Investor Journeys—Aden and Thomas
Aden and Thomas are a young couple living in Lower Hutt with their adorable Shih Tzu, Festus.
We had a chat with them about their investing journey so far, managing money in a relationship, and withdrawing from their Sharesies accounts to buy their first home!
Why did you start investing?
Aden: In October 2017, I’d just finished four years of study to become a pharmacist. I was coming to the end of my year as an intern. I wasn’t earning much, and I realised that I hated having to get up early to go to work each day (I’m totally not a morning person). That led to me looking at other ways to make money, which eventually rolled into figuring out that with enough money invested, the money makes money for you.
Thomas: Aden had some pretty intense spreadsheet magic happening. We agreed that it was important as a couple to start knuckling down and saving for a house, so we could fire our landlord. Even though I’m the Office Manager at the NZX, investing had always appeared pretty inaccessible with high minimums to invest. Sharesies came along and opened the floodgates, meaning we could do weekly (or in my case, monthly) investments of small amounts.
Tell us about your first investment!
Aden: At the start, I didn’t really know what I was doing. I looked at the funds on Sharesies, Googled what an ETF was, and did a bit of research. I decided to split my $50 a week into four buckets; two high-risk funds and two medium-risk funds. It was terrifying! The money was going out of my account and I had no clue if I was ever going to get it back. Now I’m a lot more comfortable with investing (I should’ve put more in at the start!). Looking at the graphs, some have grown by 40% in the last 2 years, which is just nuts. I probably should have convinced Tom to sign up sooner!
Thomas: I started with a pretty equal spread of investments based on the idea that your risk profile should match your age. However, I quickly realised that I have terrible spending habits, so I needed to move my savings out of my primary bank account—just out of reach, but still only a few days away if anything went wrong. I dropped my whole savings into the Smartshares NZ Bond Fund, which gave me a higher return than the banks, had a lower risk profile than other funds, and didn’t lock me into fixed notice periods for withdrawal. Like Aden, I probably would’ve invested less conservatively to start, but it paid off when we needed to withdraw the money for our house deposit. We’re now starting from scratch for longer-term goals, so I’m likely to invest in more high-risk funds as I have time to wait out any fluctuations.
How has investing helped you achieve your goals?
Thomas: Well, we’re now homeowners! I amassed 8% worth of returns in 2 years before we withdrew everything for our house deposit.
Aden: Yeah, withdrawing it all for the house deposit was terrifying in its own way. Up until a month ago, I had roughly $14,000 in Sharesies—of which about $1,500 was returns. To build up to a house deposit, we set up small automatic payments into Sharesies each week. In more recent months, I was putting about a third of my pay in every week, though a larger portion was going into bonds and lower risk investments since we knew we would be needing it soon.
Thomas: I think investing also helped my savings discipline hugely. My entire half of our house deposit came from my investments in Sharesies and my KiwiSaver, and we smashed that out in a little over two years.
Aden: Tom’s right—we’ve managed to go from about $5,000 in total money between us, to a house deposit in just 2 years. We wouldn’t have been able to do it without Sharesies. Since finishing my internship, I’ve had a good savings habit, but Sharesies has been a really big part of keeping it going week in and week out. I get the same thrill going through and picking the shares to buy, as I did as a kid putting coins in a piggy bank. Now that we’ve bought a house, I think next on our list is fixing the house! After that, who knows? I’d like to look into building up my investments to the point of getting a decent side income or stream of dividends.
Thomas: For me, I’m investing towards retirement, babies (surrogacy is expensive), a wedding? Most likely some longer-term goals. I know ultimately we’re both really keen to become financially independent. So we’ll be pondering on ways to do that and still live our best lives.
Aden: He doesn’t have high expectations at all, does he?
As a couple, what kind of conversations do you have about money and investing?
Thomas: Aden tells me what to do and I listen.
Aden: Only sometimes! I’m a financial nerd now thanks to Sharesies, so I’m more interested in the nuances of investigating different funds and figuring out what will suit our time horizon best. I often dive deep into the latest news and investments to see how they stack up, and try to see how they can get us to where we want to be. Tom is really good at pointing out where I’m over complicating things though—he’s good at keeping me practical.
Thomas: I’m pretty time-poor and I like to keep things super simple in my brain, so I find it really valuable having a person who enjoys spending time researching and evaluating the best options for us so I don’t need to worry about it as much.
Aden: In general, our money conversations happen every week about whatever our current goals/stresses/latest crazy ideas are. And yes, we totally compare portfolios (I won over the past 2 years!)!
Thomas: Our portfolios both came out positively, but Aden made a fair bit more than me. My theory is that he had a more balanced risk profile with his investments and invested a little bit every week, whereas I put in the same amount monthly.
People often think you need loads of money to invest. What tips would you give to everyday New Zealanders who might not think it’s possible?
Aden: Honestly, if an intern earning below minimum wage can invest, then anyone can. Sharesies makes it possible for someone to give up one coffee, one pie, one movie ticket, and put it towards a stronger financial future. Sharesies has taught me to be more aware of where I’m putting my money, and think about whether I’m putting my money to work for me, or if I’m spending it on something I won’t even remember in a week’s time.
Thomas: It’s absolutely possible! I mean, you can invest 1 cent now! Sharesies makes it way easier to get in amongst the action, the returns are better than a bank account, and your money is more accessible.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve given (or been given) about investing?
Aden: I’m going to give three because I’m useless and can’t decide:
Invest small, invest smart, and invest often—you’ll be surprised at what you can do!
Stick to funds!
Thomas: If investing sounds overwhelming, find a cool person who can talk you through it! If all your friends hate stuff to do with money, find new friends (come to Share Club?).
Aden: There are also so many people with useful content online! Francis Cook, The Happy Saver, and Mary Holm are all people who helped me hugely when I was trying to figure out what I was doing at the start.
The people shown in our Investor Journeys are actual Sharesies investors, and their stories are actual experiences they’ve had with us. They’re paid for their time to record their story.
Ok, now for the legal bit
Investing involves risk. You aren’t guaranteed to make money, and you might lose the money you start with. We don’t provide personalised advice or recommendations. Any information we provide is general only and current at the time written. You should consider seeking independent legal, financial, taxation or other advice when considering whether an investment is appropriate for your objectives, financial situation or needs.