Ronel Talks Money: Neil & Tanya Powell


Neil and Tanya Powell are an inspiring couple who also love charity work. Neil is well-known for his successes as coach of the South African Sevens rugby team while Tanya is providing the support structure as full-time mom to their two beautiful boys. As a couple they had to overcome the challenges when one partner is away from home often and Tanya has to take responsibility to manage the household while Neil is travelling the world with the sevens rugby team. Neil also had to learn how to manage his money being in a career where things can change in a second.

Let’s meet:

Name and surname:  

Neil and Tanya Powell

Profession / title / business:

Neil: SA Sevens rugby coach, SA Rugby. Tanya: Part time lecturer at Stellenbosch University and full-time mom.

How would you describe yourselves?

Neil: An open and honest introvert that places a lot of value on respect and integrity. Tanya: Mom to two amazing boys, wife to a warrior of God and daughter of the King Almighty.

Tell us about your respective careers / businesses?

Neil: Rugby and more rugby. Tanya: Part-time lecturer at Stellenbosch University.

What do you consider your proudest achievements / highlights?

Winning Commonwealth Games in 2014 and the World series 2016/2017.

What was your biggest failure or lowest point in your career?

Failure as a player, I would definitely say my two years playing rugby for the Bulls. I was told that I would play Super rugby but only made it to domestic competitions. But I learnt massively about coaching and managing systems under Heyneke Meyer. Failure as a coach- I would say finishing 8th in the Las Vegas tournament last season and drawing against Chile in that same tournament.

How did you get back up after failure?

Rugby is only part of me and knowing who I am outside of rugby gives you a different perspective on failure. Yes, in that moment it might feel like the end of the world but moments like that don’t define who I am. I see it for what it is and move on.

Earning a relatively large salary as a young rugby player, you tend to spend it on non-essentials and forget to plan for the future… Make sure that future financial stability become a priority at a young age.

Let’s talk money:

How would you describe your money mind-set?


What was your biggest discovery about money?

That money is crucial for everyday essentials but it should not control your life or determine your identity.

What is your view about the importance of budgeting and do you have a budget?

Yes I do budget. It gives me a chance to stay on top of my money matters and prepares me for unforeseen circumstances like we are facing at this moment with salary cuts and how it will affect our day-to-day living.

How do you save money?

Do not live above your means. Short term luxury can cause a lifetime of debt. I try to monthly transfer at least 20% of my salary paying off my bond and accumulating funds for retirement and education for my children. Most of my bonusses will also go into my bond to pay off my house as soon as possible. This will give me the opportunity to reinvest the money available.

What is your favourite investment type / -s?

Being in a contractual, high risk work environment I need to make low risk choices and investments. I see paying of my bond as an important ‘investment’.

What is your view about having an emergency fund?

Crucial. As a coach your financial situation can change in a second and I want to be prepared for it.

Do you believe there is merit in being financially well organised – have all your policies in place, have a life file and a signed will etc.?

Yes, especially if you have a family to look after. When the day comes I want to make sure that I make the process of financial transfer as easy as possible in a time of losing a loved one. Being financially organized, I have the peace of mind that my family will be looked after when I’m not there.

What tips do you have with regards to retirement planning?

Getting debt free as soon and young as possible. Making sure that you stick to a fixed % of savings per month regardless of the type of investment whether it is retirement funds or something like property investments etc.

Knowing what you know today, what would you have done differently when it comes to money decisions / management?

Looking back I would have respected money more. Earning a relatively large salary as a young rugby player, you tend to spend it on non-essentials and forget to plan for the future. It is an important financial lesson that I try and teach to my players on a regular basis.

What is your advice to other people with regards to money management and building a better financial future for themselves and their families?

The saying goes ‘do not try to live up to the Joneses’. It is important to strike the right balance between saving and spending but saving should always come first. Make sure that future financial stability become a priority at a young age. You can’t plan for your old age when you are only a few years from it.

We teach them the importance of balancing the three S’s: save, spend and share…We pray and teach our children that identity and true joy do not come from things but from the inside and that we are truly blessed to have a balanced life.

Let’s talk about how to deal with financial decisions when one partner works away from home and money lessons for children

Situations where one partner is being away from home quite often, would certainly result in some unique challenges when it comes to making financial decisions that impact on the household and family. What are the biggest challenges and how do you deal with these challenges as a couple?

Luckily our viewpoints regarding money are the same. We are not big spenders and do not put a lot of value on material things. Neil will always include me in all financial decisions and planning. As a couple we make sure to discuss all financial responsibilities before he goes on tour to make sure to limit unexpected financial burdens or serious decisions that will fall on me.

Tanya you had to step up and take on a lot of the responsibilities at home. What tips do you have for other women in a similar situation where the husband is not always physically around?

First of all it is important to find your own identity and strength. Neil will be away on average 15 weeks of the year and life and responsibilities do not stop because of that. We made the decision that we will face this time of our life as a team and even though I am a part time lecturer and full time mom, I make sure that I’m informed when it comes to our financial situation and support systems. Who to call when whatever happens. Routine also saved my life and I am a firm believer that routine provides security.

Neil, I am sure following a career in sport can be very uncertain at times also taking into account it is not necessarily a career you can follow until reaching retirement age. How do you deal with this and how do you make provision for life after rugby?

As a rugby coach I know things can change in a second and I therefore it is crucial that I plan well and be prepared for the unforeseen. But being in a sports environment also gives you amazing opportunities to connect and network with people.

What are the money lessons you are teaching your beautiful boys?

It is important for us that our children from a very young age (our boys are now 3 and 8) know exactly where money comes from. We include them when we purchase presents etc. I was taught from a very young age how to save and the importance of understanding money and we want the same for our children. We teach them the importance of balancing the three S’s: save, spend and share. We are not diligent on monthly pocket money but when money is given to them (either from small chores or birthday presents) we make sure that they divide the money into the three S’s. We will guide them but we leave it up to them to make the decision but then they must realize what the possible consequences will be. Because we do not add value to material thing, we also try and teach this to them. We pray and teach our children that identity and true joy do not come from things but from the inside and that we are truly blessed to have a balanced life. Both Neil and myself are involved with charity work and we try to expose them to the needs of the world at a young age. Young children should know that having money is a privilege and not a right and we should take good care of it and appreciate what has been given to us.

To connect with Neil & Tanya Powell

  • Instagram: @neil05powell, @powelltanya82

Photo credits: Abri Kruger & Zanyika Kok 

Thank You