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

Wednesday, 18 April 2012


Why does the average New-Zealander see their home as a nest egg for retirement. This is fantasy. As a financial planner what I see is when the family home is sold, and a retirement home purchased, the pull of new furniture, whiteware, car and overseas travel is irresistible. In many cases not only has the "nest egg" vanished but funds earmarked for retirement income are utilised. What to do? No matter what your age and stage get yourself to a financial planner.

Who's Counting?

Joan Rivers said "People say that money is not the key to happiness, but I always figured if you have enough money you can have a key made." If you don't have enough money to have the key made try this:

Go through your expenditure for the last month or so and figure out those items which engender feelings of happiness - for example does the coffee and muffin you buy everyday make you happy or is it a habit? If it is a habit you can save $10 a day to spend on something you love.

Finance & Investments

A recent Forbes article by Mindy Crary identified the four stages of awareness we need to master before learning a new skill.

Unconsciously Incompetent. This is the stage where you don’t know what you don’t know. This skill or thing isn’t even on your radar. Many people are unconsciously incompetent with wealth creation because while growing up, it wasn’t an issue for them. Things got bought and paid for and no one ever talked about money.  

Consciously Incompetent. You know you want to be able to do something. This is where people start to apply their individual problem solving styles; some people jump in anyway, some people try to intellectually and theoretically understand before applying the new knowledge. People usually become aware that they are consciously incompetent with wealth creation right after they make a money mistake, like accumulate credit card debt.

Consciously Competent. When you’re consciously competent, you know how to perform the required skill, but you have to do it carefully. With wealth creation, you might limit your options with investing because you KNOW you don’t understand the more complicated investment products; or you manage your debt, but only because your credit cards are in your freezer, submerged in a tin car filled with water (because you can’t microwave a tin can).

Unconsciously Competent. Unconsciously competent people perform the skill without even really thinking about it. When people are unconsciously competent about wealth creation, it usually looks like they just got lucky—often the way people perceive other successful people. The specific reasons for their competency vary between individuals; but one thing that DOESN’T vary is an early awareness about money and an environment that supported the idea that people do in fact have complete control over their financial situation.

In my day job as a financial planner I deal with people in all these categories, mostly in the "unconsciously incompetent" and "consciously competent" stages. Its my job to move them through to "unconsciously competent."

Musings and Amusings

A fascinating new study out of Australia knocked the stereotype of selfish, single, Sex & The City-style women on its head this week with findings that it’s not career ambition that’s keeping young women from settling down, but rather a long list of reasons outside of her control. First and foremost, a lack of a willing, able—and kid-friendly—partner.

Housing ranked highly, too, with women wanting to reduce a mortgage, to renovate or to move to more suitable accommodation before having a child.

For centuries women have married without giving a thought to love, searching instead for financial security, stability and a father for their children simply because they were ready to have children.

The modern women is looking to build her life so she can make a decision when the time is right financially, pragmatically and emotionally—so she doesn’t need to find the man to make it happen, but the man she can enjoy life with while everything else falls in line.


Worldwide women are crucial to economic growth. It's not a topic which is widely discussed but a recent McKinsey report on the US economy makes for interesting reading.

Click here for graph

Since women’s participation in the workforce took off, in the 1970s, their productivity has accounted for about a quarter of current GDP. But women still aren’t reaching their full economic potential. One important reason is that far too many highly skilled women simply don’t progress up the ladder in corporate America.

A new report, delves into the details of this well-known phenomenon. The problem isn’t simply a lack of flexible working conditions or support for working mothers. Nor is it an inability to get women into the workforce or women’s desire to opt out; most can’t afford to. Instead, entrenched mind-sets and behaviors—at companies and among women themselves—are two of the biggest culprits in preventing women from advancing. The issue is particularly acute at the transition from middle manager to senior manager, a point when women have proven themselves professionally yet a disproportionate share leave corporate careers. For many, invisible biases become impassable.

One striking discovery is that women who have progressed from entry-level jobs to middle management, and then from middle management to senior management, have, at each stage, an increasing interest in being leaders and an increasing belief that opportunities exist.

Helping middle-management women to develop and advance will make the biggest difference because it will begin to reshape the corporate talent pipeline and help companies reach their goal of advancing more women to the top.

Everyday Money

I really dislike the term budgeting - it implies a restrictive regime - somewhat like dieting and ends up being something else we fail at and can feel guilty about.

Current psychobabble talks about living consciously; I am advocating spending consciously. I have written before about the "black hole," the area where we can't identify our spending. Get a torch and peer into your black hole - are you buying takeaways too frequently - say $50 a week? Cut back to $25 - you can still enjoy the treat, have the experience but reduce the expenditure.

Secondly assess after a month or so whether you are satisfied with your $25 a week.

Then tackle your next challenge, can you for example reduce your petrol consumption, walk to some places, enjoy the outdoors and save some money.

Finally continue to spend consciously - make it a habit!