It's easy to look at all the things that are going wrong during a pandemic and want to drown yourself in some online retail therapy or a supersize order from Super Liquor, but try your best not to go there.
While it's understandable to feel helpless, hopeless and paralysed to do anything other than binge watch Netflix, Neon or both, being under house arrest also has some advantages.
Spending more time with loved ones, being forced to confront those unwanted but satisfying household tasks like cleaning the garage or closet are obvious ones.
Assuming Covid-19 has not killed off your income, you'll also find this is an excellent time to get your financial act together and save some money too.
All up (factoring in the ferry, bus and car use), takeaways, dining out, and the odd retail splurge, I'm saving at least $600-800 a month. It's only been two weeks in lockdown so far, so I expect I'll be at $1,000, but the time we're out of Level 4.
I'm already a queen of automation, but I'm reviewing my savings allocations into my investments and my son's KiwiSaver accounts. I'm sure they'll appreciate my efforts one day!
Here are some simple steps you can do as well to take advantage of your lockdown savings and or the extra time you have on your hands.
1) Review your overall financial position adding up your debts, savings, and assets.
2) If there is any scope for doing so, consider paying down outstanding debt by upping your contributions or through a lump sum payment, assuming you don't get penalised for it.
3) Look at what your KiwiSaver contribution settings are (3%, 4%, 6%, 8% or 10%) and find out how much you're on track to save by age 65. TIP, You can find this figure on your annual KiwiSaver statement as they include that projection now among the data breakdown.
4) If your KiwiSaver is looking good (i.e. you're in the right fund for your circumstances, making decent returns and not overpaying your fund manager, consider opening up an investment fund. There are numerous investment platforms to get started. Look for one that has low fees that have good UX, with good investment options. Make sure you understand what you're investing in and, notably, whether you can afford it. If you're confused with all the options, check out MoneyHub's comparison site.
5) Plan. If you don't know where you're going, you're not likely to make much progress. Take this time to reflect on your broader goals, why you want to achieve them and what you need to do to get there. It's easy to muddle along in life without having firm, fixed plans, but this is not a good strategy for finances.
Be ambitious but realistic about what you hope to achieve. If you need support, ask for it.
In this digital era, there are more resources than you can imagine. Don't use time or lack of knowledge as an excuse not to take the first step toward improving your financial nous.
Have confidence and enjoy the process. Growing your wealth is a multi-faceted endeavour. It's bigger than your KiwiSaver or your investment account. It's daily spending, self-development, education, attitude and concrete actions all working together in harmony.
Visit amandamorrall.com for more tips on wealth, abundance and happiness.
A few years ago, I was the victim of identity theft.
It's taken me about five years to write about it, such was the horror.
Like other crimes, victims often feel they are to blame. My situation wasn't any different. Although lives weren't lost in this particular crime, a lot of money was, including IP, and 15 years worth of cherished digital memories when my computer memory was wiped clear by an "expert" who didn't know how to do a backup properly.
For years, I felt I was to blame. I didn't take two-factor authentication seriously when I shoud have. I thought phising scams were only perpetrated on weak, vulnerable, twits who fall for Nigerian prince money scams.
None of these are true, except perhaps my naivety in thinking that people have better things to do other than phising.
Someone unknown to me, managed to commandeer my gmail account, pour through emails looking for financially sensitive information,contacts whom they could potentially exploit and anything that was remotely convertible into money and or the potential to earn money. I was prevented from seeing these exchanges as they had blocked contacts.
At the time, I had a line of credit through a foreign bank. They managed to forge my signature and execute a total withdrawal of the maximum available with the bank manager responsible, never contacting me once over the phone to verify. In this case $30,000 vanished.
The same perpetuators took over my blog and website, the domaine and content, and starting selling cheap sportswear off the back of it. Although I didn't fully appreciate how much traffic I had at the time and the value of that traffic, it was stolen. Trying to get it back would have been an expensive and futile legal exercise so I didn't bother and abandoned the fight, and blog for years. Such was the impact of the crime.
These same criminals tried to then steal from family members, by writing to them, from my account (without me knowing) and asking for money. Luckily, they didn't fall for it.
This all occured in the early days of 2FV (two factor verification) and when I naively thought you could only be a victim of identity theft if you left your unlocked laptop or phone out with no passwords. How naive I was.
The crime was so insidious, an IT friend of mine, suggested it must have been perpetrated by someone I knew but no one I know would ever go so far as to sink this low.
I have long since reconciled this mess (well kinda) but am sharing the story as a reminder to guard that which is precious, (and I'm not just talking about money and houses). Make sure your email can't be hacked, that everything of value online is secure and don't doubt for a second that internet crimes do exist and it's not just grannies getting fleeced. Both my partner and I have experienced bank card skimming and related loss of funds in addition to the incident I have described above.
Take all the precautions you are advised to when it comes to identity and financial security, and hold close to you all that you value. You don't know what you have until it's gone and some things are unrecoverable.
Cliche but true, you are what you eat, your thoughts dictate your reality and your daily habits define you.
The human body is a sophisticated bit of machinery in its ability to convert food into energy, fat and or waste so you don't become a banana after eating a banana. But as all of us know too well, the image staring back at us in the mirror is a frank reflection of consumption and exercise habits entrenched over time.
Money isn't that much different.
Whether you're skinny, fat or somewhere in between, your PBMI (personal bank mass index) can't be blamed on bad genes only your accumulated patterns of behaviour.
The mistake so many people make when it comes to money is thinking that it is something foreign and separate from who they are and what they do.
"I'm bad with money." "I don't get money." "I don't know where I go wrong." I've heard all the excuses and what unites them tends to be a deflection of personal responsibility.
Money is closer than you think. It is an extension of you; all of you. Your thoughts, your behaviours and daily habits.
It's a scary realisation for some because they're forced to accept that they are personally responsible for their actions. Yes there are some occasions in life when you lose your wallet, you're robbed or make a bad investment decision because you didn't have all the information at your fingertips. But even then, we usually have some part to play in what led us there in the first place.
A more constructive approach to the realisation that you and only you are responsible for your financial health, is that you have the opportunity to do things differently and to effect better outcomes.
It starts with reflection. An examination of where you are now in time, and how you got to be there, and what resources you have to make improvements or changes.
No matter where you find yourself, there is always space and opportunity for improvement. Progress is seldom lightening speed. It starts with motivating goals and aspirations that are executed with slow, progressive, measured steps. No radical crash course diets, rather a gentle introduction of the financial equivalent of fruits and veggies. They may include things like:
Traps to avoid inlcude:
All that you are, everything that you do, will either work for or against it, depending on your perception AND execution.
In the Hindu religion, there are approximately 33 million Gods. They come in many forms including flowers, insects, animals and larger than life characters with the power to destroy and create.
I can't say I'm familiar with even a fraction of them but one which has a prominent place on my wall, and in my life is Ganesh; the great remover of obstacles.
In the Hindu pantheon, Ganesha is the elephant-headed son of Shiva, one of the three most important deities along with his consort, the goddess Parvati. Known as the remover of obstacles, Ganesh is considered a bestower of good fortune, prosperity, and health. If you've been to Bali or India, you'll be familiar with Ganesh.
You can read more about this enchanting god and his story at chopra.com here.
In the context of achieving our goals, Ganesh has much to teach us.
While we may wish for this great God to emerge from the heavens and erase all the things we believe to stand in the way of what we desire, Ganesh is only as powerful as you'll allow. Why?
Because obtaining those things requires an act of mortal intervention as much as as Act of God.
At a very human level, it is the doors of perception that stand in the way of us achieving our goals. The key to unlocking those doors is gaining insight into our deeply engrained or else habitual patterns of thought that prevent possibility and importantly action.
If invoking Ganesh through recitation of his mantra, is the antidote to unhelpful thoughts and patterns, great. Faith will go a long way in this regard. But for the more skeptical, over thinkers among us, having a conscious understanding, awareness and acceptance of those mental traps, is what will ultimately free us and subsequently unlock some of those doors.
Yes in some cases there are literally external obstacles that lie in our path; finances, opportunity, competition, distance, however they tend to be logistics.
The greater barriers to success tend to be the mental ones including fear, denial, self-sabotating thoughts, unconscious patterns of thinking and behaviours that are simply conducive to achieving your goals. Effectively, this mental psycho-drama just clouds your vision. Like a dirty window, our mind needs clearing.
Exercise, yoga, meditation, nature, honest conversations with friends and mentors, are all good solvents in this regard. They help to clear the clutter and shine a light on our blind spots.
Ganesh is a bit like window cleaner I suppose; he's an agent of removal.
But as any good window washer will know, clarity isn't achieved without the expenditure of actual effort to wipe away the grime.
It's natural to wish for short-cuts and magic to bulldoze those external and internal roadblocks.
If Ganesh's superpower is just that, then he's a god worth worshipping.
"Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha"
Recite it 20 times, then go for a run, walk or yoga class and ask yourself some hard questions about what's really stopping you from achieving what you want.
Flow is about more than cash flow. It is about life flow. Each of us creates our greatest wealth when we are in our own personal flow. - Roger Hamilton
There’s a reoccurring theme running through my life that goes something like this: “let go.” Go with the flow might be another way of stating it.
I hear myself uttering the words whilst teaching yoga, I repeat them to myself silently when I feel myself stiffening with stress or disappointment at something not going the way I’d planned and observe the process in nature and watch with wonder and envy at the ease of flow in its purest state.
A great quote came my way yesterday by spiritualist/writer Byron Katie.
“Nothing comes ahead of its time, and nothing ever happened that didn’t need to happen.”
It’s a reassuring thought amid the uncertainty and confusion of life and during those times when we are plagued with the whys, and whens and hows and grating impatience at things not happening in the time frame that we want or expect.
Last week I wrote about overcoming self limiting thinking and self-doubt. I think that mountain is possibly more challenging than Everest. Mental mind traps are the greatest obstacles to success. It’s not lack of money, or shortage of time, or x, y, z that holds most of us back. It’s fear standing in the way of you realising your full potential, and your dreams.
I’m still climbing that mountain and here’s the depressing news: Unless you are fully enlightened (and not many are) that journey never ends. You either give up and give into the herd mentality and behaviour or you keep climbing, deflecting those toxic thoughts as soon as they come your way. It gets easier and easier to defeat them when your awareness of them grows.
My BF has a lot of original ideas. He’s one of those idea junkies. He also has a lot of one-liners that he enjoys tossing around; some good, some bad but they still evoke a smile or at the very least a smirk.
One that I never tire of hearing even though I hear it a lot is “No ask, no get.” We haven’t known each other too long but I assume he’s asked a lot over the years, because he has always seems to get his way. Not only does he have a lot of stuff but he always seems to rope people in doing stuff for him, usually free.
What makes some people better savers than others?
It’s a question experts have pondered long and hard about particularly in the face of the looming demographic problem of too many old people living longer and longer and too little Government savings to support them all in retirement.
The solution that many OECD nations have adopted, including Canada, the U.K., Australia, Japan and the U.S., is to extend the age of eligibility for Government superannuation schemes, forcing people to work longer (and thus pay more taxes to feed pension funds) and to save more for themselves.
Okay, I’m the first to admit that fees on financial products is probably the least sexiest topic on the internet (except to advisors and fund managers maybe) but really it ought to be and I was reminded again why today in a conversation with a so called “wealth manager.”
Let me just say firstly that I don’t blame the investing public for not taking more of an active interest in this area. I mean the industry is so rife with technical jargon and mumbo jumbo that it’s hard for a financial journalist to follow the plot on fees let alone someone who is just cutting their teeth on KiwiSaver.
Amanda Morrall is a New Zealand based personal finance expert. Her first book Money Matters was published in 2013 by Penguin Random House in NZ.