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NATASHA Janssens wants to change the way women think about money, and the founder of financial-education business Women with Cents says she’s keen to encourage women to step up and engage with the finances.
“I get it, believe me – we’re busy, we’re working, we’re looking after the household and dealing with the mental load. I’m looking at ways to push past that, as we have a habit of going: ‘I have so much on, I can’t learn about investments, I don’t have time and I’m not ready for that’,” she says.
“But you can do it, you can make the time and it’s important that you do, from a long-term perspective. As much as I hate the phrase, a man is not a financial plan!”
Mum to a three-year-old boy and with a baby on the way, Natasha says she started Women with Cents to support other mums in her mothers’ group with financial questions and challenges.
“Initially, I had the idea that I wanted to help young Australians be more financially savvy and know how to buy their first home and get themselves into that position,” she says.
“Just as I started the business I became pregnant, and it was once I started engaging with the mothers’ group that the idea for Women with Cents came about.
“I found that women were reaching out to mothers’ groups online for financial advice and at times it was the blind leading the blind so I thought, how about we set up a separate Facebook group dedicated to that.”
Natasha says her group quickly grew to 300 members and expanded into small financial workshops in a café on Sunday afternoons.
“From there I had messages from women interstate who wanted to be involved, so in January, 2016, I created a proper business and brand and went Australia wide,” she says.
As an accountant, financial planner and mortgage broker, Natasha says Women with Cents is able to offer wide-reaching advice, as well as courses, webinars and newsletters to its 7000 members. She has also recently hosted its first event, Women, Wine and Wealth at the Hellenic Club.
“The courses are flexible so women can learn at their own pace, with the benefit of an online community there to nudge and motivate,” she says
“It’s about helping women take control – it’s their money, their life and they need to be across whatever their financial strategy is.”
Having arrived alone in Canberra from Serbia as an 18-year-old refugee following NATO’s bombing campaign in 1999, Natasha says she had to immediately start working and studying to be able to stay and survive, as well as learning about money and the Australian financial system.
“I studied three degrees to meet the moving goalposts of gaining permanent residency, but when I became a mum I really started to appreciate the challenges that women in particular face,” she says.
Natasha says that in addition to the gender pay gap of 20 per cent, women will also retire with 45 per cent less super than men, despite living longer, as well as the challenges of divorce having a greater negative impact on women’s finances than men’s, the rising rates of homelessness among divorced women and domestic violence affecting women more than men.
“I love seeing the changes in the women I work with, and the confidence they gain in managing their situation,” she says.
“I didn’t want to have a job for the sake of having a job, I wanted to be able to look back on my life and know that I helped people.
“Particularly because I feel I’ve had such a blessing being allowed to come to Australia, I want to know that it stood for something.
“That’s the stuff that really lights me up, helping women to be that much more empowered, to go from questioning themselves to being able to say: ‘You know what? I’ve got this’.”
More information at womenwithcents.com.au