• How to use KiwiSaver to buy your first home

    how to use kiwisaver to buy a house

    Thinking about using KiwiSaver to buy a first home?

    Honestly, KiwiSaver or no, buying a house is kind of a nightmarish process. I was going through some files on my computer the other night and came across some finance documents from my mortgage application days. I couldn’t bring myself to delete them in case I wind up needing them for something again, but I definitely did not linger on them. You can bet I clicked away FAST.

    It’s been over a year, and thankfully the memories of that traumatic time have faded. But I thought I’d jot down the steps involved for anyone who might find it useful, before I forget entirely. And it seems like Auckland’s crazy runaway house price growth may finally have slowed. So if you are thinking about braving the market as a first home buyer, here’s a rough guide based on my experience of using the KiwiSaver withdrawal option for a first home.

    1. Apply for HomeStart grant preapproval (if you meet the criteria)

    The HomeStart grant is a feature of the KiwiSaver scheme that gives you a cash grant toward buying a first home. There are income limits (less than $85,000 for one, or less than $130,000 for two or more people), house cap limits ($600k for an existing house in Auckland or $650k for a new build; less in other regions of NZ), and you must have been contributing to KiwiSaver for at least three years.

    Other criteria apply too – eg you’ll need to live in the house for at least six months and have at least a 10 percent down payment (although that can include the HomeStart grant itself, and of course your own KiwiSaver first home withdrawal funds).

    With the HomeStart first home grant you can get $1,000 for each year that you’ve contributed to KiwiSaver, to a minimum of $3,000 and a maximum of $5,000. If you’re buying a new build, all of these figures double – $2,000 per year of contributions, to a minimum of $6,000 and maximum $10,000!

    You can get pre-approval for the KiwiSaver first home grant, which is valid for six months. And you can do it all online. I received pre-approval within a couple of days via email!

    Don’t leave it until settlement or you might miss out entirely – you need to apply, at a minimum, 20 working days before your settlement date. Get preapproved, seriously!

    Note: I did not actually wind up using the HomeStart grant in the end, so I can’t speak to the latter parts of the HomeStart process beyond getting pre-approved.

    If you meet the criteria for the HomeStart grant, then you will presumably also meet the criteria for the Welcome Home loan scheme…

    2. Apply for a Welcome Home Loan (if you meet the criteria)

    Welcome Home Loans are a government initiative for first home buyers who only have a 10% deposit. Not all lenders offer these loans. You can apply directly to the lenders listed on the site, or you can go through a broker (I used a mortgage broker recommended by a friend).

    Getting preapproved took bloody ages, to be honest. The Welcome Home Loan application has to go to Housing New Zealand and I believe there was a backlog at the time I applied, and I literally had to wait a month to hear back.

    Note: I did not actually wind up using a Welcome Home Loan  in the end, so I can’t speak to the latter parts of the process beyond getting pre-approved.

    3. Apply for a KiwiSaver first home withdrawal (anyone and everyone)

    You can basically skip ahead to this step if you don’t qualify for/want to use the HomeStart and Welcome Home Loan options. You would want to have sorted out your mortgage preapproval before this step, though.

    In my case, despite having jumped through all the hoops already, I wound up receiving some 11th hour financial help from family which meant I ditched the HomeStart/Welcome Home Loan path, and got a generic bank mortgage.

    As soon as you sign the sale and purchase agreement on a house, apply directly to your KiwiSaver provider for a first home withdrawal. Again, do not leave this until the end! Your provider will probably require 10-20 working days to process your request for a KiwiSaver withdrawal as a first home buyer. I think mine took almost two weeks. You can request to withdraw a certain amount, or the full balance (that said, you must leave a minimum of $1000 in your account, so you can’t totally drain it).

    If approved, your KiwiSaver provider will transfer the money to your lawyer’s bank account. It never actually passes through you.




    A note about deposits and KiwiSaver

    I didn’t realise this, but there are actually two aspects to the deposit involved in buying a house: the portion you pay the agent and the portion you pay the lawyer.

    What we generally talk about when we talk about deposits is the amount you need to put toward the purchase price, from the lending perspective (usually 20% these days, 10% under the Welcome Home Loan) – which you pay to your lawyer’s account prior to settlement day.

    But there’s also the vendor deposit – the money you pay to the real estate agent to secure the house. This may be payable upfront upon signing the sale and purchase agreement as in my case. In some cases you might be able to arrange to defer this until the day of going unconditional, but obviously from the seller’s point of view it’s in their interests that you stump up some cash upfront as proof of your commitment to the sale.

    Depending on the timeframes involved in your particular transaction … If most of your deposit is coming out of your KiwiSaver, this might pose an issue.

    You can’t use a HomeStart grant to pay the seller’s deposit, so that’s not an option. If you’re relying on using  KiwiSaver withdrawal funds for the vendor deposit, you’d have to negotiate a long conditional period. You need to send in your sale and purchase agreement with your withdrawal application forms, but it takes time to process all of that (10 working days minimum with my provider, for example). If the vendor insists on a shorter conditional period (5 business days is common), make sure you have access to enough cash in a pinch! I saw a post online the other day where the buyers took out an overdraft for this exact purpose, because they got caught out by this.

    Here’s my attempt to visually interpret the cashflows involved during this process.

    Buying a house in NZ cashflow - transactions process between purchase and settlement

    For example, let’s say you have a 20% deposit, of which half comes from your KiwiSaver. First you might pay 5% to the agent, then 10% is withdrawn from your KiwiSaver and sent to your lawyer. You send the last 5% of your cash deposit to your lawyer. The remaining 80% is drawn down from your mortgage and transferred from bank to lawyer. This all adds up to 100% by settlement day and is finally sent to the vendor.




    There you go – that’s my take on buying a house with KiwiSaver as a first home buyer! As I said, I can’t speak to using the KiwiSaver Homestart first home grant/Welcome Home Loan all the way through, but I can tell you for sure what it would add more complexity and paperwork at the end. Be prepared!

  • I don’t want to live with less

    CUTTING BACK IS NOT ALWAYS THE ANSWER

    (This is not the post for you if you are used to regular raises, bonuses, shopping and living large. Obviously.)

    Sometimes I feel like the only person online who doesn’t religiously read and follow minimalism blogs. (And many of the mainstream PF blogs, for that matter.)

    Why?

    They don’t resonate with me.

    Decluttering and downsizing are not things I struggle with or aspire to.

    I am the person who rotates through the same 3 pairs of shoes every week.

    Who put up with only having 3 forks for nearly a year.

    Who has lived in painfully small places due to money not choice, and bought a small and dated house because it’s what I could afford.

    Who has always lived in a one-car, two-person household.

    When you tell me to get ahead by saving my pay raises, living in a small cheap place, ditching the car, cutting back on coffee and clothes … I bounce, cause that ain’t my life. Many of us don’t get raises, live in large places we can downsize from, have a car, buy lattes or shop for leisure. These are not practical options for everyone.

    I get it. Trimming the fat is an easy win for lots of people. They are the low hanging fruit. And they’re everywhere on the internet.

    There are also people who are doing all the right things, but can’t get ahead. Quite simply, if they want to change that, they need to bring in more. Cutting back is not realistic (any odd small splurge they can manage is what keeps them going, and is not going to materially impact their overall situation). Popular advice assumes a baseline that is way above where they operate from. I don’t know what percentage of the population they represent, but they exist. Particularly in a low-wage, high cost-of-living country like this. They are on the internet too, but you don’t see or hear about them as often. I’ve seen their comments and stories pop up more and more over the past year, and it breaks my heart.




    I often find myself short of things that are more need than want. I’ve lost so much over the years through various cycles of flatmates, and moving house. I got by for so long without a shower caddy, baking trays, and tons more little domestic touches that make a home. It made no sense to invest in anything of that nature while renting, and even after buying my house I struggled to spend money on those little things despite their huge ROI in terms of quality of life.

    I’m not saying I am perfectly ascetic. I have plenty of crap I don’t need lying around the house and it’s a battle as I have hoarding tendencies rooted in a scarcity mindset (what if we need it someday?!) Mainly free stuff. When freebies come into my home, be they books or drinking flasks or candles or whatever, it’s really hard for me to get rid of something ‘perfectly good’.

    I know just how little it’s possible to live on. I backpacked around the world for six months. Full time travel forces you to get pretty bloody minimalist.

    I’ve lived with less and I know that I want more. A life of abundance. (And yes, for me that means some stuff.)

    Could I cut down my possessions by 30, 50, 70 percent?

    Sure. But I’d really rather not.

    Could I live on a lower income?

    I have done. And I definitely would rather not.

    Every new job/salary bump has enabled me to save more and build the life I want. My best life costs money – a house costs money, dogs cost money, babies cost money.

    For lots of us, cutting back is not the answer.

    (But I still haven’t cut my hair in over a year. I’m still not sure when I actually will get around to it.)

  • Investing in P2P loans via Lending Crowd: An experiment

    Are you thinking about dabbling in some P2P lending?

    I have been, and last year I took the plunge with Lending Crowd after perusing this handy comparison of P2P platforms in New Zealand. Here’s a little recap of my experience so far.

    Signing up to invest in P2P loans with Lending Crowd was relatively straightforward. I did have to upload copies of my ID as part of the Lending Crowd investor application, but it was basically instant.

    Once you’re all approved, you need to deposit some money so you can start investing in loans – $500 minimum.

    Step 1: Click the Deposit Funds option in your Lending Crowd account. This will bring up all the details that you need in order to do a bank transfer – moving your funds from your bank account into the Lending Crowd account, and ensuring they are applied to your individual investor account.

    Step 2: Take those details and do the bank transfer.

    Step 3: Funds are sent to Lending Crowd, and applied to your investment account.

    Then the fun part: Choosing some loans to invest in!




    Loans go FAST on Lending Crowd. I started my application on a Friday afternoon, and could see that the one available loan on the market was close to fully funded. I checked in a couple hours later that evening, and it was gone.

    Luckily, I got an email early the following week letting me know that email notifications were now available. Sweet, I thought. I don’t have to keep logging in all the time to check if new loans have come on the market! I promptly signed up to get new Lending Crowd loan alerts by email.

    A spate of about 5 loans trickled in the next day. But I didn’t have time to actually log in until night time, and by then only 2 were left and both very were close to funded. I’ll sleep on it, I thought. But by morning, both were gone.

    The following evening I received another email, and logged in about 10 minutes later. In that short time, about $3k of the $16k loan had already been funded! I pitched in for $50 and left it at that.

    The day after that I received another email in the afternoon and logged in immediately (as in, within a couple of minutes). The $3.4k loan had already had $500 in funding. This was a B2 (highest risk )category with 18.74% interest rate!

    That was pretty much how it went. You have to get in quick to get in at all. I kept playing the game over the next few weeks. and committed all my $500 to various loans, mostly in $50 lots each. But by the end of the month, I had 3 buys reversed, leaving me with $150 still to invest. (I assume those loans did not wind up going through for whatever reason.) I had to find new loans to invest in, and so even though I created my account in late September, I wasn’t fully invested until about the end of October. I started getting my first repayments in November.

    So far, I have had one loan repaid early – in 4 1/2 months instead of 36 months. That loan was at an interest rate of 10.96%. I wound up earning $1.64 on that $50 loan, so it looks like I made 3.3%.

    According to my Lending Crowd dashboard, to date my net average return (an annualised rate) is 11.79%.

    lending crowd p2p investment returns snapshot

     

    I’m basically leaving that alone now and just checking in every so often. It’s been a fun experiment.

    What, if any, have your experiences been with P2P lending?

  • The least feminist post I’ll ever write

    The least feminist post I'll ever write - On being a female breadwinner and having a family
     

    After a spate of breakups, I don’t believe there are any couples left in my regular IRL circle with a clear female breadwinner. Just me. It’s a lonely place to be.

    One couple previously had a disparity, but have now equalled out, or close to it. Unsurprisingly, they are both happy about this, as it takes the financial pressure off her when it comes to having a family (particularly, god forbid, if pregnancy turned out to be difficult healthwise) which is now officially in the works! They’re working toward him getting a well-paying job so she can stay home with kids like she hopes to.

    Every other couple has fallen apart – and money has been a factor for at least some, and possibly all of them. It’s such a common thread, I don’t think it’s a coincidence. There were elements of them supporting, enabling and being taken advantage of by their partners. Okay, maybe that’s a bit harsh; let’s say in every case, the dudes failed to step up and pull their own weight.

    There’s also one woman I am acquainted with, who I thought might be a bit of a role model in that regard. There’s a loose parallel in our career paths and we both make more than our partner, but she’s about a decade older with kids. Yay, right? Unfortunately that illusion has been gradually shattered for me, as it’s becoming clearer that he doesn’t seem to contribute his fair share in any aspect of the relationship. And thus, theirs is not one I aspire to emulate.

    But even if you have an awesome partner in every way, who pulls their weight overall, but just HAPPENS to earn a lot less….

    Any kind of imbalance or inequality in a relationship can be tough to navigate. When it comes to money, it’s just easier if you’re roughly equal earners.

    There are the values you think you have, and then the actual feelings you have

    If I’m being honest with myself, I’d love a partner who earned as much or more than me. It’s not the outearning in itself that’s the problem; it’s the flow-on effects.

    Where it really becomes an issue is when kids come into the picture. 

    I don’t need to be looked after – but it’d be nice to have the option, you know?

    There are moments where it just feels like a rough deal all round. Not only do I have to make the bacon but bake the bun too? (Worst mixed metaphor ever. Sorry!)

    But then again, we couldn’t have predicted this; 7 years ago I thought I’d be a journalist forever and he’d work up to being a qualified tradie who’d earn the bulk of our income. How things change! And who knows what else might happen in the next couple of years?

    For now though, I think about the practicalities of eventually starting a family and am discouraged.

    The ideal would be if we both individually earned an income that would support a family, but that is not the case. The loss of my income while on parental leave reduces our income by … well, a hell of a lot more than half. And our household income is not particularly high to begin with.

    “Doesn’t that worry you?” my best friend asked me recently over lunch as we talked numbers.

    Hell yes, it does.

    Financially speaking, here’s what me being the breadwinner means if we want to start a family:

    1) I won’t be able to take a full year off (which is the norm here). Which isn’t too terrible; six months seems like a reasonable chunk to me and that would be manageable if we start planning ahead ASAP, though it’ll definitely be a stretch. I’m fairly certain I’ll be well and ready to get back to interacting with adults and doing what I’m best at by then!

    2) I won’t be able to quit my job and stay home if I change my mind. As above, I suspect I’d be itching to get back to work … but what if I’m not? I just don’t know, is all. It’s pretty unlikely though, so I’m just going to entirely ignore this possibility.

    Plus, I can’t help but worry about the off chance that something throws a spanner in the works healthwise.

    Everything might work out if everything goes to plan. But what if I have health issues in pregnancy, like some of my current and former colleagues? What if I need to give up work earlier than planned or return later than planned?




    Between biology, the work world, parental leave law (less than minimum wage for approx 4 months here), a society centuries in the making … no wonder it’s so hard to break the mould of men working and women staying home. (Not all of us aspire to entrepreneurship, remember.) It’s just not set up for it.  

    There’s the long game to consider as well, which didn’t even occur to me until a friend pointed this out to me: Add in the fact that often 1) women earn less than men do in the same job 2) have to spend more on certain things by way of being female 3) live longer and thus need more saved for retirement. Ouch.

    I don’t mean this to come off in a whiny, woe-is-me way. I feel like a bad feminist just for writing this all out (hence the title); I feel like I should be loudly and proudly proclaiming that I can and will do it all! Especially when I’ve been slammed on Facebook in the past for even daring to suggest otherwise, when I shared a link to a post that talked about how unrealistic it is to expect to have it all.

    We’ll muddle through, I’m sure. One way or another – we’ve got time to figure it out. I’ve been running some numbers here and there. But this is one financial area where I want to leave as little to chance as possible.


  • How to find last minute travel deals

    how to find last minute travel deals

    Sometimes last minute travel deals are absolute steals. Even though my life isn’t really well suited to spontaneous trips (work, house, pets – my carefree days are behind me) I’m still subscribed to way more travel mailing lists than I should be…

    While I’m going to mainly talk about New Zealand-centric last minute travel deals below, for international readers, there’s always Lastminutetravel and you most likely have your own country-specific versions!




    Last minute flight deals

    Grabaseat is the home of cheap seats on Air New Zealand flights. I wake up to emails from them every morning, but it’s probably best to follow them on Twitter as well!

    Last minute hotel deals

    I’ve used these a few times before, specifically for staycations. I do like the idea of the mystery deals, when you book an amazing discount on an unknown hotel that’s revealed AFTER you make the reservation. If you’re willing to put in the time to do some sleuthing, though, you may very well be able to deduce what the hotel is based off the information they do provide about their facilities/location! Lots of websites offer these – I’ve mainly used wotif.com.

    Last minute rental deals

    One thing I have yet to do is take advantage of a car relocation deal through the likes of Transfercar. They’re great for backpacker types with flexible schedules. When visitors rent a vehicle (a car, a campervan) and drive one way from one end of the country to the other, someone has to bring it back! And that could be you, if you can arrange your own way there. How it works is that you pick it up, have a set amount of days (and kilometres) to drive it back to the home base, and pay nothing or very little for the rental. Sometimes fuel (and ferry fare if it’s interisland) may be covered too. To be fair, you won’t really have time for sightseeing but if you’re on a super strict budget, it’s not a bad option.

    *Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich.*

  • You will never be perfect with money

    You'll never be perfect with money and thats ok

    And that’s okay. 100%!

    We are human. Flawed. Fallible. Emotional.

    We hoard cash even if it would make more financial sense to focus more on debt, because that helps us sleep at night.

    We support loved ones at our own expense.

    We buy things we don’t need and maybe don’t even really want.

    We chicken out of negotiating.

    We fail to do research.

    We make impulse decisions.

    What matters is that we do our best. Do what’s right for ourselves at that point in time.

    And then, we get back on the horse. Forgive ourselves for the past and focus on the future.

    *Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich, and Racing Towards Retirement*

  • When financial opposites attract

    financial opposites

    It’s coming up to the anniversary of my buying a house (huzzah!)

    Unfortunately, the circumstances around that were, shall we say, less than ideal.

    I bought it alone. It was not how I’d imagined it happening.

    (Longtime readers know some of the back story here. If you’re a bit of a voyeur, click here to sign up for my new monthly newsletter – the first edition goes out this weekend. It’ll be all exclusive content: opening up more details about my financial journey (beyond what’s here on the blog), the ups and downs, plus my picks of the very best curated reads on money from around the web.)

    So, the past year has been a journey.

    We’ve revisited goals and aspirations and worked towards creating a new system for the day to day.

    We have in the past totally pooled money, and dipped in and out of having some separation of money over time. Right now is possibly the most separate our finances have ever been, and it’s working out better.

    That means from my end: handing over some things, learning to trust. Starting small.

    That means from his end: taking ownership of those things, and pride in doing so.

    The problem with us combining money so young and so early on, and me (being the savvy and more control freak type, taking charge of handling it all) was he didn’t really understand – the way that I did – what it takes to run the finances. The time and energy that goes into managing money. How much life actually costs. As I grew my income and thus our overall household income over the years, it was even easier to disengage and coast, and in the end get a free ride for some of it. Result: I wound up making way too many financial sacrifices.

    This way he has skin in the game – responsibility for certain things (whether it’s saving for a new fence or cash flowing pet related stuff) getting hands-on with them and owning those numbers.

    Even letting go of little things has been terrifying for me. I’m glad it’s proven to have been the right move, though. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the results.

  • How to break the cycle of underearning (because you’re worth it)

    How to overcome underearning and make what you're worth

    How to overcome underearning and make what you're worth

    Money troubles usually come down to one of two things: overspending or underearning.

    There’s a million and one posts out there about curbing spending. But underearning is a less explored – and thornier – subject.

    Are you an underearner? I suspect that I was, briefly. But I didn’t realise it until recently.

    It all started when I came across this podcast with Bari Tessler and ended with me reading Secrets of Six Figure Women by Barbara Stanny. I can’t say I’d ever really come across the concept before. 

    It’s a sensitive topic – who wants to think that they’re not living up to their potential? ‘Underearner’ is not a particularly flattering label. But the key is about desire – many of us have the potential to earn more in different types of work but choose not to.

    What is underearning?

    Underearning, as I’ve seen it defined, is about earning less than you want to. Bringing in less than you need or than would be beneficial, despite attempting otherwise.

    It’s not about raw numbers. Or the hours you work. Or ‘underachieving’.

    It’s about the ability (could earn more) combined with the desire (want to earn more) but for whatever reason, it isn’t happening.

    Reverse snobbery

    Especially in creative fields, I think there’s often a bit of reverse snobbery at play. Prejudices against money and toward the wealthy. We sort of believe and play into the idea of the nobility of poverty – of struggling for art. Making money is selling out. As Tessler points out, creative and self employed types often set fees too low – and don’t raise them often enough.

    But as Stanny writes in her book, ironically, few people work harder or obsess more about lack of money than underearners do.

     As the artist Willem de Kooning once aptly remarked, ‘The trouble with being poor is that it takes up all your time’. 

    Not having enough money is exhausting. Dealing with the realities of hardship is a constant grind.

    I suspect as women, there may be an added dimension at play. We are, after all, relatively new to the workplace as we know it compared to men. Home is still considered the female domain, and we’re still considered the nurturers and caretakers. A point raised in an episode of The Broad Experience (a great podcast on women and success that I’ve recently discovered) was that often we perceive ‘doing well’ as being materialistic, or greedy. I’ve definitely encountered that in reaction to things I’ve written on the blog here and there! But more on that a bit later on. 

    How to overcome underearning

    There are many external factors that affect how much we currently earn. Also, life happens and sometimes your income takes a hit.

    Not to mention, there are factors that affect how much we CAN earn. Different fields are structured differently. Some will never pay much – choosing to stay in one of those will limit your options. 

    But as with anything else in life, it boils down to focusing on what you can control. That might mean steeling yourself to:

    • Ask for a raise
    • Change roles
    • Switch industries
    • Start your own business and work for yourself

    Staying in a job too long is a common trap – a job that’s comfortable like old jeans, doing things the way you’ve always done them. In most cases, changing companies is the fastest way to advance pay-wise.

    But most importantly: learn to ask for what you’re worth. Even if that feels uncomfortable. Even if it seems outrageous. Negotiate salary offers, and ask for raises. That’s what it all seems to boil down to. 

    Overcoming underearning pretty much requires that you believe in your value, and stick to it. I was so at risk of underselling myself when I left journalism (thankfully, it worked out even better than I’d hoped). I knew better for the next time around, and I got exactly what I wanted upon my next move

    There’s a huge mental component to underearning. Most of us can’t just flick a switch and suddenly become a totally different person. Here’s where I’ve gleaned another tip from The Broad Experience: You need your own WWJD mantra. Think of somebody that you know – someone who’s direct and isn’t afraid to ask for what they want. What would they do? Channel them!

    Enjoying what you’ve earned

    Despite knowing the market, I feel ridiculously overpaid sometimes – like, how can my work be worth this much? And then I realise people around me are certainly earning 6 figures, and that reboots my perspective – and spurs me on. It would have been totally unfathomable before this; it almost feels like I’ve discovered a secret, tapped into a new level in the game of life, busted through a ceiling.

    None of the six figure women interviewed by Stanny had any qualms about openly declaring their desire to profit. They took pleasure in reaping the rewards of their work. They knew that the more money they made, the more choices they had. Financial freedom is the ultimate flexibility.

    Success goes beyond building up a bank account too; it also includes building up career capital, networks, etc along the way. And with more of these resources at your disposal, you can enjoy more freedom, security, and do more for others.

    Have you struggled with underearning in your career?

    *Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich and Super Saving Tips*

  • What my Asian parents taught me about money

    WHAT MY ASIAN PARENTS TAUGHT ME ABOUT MONEY

    Like all true Asian parents, mine drilled the work first, play later mentality into me.

    (Though in fairness they were nowhere near Amy Chua tiger mother levels.)

    And along with modelling delayed gratification, my Asian family also taught me a few things about money over the years that I’ve never forgotten.

    Shop the sales

    Apparently I once asked Mum, “why don’t you ever buy anything that’s not on special?”

    She is the most frugal person I know. Never overpays for anything, and knows how to get the best price on everything.

    Back when we were in primary school, I once went to the supermarket with my best friend in primary school to get snacks. We were so proud to find and buy bottles of Coke on special for 99c. Even my friend’s dad praised us for our bargain hunting ways!

    Not my mum. At their lowest price, she informed us, you could get those bottles on special for even less than that.

    She is the queen of thrift shopping and I didn’t really appreciate it until adulthood. Now I’m like, tell me all your secrets.

    Always negotiate

    We spent a lot of time at garage sales when I was a kid and I watched the master bargainers in action. Whether it was a $2 doll or a $600 TV, they would always ask for a better deal (as it turns out, basically everything is negotiable).

    Despite all that, I could barely bring myself to haggle at markets while travelling through Asia. And I think back on the times I didn’t negotiate salary and mentally kick myself.

    I get the theory, but actually doing it is a different kettle of fish.

    Needs vs wants

    Wants never masqueraded as needs in our household, not even for a second. People bleat on about how extravagant parents are with presents for their kids, but we literally didn’t get gifts. I feel like we could have done with more wants, growing up.

    (For years we didn’t have a TV – before broadband, before streaming, and so I never got to participate in conversations about last night’s TV shows at school. #firstworldproblems)

    OTOH, sometimes needs can be disguised as wants…

    Props to them for trying to pass off buying me a sleeping bag (you know, for school camp) as an early birthday present. (Spoiler: didn’t fall for it.) Even 10-year-old me knew better.

    I’ve always stood by the belief that gifts are for things you want, not things you need. That will never change.

    What did you learn from your family about money?

    Disease Called Debt
  • Get your money mojo back with these 8 quick financial wins

    8 quick financial wins to get your money mojo back

     

    Sometimes financial progress is slow. Like any other habit, getting sorted with money is an ongoing process.

    Sometimes, you just need an easy win.

    Here are a few quick financial wins I’ve found recently – there’s nothing quite like that sense of accomplishment!

    Check your credit report

    A quick win if there ever was one – requesting your credit report doesn’t cost any money and only takes a few minutes of your time. Hopefully there are no surprises! If all looks good, you get to sit back and relax for awhile. If there are any errors, it’s better to know about them now and get onto addressing them sooner rather than later.

    Organise financial paperwork

    I feel like I’m constantly chasing a pile of papers, even though I’ve transitioned to getting most things by email. Banking, mortgage, tax, investing, insurance and any other kind of financial documents lying around deserve a place to live. I sat down awhile ago and sorted them into various folders. Having some semblance of order there felt like a massive step forward!

    Make an extra payment

    Whatever amount you can throw at that loan, credit card, mortgage! Every little bit counts and results in less interest paid overall. WIN.

    Set up an automatic transfer to savings/investing

    For the first time, I have an automated investing plan (outside of KiwiSaver). It’s only $100 a month ($50 into 2 different funds) but you know, it was really hard to push the button on. I still have a massive fear of financial commitments but I am so, so aware of the power of paying yourself first.

    Start tracking net worth

    I kind of did this a couple of times, randomly, between the time I started working full time and the time I took a six-month leave to travel. I was pleasantly surprised, upon returning home, to see that the number wasn’t quite as low as I expected! Obviously I’d drained most of my liquid funds, but the investments I had kept growing, and so the total sum looked a little healthier than I anticipated. Anyway, since buying a house I’ve started tracking my net worth every month. It’s incredibly motivating to see the steady progress!




    And while I’m on a roll, here are a few more ideas I came up with! All it takes is ONE thing for each of these – a single focus at a time.

    Pick 1 thing to cut back on buying

    Delicious pies. Overpriced juices. Skincare that never lives up to its miraculous claims. Whatever. Choose a line item and reduce spending there! Not saying cut it out – just trim it back.

    Review 1 bill

    You know, those boring but important and regular-as-clockwork bills. Power. Internet. Insurance. Choose one, do some research, shop around for a better deal. Maybe even negotiate with your current provider – they might sharpen up the price on your package. (Confession: I seriously never make time to do this, and I should!)

    Track spending for 1 month

    If you’ve never really tracked your spending, have fallen out of the habit, or perhaps had major changes to your financial situation, give it a go – it might be illuminating. People always go on about the hidden costs of home ownership – in my case I’ve been making do as much as possible and haven’t really spent much on the actual place, but between setting up a veggie garden, the chickens, and the dogs? Yeah…

    Got any money moves to share that give you that sweet, sweet feeling of accomplishment?