plonkee money an english-er's thoughts on personal finance

June 27, 2008

why are there many dodgy salesmen, but not as many dodgy saleswomen?

Filed under: education and career — Tags: , , , — plonkee @ 8:48 am

A story by Ron @ The Wisdom Journal reminded me that it’s not uncommon for now respectable members of the personal finance blogging community to have once been salesmen of slightly dodhy insurance policies and other products. I use the word salesmen advisedly, as although there are nearly as many women blogging about personal finance as there are men, it doesn’t look as if any of them have held a job as anything like door to door saleswomen.

Of course, it’s possible that they have, but I just don’t know about their stories. But, now that I think about it, I’m not sure that I know many women in real life either who have worked in truly aggressive sales industries, with sales commission making up a large part of their pay. I have known salesmen, and male telesales people, and women who work in sales and marketing with performance related pay. But not women that have basically worked almost entirely on commission.

Unless of course, you count the Avon lady, the Tupperware party woman, and other related jobs. Although they are reasonably similar, they are generally seen as only for part-time work and *extra money* whereas a door to door insurance salesperson is expected to make a full-time living out of sales.

I wonder whether there is a hiring discrimination on the part of employers. Or maybe (and more significantly) a choosing discrimination on the part of women. I know that it would never have occurred to me to get the sort of job that Ron and JD have described. Most of the women I know (including fellow blogger Mrs. Micah) would get temping work if they needed a full-time job quickly. On the plus side, these jobs are usually slightly more ethical, but they have less earning potential and if you’re not careful can suck women into one of the traditional *C* careers (clerical, cleaning, caring, checkout, children).

I’m not saying that we should have lots of people rushing out to become women from the Pru. I’m just wondering whether it says something about the willingness of women to take risks (and on the other side, of men to take unnecessary risks). Does it suggest that often women don’t take up the opportunity to learn sales skills? Or maybe that men aren’t willing to learn the mundane skills of business.

I think it bears out the research that says that when women invest they do so sensibly and slightly cautiously – whereas whilst men are more likely to invest, they exhibit riskier behaviour. (By the way, female investors do better on average than men, but that’s only because sensible is good.) Perhaps I’m reading too much into all this. But I thnk it’s interesting. Tell me what you think – I’m interested in opinions, ideas and anecdotes, although if you have hard facts and scientific evidence that would be good too. Let me know in the comments.

June 24, 2008

when sharing finances, do you split equally?

Filed under: budget — Tags: , , , — plonkee @ 12:00 pm

My sister was visiting me last week, and naturally (!) the conversation turned to personal finance. A few months ago, she moved into a very nice little flat with her boyfriend – they’ve been together for several years now.

As it happens, he earns slightly more than her, probably in the region of £200 per month in take home pay, but they split the rent and the bills equally. Since she’s not blessed/cursed with the fear of debt, she’s currently paying off her credit card debt, and can’t devote additional money to investing although they are both saving to visit New York in the next few months. She is not a debt-free Dave Ramsey devotee (she’s never heard of him) nor does she have an interest in personal finance.

I thought that it would be fairer if they (my sister and her boyfriend) split the bills according to percentage of income. That way they would have more similar amounts of disposable income, and my sister would have more cash available. Since I’m not the sort to interfere (well, not very much anyway) I only mentioned it in passing. But, what do you think?

Based on your feedback I’m…

…not going to say anything, as it’s not my place. But in case I’m ever in the same situation, I’d certainly give some weight to any good arguments you can put forward.

Image by strollers

June 19, 2008

credit cards are like alcohol

Filed under: credit and debt — Tags: , — plonkee @ 12:00 pm

A while ago, Patrick @ Cash Money Life wrote about how credit cards are like guns. Well, this English person doesn’t like guns in the slightest and willfully and deliberately fails to think of a good reason to have them around. You might think that’s a touch irrational if you’re not British, so just remember that I come from a different culture with a very different attitude to gun control than some of the rest of the English speaking world.

On the other hand, one of the things that is widely available in the UK is alcohol. Not only is it widely available, it is also used and misused by all sorts of people. Really, quite a lot like credit cards. I use both.

Alcohol is a dangerous substance. Lots of people misuse it, by binge drinking to excess, and cluttering up A&E departments in hospitals with alcohol poisoning and drunken accidents, or by drinking and driving (IMHO an almost completely inexcusable crime), or by becoming addicted to alcohol.

Credit cards are dangerous. Lots of people misuse them by, making payments late and getting fees, or running up debts that cost them a fortune to clear.

On the other hand, a small glass of red wine a few times a week is good for your health. And a cashback credit card, with the balance always paid off in full, is good for your wealth.

You can, of course, go without one or the other relatively easily. You don’t need to drink alcohol to celebrate momentous occasions, to relax with friends – even in the pub, or to enjoy gourmet food. You don’t need a credit card to make purchases online, rent a car, or build a credit history.

But, just like there’s no replacement for the sensation of champagne bubbles on the tongue, or savouring a pint of excellent beer, it’s harder to replace a credit card for some transactions – particularly those where it represents trust.

If you don’t drink alcohol, whether because you have been physically addicted to it, or some other reason that’s fine. If you don’t use credit cards, whether because you have previously had a problem with them, or you just don’t want to, that’s also fine. You’re a grown up, I respect your ability to make your own decisions.

What’s not fine is projecting on to everyone else. Your fear that you will be unable to use credit cards sensibly (which may well be perfectly justified) shouldn’t be applied to everyone else. They may know that they can use them sensibly. Just like your dislike or fear of alcohol (which is generally a reasonable one) shouldn’t be applied more widely than yourself. Other people are grown ups who can make their own decisions too, and those decisions can be different from yours.

For me, I use credit cards all the time and have never run up major debts, don’t carry a balance, and only spend money that I already have. I strongly suspect that I’m not the only person in the world able to do so without a problem.

Image by Gaetan Lee

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