"When I had breast cancer, I remember sitting down and wishing I had more trauma [insurance] cover.
"I had a decent amount, but in my view when going through this, nothing is enough.
Stephanie Wiki, founder, Wiki Group
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.
The founder of Wiki Group, Stephanie Wiki sells insurance for a living. But after a first-hand experience of breast cancer, she's able to walk the talk. The sale of her business - and having cover to pay for treatment - took some of the stress off.
As a spender, she's prone to getting excited about an impulse buy. But uncertainty created by COVID-19 made her conscious of paying more off the mortgage.
1. Are you a saver or a spender?
I'm 100 percent a spender (unfortunately).
I'd love to be a saver and I do try. I just don't do very well. I'm a real salesperson: I spend first and earn later.
2. What's been your biggest financial lesson?
To never say 'never'.
I had a highly successful insurance brokerage business in Christchurch when I was approached by people who wanted to buy it.
I told them my business wasn't for sale and they said, 'Steph, everything is for sale'. They were right. I sold the business. A month later, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Not having the stress of running a business was a huge weight off. I'd consider that a success in every sense.
There's been some failures along the way but from every failure, there are valuable lessons to be learned.
3. What have redundancy and breast cancer taught you about money?
When one door closes, another opens.
When I was made redundant 20 years ago, I thought my world was coming to an end. Ultimately, it was a blessing as it led me to make the decision to set up on my own, which I may never have done otherwise.
When I had breast cancer, I remember sitting down and wishing I had more trauma [insurance] cover. I had a decent amount, but in my view when going through this, nothing is enough.
It probably won't change the outcome (although the money can be used to pay for bills and treatment), but taking financial pressure off a situation that's outside personal control is huge.
4. Give an example of a recent purchase that you consider great value for money?
I wanted a Persian rug for a long time: they're so expensive.
I ended up buying a fantastic second-hand one. I love it.
5. What was your last impulse or 'fritter' purchase and how did you feel about it afterwards?
A Weber BBQ. It was a sunny Friday afternoon and I'd had a wine or two with a friend.
All I wanted was a BBQ, so I bought this Weber.
Although I felt very excited at the time, it sits there unused. Another impulse buy to add to many other things.
6. Does having more money increase happiness?
Yes, it helps.
Usually, the only stress in my life is around family, if I'm worried about someone - or money.
I constantly think about money, yet I'm the biggest spender. I shouldn't have a mortgage and I do!
During the first COVID-19 lockdown, I remember thinking, 'I need to try and get this mortgage down'. Being self-employed, wondering what was going to happen and if I would ever make money again, it was a reality check.
Although people may say money doesn't increase happiness, I believe it alleviates some of the major stress at certain times in life. And stress certainly isn't happiness.
7. The best money advice someone's ever given you?
I'm not sure, but my advice is to pay off the mortgage as fast as you can.
The views expressed in this article are personal and are not professional financial advice.