December 2009

Maybe it’s the holiday season, or maybe it’s just the rare sense of appreciation I felt when I noticed the missing number on the monthly invoice. An epiphany even! This company actually wanted, appreciated, and knew how to retain my business.
Moments earlier, after wrestling with a 300 pound Sumo telephone menu system, and after too many wasted minutes waiting to speak to a “representative”, my final conclusion was that I really needed to find a more responsive insurance company.
Consumers waste millions of hours annually punching numbers into keypads, just hoping for the opportunity to scream “representative” at the top of their lungs out of terminal frustration. Yes Virginia, the last thing most companies want you to do is actually speak to a person.
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It’s not really a surprise to see Abu Dhabi hand over another bunch of dollars to its wayward relative Dubai. It had to be so; it was just a matter of time. The bailout or handout or whatever one wishes to call this latest transfer of money was necessary to shore up the reputation of the Emirates.

Dubai Metro

Dubai Metro

It’s the second time that Dubai has had help from it’s more conservative and wealthier neighbour. In February 2009 Abu Dhabi pledged $10 billion to prop up the ailing Emirate in a move to assist Dubai’s $20 billion long-term bond program. The Central Bank of the UAE bought up the first tranche of the bond issue.

The highest Tennis court in the world

The highest Tennis court in the world

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Just before Christmas scores of people feel compelled to write lengthy articles, present lectures, compile videos for YouTube and in general create hot air about the topic of excessive Christmas gift buying.


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Some pontificate about this subject throwing clever economic theories about and others tug at emotional strings while further proponents try to reason that Christmas gifts are a waste of money because most people hate the ones they get.

They certainly have a point. The shopping malls hum at their busiest just after Christmas when people come in to exchange their unwanted gifts.

So why do it?

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Easy answer really. It’s all about guilt. Parents showering their children with gifts do this because they feel guilty that they don’t show their love and caring enough. Adult children give gifts to parents because they feel guilty that they don’t show their love and caring enough. Husbands give their wives gifts because… You get the drift of the argument here.

If this is the reason for the excessive gift season, how did it get so out of hand? Enter the advertising industry whose reason for existence is to ensure their clients sell more and more products.

Holidays based on emotional reasons such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Father and Mother’s Day, Teacher’s Day and most other man made public holidays are an advertising executive’s wet dream.
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Emotions and message. They work so well together. If you love your kids, parents, friends, auntie and any other folk you can think of then you have to buy that latest game, just launched designer label perfume, bit of jewelery or that cute little Ferrari.

The bigger the purchase the more perfect is your love. Not always of course. Sometimes   it’s the latest toy that causes the most obsessive gift purchasing quest. Many parents have felt compelled to shred their nerves chasing around the shopping malls to find that last Nintendo game, most recent Bratz doll or zebra striped iPod.

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For many businesses this period of gift feeding frenzy is the main income generating quarter. This is what keeps them going. Sure there are other times during the 12 month trading period where the flat-lining turnover figures show a blip of life, but it’s the Christmas trading period that provides the bulk of their trade.

Florists have a similar love relationship with Valentine’s Day. And chocolate manufacturers have jumped on the bandwagon of Easter for their rush of income. So why should shopping malls not similarly pursue the Xmas dollar.

That’s exactly what shopping malls are doing with great gusto. How else would it be possible for you to find the biggest decorated Christmas tree in an Arab country? And have you noticed how early in the year those Christmas decorations are put up and the cheesy jingles are played? October already.christmasshop-main_Full

In the end it’s truly a win-win situation. Business makes its money. Human beings get to calm their guilt feelings about how the stress and busyness of their lives forces them to neglect their friends and family during the year.  It’s a season of goodwill to all folk all round.

What is your take on this seasonal topic?


Here are a few money management pointers for women. Are there any aha moments for you when you read this list? Post your comment!

Tip 1: Balancing your cheque book is not rocket science
Contrary to what women believe or in many cases are lead to believe by the male influences in their lives, it is not difficult to work out personal finances. The basic principle is not unbelievably complex. What is paid into your account should cover what you pay out.

Spend what you have. In fact preferably not all you have, put some away. But start with balancing the incoming and outgoing as your first baby step towards financial intelligence.

And if that means cutting up the credit cards, then do so right now. If you cannot afford to pay the full amount due on your credit card at the end of the month, then you have a problem. You are trying to eat more than you have.

2) Take care of your own money
In line with balancing your own cheque book, let’s also understand then that you do not need to abdicate the money management function to anybody else. Regardless of what your father, uncle, partner et al says, guess what – you can do it yourself.

Just because you are a woman does not mean you are incapacitated, even handicapped, when it comes to working with your money. This you might have heard your father say often. Mother doesn’t know how to manage money; I can’t leave it to her.

Do not believe this. You can do the money sums. Trust yourself on this score. And in case you might not be able to add up to ten, go and do a course and learn.

3) Treat your money with respect
Where does it say in the handbook on life that you should throw your money at rubbish? You don’t need that expensive hair cut, the designer jeans, the brand spanking new car.
Because guess what. Nobody cares.
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Why Humans Are never Satisfied!!