Financial ‘forward’ tips for young Kiwis
Are you in your 20s or 30s and embarking on the path to financial independence? Then this quick guide is for you.
Well, so far the 21st century has been a whirlwind, especially when it comes to finances. In less than two decades, we’ve faced the Global Financial Crisis, the Covid-19 downturn, and most recently a seemingly unstoppable cost-of-living crisis. So, if this rollercoaster of events has put a dent in your financial confidence, it’s totally understandable.
But now that you’re starting out in your financial life, it’s also important to create momentum and persist, keeping in mind that: (a) the earlier you start tending to your financial needs, the better; and (b) with every challenge can come opportunities.
So, here are some key steps to take if you’d like to regain your financial confidence, nurture your goals, and turn these challenging times into a launch pad for the future.
Create a budget
Budgeting may not sound like the most exciting activity. But contrary to what many people think, a budget is not all about relentless frugality. It’s your financial compass, offering guidance and direction whenever you need it. And it can be extra helpful in times of economic uncertainty.
Here are some steps you can take:
- Identify your income: First things first, calculate your total income including your salary, any earnings from a side gig, etc.
- Track your expenses: Where does your money go? Make sure you track daily, weekly, and monthly expenses. Include fixed costs (like rent and car insurance), variable expenses (like groceries and utility bills), and occasional costs (like vacations or dinners out). There are clever money management apps to help with all this.
- Set financial goals: Short-term, mid-term, long-term – think about what you’re aiming for. Want a new car, saving for a down payment on your first home, planning a dream vacation, or building a retirement fund? It’s time to pet your goals down.
Remember, a well-structured budget is not restrictive. It allows you to gain control over your money and make it work for you – which is why budgeting is the first key step on our list.
Start investing early
Here’s the thing: as a young investor, time is your biggest ally. You don’t have to be wealthy to invest, because the earlier you start investing, the more you can take advantage of compounding returns – where the earnings from your investments are reinvested and also start generating returns.
This ‘snowball effect’ can lead to exponential growth over time, turning even small contributions into substantial wealth. Plus, starting early gives you more time to weather the ups and downs of the market – which is a significant advantage.
So, here’s how to kickstart your investing journey:
- Regular contributions in a diversified fund: Develop a habit of setting aside a certain amount every week for investing. When you start investing early, even a small sum like $50 a week can grow significantly over time due to compounding returns. The key thing is to not put all your eggs in one basket. By investing in a diversified fund that spreads your money across different types of assets, sectors, and regions, you can mitigate your investment risks.
- Consider investment platforms: Most investment platforms these days allow you to start investing with minimal amounts, offering a range of investment options from different fund managers.
- KiwiSaver can be a great option too: Have you thought about KiwiSaver? This Government-backed voluntary savings scheme is designed to help Kiwis save for retirement or buy their first home (and then save for retirement). With benefits like employer contributions and annual Government contributions, it can be a great tool for long-term wealth creation. But remember – one size doesn’t fit all. You need a KiwiSaver fund that aligns with your risk tolerance and investment horizon. Not quite sure where to start? Our kōura digital advice tool can provide you with a suggested personalised KiwiSaver portfolio in minutes.
Unlike many people belief, investing is not a get-rich-quick scheme, but a long-term strategy. And as young investor, you have time on your side.
Build out an emergency fund
‘Expect the unexpected’ is a good mantra to embrace. But that doesn’t mean you should just hide under a rock and wait: building up an emergency fund (coupled with appropriate insurance cover if you need it) is one of the essential steps you can take to boost your financial resilience.
It can be a good idea to stash three-to-six months’ worth of living expenses in your emergency fund, to tap into in case of job loss or unexpected costs (like car repairs). But also, don’t forget that some circumstances may require more money and sooner than you can afford to save it. That’s where personal insurance like life cover, health insurance or income protection may be worth considering – get in touch with an insurance adviser to learn more.
Together, these financial self-care measures can provide you with a strong safety net, protecting you from many what-ifs.
Don’t take out all the fun
Saving and being good with money doesn’t have to be a chore: the odd reward here and there can help keep you motivated. So why not make saving fun by creating ‘fun funds’ that spark your joy? Whether it's a weekend getaway, the latest tech gadget, or a gourmet cooking class, setting aside money for what excites you makes saving feel like a rewarding journey, not just a financial necessity.
Your ‘fun fund’ can also be a mini-stepping stone that make the path to your larger financial goals more engaging. That’s because achieving small milestones can help you make saving a habit, and boost your financial confidence. They serve as a reminder that you’re in control, and that money is not the end goal, but a tool to make your big and small goals a reality.
Get proper advice
Sometimes, the money habits and attitudes we grew up with shape our financial behaviours, and it can be a challenge to unlearn old habits and adopt new ones. As you step onto your financial journey, seeking expert guidance can make a lot of difference. So, who can you talk to, or where can you find reliable information?
Here are some ways to access quality financial advice and/or boost your financial literacy:
- Financial Advice New Zealand: This is a professional body for advisers in New Zealand. Their website financialadvice.nz provides resources and support for consumers to find a trustworthy adviser. From insurance advisers and mortgage advisers through to investment advisers and financial planners, you may find just the right professional for your needs.
Keep in mind that, while insurance and mortgage advisers are usually paid by the provider/lender you choose and their services come at no extra cost to you, financial advisers typically charge a fee for their services.
- Moneytalks free helpline: MoneyTalks offers free, confidential money advice through their helpline (0800 345 123), via email at [email protected] or LiveChat.
- Sorted.org.nz: This free Government website offers online tools to help you with budgeting, retirement planning, personal loans and more. It can a great starting point to get your financial life on track.
- Financial mentors: Another option is to get face-to-face help from a financial mentor or budget adviser. This type of service is usually for people experiencing financial difficulties, and you can find them here through familyservices.govt.nz.
Here to help
There's a famous saying that goes: “The best time to invest was yesterday, the next best time is today.” With time as your ally, as a young investor you can make the most of compounding returns, year and after year, and potentially turn even small contributions into a comfortable financial future.
The earlier you start the better – and remember, we’re here to help. Head on over to our kōura digital advice tool to get this journey started.
But investing is just a part of your Big Financial Picture. As we’ve seen, it’s also essential to boost your financial literacy, hone your budgeting skills, and practice financial self-care. Once again, the key thing is to start. So, why not start today?
1. There have been many studies about the relationship between money lessons learned early in life and financial confidence. Here’s one of the latest research, from Brigham Young University, according to which the most effective thing a parent can do is to provide experiential learning opportunities for their children.