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, 6 June 2008


Why aren’t there more women in science and engineering?

When it comes to the huge and persistent gender gap in science and technology jobs, the finger of blame has pointed in many directions: sexist companies, boy-friendly science and math classes, differences in aptitude.

Women make up almost half of today's workforce, yet hold just a fraction of the jobs in certain high-earning, high-qualification fields. They constitute 20 percent of the nation's engineers, fewer than one-third of chemists, and only about a quarter of computer and math professionals.

Now two new studies by economists and social scientists have reached a perhaps startling conclusion: When it comes to certain math- and science-related jobs, substantial numbers of women - highly qualified for the work - stay out of those careers because they would simply rather do something else.

One test, a standard personality-inventory test measured people's preferences for different kinds of work. Personal preference it concluded was the single largest determinative factor in whether women went into IT. They calculated that preference accounted for about two-thirds of the gender imbalance in the field.

A second study found something else intriguing: Women who are mathematically gifted are more likely than men to have strong verbal abilities as well; men who excel in math, by contrast, don't do nearly as well in verbal skills. As a result, the career choices for math-precocious women are wider than for their male counterparts. They can become scientists, but can succeed just as well as lawyers or teachers. With this range of choice, their data show, highly qualified women may opt out of certain technical or scientific jobs simply because they can.

Despite these studies women still seem to make choices throughout their lives that are different from men's, and it is not yet clear why. For example we don’t know about the role of mentors or experience or socialisation.

These findings on self-selection only open new areas of inquiry. The end result may be surprising - and an equal-opportunity workforce may look a lot less equal than some had imagined.

I would be very interested in your views on this.


How many times has this happened to you? You leave work, decide that you need to get groceries on the way home, take a cellphone call and forget all about your plan. Next thing you know, you've driven home.

What gives? Why are we as a species so often so desperately poor at achieving our goals?

The problem is that evolution failed to realize that remembering goals is not like recognizing objects. When your brain sees a lion, the thing to do is to decide, lickety-split, to get out of the way. Run first; ask questions later.

Alas, evolution didn't have the foresight to realise that different kinds of tasks require different kinds of memory, and it used the same basic sort of memory for everything, not just for remembering what lions and tigers look like (in which general tendencies suffice) but also for cases -- like tracking our goals -- where a bit more precision would have been helpful. As a result, trying to remember what to do next can be a little like trying to remember what you had for breakfast yesterday: There are too many breakfasts and too many yesterdays for our biological memories to keep track of.

The same thing can happen with our goals. When you sit in your car late in the day and ask yourself, "What am I supposed to do next?" and all of a sudden the cellphone rings, your brain can easily lose track of which "next step" is the right one. Instead of zeroing in on the specific memory it needs, it may well settle for remembering whatever you've done in the car most often -- and that's drive home. Voila, autopilot you forget the groceries.

Our attempts to pursue our goals are often thwarted by the fact that evolution has built our most sophisticated technologies on top of older technologies. Our “old” brain still bosses the “new brain.”

Yet our brains are structured in such a way that the more tired, stressed or distracted we are, the less likely we are to use our forebrains and the more likely to lean back on the time-tested but shortsighted machinery we've inherited from our ancestors.

Still, all is not lost. Even though our short-term desires are pretty good at grabbing the steering wheel of our consciousness, our more recently evolved deliberate minds are powerful enough to regain at least some measure of control.

Our conscious, deliberate systems will never have total control, and our memories will never be perfect, but as they say in Alcoholics Anonymous, recognition is the first step.

Read Money, Money, Money Ain’t it Funny for more on this relating to investing.

Finance and Investments

Investors be worried...The next 12 months will provide you with the best returns you are likely to get for some years.

A study of the last eight US recessions shows the US sharemarket (Which is still closely correlated with other world markets) hit their lowest points 3 – 6 months before the economy dips to its lowest ebb.

One commentator suggested the markets should start to recover around June – markets tend to recover before recessions end and, once the recovery begins, for the following 12 months you will get better returns than for the next few years. Remember greed and fear? We are about to swing back to greed.

Staying out of the share markets is a bigger risk than staying in. Oh – and the property market? Not a lot of relief – further drops are likely with a period of stagnant growth until around 2010-2011 seems likely.


Once upon a time our DIY activities were restricted to cooking and sewing – but not anymore. In the great Kiwi tradition of self sufficiency, manual competence and can doism, we are now joining the hammer brigade. Smart marketers in home improvement companies have latched onto this and are offering courses in home maintenance.

In the States there has been an explosion of women targeted self help books, videos and radio shows – including one called ‘A Repair to Remember.’

It’s not hard to see what is driving the fad; many of us live alone after partners move out taking the tool box with them. Many of us buy our own homes, waiting to marry or merge until our late 30’s.

For your next birthday or Christmas you might find that you get a tool box rather than a cake mixer!

Are you a home improver? Share your views on this.

Everyday Money

Well I love market research especially that which tell me what I am doing with my every day money – and in comparison with Australian women. You’ll be surprised to know that we spend more than the Aussies, proportionate to our income. But at least we get it right – we spend more on premium products and indulgences such as shoes, designer clothing, haircuts and pamper sessions. What do you spend your money on?

Who's Counting?

The government is counting. It appears that we have embraced KiwiSaver in numbers which have far exceeded Cullen’s expectations. Initial projections were for 270,000 people to sign up in the first year but to date over 600,000 people have joined.

It’s not surprising because we can count – we count $1000 kick-start from the Government, up to $20 a week, and $40 a year towards fees. What’s not to like? And the funding is coming from the taxes we pay.