commented to me that they had read the headline of my last article, thought it was interesting, but didn’t get round to actually reading the article. My first thought was that they obviously didn’t scare easily, as the headline read ‘The end is nigh’. But then again, newspaper articles with civilization-ending headlines are hardly new these days, where every newspaper subscription should come with a lifetime supply of Prozac. Reading (or watching) the news is rarely an emotionally uplifting activity, as the news media slavishly follow the old adage of ‘bad news sells’.

My second thought was that I appreciated their honesty – ‘Hey! I liked the look of your article, but only had time to read the headline, sorry’. It’s a bit like ordering food at a restaurant but leaving before it arrives and saying to the chef on the way out – ‘The food sounded great on the menu but I just don’t have time to eat it, but thanks anyway’. But I can’t blame them, I’m just as guilty when it comes to skimming through the newspaper. It’s all the same stories everyday anyway – political crisis? Check. Economic crisis? Check. Murder, murder, murder? Check, check, check. By then you’re onto the sports section which is just stories of bad behaviour and drug cheats. And it’s not like this is a new phenomenon –the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald from the 10th of November 1975 (to choose a date at random) contained vital news regarding a government budget crisis (so no change there), deaths by drowning, deaths from horseback, international espionage and a financial crisis. So 2015 all over again really, bar the fact that we all evidently commuted to work on horseback in the 1970’s.

However, while sticking to just the newspaper headlines is acceptable, don’t make the same mistake when it comes to your money. You’ve got to know the details. Where is your money going? What is it costing you? What are the risks? Can you get at it if you need it? Who’s in charge of it? What’s the worst thing that could happen to it? Asking these questions should be the basics in assessing any potential financial investment. It’s strange how people will drive across town to save a few dollars at a cheaper fuel station, yet will leave their retirement savings in some hopelessly inappropriate investment, all because they didn’t go beyond the glossy front page of the marketing material. And if that’s you, there’s probably a guy with a sand-making factory in the Sahara who would like a chat with you.