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

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Finance and Investments

Are you a DIY investor? If so how are you feeling now? Pretty stressed I imagine and your emotions will swing between denial, fear and blame which is probably resulting in portfolio paralysis. This response is not rational, this is the time to do something and that thing would be to seek advice. If you think you don't need an advisor ask yourself the following questions;

1. What return do I expect over the next 12 months?
2. What was my return for the last 12 months?
3. Do I get independent advice, if so who from?
4. Do I get research or investment suggestions from non-mainstream media?
5. Do I have a structured investment strategy?
6. Do I have a structured exit plan?

If you can't answer yes to all these questions, hie thee not to a nunnery (or a monastery), head in the sand is not an elegant or useful stance; get yourself to a financial planner.


The world of womenomics can be quite confusing. Two reports one from the UK and one from the USA caught my eye.

In Britain it appears that the average earnings of black women are now 6% higher than that of their white counterparts. This is a reversal of last years figures when white women earned more than 7% more. The Equality and Human Rights Commission said that one explanation for these results was that 50% of black women live in central London where the average pay is higher and many black women work in health and social services where pay has been rising.

This report I juxtaposed with an article in the New York Times under the banner "What has Driven Women Out of Computer Science?" It seems that less than 10% of the recent computer science graduates are women compared with the mid 1980's when women made up 40% of the students who majored in computer systems. One professor of mathematics and computer science at the University of Wisconsin theorised that it has been the rise in the subculture of action gaming which is the cause. There was the sense that computers were "boys" toys and that true girls didn't play with computers. There is also of course the pejorative term of "nerd" or "geek."

I was recently taken to task for talking about the "ghettoisation" of some occupations; these two reports reminded me of that. Health and social services are "womanly" occupations and computer science is not.

Musings and Amusings

In some books and websites of late there has been a common theme of anger - anger displayed by single young males (SYM's). They are angry at women who they say turn marriage into a raw deal for men. Apparently women see men as a conduit to money as well as being dishonest, self centred, slutty, manipulative, shallow and controlling. The men who complain seem to think this view of women is a new phenomenon. I can only say they must be poorly educated or don't read.

Women have been depicted in this fashion in plays, novels and in the laws which have been enacted in many cultures for centuries,

I suggest the SYM's who complain, most likely seek out women who fit their assessment of our fair sex and who reflect their own characteristics of shallowness, self absorption etc. To these men I say get a life - it is probably time for you to step up to the plate and seek a new equality by taking on the sorts of work that married women enjoy - the cooking, cleaning, ironing, changing nappies etc. After all it is not fair that we monopolise these tasks.

Who's Counting?

Niall Ferguson is in his recent book entitled "Survival of the Fittest" subtitled "The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World."

The financial world is all about counting - counting the risk, counting the money, counting the debits and credits.

Without mathematics there wouldn't be a financial world and we would not enjoy the sophisticated advanced economics of the 21st century.

In his book Ferguson discusses the evolution of "money" and what accounted as valuable in the financial history of the world ranging from large stones, shells to the coinage used almost universally today.

He concludes by saying finance is the mirror of mankind and as such can hardly be blamed if it reflects our blemishes just as much as our beauty.


Well actually I would say why not? Why not invest in equities? Yes, in hindsight the best place you could have kept your money over the last year is in the bank, and the volatility of the markets combined with the media reports of the worst financial crisis ever make you feel intimidated, fearful. You want to wait until "everything is stabilised." That is sheer foolishness. There is one certainty that has stood the test of time. By leaving all your money in cash assets you will never reach your financial goals.

One simple way to get started without causing too much angst is to buy into unit trusts on a monthly basis. If you use a good wrap account you can even split your monthly investments. I recommend Europe, Asia and Emerging Markets.

I suggest you take a deep breath and jump in, contact an advisor.

Everyday Money

10 Places to Find Money
1. Stop spending coins. Collect them. Only pay with notes.
2. Supermarket coupons (don’t spend the $1 that you have just saved!)
3. Cancel SKY TV.
4. Take lunch to work.
5. Limit magazine subscriptions.
6. Increase your insurance deductibles.
7. Lower your thermostat.
8. Set up automatic bill paying (saves money on stamps) and timely payment can give you discounts.
9. Reduce or eliminate ATM and fee-charging credit cards.
10. Buy less coffee (Latte, Cappuccino).

The Latte Effect
Gina, who is 29, came to see me some months ago, she earned a salary of $53,000, and had paid off half of her mortgage, but claimed that she couldn’t save money. She said she hated budgeting although she wanted to save for her retirement. She “wanted to start enjoying life now”. After some discussion we decided that rather than doing a budget we would do an “analysis of her current spending patterns”; if we found areas we could comfortably prune she would focus on those and save the excess. This was our list of expenses we could attack and the monthly savings we could make:

Savings Per Month
Lattes (reduce by 50%) $75.00
Dining out (reduce by 50%) $100.00
Alcohol (reduce by 50%) $57.00
Cigarettes (stop smoking) $170.00
Total: $402.00
This adds up to $4,824 per annum.
Gina became quite excited by this, she had been wanting to quit smoking anyway and this analysis gave her an added incentive. She has stuck to her plan for seven months now, “Saving”, she said “is quite addictive, I have found that I am becoming much more aware of spending in other areas and I’m really enjoying looking for bargains. It’s quite funny – I used to think budgeting was repressive.”