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Pretty Powerful Series: Hannah McQueen

Can you tell us about why you started enableMe?

I am financially minded (I am a chartered accountant, with my Masters in Tax), but I am also a shopper. I enjoy spending money and because I work hard, I probably have a sense of entitlement – that I should be able to spend what I want, on what I want.

10 years ago, my husband and I had a mortgage of around $350,000. We did what everyone does; we played the banks against each other to try and minimise the interest cost. But despite the great interest rate, we were going to be paying close to $1m back to the bank. I wanted to understand how I could reduce this cost. I called the University of Auckland Maths Department, with the purpose of understanding the calculus behind how mortgages work and developing a formula to use if I wanted to minimise the interest I paid to the bank.

A few months and pages of calculus later – I had an amazing formula where I could save, in essence, the size of my mortgage in interest costs. I patented this formula, but for the formula to work I needed to have money left over each month that I could put into my mortgage.

The reality, was that despite earning good money, the more money I earned the more I felt it simply gave me permission to not worry about my money, instead of doing the smartest thing with it. I spoke to friends, and they too shared my predicament. I could set a budget (I was an Accountant, after all), I couldn’t stick to it. Life made it hard. I soon realised that I needed to understand my psychology of spending and develop a process to bring a financial plan of attack to life. That process took the form of enableMe. As financial personal trainers our sole objective is to help our clients get ahead, faster. When you are in control of your finances, you are in control of your life.

 

Amongst other things, you’re a financial personal trainer – what does this entail exactly?

This means I work with my clients for a 12 month period, much like a gym membership. Clients can continue to work with us thereafter, but we are engaged for a year to help our clients get ahead faster. Some of our clients are starting out (don’t have a home/mortgage), some are building up (with a mortgage and rentals) and some are wanting to retire. Some are financially fit, others are financially overweight. All are capable of doing better, and all are ready to do better.

We all benefit from accountability, especially around money; money is an emotional topic. It is intrinsically linked to one’s self worth, self-esteem and general wellbeing, yet for many, they are not honest with themselves about their money situation. They don’t even realise what they are capable of, so often don’t bother trying. My job is to help show and support clients in achieving their financial capability

Is a financial personal trainer something reserved for those in financial strife or do you think it’s a service that everyone can benefit from?

 With regards to fitness, people use personal trainers or coaches to help them achieve their potential. Some are overweight and need a bit of a bomb under them. Others are athletes and simply want to be the best they can be. Financially speaking, our clients are no different. Yes, some are going backwards, they are on the back foot and need help getting back in control of their money. But the vast majority of our clients are already doing ok. They are not going backwards per se, but they also are not getting ahead particularly fast. If you were to compare them to others, you might say they are already doing better than most. But the critical point, is that they are capable of doing better, of achieving more, and they work with us to do this. They become clients not because they are sinking, but because they want to aspire. 

Being financially savvy doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Can you share some personal finance tips with us?

Everyone needs a plan.  Everyone benefits from being held accountable to this plan. Life throws curve balls so the plan needs to be flexible enough to work with these challenges.

If you have a mortgage, do you have a strategy to “kill it”?  Hop on the financial scales, get a second opinion as to your capability and determine if you have reached it, or could do more.

Remember, for any financial plan to work, you need to understand the things that make you happy, even if they are frivolous.  Build the plan around your non-negotiable costs first, because if you don’t live your life you won’t stick to the plan.  That said, enjoying your life and getting ahead, are not mutually exclusive objectives, you simply need to find the balance – something I know a thing or two about.

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