With 2011 the year of the rabbit, are there lessons we can take from our furry friends?
It’s one of those things only mentioned in the build up to New Year, and then instantly forgotten. "Oooh, next year is the year of the pig/cat/cow/piranha (delete as appropriate) in the Chinese calendar". It’s just a meaningless tag that we find interesting for five minutes, before going off to try to find the words to the second verse of Auld Lang Syne.
Well, not this year! 2011 is the year of the rabbit, and there are a few financial tips to learn from our furry friends.
1. Great long distance eyesight
When I was a kid I remember my parents banging on about how if I ate up my carrots, I’d be able to see in the dark. While that was rubbish, those carrot-loving rabbits do have impressive vision, specifically over long distances.
And it’s looking ahead into the long-term that we should all do with our finances, rather than get bogged down in short-term changes.
For example, it pays to think long-term when starting your pension – the earlier the better. Similarly, when debating whether to buy a house, you shouldn’t be worrying about month to month fluctuations in price, but rather how appropriate the property will be as a home for an extended period of time, and whether you can still afford it once interest rates start heading upwards.
2. Getting the most out of food
Rabbits can have some ‘interesting’ behaviour towards food, or rather, what their food becomes – excrement. Indeed, rabbits will tend to eat some of their own droppings, in order to digest the food further and extract as many nutrients from it as possible.
Obviously, I’d never recommend eating your own poo! However, there are ways to maximise what you get out of your food, whether that means finding a way to make use of leftovers (personally they always end as lunches) or simply getting more from your money. When doing your weekly shop, be sure to use MySupermarket, as you'll be able to get the best deal from a range of supermarkets, while you should also check out our Frugal Food blog for all the latest deals and offers.
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And remember to check out our great Frugal Recipes blog for tips on how to cook fabulous meals for bargain prices.
It’s fair to say that rabbits are somewhat renowned for their breeding habits. We’ve all heard the phrase “at it like rabbits” for example! Indeed, with an average litter size of between four and 12 babies, you can very quickly find yourself surrounded by the little things.
However, for us humans, it’s become more financially testing to have lots of children. For example, from 2013, higher tax rate payers will no longer qualify for child benefit, while things like the health in pregnancy grant, to help expectant mothers pay for healthier foods which tend to be a tad more expensive, will disappear next year.
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Coupled with the removal of Child Trust Fund payments by the Government, and elements of child tax credits, it’s very much the case that we all have to work out how many children (if any) we can afford to have. No more rabbit-style breeding for us!
4. A wide range of habitat
Rabbits can live in a variety of different places, from deserts to swamps, forests to grasslands. Wherever they are, they will build interconnected tunnels called warrens.
While us humans also live in a variety of different properties, from detached four-bedroom homes to studio flats, too many of us are single minded about how we go about getting that property – we just have to buy!
The British obsession with buying property is not one shared by our European cousins, who tend to be far more in favour of renting. And with property prices still seriously high compared to the salaries each of us earn, for many, renting represents a far more sensible move than overstretching our finances in order to snap up a mortgage that we may not be able to afford should interest rates start moving northwards. Have a read of Why you’re better off renting for more on why buying is not best for all of us!
5. An element of luck
Rabbits continue to be useful, even after death. No I’m not talking about eating them (though they make a lovely stew) but rather their feet, which are seen by many as a lucky charm.
Luck is a funny concept when it comes to money. While making money by saving every month is seen as a sensible thing to do, getting involved with the stock market and investing is seen as gambling, nothing more than pot luck.
And if you decide which shares to buy based on closing your eyes and running your fingers down the pages of the Financial Times, then it is all luck. However, investment doesn’t have to be like that. You need to plan out your strategy, who you are going to invest in, and most importantly, why!
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