Saturday, 19 November 2011

Teaching Money Matters in Schools - WHY?

Home Economics + Basic Arithmetic = Good Kousekeeping!

I've been watching the recent news and developments with regards to the petitions that are floating around the place. They are plying us with reasons to pledge our support to their cause, asking us to help bring money matters into schools as part of our basic education system. To be frank, I just don't get it!

School is a place for children learning the basics needed for their future adult lives, isn't it? These lessons are simple, they establish an elementary understanding of subjects that are important to everyone during future careers, regardless of what that career may or may not be. We can choose to listen and learn or we can tolerate these 'lessons' up until the point we have the freedom of choice to leave school and learn in another capacity - through life itself.

Some may see school simply as a place where children get sent during the day so they aren't wandering the streets with nothing better to do, biding their time until they are old enough to earn. School, like nursery, could even be seen as a place where children go so their parents can carry out activities other than childcare, like earning an income or anything else they see fit to do in the absence of their offspring.

Whatever any of us thinks of school, it is our right to have a basic education and our duty to provide similar for future generations. But it is not our duty to accept responsibility for the bad spending habits of others. We each receive a basic understanding of reading, writing and arithmetic, along with the simple concept of economics, be they home or otherwise, so common sense should prevail. But it doesn't!

Those who should know more than us have burdened this society with false beliefs that we should all be classed as equals, that we should all be able to partake of a decent meal, own designer labels, buy the most up to date gadgetry and possess all manner of luxury items. We should all be able to afford hobbies, pastimes and holidays, convenience and luxury should be readily available, en masse.

They led us to believe that we could all own our own homes and have the basic skills necessary to turn us into entrepreneurs or even just start our own businesses. But they overlooked one fundamental flaw in the plan - the fact that money is not a living entity. It cannot grow naturally, it cannot adapt to its surroundings and it cannot learn right from wrong. It is nothing more than paper, plastic and metal developed, manufactured and controlled by the chosen few who, to their disgrace, have been unable to balance the nations' books.

The concept is simple - take one pile of money, divide it be any number to whom you see fit to lend, then sit back and watch them pay dividends, by way of interest. If those payments fail, charge even more, add on penalties and drive the borrowers further into debt. Offer an array of incentives and promises of a better future, more security, better choices and the potential to feel good and then sit back, watch the borrowers borrow more and spend more, lining the pockets of the chosen few or those who chose to become one of them by sheer grit and determination. They all seem to have one thing in common - a total disregard for others when things, not surprisigly, go wrong. But there are always the get out clauses of insolvency and bankruptcy!

This continual building of debt has now escalated to such a height that even they cannot fathom out an agreeable method to stopping it, let alone putting it right. Their solutions are to print more money, cut back on what they think is 'unneccessary' spending and make it ven more difficult for 'normal' people to build real, reputable businesses that can grow to prosper and employ others.

They price ordinary people out of the market with legislation governing maternity pay, paternity pay, pension schemes, insurances, restricted working hours and minimum wage thresholds, then sit back and await the next emergency move.

But where do they go when all the previous options fail? They need to cast blame further and wider, so now we see the blame being laid on the children... If the youth of today and the common people had learned more, this may never have happened.

Well that is bullshit!

Those who dragged this nation to its proverbial knees were the very people who allegedly benefited from extra education. All their accumulated wealth of wisdom and expertise led us to where we are now, watching and waiting for the next global catastrophe that can quickly be assigned a few billion that adds to the amassed debt. They need huge tragedies, wars and disasters, so future generations can look back on history and point the finger of blame in any direction except that which is true. Nobody appears to have shoulders broad enough to support the burden of controlling what really cannot be controlled, so let's start again - educate the young.

To whom should we look for this teaching?

How and why are the current teaching methods allegedly failing us so badly?

Controlling a company, household or personal budget is nothing more than a combination of basic arithmetic and home economics, so why are so many people so bad at it?

Why isn't a closer look being taken at the education system itself?

Why are teachers failing to teach the basic principles of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division?

Why are parents failing to teach their children the basic skills necessary for survival in a capitalist society?

Is it not possible that some form of brainwashing has swept through our entire Western civilisatio, engulfing an entire generation, and that generation is not the youth of today! Nor even is it their parents' nor their grand parents' generations.

There has always been poverty, unrest, unfair division and class differences. YES! I dare to suggest that we still live within a 'Class' system and I dare to deny the existence of this so-called 'classless society' or equality that was dreamt up by some 'numpty' who thought the only way to cast off blame from those who should have known better, would be to invite society's minions into their lifestyle of wanton greed and waste - offer them more credit, hold them down by debt, if they come out fighting, let them take the blame when it all goes wrong.

So, I guess what I am trying to say here is that, in my humble opinion, people won't learn lessons that they don't want to learn, even if it is taught in schools. Brainwashing is everywhere - it's called advertising! Unless we ignore all of that and accept that debt is caused by spending more than we have, then what gets taught in our schools matters not one jot.

It is up to us, as idividuals, to challenge ourselves to live within our means and if speculative investments need to be made, have a back up plan in the event you don't quite pull it off in time.

Shona Prophett

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

How Much Do You Spend on the Feelgood Factor?

Health and Beauty: The Price We Are Willing to Pay

Recently, a conversation arose about cosmetic surgery and the amount of money some people spend in order to 'go under the knife' for whatever it was they wanted done.

I know people who have had nose jobs, 'surgical enhancements', gastric bands, porcelain teeth and someone, who shall remain nameless, who went on holiday specifically to have a facelift. These people didn't mind what it cost, they simply wanted it done because they felt there was a need for it and that it would benefit them.

So, this post is not about the pros and cons of what people will do in the name of vanity, because we are all guilty of it to a certain level. This is about how far people will go in order to afford something they want, when they want it, and the best ways of ensuring that it is within your means.

For some, this might mean a trip to the local hairdresser, beautician, spray tanning studio or spa, for others it's alternative or complimentary 'therapies', such as relaxation, meditation, reflexology, or hypnotism.

Some people choose to follow diet plans, paying others to tell them how, what and when to eat, using all manner of reasons for why they choose to do so. Or perhaps you pay a monthly membership fee to the gym, fitness centre or health club.

Let's face it, these payments go out on a regular basis over many months, sometimes years, paid by thousands upon thousands of individuals. These are very lucrative businesses that feed on the human desire to look and feel better about ourselves. They are feeding our needs, perceived or otherwise.

But what if you had the option to take a short cut and the money to afford it? There are some who will do whatever it takes to follow the quickest, most convenient route and some who can afford to throw a chunk of money at a cosmetic surgeon, looking upon it as an investment into their longterm well-being.

How far would you go in the name of vanity, sanity and the feelgood factor? Would you look for the best deals? Would you plan ahead and save or would you borrow the money and pay it back later? For many, sadly, their only option is to accept a prescription for 'happy pills' in the hope that they mask their inner feelings of need or despair.

Tummy tuck
Lip augmentation
Cheek implants
Breast enhancement or reduction
Nose job
Cosmetic dental work
Eye bag removal
Lap band / Gastric band

I've checked out the prices for cosmetic surgery, including many of the above, and do you know what? None of them came anywhere close to what it costs to keep a racehorse in training for a single year!

To begin with, this post was written with an entirely different 'slant', as I have never been a fan of any form of pain in the name of beauty.

But the more people I have spoken to and the more I step back and look at it from an ever-widening angle, I can see the point. I can see why X wanted her facial birthmark removed and nose straightened, I can even see why Y so felt the need to pay the price of a 'holiday', returning home with his face in bandages. I can understand the personal decision to have a gastric band fitted, as all of these things can be seen as lifelines to 'better' lives. Growing old, fat or wrinkled certainly isn't easy.
We are constantly falling foul of the ravages of time - Old Man Time and Mother Nature, as a couple, make one mighty force against which no human can fight. If we can't feel good about ourselves then we might as well all give up now, because there is the possibility of living a long life and we can't cast that fact aside if we are already feeling negative about ourselves.

The quest for rejuvenation and a halt to the ageing processes are all around us, yet we seldom stop to consider how incremental each small step of the way really is... and we're all walkiing the same path. We're all heading over the same hill once we've reached the top.

Some people need a psychological crutch to help them make their inevitable, incredible journey through life, while others need something more tangible and obvious.

To be honest, I was stunned by my own previous lack of understanding and ignorant misconceptions, I'm embarrased to admit that I was one of those people who once tutted and shook my head at the mere suggestion of such extreme measures that involve risk-taking, surgical intervention and long-lasting consequences.

That was until I took those few steps back and really looked at the full picture.

How much will you spend during your lifetime in order to feel better about your own life? Even if it's 20 cigarettes, some crisps, cakes, chocolate, alcohol or weekends out socialising, it all adds up and we all spend that money somewhere along the line.

We need to feel good about something, we need to generate some positive energy in our lives and we need to allow ourselves to open up and embrace new ideas, concepts and possibilities that we may never have previously considered.

No, I am not considering undergoing any form of cosmetic surgery, but once I had allowed myself to absorb objective information and opened myself up to the idea that it is not all 'bad', I was amazed at the list I had mentally drawn up for some reconstructive bodywork!

Have your say here or in our Health and Beauty forum. All comments appreciated.
Shona Prophett / NYK Media