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Guests: Ben Wauchope, Steve Neuwert and Sophie
Tags: financial management
Soundcloud: Listen to Episode 40
In 2022 Beyond Blue released research showing that financial challenges and mental health problems are common issues that frequently go hand-in-hand. Find out more in the report: Money and Mental Health.
There is substantial evidence that financial wellbeing and mental health are linked. Analysis of HILDA data shows 14% of Australian adults experienced both financial hardship and mental health symptoms at any time over the five years from 2014 to 2019. Recent economic disruption such as rising rent, interest rates and cost of living has led to many Australians feeling increasing levels of financial stress and elevated risk to mental health.
At Nurse & Midwife Support, we’re committed to supporting your health and wellbeing, but we’re not financial experts and providing financial support is not our core business. However, we often hear from nurses, midwives and students who are experiencing financial anxiety.
When a registered midwife, Sophie, reached out to let us know about her journey to improve her financial wellbeing, we saw an opportunity to invite her and her financial coaching team onto the podcast to discuss financial management for healthcare workers such as nurses and midwives.
Sophie was able to turn her financial wellbeing around by seeking the financial advice of experts, and wanted to share what she has learned with our listeners. Sophie and Wealth Health Co’s Ben and Steve share practical information about what to consider when you are planning your financial future, why it’s important to have goals, a plan and active engagement in pursuing financial wellbeing. We also discuss what to do if you experience financial difficulties.
Ben has also written two blogs to support your financial wellbeing:
- A financial advisor’s tips to support your financial wellbeing at any life stage
- Your financial wellbeing matters: 4 tips to build a financial foundation
It may be that you are already an exceptional manager of your finances and have some tips to share with fellow nurses and midwives. We would love to hear from you. Email us at email@example.com
We hope this podcast and blogs are useful. We know your financial wellbeing matters. If your mental health has been affected by your financial situation, please reach out to Nurse & Midwife Support. Call us 24/7 on 1800 667 877 or email us.
Sophie is a registered midwife who has improved her financial wellbeing with the help of expert financial advice. We’re only using her first name to protect her privacy.
Financial advisor, Wealth Health Co
Armed with a Bachelor of Commerce from UWA, Ben started his financial planning career in 2013 and has since worked for three different private wealth, broking and accounting firms as a senior financial advisor.
During this time, Ben undertook further studies and successfully completed an Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning, Self-Managed Super Funds and Margin Lending. Ben has also achieved all of the educational standards as required by the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA).
When his nose is not at the grindstone, Ben loves spending time with wife Steph, their son Leo and their two furry boxer kids Billie and Mr Wilson. Ben is also a 20+ year member of the Fremantle Football Club, visits his local gym regularly and enjoys fishing, 4WDing and boating with his friends
Money coach, Wealth Health Co
Steve graduated with a Bachelor of Finance (Hons) from Arizona State University and has worked in the finance sector for over a decade.
Steve has also excelled in sport and was a multiple world cup swimming finalist and two-time Australian age record holder in freestyle. As well as swimming with Australia’s national team, Steve was awarded a swimming scholarship to attend Arizona State University where he captained the men’s swim team.
A passionate AFL fan and follower of the mighty Eagles, Steve swapped his swimming goggles for footy boots and played for the UFC Pirates – winning two premierships. Steve loves spending time with his young family and, when the opportunity arises, he’s also a mad keen fisherman.
Mark Aitken [0:09] Welcome to the Nurse & Midwife Support podcast: Your Health Matters. I'm Mark Aitken, the podcast host. I'm the Stakeholder Engagement Manager with Nurse & Midwife Support, and I'm a registered nurse. Nurse & Midwife Support is the national support service for nurses, midwives and students. The service is anonymous, confidential and free, and you can call us anytime you need support. 1800-667-877, or contact us via the website: nmsupport.org.au.
Welcome to the Nurse & Midwife Support podcast: Your Health Matters. I begin today by acknowledging the traditional owners of the Kulin nation, the Wurundjeri people, and wish to acknowledge them as traditional owners of the land that I work on. I would also like to pay my respects to their elders past and present, and Aboriginal elders of other communities listening to this podcast.
Today, on this episode of the Your Health Matters podcast, we are going to discuss financial wellbeing and its connection to your health and wellbeing. To do this, we have three guests, and I'm delighted to welcome Ben and Steve from Wealth Health Co in Perth, and Sophie, a midwife who has sought the advice and support from Ben and Steve at Wealth Health Co and is going to talk a bit about her financial journey. Welcome to you all.
Ben [1:49] Thanks, Mark, great to be on.
Mark Aitken [1:50] Great to have you all on board. I think this is a really important conversation and looking forward to putting the information out there.
Ben [1:59] We're super excited to be on. Just a little compliance note to begin with that all this information is general advice that doesn't take into account any of the listener's individual objectives or financial situation. They need to consider the appropriateness of the information provided in relation to their situations.
Mark Aitken [2:21] Yeah, thanks, Ben. I think that's a really important point. We'll talk a bit through the podcast about how you can access financial support and expertise. Clearly Ben and Steve provide this service, so they're going to talk a bit about the service they provide, and the work they do at Wealth Health Co. So a bit of background from you, Ben and Steve, if that's okay, and your company.
Ben [2:49] Yes. Wealth Health Co aim to help and educate nurses and midwives about how to utilise their money and finances to really live a better life. We hear from nurses and midwives that they put their finances on the backburner. They're pretty busy caring for others, and juggling families, work commitments, everything that goes into a normal life. But making a financial plan, setting goals and accessing advice is really going to assist them to get clear on where they want to go, where they want to be and how to get there.
Mark Aitken [3:28] I think that's really vital information, to know that there's an intimate link between your health and wellbeing, particularly in mental health, and your financial health. The Beyond Blue 'Money and Mental Health Report' that was released in August 22 states that there is substantial evidence that financial wellbeing and mental health are connected. The report also outlines opportunities for all of us to build our knowledge of financial management, to support our financial wellbeing. When doing this, those who support our financial wellbeing consider the whole person, taking into account the cognitive, emotional, and behavioural impacts of financial and mental health, and the challenges and encouragement that we might need to develop resilient behaviours in the face of unexpected life and community events.
There's some really deep and important information in there. But what do you think are some important components from that report that we all read from Beyond Blue? And what do you reckon some of those resilient financial behaviours are?
Ben [4:48] There was nothing that wasn't expected, but it was quite eye opening, the report with ASIC who's Australia's financial regulator and Beyond Blue, and we see it daily with people coming in. They're stressed and overwhelmed with managing their bills, their loan repayments. Now with the costs of living these days, which has just gone through the roof, you then add on other things like funding kids' education and looking at the longer term around when will I be able to retire? Will I ever be able to retire? How much am I going to be able to live off? You know, it is quite overwhelming.
You've also got the fact that most people are constantly comparing themselves to their friends, colleagues and family. You obviously think, "Oh, they're doing really well, what am I doing that isn't working as well?" But when you open up the bonnet, and you look a bit deeper, people are all dealing with the same issues. Obviously, without knowing that, it further reinforces those negative mental health emotions around stress, anxiety, helplessness, and people often find that they stick their heads in the sand, they don't address the problems to begin with. Then they make further poor decisions around money, which then only compounds their issues.
Some of the key statistics that I took out of that report were people experiencing financial challenges are twice as likely to experience mental health challenges, and vice versa. In particular, women and young adult women are significantly more likely to experience financial hardships and mental health symptoms, likely as a result of those financial hardships, when compared to men.
There was one quote that really stood out to me. She said, "When I'm in big debt, I can't sleep at night, I worry all the time, to the point where I have chest pain and difficulty breathing. I stress a lot. That was going on for months and months, especially last year, I haven't functioned sometimes at work, when I haven't slept all night, and that has a big impact on my mental health."
But I guess we can all relate to this, right? Most of us would have gone through times of financial struggle, whether it was periods where you're living paycheck to paycheck, not being able to do the things that you wanted to do with friends and family, because you just didn't have the money at the time, or even really struggling to afford all the bills and repay loans on time.
That's why financial education, staying on top of your money is so important. So yeah, really knowing your current position, what's coming in every fortnight from an income perspective, what's going out, and making sure that you're keeping on top of everything. Otherwise it can lead to that stress, anxiety and helplessness mentioned throughout the report.
Mark Aitken [7:50] They're really good points. I think it's a timely reminder for people, if they're finding themselves in financial difficulty, or stressed by their finances, to reach out for support earlier rather than later. Because I've found over the years, what people can do is stick their head in the sand and hope the problem goes away. But of course, what we know is the problem often gets worse. If somebody finds themselves in a difficult financial situation, what do you reckon are the first steps that they should take?
Steve [8:30] We do a lot of work around this. There's a lot of noise and a lot of information around all the things that you shouldn't be doing. Social media is a good one for this, everyone showing all the good things that people are doing. They're investing in Bitcoin, or cryptocurrencies, or buying investment properties, or having lavish lifestyles. I think that adds to the stress and anxiety of people's lives and their financial situation, because that's what everyone is comparing to. Everyone's having a great life, and I'm struggling with my own financial situation, I'm doing something wrong.
I think social media is to blame for those kinds of things, because that information is a bit deceiving, because really, like Ben was saying a bit earlier, if you look under the bonnet there, that's really not a true reflection of what's going on. It adds to that mental health [load] when you're comparing someone's situation and you're trying to keep up with something that's a movie-like scenario and comparing it to real day-to-day life. Of course you're gonna fall into that trap.
What we try and focus on is to come back to fundamentals, some education and basics around your money management. Getting educated. We have a few steps … the first step, we call it 'knowing your why'. Getting a real understanding of what you truly value and what's important to you. This is for you personally, not what your friends are doing, not what you've been told by parents growing up, what you should be doing, but really what your value. What kind of lifestyle you want, what the things you enjoy doing are. If that's spending time with your kids and your family, or living in a certain area, or spending your money on certain things, and the values that are important to you. A big part of that is if you've got a partner, sharing that with your partner and making those decisions together.
Step one is identifying your why and your values. Step two is knowing your numbers. A lot of people skip over this and jump to things like I'm gonna buy an investment property, or I'm going to start investing, or doing all these other things. Buying these big cars or houses without really knowing if they can afford that. Going back to basics is knowing how much you earn and how much money comes in fortnightly, weekly or even per year, compared to what's going out. Back to the simple equation, spend less than you earn. You need to know what's going out and what's coming in, knowing those numbers around those kinds of things.
Also, around your debts ... what's your assets? What do you have in savings? What do you have in super? What do you have in debts? What's your home loan balance at? Do you have any credit card debts, personal loans? Instead of putting your head in the sand and saying, "Yes, I know I should deal with that one day," having a deep dive and looking into that. So that's number two on the list.
Number three, we work towards paying attention to your finances. Really looking at what's going on once you understand your values, and where you're at personally, then starting to pay attention.
Things that we work with, and Sophie might talk [about] them a bit later, is around having a plan. In your situation, you might be looking at salary packaging, there's options in there you can take advantage of that might save you three grand a year in taxes. If you review your interest rate on your home loan, you might be paying extra to your bank and if you go negotiate a better rate or refinance somewhere else and save 1% on your home loan that might be four grand a year in interest that you save. Straightaway, there's $7,000 in your cash flow that you can now be putting towards that 'why' that you identified. When you start working on these fundamentals, and you build that year after year, and you build these habits, then you start working towards all these things that are working towards this life built [for] you, and what's important to you, your 'why'. It's designed around you, it's not designed around everything presented through social media and things like that.
Mark Aitken [12:54] Thanks, Steve. That's really helpful. Our listeners love tips and strategies, so they're really going to be well received. In there, I really connected with the value of budgeting. I think maybe it's a bit of a diminished tool in life, that people actually budget. What would you say about budgeting in relation to financial wellbeing?
Steve [13:19] I think budgeting is a tool that does work in some respects, but it's not the be all and end all. That might be a bit controversial from a financial services company! I think having a budget is good, to know where you're at. But moving forward, having a good cash flow system or good habits around your money is the most important thing. Yes, a budget helps you create that system, but a budget is only a piece of paper for you to say, look, this is what I should stick to.
In reality, the budget may not work at the end of the day. It's the cash flow system of you allocating money and directing that towards a certain thing. For example, if money comes in a fortnight, and you allocate that money, so a portion of that goes to pay your mortgage, then a portion goes to pay your bills. A portion goes to having a bit of fun, bit of savings for your holidays, and you're doing that on a regular basis, then that system or that cash flow system is more important, and the habit of doing that on a fortnightly basis is going to become automatic. It's going to build and compound over time.
We see far better results out of having an allocation system, which you can say is almost like budgeting but it's it's an automated kind of thing, rather than you having to go look at your transaction and analyse that and say, "Oh, hang on, I've budgeted $500 towards dining out, or hang on..." Then you go, "Actually, we spent $650..." Then you beat yourself up because you overspent.
That's a real negative connotation, and it doesn't help towards mental health in that regard because you're at least comparing to something and we're human at the end of the day. If we're going to overspend on a budget, we're going to beat ourselves up about it, and guess what, that budget is only going to last for a week or two, and then you're going to give up on it because it doesn't work. Honestly, through the experiences that we've had, budgets don't work in that respect, [you] need a bit more than that.
That's why a good cash flow system with some good habits around that is far more important, having those in place. We do a lot of work and have a lot more success around a good cash flow system. There's a lot of controversy around budgets. Honestly, by themselves, I don't believe they work.
Mark Aitken [15:52] Oh, that's really interesting. I think part of this is monitoring your finances and your financial wellbeing. Are there any tools, databases or apps that you've come across that can help people do this?
Ben [16:09] Yeah. It's funny that you asked that. There were some like Pocketbook and MoneyBrilliant, but they've actually just shut up shop. I don't know why. We use professional software that obviously we pay for to do that, which data scrapes your spending and allocates it, we're able to sit down and look at what you've spent in each area. So bills, discretionary, loan repayments, holidays, over a 12 month period.
Why that's helpful is because it gives us a snapshot of 'this is the lifestyle that you've been living,' and it gives us that basis to set up the cash flow system moving forward. Because if we just guess the numbers and go, Okay, we're gonna set up this cash flow system, and it's 50% less than what you've been spending in the past 12 months, it's not going to work, right? Because you're used to a certain lifestyle, and cutting that in half is simply not going to work.
So we use software, and that gives us a basis for your past 12 months worth of spending. Then we use that as the initial data to set up the cash flow plan. It may be about trying to shave off 10 or 20%. But we don't want to be the spending police, we don't want to be eating too much into your lifestyle, because simply, it's not going to work. We're also able to show you if you continue to spend in a similar way, this is the impact that it's going to have on achieving your goals. Once you're more clear in that and you can see that, you're going to be more inclined to actually stick to those allocations of fun money, because if I go and eat into another account, let's say my bills account or something, then you're robbing one bank to pay another and it's just going to push you out in terms of timeframe on meeting those goals.
It's a really clear trade-off: okay, if I spend more now, it's going to be longer before I can upgrade my house, which is really important to us because we want more space for the kids to run around or something like that. That then helps people keep more accountable to that spendings plan.
Steve [18:31] To further Ben's point, then back on my point, our first step was all about knowing your why. This is where the focus comes in. Once you identify your why, let's say it was like saving for a new home because you needed a bigger home for the kids. So you could have a backyard for [them] to run around in. When we set up a cash flow system, and we work out, alright now we're allocating money for that deposit for the new home, and you're saving towards that.
When you're putting less money towards that deposit and you go, alright, I want to spend a bit more money this week on going out, dining, or some takeaway and stuff like that, you make an active decision there. So you go, alright, I can put that money towards that deposit for that house, which is a goal of mine, or I can put less money towards that and put it towards that experience this week of dining out and you've got that active decision. You'll go, oh, actually, no. More importantly, my why is having that house, so I'm not going to spend it on that takeaway this week. I'm going to put that extra money towards that house because that's my important thing. That's my why, and that's a priority for me. It's an active decision, and it's an easier decision to make.
Rather than going oh, I shouldn't spend money on going out and cutting back and telling yourself off, 'I spent too much...' It's an easy decision to make because you've already identified your why and you said, "Oh, that's important to me." It's easy to allocate money towards things that are important to you, rather than someone [telling you], “Oh, don't spend money on going out.” It's a bigger part of the process, but it's all about identifying what's important to you and your values, and then setting up a system that's automated to deliver on that moving forward.
Mark Aitken [20:21] So it seems to me a big component of this is in the why, setting your financial goals, having a long-term vision, I guess, for where you want to get to. I'm sure in the process of you working with people, Ben and Steve, you are not taking control of their finances, but you're partnering with them to empower them with tools, information and support to assist them to meet their goals. Would that be a correct summation of what somebody would expect if they came to get support from you?
Ben [21:00] Yeah, 100%. At the end of the day, we're here to number one, educate. That's part of our company's ethos, upskilling your financial literacy. You can also be involved and give us valid feedback along the way, because we're not always going to mind read and understand exactly what you want all of the time. We're able to give you those tools and that education, so that you can make an informed decision, it's going to be beneficial for us as well, because you're going to have a better outcome. At the end of the day, it's your money. We're just here to guide, advise and educate you around how best to utilise it.
Steve [21:45] I think at the end of the day, everyone's situation, their goals, their motives and their why is different. Ben and I in our business, we're the technicians, and we can tell you the numbers and everything like that, and we can give you the strategies behind that. But at the end of the day, we can't tell you what you want, and your why.
So we want to educate you and help you be the pilot of your ship so you can be in control and make informed decisions, and use us to help you make the right decisions. But ultimately, you're in control, making those decisions. I think the best part of what we're trying to deliver is the education and the understanding of your finances so you're empowered to make those decisions.
Yes, you're still going to have professional [help], you're still going to have a financial advisor, you're still going to have an account, you still want to have a mortgage broker, but you're not going to them and just getting directive orders and them telling you what to do. You're going to them and saying, "Hey, these are my goals, this is what I want to achieve. Can you execute that for me?" Using those professionals to execute that for you, but you're the person in control making those decisions, because you're ultimately the one who knows the best thing for your situation and your life.
We want to empower you, upskill you and educate you in that process, and then also help you deliver on that and be those professionals for you, or use the people around you that you already have connections with.
Mark Aitken [23:30] That's great, and I think it's really refreshing because historically, I think there was a sense that financial companies were taking over people's financial health, and people weren't as educated or knowledgeable as perhaps would have been in their best interest to have been. So I think this is a great philosophy and one, I think, that will really connect with our listeners.
Sophie, you sought financial advice from Ben and Steve at Wealth Health Co. What motivated you to do this? What was your why?
Sophie [24:08] Well, my big why was probably going back and doing some more study. I had been nursing a few years and had levelled up and was earning a good wage. I really wanted to go back to uni and do my midwifery training, which I had been wanting to do since I started my career, but I was really worried about how I'd be able to afford to do that.
I was going to basically take a huge pay cut by going from a level two nurse wage, right back down to a very junior wage, back back to the start pretty much, and that really worried me. By the time I started back at uni, I had a mortgage, I had loans. I had all these responsibilities, and I didn't want to fall behind in all of these but I still wanted to make sure that I did the midwifery training, otherwise, I knew I'd regret it.
I'm glad I did [the training], because I love my job. I think as nurses and midwives, we don't really think about money and finances very much. I was definitely like that. I'd probably call myself someone who was a little bit financially illiterate a few years ago. People would talk about money and finances, tax, interest rates, all these things that sounded like a foreign language to me pretty much. I had no idea what everyone was talking about, wondering if I should be doing these things as well.
I tried to learn myself, I read some books and things like that, but I always felt like I was barely keeping my head above water. That awful feeling, when you're living paycheck to paycheck, and you get your pay, you pay your bills, and then it's all gone and you have nothing left to enjoy life and have that work/life balance, treat yourself, that kind of thing.
So I sat down one day, and tried to work it out myself. I mapped out some sort of plan, but I still felt like I was missing something, and was just barely going to be making it by with all my calculations and things. I went and saw Ben and Steve after talking to a colleague about how I didn't understand finances. They'd clearly worked with nurses and midwives before, because they knew all the ins and outs of even our levels and increments of pay and how our penalties work and that kind of thing, which is so refreshing and easy.
So many times in the past when I've gone to apply for loans or get financial approval for things, trying to explain to a bank that your pay varies fortnight to fortnight, sometimes by hundreds, thousands of dollars, depending on what shifts you're working, and things like that. They knew all of that, and were able to help me still map out a good plan, no matter what my income would be that fortnight.
With their help, I was able to sit down and map out a plan, set some small, achievable goals, to make sure I stayed on top of things and stayed on top of all my bills so that I could focus on study and not be worried and stressed out every night and not be able to sleep. Because I was behind on bills, or couldn't afford to go out and see family, see friends, do some nice things to de-stress from studying, and was able to stay on top of things without having to pick up extra work and [do] what some of my colleagues and fellow student friends did. They would pick up crazy hours and do extra shifts and double shifts, things like that just to stay on top of their bills.
I didn't really have to do any of that because we were able to map out a really achievable plan and save heaps of money on even just evaluating my home loan and my car and things like that, something as simple as just changing all my loans over to get a better interest rate. Such a simple fix, and it saved me thousands, I think about $4,000 a year just in interest rates. They knew special deals and tips and tricks that health professionals could access to save money and get discounts or cashback which I could then put back into my savings and do something fun. I then breezed through my studies and came out still on top of things without any debt that had built up while I was back at uni.
Mark Aitken [29:00] Thanks, Sophie, it must have been empowering not to have to worry or think too much about your finances while you're studying because you had a plan in place, and you had the support and guidance of experts.
Sophie [29:14] Yeah, very empowering. Especially the way that they educated me in the whole process. When I came to see them, I thought I'd learned a few little things along the way, but I still didn't fully get it until I sat down with them. They taught me so much about it, and I'm more knowledgeable now because of it. I would pay things off and all of my bills and payments for things are automated, so I don't really have to stress about anything.
It builds your confidence as well, being on top of things financially, and knowing I can share some of these tips with my colleagues as well. It feels good. It feels good to not have that buildup of financial stress when we've already got enough stress to deal with in our job.
Mark Aitken [30:07] Yeah, absolutely. It seems to me a big part of this is education, as you've all outlined, but also adaptation, that life doesn't just go along on the same trajectory all of the time. I think what I'm getting out of this is as our life situation changes, or the curveball hits us in life, and serves up a financial blow, we need to be adapting fairly rapidly. How would you say you can support people to adapt in relation to their financial health and wellbeing, Ben and Steve?
Steve [30:48] I think having a good baseline, and having some control ... and it's where you're coming from. If you're stressed and you're not on top of your finances, and then you're hit by another blow, or a change in your circumstances, then you're not equipped to deal with that. But if you've got a good foundation, and you're on top of that, and then something comes along, you're more equipped to deal with that mentally. The first step is being in a good mindset and the mental state to deal with that. That's the first step.
From a numbers or financial point of view, we have emergency account of buffers, we always start with one of those. It's an important part of anything, because, yes, life deals up certain types of cards, whether it be a car breaking down, illness, injury, death in the family, or whatever it [is], kids need some certain expense that comes up. There's all these things [where] money is needed for something. Money is needed, and money helps facilitate that. From a numbers point of view, emergency accounts are important in building buffers over time.
Being on top of debt, having cash reserves, are very important. But back on the sort of topic we hit on at the start, being in that good state of mind, having good mental health from a financial point of view, and having a good mental state is really going to help you combat those little things that come to you, because they will come.
That's the life we live in, especially today with lots going on. We just went through COVID, that was hectic for everyone. We've got wars with Ukraine and Russia that we went through, there's going to be more things, all these things that impact us. We've got inflation, we've got interest rates now, that pressure that's coming, but there's going to be more and more. You look back in history, it's constant all the time. So I think you gotta look to your own household, and if you get that in and you've got a good foundation, and you can put that in place, then you can deal with those external factors a lot easier. But if you don't have somewhere safe and somewhere comfortable in your own household, it makes it a lot harder to deal with those external [pressures] as well.
Ben [33:14] Just further to that, Mark, I was listening to one of your episodes about career progression. Was it Karen, or one of your staff members? She had a foot injury in Thailand and wasn't able to continue?
Mark Aitken [33:29] Ah, yes, Helen.
Ben [33:34] So also knowing about things like income protection and things like that, that you may already have in your super fund. Being aware of that, because I've seen a number of times where people are out of work, not being able to work because of an injury or something. They've really struggled, they've sometimes had to change occupation. But there may be some sort of income protection within [their] super fund that they could have claimed at the time, which would have made things a lot easier. HESTA is the major super fund, the default fund for nurses and midwives and they've got a default level of income protection. Again, that's paying attention to your finances, and knowing those things which would help as well.
Mark Aitken [34:20] It's a good point, I think, that we remember that our finances [are] not only our individual plan, salary and wages every fortnight or month or whenever we get paid. But there's also our super which is long-term financial security for a lot of people, and the family home for many people, if they're lucky enough indeed to have been able to purchase a property and be working towards paying it off.
I think that giving due consideration to all these key elements that contribute to our financial health and wellbeing [is important] because there's a lot of information now about the group that is most impacted by homelessness, and it's older women. I think a lot of those people would not have thought at a certain point in their life they would end up in financial dire straits or homeless.
We need to be mindful that people's financial security and their housing security can change very rapidly. I think that really goes to the issue of not taking your eye off the ball with your finances, but also being mindful of some of the risks in relation to your financial wellbeing, and I think it's really important to not completely give over your financial wellbeing to another person. What would you say in relation to that?
Ben [35:58] Yes, we see that we often see that. We get families coming to see us, and there's generally one individual out of the relationship who tends to deal with the finances. We refer to them as the Chief Financial spouse. Having this system is fine, because one partner is generally more interested, they probably have a higher financial literacy, so it makes sense. But we want to make sure that the spouse still has a good understanding and overview of everything, because if the relationship does end, or if you're not on top of it, it can go really badly.
I had a client situation a few years ago, where the wife was the major income earner, they were in their late 50s. The husband was the one that looked after the finances, and she was really busy, head down, bum up, earning a big wage. She thought that she was two to three years away from retirement, and he'd sort of [say], "Yeah, we're on track, we should be doing that."
Then she found a loan, another loan that she didn't know about. It was hundreds of thousands of dollars, and it turned out that he'd been accessing this to keep up their lifestyle. She thought what they were spending was fine. It wasn't just his fault, because she was living the life and thought that everything was fine. He was trying to keep up with the Joneses and make sure it was all good. But it turned out that they were spending a lot more than earning and they ended up drawing back out on the house.
She found out and that was their catalyst to seek financial advice. There was a lot of work to do, both financially but also in the relationship because she felt a bit betrayed, and now she was going to have to work a lot longer than she was mentally prepared for. She found it really hard to get over. A lot of our sessions were more counselling than financial planning in the end. If she had been a bit more involved or had a bit more of an overview of their situation, it probably wouldn't have got to that point.
Mark Aitken [38:25] Yeah. Key take home, don't take your eye off your financial ball, and stay connected, stay involved, stay interested, and be an equal partner in all things financial matters. Sophie, as an outcome of your financial wellbeing journey, what advice would you give to students and early career nurses and midwives in relation to their financial wellbeing?
Sophie [38:51] My biggest bit of advice would just be showing interest in it, and learn about what your options are for loans, interest rates, even salary packaging, things like that. I used to think that seeing a financial advisor was something that wealthy people did. I didn't think it was something a young woman on an average wage would need to do, but it was a great help. It gave me that financial freedom to be able to focus on my job and have the comfort of having all of my finances sorted, so that I could just focus on work and not have that financial strain weighing down on me. It makes a huge difference to our day-to-day lives and careers.
A lot of times I've seen colleagues and friends staying for a double shift or picking up extra shifts on days that they should have been having a day off, missing social events, things like that. Just to pay something off or save up for a holiday or just treat themselves, but then they just burn out because they're doing crazy hours and not looking after themselves and prioritising work purely because they didn't understand how they could alter their cash flow and things.
Sitting down with a professional made a huge difference to me, it pays for itself as well. The advice you get can save you thousands. I think sometimes we worry that it might be too expensive to go seek advice and that kind of thing, but it's really worth it when it can impact your health and your mental health so significantly.
You're never too young to start, that's probably my other big tip. We think that dealing with wealth, money and finances is something that comes later in life, or when we have families and kids and things to worry about. That should also be important for us in our twenties as well, to be able to maximise our earnings. We work really hard for our money, so to see it slip through our fingers is a real shame. Getting good advice can be life changing.
Mark Aitken [41:20] So get interested, stay involved and seek advice. If I was a nurse or midwife and looking for financial advice, how would I go about that? And if I wanted to get in touch with you, Ben and Steve, through Wealth Health Co, how would I do that?
Ben [41:38] Probably just head to our website, which is www.wealthhealthco.com, have a look around there, get a feel for what we're all about, if you haven't already throughout this podcast. There's a 'Reach Out' button on the Contact Us page. We would then give you an introductory call and book in a Discovery Meeting from there. That's at no cost or no obligation or anything, it allows us to run through a bit more about how we work, and the process from start to finish. Then educate you from a high level to begin with, so that you can make an educated decision around whether proceeding with the financial planning or mortgage advice moving forward is beneficial for you or not. And if it's not, that's fine, you can always come back later.
Mark Aitken [42:28] We have an audience all over Australia, so I assume you don't have to be in Perth to access your services?
Steve [42:35] We deal with clients all over Australia. We do a lot of work over Zoom, and do online meetings, which is our preferred method anyway. But we do have the office in Perth. So if you're local or if you want to fly over and meet us face to face, we're always open to that. Definitely zoom meetings and dealing all over Australia. That's possible.
Mark Aitken [42:58] Great. I'll put the link to your website on the show notes that will go with his podcast, including the Beyond Blue report on money and mental health. Are there any other resources that you could recommend, Ben and Steve, that could be useful for people? I know ASIC have some great financial resources.
Steve [43:25] Yes, the MoneySmart website. I know they've got a lot of useful MoneySmart tips and resources on there. A bit of navigating through those but there's some calculators to work through. I find those helpful to refer to, you can have a look at [them].
Ben [43:44] Yeah, another one, there are specifically finance-related podcasts out there. They're always a good source of information, depending on what area. Some of them are specifically targeted at investing, others in other areas. So I guess it just depends on what you're after. But as Steve mentioned earlier, we think focusing on the foundations to begin with is the first step before you get to the flashy lights and the crypto, the investment property, that type of thing.
Mark Aitken [44:18] So I think the big take home here, listeners, is that if you're worried about your finances, maybe you want to start by getting in touch with Nurse & Midwife Support, to talk about how you’re feeling. We're available to support you in relation to any issue that you might need support for. 1800-667-877, or contact us via the website, nmsupport.org.au, where you'll be able to find the show notes and podcast link to other useful podcasts.
As we come to the end of the podcast, I'd like to give a big thank you to our guests, Ben, Steve and Sophie today, and just ask the three of you if you have any final words of financial health and wellbeing wisdom for our listeners.
Ben [45:12] I think what's come through the podcast today has been 'don't stick your head in the sand.' Really try and pay attention to your finances, and if you think that you're not in the position to maximise that or you're not educated enough, then seek that education or professional advice because everyone has to deal with their finances right? It's not just certain people, everyone's got finances. The more that you pay attention to educate yourself, the better your life is going to be. So pay attention to it, don't stick your head in the sand is what I'd say.
Steve [45:53] I definitely agree. Every little bit that you do, one step at a time, education and keep adding to that over time. That will build for you, it will get better, and it will grow. You'll find that you'll get an understanding and you'll be very comfortable, start prospering with your finances and money, and that will lead into living a rich life.
Sophie [46:14] I guess my take home would be just a reminder that nurses and midwives, we sometimes don't always take the best care of ourselves because we care about our patients so much. This comes down to those self-care things that we need to put in place and look after ourselves a bit better and out, look after our mental health and easing up financial strain and the stress that it causes can lift such a huge weight off your shoulders. Getting professional help with it can make a huge difference to you. Then you can serve your patients and yourself a lot better.
Mark Aitken [46:54] Great advice and I think a really good reminder, Sophie, that financial health and wellbeing is a pillar to good health and wellbeing. So fantastic take home.
I'd like to thank you all for being great guests and for being on the Your Health Matters podcast today and for the really rich conversation and important information that you provided to our listeners on their financial health and wellbeing.
Look after yourselves and each other, everybody. Remember Your Health Matters, and your financial health certainly matters. I'll speak to you next time.
Steve [47:33] Thanks for having us, Mark.
Sophie [47:34] Thank you.
Ben [47:34] Thanks!