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

Monday, 14 September 2015

Finance & Investments

One of the interesting points fleshed out in a report released recently by Deloitte on the future of the financial advice industry is the curious mismatch between growing demand for financial advice and increased levels of distrust in the community toward advisers.

The NZ experience is little different in my experience.

Baby boomers dominate the industry’s customer segment, with Australians aged over 55 accounting for two-thirds of all financial planning customers and a whopping 80 per cent of all dollars under advice. There has also been a recent focus on capturing high net worth customers.

One of the problems is the increased variety and complicated abundance of options can leave consumers “spoiled by choice and overwhelmed by difference” the report says, especially when it comes to the comparison of products and services with complex features.

Source: Business Spectator

Monday, 18 May 2015

Everyday Money

Being in debt can be a stressful experience.

1.    Make a conscious decision to stop borrowing money
If you want to get out of debt fast, you have to stop using debt to fund your lifestyle. This means no more financing furniture, no more signing up for credit cards.

2.    Establish a starter Emergency Fund of $1000
You might be wondering, ‘Why is having an emergency fund important’? Well, if you don’t have any money in the bank and an emergency does happen, how are you going to pay for it?

3.    Create a realistic budget and stick to it
Developing a budget that tracks your income and your expenses is crucial to getting out of debt in a short period of time. The first way is to earn some extra cash. 
The second thing that you can do is trim your expenses.

4.    Organise your debt
This is paramount to mapping out a plan to pay off your debt. There are two approaches that are worth considering.  The first is where you list your debts smallest to largest regardless of the interest rate.

The other method is called laddering. This is where you list your debts, starting with the highest interest rate first and end with the debt with the lowest interest rate. This method makes the most mathematical sense, because you will save the most money in interest over time.  Regardless of which process you choose, the key is to stick with it.

5.    Throw any excess cash at your debt

Some good examples would be a tax refund, selling a car, an inheritance, winning a bet, etc. The more cash you can put towards your debt, the faster it will disappear.
Debt doesn’t have to be forever. Develop your financial game plan and start your journey toward being debt-free today.

Source: Clark Howard

Musings & Amusings

What Do Millionaires Know That We Don’t?

5 Surprising Facts About Millionaires

Most Millionaires Don't Feel Rich

When Spectrem researchers asked people with a net worth between $1 million and $5 million to put themselves on a sliding scale ranging from 0 (poor) to 100 (wealthy), the average response was 63.91 — or just above the middle. In reality, those with at least $1 million are wealthier than about 92 percent of American households.

Hard Work and Education Are Keys to Success

When asked how their wealth was created, a whopping 94 percent of millionaires surveyed by Spectrem credited hard work. The number two factor? Education, cited by 87 percent. That ranked it ahead of smart investing (83 percent), frugality (78 percent) and risk-taking (60 percent).

They Get Help From Experts

Millionaires typically don't see themselves as experts in investing. Only one in five considered themselves very knowledgeable. Another one in five admitted they weren't knowledgeable, while the majority — 60 percent — said they were fairly knowledgeable but still had a lot to learn.

Only one in four millionaires Spectrem surveyed said they were self-directed investors with no assistance from advisors. The other three-quarters said they were either "advisor assisted" (26 percent), "advisor dependent" (14 percent) or "event driven" (32 percent), meaning they hired financial advisors to help them deal with specific events in their lives such as impending retirement or divorce.

They’re Hands-on With Their Money

Even though most hire help, the majority remain hands-on with their money, Spectrem found. And the more money they have, the more involved they want to be.

The Wealthiest Households Enjoy Saving More Than Spending

Seven out of 10 of the wealthiest households — those with a net worth above $25 million — said that saving and investing their money gave them greater satisfaction than spending it.

 Source: Dailyworth



Who's Counting?

1. "Set out to make a ton of money, and feel perfectly OK about doing that." - Cindy Gallop
2. "Negotiate. Accepting the first offer they make puts you in a weak position from the beginning." - Kate Gardiner
3. "1. Watch the episode of Sex and the City in which Carrie faces the reality of her finances. 2. Repent." - Ruth Ann Harnisch
4. "Budgets help you claim back your power." - Chrysula Winegar
5. " Don't hoard revenue." - Susan McPherson
6. "Save 10 percent - always." - Carrie Hammer
7. "Using pre-tax dollars can save you thousands of dollars a year." - Allyson Downey * Think KiwiSaver
8. "If you wouldn't buy it at full price, don't buy it just because it's on sale." - Tory Johnson
9. "Set up an automatic transfer to a savings account NOT connected to your everyday bank." - Ali Brown
10. "Don't invest in or buy things or jump on the financial bandwagon that doesn't make sense to you at its core." - Danielle Gelber
11. "Live beneath your means. If you know you can live without a paycheck for six months, your options open up immensely." - Adrian Granzella Larssen
12. "You're responsible for your own life, economically and in every way. Never depend on anyone else." - Leslie Bennetts


Is This Where You Thought You’d Be? Take the 10-Year Test

So much of what we’re fed (be it in the self-help, career or otherwise success-oriented literature) tells us to fixate on the future: Set goals, draw up vision boards; picture yourself five, 10, 20 years from now. In other words, keep your eye on the horizon. There’s an optimism to that, and a danger, too — the temptation to assume that things will be better “when,” or simply better then; that all of life is designed to sweep infinitely upward, with more and more to come if we can just manifest it.

Look around — at your job, your home, your handbag. What do you do all day, and do you like it? What do you carry around with you and do you need it? What’s in your fridge, your bathroom cabinet, your bank account? Chances are, you may be worth more (perhaps quite a bit more) than you were ten years ago. But weighing the money against your mood, what is it worth, and what is it costing you?  

Look at your body: How has it changed, grown, worsened, improved? How would you describe it if it belonged to someone else (in fact, I bet you’d be a lot kinder). What do you love or admire about it? 

What about the people in your life. Who are they — and can you say that you’re glad they’re there? If you’re partnered, is this the kind of person you wanted to be with back then, and if not, why are you with that person now?

And now the big question: Is the person you are now the one you hoped you would be? 

I’m all for goal-setting, for thinking, dreaming and envisioning a fantabulous future. Keeping the twin engines of hope and ambition running is what gets me out of bed in the morning. But rather than try to just get ahead of or better than you are now, you’d be wise to stop every so often and check yourself against what a younger you would think. 

Here’s why: You owe it to her. The younger you had big plans and dreams, and quite frankly worked her butt off to get you to where you are now. With your 20/20 hindsight, it’s easy to look back and see how everything fell into place — but she didn’t know that! She had to do it blindly, with no idea how it’d turn out. You may think she owes you a debt of gratitude, but in fact, you owe her.

Source: Dailyworth


Finance & Investments

Understanding Behavioral Aspects of Financial Planning and Investing

People often view financial planning and investing as overwhelming, intimidating, and scary, especially if they must tackle these tasks on their own. They are fearful of making costly mistakes that could influence both their present and future financial well-being. Their trepidation often stems from a lack of background, education, or experience to help them adequately cope with the financial side of living. In reality, the world of financial planning and investing can be highly complex and difficult. What should investors do?
Investors sometimes find themselves in a similar position as Alice in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland who, when coming to a fork in the road, asks the Cheshire Cat:
Alice: “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
Cat: “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
Alice: “I don’t much care where.”
Cat: “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
Unlike Alice, investors should make decisions based on their goals and then determine the appropriate path to get there.

A large part of investing involves investor behavior. Emotional processes, mental mistakes, and individual personality traits complicate investment decisions.

Investors often allow the greed and fear of others to affect their decisions and react with blind emotion instead of calculated reason. In fact, emotions can help explain asset pricing bubbles and related market behavior. According to the old investment adage, investors can make money as a bull or a bear but not as a pig. In short, investors need to understand the psychology of financial planning and investing. Investor behavior often deviates from logic and reason.

Read more about this in Money, Money, Money Ain't it Funny.

Source: Journal of Financial Planning


In a remarkable shift from even a decade ago, the majority of working wives will out-earn their husbands in the next generation. In the majority of U.S. metro areas, single women with no children in their 20s outearned their male peers. In Dallas, for example, a 20-something woman makes $1.18 to a man's $1. 

Women dominate today’s colleges and professional schools--for every two men who will receive a B.A. this year, three women will do the same. Of the 15 job categories projected to grow the most in the next decade in the U.S., all but two are occupied primarily by women.  

One of the new female-oriented personal finance sites, reported that 90 percent of its readers said they were their families' chief financial officer--but two-thirds of them lamented that their planning and investing skills were below average. "Research has shown that women, even professional women with good jobs and successful careers, tend to be less financially literate than men.

Women tend to take fewer risks (a good thing for long-view investing), wait until a life-altering event to start saving (like having kids or going through a divorce), and have a greater preference to learn about money in person or in a group than a book, according to experts and studies cited in The New York Times. Others point out that women have unique challenges when it comes to financial planning: They have longer life spans, they earn less overall, and they tend to step out of the workforce to care for children and aging parents. 

Read more about this in Girls Just Want to Have Funds$.

Source: Huffington Post

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Who's Counting?

Lessons from Secret Millionaires

Eugenia Dodson grew up on a Minnesota farm, the daughter of poor Swedish immigrants. Her childhood poverty affected her so profoundly that even in her old age, she refused to replace a stove with only one working burner — even though by then she was worth tens of millions of dollars. Dodson, who left nearly $36 million to the University of Miami when she died in 2005 at age 100, is just one of many secretly wealthy people who live quiet, frugal lives and then leave unexpected fortunes to charity.
Some are men, though the women interest me more, as females usually earn less, invest more conservatively and wind up poorer in retirement. These women break that mold. Here’s what we can learn from them.
You Don’t Have to Be Born Wealthy to Get Rich
Secret millionaires can be farmers, school teachers or, in Dodson’s case, a hairdresser.
Investing for the Long Run Pays Off
Secret millionaires are often heavily invested in shares — the one type of investment that consistently beats inflation over time.
Start Early -- and Keep Going
Long lives mean that even small amounts invested over time have the decades they need to grow into real wealth. (As an example, $10,000 can grow to $100,000 in 30 years with an 8 percent average annual return, which is a typical long-term gain for stocks.
Don’t Forget to Enjoy Your Money, Too
Living below your means is essential to growing wealth, but it is possible to go overboard. Helen Dyrdal of Renton, Washington lived with broken furniture and wore tattered clothes, leaving her best friend with the impression she was impoverished,
If Dodson, Dyrdal and other secret millionaires had been able to address their fears about money, they may have died a bit less wealthy — but they might have been happier. The best part of money is enjoying it while you’re alive, even if you want to benefit others when you die.

Source: Daily Worth


Women in business is not a 21st invention - we need to celebrate those who came before us. For example:
Madame Clicquot Ponsardin
The first woman to run a champagne house — and she did a damn good job. Madame Clicquot, as she later became known, fashioned a new way of handling champagne that allowed the company to mass produce on a whole new level. A savvy businesswoman. Yes, the woman REINVENTED rosé.
Rebecca Lukens
The quintessential “woman in a man’s world,” Rebecca was born Rebecca Webb Pennock in Pennsylvania in 1794. Rebecca’s father died in 1824. In 1825, her husband died too. Rebecca was left in charge of the company — and it was near bankruptcy. But she handled it like a boss, becoming the United States’ leading manufacturer of boilerplates. She ran her empire until 1847, going on to write an autobiography and build a now historic home, known as Terracina, for her daughter as a wedding present.
Annie Malone
Annie Minerva Turnbo Malone is America’s first black female millionaire thanks to her hair care empire that blew up in the 1900s. Born in 1869 to parents who were runaway slaves, Annie grew up on a farm in Illinois. Annie sold her debut product, “Wonderful Hair Grower,” door to door in little bottles. By 1902, she had expanded her business to include three assistants who also sold her products door to door. Her marketing strategy included giving away free treatments to attract paying customers. In 1904, Annie opened her first shop in St. Louis and kicked off a product tour in the South 

Although Annie was obscenely rich, she was known for living modestly, and gave thousands of dollars to many organizations within the black community: the St. Louis Colored Orphans Home, the Howard University College of Medicine and the local black YMCA.
Madam C. J. Walker
Madam C. J. Walker, born Sarah Breedlove on a cotton plantation in Louisiana on 1867, is heralded as the first female self-made millionaire in America. And she had some very humble beginnings.
Sarah’s parents were recently freed slaves and, as the fifth child in her family, Sarah was the first to be born free. She lost both her parents early in her life, orphaned by age seven. She was consequently sent to live with her sister and brother-in-law in Mississippi where she made money picking cotton and doing household tasks.
Toward the end of the 19th century, Sarah suffered from a scalp disorder that was causing her to lose her hair. She started experimenting with different products (as well as at-home remedies) to prevent her hair loss and was eventually hired by Annie Malone (RESPECT THE LADY NETWORK!) as a commissioner agent to sell products.
The Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company was solidly in the green, producing the equivalent of several million dollars today.
Devoted to providing upward mobility within the black community, Sarah founded education scholarships and donated to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the National Conference on Lynching, among others. In 1913, she donated an unprecedented amount of money from an African American to build a YMCA in Indianapolis.

Source: Daily Worth

Musings & Amusings

Have just read the Athena Doctrine. Looking forward to observing wisdom and fairness from our business leaders and governments.
We live in a world that’s increasingly social, interdependent and transparent. And in this world, feminine values are ascendant. As John Gerzema and Michael D’Antonio’s proprietary survey of 64,000 people around the world shows, traditionally feminine leadership and values are now more popular than the macho paradigm of the past. The most innovative among us are breaking away from traditional structures to be more flexible, collaborative and nurturing. And both men and women from Medellin to Nairobi are adopting this style, which emphasizes cooperation, long-term thinking, and flexibility. Informally, and in countless ways, they are following the Athena Doctrine, named after the Greek Goddess, the warrior whose strength came from wisdom and fairness. All over the world, people are deploying feminine thinking and values to make their lives, and the world, better.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015


Why are Iranian hard-liners once again setting their sights on women? Some 2,000 Iranian women and men demonstrated last week  in the city of Isfahan, and others gathered before the parliament building in Tehran, to protest a series of acid attacks on women and to demand government action.
The acid attacks, which have resulted in blindness, facial disfigurement and at least one death, coincided with the introduction of legislation that would protect people behind such atrocities. The Bill for the Protection of Chastity and Veiling ostensibly bans violence against women and other violators of “morals” and “decency.” In fact, it strengthens the morals police and security authorities and protects others who take measures on the streets to enforce the Islamic injunction to “promote the good and forbid evil.”
If enacted, the legislation is certain to encourage further harassment and attacks against women. It would mean that, once again, women could be stopped on the street by passersby if they show a bit of hair or are not dressed according to a strict Islamic code. Women who violate these “decency” laws would be required to attend a class on proper veiling; a second infraction would incur a sizable monetary fine. The law also requires that men and women be separated in the workplace.
Parliamentarians’ renewed obsession with women’s dress and male-female workplace mixing represents a throwback to the early days of the Islamic revolution, when women who did not observe the Islamic dress code were subject to 70 lashes and when men and women were segregated in university classrooms, buses and elsewhere. The flogging law remains on the books; many women fear it may be enforced again in the hostile environment that is emerging. Demonstrators in Isfahan and Tehran carried placards with messages that included “Stop violence against women,” ”Cancel anti-women laws,” and ”A safe street is my right.”

Conservatives and hard-liners, opposed to this approach and even more opposed to a political opening that might follow, have sought to undermine the president. They seem to believe that by reviving the issue of women and their supposedly endangered morality, they have found a club with which to effectively bludgeon the president. The message they want to send to all Iranians? Your fate is in our hands and your popularly elected president is just an ineffective bystander.

Source: Middle East Program

Everyday Money

7 Warning Signs You're in Financial Trouble

You Have No Idea How Much Money Is in the Bank
The signs: You use your debit card freely and thoughtlessly, assuming you have money in the bank — but you’re not always right. You rack up overdraft fees on a regular basis. 
The problem: Living in La La Land will land you in Never Never Land — as in never going to achieve your financial goals. Besides, you are potentially wasting hundreds of dollars a year on unnecessary fees.
The solution: Wake up! You need to get in the habit of checking your bank account balance on a regular basis (once a week at least) and studying your monthly bank statements to get a grip on where your money goes and how you can better control it. Try only paying in cash for a month to begin training yourself to spend mindfully. 
You Use Credit for the Basics
The signs: You’re at the checkout line at the grocery store or at the gas station and the amount due makes you nervous. So you choose to swipe your credit card instead of your debit card. 
The problem: You are living paycheck to paycheck and racking up debt.
The solution: Something’s gotta give. Your spending is a good place to start. Review your budget and look for areas where you can cut back (maybe eating out, groceries, personal care, etc). 

You Avoid Opening Bills and Credit Card Statements

The signs: The pile of unopened white envelopes on your desk is growing. (Or if you’ve gone paperless, you have a growing list of bolded, unread emails.) 
The problem: You are drowning in debt. 
The solution: You need to answer the phone or call whoever you owe money to and explain your situation. You might not believe it, but most companies are willing to work with you to figure out a payment plan that offers you some relief while ensuring that they continue to get paid.
You’re So Used to Carrying Debt You Don’t Think Twice About Adding More
The signs: “Ah, what’s another $100? I’m already in debt anyway.” Sound familiar? Justifying an obvious bad habit is a big red flag.
The problem: You are resisting necessary change. 
The solution: Cut or lock up your credit cards (or delete your saved credit card information from your most frequented online retailers) so you can avoid temptation as much as possible. 
You Find Yourself Saying, "Just This One Time."
The signs: You know you are doing something you shouldn’t, but you justify it by convincing yourself it will be a one-time thing. 
The problem: Committing a financial crime once almost always leads to being a repeat offender. 
The solution: Don’t do it! If it feels wrong, it is wrong and you don’t want to risk becoming numb to poor financial decisions. 

You’re Paying Off One Debt With Another

The signs: You transferred a credit card balance to another card, plan to or are always tempted by balance transfer offers. Or you’re paying your mortgage, car or student loan bill with a credit card. 
The problem: You live way beyond your means. And balance transfers, while beneficial in some cases, are often the result of credit card abuse combined with a lack of discipline to pay off the debt. Plus, they can cost you hundreds of dollars in fees (or more if you do it repeatedly). 
The solution: Put your fixed loan payments on autopay to pay them off in a timely manner that will save you the most money in interest.

You Ask Family or Friends for Money

The signs: If you can’t afford an expense and have to ask someone for a loan, you’re probably already in financial trouble (or trying to buy something you shouldn’t).
The problem: Using others as a money crutch hinders you from ever achieving financial security and freedom. If you don’t let yourself fail or say “no” to yourself, how will you learn from your mistakes and ultimately make better money decisions?
The solution: Rather than mooching from a family member and/or friend, enroll them in your mission to achieve financial independence.

Source: Dailyworth

Finances & Investments

Emotions and finances seem like oil and water. We logically write out a budget and make plans and then our emotions (such as fear, guilt, shame, etc.) can take over and cause us to stray.

It makes many of us want to throw in the towel. We blame and berate ourselves.

Stop the Blame Game

Money may be concrete but it can wreak havoc on our emotions. People feel their money reflects their self-worth. If we manage our money well, we feel we’ll be viewed as responsible and successful. If we have trouble managing our money (regardless of our income), we fear we’ll be viewed as irresponsible, floundering, and maybe even failures.
What really matters is our ability to get up and keep going after we fall. 
Never Say You’re Bad with Numbers
Raise your hand if you’ve ever said you’re bad at math. If you’ve ever let your dad, brother, boyfriend, or husband deal with the finances because you trust that he’ll do it better. If you fear you’ll never understand how to pay off debt or learn to invest because it’s too complicated.
You can handle the math that goes into budgeting. And you can utilise tools to help understand compound interest and investing. And you can find help from an expert (male or female) if you know you need it.

Source: DailyWorth