Financial planning

Ah, financial planners. The pinnacle of adulthood and fiscal responsibility. You know you’ve made it when you need to outsource in order to keep track of your towering piles of cash.

But instead of advising us as to whether we should have a money fight or purchase another pool to fill with coins, a la Scrooge McDuck, he laid some hard truths on us.

“You will die. You will get sick or injured. There will be a point in time when you stop working for one point or another.”

He wasn’t a fun financial planner, a pragmatic one though which I suppose is probably better. His priorities were insurance and preparing for retirement. Not particularly appealing to a 25-year-old who’s idea of future planning is what’s for dinner (chips and garlic bread). Partner 2 isn’t much better, his first question was to ask how we could get rich in less than five years.

The poor man, he had a cold, and I could have sworn I saw a jaw tic from holding back sighs and eye rolls. Nonetheless, the consummate professional started assessing our financial situation.

“Not married?” Eyebrows raised. Nope.

“Incomes?” He looked to Partner 2 first who listed off his particulars. Then FP’s tired eyes turned to me.

“Ha, more like income, singular, just one! Ha hahah ha.” Why do I laugh at my own jokes when I’m uncomfortable?

“Well… um, my situation is that I quit my jobs that I loved to come here. So my income… It’s been an adjustment. I’m freelancing but that’s… well, you know how it is!”

He didn’t. He looked sympathetically at Partner 2 while I squirmed.

“But I’m doing a PhD next year!” I blurted, desperate to redeem myself in the eyes of this complete stranger. He smiled politely and turned back to Partner 2 to discuss investment options.

The conversation proceeded without me, so I picked at my fingernails. I refuse to acknowledge equity because it’s not real money, I don’t know what a hedge fund is and long-term planning short circuits my brain.

Left to my own financial planning, I thought about what I needed. You know what there should be? Arsehole insurance. Not literally, unless you have an especially valuable behind, like Kim Kardashian I suppose…  But insurance for the less-financially stable partner just in case the relationship doesn’t work out and the arsehole leaves you with absolutely nothing.

Insurance premiums can start high for those in new relationships, if you’ve been together a week it’s going to be more expensive than if you’ve been together for 10 years. There could be excess amounts dependent on age. He crashed your car? Well, he is 23 so there’s going to be a gap. Shared and individual assets make things more complicated. In the case of a break-up, you will receive a pay-out dependent on the aforementioned factors and break-up circumstances as determined by our independent assessor.

This is not to say that Partner 2 and I are having problems, as much as this may sound like it! We are very happy, sickeningly so if we were to post about it on Facebook. I just got to thinking about this after the financial interrogation. You feel quite vulnerable knowing that you rely completely on another person, if he were to up and leave I would have nothing. I’d be deported, he’d get the cat because I couldn’t afford to bring her home, and I’d have to move back in with my parents. Yikes. I know there’s the whole love factor or whatever, and that he depends on me for things too, but it is quite disconcerting to think about.

So I’m going to go ahead and trademark this idea and start working on some concepts for daytime TV commercials. Funeral insurance ad, life insurance ad, Murder She Wrote, arsehole insurance ad. Hey, only 63 shopping days left until Christmas? This could be the best passive-aggressive gift yet!

“Gee, thanks Mum…” *rewraps to hide from boyfriend.*

“You can never be too careful, dear.” *Knowing smile and wink at the camera.*

The irony being that I would have to request this from Partner 2 for Christmas because I have no money…  Until Arsehole Insurance ™ takes off!

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Insular travel: why I don’t like resorts

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Our time in Sri Lanka has come to a close already. I type this from my kitchen table, wrapped in Singaporean humidity, half a world away from that other little island.

The last week of our travels was spent kitesurfing. The first week was travel, the second was spent sequestered in the kiting haven of Kalpitiya. It was great: the wind howled through the palms everyday and I very much enjoyed being constantly barefoot and salty, and even the (Naughty! Bad! Pre-cancerous!) tingle of sunburn on my shoulders.

One thing that didn’t quite sit right with me was the style of accommodation. We stayed in kiting accommodation which could be described as resort-style in that all our meals were provided, as were trips to the kiting spots and beach toys. It was lovely. But. You could just about be anywhere else in the world. There was nothing that remotely even whispered Sri Lanka. Even the food. We asked if they served any local food but were told most kiters didn’t like it. Um ok. 

Our first trip into town was halfway through the week when we were changing accommodation because of availabilities. It was my first real exposure to Kalpitiya town. There was not much there. Whatever tourist rupees that were being pumped into the kite camps were definitely not being seen in town. The place was run-down and dirty, lots of dirt roads and wild donkeys. It was something I had not even considered, coming from a place where prices are quoted in euros and everyone wields hundreds, even thousands, of dollars worth of sporting equipment everyday. 

Suddenly, I felt uncomfortable in our sheltered faux-Lanka. I thought about the amount of money even scungy backpackers like me inject into local economies. Just simply through getting something to eat, having a few beers on the street or catching a tuk-tuk somewhere. Resorts almost deprive a local community of that income. They provide local jobs of course but I wonder about the comparative effects of both approaches. Admittedly Kalpitiya didn’t seem to have the infrastructure to support much tourism but is that the result of not getting any tourists through? Impossible to know. 

I’m by no means an expert on the economic development of communities through tourism, just something I got thinking about. The second place we stayed in was a lot more my style. We were in a smaller, quieter place, foreign-owned but locally-managed. All our meals were provided but at least they were made by a crazy-talented local. We had some great curries! This place at least embraced being part of the village rather than shutting it out. The local kids took Partner 2 for a midnight kiting session on the lagoon! It just felt better.