Asset sale gravy train (no chips)

Victor Billot, of Dunedin, has some advice for "mum and dad" investors.

I was impressed and excited to read a local finance broker's advice to potential "mum and dad" investors in privatised public assets in the Otago Daily Times (6.7.12).

Mr Chris Timms, of Craigs Investment Partners, says any complaints about ordinary Kiwis not being able to get in on the sale of the 21st century are misplaced.

It comes down to lifestyle choices and priorities.

Cut out the cigarettes and takeaways, and you can be in to win.

As Mr Timms says, you can save money, be healthier and buy some shares.

I agree.

It is a well-known fact that the working classes of New Zealand expend their lives in a haze of cigarette smoke, while simultaneously pouring jugs of beer down their throats and stuffing their ample jaws with burgers and chips.

It's amazing they actually find time to work full time and raise families.

In some cases, they linger on well into their 70s on superannuation (another drain on the economy).

We need to buy back the assets we already own because we needed to give tax cuts to high-income people, like finance industry high-fliers for example.

These tax cuts encourage them to work harder at buying the assets, that they are kindly selling for us, back to us.

If ordinary Kiwis wish to own the assets they already own, they need to understand in order to own them, they need to buy them back.

Confused? Don't worry.

The hard thinking has already been done for us.

But this process will need sacrifice.

It will need hard times.

There will be no gain without pain.

Our prime minister leads by example.

For many nights, he lay awake in bed all night wondering if shovelling millions of dollars of tax cuts to millionaires like himself was the right thing to do.

In the end he did it.

He made the tough call on our behalf and we all benefited from it.

Some benefited more than others but, as they say, life's not fair.

As a result, we are now in a position where we are being permitted to buy the assets we already own.

I believe Mr Timms is being too soft when he gently suggests cutting down on the smokes or turning away from the siren call of the cheeseburger. Like many, he has been seduced into easy solutions.

I have a number of "tough love" recommendations to assist the average Kiwi "mum and dad" to get involved.

Firstly, do you really need that house?

A shift into a tent at a local camp site could free up useful capital, which you can then use to invest in your assets.

Tents are flexible and can be moved to a cheaper site, if required.

Freedom camping is another possibility for the serious investor.

Secondly, examine your food budget.

Food is overrated.

It is well known that food is a major expense for many families.

In economic terms, food comes with an opportunity cost.

Every mouthful is literally eating into your potential investment portfolio.

It is scientifically proven that a low-calorie diet will ensure good health.

Bread and water never hurt anyone, as long as you have an occasional vitamin pill to counteract the effects of scurvy.

Don't get too healthy, though, as then you will hang around on the superannuation benefit.

Thirdly, winter heating.

Lots of savings to be made here.

Firewood is out, of course, and electricity can be reduced to a bare minimum.

Go to bed early to keep warm - around 5pm.

You won't be missing much as TV, stereo and a reading lamp are out, and dinner is a cold tin of baked beans.

Fourthly, entertainment expenses.

Sadly, as a nation we have not yet weaned ourselves off sport, music, cultural pursuits and hobbies.

But go they must if we are to invest in what we are about to divest.

Keep an eye on other family members and look for signs of frivolous enjoyment.

Remember the best kind of fun is free.

Take the kids down to the library and check out how your $1000 of mum and dad shares are going in the free newspapers (of course you have cancelled your ODT subscription).

But hurry up about it.

The library will probably have to be sold soon, to pay for the stadium.

These are only suggestions and you should adjust them to fit your own circumstances.

Finance industry leaders do not need to worry about reducing restaurant meals, wine cellars, private schools, holiday homes, golf club memberships, Elton John concerts, skiing passes, Pacific island winter getaways, etc.

Thanks to John Key's tax cuts and corporate perks, this group should already have enough money to maintain a more than comfortable lifestyle, and invest in assets as well. Indeed, you will be able to have more of the above very soon, as a "gold class" mum and dad with $100,000-plus to invest.

It's what the finance industry call a "win-win" solution.

There is another option, however.

The people of New Zealand could rise up and say, actually, mate, these assets are already ours and they were built and maintained by us for the benefit of all future generations - not just to line the pockets of the greedy and already prosperous by ripping off everyone else.

But that is unlikely.

We Kiwi mums and dads are a trusting bunch, and we want to believe what men in quality suits with nice smiles - like Mr Key - tell us.

After all, they have our best interests at heart.

 Victor Billot is a writer, editor, unionist and former parliamentary candidate for the Alliance Party.



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