The Herald's Cooking the Books personal finance podcast is here to get you the tips you need to weather the financial storm. Hosted by Frances Cook, with a new expert on each episode.

After some heart-stopping plunges in March, many are celebrating that their KiwiSaver looks nearly recovered.

Markets are certainly looking healthier, which has left many investment accounts, including KiwiSaver, with a bottom line that's back in the black.


But at the risk of raining on your parade, I have two points to make: one, the market probably isn't finished jumping around; and two, that's not actually a bad thing.

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Don't forget, that's what your KiwiSaver is. It's not a cash bank account. It's an account of investments, meant to grow and earn money for your future, so that you'll end up with more money in the end than a savings account could have given you.

One of the ways you earn that extra money is by sticking around when the market takes a dive.

Nobody knows for sure what will happen in the future, including with investment markets.

But there are a few factors that are likely to impact things.

For one, many businesses around the world are currently being propped up with Government stimulus spending.

In New Zealand, we're in the very fortunate position of not having Covid-19 in our communities. Life is back to something close to normal, letting us out of our homes safely to go to work, buy what we need, and keep the economy moving.

The borders may be closed, but it's still a far better situation than in many other countries where infections and death tolls continue to climb, lockdowns are brought back intermittently, and the economy limps weakly along.

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But the Government spending that is supporting those economies can only last so long.

For now, the September-October period is one to watch. That's when many of the overseas Government spending programmes are due to end.

They could be extended, they could continue in a reduced way, or they could indeed end. Either way, it's a time when we could hit more speed bumps.

Even if the Government spending continues, there could be other unexpected forces hitting the market.

This year has already been plenty eventful. A worldwide pandemic with Covid-19, and a worldwide social justice movement for Black Lives Matter would be each enough on their own. And we're only in July.

You just never know what's coming next.


But let's go back to what's important. How do you handle your KiwiSaver through this, and are you about to lose all your money?

Even if your balance does fall again, this might actually be a good thing for your future.

All KiwiSavers are split into different investing types. For simplicity's sake, let's stick with just conservative and growth, as they're the most common.

Sorted's FundFinder has a great quiz attached that helps you figure out if conservative or growth is best for you.

A simple way of thinking about it is in terms of time. If you have more than five years, or even better 10 years, then you have the time up your sleeve to let a growth account do its thing.

When your KiwiSaver balance goes down, you haven't actually lost anything. It's just the values of the businesses you invested into have gone down.


That means, each time you get paid and put more money into KiwiSaver, you're also buying cheaply. You snap up good businesses that have been caught up in the current craziness.

But after a few years have passed, a vaccine been developed, and life truly goes back to normal, you'll also be on board with those companies when their values bounce back.

That's when those who stuck it out will see their KiwiSaver balances boom.

That's why I say it's not necessarily a bad thing. If you have time to wait for the recovery, then now is the time that you're laying the foundations for future wealth.

Now, this is cold comfort if you don't have time up your sleeve.

Some people will be hoping to buy a house in the next year or two. Some may be five years from retirement.


This is why we have conservative accounts. Because when you are expecting to need the money soon, you probably don't want the market rollercoaster impacting your money.

You don't have the time to wait for a bounce back, when nobody truly knows when it is coming.

Conservative accounts are good for when you need the money soon. You won't make as much, but you also won't lose anything if the market dips again just as you're closing in on your first home.

The only thing that's certain right now is at least a few more months of uncertainty, possibly longer.

But if you understand how your KiwiSaver works, and adapt it to your own personal situation, there's no need to panic about it.

A full discussion is on the latest Cooking the Books podcast, with David Boyle from Mint Asset Management, including what's likely to happen next with KiwiSaver, and how you can prepare for it.


• Listen to the full interview on the Cooking the Books podcast. You can find new episodes on Herald Premium, or subscribe on iHeartRadio, Apple podcasts app, or Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

• If you have a question about this podcast, or question you'd like answered in the next one, come and talk to me about it. I'm on Facebook here, Instagram here and Twitter here.