Natascha Wegelin helps women to become financially independent. A central component for this is the investment. How to get started, what she thinks of the basic income – and why women shouldn’t blame the circumstances for money problems.
Regulate finances? I’ll do it later … That’s how many women in Germany still think. It is precisely they who need to make provisions for old age. Part-time, lower salaries, care work – there are many reasons why women receive a significantly lower pension than men.
This is also due to structural injustices for which politicians have to find solutions. But women shouldn’t wait that long, believes Natascha Wegelin, also known as Madame Moneypenny.
The financial blogger and podcaster wants to make the topic of investing attractive to women. More than 100,000 women trust their tips – and Madame Moneypenny also gives them a kick in the butt.
t-online spoke to Natascha Wegelin about which step every woman should take first when investing, why they deceive themselves with the excuse “I don’t have time for that” and why knowledge alone is not enough to become financially free.
t-online: Ms. Wegelin, you are working on getting women excited about retirement provision and investments. Why aren’t finances as boring as many think?
Natascha Wegelin: (laughs) Where does it come from that so many people think that? Finances are not dull. Sure, it has a lot to do with numbers at first, but what I can do with them is exciting. I can fulfill my dreams, maybe retire earlier, make nice trips, build a stress-free life. Such a goal is seldom dull.
Women in particular have a lot of catching up to do because they earn less than men over their entire lives. Your formula for catching up has three building blocks: earn money, save money, increase money. Can you briefly explain how the three things are related?
It’s relatively simple. Of course, I have to earn some money first so that anything can come in. But it’s also of no use to me to earn well if I shoot everything out again. I have to make money and then save some of it. That’s right: don’t go to the winter sales and think that I’ve saved something, but really don’t spend the money. But that’s not enough either.
The third component is still missing.
I agree. We won’t get wealthy if we just put the money under our pillows. We have to invest it profitably so that the money we worked for works for us in turn. For many it is like this: I made money, put it aside and the cycle is over. But actually that’s just the beginning.
And for this beginning you recommend ETFs, i.e. exchange-traded index funds that replicate an index such as the Dax one-to-one. Are there no alternatives to ETFs?
No, certainly not. Of course, it depends on what situation I am in and what type of guy I am. I think ETFs great, because investing money with them is easy – compared to real estate, for example. I have to bring some change with me so that I can even afford it. ETFs, on the other hand, are also suitable for beginners because I don’t need much equity. You can get started with as little as 25 euros per month. And in contrast to individual stocks, they have a wide spread. That lowers the risk.
You once said that with 800,000 euros you would be on the safe side at 65. If you start saving an ETF at the age of 30 that brings a 6 percent return, the savings rate should be around 580 euros a month. If you only start at 40, at around 1,200 euros. Does that mean that only high earners can become financially free?
It’s definitely easier for them. Here we are again at the triad. If I earn less, I can save less and then invest less. However, you can make up for a lot with time. So I advise you to start as early as possible. And then the 25 euros per month is better than nothing. But of course it is also clear: the more money I can invest, the better.
Most people fail to get started because they don’t know where to start. Is there a first step that is never wrong?
The beginning is always with yourself. Where am I? Many women don’t even know what they earn. That’s why they don’t know what to save. First you have to keep the budget book, enter your income and expenses in an Excel table.
Here we are again at the boring part.
It’s no use, you have to go through it once. When I learn a new language, I first have to learn vocabulary – that’s not the most exciting thing in the world either. But if I know my status quo, I can calculate backwards. How much exactly do I have to save and invest in order to achieve my goal? Then it’s about getting into making.
But isn’t that particularly difficult?
That’s my experience too, yes. The problem is not so much in acquiring the knowledge. It’s free or for little money, but then really daring to use this knowledge – in my experience that is the break point where many women say, “yes okay, now I know how to do it, but I’ll do it next year”.
To get started, readers of your blog can have step-by-step instructions tailored. To do this, they must first provide some information – for example about their age or their goal. One question stands out: “Can I get really rich?” What happens if you answer “no”?
Then you’re out (laughs). No – this is a stumbling block on purpose. It aims at belief, your own attitude. Anyone who devalues wealth or finds it evil will never get it – no matter what they mean by it. All the knowledge in the world will not help you if there is resistance in you that says: “That’s all very well, but I can’t get rich anyway.” You also have to trust yourself that it will work. And such a “no” is a good starting point to take a closer look at these internal resistances.
Natascha Wegelin, also known as Madame Moneypenny: “Many people live under the fallacy that they cannot develop further.” (Source: Jacqueline Häußler)
What are typical resistances that women carry within themselves?
There are quite a few. Typical female beliefs are, for example, “Finances are a man’s business”, “It is not appropriate for a woman to have a lot of money”, “All rich are stingy”, “All rich are bad”. Such views are often ingrained. There are also typical excuses such as “I’m not good at maths”. An ETF savings plan is actually just a plus, minus and percentage calculation – and online calculators even do that for you.
A classic is surely also “I don’t have time for that”.
Oh yeah! But then I ask myself: What do you have time for in your life if not for yourself and your family? You should rethink your priorities. It’s not that you don’t have time, you just don’t think it’s that important.
What excuse would you accept?
None (laughs). It is the definition of an excuse that it is not a real reason. Nevertheless, I believe – and see that in myself – that the time simply has to come for certain topics. When you have other problems, for example health problems or in your partnership, it makes sense to tackle it one by one. And not to say, now I have to get married and have children and get my finances in order and climb Kilimanjaro.
That would mean that difficult circumstances justify postponement at most. What do you say to women who say they cannot save because, for example, they are single parents or earn little money?
This is difficult because the mechanism is always the same: earn, save, invest. It doesn’t matter whether I earn 100,000 euros a year or 15,000 euros. Unfortunately there is no magic formula. Nonetheless, I would like to encourage people to start with small amounts. Many people live under the fallacy that they cannot move forward. But once you touch the topic, you start to learn, you have aha moments. Maybe I can still increase my income. Maybe I can organize my life differently. It’s not easy, but it’s always better to be active yourself. Doing the second best alternative is still better than not doing the best alternative at all.
Natascha Wegelin: “There’s a lot more to everyone than they think.” (Source: Jacqueline Häußler)
Do you think anyone can do anything?
Basically yes – now apart from the laws of nature. I’m definitely not going to be a basketball player anymore because I’m 1.65 meters and haven’t played basketball in the last 34 years. But I do think that there is much more to all people than they think. Maybe I can’t do something right now, but I can learn everything I need to get there. That doesn’t mean that everyone has to become a millionaire or build a seven-figure business. Improving your own life a bit would be enough.
But apart from the laws of nature, you can’t influence everything. What about unjust structures? Don’t you need some luck too?
Definitely. I can’t influence these things, but what I can influence is the way I perceive the circumstances. Whether I trust myself to make something better out of it after all.
One of your Belief is: Money doesn’t solve money problems. There is a study by a Princeton psychologist and a Harvard economist that claims otherwise. Those who are poor therefore consume a lot of energy for worries and therefore do not have the strength for long-term planning – for example to find out about investments.
Yes, I know the study. The point is that lack of money leads to the brain being overloaded, so to speak.
I agree. In that case, the study found that money would solve money problems. So is a certain level of poverty a limit beyond which you can no longer make it out on your own?
It’s a bit like the chicken and egg principle. What is the beginning of the whole story? What I mean by “money doesn’t solve money problems”: Many people probably have money problems because they haven’t learned how to handle money. Women even more than men. If that is the case, it is of no use to me if someone gives me 50,000 euros.
Because again I don’t know how to handle it properly?
Yes. Money can certainly fill a hole when it is tight, but it doesn’t solve the fundamental problem of why I haven’t been able to get out of my overdraft facility for 20 years. The starting point is therefore with yourself. I have to admit that I have to educate myself financially.
Natascha Wegelin: “I do think that the unconditional basic income would help a lot of people.” (Source: Jacqueline Häußler)
A study on unconditional basic income will soon start, in which at least 120 people will receive 1,200 euros per month for three years – what do you think of that?
I’m totally curious to see what this study will bring. I think the idea of a basic income is good in itself. I am curious how that would change our society and the whole system. Will people be happier then? Can they pursue their hobbies better? I do think that the unconditional basic income would help a lot of people.
Assuming people have learned how to handle money?
That would be best. It would be good if they didn’t just buy a new television from it.
Do you need a school subject finance?
I would like kids to be introduced to the topic much earlier and more openly. This is currently the responsibility of the parents because it doesn’t happen in school. But whether it should be a school subject, I am divided. Then who is in front? A savings bank representative who tells us how great home loan savings contracts are? Someone from business? The religion teacher who also takes part in finances? We like to get financial education as early as possible, but I’m not sure whether school is the right body for it.
Instead of the finance teacher, you are currently doing financial clarification. When does your mission end?
Well, good question. Probably only if all women are financially independent, at least in Germany. When everyone has arranged their retirement provisions. When you are about to build a nice fortune. Then Madame Moneypenny would be abolished. So I’m actively working to get rid of my livelihood (laughs). But there is still a long way to go.
It would be faster with the snowball effect: How can I help girlfriends become financially more independent?
The first step is to talk about it. That still happens far too little – also in my environment. We need to talk more about salaries, our financial situation, how we manage money in partnerships, as in the family. So we’re taking a step towards independence. Being independent also means being able to make confident decisions. To do this I need certain information, a certain motivation, a certain inspiration, maybe role models. I’m a big fan of tackling goals together, looking for a goal buddy.
How could that look exactly?
For example, you could say 2021 is our financial year and we sit down on New Years and put together a financial plan. In such a way that you go through the important steps together and have to be mutually accountable. You could make an appointment once a month to set your goals for the next month and derive the next steps from them. So you can learn from each other and motivate each other. The environment is incredibly crucial for your own life and for your own success.
Finally, three quick questions. What do you spend money on when it is not sensible?
Tech stuff like the newest iPhone. You get me pretty well with that.
What was your last bad buy?
A pair of shoes that I never really got warm with. I’ve only wore it three times in the past three years.
What would you like money to buy?
Life energy. So to be fitter, to have more energy. I almost said lifetime. I really want to be 200 years old.
Thank you for the interview, Ms. Wegelin.