'Modern Money' with Tessa McLoughlin of KWENCH
We had the privilege of chatting with Tessa McLoughlin, founder of KWENCH, an expansive co-working space in downtown Victoria that encourages those who inhabit it to be themselves, engage in its tight-knit community, and forge valuable connections. The Australian native has become one of Victoria's most prolific business owners, and today she sits down with us to talk about managing her finances, being a single mom in a booming housing market and saving for the next big trip.
Q: What is your most used credit card?
A: Before I owned a business, it was my MasterCard, but now it’s my Visa.
Q: Do you pay the balances on your cards in full every month?
A: Always. I have a rule that I tell my kids as well – ‘never spend what you can’t pay off’.
I usually pay the balance a day before the due date so I don’t have to pay any interest. I don’t get reminders when the payments are due though, so I do find it quite stressful if I have forgotten.
Q: That’s one of the features we’re building into Billi – credit card payment reminders! It’s a request we’ve gotten numerous times from our community.
A: That is brilliant!
Q: Do you carry cash?
A: Rarely. I do try and have some on hand for my children though.
Q: How many different banks do you have an account with?
Q: Which three?
A: Vancity for personal use. Scotiabank and Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) for business.
Q: What do you look for when opening an account with one institution over another?
A: I really like how the Credit Unions give back to the community, and that they don’t make ridiculous profit like the major banks do. If I could have gone through credit unions for my business, I absolutely would have.
Q: Do you currently use any apps to manage your finances?
A: No, I do it on my own. There’s not much complexity to my personal finances because I’m a single parent who wasn’t earning a lot of money and then I started a company, so I didn’t have any earnings for four years. I’ve always kind of figured it out on my own.
Q: Would you say you are more a spender or a saver?
A: I am definitely a saver.
Q: What was the last big think you purchased?
A: Right before Covid hit, I got my first paycheck from KWENCH, and I bought a little barbecue. That was a big deal for me. My neighbours saw me bring it home, and they said, ‘You deserve that!’, and I thought to myself, ‘Yes, I do!’.
Q: Would you rather spend money on experiences or things?
A: Experiences, all the way. Right before this call, everyone at KWENCH threw me a surprise birthday party and it was the best because no one went and spent money on a gift, which would make me feel awkward. Instead, we all just enjoyed each other’s company and drank coffee and ate cake. I will never forget that, and will be telling the story for a long time. I’m waiting for my parents to wake up in Australia so I can tell them about it!
Q: How far in advance do you typically plan financially?
A: I don’t own a house, so whereas most people plan for a down payment on a home, I’ve put that to the side for now. The housing market in Victoria is crazy. What I do plan for is travel. When I want to go home to Australia, I know that I need to save $10,000, so I’ll plan to put aside a certain amount each month.
Q: Did your family talk about money growing up?
A: It was a little taboo. My dad always said, ‘only invest in what you’re prepared to lose and always pay off your credit cards’ but never talked about wages or how much he earned. I really wish he would have though because I wouldn’t have undervalued myself so much as a young woman.
Q: Do you talk to your children about money?
A: Yes, I think it is so important that we do. I was earning quite a lot from a young age as a television actor and learned early on the value of a dollar, so I want my kids to have that same understanding.
Q: If someone gave you $100,000 today, what would you do with it?
A: I think back to when I was starting to raise money for KWENCH and how all the conversations I’d had with people were about such large amounts of money – and I had no money at the time – and then I had this epiphany that $1 million was going to change dramatically in what it means to me. So, when I look at $100,000, it doesn’t seem like a lot. That amount goes so quickly in business. Let’s up it to $1 million and then we’ll talk.