Investor Journeys—Julia Jones
Julia is a Sharesies investor who’s determined to improve her family’s relationship with money.
We had a chat with her about why she created Kids Accounts for her great-nephew and great-niece, and the conversations she’s had with her family about creating intergenerational change.
Tell us about your first investment!
I started investing because I’m terrible at saving. I liked the idea of shares because it meant that I could put the money in, it’d be out of sight, and it’d take time to withdraw—you can’t just buy a pair of shoes on a whim! I opened a Securities Account at the bank and used it to save for a house deposit. To be honest, it was really boring. I just bought shares in companies I knew, like Contact Energy and Air NZ. I wasn’t concerned about the returns. I just wanted to build up a nest egg so I could buy a house.
What does your investment portfolio look like now?
I put about $100 a month into my Sharesies account, and $30 into each of the Kids Accounts I set up for my great-niece Madison and my great-nephew Beau. If I have any extra money, I pop some in there too. I try and stick to a regular amount, especially for the kids. I do dairy analysis as part of my job, so I like investing in dairy stuff—Fonterra and A2 Milk. I’m also really big on ESG reporting, so I invest in funds that are making a difference.
As well as investing in shares, I have a large lifestyle block in the Waikato. For me, property is an emotional and financial investment. It’s a big piece of land, so over many years it’ll return back to my family. But as well as the financial returns, it’s also a place I can come home to. I’ve got my beautiful horses here and a whole lot of space, so it keeps me busy on the weekends.
Why did you create Kids Accounts for Beau and Madison?
At the time, Beau and Madison were 2 and 8 years old. I’d been trying to open bank accounts for them, but it was really hard! I was really desperate for them to have different money behaviours than me, so when I saw how easy it was to set up a Kids Account, I knew I had to create one.
In my family, we haven’t had the best financial literacy. It’s ironic, because we’ve all had great jobs, we’re all very smart people, but we’ve just really struggled with money. My mum and dad worked so hard all their lives, but they just weren’t able to build wealth. For us as a family, we’ve always wanted to set the next generation up a little better than the last.
It’s actually been quite an emotional thing for us. It might sound silly to other people, but for us, setting up these Kids Accounts felt like a turning point in our family. It was this beautiful opportunity to help Madison and Beau build better money behaviours—to see the value in saving and investing, and to be excited by it. It’ll be a few more years until the kids really understand what it means, but I hope they’ll look back and understand the value in somebody investing for them.
How do you manage your Kids Accounts as a family?
When I first created the Kids Accounts, I forwarded the welcome email to everyone. They replied straight away and said ‘Great, how do we contribute?’ Now we all jump in and have a look. Me, my sister, and my brother-in-law all pop money into their accounts and invest on their behalf.
We’ve done silly things, like we accidentally put too much money into one kid’s Wallet, so then we had to dive in and top up the other Wallet so no one missed out. Even little things make us laugh. Beau, who’s only 3, got an email saying ‘Hi Beau, great work, your dividend has been paid.’ and I forwarded it to my family saying ‘Oh my god, look at Beau! Here he is investing up a storm!’ It’s just really fun. We probably get way more excitement out of it than the kids do!
Why is it important to build better money behaviours?
When I was 29, I had a lot of credit card debt. I had that scary moment of realising that I had a job that paid really good money, but I just literally didn’t have any money—and there was no reason why I shouldn’t have had money. I was really lucky that I had people around me who supported me to make changes. That’s when I started saving for my house and investing in shares. It takes time and energy, but you just slowly chip away at it.
I think sometimes there’s an assumption that if someone has a flash car, they must be rich. In reality, they might have debt up to their eyeballs trying to impress the neighbours. There are studies out there that show that your finances have a big impact on your mental health. It’s incredibly stressful. There’s nothing worse than having a bill that you can’t pay, having to ring someone to tell them you can’t afford it, having no nest egg that you can dive into to draw money from. The more openly we talk about money, the more we can learn from each other.
For our family, we just really want the next generation to be in a better financial position so they have more choice. When you have more financial stability, you can make stronger decisions. You’ve got more time and flexibility to enjoy moments together rather than worry about how you’re going to pay for those moments. Investing is about buying opportunities for your future self.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve given (or been given) about investing?
I used to think investing was boring, that it was just admin. But it’s actually quite cool fun! Finding money in your Sharesies Wallet that you forgot to invest, thinking ‘Oooh, what am I going to invest in today?’, spending a bit of time looking through all the investments to find one you like. I didn’t realise how much fun it could be.
It’s also a great way to help you reach your goals—like actually ask yourself, ‘What am I trying to achieve?’ Are you ever going to look back and wish you’d bought another pair of shoes? Probably not. Are you ever going to look back and be grateful that you put that $100 aside? Yes you will! It’s about having a long-term vision and executing on that.
I’ll be really honest. I spent a lot of money when I was younger—I didn’t strategically place my money, and I got too hung up on wearing the right clothes, or getting that instant gratification. I should have a lot more wealth than I do, and I don’t. So this whole saving and investing thing is no joke! If you’re on an income where you should have disposable income and you’re still struggling, go and get help for it. Reflect on your behaviour and change it. You often think that you’re just going to magically win Lotto, but the reality is that no one is coming to save you. It’s about you and your own behaviour. You can make changes, so just do it!
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.