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.

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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

Monday, 19 October 2009

Who's Counting?

I am! I am counting the efforts of Hilary Clinton in advancing the cause of women; and I have to say I am full of admiration. She has met with:
• Women South Korean students
• Talked with women chicken farmers in Kenya
• Listened to excruciating stories of rape victims in Congo.
• In South Africa visited a housing project built by poor women.
• Met with women Israeli entrepreneurs
• Met Iraqi war widows
• Met Chinese Civic activists
• Mentioned women at least 450 times in public comments in her first 5 months as Secretary of State.
• Helped found Vital Voices which has trained more than 7000 emerging leaders worldwide.
• Her trips are packed with town hall meetings and visits to micro credit projects and women’s dinners.
Now here is a worthy recipient of the Nobel prize.


Recently the executive director of Unifem, the United Nations Development Fund for Women visited Australia. The director, Ines Alberdi discussed with Australian women the inertia surrounding the deteriorating level of women in senior positions. She stated that there are broadly similar problems in developed countries but in nations such as Rwanda there is still a fight to get women into higher education. In her native Spain as here and in Australia, women are well represented in academia but not many are climbing the ranks of business. Historically the path to equality was thought to be education but in Western societies where women are well educated we still don’t occupy senior roles to any great degree.

Consider these points relating to women’s roles in Japan.
One of the longest-running discrimination cases in Japan concerns six women. They were forced to work as secretaries and watch as men who joined the company at the same time with the same backgrounds went on to become managers. The case has run for 14 years.
• Shintaro Ishihara, the Governor of Tokyo, once told a women’s magazine that women who had lived beyond their ability to produce children were of no use to society.
• There are no female chief executives of Japan’s largest 225 companies listed in the Nikkei Index.
• In one case of workplace discrimination in Japan it was found that a woman would have to work for 32 years at the same company to earn the same as a man who had been there for six years if the two did exactly the same job.
• Only 9.4 percent of parliamentary seats are held by women, ranking Japan 131st in political participation out of 189 countries.
• Only 2.5 percent of professional posts in science departments across national universities were occupied by women.

Unifem should encourage companies to adopt the mandate Norwegians enjoy; organisations are required to have 40:60 per cent ratio of one gender.

As I’ve said before, if Lehman Brothers were Lehman Sisters the worst of the recent financial crisis could well have been mitigated – or even avoided.

Musings and Amusings

A branch of psychology – positive psychology has been researching happiness on our behalf. Happy people, they say, form stronger social bonds, are healthier, are more creative and effective at work and are better citizens. And no – winning lotto does not make us happier what seems to matter more than wealth is “psychosocial prosperity;” characterised by social support, public trust, safety and tolerance in a society combined with individual feelings of being competent, leaning new things and being satisfied with your job and health. So how can you attain happiness? The researchers found that subjects who mediated daily reported more experiences of loves, joy gratitude and other positive emotions. Over time the meditations reported grater self acceptance, better relationships and better health. Can’t hurt to try this.


Why do apologists for the Islamic burka claim it relates to piety and religious faith. The wearing of the burka is a reflection of political and male power. It dehumanises the wearer by isolation her from normal human interaction. She cannot see clearly and her ability to hear is muffled. She inhabits her own personal cell.

It saddens me that Muslim women don’t revisit their imprisonment at mans behest, part of the male quest to keep women ignorant and housebound. And in case you think this attitude is restricted to those far off Islam nations in the Middle East reflect on the comment made by mufti Taj Din al-Hilali in Australia recently; he excused the rape of a group of unveiled women as an attack on “uncovered meat.”

Finance and Investments

Is the recession over? Economists and pundits world-wide are pontificating – while I might add most of us are getting on with our lives.

According to Warren Buffet, the world’s most successful investor the economy has “sort of plateaued at the bottom.” The Federal Reserve Chairmen Ben Bernanke has said the recession “was very likely over.” The recent surge in the S&P500 (the American Share Market Index) of 58% is certainly impressive as has been the growth in other markets. In addition to this consumer confidence is up, indicating consumers are spending again – and like it or not spending is the pump which primes economic growth; production then increases, profit comes back and investment returns.

There are still signs of doom and gloom the economy is still ailing and unemployment is still high here and offshore. Offshore banks are still very much in recovery mode but, to quote Warren Buffett again the “economy is now out of the emergency room and appears to be on the slow path to recovery. So financial Armageddon did not occur. Well the recession may be over but that is no reason to invest indiscriminately. Buying value is still the key.

Everyday Money

You and I both know that it is easy to make mistakes – we learn from them and some of them are expensive – toy boys for example! But, if you are planning on being financially secure there are some money mistakes you cannot afford to make.

1.) Paying the minimum on credit card balances. I’ve calculated it would take 19 years to pay off a balance of $3,300.00 at 17% annual interest rate. Pay those cards monthly.

2.) Not developing a budget. A budget is a financial road map that lets you see what's coming in and going out. They say women can’t read maps – we can! So take a deep breath and do it. The goal is to live below your income – if you aren’t, look for areas to cut back (sorry) like dining out or buying clothes. The best budget allows for savings and investments.
3.) Not having a superannuation plan. Everyone needs one; don’t be Scarlett O’Hara (I’ll think about that tomorrow) or Cinderella (My prince will come).

4.) When you do invest don’t only utilise a savings account – if your time frame is 5 years or more there are better alternatives for growth – especially now at sale time!

5.) Don’t pay full price for goods like clothing, travel or cars – pre-owned and pre-loved gives better value for money – buy at sale time!