Apologies Jacinda Ardern. But this is going to be an unkind article. Sometimes we need to be shot square between the eyes to change our ways.
Me included. We can all shoot ourselves in the foot when it comes to finances.
Ever since Covid hit I've been pondering how to prepare for the worst. Emergency funds are really good starting point and if you don't have one, find ways to get one started - with three months' living expenses to tide you over should the unforeseen happen. And lockdown was right up there with unforeseen events.
As the old Warren Buffet saying goes "only when the tide goes out do you discover who's been swimming naked". The tide went out when Covid hit us.
It's oft said that most Kiwis are three weeks from broke if they lose their jobs. One such person I spoke to during our first lockdown had been on an okay income. The day he lost his job there was suddenly no money. He was swimming naked.
It seemed odd for a family that had been living well in the years leading up to Covid. They ate out in cafés regularly, sent the children to multiple expensive afterschool classes, and took regular overseas holidays.
It turned out that in all the years of living well, the family hadn't paid off a $20,000 credit card debt. It would have been knocked on the head quickly with the cost of just the café visits alone.
On the surface, some people don't have luxuries to cut from their budget. There is always some discretionary spend that can be juggled to assign a few dollars to savings. A budget helps.
With an emergency fund, come the next financial crisis you can buy some breathing space for a few months without having to borrow.
What's more, if you have savings, you pay less than others who need to pay interest on their basic purchases. They're often paying 20 per cent or more than you for everything they buy, especially if the groceries and utilities are on credit.
Last week, I saw another take on this. It came in the form of an email from the insurer IAG to a driver whose excess was higher than the amount owed for an accident he caused. The debt was $1229, which the insurer said could be paid off interest-free over time.
But there was more. I raised my eyebrow in a good way as I read on. The insurer offered to reduce the debt to $1000 if it could be paid immediately as a lump sum. It just goes to show how having emergency savings pays off. The young driver saved $229 in one fell swoop by having some savings available.
Knowing you can ride out the bad times doesn't just benefit your finances. It is a great help psychologically. Worry is not good for your health and wellbeing.
Here's the unkind bit. If you're not moving forward maybe a dollop of honesty will help you change your ways. You don't want to be that person with the needless $20,000 debt next time a financial crisis hits.
A great way for me to make changes in life is for someone else to give me a hard time about my failings. When they're right, I take note and look for ways to change.
I've been waiting for a year to write my "unkind" article. We're possibly not quite ready for the shot between the eyes, but I love the approach of United States motivational author Larry Winget, who has written books with titles such as Shut Up, Stop Whining, & Get A Life, You're Broke Because You Want To Be, and The Idiot Factor: The 10 Ways We Sabotage Our Life, Money and Business.
Of course no one-size-fits all approach works for everyone. The "be kind" message of the past 15 months has wreaked a lot of good in the way New Zealanders view each other and interact.