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Investor Journeys—Alex

Investor Journeys

Alex shares how he got out of debt, why he switched to the Sharesies KiwiSaver Scheme, and what he hopes retirement will look like for him and his partner.

Alex stands proudly holding a candle.

Tell us about yourself

I live in Wellington with my partner. In 2023, I was made redundant after working in the public sector for almost 20 years. At the time, I was caring for my mum. Within about two months, I’d lost both my mum and my job. I went through a bit of a mental crisis, and a lot of my identity changed.

Since then, I’ve been working on myself. My partner and I make candles that we sell around Wellington, and I work part-time in a store that stocks them. I also have a podcast where I talk about everything from investing to mental health. 

What’s your money story?

My relationship with money was never good. I used to spend money as soon as it came in. About five years ago, I had over $30,000 in debt from racking up the interest on credit cards. Part of it was related to my mental health, and part of it was that I didn’t really want to learn about money. 

What changed things was my partner, who helped me access the tools I needed to gain knowledge. I started listening to audiobooks about things like how to get out of debt, investing, and looking after yourself. I got a debt consolidation loan, and worked with my bank to pay it off.

During the COVID lockdowns, any extra money I had went towards paying off my debt, which made it go down a lot quicker. It helped me learn about compound interest and how it works. But it wasn’t until I discovered Sharesies that I started to see the other side of compounding!

How do you use Sharesies to grow your wealth?

I started investing with Sharesies after I paid off my debt. I’ve been learning as I go—how to analyse a company, the importance of diversification, and why a slow and steady approach is better than trying to get rich quick. Now, I mostly invest in index funds and dividend-paying companies. 

I have a Sharesies Save account—the interest rate was better than what I was getting at the bank. 

I also switched to the Sharesies KiwiSaver Scheme. As a government employee, I was previously with the State Sector Retirement Savings Scheme, but felt like I had no control or visibility over my account. With the Sharesies KiwiSaver Scheme, I can see my money, choose what I’m investing in, and track it right down to the individual company or fund. It’s been a game changer.

How do you structure your KiwiSaver investment plan?

With the Sharesies KiwiSaver Scheme, at least 50% of your investment plan needs to be allocated to a base fund—so you can go with just a base fund if you want. I chose a higher-risk base fund, because I won’t be needing my money until retirement.

I’d learnt quite a bit about investing through my Sharesies portfolio, so I wanted to apply what I’d learnt to KiwiSaver and choose some of my own investments too. I like being able to research different companies and funds to invest in. At the end of the day, your KiwiSaver account is your money, so it makes sense for you to be in control.

I was lucky enough to go to a Sharesies KiwiSaver Scheme event earlier in the year, and heard about how we’ll be able to invest our KiwiSaver balance into US companies and funds soon. That’ll be huge for me, because I invest in a lot of US companies through my regular Sharesies portfolio.

What are your top tips when it comes to KiwiSaver?

Joining KiwiSaver would be my first tip—it’s never too late. My mum joined KiwiSaver in her 50s. Even though she was only contributing for 10 years or so, it was enough to help pay for her retirement. With employer and Government contributions, it’s like you’re getting free money!

People don’t think about their retirement enough. At the end of my mum’s life, we had to put her in a rest home, and we didn’t realise how expensive it would be. If you don’t plan for your retirement, through investing or through KiwiSaver, you might not get to have the lifestyle you want. 

Look at your contribution rate, especially when you get a pay rise or start a new job. I used to have mine set at the minimum contribution rate of 3%. I started increasing it over time, up to 10% after I’d paid my debt off, and really noticed the compounding effect of that small change.

What’s your dream for retirement?

My KiwiSaver account is for both my partner and I, because ultimately, our retirement will be together. We want to retire young, retire rich, and set ourselves up for our future children. 

When we retire, we want to travel and give back to the community. A lot of people think that building wealth is about being in it for yourself, but for us, it’s about being able to help others.

My relationship with money has changed a lot over the years. Now, my money is working for me, rather than me working for my money. I’m living proof that you can get yourself out of debt and start building the future you want.  

The people shown in our Investor Journeys are Sharesies investors, and their stories are actual experiences they’ve had with us - their stories are not advice, or a recommendation or opinion by them to invest or to use Sharesies in the manner they have. They’re paid for their time to record their story.

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.

Sharesies Investment Management Limited is the issuer of the Sharesies KiwiSaver Scheme. The product disclosure statement (PDS) for the Sharesies KiwiSaver Scheme has been lodged, and may be viewed on the Disclose Register or on our documents page.

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Portfolio displayed is a guide, not from a real customer. For informational purposes only.
A young woman looking off to the side holds a lime-green electric guitar. Superimposed next to her is an iPhone showing a screen in the Sharesies app. The screen shows a KiwiSaver investment portfolio, made up of the Pathfinder Ethical Growth Fund, the Smartshares NZ Top 50 Fund, Meridian Energy, and Infratil.