A diet of pizza and hard work — on a youth wage — put teenager Jacob Cooke-Taite on the property ladder.
The 18-year-old has just jointly bought his first investment property in Masterton in the Wairarapa - a five-bedroom $400,000 home - after dropping out of high school at 16.
He saved much of his $50,000 share of the deposit by working 40 hours a week on the weekends and after school, while also training hard to win a national powerlifting title.
Yet as the money trickled in, so his interest in school dripped away. He enjoyed economics and accounting, but found himself twiddling his thumbs the rest of the time.
"I liked going to school for business studies, but other than that I was thinking: 'Far out, I'm just wasting my hours here'," he said.
"It just seems pointless – we get taught how to do algebra, but we don't get taught how to save a deposit for a house and how to actually get ahead in life.
"It is left up to you to figure out for yourself."
Cooke-Tait instead sought to educate himself and found his own answer in the Rich Dad Poor Dad personal finance book rather than a school textbook.
He then called a property finding agency, which put him in touch with investors Trish Keogh and Blake Kael.
Spending two weeks in the school holidays working for them renovating a property, the trio built a friendship.
It meant when Cooke-Tait had saved enough cash, after dropping out of school to work 70 hours a week at Hell Pizza Masterton, he set about hunting for a house on sale for about $250,000.
But a five-bedroom do-up surfaced for $400,000 instead and Keogh and Kael suggested Cooke-Tait partner with them 50-50. He put up $40,000 as a deposit and $10,000 for renovations, which they matched.
The trio now hope to renovate and convert the home into a seven-bedder for about $15,000. It should pull in about $600 a week, split between the two groups.
It's an experience that has lit a fire under Cooke-Tait. He now hopes to own 10 properties by the time he is 21 and become a full-time property investor before he hits 30.
"The trick is to buy a house under market value and then add value through renovations with the gain in value being used as the deposit for the next one," he said.
Meanwhile, rent from the renovated home should help payoff the home loan.
Cooke-Tait's other trick is motivation and boundless energy. Growing up with "not a lot", he was determined to change his life and saved hard.
He also had the energy to start powerlifting trainings at 6am last year - training that led him to squat about 180kg and win a national title for 14-18 year olds weighing under 83kg.
He would then go to school, before working five hours each evening and 24 hours on the weekends - all for a $15 an hour wage and diet of free pizza.
"I was happy to scrub floors or do whatever to save money - working hard has always been important to me," he said.
It meant Cooke-Tait wishes he left school at 7 years old - so he could have even more properties by now.
"But my mum isn't happy about me saying that, she thinks I am inspiring little kids to drop out of school," he said.
"My message is more to educate yourself."
New Zealand Property Investors Federation executive officer Andrew King said buying a property so young was "amazing".
"I can't think of anyone that young who has bought a place off their own steam like that. I was 24 when I bought myself a flat and rental. At 18 that is amazing, and good on him, it shows a lot of maturity and forward thinking."
He cautioned anyone looking to follow suit that it did take a lot of time and effort.
"I just hope anyone doing it does not miss out on other things in life, especially at that age. But if that is what they want to do, and are willing to put the time in, then good on them.
"It is hard enough to buy property at any time in life, let along 18, and shows it can be done as long as your are focused."