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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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, 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