Taking control of your financial wellbeing can have cascading positive impacts for your life and it can also be fun. With the help of the team at Kiwi Wealth, we’ve compiled some simple tricks for balancing your books in 2021.
There’s something about the beginning of a new year, especially after the decadence of the summer Christmas break, that creates space and clarity in your mind to make meaningful changes in the way you live your life. This has never felt more true now that 2020 has been put to bed. But the window is small before the grind of work quickly returns, the seasons change and suddenly it feels too late because of all the other things on the endless to-do list of life.
So this is your chance and we’re here to help. We’ve mined the minds of the staff at Kiwi Wealth and The Spinoff for some of their most successful money management tips. They’re practical, educational ways to upgrade your relationship with money.
Harley Calder: Make your savings specific
If you’re in a position to be able to save, split your savings into different “buckets” to save for some of the big-ticket items that you know will crop up at some time in the future. For example, when we bought our car, we immediately started saving for our next car. Why? Because we know that while a car does last a long time, it won’t last forever, and they aren’t cheap. Saving for our next car earlier rather than later means that we can save a smaller amount each payday, which is easier on a budget. We also take a similar approach for our whiteware and house repairs.
We’ve found this approach has a few benefits:
- You can minimise or avoid having to put items on HP – saving you a bunch of interest in the long term.
- You can put your money to work by investing in something low risk while you don’t need it – so you actually end up with more savings.
- You minimise the risk of having to slam on the breaks for your spending when something needs replacing.
It’s easy to set up as well. You can open up new bank accounts or Kiwi Wealth managed fund accounts and set up an automatic payment to coincide with your wage payments.
Harley Calder is a product manager at Kiwi Wealth
Marcus Sullivan: Cash is king
Someone suggested this idea to me quite a few years ago as an easy way of controlling day-to-day spending. You withdraw a certain amount of cash each week and use this for your day-to-day spending. By using something tangible rather than using Eftpos or a credit card, you can retain visibility and accountability of your spending. You set a budget and stick to it. I’ve found it works really well to help me understand where and how I’m spending my money.
Marcus Sullivan is a digital analyst at Kiwi Wealth
Anna McLauchlan: Get visibility of your spending
My favourite money hack is using the personal finance software PocketSmith.
The platform helps you understand where and how you’re using your money and you can see if you’ve spent a bit much on “dining out” or “gifts” or if your insurance payments have crept up. Transactions automatically come in from your bank. I have accounts at Kiwibank, BNZ and ASB and I can see a holistic view of everything no matter what bank it is. It’s great at spotting any transaction anomalies. I also use it to code up holiday spending – it’s amazing how much money can get away from you when you’re having a good time.
It can be a bit overwhelming to see how much is going out, but I find it super helpful to keep me on track. Once your transactions are coded it’s pretty easy, and it becomes quite fun to see how things are tracking along. To be honest it can get quite addictive. I’d try and check this maybe weekly and definitely at the end of the month.
Anna McLauchlan, marketing automation and performance at Kiwi Wealth
Rhiannon McKinnon: Stick to the script, avoid the actual supermarket
I try to do almost all of my supermarket shopping online. That way, if I fill up my basket and find I have spent more than my budget, I can go back and edit out items I don’t really need and would probably just go off in the fridge. I try to avoid the real supermarket at all costs to avoid impulse buys and the shock you get at the till when it all adds up but it’s too embarrassing at that stage to put items back.
Rhiannon McKinnon, strategy and partnerships at Kiwi Wealth
Kris Milne: Secret stashes
Create separate accounts for separate things – spending, savings, bills. Pay a bit extra into the bills account and at the end of the year you can give yourself a Christmas bonus!
Try to use cash for day-to-day spending – pay with notes and keep the change at home. It’s useful to have a stash of $2 coins in the house when the Tooth Fairy comes to visit during lockdown! You can add the rest to your Christmas bonus.
Kris Milne is senior legal counsel at Kiwi Wealth
Anya Skelton-Semeri: Start saving for Christmas, today!
One of the best ways I’ve found to reduce the financial stress of the summer period is to start planning for Christmas now. It’s such a busy and stressful time of the year with parties, work, school holidays, then buying for everyone, and trying to have a holiday.
Last year we started a monthly direct debit to our campsite, so it lessens the load at Christmas time. I also start shopping for my kids and my seven nieces and nephews super early! Think July. I try to buy one gift a fortnight or look for cool things in sales throughout the year and stash them away until Christmas.
On top of this, to be able to go away, I arrange our “camp food menu” early and then break it down into groceries we need. I start stocking up on non perishable items about two months out. Each time I shop we pick up a few things, and then by Christmas, it’s all sorted, and it takes away some of the stress and anxiety about all the organising.
Anya Skelton-Semeri is a team leader in customer services at Kiwi Wealth
Michael Andrew: DIY investing will change the way you see your money
Until very recently, investing in shares seemed far beyond the reach of anyone not directly connected with corporate finance. Investing definitely didn’t feel like something I could do.
But thanks to digital DIY investing platforms like Hatch and Sharesies, the doors to the world of corporate investing have swung wide open. Anyone can play the game now. And it turns out, it’s way easier than the movies make out.
Of course, having some basic knowledge of the businesses you’re wanting to invest in is always helpful. Take New Zealand’s burgeoning medicinal cannabis industry, for instance. This year it saw massive gains and investment after the medical cannabis scheme came into effect in April.
I invested $500 in Gisborne company Rua Biosciences through its IPO (initial public offering) in October. While this was scaled back to $133 due to demand, the value rapidly climbed to almost $200 within a few days.
It dropped again following the No vote on the cannabis referendum – although that had nothing to do with medicinal cannabis – showing just how risky and fickle investments can be. However, because it’s a sustainable global industry with plenty of potential, I’ll just let mine sit there and slowly climb in value.
Starting a DIY investment portfolio is a great way to get engaged with your savings and help them grow. The more engaged you are with your money the better.
Michael Andrew is The Spinoff’s business editor
Mark Kelliher: Look beyond the individual transaction
The best piece of savings advice I have is to change the way in which you perceive a transaction. An everyday individual purchase is usually pretty easy to justify, especially if it’s not a “significant” amount. But this seemingly insignificant purchase starts to look very different when it’s tallied up into a monthly (or even yearly) expense.
Let’s take purchasing your lunch for example. Now in Auckland, you’re looking at anything from $8-$25 for a decent meal. And while that one-off purchase of — let’s go with $10 — may seem like a drop in the ocean, for those regularly purchasing their lunch you might actually be looking at $200 a month, on bought lunches! That’s $2,400 a year.
Accessing the opportunity cost (what you’re giving up) for that monthly figure vs the daily transaction price is a very different proposition and has had a profound impact on the way in which I view money and savings.
Oh, and if you want an easy solution to the lunch dilemma, just double the recipe the night before when you’re cooking! It’s very easy to do and will save you a small fortune in the process.
Enjoy the extra cash (and the leftovers).
Mark Kelliher is general manager of The Spinoff
Alice Webb-Liddall: Save money and the planet at the same time
Most people who know me will know that I take great pride in my op-shop wardrobe. After trying for years to figure out ways to make my wardrobe as up-to-date as the people around me seemed to, I realised that would never be possible if I tried to shop new on my budget. Now, op-shopping is not only one of my favourite ways to spend an afternoon, it’s one of the best ways I’ve found to save money without missing out on retail therapy.
Over the years I’ve found designer tops, NZ-made wool pants, shoes that look unworn and dresses with the labels still attached, discarded by someone who either lost their receipt or couldn’t be bothered returning them. I’d estimate I’ve saved thousands of dollars.
If sifting through racks in a musty-smelling secondhand store isn’t your buzz, now there are hundreds of Instagram pages, Trade Me profiles and websites like Designer Wardrobe and Depop, where people sell clothing for far less than it goes for brand new.
Changing my shopping habits makes me feel better about the footprint I’m leaving on the planet too, and has made me a more mindful shopper generally. I don’t tend to buy things I don’t need and when I do, they cost significantly less than they would from a store, so there’s far less guilt attached.
Alice Webb-Liddall is a staff writer at The Spinoff
Simon Day: Compound interest will change your life
Learn about compound interest immediately. It will inspire you to grow your money, and frighten you out of debt. Einstein famously may or may not have called compound interest “the eighth wonder of the world”.
It’s the idea that the interest on an investment earns interest, that’s reinvested and earns interest on the interest. Money working to make more money, instead of you working to make money. In another vaguely sourced quote, this time to founding father Benjamin Franklin, it’s the concept of how “money makes money. And the money that money makes makes money.”
For example, if you invest $10 a week, for 10 years, with a realistic interest rate of 5%, you’ll have put away $5,200. But add the compound interest and you get an extra $1,500! Extend that out to 20 years and the compound interest goes up to $7,200. So start saving now. You’ll thank yourself later.
But it works in the opposite way too. Compound interest on your debt (I’m looking at you, 22% credit card interest rate) can trap you in a downward spiral of repayments on repayments. That $5,000 holiday courtesy of the bank really costs much more once you’ve finally paid it back. The best thing I did for my financial future is realise how much my debt was burdening me and focus on paying it back ASAP.
A complementary hack I discovered as part of learning about compound interest: never memorise your credit card details off by heart.
Simon Day is commercial editorial director at The Spinoff
This content was created in paid partnership with Kiwi Wealth. Learn more about our partnerships here.
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