Seize the day, grab life by the collar, and live your financial age.
Whatever age you are, you can make money a friend instead of being slave to it, says Pushpa Wood, director of Massey University's financial education and research centre. Wood and I brainstormed financial tips for different ages and stages in life.
Financial commandments for your 20s
• Get to know your financial self. Do some navel gazing about how you handle money personally. Break the debt cycle. Then look for ways to make and save money, not 110 reasons why not, says Wood.
• Learn more about money. You need to know how to budget, and save if you want to be in financial control of your own life. Join KiwiSaver and learn as you go.
• Get on the property ladder. The sooner you save a deposit and ditch the dead rent, the better. Start small with a modest property or move somewhere cheaper. Consider teaming up with friends or family to save a deposit, says Wood.
• Build a marketable skill. Now's the time to finish the study or get the training you need for a well-paying career.
• Establish a good credit rating. Your credit score matters. So look after it by setting up a system to pay all bills on time, always.
• Avoid sexually transmitted debt. Don't date your way into debt. Work with your partner to create good financial habits and work as a team.
• Erase consumer debt. If you've made it into your 30s still living on plastic fantastic and the ghost of the student loan is hanging over you then it's time to ditch that debt.
• Korero. Have serious conversations about money with your other half, says Wood.
• Supercharge your career. Or start a business. Make sure you can support yourself come what may. Climb the career ladder, but keep lifestyle inflation in check.
• Save and invest more/wisely. It's time to accept that you'll get old one day and need to save now. Stash more in your KiwiSaver and if you're that way inclined consider rental properties.
• Protect your assets. Make sure that you have suitable insurance such as house and life cover and build up an emergency fund.
• Cut back that excessive spending. You may deserve all the trappings of wealth because you've worked hard for it. Having it all means no savings.
• If you have no investments, then start TODAY. There's nothing like actually doing it. Future-proof the savings you have, says Wood, by learning about risk and how markets work.
• Cut the financial umbilical cord to your kids. Whatever age your rug rats are, stop showering money on them. Give financially dependent children fixed allowances. Get a trip if you're still supporting your working-age children's lifestyles. "It's time to show them the door," says Wood.
• Review your retirement plan. Work out how much monthly income you need in retirement and what you need to do to achieve the savings required.
• Work on your marketability. Keep your skills honed and work hard to remain flexible and employable.
• Get expert assistance. Visit a financial adviser, even if just for a second opinion
• Review your will, and family trusts. Sooner or later you'll have something to leave to the children and you want to make sure it gets to them, not the spendthrift they married.
• Live simply. You're on the home run for retirement so learn to live more simply and watch the savings roll in.
• Review your insurances. Have your children flown the nest? Or your house been paid off? Work out how much cover you really need now.
The next 20 summers
Once you reach your 60s it's nearly time to start spending those hard-earned savings. Beware that you could live another 10, 20 or even 40 years. You'll need to invest in a mix of growth and income investments to ensure your savings last. Take a long hard look at your health insurance cover now as well. You never know when you might need an operation.