Last week I admitted to being a bit of a chicken where it came to financial risk. This comes from my family background I think – we never had much money at home yet paid off the only mortgage we ever had in ten years. Even so, while my parents accumulated savings, they – and I – never learned to spend. As has already been said in these columns, the problem of life is not learning to save but learning to spend. I never did.
My parents were of a generation that saved up before buying. We had a car but it was hardly used at all, generally spending winter jacked up in the garage where one of my tasks was to rotate the wheels every week. I kid you not! We weren’t poor on paper but life was excessively frugal. I don’t blame my parents – they had had a very hard life but never let go. In fact it was all very boring and I couldn’t wait to leave home.
How things have changed! Now we are finally about to ‘lose’ our oldest sons – in their late twenties. Love them though we do, they need to get on with their lives. The broad hints that they needed to leave home have finally been heard and they have found a very nice house not far from us. But I very much worry that for different reasons, they may find it difficult to spend sensibly and, as Maria pointed out yesterday, as ex-students they both have student loans to repay which was never a problem for either of us.
Now we need to think about investing and given my interest in the future that I described – what will happen, how prices are likely to change – the futures market is something to watch and maybe invest in. Check for example all the fun and games you can have when you trade futures. Trading futures means that you can choose products from a number of markets, use professional, web or mobile platforms with all sorts of support. Many people spend their time playing computer games – our sons included. Instead of that, why not play real games where you may make some money rather than spend it! Surely this beats Call of Duty where the blood on the carpet is only make-believe anyway.
Retail price maintenance was abolished in the UK many years ago and this has been followed pretty nearly everywhere now. In the ‘old days’ someone, probably in a smoke-filled room, would set the price even of basic food stuffs. Whether they were the manufacturer, a trade specialist, an academic or a politician matters not. They set the price and people had no option but to pay it or go without.
Today it is the market that sets the price and it is very much more dynamic. The ‘market’ has evolved over recent years into a collection of online traders all over the globe. Some work as professonals in high-powered computing environments using charts and sophisticated mathematical and statistical modelling to predict prices. Others work on their own using intuition in niche areas, often beating the professionals and automatic traders. Becoming part of the trading world just adds your expertise in and makes the market more responsive. It is an opportunity. Prices can become a bit too volatile but they do generally correct themselves. We all need to know how much things cost but in the end, it is just how much someone is prepared to sell for. So by trading a product maybe a number of times, the market can set the price pretty accurately.
You may worry about the ethics but view access to advanced trading systems as contributing to the crowd-sourcing that estimates the values, all made possible by that wonder called the web. God bless Sir Tim Berners-Lee. What a guy!