I am in control.

Over the past 18 weeks, I have been attending classes at Te Wananga o Aotearoa to gain a Certificate in Money Management – a NZ Certificate in Personal Financial Capability & Financial Services. I still have 2 weeks to go, and I can already see the impact it has made.

Why did I choose this course? Well, to be truly honest with you, my husband and I were drowning in debt. Between us, we had 3 credit cards, 2 personal loans, and an overdraft. But it wasn’t all bad. We also had significant savings that we wanted to use as a deposit for our first home.

Our biggest battle was “do we or don’t we use all that savings and get rid of our debts?” I didn’t know how to answer that question. He wanted to get rid of the debt, I wanted to keep the cash deposit. We were constantly arguing about our money, so it was time for me to do something about it. Knowledge is power, so I enrolled.

What I am learning is blowing me away! The first module, or Konae Ako, looks at yourself, your money habits and your financial goals. It’s not about sharing every intricate detail of your life with everyone else in your class. It’s about dreaming. What would you like to achieve in the short term, mid term and long term, like retirement years? My class was filled with people of all ages and backgrounds. We are all at different stages of our lives, so for some, long term was only a few years down the track, whereas my long term was 30 years away. Do I want to run my own business, travel overseas, or retire early?


I learnt that anything is achievable. With the right tools in my belt, I can prepare a budget so I know how much I earn, and where my money was being spent. Did you know that putting a little bit of money on every bill, may not be the best way to get rid of those debts. That there are other ways I can be debt free. I can review my budget regularly so I can manage my debts and significantly reduce or get rid of some of them in the short time. I never knew that a credit card existed with 0% interest or low interest so I could pay off that debt without gaining more in interest every month. Within 3 months my creditcard will be paid off and I can close it, because I learned that having a lot of credit facilities reduces what we can potentially get in a home loan.

I learned that with a good budget, one that we created for our family together, our family could get into our first home, like now. With this course I am creating and protecting my income. By setting a long term goal, and if I started saving for it now, I wouldn’t have to climb such a lofty mountain when that time comes. It was seeing the benefits of the Kiwisaver that I signed up to years ago, and knowing what that nest egg looks like now, and if I used it all to purchase our first home, then what it’s going to look like in 30 years when I reach retirement age. I don’t want to be working after I reach 65, and with the money management skills I have now, I won’t have to.

Have you heard of leveraging? The last konae ako has been the most eye opening. I had heard of it, but never really understood it. I didn’t think it was for someone like me. But it turns out I was wrong. When I buy my first home, and after a few years of paying off some of the home loan, I can create equity. I can also gain more equity by making improvements on my house and increasing its value. I could then use this equity as a deposit in a SECOND property, and before I know it, I will be an investor! Me, just an average joe, living in Gizzy. I don’t have to be a millionaire. You don’t either, You just need to know your financial position and be equipped with a few money skills.

I am learning life skills, that I never learned in school. I am in my thirties now, and I wish I had known this information when I was at high school, so that when I got my first job, I didn’t waste every dollar, or when I went to University, I didn’t go out and buy the flashest TV. That with a budget, I wouldn’t need to get a credit card to buy the latest gadgets. Just imagine where I could be now, if I had known all this stuff years ago…

I highly recommend this course. Better yet, it’s fee free! I didn’t have to pay a cent and I am coming out the other end with a kete full of knowledge. I have been in touch with some experts in their fields, from the Inland Revenue Department, budgeting advisory service, mortgage brokers, a real estate agent… and I know what they all do and how they can help me and my whanau.

To our tutor, Koka Midge, honestly I can’t thank you enough. You have helped me understand where I am now, so I know all the places I can go. You have helped my husband and I get in a good financial position, so that buying our first home isn’t a dream, nor is it so daunting anymore. It is my reality. I can do this.

Money no longer rules my life. I am in control.

This course is helping me create wealth, so that I can enjoy each day as it comes, that I can live life now, and still have money for a better tomorrow. I did this for me, but I’m really doing it for my family, so that when the time comes, I can pass on this knowledge to my daughter, so she doesn’t have to make the same mistakes choices I made. The world will be her oyster. It can be yours too. If you live in New Zealand, enroll now, so you don’t have to wait for a better future. It can be yours today.

Nga mihi,


An Affordable Christmas

Yes there is such a thing!

How? It’s simple. Here are just 3 tips to help.

One budget to rule them all! I don’t think I’ve ever referenced Lord of the Rings before, that’s a first for me. Might be time to actually read the books, or watch the movies. No, I haven’t read or watched LoTR. Yes, I am from New Zealand. I digress.

I learned how to create a realistic budget while studying this year at Te Wananga o Aotearoa. I completed a personal finance certificate called Money Management. It wasn’t just about paying off debt and saving your money. To understand my money, I kept a notebook for 2 weeks, writing down every dollar I spent and how I was spending it. Takeaways was my biggest expense. It was on food that I hadn’t budgeted for, and it was continuously putting me out of pocket each fortnight. By tracking my money for a couple of months, I could see where all of my money was being spent. With a budget, I am now in control of where my money goes.

This means, that I can put a little bit of money into a savings account each pay period, making Christmas and all the gift shopping, the Christmas lunches and dinners leading up to, let alone the big feast on Christmas Day, more affordable. I am no longer forking out hundreds of dollars in November and December. I am squirreling away a smaller amount from January, saving it up all throughout the year, so it’s no longer a burden to give at Christmas time. There are many templates online, you have to find one that suits you.

Another tip, start your food shopping early. You don’t need to wait until December 20th to do your grocery shopping for Christmas Day. The lines will be horrendous. There are a number of items you can buy months in advance, so your wallet doesn’t need to feel the pinch the week of Christmas.

You can buy canned kai, like peaches, over a year in advance! Canned food bought on sale can be cheaper than $1 in New Zealand. Peaches can be used on the top of a pavlova, with ice-cream, in baking, or even a tin of apricots to put in a stuffing or baked with the chicken to make the sweetest gravy sauce.

Which brings me to the main course. You can buy frozen chicken in say March, that’s 9 months in advance. If it’s properly stored in the freezer it could last even longer. Frozen chickens, when on special, can cost as little as $5 for a small chicken, maybe $10-15 for a larger one to feed the extended family. I’m not a big red meat eater, nor turkey or ham, but I’m sure those kai can last months in the freezer too. Similarly with frozen vegetables, maybe not as long as a year, but you can definitely buy them in june or July, 5-6 months out.

Putting an extra packet of crackers, or packet of pasta in your shopping cart as early as January, just helps to build up your stores for December, and means you can have more money in your pocket to buy fresh kai, like milk, cream or bread.

My last tip, is don’t be shy to give Do-It-Yourself gifts. I watched this youtube clip on DIY gifts that I would ACTUALLY give to people. I really liked the mini calendar idea and think I’m going to take some awesome photos next year so I can make my own.

You can add a DIY gift, like the key ring to a box of homemade chocolates, if you want to give something a little more substantial. I enjoy baking, so creating DIY food items like truffles, fudge, biscuits, or cakes could be something I can spend a day creating with my daughter.

If you’re not a sweet tooth, then flavoured butters is another edible food gift idea I want to try, or a Mason Jar craft, where you put all the dry ingredients in a jar, and attach a recipe for someone else to make. They can look really cute.

I know there are some families out there who struggle to put food on the table at the best of times, so don’t feel shy about asking for help too. There are services out there who are willing to help. The Salvation Army has food banks. Work and Income New Zealand have emergency food grants. In Gisborne, there are food pantries in the community, and some groups feed the hungry (not necessarily homeless) every few days.

I hope these tips help you. I don’t go into detail, but if you wanna know more, I can definitely share more.

Meri Kirihimete Whanau ma.

xoxo Shaz