Come on, admit it. We’ve all been there. Paycheck comes in. Credit card gets whipped out.
And just like that we kiss our paycheck goodbye as those sacred credit card numbers float listlessly through the ether and result in a dreaded ‘debit’ on our netbank statements. And while we become one pair of can’t-live-without-shoes richer (yay!), the effect on our bank balance can sometimes remain…how should I put this…questionable?
While we have no problem discussing these indiscretions with our friends, colleagues, sisters and mothers – so much so that we at times wear them as a badge of honour, almost boastful that our newest Iconic purchase meant we had to live off cup-noodles for five days straight – when it comes to having serious conversations about our finances we run (feet encased in those shiney new can’t-live-without-kicks) for the hills!
So even though we need it, and we quite like it, there can be a lot of shame around the topic of money. As this article highlights, money provides us security and stability, and can provide a boost to our self esteem and wellbeing yet, even with close friends, we’re reluctant to talk about it beyond the superficial.
For women, it gets even more complicated. Statistically, women live longer than men, earn less than men and are more likely to opt out of the workforce for a period of their lives. However, women continue to report that they feel unprepared to make sound financial decisions and fail to seek out professional help.
With very little change in the gender pay gap over the last two decades, Wadzanai Nenzou, Founder, Speaker and Women’s Financial Literacy Champion at Herconomics, thinks it’s time for women to take control of their finances and put themselves in a position to succeed.
Wadzi joins us today to take us through her start in the world of finance and why it’s so important for women to improve their financial literacy.
Tell us a bit about yourself and what got you interested in finance as a career?
Originally from beautiful Zimbabwe I have been in Melbourne Australia for 15 years and I love it. I came to study a Bachelor of Commerce at University in 2001 and I never left. I have always been interested in financial empowerment for myself from a young age. As an adult I became very interested in women’s economic empowerment when I observed the gap between men and women when it comes to economic power. I realised how much that gap affected gender equality and women’s general wellbeing and happiness. This drew me into studying commerce and accounting. I have been working in the financial services industry for 10 years ever since and that motivated me to start Herconomics.
How has your career in finance impacted how you view the relationship women have with money?
Working in the financial services industry for 10 years I have gotten some interesting insights when it comes to women and money. On a general scale I have noticed the obvious gap in superannuation balances between women and men. I have also noticed a higher amount of men compared to women seeing financial advisers and have met many women who highlight how uncomfortable they are talking about money or trying to learn more about money. There seems to be deep psychological barriers for many women when it comes to money management.
Tell us about Herconomics and what made you interested in positive psychology and psychological barriers to women increasing their economic empowerment?
Herconomics is an organisation I founded recently committed to economic empowerment of women through increasing their financial literacy.
I look deeply at psychological barriers that get in the way and how to overcome these blocks women have created which keep them disempowered in the area of financial literacy. Research findings have highlighted the gap between men and women when it comes to financial literacy levels. They also highlighted that women were more likely than men to find money management overwhelming, boring, uncomfortable, intimidating and unimportant compared to other aspects of life.
I am interested in using positive psychology tools to empower women to thrive when it comes to money management and have therefore applied to start the University of Melbourne Master of Applied Positive Psychology next year.
I am currently working on developing Herconomics into a not-for-profit social enterprise. I plan to channel some of the profits into providing financial literacy programs targeting girls and women refugees from African countries as well as supporting female economic empowerment projects based in Africa.
You’re obviously a busy women – you work in financial services, run Herconomics, are the Engagement Officer for the Women’s Melbourne Network, are currently studying a Graduate Diploma of Public Policy and will be commencing a Master of Applied Positive Psychology next year. How do you balance all your different roles and what keeps you motivated to keep going?
I definitely have a lot of balls up the air at the moment. It excites me as I am very passionate about what I am working on, especially Herconomics. When it comes to Women’s Melbourne Network I love being around amazing women who are passionate about gender equality just as I am. I have really enjoyed my Public Policy studies more than I thought I would and I am beyond excited to learn about Positive Psychology. So the trick is loving what I am doing which doesn’t make it difficult to juggle. I take it one day at a time really. I try to also find downtime to relax and recharge. One of my favourite ways to recharge is watching awesome TV Shows. I am totally obsessed with Game of Thrones right now. [Bec – totally agree – I love GoT! And what an inspiring group of kick arse female characters!]
Here at The Modern Ascent, we’re big believers in women supporting women. Who are some of the women in your life who have made the biggest impact on your career and life more broadly?
I am a big believer in women supporting women as well which fuels my passion for Herconomics. There are many women who have made a difference in my life no doubt.
My sister-in-law Tsitsi recently passed away unexpectedly and it has devastated my family because she was something special. We loved her with everything we had. Tsitsi inspired me in my life through who she was and how she lived her life. She was one of the kindest, most loving people I have ever met. She truly loved life and enjoyed herself to the fullest. I wanted to be more like her in every way. She was also one of the most hardworking people, she held our family up in so many ways through her hard work and generous nature. She was very ambitious and had started a business venture recently and her successes were motivating to see. She had big dreams and was focused on achieving great things for herself and her family. I was so proud of her and all she was achieving. I am determined to work hard and achieve all I can in honour of her and her beautiful spirit.
My mum Isabella and sisters Vimbai and Rumbi are my life-savers in so many ways. They inspire me with their beautiful hearts. All three have held me up and supported me in everything and I am grateful to them. Special mention goes to my sister Vimbai who is truly one of the most inspiring people. She probably wouldn’t see herself that way but she is one of the most authentic beautiful people I know and she has always been my rock. She is my biggest supporter and cheer squad when it comes to my passions and goals. She is my BFF for life always has been and always will be.
My grandmothers have both played major roles in the person I am today. Both these women have always showcased an amazing work ethic which I have always admired. One of my nannas was a teacher at a time when it was trailblazing for a black African woman to be educated. She pushed the importance of learning and that has always been a foundation to all I have achieved. I love learning and will be a lifelong learner because of this influence. My other grandma has single handedly managed her own farm for decades since my grandpa passed away. I am grateful and lucky for my strong grandmothers.
My close friends have also been my support, cheer squad and my rock when it comes to going for my dreams. I love being surrounded by kind and positive people – they know who they are and I appreciate them a lot. Thanks guys you all rock.
On the professional front, at the beginning of the year I met the lovely Marianne Roux. She is amazing and she walks the talk when it comes to supporting other women. She is a Leadership Executive who has taken me under her wing in the most generous manner. Through Marianne I have been given the most amazing opportunities for Herconomics. I can never thank her enough except to do my utmost best to make a difference in the lives of women.
All in all I am surrounded by many amazing women at work, at organisations I am involved in I keep on meeting empowering women who make me a better person. Thank you lovely ladies.
What are your top five money tips and/or resources for women to help them improve their financial literacy?
- Don’t buy things you can’t afford in order to impress other people. Make buying choices according to your own personal values and financial circumstances.
- Consolidate all your super funds into one if at all possible. This simplifies things and will cut down on unnecessary fees paid on multiple funds. Sometimes this is not possible for example if you want to retain the insurance cover in a fund for instance but it’s worth looking into.
- Remember that your self-worth is not related to how much money you make, how many things you own and what you do for a living – you are much more than that. This will give you a healthier relationship with money and remove any feelings of shame, guilt and low self-worth.
- The MoneySmart website run by ASIC has an amazing amount of free information which will help you better manage your money.
- 10thousandgirl is a not for profit organisation started by a group of women in a Sydney pub in 2009. The ladies realised the importance and long term benefit of having a plan and understanding finance basics so they could make their plans happen. They offer free webinars and have a 6 week money makeover course.
And finally, how can our readers learn more about Herconomics and get in touch with you?
Wadzanai Nenzou is the Founder, Speaker and Women’s Economic Empowerment Champion at Herconomics, an organisation committed to economic empowerment of women through increasing their financial literacy. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.