“My motto is… it’s not what you save it’s what you spend. It’s about conscious spending and any time money is leaving your wallet without you really wanting it to be is when you have to take action. ” Ms Money Susan Jackson.
Growing wealth is a skill we can all learn. That’s the message Susan Jackson wants us to hear loud and clear. She should know. Her self-made fortune is estimated at anything between five and ten million dollars.
Jackson is the founder of the Women’s Financial Network and the brains behind the savvy Ms Money website. Her desire to improve the financial literacy of women has won her industry acclaim.
It wasn’t always happy days. Her mother was schizophrenic and known as the “crazy mum.” Rather than let it shatter her; Susan now reflects on her mother’s mental illness as something that helped hone her superb organisational skills, setting her on the path to a career in financial planning.
Martine Harte: So Susan why is it that so many women stick to the same script in relation to their financial future? The “I’ll get to it tomorrow” script?
Susan Jackson: There are a number of reasons; firstly women lack confidence when it comes to money. Surveys show one in every three young women still think ‘Mr Right’ is going to come along yet the reality is only one in twelve women can expect to be supported by someone else. Your partner could have a business that goes bad, be injured, so there’s still some stereotypical thinking that ‘Mr Right’ will come along.
The second thing is that women feel very disempowered about money, they think it’s something you are either tapped on the head at birth with or not. Rather than understanding that it is actually a learnt skill.
One of the amazing things when we run the financial literacy program is the amount of women who say, “Oh my god I knew far more than I realised.” I certainly try to contribute to a more positive dialogue, it’s about what you can do and celebrate.
So if you’ve done your cash flow and saved ten dollars a week give yourself a pat on the back for doing that. Don’t be walking around saying “oh my god I should be doing more.” Women put themselves last.
You don’t preach abstinence from buying coffees or shoes or even shopping online?
Ms Money Founder: My motto is… it’s not what you save it’s what you spend.
It’s about conscious spending and any time money is leaving your wallet without you really wanting it to be is when you have to take action. It boils down to one simple thing, if you are in a good financial position you give yourself more choice. How many women do you know who stay in bad jobs, bad relationships, bad situations because of their financial circumstances or lack thereof? So at the end of the day by getting financially organised you are giving yourself more choices in life.
What is your most solid advice in relation to women growing wealth?
Ms Money Founder: Change how you think about money, understand it is a learnt skill. And if you didn’t happen to grow up in a family where money was discussed and wasn’t seen as a healthy thing – because there’s a lot of power and negativity around money – 70% of how we think about money comes from our childhood. The first thing is to be honest about what your relationship is with money.
As a little girl were you exposed to financially literate women?
Ms Money Founder: Yeah I was. There are a couple of things that makes my background quite different. One is European parents; so you almost get your first mortgage coming out of the birth canal. Second thing is my mother is schizophrenic so I had to be incredibly organised. I was the eldest so I always had to be responsible for making sure everything was ok. For example, we maybe would go on an outing on school holidays and half way through the outing our mother wouldn’t know who we were any more. She would think we were strange children that were suddenly following her around. So I found that my ability to think ahead and problem solve is a great skill to have as a financial planner.
They say every cloud has a silver lining; all those things that happen to us as we grow up are things that determine ourselves as a person. At the time you may think ‘this is pretty shitty and pretty difficult’ but its amazing how down the track you actually get some benefit from that. My grand mother was a foundling who was left on the footsteps so she knew nothing about her family and certainly had a very poor upbringing. She was an amazing woman with what she achieved, she was always very gracious, she was always very polite, she was always very determined about what she was going to achieve. Being around women with strong personalities, all those things have certainly contributed to where I am today.
Do you worry if people don’t like you?
Ms Money Founder: No. Probably it comes back to my childhood. We were the kids with the ‘crazy mum’ so you have to sort of get over that pretty quick as a kid, we were sort of the ‘weird’ family. It comes down to your self-esteem, it’s about liking yourself and being you. I’ve worked in fashion and was running restaurants when I was approached to come into financial services and it was just a pure random conversation and I ended up here. I thought, “Oh my god I don’t even have a pin stripe suit!” I’ve got red and blonde hair and I don’t wear a suit to the office… As soon as you are trying to be someone you are not you are going to lose your authenticity.
You can start brushing up on your financial skills and growing wealth by checking out the female friendly Ms Money website. www.msmoney.com.au/