Your money mindset is a vital instrument to ensure financial wellness. What does that even mean? Well, to put it in layman’s terms, if your parents told you anyone with money is selfish and greedy you may need to rewire some thinking to reach your financial goals. Before we get into all of that, I should tell you a bit about my own journey.

I grew up in a home that didn’t believe in KiwiSaver and one that valued being generous and encouraged the idea that money flows in and out of your life. This left me with two perspectives on money; one being that your money must be controlled by you to keep it from the greedy people or organisations that might want to steal it. Or that money was abundant and I would be able to create wealth for myself so there was no need to be “tight”.

Fortunately for me, the second scenario played out more in my later teens, so when I got my first job at 16, I carried this attitude into the way I handled my own money. I believe that the mindset around trying to protect your money from people who might want to steal it, although common, will never lead you to a place of abundant wealth creation – it is a restricted mindset.

The second approach can also lead you down a path of thoughtless spending if not managed wisely. Everyone has a different opinion when it comes to money and that’s fine, it’s finding what works for your lifestyle that is the most important thing. 

I got involved in sharing financial literacy because, ironically, I couldn’t find any resources that provided what would resonate with me as a 22-year-old. Sorted in Schools wasn’t available while I was at school. In fact I tried to take a class called “employment skills” and was told it was only for those who didn’t know how to speak English. I remember thinking I spoke fluent English and could also do with some help in finding a job.

I am sure myself and many other students would have loved an opportunity to learn more financial and life skills in school. I am incredibly happy that programmes like Sorted in Schools are now available to give students confidence with their finances. I’m now aiming to do the same thing for people in their early 20s - guiding the average young person on everything they weren’t taught in school but should’ve been.

My financial learnings so far

My financial journey is still beginning, and it has become increasingly obvious to me that the earlier you start thinking about your finances the better. 

A few things I would’ve focused on earlier if I could take time back:

Put yourself in the KiwiSaver fund that’s aligned with your goals.

Whether that’s growth, balanced or another type of fund, it needs to be aligned with why you have KiwiSaver in the first place. Is it to use for a deposit on a first home, or will it be your retirement scheme? I didn’t become actively involved with my KiwiSaver journey until 5 years into it when I found a provider I resonated with and a scheme I aligned with. This is crucial to get the most value out of your KiwiSaver.

I would have educated myself on investing in funds and shares as early as possible.

With interest rates so low currently, I question if the value of my money is actually declining staying stagnant in a bank. I really love investing and think with proper due diligence it can be a really great savings platform. 

I made a lot of mistakes when it came to my student loan.

I took out way more than I needed through course-related and living costs. My loan is now double what it needed to be and although I like to live life with no regrets – I definitely rethink that decision often. Choosing to go to university should be a really thought-out process - what will your return on investment be? Is $30k worth the position you’ll be in afterwards? Think about this both financially and professionally.

With many years of my financial journey ahead I am excited to see where I can take it! Now I have a bit of education on my side, it makes thinking about the future a lot less stressful. I hope this blog has given you a little inspiration for your own journey – good luck.

Sarah Kelsey hosts a financial literacy and self-development podcast called The OneUp Project, covering KiwiSaver, investing, first home deposits, finding your passion, starting a side hustle, and more. See theoneupproject.nz.

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