Sunday, June 29, 2008

Little strokes fell great oaks

An insurmountable problem confronts you. But who said it was insurmountable? History is full of stories where people beat all the odds, overcome the impossible and go on to win the day.

When confronted by a seemingly impossible or overwhelming problem try to break it down into manageable chunks. The way to fell a large tree is not to give it one huge blow but one chip at a time. Then you can shout timber! before standing back to appreciate your success.

It is the accumulation of regular actions over a period of time that adds up and makes a difference. Impatient people want things now but their far-sighted cousins know the value of a little energy expended daily to achieve a lot. Patience is a virtue and everything comes to those who wait especially if they put in steady effort. The credit crunch came about because too many people wanted it all now and weren't prepared to save bit by bit towards their goal.

The drip of water will wear away the hardest stone. Learn to be patient and persevering and gradually you will see success. Rome wasn't built in a day. The longest journey starts with the first step. Sharpen your tools and get going.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Loans and debts make worry and frets

This is a fairly obvious statement; if you owe money there is always the fear that something will happen to reduce your income. If you fail to pay up on time there will be penalties and eventually you might lose your assets. When you awake in the "wee small hours" and what if scenarios start running unbidden in your mind the proverb: neither a borrower nor a lender be seems like solid advice.

The person who gives a loan has the corresponding worry: "What if I don't get the money back?" As they say: If you owe a hundred and you can't pay you are in trouble. If you owe a million and can't pay the lender is in trouble.

In the modern economy, credit is essential for most people as they need to buy things now not in twenty-years time when they have saved up the money. To borrow to invest in a business or buy an essential can make good sense if you have carefully worked out the risk. To borrow to finance a luxury you do not really need is not wise. Previous generations would probably have called it sinful.

If something can go wrong it will go wrong so it is prudent to assume some setbacks and give yourself a safety margin.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

They seldom live well who think they shall live long

Saving for your old age was once a common thing but the development of pensions contributed to by employers eased the need for this. People scrimped and scraped and went without for fear of a penurious old age. This meant going without many of the pleasures of the moment in order to put something by for the future.

Whilst thrift can be a praiseworthy virtue the warning here is that it can lead to meanness and extremes of self denial that make life less enjoyable. Many people in the western economies who had the habit of saving into a bank account, as their forefathers had encouraged them, lost out heavily in the 1970's when governments allowed monetary expansion to cause runaway inflation. Old fashioned values were turned upside down as those who had saved saw their money's value drop and those who had borrowed saw the amount of their debt decline as they paid it off with inflated currency.

Although saving is sensible it pays to be wary where you keep your savings in order to maintain their value. Traditionally gold has been a good, long term store of value but it pays no dividend.

You can, of course, opt for the "short life but a merry one" philosophy and, who knows, the government might bail you out at the finish especially if all the good times boosts your longevity. You might end up being subsidised by the poor, hardworking, hard-saving souls who die young with the effort. Such is life!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

There is no pot so bad but it finds its lid

This could refer to people finding their match in the field of matrimony. It is often surprising to see some relationships and to wonder what on earth did she see in him or vice versa.

There is a science to how people match up and we all tend to recognise when a couple are a good match and when they are not. Some unlikely pairings seem to work and this might be down to the easy going nature of the individuals or it is based on mutual need. The man wants a good looking girl, the woman wants a good provider, and they are willing to overlook other incompatibilities. They don’t belong together but they rattle along somehow.

Lucky indeed are the couple who naturally match, and whose circumstances are in perfect harmony -- where the pot and lid have been made for each other.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

One fair day in winter makes not birds merry

Nor does a single swallow make it summer. Here we are being cautioned not to jump to conclusions on the basis of flimsy evidence.

Birds start singing in spring as that is the time of pairing up and defending a territory; they do not sing to celebrate the weather becoming pleasanter. It is a form of false logic to think so:

Birds sing because the weather is pleasant.
This is a pleasant day
Therefore the birds will sing.

This is false because the premise "birds sing because the weather is pleasant" is incorrect; it is a mistaken assumption that the weather alone is the cause.

This type of muddled thinking is responsible for many human ills and miseries as people act in good faith on wrong ideas. Humans might sing on a pleasant day because it makes them happy but it does not follow that birds will be the same, though the pleasantness of the day might act as a stimulus.