Everyone has a defining experience that changed the way they think about money.
We talk to a range of Kiwis about their ‘Money Moment’.
The penny dropped when I was 28. I was sitting in a lecture theatre at a business school in Denmark, surrounded by about 40 students aged between 23-26, listening to a professor speak about business strategy and investor relations.
He asked the class to put their hands up if they had shares in Vestas – a Danish wind turbine manufacturer. I laughed out loud. I thought to myself, what world is he living in where students have stock portfolios?!
To my disbelief half the class put their hands up. All of a sudden it wasn’t so funny anymore. It was at that point when I realised it was time for me to start thinking about becoming an investor.
Business Owner, Auckland
A big shift in mindset for me was realising I didn't need money to launch my business. If anything, not having much money to start my company was a really positive advantage, as it made me think differently and work harder to hustle even more.
I realised that all I needed to start a business was a good idea, and if I could pre-sell that idea it would save me a load of time and money, meaning I could fund the business with very little risk. This is how Innocent Packaging was born.
I pitched the idea of a small run of branded cups to cafes that were stamping (which was time-consuming) or stickering cups (costly). I realised I could offer them a better, more sustainable product at a lower cost. All they had to do was pay me a 50 per cent deposit, which covered the cost of producing the cups.
After eight weeks, I had enough orders to import my first container and three years later we now bring in a container a week.
Pre-selling an idea not only saved me time and money, but lowered my risk massively. It also gave me the opportunity to discover a wide range of business opportunities before spending a single cent.
Painter, Hawkes Bay
"When I was growing up in Pongaroa there wasn’t a lot of money around. Without little financial education I never really had the opportunity to develop a good sense of money or how to manage it. It wasn’t until I started a family of my own and began to think about my children’s financial well-being when my relationship with money changed. I didn’t want them to be left without any assets. So I bought a house 13 years ago and have now almost paid it off. It is rewarding that I am able to provide my children with a home and an investment. That’s something to be proud of."
Co-Founder of the Graeme Dingle Foundation
In late September 1987, I was in a life-threatening struggle with the elements high in the Himalayas. As my friends and I descended from our adventure, we met six German mountaineers going up. They asked why we were going down and we told them the storm had made the heights very dangerous. They shrugged and continued upwards. We descended to base camp, where we had a party. Next morning, I woke with a headache and wrote in my diary, ‘Get out of the stock market…’. We then began an amazing struggle to get back to civilisation as the biggest snow storm in living memory lashed the Himalayas. A few days after our meeting with the German mountaineers, five of the six were killed in an avalanche. We reached Sydney on October 19 to read billboards that announced the crash of the stock markets. Mountaineering, stock markets… follow your instincts.
Founder and Creative Director
of Designer Wardrobe
Shopping has and will always be my passion. On most occasions saving money came off second best for me, until one day I was hit with some devastating news – I was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer. This turned my life upside down. I was unable to work and struggled to pay my bills, this forced me to become more disciplined as my life pretty much depended on it. I managed to figure out a way to marry my need to prioritise money, and my love for the fashion industry.
Over the years of accumulating designer clothing, I saw a gap in the market for an easy platform to be developed to rent and sell clothes. From there, I decided to start my own community Facebook page in 2013. This page enabled me to gain some income by renting out my beloved designer wardrobe to fashion lovers and helping me pay rent throughout the course of my treatment. The page quickly gained momentum and soon transformed into a standalone online fashion marketplace for Kiwis to sell, buy and rent pre-loved designer clothing – a community now known as Designer Wardrobe."
Marketing Manager, Tauranga
I’ve always been a saver, but I do love to travel. When the children were younger (they’re 23 and 26 now), we didn’t have much money and I remember thinking to myself that we’d never get a holiday. I realised the only way we could ever go on holiday was to put money into a separate bank account. So, I started making a fortnightly deposit out of my wages into a different bank, into an account that had penalties if you withdrew money, but a higher rate if you didn’t. Every time I got a pay rise, I upped the amount I’d put in. I’ve had that account for probably 15 years and we’ve taken the children to Vietnam, Bali, the Philippines, Thailand and Australia; I did a girls’ holiday with friends in America; and we went on a trip to Europe for six weeks, of which three weeks was cruising the Mediterranean. I love to travel but I don’t think I’d enjoy a holiday if I thought I’d have a credit card to pay off when I got home!
Mayor of Napier
In the 1960s I spent my school holidays doing labouring jobs, particularly in the wool stores. Many of the permanent staff had worked in this sort of environment for years. They had no assets, no savings and no chance of improving their lot.
I made the decision way back then that I was never going to let that happen to me.
Every week I put a few dollars aside until I was able to buy my first shares at age 16. Subsequently, after 10 years in the wool industry, I joined the financial world full time and over 30 years later I had done enough to retire, at age 59.
Graphic Designer, Auckland
When I landed my first full time job, I didn’t want to waste my money on eating out and shopping. I needed a goal. A close friend of mine had bought a section up in Karikari with the intention of building a container bach. With that in mind I trawled TradeMe for the perfect investment. Three months later I had signed the deeds to my first piece of property, 2000m2 in Tutukaka, two minutes walk from the beach and paying only half the CV. I was given a loan from the bank of Mum and Dad, and after two years of saving, I had paid if off. Now at 25 I have signed off plans to build a two bedroom bach with the intention of starting this summer. With apartment living becoming increasingly more common, I am lucky to say that I own land, not sky.
Investment Stuff owner, Napier
"When I was 13, I got my first pair of contact lenses. It was hardly a giant fiscal choice in itself, but the freedom from glasses changed my life. I asked my Dad, a lifetime lens wearer, how long the things truly lasted, considering the box stated that I should unwrap a new pair every day. He said “Now remember, the people that tell you to CHANGE the lenses also SELL you the lenses.” It was a complete ‘eye-opener’! It gave me a healthy scepticism for making purchasing selections. His insight taught me to think independently about spending, not just trot along like a product of the system. This has paid off in decisions of all sizes, and I believe is a real part of achieving success with money. Question and enquire – the financial life you deserve will thank you!"
Sonya Williams, Co-founder of investment company Sharesies, was frustrated with her lack of investment opportunities so decided to make a change.
"I wanted to invest but had no idea where to start. After asking around my friends, I realised I wasn't the only one. Investing needs to be made more widely accessible. And this is why we started Sharesies, to give someone with $50 the same investment opportunities as someone with $50,000."
Health Protection Officer, Auckland
Stable and secure in the UK in 1982, I saw an advert for my profession in Saudi Arabia. I was one of three people selected out of 150 applicants. After three tax-free years I paid off my mortgage; had accumulated significant funds so that I never borrowed again; and married later than many, at 36. My points are firstly to recognise and go for the significant opportunities as they arise; and secondly, become financially established before committing to long-term relationships and a family.
Business owner, Hamilton
As soon as I was old enough to appreciate what money was, I learned that hard work and a desire to save was a rewarding challenge. During the school holidays, whenever I could, I worked as a labourer for my parents’ swimming pool construction company. Once I left school I started working full time on the tools and my passion for giving my best strengthened. I am continuing to learn about planning ahead and having realistic goals, but my main focus still remains the same – have my own home before I am 25, and own a thriving business that will give me financial stability and the platform for new challenges.
Marketing & Communications Manager, Napier City Council
"I went to hear Retirement Commissioner Diane Maxwell speak at a function in 2015. I’ve seen a hundred presentations over my time, but this one struck a chord because she was speaking directly to women. She said that as women - many of us mothers - we engage in this negative internal dialogue about our worth. We accept lower paid jobs than men, we don’t take good risks with the money we do earn, and instead we make cuts to our budget in order to save. But the greatest lesson was about negotiating salaries. Why, she asked, would you negotiate any salary that was lower than the one you currently earned? Would a man accept that? What happens, she explained, is that when a woman accepts a drop in her income level, for whatever reason, she will also experience a correlating dip in what she’ll have to live on in her retirement. I carried her words with me, and doubled my employee contribution to KiwiSaver the next day. The next month, I turned down a great job offer - knowing whole-heartedly that I was worth more. And because I still want to drink champagne when I’m 80."
TAM & JIMMY MACKEN
Bareknuckle BBQ owners, Hastings
We had been traveling though Cuba in 2000 for a few weeks, having to manage our budget carefully and plan for Cuba's very limited access to money machines. There were only two in the country then, most people would only take American dollars and travellers cheques weren't worth the paper they were printed on.
We arrived for our flight out on our last morning there, having literally only one U.S dollar between us and thinking we had done quite well. But for some reason the Cuban woman at the counter refused to let us board. She insisted we could only fly back to Mexico in two weeks time! There was no consulate, no one to help us and we were facing two weeks in a difficult country where we had no way to access any of our money. The only option would be to have money posted to us by mail, praying hard that it turned up.
It was a moment we realized that cash is king - no one wants to be caught short, especially in Cuba! Luckily, after sweating over our plight for a couple of hours the Cuban woman inexplicably changed her mind and let us board the plane. As soon as we landed in Mexico we celebrated with a trip to the nearest money machine.