Welcome to the Money Maven's Financial Blog

Money Maven Blog by Sheryl Sutherland, Authorised Financial Adviser and Director of The Financial Strategies Group

Recommended Reading

Recommended Reading by Sheryl Sutherland: Girls Just Want to Have Fund$ - Every Women’s Guide to Financial Independence, Money, Money, Money Ain't it Funny - How to Wire your Brain for Wealth, and Smart Money - How to structure your New Zealand business or investments and pay less tax.

The Financial Strategies Group

We think for ourselves and make unique recommendations. We only recommend investments and insurances that are in the best interest of our clients.

The Financial Strategies Group

Most of us spend 40 years working to secure our financial future; the most important investment you can make is to purchase appropriate financial planning advice.

Contact us for a review of your investments and insurances.

Begin to experience the serenity that accompanies financial responsibility and integrity: email sheryl@strategies.co.nz, call 0800 64MONEY or visit our website http://www.strategies.co.nz

Friday, 25 January 2008

Musings & Amusings

My worry treatment of choice is a well mixed Martini and thanks to a book called How's your Drink? I now know the required dosage; there is apparently a link between breasts (female) and Martinis. One is too few. Three is too many. Two seems somehow superbly right.

Please comment on your treatment of choice!

Finance & Investment

You can't see me but I am wearing a pointy hat, carrying a wand and peering into a crystal ball. Yes folks I am going to make a prediction.

Remember the dot.com bubble? Well here is the next one; the "clean tech" bubble. Consumers are going green - and as Kermit so famously said, "It's not easy being green."

Venture capitalists are pouring cash into environmentally friendly technology. This is a reflection of the hype around smart cars, green buildings, and technologies that use the sun, wind, corn and water to generate power. Combine this with pricier oil and worries about global warming have spurred the search for alternative technologies.

The problem is that there are too many dollars chasing too few deals; one partner at an energy technology venture capital firm said "we are certainly seeing some evidence of overheating...in solar and bio fuels. But it's too early to tell..." In fact over 60% of venture capitalists claim the sector is overvalued but, of course, remain convinced of the sector's long term value. So watch this space - I'll keep you informed.

For more on bubbles read Money, Money, Money Ain't it Funny.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008


I am enthused that the last two decades have seen a major shift in education throughout the West. Employers cry out for more highly educated workers and boys have made modest gains in participation and performance but they have been outdone by the explosive improvement of girls at every level.

There are plenty of theories which claim the rationale but the jury is still out.

Why does this matter?
- It is actually a world wide trend, some US universities are introducing positive discrimination to life male attendance. Should NZ?
- Educated women marry later and have fewer children, what impact will this have on family formation?
- We have, in the past, "married up"; as we outperform men will there be a decline in partnering?
- What will happen to ethnic intermarriage rates given that well educated Maori and Pacific women are far more likely to have a partner outside their ethnic group - does this matter?

I look forward to your comments.


I frequently start off my presentations by saying "I don’t know any women who aren’t fabulous with money; budgeting with it, spending it, getting it from other people, saving it (in the bank), buying cheaply, securing cash for clothes or jewellery, helping others make money, or giving it away, or, like Greenacres Zsa Zsa Gabor being a good housekeeper – she kept all her houses."

And now this has been validated by a survey commissioned by home lender Wizard. Sixty per cent of women have sole responsibility for budgeting and nearly 70% pay the bills. Less than one in ten couples share these tasks and well over half the women take the lead in paying the rent or mortgage. In fact, barely 1 in 10 women said their male partners had sole responsibilities for household tasks.

But what interested me was that the top of the priority list; a good level of savings was of prime financial importance for a massive 79% of those surveyed and having a good amount of retirement savings was important to 52% and having investments an important goal for four out of ten women.

I am absolutely convinced that we will see a massive change in the investment world over the next decade and it will be driven by women. I am amazed that financial institutions have not yet figured this out - but then it is mostly men who are in charge!

Who's counting?

Well it was probably you - adding up debt looking at interest rates, petrol costs and trying to figure out a way to cope in 2008. As always I have a few ideas...or rules:

First Step
Talk to whoever will offer you the lowest rate for debt consolidation for most of us that is the bank, PSIS or credit union. Try and avoid those credit brokers who claim to search the market for "the best deal."

Be aware however that if a loan period is extended it will extend the amount of interest you pay. Here is an example - if you are paying back $10,000 at $236 a fortnight over two years (at an interest rate of 20.9%, a common credit card rate) you will pay $2243 in interest. Stretch that out to four years at 23% cuts fortnightly payments to $147.47 but the total interest paid is $5186 - result = deeper debt.

Get Advice
Three excellent websites are that of Consumer, Sorted and the Federation of Family Budgeting Services (www.familybudgeting.org.nz) and you can get free confidential advice from this excellent organisation.

Change your Mindset
As I frequently say money does not solve money problems. I suggest you grab a copy of Money, Money, Money Ain't it Funny which is all about how your mindset controls your finances and how to subvert your impulses (well those relating to money - I would not dare to proffer advice on any others!)

Plastic Fantastic
Convert to a low interest credit card like Bank Direct at 11.95% but don't pay the minimum payment of 5% - you'll still have that albatross around your neck in a decade.

Mortgage Top Up
Using your home equity can be a good idea given the low interest rate - low in comparison to that of cards - but best to set up a separate mortgage account to pay the debt back quickly. Property values are consolidating and you are unlikely to find rebuilding your equity a quick process.

It All Adds Up (Courtesy of Rob Stock from the Sunday Star Times)
The debt-consolidation Google
Ordinary Links:
1. NZ Loan (Finance company)
2. PSIS (co-operative banking organisation)
3. Future Finance (credit broker)
4. Instant Personal Loans (finance company)
5. Consumer (consumer advocate)
6. Credit Express (credit broker)
7. Finance Point (credit broker)
8. Problem Mortgages (mortgage broker)
9. Sorted (consumer advocate/information)
10. Payplan (credit broker)

Sponsored Links:
1. American Express
2. National Bank
3. Asset Finance (finance company)
4. GE Money (finance company)
5. Credit Express (credit broker)
6. NZ Loan (finance company)
7. The Specialist Lender (mortgage broker)
8. East Bay Finance (credit broker)
9. Active Finance (credit broker)
10. Wizard (mortgage lender)
*irrelevant links screened out