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Essay: A more casual approach to the bottom line

People don't need to spend their entire lives making sure their money is working hard enough.

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Back in my younger days, I had a pretty basic arrangement where money was concerned: Every week I'd earn a little bit of it and, just as regularly, through various transactions, it would end up in the hands of other people.

All very simple and straightforward.

There was no need for any smooth-talking advisers, helpful booklets, or weekend seminars designed to show me how a property investment in some emerging backwater could be the key to my long-term financial security.

But then marriage and a child came along, and suddenly it was important that there was enough money tucked away for a rainy day and maybe even a week in the sun, as well. Pension plans and retirement funds became hot topics, instead of being a conversational fallback.

And to top it all off? Thanks to the global economy, those of us within a slightly graying demographic now have international finance to worry about – which, as far as I understand it, involves prime lending rates, the price of various commodities, and the cost of a barrel of oil. Apparently, these all have the power to affect my standard of living, which makes me think I should maybe take an interest.

But lately, another thought has entered my head: You could spend a lifetime trying to make sure that your money is always putting in its best effort on your behalf.

These days, those in the know keep telling us that it's not enough to have a basic low-yield savings account.

Given the vulnerability of even the strongest economies to inflation and recession, they say, the truly wise and insightful among us are those investors, large and small, who know how to send their money out into the world so that it might be fruitful and multiply via mutual funds and pension accounts and property deals. And then the money will return home safely before being sent out again on some other lucrative mission.

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