Greg Bruce talks to four finance-savvy Kiwis about their philosophy towards dosh.

Alexia Hilbertidou

Founder and CEO of GirlBoss New Zealand, a social enterprise dedicated to empowering girls and young women

What does money mean to you?

If you were to categorise my money personality you would probably call me a "security seeker". However, for me security is not necessarily about having a regular paycheck but rather about planting the seeds to be able to generate my own income. Investing too is about security for me.

I recently read the quote "work hard for five years and reap the benefits for 50" and that keeps me going sometimes when I am suffering from FOMO. Financial independence empowers me to forge my own path and is, I believe, something all young women should aim for.

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How has your attitude/approach to money changed over your life?

I was raised by a single mother (for my first few years) and she trained me to seek out deals and to invest my money rather than spend it. As a child I knew never to bother asking for anything unless it was "on special". Money is important to me because of the security it provides. Therefore, I am quite a reluctant spender.

What would you do with $10,000 if it was handed to you right now?

I would put it towards paying off my mortgage. I took a quarter share in a property when I was 16 (the mortgage is not in my name). I was worried that I would never get into the housing market, so I feel relieved to have a little foothold and this quarter-share has taken a lot of weight off my shoulders. I had been worried about not being able to afford a home in Auckland since I was about 15 — says something about my attitude towards money! I am still living at home so I have cheap board. My goal is to put almost all of my earnings into paying off as much principal as I can from my loan. By choosing to work full-time and stay at home rather than go to university, I have a window of opportunity to get my money working for me as hard as possible.

What's the best thing you've ever done with money?

Since I started GirlBoss NZ at 16, I have invested quite a bit of my own money into it. It was a bit painful at first putting my little bits of income into my business but now I am starting to reap the benefits. I love being an entrepreneur and I am glad that I have laid down foundations that will help provide me with income for the years to come. When you are young and still living at home it is a great time to start your own business, as you can manage on minimal income while you get started.

What's the best thing about being wealthy?

Wealth is great if it gives you time to pursue your purpose, contribute positively to society and do the things that soothe your soul.

What's your most treasured purchase?

The $200 I spent on setting up my very first GirlBoss website on Wix.

The NZ economy could be fixed if only …

People had hope that they could improve their financial situation — this requires a mix of self-responsibility and supportive policy. Growing up in Auckland, I was also keenly aware of the need to consider social and environmental factors when assessing economic progress.

If you could go back in time, what would you tell your 10-year-old self to do with her pocket money?

I safeguarded any money I received like gold and eventually my naughty mother would end up borrowing it back. I would tell any child lucky enough to receive pocket money to brainstorm ways to put your income to use so that it can make more money for you. For me, that's always been way more exciting, rewarding and challenging than spending it.

Te Rangi Matenga

Professional poker player

What does money mean to you?

Having money releases financial stress from life and it also buys freedom. Having money means I am able to spend more time with my family and friends without having to stress about paying next week's bills if I take a week off work.

How has your attitude/approach to money changed over your life?

It has changed a lot, especially now I have a 6-month-old child. Once in a blue moon I will splash out but other than that I let my partner control my finances. When I was single I was bad with how I would spend my money. But I now know money does not grow on trees and there are a lot of things in life that cost, so it is always good to be smart with your money.

What would you do with $10,000 if it was handed to you right now?

I would most likely give it to my girlfriend and tell her to use it wisely, or maybe use it to participate in some tournaments overseas if I could sell off enough action.

What's the best thing you've ever done with money?

Travelled overseas, entered some of New Zealand's biggest tournaments and won decent amounts.

What's your greatest investment remorse?

Investing in crypto currency. Also playing in high-stakes tournaments that are out of my bankroll range to be able to play.

What's the best thing about being wealthy?

Having financial freedom and spending time helping out family.

What's your most treasured purchase?

Time and holidays spent overseas. Money doesn't last forever but memories do.

If you could go back in time, what would you tell your 10-year-old self to do with his pocket money?

I don't know — I never got pocket money. I never had much growing up. I would probably put it away and save it.

Christoph Schumacher

Professor in innovation and economics, Massey University

What does money mean to you?

Above all, I see money as something that can help you live a well-lived life. I'm certainly not a person who believes in accumulating money for the sake of accumulating money. I see the opportunity it gives me to do things for myself, others, family.

How has your attitude to money changed over your life?

As a student you're always desperately short of money. You always think of the day when you finally earn money and have a regular pay cheque. But once that day came for me, it was less exciting. You realise that you can get away with far less than you think you need. I have become more relaxed about this over the years, but this might have something to do with the fact that I do have a comfortable life now, with a regular income.

What would you do with $10,000 if it was handed to you right now?

I would certainly not use it to pay a bit more of the mortgage. If you actually have to earn money, to work for it, I think you become a bit more careful in how you spend. But if it was given to me, I would feel far more inclined to spend it on something that makes me feel that I have just had luck. I would do something with family. I believe that if you spend money it's best enjoyed with others. Just the other day I read some research that showed how different cultures are. In some countries, such as the United States, if you want to become happy you do something good for yourself, spoil yourself with something nice, whereas in some other countries happiness means doing something good for someone else. I'm possibly more in line with that second group. If something good has been given to you, why not spend it in a way that involves some people you care about?

What's the best thing you've ever done with money?

Given that I live in Auckland, buying a house 14 years ago was probably a clever thing. Not that I knew it at the time. Given the way house prices on Auckland's North Shore have developed, it was probably not a bad thing at all. We've been on some lovely holidays back home [to Germany] and took my family and in-laws and that was very memorable, so I think that was money well spent.

What's your greatest investment remorse?

I probably haven't been the biggest risk-taker, so I haven't gone out for some obscure investment in the hope of making a lot of money. Not every time I spend money I think it worked out well, but that's part of the experience of life.

Do you have a most treasured purchase?

I bought myself a nice grand piano after I'd studied music at university in Germany, because I'd always wanted to become a pianist. That was one of my big dreams. I was a great fan of the Ferrari 308. I used to watch Magnum P.I. only because of the car and guess what I purchased myself about eight years ago? That is a very treasured possession. I take the boys on drives on the weekend, which is always fun. It was my childhood dream and I still smile every time I look at the car and drive it. I have also done charity rides in the car and the smiles and big grins from kids are priceless.

The economy could be fixed if ...

I don't think the New Zealand economy is broken. What we certainly need to learn to do is to share our wealth and prosperity. New Zealand has topped the Legatum prosperity index as the most prosperous country in the world, but we are doing very poorly if you look at OECD rankings in sharing our wealth. I think economies need to put the wellbeing of their people more to the forefront. If you go back to Aristotle — he's often cited as one of the first economists — the economist was the manager of the household. The goal of this manager was to create wellbeing, to ensure that the people of the household lived a well-lived life, a life of fulfilment. The goal of economic activity was to generate enough resources so the people of your household could live a fulfilled life. I think we've forgotten a lot about where the term, "economics" comes from.

If you could go back in time what would you tell your 10-year-old self to do differently with your pocket money?

To my 10-year-old self in Germany, I would have said, "Invest it in property in New Zealand." I would say, "Take this money you have and buy some land in New Zealand, possibly beachfront." Forty years later I could probably stop working.

Jeremy Moon

Founder and former chief executive of merino clothing firm Icebreaker, sold late last year for $288 million

What does money mean to you?

I see money as an enabler. It lets things happen. In itself, money has no meaning. Its meaning is based on how we choose to apply it in our life. It can be for good, to support a family, build a business, pursue a passion, improve the environment, save a life; or it can carry a dark shadow, where money itself becomes the goal, a way to create symbols of how they want to be seen by others. Our relationship to money says a lot about our relationship to ourselves.

How has your attitude/approach to money changed over your life?

In my business life, I see money as the blood that supports the company, which is kind of like a living organism. Money can let a business grow, so it can support the people and communities within it. But how the business grows is key — it can't simply take from the environment without contributing. Similarly, if the organism is bleeding money with big losses, the business can literally bleed to death, and people or communities can be devastated. That's why it's important to have a strong focus on financial governance — to ensure the long term health of the business. Having said all that, finance is not my strong suit.

What would you do with $10,000 if it was handed to you right now?

Maybe I'd donate it to our local Plunket. Those guys are awesome. Godsends for young mums.

What's the best thing you've ever done with money?

I quit my job, and borrowed $25,000 to start Icebreaker when I was 24. I told the bank I needed the money to install a new kitchen in my highly mortgaged house and used the funds to kickstart Icebreaker.

What's your greatest investment remorse?

Rod Drury asked me to be on the board of Xero when he was first getting started, but I declined as I was "too busy" (too disorganised, more like). I would have learnt so much, what an amazing business and ethos.

What's the best thing about being wealthy?

My goal has always been to be in a position where I can support my family and pursue my dreams without having to worry about money.

What's your most treasured purchase?

I can't think of anything material that I'm really attached to. My most important things are probably pictures I've taken of my family.

The NZ economy could be fixed if only…

I think we are in pretty good shape, all things considered. There is never a single silver bullet, it's always about the portfolio of choices the government makes, and how strong the local businesses are. I applaud the current focus on child welfare, education, clean energy, and roads.

If you could go back in time, what would you tell your 10-year-old self to do with his pocket money?

Back then I spent it on electronics so I could build things. I'd do the same if I had my time over. Learning to be creative and to build stuff, is so critical for kids. Lego is still the greatest toy ever invented.