Getting to today! My story

February 4, 2014

Another of the most common questions I get asked is how did I get to be doing what I do! This up close and personal video tells most of the story.


Can you identify with my story?Let me know in the comments below or if you would like to do that in person click on this link and request a strategy session with me. It’s free and if you’re in Auckland I will meet you for coffee and I even buy the coffee! I can’t say fairer than that!!






Have you ever opened your credit card bill and been absolutely shocked at how much it is? Worse still, have you ever been too scared to open it, knowing you were going to be shocked? How about going into your wallet and going “where did that $100/$200/$300 etc go?  We call this being in the “money fog”! Essentially not having any clue how much money we are spending or have spent.

The money fog is almost always worse when we’re using credit cards, because the spending is often unconscious. In other words, you don’t really have to think about it, you just hand over your card without even considering what the balance already is. Provided you’re not at your limit you can easily do a day of retail therapy, or compulsive shopping, without giving the total amount spent another thought! You can just shop until you drop! Whilst you can also be in the money fog when using cash or debit cards, reality is closer at hand! You will either run out of money, need another trip to the money machine, or your debit card or EFT POS card will be rejected. Your spending therefore has to be, if not completely , at least partially, conscious.

Conscious spending is being aware of, not only how much you’re spending, but also being aware of what you’re buying! Do you really need it, or have you just seen it and want it, RIGHT NOW?

I know that when I was at the peak of my overspending, I could have a day out shopping without giving a thought to how much it was costing, or if I really needed what I was buying. As I was a very regular Internet banker ( I had to be, to keep juggling my money!) my shocks at how much I’d spent came pretty early on!  The unneeded purchases were often obvious very early on too! I might have “needed” a painting but did I need ten?

As the reasons you overspend, or shop compulsively, are many and, often, complex there isn’t a quick cure. However, if you only use cash or debit cards, the harm you can do is minimised. The other key is tracking your spending, that is, write every single cent you spend down.

If you are concerned about your spending or any of this, please seek help. The Financial Recovery℠ Institute has a list of counselors If you cannot find one in your area I, and a lot of my colleagues, offer counseling by phone or via Skype.

Do you have a story of being too scared to open your credit card bill? Please share it with us below in the comments section.

For my money, debit card all the way!

Why….I hear you ask?

When using a debit card the money comes straight from your cheque account, therefore if you don’t have the money, you can’t buy it! It makes all of your spending  conscious and eliminates the money fog! Even if it doesn’t eliminate it completely, it certainly doesn’t allow it to hang around! If you hadn’t planned the purchase, the next time you update your bank account and tracking ( you do track your income and outgoings, don’t you??) you will have to record, and adjust your budget or plan for the purchase.

On the other hand, if you use a credit card, the pain of the payment is delayed and the spending is more often than not, unconscious.  You don’t feel as though you are using “real money”, it doesn’t cause any immediate reflection or reaction and allows the money fog to close in, big time!! Most credit card companies allow you up to 55 days before you make a payment, so until that day comes around, or at least until the bill comes in, you can forget all about your purchase, and probably will.

A debit card  still allows you to shop online, or over the phone; excuses people use for needing a credit card.

When I discuss the issue of debit card versus credit card with clients, most  say “But I get airpoints, when I use my credit card”. That is great if you are paying off your credit card, in full, every time you use it. If you aren’t, then the interest you are paying would more than buy you the airpoints, or flights or whatever!

If you pay off your credit card every time and in full, this probably doesn’t need to apply to you.

However, if you don’t, then I strongly advise using a debit card.

Part of my story….

September 30, 2010

Diana Clement, a freelance journalist, wrote an article for the NZ Herald on how, no matter how much we earn, we often spend more…or at least don’t save it!

She interviewed me because, as I said, if it was an Olympic sport I would have won the gold medal!

You can read more here

This was originally posted by my colleague and mentor, Mikelann Valterra  in her blog at:-

With her permission I am reprinting it here, because it’s great, because it’s true, and simply because she says it so well!!

Three reasons we live with the Money Fog Monster

That faceless, nameless monster wrapping its numbing tentacles around you may be none other than: the Money Fog Monster. Run! Scream! Hide! But it has a hold on you….

What exactly is this Money Fog Monster? Well it doesn’t really like to be pinned down (or it would lose some power), but let’s throw out some questions to shine a quick light on it. If you answer no, the money fog has got you. I should know. I used to be in its grip!

* Do you know how much you spend eating out? On groceries? How much have you spent on clothes this year? What about your hobbies? What do you spend on gardening, books and other fun things? What have you been spending on your car?
* If you have debt, do you know all your debt balances (and what that money was used for?)
* Do you know your savings balances and do you know what your net worth is?

Those irritating questions point to the monster. And if you feel its tentacles curling up your leg, constricting your ability to see clearly (or breathe sometimes!) you are not alone.

Now, I’ll write other posts about escaping from this Money Fog Monster, but I want to look at the question: why do we stay in a fog? It likely sounds obvious that it would FEEL better to be clear. We often have a friend who doesn’t seem to live with the Money Fog Monster, whether she makes more or less then us, and we secretly envy her. So why do we live with the fog?  Three reasons:

1. We don’t realize we’re in a fog. Maybe we know we’re a little foggy, but it’s not that bad! Sometimes it takes an event to wake us up. Our debt deepens and we are seriously perplexed. It seems like we must be making enough money, so why the heck is the debt going up? Or where the heck is all the money??? It’s a big version of going to the ATM machine to take out 60 dollars and then a week later your wallet is empty and you just can’t remember where it went so fast. Often times, I find that people don’t realize just how deep the fog is until they start to come out. (By the way, because the fog can feel like it thickens when you try to get out of it, it’s one more reason why we back away, give up and stay in the fog. It can feel like the fog has a mind of its own. ) The Money Fog Monster would rather you stay foggy. Wait—is that a part of US that would rather stay foggy?

2. We don’t know how to exit. Let’s say we do know we’re in a fog. Lovely. So how the heck do we get out? I had a client once who said it felt like she had fallen down a well and couldn’t figure out how to climb out, and was terrified. When we started working together, she said she had this image of me standing at the top of the well, throwing her down a knotted rope and coaching her out. I’ve never forgotten that image. The truth is that we often simply don’t have the skills. No one taught us. Did your parents teach you how to plan where you wanted to spend your money? And then analyze what was happening? And then figure out creative ways to get your needs met so you didn’t feel completely deprived if you didn’t have enough? I hope you had those parents, but I’ve heard countless stories of people who learned nothing beyond a few financial platitudes. “Don’t go into debt. Here’s a credit card”, “You better live within your means”. “Don’t talk about money”. Seriously folks- learning about money is not something in the water supply. You won’t understand money if you were not taught about money. That is not your fault!

3. We are afraid of what we’ll see. Let’s hit this last one on the head. So often we are afraid of what we’ll see that we don’t want to escape the fog. It’s the whole “ignorance is bliss”. Or—“if I don’t know, maybe everything is okay.” Maybe. Money is a very emotional subject.  It is part of our very survival, so no wonder it is a scary subject. If we escape the money fog monster, we are often afraid of what awaits us on the other side—will we have to spend less? Is it possible we can’t have everything we want—or need?! Will we have to make hard choices? What about income? Will we see that we don’t make enough? How will this whole financial clarity thing affect our relationships? Our career direction? Gulp. No wonder we would rather live with that blasted monster!

I find that people write about money issues all time like it is not an emotional subject. “Here are the rules. Just do this.” But the truth is that there are reasons we stay in the fog, and no one seems to talk about that. So let’s talk.

Why do you stay in the fog? Which of these reasons spoke to you? For me, it really was all three. I didn’t realize how foggy I was until I started to climb out. And I really didn’t know how to climb out. But I found a great mentor. And in helping me climb out, she helped me face my fears of why I didn’t really want to climb out.  And now I coach other people out of the fog.

In the end, clarity is a far more beautiful thing. I can go on and on about how happy I am about being financially clear. But I vow never to forget all the reasons why it was so hard to face that damn money fog monster.

Emotional Spending

September 9, 2009

Many of us shop, or spend money, to fulfill emotional needs rather than actual or physical ones. Many times this is unconscious spending.

A colleague alerted me to a new programme on TV1, “Save our Home” and I have just watched the first episode on TVNZ’s “On Demand” service.

The mother/wife, Karen, in this first episode, is a classic example of someone who spends money for emotional reasons, rather than any physical need. She is desperate to keep her  three adult sons living at home with her and her husband, so showers them with money and provides them with 5-star accommodation and service….all rent free, so they will remain living at home! She and her husband Graham, provide  a  great party place for the boys and their friends. They do this despite being at risk of losing their family home as they cannot keep up the mortgage payments.

The family see the way forward as selling their current home and purchasing a smaller one with a correspondingly smaller mortgage.

The presenters, a successful real estate agent Sarah and a financial advisor Hannah, go very thoroughly through the family’s financial situation including getting a realistic valuation on their current property and then showing them the realistic options of what they could buy. The financial advisor prepares a budget which would enable them to stay in their current home; one which necessitates the young men and one of their partners paying board.

By the end of the show, despite the whole family seemingly understanding the need to change how they are spending money, one is left with the feeling that they will indeed lose their home because they will not take the hard decisions and reduce their spending and insist that their sons and the grandmother, who also lives with them, pay their way.

Sarah and Hannah did a great job of showing the hard facts of the situation but I was left with the feeling that they left an enormous piece, and for me the key piece, the emotional side of this situation unresolved. Karen was not going to change her attitudes to money…. or to spoiling her children… without significant emotional and psychological counselling and support. I believe that until she had significant insight into the reasons behind her spending, and gained some clarity about the “money fog” she was operating in, she was powerless to change.

I felt saddened that Karen’s out of control spending was exposed publicly without any obvious emotional support put in place.  A reminder for me that “reality shows” are for entertainment.