Susan Macaulay, the managing director of Strike Communications, says money is best spent on things that bring joy and happiness.
Money&Me: Marketer devotes her finances to social networking and causes
Susan Macaulay is the managing director of Strike Communications, a marketing communications agency, and has lived in Dubai for 18 years. Originally from Canada, the public-speaking specialist is a passionate advocate of women, and runs a number of other businesses and websites, including Unleash Amazing You, a training and development firm, and Amazing Women Rock, a not-for-profit website that aims to inspire women.
Are you a spender or saver?
I used to be a saver. But now I think I'm more of a spender. I wouldn't say I'm frivolous with money. I tend to spend on things that bring me joy and happiness - things such as travel, good food and my social entrepreneurship ventures.
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How would you describe your financial journey so far?
Like everything else in life, it's been a learning experience. I've learnt how to make it by working hard, how to spend it wisely and sometimes also how to lose it. At this point in my life, I feel relatively secure financially because I've managed to save enough money to keep me safe and secure at least in the near future - or as safe and secure as one might be without knowing what the future holds. And, to be honest, none of us really know what lies ahead. Just look at what has happened over the past several years with the economic downturn. I don't think anyone really anticipated that.
Did you make any financial mistakes along the way?
Oh yes, many! There was a time (when I was married), when my husband and I invested in the stock market. As everyone knows, the stock market can just as easily go down as it can go up. I think we made some rather poor stock picks over the years and lost what was to us significant amounts of money. So I tend not to invest money in the stock market anymore. I'm rather more conservative now when it comes to investing.
Do you believe in planning for the future?
Yes, to a certain degree. I believe it is particularly important when one is young - by young, I mean in your 20s and 30s. It's really very easy to set aside a small portion of your income and devote it to savings and investments at that time in your life because you really don't miss 10 per cent of your income when you're young. Ironically, so many young people don't think about saving for the future, even though it's such an easy thing to do.
Is money important to you?
Money is important to me insofar as it is a means to an end. I'm a social entrepreneur who wants to have a positive impact on the world, and it takes money to make that happen. For example, at the moment, I'm looking for ways to finance my not-for-profit website, www.amazingwomenrock.com. I've invested a lot of my own money in it, but I'm not able to continue to do so indefinitely. I feel very passionate about the website and its purpose, which is to inspire women around the world. But like everything else, it needs money to run. So in that sense, money is important because it will allow me to achieve my goal for the site. But money alone isn't really worth very much. It's what you can do with it that counts.
What is your idea of financial freedom?
Having enough money to do the things that I enjoy doing, when and where I want to do them, without having to think too much about the cost implications, or about scrimping and saving. My needs are relatively modest, so having enough money hasn't been an issue - at least not so far anyway.
What do you enjoy spending money on?
I enjoy spending money on things that bring me joy and happiness, and activities that I think are going to have a positive impact on the world. My social entrepreneurship is important to me. Sharing the financial wealth I do have, such as it is, with others is also important to me. For example, I support charities and initiatives related to educating girls in less-developed countries, giving more of a voice to women, alleviating poverty and suffering, and other initiatives that I think will make change. I support Kiva, a non-profit organisation that connects people through lending to alleviate poverty, She's The First, Amnesty International, Wikipedia, a news organisation called Alternet, and things like that. I also indulge myself from time to time with extra special treats such as attending conferences like TED Global - it's expensive, but I see it as investment, as well as a wonderfully joyful experience.