Real Life

Lynda Moore lost everything now she’s a financial whizz

Losing her husband and $600,000 just made Lynda work harder for the money

As an accountant, Lynda Moore has spent much of her life helping clients manage their financial affairs. What the Auckland mum-of-one didn’t appreciate for many years was that being smart with numbers doesn’t always lead to financial success.

It took a painful divorce, a rock-bottom moment when she found herself $600,000 in debt and a series of deathbed heart-to-hearts. But now Lynda’s ready to share with the world what everybody needs to know about money and relationships.

“When couples break up, 70-80 percent blame it on money,” explains Lynda, 59, whose book Conversations with Money: A Love Story is released on Amazon on March 2. “But if you know how to talk about money, if you can effectively communicate about money, you will thrive.”

If anyone knows how personal attitudes to money can affect a relationship, it’s Lynda. In her book, she uses her own failed marriage to third husband Gaz Maroof as a cautionary tale.

The pair first got together in 1999 and Lynda says the engineering consultant swept her off her feet.

“He was six foot and incredibly handsome,” she shares. “He had the most beautiful deep voice and a dry sense of humour.”

Gaz was an Australian-based client at her accounting firm, and one day he called and said, “I’m here in Auckland for three days and I’d like to monopolise your time.”

The pair quickly bonded and for a time they criss-crossed the Tasman to see each other. Then, in 2002, they purchased a lifestyle property just south of the City of Sails and tied the knot.

“We were both entrepreneurs, both businesspeople. We were enjoying life and everything was going well,” says Lynda. Until it wasn’t.

Both Gaz and Lynda hid their financial worries from the other.

Through no fault of his own, Gaz lost a huge work contract. Instead of sharing his financial concerns with Lynda, he “closed down”. At the same time, Lynda’s accounting firm was struggling. Not wanting to burden Gaz with her worries, she didn’t say a word.

She shrugs, “We stopped communicating and just existed together. We didn’t acknowledge or even attempt to talk about our situation.”

In 2006, they decided to divorce. “I drove to some friends’ house at seven on a Saturday morning,” she recalls. “I was a sobbing, blithering mess on their doorstep.”

A few years later, Lynda was in more dire straits, having to service huge repayments on a $600,000 bank loan against her business and home.

In hindsight, she confesses, “I’d always been a spender and at a time when I should have changed my habits, I stuck my head in the sand. I even added another $20,000 to my debt to visit my then 17-year-old daughter, who was on a student exchange in Argentina.”

She ended up having an embarrassing “meltdown” in an Auckland restaurant one evening while dining with a client.

“He marched me out of the restaurant and said, ‘Lynda, what the effing hell is going on!’ After I told him, he demanded, ‘So, what are you going to do about it?'”

She felt enormous shame – particularly because she was a professional accountant – but it was the nudge she needed.

In the months and years that followed, Lynda sold her business and house, and worked hard to clear the rest of her debts. She also studied for a graduate diploma in psychology and then trained with Professor David Krueger, an American psychiatrist who specialises in financial therapy.

She had some “lightbulb moments”, including the realisation that all her life she’d let her “four-year-old-self” run her finances, “like, I can have whatever I want whenever I want it, whether or not I can afford it.”

It also led to a new career as a financial mentor and as “The Money Mentalist”, she now coaches others to have better relationships with money.

“My life’s work is to help as many couples as I possibly can to not end up as we did,” says Lynda.

In 2019, Lynda received a phone call to say Gaz was in a hospice, dying of cancer. Over the following weeks, until he passed, they talked for the first time about what went wrong in their relationship.

“I told him how my accounting practice had struggled. ‘You never told me,’ he replied. ‘I could have helped. Maybe not financially, but I could have helped you.’

“Me not saying anything got us further in debt and pushed us further apart. Not communicating was the opposite of what we should have done.

“In another conversation, he said something about feeling like his life had been a waste and that he’d achieved nothing.

“I told him that wasn’t true. Everything we went through and learnt is what I take with me to every client I now work with.”

Last year, Lynda finally sat down to write her book.

“The rest of my life’s work is to help as many couples as I possibly can to not end up as we did,” enthuses Lynda. “This is Gaz’s legacy.”

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