I’ve known my friend Andrew from our school days together but since then we’ve led quite different lives. For me, as a single 20 something renter it’s relatively easy to save money but not everyone is in my position.
With a house and growing family I often turn to Andrew for a valuable fresh perspective on all things money. I have a great deal of respect for him and his last post, ‘Why Being Bad can be Good’ was a real hit on Magical Penny so I’m sure you’ll enjoy today’s guest post and find it of value.
And please, don’t let any Star Trek reference below put you off!
Over to you, Andrew.
Me? Oh, I HATE Money!
By Andrew Knight
I struggled for the title of this article, ‘Lessons from Star Trek’, ‘A brief History of money’ and ‘Isn’t it just a lot of zeros?’ all came to mind. I went with the abstract title above because we’ve all said it and we’ve all felt it. Can we live in a world without money, budgets and financial restraint?
STAR TREK ISN’T REAL
Oh Star Trek my love, what did J.J. Abrams do to you? Blatant product placement in a world without money? What a sad continuation of a universe which has enthralled and excited millions of viewers for decades.
Many fans found comfort in the idealised future it presented, during real-world times of little or during the height of the cold war Star Trek offered a wonderful view of humanities future free from war, disease, hunger and Money.
Characters did their duties and helped press forward the desires of humanity out of a sense of duty or for the greater good. Couldn’t Star Trek offer a framework for us all to live in? Can we ever break free from the shackles of money and do what we desire, not limited by the amount of zero’s in an account? Can’t we create this idealistic future?
You can probably guess the answer by the fact that even Star Trek at its undisputable height during the Deep Space Nine years had to invent Gold Pressed Latinum as a universal currency.
THE AVARICE OF ONE
Without Gold Pressed Latinum Star Trek wouldn’t have been able to show the dark underbelly of human nature; which exists in equal measure to all mans virtues.
All three would throw any balanced, money-free society into disarray.
What if someone rightly wants promotion because they’re putting in more effort or generating all the ideas? What happens if a technological advancement causes the enjoyable work of one hundred to be done by an individual in a fraction of the time? What about greed, those of us who hunger to gain as much as possible with little reason other than a single-minded focus on one goal of beating the Joneses to a pulp?
The ideal of a perfect money-free world is easily destroyed by many more arguments than such a short post would allow.
But essentially, because we can’t live without it, you must learn to live with it. Don’t hate money, don’t hate budgeting or ignore it completely. Focus on it, become the master of it and become a leader in the dysfunctional, terrible but best-system-we’ve-got. Afterall, becoming a leader is as easy as clicking a button, sitting back and watching your purchasing power grow.
Don’t believe me?
TODAY, IN 1985…
Imagine yourself transported back to 1985 and set the simple task of retaining the purchasing power of your pound. What do you do? Spend it and hope the product you buy retains its worth? Hide it under your pillow in fear of the early 90’s crash ahead? Thrust it into shares knowing the 80’s was the ‘loadsamoney’ era? Or do you dutifully save it in an average account?
Well really, what would you do?! Think before continuing!
Did you hide your £1? If you did, EPIC FAIL! Inflation through the years has decreased what your £1 can buy. If a sandwich cost £1 in 1985, for that same £1 you’d only be able to take a bite of 41% of it and you’d have to find a further £1.39 to finish it off…
If you chose to buy something you’ve probably lost out. Most items would perish or depreciate to nothing. It’s unlikely you’d have spent your £1 on then-unknown now-priceless memorabilia.
Did you put it in the Stock Market? If you did your pound would now have a value of £4.81, or the equivalent 1985 purchasing power (when your £1 was just a £1) of £2.01. That’s a whopping DOUBLING of your purchasing power between 1985 and 2008 (the latest period for which stats are available).
But if you saved it in a standard savings account you’d have £5.18 in value which is a 1985-standardised purchasing power of £2.16!
Inflation information taken from This is Money
Savings information taken from Measuring Worth
Stock Market Data taken from Yahoo Finance
Savings winning out against stocks is a statistical anomaly caused by when my figures stop, in 2008. If my list had stopped in 1999 the purchasing power would have almost TRIPLED (in 15yrs!), when savings had not yet doubled, but because of September 11th and the world recession the recent results of the stock market have been dampened.
Today isn’t 1985, in 2010 investing and saving is easier than ever. Through online account management, late night research and one click fund purchases, becoming a master is simple.
All you need is to realise the necessity to be in control.
SO IN CONCLUSION…
Money Matters, don’t ignore it, don’t shy away from it, take control of your finances and look forward to a brighter, more wealthy future.
Thank you Andrew. A simple concept so central to the Magical Penny message, explained through the Star Trek universe! Brilliant.
For all you non-Trekkies, don’t worry. You don’t need to learn Ferengi to understand how to start investing in the stock market. Magical Penny will be offering a universal translator equivelent service for the language of investing. Stay tuned!
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