The Happy Saver Podcast - Personal Finance in New Zealand

40 Episodes

By: Ruth - Personal Finance Blogger

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...

54. Where are they now? A revisit with Lucas, Callum and Bradie.
Last Wednesday at 12:00 AM

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 t...

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.

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.

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 e...

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 - bu...

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...

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 chal...

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 t...

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...

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...

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...

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, th...

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...

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.

40. It's never too late to change

This week I’m going to share the story of Linda, a woman in her early 50’s who has had a huge shift in mindset over the last ten months. Linda’s journey with money had just been trundling along year in year out for, oh I don’t know, about 52 years! But in July 2019 there was to be a bit of a change in direction when she started to question the status quo and wondered if not paying her house off until she was in her mid 70’s was the best idea after all?

39. Battling the desire to just spend, spend, spend!

Becky described herself as a spender at heart who has to constantly battle against the desire to just spend, spend, spend. The spiral began with interest free debt in her first year of university and continued on from there. Today she has decided to stop turning to debt to finance the things she and her family want, but it’s still a struggle and it still has the ability to occasionally trip her up. But there is hope for spenders like her and while still a work in progress, she has come a very long way in a short space of...

38. Keep On Truckin

Aaron and his wife Shannon have a young son, just six months old and it’s what they did in the lead up to his birth that got my attention. They decided to work like crazy people, as many hours as they possibly could, in order to knock down their mortgage and set a chunk of cash aside before the birth so that they could head into parenthood prepared. Learn how this truck driver and administrator went about it.

37. This is what Starting Young Looks Like

Often when I speak with people their one regret is that “they didn’t start saving and investing earlier”. Well today, you are going to hear about Nat and she DID manage to start investing early in life and the proof sure is in the pudding when at the age of just 36 she has an investment portfolio that she can be proud of.

36. Divorced and Determined Budgeting Queen

When I think of Mandy, the word that keeps coming to my mind is ‘determined’. She was living the good life right up until she wasn’t. We pick up her story at the point of her divorce when she had two young children, a small divorce settlement, a limited income and a burning desire to turn things around for the better. But how could she find her feet again? With determination, that’s how.

35. Rebalancing the Portfolio

Jo is a busy Mum of a two year old, they had just returned from an overseas trip and she is juggling parenting with a 30 hour work week, while her partner is working as well. We had a great chat where she told me how at a very young age she was encouraged into buying property and she discussed how that decision has impacted her life over the years and how she is now discovering new ways to invest outside of what she knows, housing.

34. I'm keeping the dog!

I came upon Tracy via Instagram. She was on a debt repayment marathon, trying to pay down $94,278 of consumer debt and was estimating it would take her 33 months. It all started because she was on the brink of bankruptcy and the suggestion was made that she needed to sell everything, including her beloved dog! By August, when we spoke she was down to $10,471.11 of debt and the sprint to the finish line was on! She has worked her tail off in her day job and taken up any and every side hustle that she could think of. She is one...

33. A Debt Free Birthday

What do you do when you become debt free for the very first time in your life? You email me to share your fabulous news of course! That is how I came to know Dale and Dean. They were ambling along just fine until Dean realised that soon he would be 50 and he became determined that he wanted to be debt free before his birthday. So, they got after it and in today’s podcast, I share how they did it.

32. The Ultimatum!

In this week’s podcast I spoke with Farrel and Chihiro, a Christchurch couple in their early forties who are a great example of how to get two people with completely opposite money personalities on the same page. One was a spender and one was a saver and it would have remained that way unless an ultimatum was given: Either shape up or ship out!

31. Cherishing time over everything else.

I get a lump in my throat when I think about Tracey, her family and the journey they have been on together. Back in 1996, she had no money, she had less than no money actually, she was in debt. With a divorce, the recent loss of her father, a failed business and with two seriously ill children to care for she was at her lowest point. Today I tell the story of how she found her way back and how she inspired me to cherish TIME over everything else.

30. Young investor tries it all from penny stocks to margin lending.

Ryan is a 23 year old Australian who started trading penny stocks at 16, worked pretty much full time while he was at university and has now begun his professional career in finance. He invests in all sorts of things, just to see what happens and if he fails, he adds that experience to his learning and just keeps moving forward, undeterred and full of energy for the next phase.

29. Being curious and asking questions gets rewards.

Arataki is a woman who focuses on the collective and not on the individual and as she has moved through life she used some difficult experiences to not hold her back, but to drive her forward. At every turn, she has been a leader to others and today she is on the cusp of financial freedom where stepping away from work means she will be stepping towards helping build up her own whanau and her wider community.

28. To stay on the million dollar mortgage treadmill or not?

New Zealand is a fabulously multicultural place and I often find myself speaking with people who were not born here but have chosen to make this place their home. Today is no exception because Lucas was born in Southern Europe but has called New Zealand home for the last ten years. Lucas had reached a bit of a cross roads. He appeared to have what seems to be the Kiwi dream, a house and a rental property but he has come to realise and understand that for his situation he will need to keep handing over money month in month...

27. Minimalists go off on an adventure!

I stumbled upon Sandra and Paul in 2018 when I not only discovered their blog about travel and minimalism but also that they were passing through my town that very week! Naturally I contacted them and invited them over for a coffee! Such an interesting couple who have both saved up, whittled down their lives to an 11kg backpack each, quit their jobs and transitioned into a new life of travel, adventure and a location-independent lifestyle.

26. Single Income is No Barrier to Becoming Financially Independent

I’m going to tell you about a fabulous 42 year old woman I know, called Kate. We met via my blog when she reached out to me and that is when I knew that she had an interesting money journey to tell. What you pay attention to gets done and Kate worked this out from an early age so when she set her sights on moving to New Zealand, establishing a career, buying a house, paying it off and retiring before 50 there is little that will keep her from achieving her goals.

25. 1980s Yuppie Went Without to Invest Money from a Young Age

This could have been a textbook case of “Investing 101”. Tom had the key components in there like: live on less than you make, invest in mutual funds and spend mindfully while living a great life into retirement and beyond. But he was investing through the 80s so investing in the stock market and buying a Porsche had to fit somewhere in the mix right? Tom’s story gives a fascinating look at the rocky ride of a share investor, a life well lived and a net worth that reflects that it all worked out OK in the end.

24. Four kids, a tight budget and a house build...

Today in my final episode for this series I speak with Alison and Tom who are parents to four children under the age of four. With a house build on the cards, a tight budget and a single income, we hear how this family of six manage to not just survive but thrive.

23. Family Planning

Three kids and an almost paid for house? It sounds like an impossible dream but I’m pleased to tell you it is a reality for this Wellington couple. But it has not happened by accident, it has taken planning and a lot of time to achieve it...

22. Simon Says... Live the life you want today.

Today I am telling the story of Simon, a guy I’ve actually spoken to a number of times, but everything I thought and assumed about him turned out not to be 100% correct. With a finance related masters degree I thought he would have graphs for Africa. But no, although he knows where he is at financially, much more importantly he knows what kind of life he wants to live today and into the future.

21. Consumer Debt Be Gone!

Tenants of a beautiful house and buying the latest gadgets meant that this married Mum of one had it all. Well, she appeared to have it all from those on the outside looking in. ​​​​​​​Instead, she was feeling crushed by consumer debt and was forced back to work when she would rather be at home with her daughter. Something had to change and she was the only person to make that change.

20. Super Consumer to Super Saver

Recently I spoke with Bret, a guy who has spent the last year and a half going from super consumer to super saver. He said he felt like he had been in the Matrix and has only just woken up after realising he had been sucked into a giant consumer machine. Where he used to use money to buy endless stuff, he is now using it as a currency to buy back his time.

19. An Epiphany In Paris

A holiday is a great opportunity to clear your head and make future plans that you can put into action when you get back home. Unless you are Nellie. She decided that if you are going to make a plan to completely change your financial life then you might as well start right now, even if it means the holiday you are on grinds to a halt.

18. Asking for help has been a game changer.

Shane is fed up with working and he wants to spend more time at home with his family instead. He wants to retire in his early forties! Years of DIY investing has worked him into a very good financial position but putting his hand up and asking for help to improve his portfolio has meant that his retirement will happen just that much sooner.

17. Weetbix for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

Ashley has been on a wild ride, one that saw her take her business to great highs and then crashing lows. But like a phoenix from the ashes she kept rising up again, dusting herself off and literally getting back on her horse. Today she is debt free and enjoying every moment, but it sure has been a rocky ride.

16. Consistent Saving, Smart Investing, Mindful Spending

What were you doing at 23? I was still mucking around at University and having a grand old time. Not today’s guest. Callum was a fully qualified builder by the age of 19 and took a step up into his second career by the age of 21. Today, at just 23 he has a ​​​​​​​net worth that would make others stand up and notice and a heap of plans for the future where he takes every opportunity to grow his skills, invest carefully and spend mindfully.

15. A lesson on living a good financial life.

If you want the good oil on how to invest well, track down a retired English and History teacher! If anyone is going to remember key points and dates about their life it is them. I was delighted to speak to Alan about his money journey and I’ve picked up a lot of tips on how to live not only a good financial life but how to cherish my personal relationships too.