Personal Finance 
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Why do I write so much about money?

This is a guest blogging post by Julie Ali.

I have enough of it. But perhaps I write about money because I am interested in how money divides people. Rich people, or people with a lot
of money have something that poor people do not have. At its’ simplest level, the presence of money makes choices available.

And I am a fan of choices. I like to be able to decide if I can work or not. I would like to be able to eat and have shelter during my retirement years. I know that there is a finite amount of money in my future and that makes me afraid. This fear, propels me in my current life to pay down debt and this pay down of debt, to some extent decreases the money available for current usage and therefore for consumption. And if consumption is the primary measure of our success and enjoyment of life, then I guess, I am not as privileged as the rich people are. This understanding that I am not rich makes me wonder: “if I am not rich, am I poor?”

But everything inside me rebels against the label of poor. To be poor is to be status less. To be poor is to be empty of labels = middle class ones at least. To be poor is to lack choices and freedom. To be poor is to be no body.

If indeed, I am poor and a nobody in this society – is that really so bad? I am free to think, read and write. I am free to do what I want to do for
most of my day. If I am tired, I lay me down to rest. If I am hungry, I eat. I am on nobody’s schedule and nobody makes me do what I do not want to do. However, somebody is financing this way of life – my husband. Is it fair to him to ask him to pay his life energy for my freedom? I don’t think so. We both need to do our fair share. Just staying at home with the boys is not sufficient return for the freedom of being a SAHM. Work needs to fill some of the available spaces in my life.

The work I do has function, form and a fixed schedule. It serves some role in the motion of the great dinosaur of a university but one day, I dream, I will move out of clerical work and do something better. But what? What types of work are better? All work involves some indignity to the natural soul of a person. Work crushes humour, bleeds out a person’s rich and diverse character and creates in it’s place a bland Tapioca ONE PERSON who does little but mouth stock phrases and leap from one mothballed response to another. There is a strong desire in me to rebel in the work environment; to throw off the incessant humming of the telephone, the computer, the printer and the cash register. I feel sometimes that I am going mad in the dead zone of the office.

But it gives me money. This money I show to myself to make me go to work. This money I stuff into envelopes to pay down our mortgage. This money buys me.

So if work and money are buying me – my time -then the topic of money does have relevance. It has relevance because my time is precious, the amount of time I have is limited and unknown, while in contrast, work is endless and painful.

Julie Ali loves to write and is a stay at home mom of two elementary school boys.


 Debt 
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Debt Pay Down FIRST

This is a guest blogging post by Julie Ali.

I have been reading with great interest, recent articles on the Internet, about the question of whether a person should pay down debt or first, accumulate an emergency fund. The debt pay down drains cash from your pocket while the emergency fund builds it up for future life accidents. Both of these uses of money are important ones but I, insist on debt pay down FIRST.

Why do I do this? Well, first, I think the emergency fund is overrated; if you are a disciplined saver, you will always be able to hoard money in nooks and crannies. Thus, if you are disciplined, you will always have money or will be able to build up a store of money and so the emergency account is of less importance in your life.

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 Personal Finance, The Home 
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A Case Against Owning Rental Property

This is a guest blogging post by Julie Ali.

It makes me laugh at all the articles in magazines, newspapers and on the Internet regarding how to make money on that last financial frontier – the ordinary citizen’s entry into rental house investment. These articles and the books that joyfully proclaim the good news about money for nothing (or almost nothing), suggest that anyone can make money by going out, buying a house, renovating it and renting it out to the multitudes of renters that are scouring the market for affordable housing. Who writes these articles anyway? And if they have made such a surplus of money and secured their own financial freedom, in this way, then why are they writing articles and books to make yet more money? In addition, if profiting from the rental house market were that easy, sort of like collecting eggs from quiescent broody chickens on a farm, then why isn’t every intelligent citizen putting all their financial eggs in the rental house basket?

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 Personal Finance 
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Financial Awareness – Starting a Conscious Spending Habit

This is a guest blogging post by Julie Ali.

One of the main reasons that we fail to become financially literate is a lack of financial awareness; by this I mean the conscious understanding of why we spend money. Of course we have a rudimentary idea of why we spend money: we spend money to live – for food, shelter, apparel and work.

But do we really know the other motives for our spending? Why do we spend beyond these essential needs? I believe we spend to make ourselves feel good, to feel that we are acceptable by the peer group of our choice and to alleviate boredom. The fact is for most of us, much of life can be down right tedious, boring, horrible or cruel. Nothing takes the sting out of criticism by the boss or a day spent in the vacuity of mindless toil as a new purchase (at least for some of us).

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 Frugal Living 
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Save Money by Throwing Out the Television

This is a guest blogging post by Julie Ali.

Unlike socially unacceptable addictions such as smoking nicotine, television viewing is seen as being relatively innocuous in nature. Most parents will plop their children in front of a television screen unaware of the fatal consequences of this act. I, myself, considered the telly to be educational at best, and a great free babysitter, at worst. This state of happy coexistence lasted until about 5 years ago, when I threw out the television and committed the whole family to a telly free treatment program.

Initially, the children and the hubby were not pleased. They were negatively addicted to the idiot box and considered that I was punishing them for being male. My brother and his family were aghast at this rebellion and wondered how the children were going to survive and prosper. Several pitying comments from other relatives and friends followed but I was obdurate and persistent: the television was a drug and we would not be pushing it anymore.

5 years later, the children (and the hubby) have survived the trauma of television lumpectomy and although, they tenderly massage the scar from the surgery in their memories – they have made peace with the surgeon. It has even been a growing experience for them. They have had to find other ways to fill in the holes in their day. They have had to play, write, draw, surf the Internet and even, horror of horrors – to read books. They have had time to visit friends, bike, swim in a swimming club on an almost daily basis, go to playgrounds, search for bug matter in the backyard, visit their grandparents, study and be bored.

An added bonus, is that we are not greeted with a chorus of “I want that, I really, really want that” for every new toy, movie and gadget that is advertised on the telly. Coupled with a refusal to take the children shopping (unless it is for their September clothes and shoes), the excision of the tumor of the television has saved us piles of money. Try it in your home. Don’t try to wean yourself off the telly – just throw it out. And while you are doing this surgery, throw out the Gameboy as well (and let me know how you do it – that is the next drug on my agenda).

Julie Ali loves to write and is a stay at home mom of two elementary school boys.


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