My Money Sorted is our series exploring people's experiences with money and how they got Sorted. We spoke with Aroha, who lives in Te Awamutu with her husband Ben and their two boys, Noah (7) and Jesse (4). In 2014, they were newlyweds, new parents and students living in social housing in Auckland. Last year they were able to purchase their first home, a goal they had slowly been working towards for the previous six years. Their journey to this point was difficult but rewarding, and they love the busy life they lead, balancing whānau, careers and life in general.

What is the best piece of money advice you’ve been given?

Spend less than you earn. We’ve all heard it a million times, but it is so important! It’s so easy to give in to the immediacy of wanting ‘stuff’ to keep up with the latest trends. While ticking things up here and there might not seem to be a big deal, it feeds a habit that can be hard to break.

Also, find a financial guru (someone who is passionate about finance) and make them your best friend. To be honest, money management isn’t something that naturally interests me, but I have good friends who love it. I pick their brains, ask a ton of questions, and have learnt so many tips and tricks from them.

Are you a spender or a saver?

A bit of both, and I like that our whānau has a good balance between the two. We like to set and save for our short- and long-term financial goals, but I think I would become resentful if it meant we didn’t set money aside to treat ourselves every now and then.

I’ve learnt money can be a great tool to enable us to have really cool experiences and make memories together. On the flipside, if we were spending frivolously, I’m sure the stress of not knowing how we were going to meet our financial obligations would rob us of the fun of those experiences. Balance is key.

How do you save?

I have different accounts set up for the different saving goals I have and contribute to them each pay. I make sure these come out on payday, so I don’t even see the money in my everyday account.

I also like to keep our everyday spending down where possible. I’m a keen bargain hunter and I love shopping sales, reusing and recycling. If I can keep costs down here, there’s more room to save towards our bigger goals.

What makes you feel Sorted when it comes to your money?

Firstly, having good information on how to make our money work for us. There is such a wealth of information and resources available online, in books, or through courses and people willing to chat. You just need to look and ask. The resources on this website alone are amazing, and free!

Secondly, a good plan. As a family we sit down every now and then and talk about our financial goals, reassess our incomings and outgoings, and sort out our budget to suit. It’s not our favourite job, but it gives us so much clarity and reassurance going forward.

Have you had any big ‘aha moments’ about money?

That your money can make money. Growing up I had no idea about compound interest, investing etc. It’s been a big learning curve, and I’m still learning, but definitely an ‘aha’ moment.

What were you taught about money as a child?

I was taught that money was a means to an end. I grew up in a single parent household where we lived week to week, and money wasn’t talked about except to comment on the lack of it, haha!

While my financial literacy wasn’t a focus growing up, I was taught to be industrious, live frugally, have a good work ethic and be a keen learner, which I’m really grateful for.

When you think about your retirement, what do you see?

Hopefully we’ll be enjoying the fruits of all the little seeds we’re beginning to plant now, figuratively speaking. When we make financial sacrifices now, like investing money instead of buying new shoes, I always like to think of about the long game and the increased benefits we’ll enjoy later on.

If all else fails, I hope at least we would’ve taught our kids to be financially savvy… so then we can move in with them, haha!

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