So you’ve retired, what now?

So, you are not into model aeroplanes or bowling, nor do you find the idea of playing golf five days a week appealing, what now?

I think that when you decide it is time to give up paid work, it can be difficult to transition if you don’t have a clear idea about what it is you want to do next.

Retirement is a relatively new phenomenon, and it is not the end of your meaningful life, if you don’t want it to be.

Retirement means different things to different people, but the general idea is that our most valuable commodity, time, is now more your own to enjoy.  This can be a very special time of being in a position to give of yourself in a way that you haven’t been able to before, it is a time to pass on wisdom and show those millennials a thing or two about being grateful for all they have.

From what I have seen, what I have discussed and what I know to be true, without a WHY we are doomed to just

Retirement can be the busiest time of your life.  First and foremost, grandparent duties, if there are none of your own, then find kids who need a grandparent. There are lots of kids who have parents who are worn out, strung out and need some encouraging and need to know they are not on their own.  Visit your neighbours, take baking, offer to babysit, whatever it is, connect with others in a meaningful way.

Find what makes you tick, are you a people person, do you enjoy serving others, fixing stuff, building things?  What is it that you see as a worthwhile way to spend your time?

Your days will be more relaxed, you can choose to hide away or contribute to society in another way.  Time is a valuable commodity and now you have some, use it wisely.  Don’t they say that you get wiser as you get older?

Whatever your passion, whatever your gifts and talents, you are a valuable member of society.  We look forward to seeing your golden years as your best yet.

If you are worried about money, if you will have enough in retirement, don’t hesitate to ask for help, that is what we are here for.

Negotiating with the Bank – Can it be done?

Of course it can, and it should.

One of my clients recently told me that she had been sent a notice, to say that on a particular date the mortgage would increase to a certain rate.  She didn’t like the rate so rang, explained she wasn’t happy and managed to negotiate a much better result for her family. Even though interest rates are currently low, it shouldn’t stop you from trying to negotiate.

Whether it is paying down debt, or wanting to be paid a better rate of interest, you can ask.  In the 2015-12-25 12.01.00past, I do remember, when banks held everyone to ransom, it was not “proper” or expected to ask a bank to do a better deal.

These days banks are more flexible and fluid creatures of commerce, and as such can be negotiated with.  If your bank won’t negotiate and you know you are in a good position, there is nothing stopping you from getting another bank to listen to you and change.

Don’t be afraid, all they can do is say no…

And if they do? What you do next will be your choice.

Oh, and if you do want to pay your mortgage off faster and start saving thousands, please ask.

Just make sure you do this in 2016

In all my time as an adviser there is still one thing that distresses me, seeing families grieving. But, there are different kinds of grief, shock, long slow grief and short grief, but what is worse is when the person who left leaves behind a paperwork mess for someone else to clean up.

I don’t know anyone who would purposely cause extra stress or harm for those closest to them. In times of stress decision-making abilities are put under strain, amongst other things.  Presuming that your family will know your wishes if you go is fraught with danger, danger of pulling families apart unnecessarily.

If you leave behind loved ones through dementia or death they be very unhappy if you haven’t done this:


This includes but is not limited to:

  • your Will (is it up to date?)
  • your Living Will (what happens when you can’t make decisions for yourself?)
  • does anyone know where this information is?

Most people I talk to say, “I started thinking about that the other day…”

If you don’t let people know what your wishes are and leave them where someone can find them, you are causing extra upheaval at a very stressful time.

Whatever you do in 2016, sort out your estate planning.

None of us know when we will go, so do it now.

I have three free copies of the book above to give away, email me if you would like one.

Cancer survivor designs the ’empathy cards’…

she wished she’d received when she was sick

Card - LemonsBelow is an article sent to me by Adam Grant in his latest newsletter, he wrote a fantastic book that really challenged me to look at the world around me in a different way, the book is called “Give and Take” if you are interested.  I personally have one friend who is currently terminally ill, and another who is doing her best to fight Lymphoma and to that end just had a stem cell transplant to try and help her body recover from the beating it has taken with chemo.  Tanya.

These are the cards Emily McDowell wished she’d received when she was battling Stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the age of 24.

Instead of trite sympathy cards, Emily has designed a range of ’empathy cards’ for people suffering from serious illnesses.

The LA-based designer explains on her website: ‘I created this collection of empathy cards for serious illness because I believe we need some better, more authentic ways to communicate about sickness and suffering.

She adds: ‘“Get well soon” cards don’t make sense when someone might not.’Card - one more chemo down

After her diagnosis, Emily endured nine months of chemo and radiation, before being told she was in remission.

She’s now 38 years old and says she’s ‘incredibly fortunate’ to have been cancer-free ever since.

She writes of her battle with the disease: The most difficult part of my illness wasn’t losing my hair, or being erroneously called “sir” by Starbucks baristas, or sickness from chemo.

‘It was the loneliness and isolation I felt when many of my close friends and family members disappeared because they didn’t know what to say, or said the absolute wrong thing without realizing it.’

She hopes her empathy cards will help people to find the words they’re searching for.

Card - I am on board withCheck out Emily’s range of cards, tote bags and mugs on her website here




Celebrate Life: Happy Easter: Be Safe

Gilchrist childrenAt this time, when most are taking a long weekend off, please remember to be safe on the roads and wherever you are travelling, let us all celebrate those closest and dearest to us and take this time to celebrate life, together.

For those of us in the Bay of Plenty we are having a horror year on our roads, and with the wet weather set to continue please be careful, be patient. This was driven home by a letter from the Police to all those involved at my children’s school, they are interested in our safety so they are going to patrol our horror SH 2 more than ever.

You may think this a strange message from financial advisers, but that is just it, we are interested in you, you staying alive long enough to enjoy your hard earned savings, we want your family to be together, not arranging a funeral.

For the sake of your family, be careful out there.

How do I make financial decisions during a time of loss?

This is a question asked very often, but not enough.

Grief can come in all forms, divorce, death, moving, children not following the path you would prefer for them and so on or even winning lotto (it is amazing how much grief this can bring).

In these times finances are usually the last thing we want to think about, but is usually the thing we have to deal with the most, it can be tiresome, boring and feel downright unfair.

Some of the strategies that might help are:

  • Have a backstop, have that person that can keep their cool and remain unflustered standing in the sidelines, whether it be a professional or not, that wisStones in line Truste friend who can see through the fog on your behalf, and have YOUR best interests at heart.


  • Don’t make any big decisions until you are ready, because they will usually have far-reaching consequences. Just stop, be still, breathe, and find that time out for yourself where you can rejuvenate your soul, even if it is only by taking a five-minute walk along a beach, or playing a musical instrument, listening to music, watching your favourite movie, finding something that makes you laugh.


  • Remember, there is always a light at the end of the deep dark tunnel you find yourself in, even if you can’t see it yet. Take one step after the other…

The cure is of course prevention, not preventing the grief, but prevention in that you find people you can trust to put your interests first, before you need the help.

What’s the point in voting anyway?

What do we want from our media? Honesty, transparency, unbiased views? In an election year this service becomes an integrated part of information source to make choices about whom we want to lead our nation.

An election is a vital piece of the fabric of our society, and for all you investors out there, it is even more important, as voting is a financial event. Whoever gets in can determine how other nations see us and whether or not we keep our current appearance as a nation that is fiscally sound and stable.

Yes the global financial crisis was a financial event, but so is the election of our nations leaders.  As a nation of voters we have the responsibility to use our right to vote, it is vital to democracy, but also a privilege that is not afforded to all in the world. For myself, as a woman, I know that I am lucky to be born into a country that values my opinion alongside my male counterparts.

One of the biggest issues facing our next election is voter apathy, thinking that whatever the polls will say will happen, will happen, so there is no need to vote.

For all of our sakes I urge you, vote.  I have no other motive than to see the collective adult voice be represented, and let us all become aware of our collective responsibility to be collectively responsible our decisions.

No man is an island, whatever one does affects another, lets make it count, whichever way that takes us.


TEDx – WOW now in Tauranga

TEDxTauranga.Logo_.High_.Res_.On_.Black_-300x60I’ve only just discovered TED Talks, have you seen them?

If you have an iPad there is an app, but they are easily found on YouTube as well.  I have been inspired, challenged and fascinated by the amount of amazing people there are in the world doing amazing things.

I use it learn more about the world. In these 15 minute videos experts can describe the details of what they do in a fascinating way.

I had no idea I’d be so interested in things like robots playing tennis, carnivorous insects, eye diseases, nuclear fusion, and parental happiness.

Stop what you are doing right now. Set aside 15 minutes. Go to and browse the titles of the talks featured on the home page. Choose one and watch it now.

Addicted yet?

Well, Tauranga is having it’s own TED event, it will be even more exciting to see the local talent and a New Zealand perspective, along with the No. 8 wire mentality.

Here’s the list of talks so far (8 of these will be chosen for the event):

  • Daily Bread: Can ANY human body handle gluten?
  • How can the same technology produce both rocketships and mouse kidneys?
  • Modern lives are longer lives? Why that might NOT be true for you.
  • Still a Clean/Green NZ? 3 opportunities to rescue our slipping image.
  • World not changing how you like it? Unleash your inner super-hero.
  • Learning Differently: What if words in every book leaped up and came to life?
  • Could disruption be the key to harmony in multi-cultural societies?
  • Dirty secrets about our soil, considering growing from the ground up.
  • Moments: Pay attention now? Learn from the past? Dream of the future? How to choose.
  • Wool: The potential of this complex fibre beyond textiles – medicine?
  • Forgotten grandfathers: Newly discovered stories from the men of World War 1

And here are some “Quick Facts” about TEDxTauranga 2014:

  • When?: Saturday 19 July 2014, 1pm to 8pm
  • Where?: ASB Arena, BayPark
  • How many people?: 8 live speakers + 500 in the audience
  • Ticket Price? $65 Buy TicketsTEDx Tauranga poster

WOW!!! I didn’t know Excel Could Do That!!!

Before I share three utterly marvellous time saving tips, I’d like to share a story with you. It’s about the genesis.debbie-mayo-smith-motivational-speaker

Can you recall a time when a few words were life changing for you? “Will you marry me”; “it’s a boy”. “The job is yours”.

I can distinctly remember seven words my husband said to me that literally changed my life.

Come back with me to July 17th, 2001. Thursday night. 10pm. Our six children were in their bedrooms fast asleep. I’m in the living room. On my laptop. Working with an Excel spreadsheet.

My husband Steve walks in and peers over my shoulder for a moment. He asked “what on earth are you doing Debbie?” “Oh, honey,” I moaned. I want to send out my first email newsletter tomorrow and do a personalised email merge with my database. But everyone’s first and last names are in one column, so I’m splitting them apart.”

(Have you ever done that copy paste delete, delete dance? Copying the names into two columns, then deleting the last name from the first column and then the first name from the last column? Over and over and over and over again?)

Steve’s seven words were: “Don’t do that! Use text to columns” “Text to columns? What’s that? I never heard of it”  I replied. Steve than had me hand him my laptop and he proceeded to show me a function in Excel that with 3 clicks of the mouse split the 2890 names (I had left to do) apart. Instantly. Three clicks instead of at least two, three hours.

You’re thinking two things now. Cool. But life changing? It was to me because:

First, emphasized how little I, we know our software. The hidden diamonds beneath the ribbons. The swipes on our phones we don’t know to do. Wonderful things waiting for us to discover and save us time.

Second it started my quest for the modern Holy Grail. Time. And saving it. From that moment on I promised myself that when anything repetitious in nature had to be done on the computer, I would first stop. Think. Question my new best friends Mr G (Google of course) and Microsoft ‘Help’. I knew now that for most things we do around software there is a quicker, smarter, better way.

There. Hope you like that story. Now on with the wow bit for you.

One of the most useful ways of using Excel is as a list of names and addresses. Your database. However as this list grows over time lots of problems can arise:

  1. You add on details collected from the internet (online signups for your newsletter or requests for quotes for example).
  2. Different people interact with it and have different habits – such as using all upper case in places or putting abbreviations, not adding on prefixes for phone numbers, mixing landline and mobile numbers in one column.
  3. Duplicates can occur
  4. Mistakes such as comma’s in email addresses instead of periods in places

If you need to use this list for emailing or mailing – you have to clean it – or look bad! Just as I didn’t want to send an email newsletter out Dear Tom Cruise, Dear Samantha Smith –or Dear reader, it has to be fixed first.

Here are a few lovely, lovely tricks. In fact, I wrote a book on it – Make Your Database Your Goldmine

Wow! I didn’t know that

  1. OneDrive (free online MS Office) has a splendid version of Excel online that you can share- thus allowing people anywhere, anytime to enter their own contact details. All they need is the link. Sign up here
  2. Online Survey with OneDrive also has a stunning online survey/form capacity. You can create a form, a survey, a RSVP reply and send the link. What you get is a secure database of the responses all set and done for you. Easily downloadable.
  3. Text to columns – in the data menu 2003; data ribbon 2007-13 will split apart information into separate columns based on what you tell it: space, comma, dash.
  4. Concatenate – will then put things from multiple columns back into one column. For example your last names like van der Geen
  5. Proper – turns text into proper tense – capital for the first letter
  6. Text Filter – you can search within columns for specific text using the ‘contains, does not contain’ parameter.
  7. Export to Outlook – bet you didn’t know you can not only import your Excel database into Outlook but you can also do the opposite – Export your Outlook contacts into Excel

Written by Debbie Mayo-Smith , One of New Zealand’s most in-demand speakers, trainers and bestselling authors. Debbie works with companies that want more effective staff. For more tips and business ideas sign up for her free monthly newsletter