Profit from sound advice

By Susan Edmunds

Is getting your finances under control top of your New Year's resolutions? The Herald on Sunday asked financial gurus and well-known New Zealanders for one piece of advice for improving wealth in 2014

Start a long-term savings plan early, and when shopping, buy for the life you actually live, not the one you live in your head. Photo / Thinkstock
Start a long-term savings plan early, and when shopping, buy for the life you actually live, not the one you live in your head. Photo / Thinkstock

Diane Foreman, owner of Emerald Group: Beg, steal or borrow to buy your own home, then pay off your mortgage as quickly as you can.

Suzanne Paul reckons everyone should grow their own veges. Photo / HOS
Suzanne Paul reckons everyone should grow their own veges. Photo / HOS

Home mortgage interest rates are cheap money and by paying off your mortgage you have the advantage of secure home ownership and the ability to remortgage your home for other investments, such as starting a business or investing in the stock market.

Residential real estate continues to offer a really secure investment base.

Suzanne Paul, TV personality: Everyone should grow their own vegetables. You will never go hungry and the process is very fulfilling. You don't need much room and it's a real money-saver. I've never felt fitter.

Colin Mathura-Jeffree, TV presenter and model: Work out how much you want to save in a year and create a bank account for that sole purpose.

Knowing there is money you have saved is surprisingly addictive - especially if you can't touch it on a whim.

Decide what to treat yourself with so you don't go crazy on knee-jerk reaction shopping and suffer buyer's remorse. If the item is a little more expensive then wait, unless it's art - then buy it, as it's an investment.

Eric Watson, investor: My advice, particularly to young people, is to have a long-term savings plan so you can live well later in life. Don't wing it. I know very few people who have devised a plan to save for a time when they might transition into a different phase of life that doesn't include full-time work.

Pay off high-cost debt, such as credit cards, first, and include a diversified portfolio of shares in your portfolio as no one gets it right all of the time. Allocating more to a specific asset class that is likely to outperform over the long-term makes good sense.

People focus too short-term with equities. Over shorter periods the ride is likely to be too bumpy to make it all worthwhile. When it comes to investing in shares, I'd consider building a position in agriculture and funds that invest in arable land because food is likely to be good long-term bet.

Diane Maxwell, retirement commissioner: Buy for the life you actually live, not the one you live in your head. It took me a while to work this one out. For years I kept buying clothes and shoes that I might wear if I had a different life, or if I were somebody else.

I also bought a 12-piece dinner setting for all those times I might have 12 people around the table for a formal dinner which, to be honest, has never happened.

Even if you cannot save any more, put at least $1042 into your KiwiSaver account each year. Photo / NZH
Even if you cannot save any more, put at least $1042 into your KiwiSaver account each year. Photo / NZH

Seeby Woodhouse, Orcon founder and entrepreneur: Always put as much money as you possibly can into things that make money and don't blow capital on extravagances or depreciating assets. If you have $30,000 spare, buy a small apartment that will produce rental income and go up in value every year. Pretty soon your income producing assets will give you financial freedom, then you can splash out on extravagances.

Olly Newland, property investment expert: Too many people rush into deals because they listen to what their uncle says, or their neighbour. I see a lot of people who've spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and got into the poo. Taking advice could have saved them.

Peter Neilson, Financial Services Council chief executive: Even if you cannot save any more, put at least $1,042 into your KiwiSaver account each year. In the first year, in addition to your $1,042, the Government will put in another $1,000 and the $521 tax credit. Every year you put in the $1,042 the taxpayers will add another $521. Do that for 40 years and you will have more than $100,000 in your KiwiSaver account. This is the best return you are ever likely to get.

John Berry, Pathfinder Asset Management: Fix at least part of your mortgage. It is widely expected that interest rates will rise - Westpac believes an increase in the OCR of 1.25 per cent is possible over the next 12 months. This will most likely push up floating mortgage rates. If part of your mortgage is fixed, you will have some protection against interest rate rises.


Get rid of Christmas debt first

Trim your spending and funnel all the money you can into the most expensive debts and pay those off first. Photo / Thinkstock
Trim your spending and funnel all the money you can into the most expensive debts and pay those off first. Photo / Thinkstock

Print out your recent bank statements and work out what you owe, what you have in the bank and exactly where your money has been going. Identify any spending that can be trimmed.

Rank your debts from the highest interest rate to the lowest. Store cards will often be more expensive than credit cards, and credit cards more expensive than personal loans from the bank.

Trim your spending and funnel all the money you can into the most expensive debts and pay those off first.

If you have a large credit card debt take advantage of the banks' balance transfer offers.

Many will offer a low interest rate to customers who bring their business over.

Debt consolidation can be a good way to pay off multiple small debts, provided you don't end up transforming a short-term loan into a long-term one.

You'll pay more if you stretch out the loan, even if the interest rate is cheaper. This is why paying off credit card debt by putting it on the mortgage is not always a smart idea.

Once you've cleared your debts, start a savings account for next Christmas, or investigate joining a Christmas club as a painless way to prepare.

You'll often get an additional discount when it comes time to cash in your account.

- Herald on Sunday

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