By Brenda Ward, JUNO

Sam Stuchbury admits he was ‘a cliché scarfie’ in his student flat in Dunedin. “We were buying cheap food at the supermarket, and used any spare money going out drinking.”

Stuchbury says he doesn’t regret those early, broke years. “They were the best memories I have, but money in those days was just week to week.”

However, the hobby he shared with flatmates Alex McManus and Jono de Alwis has changed his life. They turned a few marketing projects into a successful business, and now Stuchbury runs a content and social media agency, Motion Sickness Studio, based in Auckland. 

There the friends readily found big clients, such as Jim Beam, Maserati and Canadian Club. “Things started to go crazy from there".

“We were really lucky that when we started for the business, we didn’t borrow any money – we were cash-flow-positive and ran a very lean ship. We drew very little, a few hundred dollars a week from it. It’s a mentality we’ve stuck with.” 

Like many of his generation, he has a student loan, of $45,000, but now gives himself a “proper salary”. Much of the business profits are reinvested, some of it in other businesses, and Stuchbury talks of the future, of giving the business longevity and diversity. 

He’s been in KiwiSaver for three years, has some small shareholdings in New Zealand companies through his bank, holds some equities in other businesses, and has a savings account.

“I use an online bank account for ongoing savings – that’s often the holiday and fun fund, and my emergency fund. I have an automatic payment that goes into that account. It’s a bit of mission to log in, so I’m not going to be doing it standing in a shop, to buy something I’ve just seen.”

He and partner Hilary live in a rented villa in Mt Eden, but he’s on the lookout to buy a commercial/residential mixed-used property to renovate.

He suggests that others his age get serious about saving. “One thing I’ve found useful as part of my weekly pay is to have money automatically going into savings, before you see it. I don’t miss it.

“Any amount of money that you can put aside – doesn’t matter how small it is – gives you security. If you’re in your twenties, that money can quickly accumulate.

“You don’t want to wake up and realise that you’re thirty years old and you don’t have any savings. I’ve noticed that weeks and months go so quickly. Don’t be shortsighted. It’s better to think about having a financial backup.”