The Deputy Mayor, and mother of two, shares how her family’s commitment to reducing household waste led her to learn about investing and getting ahead financially.
Tell us about yourself!
I’m the Deputy Mayor of Palmerston North in the Manawatū.
Alongside my two young children (4 and 3), I also blog about family life and the financial journey I’ve been on with my husband Liam.
What’s your money story?
My mum worked in a bank so I grew up knowing that I needed to save some of my pocket money, but we didn’t talk about budgeting or the purpose of saving. I knew the cost of a bottle of milk, but not the cost of electricity. I had a clothing allowance which was an opportunity to learn about budgeting, but it wasn’t discussed openly.
My parents had some rental properties and government bonus bonds. I thought that investing in the share market was like gambling.
When I met my husband Liam, we had a combination of credit card debt, an overdraft, student loans, and a new mortgage. I didn’t have a plan, but Liam had recently read the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, so I read it too. It was the first time I’d heard money talked about in a chatty way.
Tell us about your first time investing
My parents gave us some money for our wedding, but we bought our own home instead. One day for work, I visited our local wastewater treatment plant. The trip prompted me to reduce our household waste. As we lived more frugally, we found ourselves with extra savings. We started by rounding up our home loan payments by a very small amount. This reduced the number of years it would take us to pay off our home loan, and therefore, the total amount of interest we’d pay overall.
As our savings grew, we thought about investing in the share market. Liam heard about Sharesies, so we decided to have a go. I was hesitant at the beginning, and thought I’d need a big lump sum—but with Sharesies, there’s no minimum investment, so I started with $5 here and there. As I got to know how it worked, I invested bigger amounts.
To decide what to invest in, I still ask myself, ‘Does this fund or company align with my values? Would I be happy to tell my friends that I invest in X, Y, or Z?’ Based on my personal interests, I invest in a mix of exchange-traded funds (ETFs), managed funds, and companies.
We’ve set up Sharesies Kids Accounts for our children, instead of bank accounts. If they’re given money for their birthdays or Christmas, we invest it in their Kids Accounts.
How do you manage your investments now?
We see investing as an expense like anything else, so we budget for it and use Sharesies’ auto-invest to invest the same amount regularly. The Sharesies app makes investing even easier.
When I’m choosing what to invest in, I look at what a company prioritises. For example, the diversity of a company’s board—gender, ethnicity, and age. An organisation might have a diversity policy, but I want to know that they’re ‘walking the talk’. I like investing in companies started by someone who had a big idea to change something for everyone, for good.
We’ve changed our approach to investing as our values and lifestyle have changed. We’re currently reducing our investment in property so we can invest more in our Sharesies Portfolio. We want to invest in a diverse range of sectors, funds, and companies, and have easier access to our money if we need it.
How have you learnt about investing?
We’ve mostly used free resources such as podcasts, blogs, YouTube, and Sharesies’ articles. More recently, we met with a financial adviser to review and rebalance our Portfolio.
Anyone can have opinions and perspectives about money, but not everyone is qualified or regulated to give financial advice. Someone sharing their experience is not the same as financial advice from a qualified professional. Because I blog about money and investing, I try to be really careful with the information I share. At some point in the future, I’ll train to be a qualified financial adviser.
Why do you think it’s important to talk about money and investing?
Talking about money and investing needs to be normalised (in an age-appropriate way) because it enables people to have enough to live a life they want, and helps prevent them from living a life they don’t want.
Every Sunday night, my husband and I make time for ‘Fin Chat’ (financial chat). We look at our budget, upcoming costs, and investments. Our children know what we’re talking about and why it’s important.
Even though our children are pre-schoolers, they already understand that we have different amounts of money for different things at different times. They sometimes ask, ‘Do we have any doughnut or fluffy money today?’ It’s a great opportunity for them to learn about money in their terms.
What are your financial goals?
Financial freedom means different things to different people. Retirement for me doesn’t mean stopping what I’m doing. It means that my money is working for me rather than me working for my money. In future, I want to spend more time contributing to not-for-profit projects and charities. And I’d like to continue sharing my knowledge with others—to help them make good financial decisions.
We’ve already reached many of our financial goals, but we still live frugally, track our expenses, and talk about how much money we need next week, next month, and in the years ahead.
What would you say to someone who doesn’t think investing is for them?
You don’t need a lot of money or to get qualified as a financial adviser to get started. Learn about compound returns. Don’t panic if your Portfolio takes a dip—ups and downs in the share market are inevitable. I try not to look at my Portfolio too often (once a month is enough for me!). Choose any amount based on your appetite for risk—investing even $5 every week over 20 or 30 years can make a difference to your future.
The people shown in our Investor Journeys are 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.