Life Hacks, Uncategorised

10 times Arguing Enough has changed the world.

My family had a zoom on the weekend. Everyone sat around chatting, spending time with each other, hanging out.

It was fun.

One thing my nephew said struck me—we were talking politics, and he was annoyed by people who “think if they just argue enough they can get whatever they want”.

It’s an interesting point. Basically the premise is that people are powerless, and we have no right to want things to be different.

I think this is wrong.

So, for anyone feeling fatalistic or powerless out there, this blog post is for you.

It’s 10 examples from my life and history where arguing with politicians has changed the world.

  • Backpaid Rent

In 2014 I lived in a rent-controlled apartment. My rent went up unfairly and stayed up for too long. I contacted my landlord, who did nothing. I then contacted the Mayor of the city I live in, who was kind enough to write to my landlord. My landlord reduced my rent, and back-paid me 6 months of rent at the reduced rate. Win!

In the 1990’s a park close to where I live was going to be turned into apartments. Many people were distressed by this. The community got together and protested, and protested and protested. We won. Those parks are still parks, and there’s a plaque on them celebrating the community.

We are so lucky
  • Law Changed Due to Suggestion

My Mother-in-law’s local member was having a question and answer night in the local RSL. She went along and suggested a tweak to a law that was currently being debated. The local member heard it, thought it was a good idea, and my Mother-in-law’s tweak was included in the law.

In 1965 a group of Anglo-Saxon and Indigenous Australian students rode through country towns of NSW trying to highlight racism and put a stop to it. This played a role in the 1967 referendum where Indigenous Australian’s were included in the Constitution as citizens of Australia with the right to vote and were no longer considered flora or fauna.

In 1997 my whole science class wrote to our local members, asking for Dugongs to be protected. Over the past 20 years, a lot of other people have done the same. Until 2017 Australia had a National Dugong and Turtle Protection Plan. Most Dugongs living in Australia live in marine parks (restricted boat speeds, and mesh net fishing restrictions).

In 2017 Australia voted to allow gay and lesbian people to marry. This followed a long running campaign of activism and public education about gay people.

Between 1976 and 1991 all Australian states changed their Marital Rape laws to mean that if one member of a partnership forced the other to have sex, they were criminally liable. This followed a long campaign of activism by feminists and other groups.

One of the most beautiful people I know

In Australia we have Work Health and Safety Laws. These provide Workers Compensation for any workers who get injured, and make managers criminally liable for the safety of staff. These were brought in after a long campaign by Unions and other groups.

In 1948 Australia brought in the 40-hour work week. This followed years of Union campaigning. Since then, we’ve introduced a 38-hour work week. There is work to be done here, though, as many salaried workers hour’s are much higher.

In the years leading up to 1215, a group of Barons threatened to rebel against King John I in England. In 1215, John created the first elements of English Democracy. He gave some of his powers away to the Barons and gave them the right to make some decisions through a council. This eventually (with much work) lead to the Democratic processes we have today.  

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By reading this blog, you agree that you read it under your own risk, and Gill’s Practical Bookkeeping is in no way responsible for any harm or prejudice to yourself, your business, or any fictional examples above.

I am not a financial advisor. I do not have an AFSL. I am a chick who likes to read, think, write, and has access to google. You should treat this blog with the same seriousness that you would treat anyone whose main qualification is access to google. This blog is for entertainment purposes only. It’s a little like watching Big Bang Theory for nerds or artists.

Anything you take from this blog is your responsibility. Nothing in this blog, even if you are mentioned by name, address, and telephone number, pertains to your personal situation. Anything you agree with, or disagree with, you are welcome to comment on, but your opinions belong to you. You are responsible for your comments. If they are offensive, I will remove them.

http://www.nuancedtruths.com

https://www.patreon.com/gillspracticalbookkeeping

Life Hacks, Novels and Creative Writing, Trigger Warning!, Uncategorised, Unfinished Symphony

Unfinished Symphony, A Novel Chapter One: Life on Mars

Well, Hi Everyone.

I finished Chapter One!

Download the pretty version if you’d like, or plain text version below.

If you like this work, and you want to support writers and artists, or have a chance to write yourself, remember to donate to my patreon.

Thank you! Even if you’re just reading it, thank you.

Gill.

Chapter One: Life on Mars

I am alive. This is one of the hardest and most beautiful things to be.

I spent so long trying to kill myself.

I still want to kill myself on a regular basis.

But right here, right now, I’m alive. And I am glad.

The will to live is like a pesky, persistent house plant. Some kind of creeper, that you bring home and think ‘I wonder if you’ll survive’ and low and behold, a year later it’s crept all along the mantelpiece and you’re thinking ‘Huh. I’m sharing my space with you; how can we manage this?’ And you know that neglect is not the answer. And you know that if you keep watering it and feeding it, you’ll be living in Little Shop of Horrors. So you prune it, and water it, and love it, and feed it a little. Then you hope that what you do is enough to bring out its beauty and purpose while you’re managing all the natural contradictions and tragedies of the world.

My memories are a mess of contradictions. I can remember my parents buying me a pair of glasses and a warm coat. This was evidence that they loved me and took good care of me; it was evidence that they prioritised my needs over their wants. The only price? My eternal loyalty, silence, gratitude, and servitude.

What do we owe the people who love us? What do we owe the people who hurt us?

If I, by my own volition go to an aquarium and buy a fish, and I take it home and take care of it, and love it and feed it, and buy it medicine and change its water, and pay my electricity bill so the filter works on the tank—what does that fish owe me? Does it owe me its life? I buy pets so that I have the joy of observing them being perfectly themselves. Do they owe me anything, besides the true expressions of their natures?

Rachel Naomi Remen, says that all true love is unconditional—conditional love is merely approval. To be seen, accepted and loved, is a heady and intoxicating drug. I have been both a user and dealer of this drug for a long time. I feel the shame in me, and I see the shame and pain in others, and I think ‘So that’s you. Mmmm. Well, that’s me too.”

But I’m alive.

Strange as that may feel.

My body is fresh and quick and changeable.

My mind is slow and solid and confused.

And my soul? Hard to tell.

Because it’s not just people that I owe a debt to, and it’s not just society. I also owe a debt to life itself. And this pesky, spreading weed that is the will to live keeps reminding me and reminding me: ‘Whoa. Beauty. The amazing beauty of the things in the world. Whoa.’

The first time I tried to kill myself I was around 20. My sister had been suicidal at age 15 and had taken a paracetamol overdose. She was told this was lethal. So I took the same amount and waited to die.

Oh lord. The innocence of a 20-year-old who thinks they have no future.

From there, I tried various overdoses in various amounts, and everything from cutting, to burning, to strangulation, to injecting bleach, to god only knows what else.

I tried a lot of things, a lot of times.

And yet here I am.

Alive.

Why? Why am I still alive when I tried so hard to die? And why do I keep saving my own life? What could possibly make those two opposing forces, the will to live and the desire to die grapple so spectacularly? The Dalai Lama says that the meaning of life is to be happy and useful. I know how to be happy. But of what use am I? And to whom?

Every morning I get my husband out of bed. And while he’s away, I take care of some of the housework. And I often cook him dinner. And all of those things are useful. And all of those things make me happy. And my husband does good, important work. And he makes the world a better place and often saves, or at least improves people’s lives.

But as A.S. Byatt says, that’s not very much to hang a life on.

Let’s say Leonard and Penny bought adjoining farms. Then let’s say Leonard had a flourishing farm and Penny noticed how well Leonard’s farm was doing, and thought ‘I can help with that’; so she gave Leonard all her seed stock. The result would be Leonard would have a great farm, but Penny’s land would be lying fallow.

And that’s not true, either.

Because I get a Lot from my relationship with my husband. He gives me plenty of seed stock back again *wink*.

Sometimes I wonder what I’m capable of cultivating, and how I’m going to go about doing that. And how I’m going to prevent myself from destroying mine and my husband’s farms like I destroy everything else in my life.

I’m learning; slowly but surely, my brain is learning, and my heart is learning, and my soul has always been learning.

Education for me is like standing in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and wondering which date palm to climb first for the sweetest, most flavoursome fruit. Which one has the dates which explode in your brain, with the juice running out of your mouth? Learning is like laughter—it fizzes.

I’m doing a bad job of cultivating my body. Lord.

The scars.  So many scars.

They criss-cross my arms and legs and torso like fuchsia, cream, white, and silver chopsticks.

That’s if you’re not looking at the burn scars. You see the same patterns on the bottom of saucepans; mottled, by turns pitted and raised. Or in Aluminium trays that haven’t been washed properly– the layers of brown on layers of silver.

Once you’ve given your life over to cultivating that sort of mischief, what’s the point of cultivating health?

It’s a bit like growing opium poppies in the backyard, and vegetables in the front. Would you like some spinach with your heroin, Sir?

So there’s the first problem. Once I’ve worked out that my life force is around, how can I get to the point where I can actually live?

The constant back and forth– going from reasonably competent to barely able to have a conversation or get out of bed. How can I create a life worth living with that going on?

Yesterday I got up in the morning in absolute despair. I spent most of the day despising myself, wishing I were dead, and taking various actions to make that happen.

At some point in the afternoon I had a change of heart, a small bloom in my soul, or a small gift from my voices, and I spent the rest of the day acting in ways that help me to live. And now I’m alive. Despite whatever damage drinking bleach has done to me.

I’m here.

But how do I live? How does the voice in me that wants to stay alive prevent the voice in me that wants to die from taking over?

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By reading this blog, you agree that you read it under your own risk, and Gill’s Practical Bookkeeping is in no way responsible for any harm or prejudice to yourself, your business, or any fictional examples above.

I am not a financial advisor. I do not have an AFSL. I am a chick who likes to read, think, write, and has access to google. You should treat this blog with the same seriousness that you would treat anyone whose main qualification is access to google. This blog is for entertainment purposes only. It’s a little like watching Big Bang Theory for finance nerds.

Anything you take from this blog is your responsibility. Nothing in this blog, even if you are mentioned by name, address, and telephone number, pertains to your personal situation. Anything you agree with, or disagree with, you are welcome to comment on, but your opinions belong to you. You are responsible for your comments. If they are offensive, I will remove them.

http://www.nuancedtruths.com

https://www.patreon.com/gillspracticalbookkeeping

Life Hacks, More experienced Investors, New To Finance, Review

On Marshmallows and Will Power

What’s this big fuss about Marshmallows anyway?

In the series of Marshmallow books, Joachim de Posada and his co-writers describe the life of a man called Arthur, who learns the advantages that delayed gratification can give to individuals who are able to develop this skill.

This doesn’t just have applications in corporate life, it also has applications for study, exercise, diet, hobbies, financial life, and can be applied to reduce all addictive behaviours.

Often when I want something, I really want it.

Chocolate.

Coffee.

Shopping.

Fair enough.

But what if I were able to minimise my coffee consumption so I only had one cup per day?

Would that improve my life?

In some ways, certainly: I’d have a lot of personal satisfaction from the fact that I was less addicted to caffeine; I’d have the dopamine-hit gladness that comes with achieving any goal; and I’d be exercising my ‘delayed gratification muscles’.

What about shopping?

What if I were to limit my spending on un-necessary items to $50 per fortnight? What if I were to put the rest of that money into long-term savings or investments? What if I kept doing that for 15, 30, 45 years? Would that make a difference in my life?

You bet your Granma’s sweet red dressing gown it would.

Joachim de Posada describes an experiment that took place in the years leading up to 1990, where researchers at Stanford University put a marshmallow in front of a pre-school age child, told the child that they would give them two marshmallows if they waited 15 minutes, walked out of the room, and left the child to decide whether to eat one marshmallow or wait for two.

The children who were able to wait for two marshmallows did better across a range of indicators 20 years later. They were happier. They did better socially. Their grades were better. They were more successful at work.

It’s interesting.

Delayed gratification is interesting. It’s a muscle you can exercise. It’s a habit you can learn. And most importantly, be gentle with yourself. Just do a tiny bit at a time. One step then the next then the next, but Tiny steps. Be kind.

Comment below what you would change in your life, if you set your mind to it, gently.

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By reading this blog, you agree that you read it under your own risk, and Gill’s Practical Bookkeeping is in no way responsible for any harm or prejudice to yourself, your business, or any fictional examples above.

I am not a financial advisor. I do not have an AFSL. I am a chick who likes to read, think, write, and has access to google. You should treat this blog with the same seriousness that you would treat anyone whose main qualification is access to google. This blog is for entertainment purposes only. It’s a little like watching Big Bang Theory for finance nerds.

Anything you take from this blog is your responsibility. Nothing in this blog, even if you are mentioned by name, address, and telephone number, pertains to your personal situation. Anything you agree with, or disagree with, you are welcome to comment on, but your opinions belong to you. You are responsible for your comments. If they are offensive, I will remove them.

http://www.nuancedtruths.com

https://www.patreon.com/gillspracticalbookkeeping

Beauty
F.I.R.E., More experienced Investors, New To Finance

What am I going to do with myself when I retire?

For some people, retirement is a slow, depressing slide towards death. That’s certainly one option. But for others, retirement is the second flowering of their life. For those in the FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) community who can expect to spend 40-50 years in retirement, they spend it pursuing their own interests and becoming better at things they choose to do, instead of things they’re forced to do by the need for money.

Many people in the FIRE community still work part time—not because they need the money, but because they find passion projects to keep them young and fresh. Or because they find a cause they’re interested in volunteering their time to. Retirement is the best years of their lives, and they live happily pursuing hobbies, interests, exercising, cooking, socialising, travelling, and generally enjoying themselves.

So here’s a list of some of the amazing things you can do when you reach your financial goals and retire (or not) but when money doesn’t count any more.

  1. Create Art—Yeah! Have you ever wanted to learn to draw? Or paint? Or create sculptures? Why don’t you take a class? Or just grab some materials and practise. Retirement is the perfect time to get lost in creativity.
  2. Learn a musical instrument—Wouldn’t it be great to be able to play piano like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day? Enjoy your sensitive side, and the subtlety and mystery of good music. Even if it’s all squeeks and squwaks at first, you’ll improve over time, and eventually you’ll sound amazing.
  3. Learn a language—Want to be able to speak Pu Tong Hua to your Chinese neighbours? Want to go to South America on holidays for 6 months and be able to speak in Spanish or Portuguese to the people there? Want to be able to bargain in Hindi in an Indian market? The world of languages is your oyster. Go for it!
  4. Exercise—There’s no reason you can’t take up surfing or run a marathon if you want to. Or just go for a long walk every day, and lift a few weights once per week. Developing your fitness and increasing your body’s endurance and flexibility is a great goal for retirement.
  5. Cook—Good food is good at any stage of life, but when you’ve got time to savour and really take the slow path to food which tastes great and is healthy, life becomes amazing.
  6. Grow a garden—Have you always wanted to feel the earth in your hands, and cultivate new life in your home? Never had time? Guess what? Now’s your time!
  7. Travel—Want to live 6 months per year in Thailand? Or split your time between Australia and Europe? When you take the need to earn money off the table, this is entirely possible.

These are just a few ideas of what you can do when you retire. Put your own ideas in the comments below, and start yourself thinking about FIRE.

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By reading this blog, you agree that you read it under your own risk, and Gill’s Practical Bookkeeping is in no way responsible for any harm or prejudice to yourself, your business, or any fictional examples above.

I am not a financial advisor. I do not have an AFSL. I am a chick who likes to read, think, write, and has access to google. You should treat this blog with the same seriousness that you would treat anyone whose main qualification is access to google. This blog is for entertainment purposes only. It’s a little like watching Big Bang Theory for finance nerds.

Anything you take from this blog is your responsibility. Nothing in this blog, even if you are mentioned by name, address, and telephone number, pertains to your personal situation. Anything you agree with, or disagree with, you are welcome to comment on, but your opinions belong to you. You are responsible for your comments. If they are offensive, I will remove them.

http://www.nuancedtruths.com

https://www.patreon.com/gillspracticalbookkeeping

More experienced Investors

What on Earth is an index fund, anyway?

How do I choose which stocks I buy?

That’s the big question on my mind when I’m thinking about investment. Warren Buffet recommends index funds. They beat 99% of mutual funds over a 40 year period (I believe that the only mutual fund that has fairly consistently beat the market over a 40+ year period is Berkshire Hathaway—if I’m wrong, tell me in the comments).

An index fund has low costs (less than 0.5% generally) and tracks the market. Overtime, the market goes up and down, but the long term trend is up. This means that the most important thing is the amount of time an investor has in the market. Noel Whittaker, in “Wealth Made Simple” quotes the figure that $20, 000 invested in an Australian Index ETF in 1980, would be worth around $1 150 000 in 2019.

Think about it this way: if I buy individual stocks, and that stock fails, I lose my money. If I buy index funds and a company fails, the index might drop in price but it will naturally come back when a new company takes its place. This means I am highly unlikely to ever lose everything and historically I will almost certainly make gains.

One potential problem with index funds, is if I only invest in one country’s index and that country has a bad run. So for example, if all my money is in Australian Index ETFs, and the Australian economy tanks, my income and assets will significantly drop. If my money is invested across several country’s index funds and bonds, property etc, and Australia’s economy tanks, I’ve got much less chance of losing lots of money through sequence of return risk.

The biggest Australian index fund is Vanguard Australian Shares Index ETF, worth $5 748 Million. BetaShares also has an Australian ASX 200 ETF worth $809 Million. VanEck has an equal weight ASX ETF worth $1 167 Million.

Index funds have some of the lowest fees on the market. Vanguard VAS has a MER of 0.10% per annum. BetaShares has a MER OF 0.07% per annum. VankEck is the highest, with a MER of 0.35% per annum.

The buy-sell spread, or slippage, of all of these ETFs is less than 0.05%, except VanEck which sits at 0.10%. VAS is the most liquid, with approx $17 Million of daily transaction value, VanEck MVW  is the least liquid, with approx $2.5 Million of daily transaction value. Over the last five years, VanEck has had the highest return at 8.98%. Next is Vanguard at 7.33%, and BetaShares has only been around for two years, and thus can’t be included in a five year analysis.

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By reading this blog, you agree that you read it under your own risk, and Gill’s Practical Bookkeeping is in no way responsible for any harm or prejudice to yourself, your business, or any fictional examples above.

I am not a financial advisor. I do not have an AFSL. I am a chick who likes to read, think, write, and has access to google. You should treat this blog with the same seriousness that you would treat anyone whose main qualification is access to google. This blog is for entertainment purposes only. It’s a little like watching Big Bang Theory for finance nerds.

Anything you take from this blog is your responsibility. Nothing in this blog, even if you are mentioned by name, address, and telephone number, pertains to your personal situation. Anything you agree with, or disagree with, you are welcome to comment on, but your opinions belong to you. You are responsible for your comments. If they are offensive, I will remove them.

http://www.nuancedtruths.com

https://www.patreon.com/gillspracticalbookkeeping