Me and My Money: Wendyl Nissen

Magazine editor Wendyl Nissen talks about buying hand-painted plates, teapots and investing in art.
Magazine editor Wendyl Nissen talks about buying hand-painted plates, teapots and investing in art. Photo credit: Supplied.

"Honesty and authenticity.

"I know some super-successful people who have these qualities. 

"But then there are other successful people who you look at and go 'Oh yeah, that's right, you're a selfish dick'.

Wendyl Nissen, editor, Thrive magazine.

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.  

Wendyl Nissen, current editor of Thrive Magazine and former editor of The New Zealand Women’s Weekly and Woman’s Day, loves to collect hand-painted plates and teapots and has a penchant for investing in art.

She admits to being a spender (fortunately, her husband is not). After owning a business selling natural products for six years, she realises she’s not an entrepreneur, preferring to share her ideas with people who can use them to make money.

1. Are you a saver or a spender?

A spender. 

I've always lived for the moment determined to use what money I earn to make a happy life: travel, art, good food and spoiling children. 

Fortunately, my husband is a saver. The coffers are not always emptied by me making a happy life before the next payment comes in.

2. Share a New Year’s resolution about money

After starting and stopping several businesses, I’ve finally realised that from now on, I’ll earn my living from what I do best. Writing. 

My goal is to make that possible - to earn enough to pay the bills just by writing.

3. What’s the one personality trait people need to be successful?

I’d say honesty and authenticity. I know some super-successful people who have these qualities. 

But then there are other successful people who you look at and go 'Oh yeah, that’s right, you’re a selfish dick'.

So I guess it depends on what kind of ‘successful’ - happy or selfish dick!

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

We started and ran a company called Wendyl's Green Goddess.  

We made natural cleaners and beauty products and sold them online from the basement in our Grey Lynn villa.

During the six years we had the business, before selling it to new owners (who run it really well), I realised I’m not an entrepreneur.

I might have great ideas, but I have no idea how to make money from them. 

These days, I give great ideas to people who know how to run a business (none of those ideas have been used yet)! 

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

Art, always art. 

We have some amazing artists in this country.  My husband Paul Little and I love nothing better than haunting auction houses and buying up bits and pieces we know will increase in value. 

We usually spend a few hundred dollars on a piece but splash out on occasion. 

I think art is a great investment. You get to live with it and enjoy looking at it every day while it increases in value over the years. 

In some cases - especially for young Kiwi artists -  it supports their work. If you know what you’re doing, it will usually increase in value over time. 

The last piece I bought was a little Ida Carey linocut which I popped in a frame from Kmart. 

It hangs by my bed. I look at it every day with love, and think 'for the joy it’s bringing me, that was worth $130'.

6. What was your last impulse or ‘fritter’ purchase and how did you feel about it afterwards?

Although I don’t do a lot of impulse buying, I do have a few saved searches on Trade Me which prompts the occasional impulse buy. 

The last one was yet another dinner plate. I collect Wade Capri hand-painted plates. I already had eight (why did I need another one)? In case of breakages of course -  and just in case there are nine people at dinner some time. 

It didn’t cost much and it will bring me joy, so I felt fine about it afterwards.

I also impulse buy bits of vintage fabric which I intend to make into clothes but never do. Oh and teapots. I can’t stop buying teapots.

7. If you had spare cash to invest, what would you invest in? 

We’ve always done well out of property, quite unintentionally. 

We never set out to buy homes which would increase in value - we were more interested in them being lovely homes to live in. 

If I had a million or so lying around, I'd definitely invest it in property.

8. Do you use a credit card and if so, do you pay the full balance off each month?

I have to use a credit card because living in the Hokianga, I buy most things online - even our coffee beans! 

My husband makes sure the full balance is paid off each month.

Left to my own devices, I'd intend to pay the full balance and then forget. This doesn’t mean I think men are superior in money management skills because I could be good at it if I wanted to. I just don't want to and he does!

9. Does having more money increase happiness?

I'd have to say 'no'. I know people who have lots of money and I wouldn't call them happy. 

I’ve thought about it a lot because we all want to have lots of money don't we?

Perhaps it’s the fact that to get a lot of money, people have to really want it, to the exclusion of a lot of other things which make life enjoyable. 

And perhaps there's also a need to show the world they have lots of money, which is just sad.

The happiest rich people I know don’t look rich or behave rich. They do a lot of good for the world on the quiet.

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

When I was 24 living in Avondale with a new baby on my husband’s income, I struggled with money for the first time in my life. 

My Mum taught me the 'jar system' of money management (my Mum was very good with money). 

The idea is to get jam jars and put labels on them, such as 'food', 'rent', 'electricity', 'entertainment' and 'savings'.  Cash is divided up into jars and if there's any leftover, it could be put into a jar called 'fun money' (which I never had).

It worked well, but it wouldn't work now because no one has cash. I still budget though - I find it's a really good thing to manage anxiety about money. Sit down, do a budget and feel better - or at least in control.

The views expressed in this article are personal and are not professional financial advice.