A Q&A with four wāhine about money—Sharesies New Zealand
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A Q&A with four wāhine about money

Build your PortfolioQ&A

We’re celebrating International Women's Day 2020 by having a kōrero with four wāhine about financial empowerment, their experiences with money, and the best financial advice they’ve ever been given.

7 March 2020

10 min read

It’s our mission here at Sharesies to create the most financially empowered generation.

Historically, the financial and investing world has been skewed towards men. In fact, our research into Kiwis’ attitudes to saving and investing showed that fewer women believe the share market is accessible to them (31%), compared to men (50%). 

Lillian

Since taking a step back from her CEO role mid-last year, Lillian's been taking some time to enjoy the simple, basic things in life—like baking bread, and going for walks in nature.

She’s about to embark on a new venture, so is making some changes to her life that will allow her to carry the relaxed vibe of serenity into her future mission!

What’s the best thing you’ve ever done with your money?

In April 2019 we made the decision to sell our car. We used the money from that to renovate our bedroom, bathroom, and turned our spare room into a parlour; a place for me to read and think.

The best part about it was I realised that I could get so much more pleasure from something I use all the time than something that sits in the driveway. It’s great because we live in a place that allows us to have alternative solutions for transport.

What’s the biggest money lesson you’ve learnt?

This happened when I paid off my student loan! I learnt about the amazing headspace that comes from not being beholden to anyone else for anything financial.

My student loan had totalled to almost $50,000, and I’d been paying it off out of my wages for years. But a few years before I turned 30, I had the realisation that I needed to start framing it in my head as a serious debt, because it was! It was a debt that followed me each pay-check. So I made the conscious decision to pay off my student loan by the time I turned 30.

I picked up cleaning jobs on top of my day job, I made a very strict budget, and did everything I could to pay off that student loan before I hit the big 3-0—and I did! It was empowering, and a feeling of freedom that money can’t buy. 

Why is it important for women to be financially empowered?

“Women are starting to release shackles that have held us down for centuries.”

We live in a world where it’s not easy to feel financially empowered. I have so much compassion for those people who aren’t even in a position to think about managing their money well. To be able to do that is a privilege, sadly! But it’s especially important for women because our world runs on a system designed by and for the patriarchy.

By taking control of our money and learning more about how we can be better with it, we are opening up doors for ourselves that weren’t there before—into a space where we feel free to design systems that we believe in.

Who in your life has been, or is, your money role model?

My bestie, Vic! I met her about five and a half years ago. She’s the first woman I remember observing that had created true financial delight for herself. She creates budgets and strategies for saving and buying things over long periods. Her purchases are always thoughtful, but she creates space in her budget to be able to delight herself with stuff she likes.

Having a bird's eye view of your money can allow you to make big financial decisions all on your own, without input from someone else.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given about money?

When I was young, my older brother used to very specifically say to me: “Lil, don’t spend money you don’t have”. He used examples of when people buy cars or household appliances on credit, and then by the time they pay it off, it’s either broken or they don’t like it that much anymore.

This advice has stuck with me my whole life, and I’m very grateful for it. This is why I felt really gutted that concepts like AfterPay were coming to New Zealand, for the widespread attitudes it encourages.

Jessie

Jessie is the founder and director of Yu Mei, a luxury leather goods label dedicated to creating functional bags that actually carry everything you need in a day.

What’s the best thing you’ve ever done with your money?

I won $10,000 from an AMP National Scholarship when I was 21 and invested it all into the beginnings of Yu Mei. That’s turned out to be the best thing I've ever done with money, by far. It’s allowed me to set up Yu Mei, and get it to where it is today!

What’s the biggest money lesson you’ve learnt?

Don't put all your eggs in one basket. That was a recent lesson learnt—more to do with supply chain, but it's all money at the end of the day.

A key supplier of ours went under and we were left with very limited options. Yu Mei has some pretty integral materials that we rely on in bag production and I had to quickly work to come up with solutions. It was stressful, to say the least, but we got through it!

The recent dip we've seen in the market has reinforced this notion—although I didn't have all my eggs in one basket this time.

Why is it important for women to be financially empowered?

It’s not only important for women to be financially empowered, but it's also imperative so that women can live their life on their own terms.

Financial empowerment means women can have equal access to education, healthcare, legal rights, and business opportunities. Women are particularly good at building diverse communities, and if we are financially equal, society will be better for it.

“It’s not only important for women to be financially empowered, but it’s also imperative so that women can live their life on their own terms. ”

Who in your life has been, or is, your money role model?

Both my Mum and Dad, for different reasons. Mum has always taught me to only spend money on the things that matter. Dad has always encouraged me to think bigger and spend money to grow my business.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given about money?

I must have been at high school when my Dad told me that I “need to spend money to make money”. That's stuck with me, especially in the decisions I've made with Yu Mei.

Ngapera

Ngapera is a Māori woman born and raised in Rotorua, who loves music, traveling the world, and dogs! Ngapera is passionate about indigenous rights, and how we merge traditional indigenous knowledge with technology.

What’s the best thing you’ve ever done with your money?

The best things I've done with my money are investments I've made into myself, and things that bring me the most joy. Traveling the world, experiencing new cultures, food and people is at the top of this list. My partner and I have a savings account for travel.

Outside of our work and family commitments, we aim to go somewhere new every year. I know of several families who have chosen to downsize their homes and have invested in a year of traveling the world with their kids. I think that's amazing. 

What’s the biggest money lesson you’ve learnt?

Many of the money lessons I’ve learnt are things I’ve had to learn the hard way. All my life I was taught to help others. So for years, I loaned hard-earned money to people in my life who needed help. More often than not, it never came back. It took me a few years to understand that I wasn't helping at all. I was enabling poor money decisions because the people who kept asking could never get on top of their money problems. They’d have kept their hand out for years on end if I didn't start saying no.

I still give a lot to fundraisers—we have several charities that we support each year, and I volunteer for several kaupapa. But nowadays, I give to others in healthier ways that don't end up ruining relationships. 

Why is it important for women to be financially empowered?

“If women aren’t financially empowered, and are living in survival mode, they aren’t able to flourish and reach their potential.”

I don't want to play into any kind of stereotype because most of the women I know actually make more money than their partners! It's important for everyone to feel financially empowered—but for women, it is crucial. They’re often making the purchasing decisions for the home and for the family, and families and homes are at the core of society.

The flip side of this is that if women aren't financially empowered, and are living in survival mode, they aren't able to flourish and reach their potential. The ripple effect of this is massive, and often generational! 

Who in your life has been, or is, your money role model?

My older sister, Aroha. She's always been sensible with money and together with her husband, they have really made it work for their family. I often wish I had her restraint when it comes to spending. I am a typical second child—spend now and think about the consequences later! Though to be fair I have gotten better with that as I’ve grown older. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given about money?

There are actually 2 pieces of advice I would like to share:

  1. Women need to learn to understand and use money. Because if money is power, we need to understand how to harness its power so that we can use it to empower ourselves and others. I learnt this from an incredible Kiwi philanthropist Audette Exel. She is one of my heroes. 

  2. A friend's father taught us when we were just about to leave home for Uni, that right from our first job we should try to save 30% of our income. He said we should put 30% of our income towards basic living expenses like rent and power. Another 30% for living costs like food, clothing, transport, going out and actually living. Then the other 30% for savings. He told us that we should aim to have enough money saved to last six months, in case we lost our job, or something happened that would prevent us from being able to work. The other 10% was supposed to go towards church tithings, but I’m not a religious person so I give that 10% to charity instead. To be fair, it hasn’t always been possible to live this way, but I’ve always used this advice as a guideline. 

Alex

Alex is a nurse, ex-Kmart addict, and cosmeticoholic from sunny Dunedin. Now, a turned saver, investor, and frugalista—AND a mother to one loved Shih Tzu.

What’s the best thing you’ve ever done with your money?

I grew up being taught to value education. So I'd have to say my BA, BN and postgrad degrees. The student loan took a while to clear, but I was so chuffed when I got that note from Inland Revenue. My qualifications have enabled me to travel and have a stable job—and therefore, financial security.

What’s the biggest money lesson you’ve learnt?

My dad died a few months shy of his 65th birthday. So he never got to enjoy his retirement, a pension, or his superannuation. Life is short and precious. It’s crucial to find a balance between working for money and making your money work for you.

Why is it important for women to be financially empowered?

“Life is short and precious. It’s crucial to find a balance between working for money and making your money work for you.”

Gone are the days when Hubby’s income would support you both. Us girls need to be able to stand just as strong on our own two feet, as we do in a pair. Relationships break down sometimes, and I never want my future to be at the mercy of someone else.

Who in your life has been, or is, your money role model?

It goes without saying that your parents have a huge influence on your approach to money. Beyond my parents, Canna Campbell (@Sugarmammatv) has been extremely influential over my decision to start investing, because I relate to her approach to money and life.

I love the #debtfree community on Instagram and YouTube. It’s an enormous resource overflowing with advice and ideas.

What’s the  best piece of advice you’ve been given about money?

There’s only so much you can cut from your budget. You have to focus on earning potential and passive income streams as well to build your wealth. To invest in yourself and your future, you need to start early and do it as often as you can. 

A big thank you to Lillian, Jessie, Ngapera, and Alex for sharing their money stories with us!


Ok, now for the legal bit

Investing involves risk. You aren’t guaranteed to make money, and you might lose the money you start with. We don’t provide personalised advice or recommendations. Any information we provide is general only and current at the time written. You should consider seeking independent legal, financial, taxation or other advice when considering whether an investment is appropriate for your objectives, financial situation or needs.

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