If you feel locked out of the housing market right now, I don't blame you.
The latest OneRoof Property Report put numbers to what most of us already knew – the housing market is soaring away again, with many hopeful first-home buyers watching on in frustration.
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In fact, between August to October alone, Auckland prices jumped a shocking 2.8 per cent.
But this doesn't mean your financial future is ruined. Far from it.
There are other ways to look after your money, and they can even help you build up a house deposit if that's what you want.
You can invest in shares and stocks instead.
To my mind, the biggest benefit of this is that the barrier to entry is removed.
When you're trying to buy a house, a standard deposit is 20 per cent, which means you could be expected to stump up anywhere between $100,000-$200,000.
Younger buyers feel stuck saving for years on end, frantically trying to keep pace as prices keep pulling away from them.
You'll get there eventually, but it doesn't always feel that way at the time. The dauntingly large goal can lead to some giving up.
Meanwhile, you can invest in shares with the spare change you have left over at the end of the week.
New online platforms have small limits, or sometimes no limits at all. You can invest as little as one cent at a time if that's what you choose, or whatever amount works for you.
Putting money into shares means it will grow far beyond any savings account.
While you'd be lucky to get 1 per cent on a savings account right now, shares earn on average 7 per cent per year. The level of growth means that as house prices shoot up, so do your savings.
The housing market isn't constantly outpacing you, as you've got your money growing alongside it, if not in it.
In fact, if the trend of the past 10 years continues, your shares will grow even faster than housing.
That's right, shares often grow faster than our ridiculous housing market. So it could even help you catch up.
There are of course notes of caution with this strategy.
One is that housing is a savings scheme that's hard to get out of. Meanwhile, shares investing is entirely up to you, and requires discipline.
There's no way the bank will let you out of paying your mortgage each week, just because you don't feel like it. So as you pay it off, you automatically build an asset for your future.
Meanwhile, if you don't put money into your investing account, it simply won't get bigger.
You can get around this by setting up an auto payment into your shares account for the day after you get paid.
Automation works around our very human tendency to plan to do it "soon", and saves us from missing out on the rewards of diligently investing each week.
Another trap to beware of is that shares go up and down a lot. While they grow more over a period of years, you do need a long period of time in order to ride out the bumps along the way.
If you need to cash out in less than five years, shares probably aren't for you.
And although there's a low barrier to entry in terms of cash needed, make sure you don't sabotage yourself by getting in before you've checked what you're doing.
You don't need to be an investing expert with a business degree, but listening to a couple of podcasts and reading a couple of books can do wonders to give you the knowledge to do this successfully.
But as long as you take your time to figure out how shares work (such as by, say, listening to the Cooking the Books podcast) it's a great alternative for those feeling the frustration as house prices shoot up.
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