On the Money…

Ishara Rupasinghe knows a thing or two about money.

Ishara Rupasinghe knows a thing or two about money.


Ishara Rupasinghe is a pretty smart cookie when it comes to the world of money. She is a Senior Financial Advisor at Dixon Advisory.  She also happens to be a friend of Sabrina‘s and mine. We sat down over brunch* and asked Ishara to share some words of wisdom regarding finances…


How did you end up working in the world of finance?

I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do after finishing college, but I was good at math so enrolled in a double degree of engineering and commerce at the Australian National University. In my second last year of uni I worked a summer internship at Dixon Advisory in Canberra and loved it. I have been there ever since.

What does your role as a Senior Financial Advisor entail?

I help a range of people from all walks of life, who are seeking financial advice. For older clients it is often about retirement planning, tax and superannuation. While for younger clients the focus is often on how to save for a home deposit, pay down their mortgage or build wealth. And for some, it boils down to one question: “financially, what should I be doing right now”? Once I have an understanding of the client’s financial situation and what their wants and needs are, I can then help create a plan for them to reach their financial goals.
What are the biggest financial mistakes women in their late twenties/early thirties make?

The biggest issue I see is emotional spending. What I mean by this is that the first thing many women do if they are feeling sad is go shopping, which doesn’t solve the problem and often leaves the woman worse off, financially and emotionally! It tends to be women who emotionally spend. Women who are prone to emotional spending need to ask themselves “can I live without it?” before purchasing another pair of shoes or handbag. A big shopping spree or even small items that add up over time can really derail your financial wellbeing.

Another big mistake both women and men are equally guilty of is taking out personal loans and not managing them correctly. If you are taking out a personal loan for a car or a holiday, it probably means that you can’t afford to and because the interest rate on these types of loans is generally quite high, they are much harder to pay off than a home loan. Debt isn’t necessarily a bad thing if used wisely, but if not, you can end up in strife.

What are your top three tips to help young women reach their financial goals?

  1. Set financial goals and make them realistic. Your goals don’t have to be big, they can be something like wanting to save $1000 by the end of the year, or being able to afford a holiday. Once you have set your goals make sure you have a plan on how to achieve them. Above all, goal reaching requires discipline and habit. Once you have reached your goal, the sense of satisfaction will hopefully motivate you to keep saving.
  2. Do a budget and track where your money is going. For some this might actually require recording every dollar you spend. This will help you realise what you’re spending most on (for example eating out or clothes) and what you can cut out. There are lots of tools out there now (e.g. phone apps, spread sheet templates) that can help you track your spending.
  3. Don’t rely on your partner or family to be financially secure. Educate yourself and learn how to manage money. This doesn’t mean entirely taking over your family’s finances or keeping all your money to yourself. It just means being aware of what is happening with your finances and how to best manage your income and expenses.

Credit cards – words of advice?

Credit cards can be an excellent tool if used wisely but a trap if you are not. This is often when emotional spending can become an issue. A good rule of thumb is if you are using a credit card to pay for something have the same amount of money in your bank account. Overspending on credit cards is the quickest way to accumulate bad debt.

If you won a million dollars what would you do?

I’m going to give a boring financial advisor answer [laughs]. I would help out my family and invest the rest, probably by paying off my mortgage. Of course I would also use some of it to go on a holiday!


*We were quite disappointed with the service at Silo Bakery.

Please note: this is general advice only and you should seek professional advice regarding your personal financial situation.  

We would love to hear your financial tips and/or stories. Let us know by commenting below!

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  1. Fantastic advice! I am an emotional shopper (and non-emotional too) and that all important question of ‘can I live without it?’ has saved my bank account from many impulsive, emotion-driven splurges!

  2. That’s great advice re having small realistic goals. It certainly makes it easier to reach them. This is a great read!

  3. Can’t wait to move on from the superannuation industry into financial advice to help people achieve their financial dreams. However the ‘sales’ aspect of the role does worry me a bit so I’d be interested to hear Ishara’s thoughts on her experience with engaging new clients.
    I love Ishara’s comments about emotional spending! I admit I’m one of them! Unless I’m eating chocolate…

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