Getting the ‘microwave generation’ financially fit

Luke Parker
Getting the ‘microwave generation’ financially fit

We’ve been described as a ‘microwave generation’ of spenders. We’re constantly bombarded with seductive advertising and 101 reasons to spend our hard-earned cash – creating the perfect storm to burn money and sink further into debt.


enableMe's Elizabeth Blake

Even with all our savings apps and helpful financial gadgets, Kiwis are getting worse with their money, says enableMe financial performance consultant Elizabeth Blake.

“Our grandparent’s generation did not spend more than they earned. Credit cards did not exist. If they needed a new washing machine they saved up for it. They did not have a sense of entitlement.”

On top of this, Elizabeth says talking about money is one of the last taboos thus perpetuating the problem of our mounting debt.

“We don’t tend to talk openly with our friends, colleagues, and peers,” she says. “It’s private. A lot of our clients were not taught about money, but now they’re keen to teach financial literacy to their own children.”

enableMe financial trainers provide a plan to get ahead faster while providing support and accountability for clients to stick to the plan along with the tools to measure their progress.

Why can’t people save more or struggle to get out of debt?

Elizabeth works with all kinds of people, but some common themes appear:

  • They don’t know their financial capability until they are tested

  • They have no plan

  • Inertia/head in the sand

  • Entitlement – e.g. spending pay rises instead of banking them

  • Life’s unexpected circumstances


Main challenges

  • How a mismatch of money values (shopper versus saver) impacts on a relationship.

  • Unexpected negative curve balls – especially loss of income due to unforeseen circumstances e.g. Canterbury earthquake, industry downturns.

  • Escalating house prices give some people an unrealistic sense of wealth so they give themselves permission to spend more in the short term which erodes their equity in the long term

  • Others have a loss of optimism about ever being able to afford a house (in Auckland mainly) so they just spend everything they earn.

  • People don’t understand what their non-negotiable spending is – i.e. what is it that is intrinsically linked to your happiness?

Money management leads to empowerment


”By getting in control of your finances, instead of your finances (or lack of) controlling you, you can become empowered,” Elizabeth says.

“Our clients tell us they feel like they have never had so much money, which is ironic considering they are implementing some controls around money that may never have existed before, and they have a new sense of awareness, clarity, and control.”


The psychology of spending

Elizabeth says our money personalities are developed from early childhood as we learn from those around us.

“Why do people behave as they do with money? Why do people who have no money go on a spending spree to make themselves feel better? Why do some people think medical insurance is a waste of money and others would never dream of being without it?

“Identifying your money personality and that of your partner’s is one key part of the process.

Common reasons why people are getting into debt

Here are the most common things Elizabeth hears:

  • Inability to delay gratification – e.g. I deserve an overseas holiday because I work hard. OK, as long as you can afford it, otherwise take a cheaper break or delay a few months and save for it.

  • Lack of connection between charging to credit card and actually paying for it.

  • Unconscious spending – a lot of little purchases add up over time

  • Emergency spending (such as medical bills, car breakdown) – this is why you need to have a plan to create a buffer.


Are personal financial trainers the answer?

Elizabeth says one of the key reasons people like working with financial trainers is the fact they can provide a confidential, non-judgmental, and consultative forum for open discussion between spouses/partners about money values and setting goals that all parties engage with and are willing to buy into.

“Sometimes it is too hard to have those conversations with your partner, but we provide an objective, balanced view.

“For others it is about having a coach to guide them and discuss their options, whilst also providing the tools for them to get ahead and become debt free faster.”


Common reasons to get a financial personal trainer:

  • No direction

  • Lack of a plan

  • Fritter money away

  • Need to earn more to get ahead

  • Tension in relationships due to money worries

  • Lack of a rainy day fund for emergencies

  • Feel good spending

  • Business cash flow issues

  • Issues with IRD


What people want:

  • To get ahead faster financially

  • Stop living payday to payday

  • Get in control of credit card and other debts

  • Remove money worries that create tension in their personal relationships

  • To enjoy what money they do have without constant guilt

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