"I had a supplementary credit card, no budget and no responsibility for the family finances except paying bills.
"As my ex-husband had full control of the money, I had no idea how to manage my finances."
Bridgette Jackson, founder, Equal Exes.
Money. It's the driving factor behind many life choices, but is it the be-all and end-all?
'Me and My Money' is a regular feature that investigates Kiwi attitudes towards money and what drives the choices they make. We also share their biggest learnings from COVID-19.
Newshub spoke to divorce and relationship coach Bridgette Jackson at Equal Exes about her experience as a married spender, the importance of being financially prepared and why being happy in who you are is more important than being rich.
1. Are you a saver or a spender?
By the early 2000's, my husband and I had built a successful business in Australia, sold it for an attractive price and returned to New Zealand.
I was the spender in the relationship. I had a supplementary credit card, no budget and no responsibility for the family finances except paying bills. As my ex-husband had full control of the money, I had no idea how to manage my finances.
Now separated, I'm learning to be a saver. With help from financial experts, as a single independent woman, I've learnt how to manage my money and invest wisely. Knowledge is power.
2. What are the key financial learnings from COVID-19?
Pressures have been significant: loss of business income, wages cut, loss of jobs and uncertain futures. Other pressures include stress of children, domestic violence, mental health issues and worries about putting food on the table and how the mortgage will be paid.
These concerns, coupled with the stress of being in lockdown in a relationship that was already on shaky ground have been the reality for many Kiwis.
After COVID, New Zealand divorce rates have gone up about 25 percent. It could take until 2022 to see the full effect of the pandemic on divorce.
Here are the biggest learnings for myself and my clients:
- Always have money (an emergency fund) stashed away for a rainy day. Expect the unexpected.
- It pays to save money rather than spend it - make a budget and stick to it.
- Pay back any unpaid debt as soon as possible.
- Have a diversified investment portfolio - don't put all your eggs in one basket.
- If it can be afforded, insurance is important. Check cover around pandemics.
- Live simply: Reduce expenses. Make simple changes such as eating less takeaways. Repair rather than buy new.
- Get the help of financial professionals for guidance.
3. What is your financial message for women?
I have two messages:
- Get yourself educated and informed about your financial future - you're the only one in charge of your destiny.
- Always have your hand in work in some form, whether paid or unpaid.
Women are accomplishing great things. They've made leaps and bounds as it relates to work and family life, but overall, they're not financially prepared.
If you find yourself unexpectedly single, having current work experience will hold you in good stead for getting a new job, increasing your hours or starting a business.
4. Give an example of a recent purchase that you consider great value for money
I love my 2020 Mini Cooper.
In the past, I drove around in huge SUVs and struggled to look over the dashboard (and park).
Now, I can park in little parks all over town. The bonus is that my teenage girls are learning to drive in it. As I'm planning to buy a bigger car with boot space, they'll inherit it.
5. What was your last impulse or 'fritter' purchase and how did you feel about it afterwards?
A summer jumpsuit to go to a friend's birthday.
I felt happy and deserving about my purchase. I work hard in my business so I can, from time to time, buy the odd 'treat'.
6. If you have spare cash to invest, what's your preferred form of investment and why?
I've just sold my property in Birkenhead as managing two acres alongside four children and a growing business is too much. I'll rent while on the hunt for another home that can house numerous teenagers on weekends and my large rhodesian ridgeback dog, Bentley.
If people can afford it, I suggest investing money in a managed fund portfolio. It's wise to spread money over a number of investments
Everyone's financial scenario is different. Get expert advice.
7. Does having more money increase happiness?
In my opinion, no. At my richest, I was my unhappiest.
Money is a bonus and gives you flexibility but for me, it's about being happy in who you are as a person in your own right. That's what brings me true happiness.
Happiness is also about sharing life and memories with friends, family and loved ones who surround you.
8. The best money advice someone's ever given you?
My friend Trent at Luminate gave me this sage advice: "Get smart, get educated. Then you become the answer to your financial problems."