Summer Holidays

Simple living is happy living. This holiday season instead of overdoing it on sugar, processed foods, expensive gifts and alcohol, you can instead nourish your loved ones with wholesome seasonal food and great memories and experiences.

Australian seasonal fruits are perfect for the warmer holiday weather. Summer season fruits include apricots, berries, cherries, grapes, figs, lychees, mangos and banana. Eating less processed foods will make you feel better inside and out. Eat wholesome unprocessed food will also cost the earth less in plastic wrapping and energy for processing. If you shop at local farmer’s markets and local, you will save food miles and support your local economy. They say that when you buy from a local small business, you pay for a child’s next ballet class and not a CEO’s third vacation home.

Experiences are important and often create deeper memories than material possessions. People do not remember when they got their PlayStation, they remember when they went hot air ballooning. Some great experiences to share with loved ones include picnics, games and puzzles, horse riding, bush walking, pottery or art class, stand up paddle boarding, cooking, rock climbing, camping or glamping and other outdoor activities.

Another great experience would be to give back. Donate your time with your loved ones to a cause you care about. You could cook or knit for the people in need, visit elderly, support an animal sanctuary. The benefit others can obtain, from a small effort on your part, can be immense. There are plenty of ways to be involved. Most causes have websites with details of how you can be involved. Giving back teaches children to think of others and to appreciate what they have.

Some great ideas for presents include indoor and outdoor plants, products from local markets such as locally made craft or clothing, vouchers for experiences or items from the list below. Personalised and handmade vouchers for cuddles, massages, cleaning, a trip to the beach or park, an ice cream or anything else you know the gift receiver would enjoy and value.

Another great gift idea is to donate to nature such as those from Rainforest Rescue where you can buy part of a conservation project from $25 to $1,000 as a gift for someone.

Goodonyou.org.au offer advice and information about a range of sustainable products. Including jewellery, pets, clothing, toys and beauty products. They also have a great blog called The Good Edit.

The websites below offer fair trade and eco friendly products direct from developing countries. This way you get unique gifts and the producers are paid a fair price for their work:

Oxfam.org.au

Ozfairtrade.org.au

Ethicalgifts.net.au

Also Etiko.com.au specialise in fashionable sneakers - their motto is ‘wear no evil’!

We wish you a wholesome and fun filled holiday season.

Investing in Violence

What is a gun? It is a tool for violence, simple as that. It has no other use except to cause harm through physical violence. Most people do not want to profit from domestic violence, terrorism, gang violence, war and school shootings. However, by investing in companies which manufacture weapons, you are by default enabling and investing in tools used in these forms of violence.

Let say for example ‘Aussie Joe’ has a superannuation account with Super Fund One. Super Fund One uses Investment Manager Two to manage their investments. Investment Manager Two invests globally and in the US holds stocks in Big Guns Three Corporation. Big Guns Three Corporation supplies guns to Walmart, where US Barry buys his guns. US Barry has two guns, one in his car and one in his home. Barry’s home gets burgled one day and his gun is stolen by Dan. Dan uses the gun to shoot twenty children at his school with his mate Pete, Pete uses his dad’s gun. The very same gun that was used by Pete’s uncle to shoot his aunty ten years ago.

Now do not get me wrong, weapons can be profitable - and have been for some time, thanks to the US. Some of Australia’s big financial institutions hold significant weapon investments in nuclear weapons production and manufacturing including ANZ $1,886 million USD, Westpac $463 million USD, $635 million USD, Macquarie Group $1,897 million USD see www.dontbankonthebomb.com for more details. However, weapons also have negative social and economic affects.

Weapons and gun investments place additional risk on the economy. Violence damages the economy is causes economic disruptions and can lead to economic collapse as we have seen in Syria recently.

There are smaller scale disruptions, such as when there is a school shooting in a local area and students are killed. There are numerous flow-on affects to parents and family who have to take time from work as a result of grief. Or when individuals in our community are killed that have great social importance and benefit (such as that of surgeon Victor Chang), not to mention the community investment of time and money into their education and training.

Guns and weapons cause economic inefficiencies. As we continue to globalise and move to a global economy it is no longer possible to expect that because violence is not happening in our country, that it does not affect our economy. The economies of the world are now entwined and reliant on each other.

If you do not want to invest in violence, a good way to see this achieved is through divestment from weapons manufacturers. Investors need to demand that fund managers and superannuation fund trustees are transparent about their holdings, and must divest from weapons.

 

 

Having a Vision

I went to watch the wonderful Anna Rose speak at my local community centre a couple of months ago. One thing that I took from her talk was that the climate change advocacy movement is lacking a solid vision. Anna used the example: we are always watching apocalyptic movies that show the end of the world with few survivors. There are never movies that show the human race changing to make it through or changing our economies and social structures to accommodate our present state.

Visions are extremely important for many different existing organisations and events. All big businesses have company visions. Leaders in government, social movements and CEOs use visions to gain support, set their agendas and move into power. As individuals we have goals and visions of what we want to achieve in life. We manifest our lives through our visions.

The vision Anna was speaking about is particularly important because climate science is old news, frightening and grim. We hear it all the time and it is often either too much to listen to, too terrifying or too boring. This causes inaction, denial and fear. People are often busy and worried enough in their lives to be able to take on such a large daunting problem. Providing a vision to people inspires hope, inclusion, action and belief. The vision creates positivity around the problem and focuses on the future. The sceptics are then ignored and energy is directed to solving the problem.

My vision is the individuals and organisations of Australia (and the world) will begin taking control of their investments and demanding better from their current investment managers and superannuation funds. In turn, shifting the investment market to better represent our countries and individual interests.

Five Reasons to Spend Time on YOUR Superannuation

1.     Superannuation is YOUR money

Even though you cannot access the funds for spending now, it is your money to be invested as you please. Imagine it is a bank account full of cash would you just ignore it? Think about how much you have in superannuation now. While you cannot access the cash now it is your money, treat as such.

2.     A little of YOUR effort goes a long way

Spending a couple of hours per year reviewing your superannuation could make significant changes to your lifestyle in retirement. The investment choices you make over the course of your working life will significantly impact your retirement outcome. Doing nothing is making a choice, to do nothing and essentially your gambling with your retirement. Actively managing your retirement wealth prior to retirement will impact what you do in retirement such as:

·         How much travel you can do

·         Where you live

·         When you can retire

·         Services you can afford such as medication, sports and care

·         Ultimately how much fun you have and how comfortable you are

 3.     YOUR superannuation is not set and forget

As your personal situation and life changes your superannuation needs to be reviewed. Over the course of your life a number of things will change which will mean your superannuation needs to be reviewed. Some of these things include but are not limited to:

·         Your comfort with investment risks

·         Your family i.e. having a child or the death of a parent

·         Investment Markets

·         Your job and/or salary

·         Retirement and income needs

 4.     Invest in line with YOUR values

The majority of people have no idea where their superannuation is invested. Is it invested in Tobacco companies who are now pushing their products on children in developing countries to increase their sales? Is it invested in Coal Seam Gas companies who are displacing farmers and poisoning our country? Is it invested in companies paying bribes to see their projects approved? Basic economic theory tells me fossil fuel investments are poor investments because they utilise old and dirty technology. We now have access to more efficient, cheaper and cleaner technology. I personally want my superannuation invested in market leaders, innovators and changers.

Considering that investments which are ethical can now provide equal if not better risk analysis and returns than mainstream investments. So much so that some mainstream investments are now using ethical investment practices in their everyday decision making processes. Why wouldn’t you invest in line with your values?

The superannuation industry in Australia is the fourth largest in the world with over $1.5 trillion in assets this is larger than the Australian economy. If all Australians actively invested in line with their values we would see large scale economic, social and environmental outcomes. Invest your superannuation for the country & world you want.

5.     Are YOU paying high Fees?

Do not get ripped off! I repeat do not pay more than you need to, it is your money for your retirement and do not just give it away. In saying that, when you shop around there are a range of different priced products and you often get what you pay for. This is especially true when comparing newer super funds as older super products generally have higher fees.