Most of us have some sort of financial stress in our lives, whether it be credit card debt, mortgage repayments or wanting to save for the future but finding it unattainable. Tammy May has always wanted to change that by helping people take control of their finances. In 1999, the South Australian businesswoman founded MyBudget when she was just 22, and today, the company manages over $425 million of salaries and employs around 250 people. Tammy has won both EY Young Entrepreneur of the Year and South Australian Business Woman of the Year awards, and this year made the BRW Young Rich List.

SHESAID chatted with Tammy to get her best money saving tips, financial advice for women in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s, and how she fits being a mum into her busy day.

Congratulations on making the BRW Young Rich List! Tell us about your journey from starting MyBudget to becoming one of Australia’s most successful businesswomen today?
Thank you. Certainly when I started MyBudget I didn’t have any grand plans to become a successful business person. I actually started MyBudget to help people, to assist people to eliminate the financial stress in their lives and improve their financial position. That being said, deep down I always thought that by doing something so profoundly good for people that it would grow and become a success. I am very proud of the team I have working with me. They truly care about our clients and come to work every day to make a difference. MyBudget wouldn’t be where it is today without them.

Definitely the journey has had some tough times, for example it has been difficult educating the market about what we do and the difference we make in the community and in people’s lives. Despite the challenges we have faced I have always remained unwaveringly passionate about what we do and been dedicated to improving our clients financial positions.

Describe a typical working day for you…
I normally drop my kids off to school in the mornings on my way to work. I find this is a good  time to have a chat to them about their day ahead and any after school activities they might have on.

After I arrive at work, I get myself organised for the day, starting with a daily 15 minute huddle with my senior management team. Generally I spend most of my day in meetings relating to marketing and communications, and sales (depending on the day I may also have finance and human resources meetings) or strategy sessions relating to the company in general. In between meetings (and sometimes during) I eat lunch at my desk (I try to eat healthily where I can). Occasionally I will go out for a lunch meeting.

After the working day is finished (normally 6pm) I go home to have dinner with my partner and kids, or go to watch their sport and try to get to the gym when I can.

Your business helps people get out of debt and take control of their finances. What’s the first thing someone should do if they’re in debt?
Budgeting is the most important tool for taking control of your finances, and getting out of debt. The first thing you should do is to create a budget – this will give you an idea about where, when and how much you’re spending. It will show where you can trim spending and free up some cash to pay back your debts faster. Make sure you include all of your income (if your income varies, use an average from your ‘year to date’ figure on your payslip) and everything that you spend money on. And most importantly, make sure your budget is flexible.

Life doesn’t always goes exactly according to plan, so you need to make sure you leave a buffer for unexpected expenses – this is the only way that it will be realistic and work for you.

Do you think women are taking more of an interest in their finances these days?
I personally think women are becoming more independent every day and part of that independence involves understanding and taking control of their finances. Our statistics also show that women are 80% more likely to be the one looking after the finances in a relationship. From paying the bills, managing the cash flow to organising finance. It tends to be the responsibility of the woman. So yes, I believe they are taking more of an interest – which is fantastic.

What is your best piece of financial advice for a women in her 20s/30s/40s/50s:

* 20s – Try to avoid using credit for bad debt (e.g. shoes, groceries, holidays etc). Use a debit card instead. Avoiding credit cards in your 20s will set you up with good spending habits for life.

* 30s – Begin paying extra repayments on your mortgage. Both consistent and ad-hoc additional repayments such as bonuses and tax returns work to reduce the principal on your mortgage faster. The earlier in the loan term you begin making additional repayments, the greater the benefit in terms of time and money saved will be.

* 40s – Take stock of your financial goals. Review them regularly. Your goals now will be different than they were in your 20s and 30s. Seek professional advice to ensure you are on the best path for financial freedom in your later years.

* 50s – Make adult children pay board. If your grown-up child is working and still living at home then rent should be paid either as a flat rate or percentage of their salary. Establish rules to lighten any friction that may come later.

Most of us are saving for something, whether it be a holiday, a car or a house. What are your top money saving tips to achieve your goals
Make sure you have regular savings in your budget. Putting your savings in a separate bank account, that you cannot easily access is a great way to avoid the temptation to draw on them. If you want to increase the amount that you can afford to put aside for savings, you need to look for ways to cut down your spending.

You could:

–        Shop around for cheaper rent, phone, and insurance deals.

–        Plan your meals, buy in bulk and compare prices at the supermarket. Growing your own veggies can also save you some money.

–        Eat breakfast at home and take your lunch to work instead of buying. Use the coffee machine at work instead of buying take-away coffees.

–        Make your own cleaning and beauty products – there are some great websites out there that provide recipes.

–        Have a BBQ at home instead of going out, and ask your guests to bring a plate.

–        Car pool or take public transport to work instead of driving – this will cut down your fuel and parking costs.

However you choose to go about it, budgeting is key.

What is your advice to someone wanting to start their own business today?
Make sure you are passionate about your business idea. It’s that passion that gets you through the tough times and allows you to keep going. It’s also important to surround yourself with positive like-minded people. Where possible try to seek out the absolute right people to assist you and experts who know more than you do. My last piece of advice is that you should have a business plan, even if it’s just written on a piece of paper. 

Who inspires you both in the business world and beyond?
I am inspired by many different people. On a personal level, my Nana truly inspires me. She is strong, funny, loving and kind. Professionally, I am inspired by Dale Carnegie and his principals. So much so that myself and many of my executive team have undertaken the Dale Carnegie Training Course. He was truly an amazing man! Certainly also business people like Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Oprah and many more.