Me and My Money: Mary Haddock-Staniland

People inclusion officer Mary Haddock-Staniland suggests instead of spending money to impress people, take pleasure from the small things in life.
People inclusion officer Mary Haddock-Staniland suggests instead of spending money to impress people, take pleasure from the small things in life. Photo credit: Supplied.

"You don't have to spend a fortune to have fun or enjoy yourself. 

"Never spend money to impress other people."

Mary Haddock-Staniland, chief people inclusion officer, Timely Limited.

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.

As a 'people inclusion officer' - the first executive role of its kind in New Zealand - Mary Haddock-Staniland wants to give all people access to equal opportunities and resources. Companies that welcome diversity and focus on inclusion do better, she says.

As a reformed spender, she told Newshub her biggest financial lesson was to live within her means. Urging people not to spend money to impress others, Haddock-Staniland says the secret is to take pleasure in the small things.

1. Are you a saver or a spender?

Although spending comes naturally to me, over the years I've managed to set boundaries. 

These days, I set aside a set portion of my income for housekeeping and saving. Whatever is left is my 'fun' money.

2. What can people learn financially from COVID-19?

I can only reference what I've learnt through these tough times. 

I found it amazing how much expenses decreased in lockdown. I guess that's a sign of how much unnecessary spending a lot of us do and the potential to trim budgets. 

As people lost jobs and worked reduced hours, for me the lesson is having a rainy day fund. 

Having the equivalent of three months' pay sitting off to the side may not be very exciting. But COVID-19 has shown us it's valuable insurance.

3. What has been your biggest financial lesson, success or failure?

Live within your means! This was a big lesson for me.

When I was younger, eager to impress and make a splash, I spent beyond my means. It took a while to right the ship. And for what?

Learn to take pleasure from the small things in life. You don't have to spend a fortune to have fun or enjoy yourself. Never spend money to impress other people.

4. Give an example of a recent purchase that you consider was great value for money

A few years' ago, my husband and I signed up for Southern Cross health insurance. 

It's not very exciting, but in my view, if you can afford it, it's well worth the expense. 

Having the knowledge that if I become ill, or develop some sort of chronic condition, I will be treated as quickly as possible with a view to recovering and getting on with life is tremendously reassuring. 

We insure our home and contents, and our car. Why wouldn't you insure your own health?

5. What was your last impulse or 'fritter' purchase and how did you feel about it afterwards?

A few weeks' ago, I saw a dress from my favourite designer and had to have it.

I called my stylist in the morning and by the afternoon, had it delivered in my hot little hands. It made me feel fantastic!

6. If you have spare cash to invest, what's your preferred form of investment and why? 

I've learnt the importance of diversification (which has some irony).

In these volatile times, I'd challenge anyone to predict with certainty what the next big thing is going to be. 

I believe it's best to be exposed to as many investment instruments as possible.  

Well-managed PIE funds, property...and even in these times, good quality bonds.

7. Does having more money increase happiness?

Definitely not. But if the person has the skills to manage money (or wealth more generally), it provides choices. That must be a good thing.

I don't believe we educate young people nearly enough about how to manage money or wealth. 

Resources gravitate to those who use them to best effect. If you come into a pile of money but don't know how to manage it, it will disappear soon enough - and cause much misery in the process.

8. The best money advice someone's ever given you?

Money is a tool, not an end. 

We all need to understand how to use this tool effectively, to help us live our best life. Unfortunately, a lot of people don't and miss out many opportunities and choices in life.