Business, Personal finances & Markets :: World finance

Riches to rags to riches why losing her business helped beth mathison

AT THE peak of her success, Beth Mathison was living a multi-millionaire life. She lived in a Scottish castle, wore expensive clothes, and drove a fancy car.

But when pressure was put on her business, it took just a few years for her to go bust. It took much longer to recover.

I wasnt mega rich but very well off. I lived in a very beautiful castle, where I had staff working seven days a week looking after my personal needs while I also ran a game park business. I worked intensely seven days a week, had everything I wanted.

It took three years for things to unravel in the early 90s, said Ms Mathison who by 2015 managed to work her way back to success and become a winner of two Telstra Businesswoman of the year awards.

I call it the perfect storm, I had this difficult personal relationship where my only freedom was working in the business. On top of that interest rates went from 5% to 18% virtually overnight.

I went from all that success to having barely enough to afford the basics, and only enough for fuel to get to and from work.

Mathisons business failure, which involved winding up her company for financial reasons, isnt uncommon.

Figures from ASIC show that the number of companies that have been forced to close is currently at its highest since the global financial crisis.

Among the recent high profile failures are Eagle Boys, Dick Smith, Arrium and McAleese Group.

Tyre king Bob Jane also went from wealthy businessman to broke this year and his business filed for bankruptcy after being chased for hundreds of thousands in unpaid debts.

It comes as the number of millionaires in Australia hits an all time high because of the property price boom, fuelled by record low interest rates, according to global consultancy Capgeminis 20th annual World Wealth Report.

But Ms Mathison doesnt regret her fall from grace. She used it to rebuild and leave an abusive relationship.

It was probably one of the best things that happened to me because it gave me a good dose of humility having grown up in a bubble of private schooling and, scholarships.

Being in control is the only way women or anyone in a difficult situation can allow themselves not to be complicit when they are in a long-term abusive relationship. It would be wrong to assume that everyone in similar circumstances is complicit, but I had to come to terms with the fact that I was by allowing others to take control for many and varied reasons.

It took Beth five years to find a better job and divorce her ex-husband, which also cost her $150 a week in spousal maintenance because he refused to work.

If I found it difficult to get out of that downward spiral and turn it around, then how hard must it be for others who dont have the education, skills, or the self-belief that they can do it.

While these days Beth runs another successful business in Centaur Business Networks, she admits that on a personal note, she could still be better with money.

I do still tend to give a lot a way. What I have learnt is that when you are fortunate enough to have a good education and financial skills you can always earn more money. So thats why I think I am still a little bit carefree and generous with my money.

Her advice to other business owners who might be struggling is this:

Make sure you are in control, realise that you have choices, and become financially independent if you follow those three keys, you may still go through bumps and hurdles, but you will be able to get over them to achieve your own success.

Beth Mathison will be a guest speaker at the Resilient Womens Summit on November 25 in Sydney and is hoping to share and inspire other women with her story through these and other speaking engagements.

Bianca Hartge-Hazelman is the founder of womens money magazine

Sure bet on your finances

MILLIONS of people will have a flutter on the Melbourne Cup tomorrow in the hope of making a few quick dollars on the race that stops a nation.

Research from the latest Asteron Lifes Risky Nation report shows punters spend an average of $29 on the big race, but wagering a few extra coins on the horses for most would be better spent elsewhere.

By reining in your spending and finding a few extra dollars each week to tackle debts or save or invest, you put yourself on track for a much fitter financial future.

Heres some ways you remove those fiscal barriers by maximising your cash.



AMP financial planner Andrew Heaven says tipping a little extra cash onto your debts is the front runner when it comes to handling any extra money you have.

And be sure to focus on debts with the highest interest rate first.

Every dollar you save on interest is money you are paying off towards the capital,’ he says.

Credit cards attract the steepest interest rates with many plastic deals slugging customers with interest rates north of 20 per cent.

Channel 7 presenter Edwina Bartholomew is conservative when it comes to managing her finances and says she pays of her credit card every month.

The bank keeps on offering to extend my limit but I always leave it at $5000 so Im not tempted to go over my maximum,’ she said.

Personal debts are usually next on the to-pay list interest rates are often around the 10 per cent mark followed by the cheapest form of debt which is usually home loans.

Mortgage rates are at historically low levels and are lingering around the four per cent mark so pooling your money onto your home is another sure bet.

On a $300,000 30-year loan with a variable rate of 5.1 per cent, by tipping in an extra $10 a week you could pay off your loan 17 months earlier and save about $18,200 in interest.

MLC principal adviser Neil Dyson also suggests parking money in a mortgage offset account which acts as a day-to-day transaction account to reduce your overall home loan costs.


Depending on what you are investing your cash in Heaven says growth assets such as shares and managed funds are a good place to start.

The minimum investment typically is usually $1000 and then the regular commitment is usually about $100 per month,’ he says.

It is getting into the habitat of investing on a regular basis and if you do it incrementally and in smaller amounts you dont miss it as much.

Parking your cash in the bank in either term deposit or online savings accounts will deliver you low returns many around the two per cent but can be handy if you need to access the cash for an emergency.

Dyson says always aim to have between $2000 and $10,000 available at any given time which is good in an online savings account in the case of an emergency.


Planning for life after work is often not high on the agenda for younger Australians but by tipping a little extra money into your nest egg each week you can make a significant difference.

The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australias chief executive officer Pauline Vamos says the benefits of compound interest are huge.

If a 30-year-old retiring at 65 tipped additional cash into their super she says it could mean the difference in living a happier retirement.

If you put $25 towards your super next week rather than on the Cup favourite, and then continued to do this once a week, you are looking at approximately $120,000 more in your super by the time you reach retirement age,’ she says.
And every dollar that you put in super before you turn 35 could be worth around seven dollars in retirement.