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Focus Questions

1. What are people actually paying for when they ... invest money / buy a car / pay a subscription / buy clothes / pay a doctor above bulk billing / do a educational course / choose an Apple phone over a cheaper Android / go to a swish restaurant .... etc

2. Does frugality make sense? For whom? Is frugality a rational decision or a personality trait?

3. What is a government actually paying for when it invests enormous funds in the military but neglects infrastructure or social welfare?

4. Before WW11 Japan had a reputation for exporting cheap, shoddy gadgets. After WW!! it invested in premium quality at a higher price. Now that story belongs to China. What are some premium quality products from China? What has the United States produced at a higher price but inferior quality? What do these transitions tell us about getting what you pay for?

5. Do you have some personal recollections of not getting what you thought you were paying for?

6. In personal relationships, when are you likely to get a 'return' on your emotional and material investments? When will it be time and money down the drain?

7. Some transactions are pretty quick and simple. You get/don't get what you thought you paid for, and can usually accept the return or write off the loss briskly. Some undertakings need you to invest years of time and money, with no guarantee of a return. The 'sunk costs' (not least in life lost) become enormous. At what point do you just cut your losses and walk away? [e.g. think of a marriage, a career promise, a research project like a PhD .... ; a wish to be an Olympic athlete or a concert violinist ... )

8. Do superannuation schemes work? Millions of Americans have had their working life investments in K401 superannuation wiped out by rogue bankers on the stock market. On the other hand, Australia's superannuation scheme is hated by a large part of the conservative political establishment because the Industry Superannuation Funds, controlled by trade unions, have come to exert great financial power and are inclined to 'ethical investment'.

9. How often do people not really know what they are paying for, just following a set of personal assumptions rather than doing due diligence? Can this ever be changed? How many will pay an expert (e.g. a building inspector) to do a professional evaluation before committing large sums of money?

10. The traditional political equation in countries like Australia has been that conservative governments spend money frugally and are generally better money managers, while progressive governments increase taxes and spend money wastefully. How well does history bear out this assumption. Do voters typically 'get what they pay for/ don't pay for with governments?

About Focus Questions: a) Please read them before you come to the meetup. Think about them so you have more than "instant opinions" to offer. b) Feel free to add more focus questions. c) THE FOCUS QUESTIONS ARE JUST A MENU TO CHOOSE FROM. From this menu we can discuss whatever seems interesting. d) Focus questions are not intended to push one viewpoint! You can adopt any position you wish. We actually like friendly disagreement - it can lead to deeper understanding