Ruth - Personal Finance Blogger
The Happy Saver Podcast - Personal Finance in New Zealand
Your friends might not want to talk about money, but I do! Hi, I’m Ruth and I’m a blogger on Personal Finance and in this podcast I tell the stories of Kiwis and their experiences with the money in their lives. How do they use it or how does it use them? Where do they save and invest it and does it work? What are their financial triumphs and financial train wrecks? How can you extract the most out of life and spend as little as possible while doing it? Join me as I ask the questions everyone else is too polite to ask, but is dying to know about New Zealanders and their money. Happy Saving! Ruth
September 28, 2021
60. First Home Buyers
Kiri and I have been emailing each other since mid-2018 discussing all manner of money related things as they unfolded for her whānau of three. Kiri, her husband John and their four-year-old daughter, had big plans for 2020, which included a move to Australia, paying off student loans, buying a home and starting new jobs. But we all know how 2020 unfolded, and it was interesting to hear how Kiri and John didn’t bow out in defeat as their plans went up in a cloud of smoke but instead stepped up, created a new strategy and maneuvered themselves into their first home and a more secure position right here in Aotearoa.
September 22, 2021
59. The evolution of a workable financial plan.
I first heard from Andy when he was 29. He emailed with several questions and observations, and the bit that stuck with me most was that he was pretty keen to buy himself a car parking space as an investment. Indeed, he said, “I love the idea of owning a car park in the city”. He thought it was a pretty legitimate investment, plus he thought he might even use it himself one day - if he got a car, that is. I on the other hand thought, “what has the world come to that people can’t afford a house (which is what Andy wanted), and they have to convince themselves that owning a piece of dirt the size of a car is the next best thing”. So, Andy had my attention and for the last 18 months, we swapped a few emails back and forth. He writes for a living, so he writes a good email and through those, I got to see his thoughts evolve and the evolution of a workable financial plan. And to cut through the suspense, I’ll cut to the chase; it does not involve a car park.
September 15, 2021
58. Leaving the big city for the Good Life
This week I’m sharing the story of a central Hawke’s Bay couple Rach and Becs. They made the bold move to leave both of their families behind and move out of Auckland, headed for Hawke's Bay so they could get ahead both financially and for a better work-life balance. With careers in IT and Health Advisory, whanau and friends warned them of career setbacks but they have happily proved them wrong, both securing dream jobs and higher incomes. I heard from them when they wanted to share their absolute joy at the fact they had become mortgage-free, at the age of just 35.
September 8, 2021
57. You can plan not to be broke
Over the years Janet, who is 59, has worked out that other people can be unreliable, so she is better to plan for her own success, instead of relying on others. She is a huge forward thinker and she spends time gently tweaking all aspects of her financial life to gently steer her waka where she wants it to go. She does not earn a lot, just $798 a week, but as she said to me “I guess it’s what you do with it that matters right”? She knows her exact costs and she pays cash for them, then from her take-home pay at any one time she is saving up for a number of things that she has coming up, PLUS she is supporting her daughter through university. You can plan not to be broke and she is pretty keen to share what she has learnt so those walking along beside her can also achieve the financial peace that she has.
September 1, 2021
56. House Rich, Cash Poor
Today I’m introducing you to Fatima. By working hard and being at the right place at the right time, she had managed to buy several properties but there was a tipping point one day when despite the net worth she had built up, she found herself seriously short on cash and having to borrow money from whanau. Fatima is not one to muck around, so after listening to these very podcasts, she decided to implement some change and reintroduce some balance into her life.
August 25, 2021
55. Steep Grade Charge Down - Leaving Debt in the Rearview Mirror Forever
I’m starting out this series of six new episodes with a woman that I know pretty well, the reason being that she is one of my sisters! It took a little convincing to get her to appear on my podcast and I’ve changed her name for a bit of anonymity, but the reason I wanted to share her story is that it is an excellent example of steady and consistent attention to detail over a long period of time. As you will soon hear Rachel (48) has had a few downs and ups but it was careful planning and setting of goals that has helped her stick to her teaching career, weather the Christchurch earthquakes and the subsequent insurance battle and, with her now teenage daughter, thrive after a divorce. I was particularly keen to catch her at an important milestone and we spoke on the eve of her last ever mortgage payment.
May 5, 2021
54. Where are they now? A revisit with Lucas, Callum and Bradie.
For the last episode in this series, I have once again reconnected with a few people that I’ve interviewed before. I like to check in on people and get a feel for the progress and changes they have made and I know you do too. A lot of people ask me, ‘what happened to so and so’? So, I’ve got three revisits for you this time: There is Lucas who was feeling the burden of a $1,200,000 mortgage in Auckland. Callum, the now 26-year-old from Christchurch who has just jumped boots and all into housing and gone from zero houses to five in just three short years. And Bradie and her husband Paul who climbed their way out of a tonne of mortgage debt and are now investing hard out for their futures.
April 28, 2021
53. On a flight path to financial independence.
When Julian and Sophie met in 1999 they each had a car, a very small amount in savings and no debt. Just 21 ‘short’ years later they have an approximate net worth of $1,500,000. So, how did they do it? Their current wealth is the combination of good budgeting, steady investing into retirement accounts, timely house purchases and aggressive debt repayments meaning they are now in a position for Julian to reduce to part-time work so he can spend more time with their two young children.
April 21, 2021
52. I don’t want a student debt hangover!
In today’s podcast, 26-year-old Bella shares the realities of student loan debt in New Zealand and how you can meander your way into debt, but it’s far harder to meander your way out again. She explains how the pressure of taking on student loans from the age of just 18 can quickly add up to $85,000 of student loan debt and how people are so wrong when they say that interest-free student loan debt just does not matter. Because it does. It matters a whole lot.
April 14, 2021
51. Family first, live within your means, always have an emergency fund.
Aria and her husband Dave didn’t grow up with much so once they got together they knew they didn’t want to live paycheque to paycheque like many of their friends and whanau. In their mid-forties they have now reached a point where they can work part-time and afford to be generous with both their time and their money to help out others, all the while taking care of their immediate family. When asked what financial independence means to them they said it means “we don’t have to worry about money” and that is a sentiment that they want for everyone. Such a great couple with so much to share.
April 7, 2021
50. An investor with military precision!
I first heard from Hamish when he sent me an email in late 2020 telling me that back in 2018, at the age of just 24 he had saved up and bought a $379,00 house in Palmerston North with a big deposit of $125,000. Apparently, that’s meant to be impossible in this day and age? Hence, no surprises I was pretty keen to hear more from Hamish about the how and the why of this. The short answer from him was he achieved it by planning and deliberate effort. He said that too many people fail to plan for something that they want - but they still expect it to happen. Not so with him.
March 30, 2021
49. Everything I thought I knew about money was wrong
“Well this is awkward” I thought when some guy called Chris started secretly emailing me without his partner’s knowledge! Big long emails with tonnes of questions about personal finance, my favourite topic for sure! That is how I came to sit on the sidelines of the transformation of not just Chris but of his partner Rosemary’s (phew, he told her) financial life. It took a bit of work to get her on board but finally, together, they embarked on a journey to financial independence and the pursuit of happiness. I’m delighted to bring you this podcast today and I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed creating it.
October 20, 2020
48. Everything is working out perfectly!
Jen freaked out at 49! She considered herself to be halfway through her life and had big concerns about what the other half might look like. She became heartily sick of working so hard. At the age of 16, she started full time work, at 20 she had bought her first house, then got married and slowly became mortgage free. But a divorce halved her net worth and becoming a single mother introduced a whole heap of new challenges. But amongst all this she constantly repeated her mantra of “everything is working out perfectly”, even when it clearly was not! Yet despite these challenges she pushed on. She worked hard! Now debt-free once again, she is fast tracking to an early retirement at the age of 55. Jen is a wonderful example of showing just what a woman on a mission is capable of!
October 13, 2020
47. Matching income with expectations is the secret.
So often people tell me that they ‘wish their parents had talked to them more about money’ when they were growing up. Well, in today’s podcast that’s exactly what happened. Nina was homeschooled and part of her education involved investing in the share market and preparing from the age of just 13 to cover the cost of her future university degree. Now in her late 20’s and living in the South Island town of Oamaru with her husband and three small children she is feeling content with the journey ahead and that includes paying off their home and then starting to invest for the long term financial wellbeing of her and her family.
October 6, 2020
46. I'm sick of living pay cheque to pay cheque!
Alana’s debt of choice was buying household items on Hire Purchase. Lots of them! But before long she had precommitted her income years into the future so she could service these debts. Yet that still didn’t stop her borrowing money for a vehicle and running up credit card debt. But finally she reached a pivotal point of being heartily sick of living pay cheque to pay cheque and a chance conversation where someone said “just try writing down your expenses for a month or two” was to be the catalyst that changed everything. She got her somewhat reluctant husband on board and in just a few short years they have had a massive financial turnaround and are now firmly on the path to financial independence instead.
September 29, 2020
45. Stop the bus! You paid off your mortgage?
This week, I’m heading South to one of New Zealand's more underrated cities, Invercargill, where I had a chat with Steve who described his financial story as “not so much an epic dig out of deep debt”, or a “becoming fabulously wealthy” kind of story. But, more of a “jigsaw puzzle piecing it all together over time” kind of story, which, he told me, is still very much ongoing. Aged 31, a part-time teacher and almost full-time stay at home Dad and married to Madie, a 29-year-old junior doctor who is working while also studying to finish her qualification. These two have been relatively strategic in how they have gone about things and I think they have a story that many millennials could emulate.
September 23, 2020
44. Please can I buy a boat?
When a former multisport athlete turns the same motivation, hard work and attention to detail that they used for their sport to their personal finances, great things can happen. Chris and his wife Megan were tired of it taking so long to pay off their mortgage, so they focussed on the detail and developed a game plan that will see them own their own house on 31st December 2020. Plus, a key decision to pay into their retirement schemes from the day they started working has really paid off because now, in their mid-thirties, they have the strong foundations in place to provide a wonderful future for their family of five. There are a few other investment decisions they are working through, plus there is the small matter of him convincing his wife ‘they’ need a boat...
September 16, 2020
43. Help yourself first so you can then help others
There were many points during Ella’s 40 plus years that her gut instinct told her to make a few changes to the way her family handled money. Many of us can relate to this. 2020 has been a huge time of change with her reassessing her current financial situation and making some radical changes that will have a huge positive impact on the years ahead. These changes all stemmed from her wanting to be able to financially help her kids and once she worked out that she needed to be in a strong financial position herself in order to do this, the rest is rapidly falling into place.
May 20, 2020
42. Coming a long way in a short space of time.
In this final podcast of this series, I’m doing a recap of two people that I’ve spoken with earlier. Firstly there was Bret from episode #20, a guy who had gone from being a super consumer to someone who is finally, much to the relief of his partner Shelley, in control of money. And secondly, I spoke with Lucas from episode #28 who last time we met was staring down the barrel of a $1.2 million dollar mortgage. Both of these couples have come an extremely long way in a very short space of time and I think that hearing from them will help many people who are currently finding themselves in tough situations of their own.
May 13, 2020
41. Turbulent Times
This week I tell you all about Catherine and her husband Luke. Both of them had been enjoying successful careers and had been working to a financial plan that had them thinking years into the future. Life was sailing along pretty well, all things considered, until very recently when they hit a major roadblock, due to a job loss caused by COVID-19. Sometimes we think we are heading in one direction but a fork in the road throws up a few other suggestions and we have no choice but to adapt.