Super women: “Brain Hacking”

This International Women’s Day two of smartMonday’s finest female money masters investigate the theme – Balance for Better – uncovering the value of ‘brain hacking’ your way to a better financial position.

‘All the Honey’s makin’ money, throw your hands up at me,’ might have been coined by Destiny’s Child but it’s important to acknowledge and advance the achievements of Women every single day. Here’s to all the awesome women in our lives – thanks for being brilliant.

As women we’re experts at balancing many - sometimes competing - responsibilities. Employee, employer, student, teacher, mum, sister, daughter, side-hustler, aunty, carer, wife, partner, girlfriend, friend, adviser, mentor, sponsor. 

We’d argue we’re doing better now than in any other window in time. There are more female faces at university – teaching and learning - more women in developing countries accessing micro finance to increase their standard of living and more women who are financially independent. Despite this success Paul is still more likely to land a CEO role and retire with more money than Pauline.

But what would we know? We’re a couple of Paulines with three decades of experience in the superannuation sector who started off with a grounding in tourism and fashion. Newsflash - that’s the point. If an artsy person who needs a calculator to do basic math can get it and someone who spent years learning about travel can make the leap - anyone can.

The first key to unlock the balance towards better is to master the mental element. We need to ‘hack our brains’ and embrace our behaviour to money. How much money we have and our beliefs about money are entwined.  If you can learn two hacks today, you’ll have more control over your money.

HACK 1 – Know where it starts. Decision-making comes from our Limbic brain, our ‘emotional centre.’ We first feel a decision and then we put language and logic around that emotion to justify it. All good sales people and successful marketers know this. It’s why people buy handbags with small car price-tags, upgrade their iPhone every year when the old one works fine and buy shoes that advertise a lifestyle rather than the product attributes.

The problem is today’s emotional decision-making often gets in the way of our long-term wealth building. It’s why many Australians are saddled with a near crippling amount of credit card debt. Now you know that feeling, it’s a matter of linking it to just how much you are spending so you can work out wants versus needs.

HACK 2 - Look at your money to see what you place value on. We’re all different so track your bank account or credit card, or get an app that helps you categorise your spending.

This might not feel great. It exposes your habits but you need to make it obvious where you have a spending weakness. Once you’re aware of it the next time you are faced with a choice you can be less impulsive and more deliberate.


Let’s talk about my Achilles heel – homewares. I buy ALL the things. After much practice, now instead of avoiding that section altogether, I trust myself and if I want something I’ll hold it in my hand imagining where it will go in my house, I often get images of clutter in my loungeroom and put it back. Or I really test the boundaries by thinking about sustainability, do I need another object? Does the planet?

All of this triggers my logical brain and my ‘gimme, I want it, yes’ thoughts start to disappear. Which means when I get home I’m at least more confident with my decision making, I feel more in control, I don’t have any regrets or beat myself up enforcing whatever other beliefs I have about myself and money. If I made the decision to purchase something I’ll need to alter another impulse spend to make up for it. Sounds like hard work but like anything, it becomes more like a habit and less hard work after a while.


Ready to embrace change and hack your way towards a financially fitter you?

Make it a priority, task manage and get your financial fitness in the urgent pile. Whatever you need to tell yourself to make it happen. Hack your mind so that it becomes as important as your work-out, the school run or your next holiday.  Tell yourself you CAN do it and you ARE worth it because you ARE. Talk to a friend – not for advice but to make yourself accountable for making the change. 

Members of smartMonday can call our smartCoach for tips on their investments, insurance and contribution strategy. 1300 COACH 1 (1300 262 241).

To explore more on the topic of Balancing for Better listen to our Podcast


About the Authors

Shannon O’Shea

As a woman working in Superannuation for more than 15 years and having delivered countless presentations around financial fitness and wellbeing, Shannon is passionate about helping people make a change and closing the gap for women.

Shannon holds an MBA as well as a degree in Art History, Fine Art and Fashion and recently took part in the Women on Boards program.

Shannon is a Principal at Aon, leading the smartMonday Member and Corporate Services team. 

Janine Robertson

Janine holds a BA (Tourism Management).  

In 2015, she completed her Diploma in Financial Planning. 

Janine is currently completing a Certificate in Behavioural Economics and writing a book that will be released later this year.


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