The Herald's Cooking the Books personal finance podcast has gone daily in lockdown, to help you get the tips you need to weather the financial storm. Hosted by Frances Cook, with a new money expert featured on each episode.

Fight, flight, or freeze – when things go wrong, those are our instincts.

So many of us are feeling the "freeze" instinct kicking in now as KiwiSaver balances take a dive around the country, leaving many wondering if they should keep putting money in or wait until this settles down.

While this is an understandable question, if you can afford to keep paying your other bills, it's actually the perfect time to be putting money into KiwiSaver.


Listen to the podcast episode here

If you have lost your job, or are worried that you're unstable and need every dollar you can get, then of course make sure you're able to look after yourself now before you look after your future self.

Current needs always trump investments for the future, so you want to make sure you're able to keep saving money, paying your bills, and not getting into debt.

But if that's taken care of, the way that KiwiSaver is set up means now is the time you can put money in and reap big rewards in the future.

In the latest Cooking the Books podcast Martin Hawes, chair of the Sumner KiwiSaver Investment Committee, said keeping up your KiwiSaver contributions was as close to a financial "no-brainer" as you could get.

"I hesitate to use the word 'no-brainer', but you really must keep contributing. You were contributing when share prices were high, so you really ought to contribute when share prices are low.

"The shares you're buying now are cheap shares. If you can fast forward six months, a year, or two years, they will be amongst some of the best investments you've ever made.

"The whole point of KiwiSaver is that you're 'dollar-cost averaging'. That is, you're drip feeding your money in all of the time, and therefore you get an average price of the shares.

"If you only invest when markets are good, that's the time when share prices are high."


Hawes said people often forgot that if they stopped contributions they would also lose the employer match of three per cent of their salary, as well as the Government contribution of up to $521.

"The thing I almost brush my teeth with, my mantra, is buy in gloom and sell in boom. So you don't want to be doing the opposite," Hawes said.

"You are definitely better off to keep your contributions going and to pick up the employer contribution, and don't forget the Government contribution.

"You know, $500 is $500, and it's better in your account than the Government's account."

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. The next episode will cover how Covid-19 has changed the housing market.

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. The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website