Last week’s notification that General Motors would cease the building of Holdens in Australia from 2017 has meant a potentially bleak employment future for their local workers. The continually improving pay and conditions for many unionised Australians has meant for some time, however, that labour is considerably cheaper elsewhere and Australian manufacturing is not competitive. Of course, Australian industrial relations has evolved to the point that workers are free from the abuses and poor conditions of other nations, but not without some excesses that have had significant ramifications.
Consider, too, the fact that teachers now have a starting salary of around $60,000 in Victoria as of 2014 (not bad for a 22-year-old graduate). Leading teachers are hitting 6 figures without even being principals. Union pushes to improve these salaries has meant that private schools are increasing fees up by around 6% each year, well in excess of inflation. The spill over has an impact on families, yet it is these pressures that see unions then push pay claims in other industries, too. Whilst allegations of spin-off effects may all seem a bit simplistic, increased cost blowouts are having an enormous impact on families, despite us being amongst the richest of nations globally.
This Christmas, it sadly becomes all the more important for some families to exercise modesty in their personal spending in the interests of releasing some of the pressure. However, for others who may have a little more, there remains a desire to help those who are less fortunate, usually through no fault of their own, and particularly in third world nations (for example, through charitable funds such as the Samaritan’s Purse’s Operation Christmas Child). We all want out of the vicious circle of financial stress for ourselves and others.
I wonder, though, if the start of the new year might allow us all a chance to reflect and tweak our priorities a little. More money seldom changes us anyway, it just makes us richer versions of who we already are. But being truer to who we really are by aligning our spending to our true values (including those of giving to others) can happen by drawing up a realistic full-year budget and re-evaluating how we are going monthly. This not only limits impulse spending, but relieves the inner tension that is heightened at times of extra spending pressure such as Christmas.