MoneyIt’s always interesting to hear people’s stories about how they stretch their money to free up money for other priorities.  How do you stretch your money?

If you haven’t already tried an online budgeting tool there are plenty you can try such as: ANZ Money Manager or (both free to use regardless of which bank you are with); ASB Track My Spending (you need to be an ASB customer) Westpac’s budget tool or PocketSmith (worldwide but it costs). The NZ Federation of Family Budgeting’s debt schedule and cashflow spreadsheet is a good option if you don ‘t have good internet access.

Or if you want to use an app there are lots to try.

Or if you want to try something different here are some American based tools: YouNeedABudget,

Meanwhile if you are in Aussie, check out the latest information at government website MoneySmart, you can try their budget planner, or some of their other great features including lots of personal finance blogs on a whole range of topics.

For more ideas on improving your finances have a look at our Money Matters section on this website

Let us know what money stretching techniques work for you.

Poua Anaru

Q markMore and more people are joining their bank KiwiSaver schemes however the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) are investigating the practices of some banks in getting customers to switch to their own KiwiSaver scheme with evidence emerging that customers were not fully informed about the switch; see also here.  The FMA are also concerned with the approach some providers are taking in offering incentives. As with any regulated financial product, the seller has to provide full details of the risks and benefits along with other details of the scheme usually in the form of an investment statement or prospectus. Remember if you feel you have been misled or missold something by a financial product provider (or anyone else!) complain to them first although it’s not always easy especially when it comes to KiwiSaver.  Remember if the bank or other provider can’t resolve the matter to your satisfaction, you can go to a free complaint resolution service –  all financial service providers in New Zealand and Australia are required to belong to one.

If you have a problem with your bank that isn’t to do with KiwiSaver or other investments, or you have an insurance problem, you can go to the Insurance and Savings Ombudsman (ISO) (after you’ve tried to solve it with the provider of course) however as we’ve been reminded with earthquake related insurance complaints, the ISO decisions are not binding and most cases you’ll be better to try and resolve it with your bank and consider switching banks.

Have you had any experience of making a complaint or resolving an issue about a financial service or product you’d like to share?

BeehiveWith recent elections in New Zealand and the independence referendum in Scotland, we’re reminded of the importance of making informed decisions about the future.  But informed decisions are difficult with so much contradictory information swirling around and sometimes we avoid even making a decision.  Maybe that’s why around 1 million adults NZers and around half of those on the Maori role didn’t vote.  Ultimately they missed out on the chance to influence the outcome of the election.

Likewise when it comes to personal finance. Making informed financial choices means you’re more likely to improve your financial situation and have more choices in life.  However it’s not easy because we are bombarded with messages about what we ‘need’; not so much about information on making good financial decisions.

To help move you and your whānau along the financial independence highway, here’s a few things you can take action on to create some healthy habits for the whanau:

We’d love your kōrero on any of these. Next week we’ll be sharing some more specific tips on a range of personal finance topics.  Let us know if there’s anything you’d like to hear more on.

Heio anō

Pōua Anaru

(editors note: Andrew Scott, aka ‘Pōua Anaru’ was the Programme Manager for Whai Rawa from 2006 – 2014 and is assisting Whai Rawa with relevant financial capability updates for Whai Rawa whānau whānui, while he is living and working in Scotland)

The year ending 31 March 2014 has been another great year for Whai Rawa. Annual Report 2014

Highlights for the year included the growth in total member funds from $28m to $35m, a return of 7.16% (before PIE tax), and over 1,200 new members.

Please take time to read the individual reports from the Whai Rawa Chair, Diana Crossan and Te Rūnanga Kaiwhakahaere, Tā Mark Solomon.

The annual report also tells the stories of some Whai Rawa members and their successes in tertiary education and home ownership.  These profiles and more can also be found on our whānau stories page.

Click on the cover picture to check out the annual report now or contact us for a hard copy.

In the education area there’s a piece on which degree is likely to earn the best income. Once you are working it’s good to know about which personality types are most likely to get promoted.  Why do they get you promoted? Because they are the sort of characteristics that make good leaders. If you don’t think you already have these characteristics, the good news is you can modify your own behaviour through training and better self-awareness.  Also on the career front is some great twitter sized career tips.

On the finance front there’s an interesting piece about what women want when it comes to dealing with financial institutions. Does this sound like you wahine mā? Meanwhile Mary Holm continues to encourage us all to do more research to get the most out of KiwiSaver , Alan Henry reminds about the importance of planning as a way of managing our financial fears, and Tamsyn Parker has some of her own links on a range of personal finance matters.

And finally big kudos for Xero and founder and Whai Rawa member Rod Drury, with Xero being named world’s top innovative growth company of the year by Forbes magazine.  Maybe time for some Ngāi Tahu internships at Xero soon?

Tēnā koe

We’re excited to introduce you to the new Whai Rawa website, tell you about our latest competition and bring you other news.

Whai Rawa website
For the last 6 months we’ve been working to upgrade our website. Key features include:

We’ve also got the results of our recent investment survey and an outline of next steps.

We look forward to getting your feedback on the website, (including what isn’t working – if anything) and new features you’d like to see.  You can post comments on most of the pages or contact us. We’ll be introducing more useful features over the coming months to make it easier for whānau to receive, understand and share information about Whai Rawa, financial capability initiatives and grants.

Free money for your Whai Rawa account?
If you’re a member of Whai Rawa you’re in our monthly prize draw to win either of $500 (first prize) or $250 (second prize) from May until October. The prize draw is offered thanks to our Administration Manager Aon who have provided this generous prize, with the winnings being paid into your open Whai Rawa account; full terms and conditions available at the bottom of the competition page.  If you’re not a member yet and want to enjoy all of the benefits members receive, join here.

Moving on 
After almost 8 years in the role as Whai Rawa Programme Manager I am leaving the Whai Rawa team at the end of the month to spend 1-2 years in the lands of my forebears (Scotland and England) to meet my many whānaunga over there. I’ve greatly appreciated the opportunity to be part of a team dedicated to improving opportunities and outcomes for Ngāi Tahu Whānui and to connect with whānau who are passionate about creating a better future for themselves, their tamariki and mokopuna.  I will continue to support the kaupapa and look forward to watching the progress of Whai Rawa from afar.

mā te wā

Andrew Scott, Programme Manager
Whai Rawa and Direct Distributions

Some more useful stuff in the news this week.

Investment fees and administrative charges can have a big impact on your returns especially in the longer term but there appears to be some hope that the competitiveness of KiwiSaver will drive fees down across the board.

As those of us in Christchurch have found out insurance can be a tricky business but there are some suggestions here around understanding your insurance policies.

Over in scamland someone’s once again promising something that’s too good to be true proving that anyone can pose as a Facebook friend. To protect yourselves see the Ministry of Consumer Affairs section on identifying scams.

Here’s some recent news items about various personal finance and related topics.

Peer to peer lending looks like it might finally be able to kick off in NZ while the new low interest lending initiative established by has the potential the government has the potential to reduce the impact of loan sharks predatory practices on the poor.

In the education area there are some great free online course options and inevitably having an impact on existing universities and other providers.

Changes in how home insurance is calculated poses challenges for wannabe and existing home owners as do rising interest rates as discussed here and here.  

Meanwhile as raising the retirement age continues to be debated, saving for retirement is as important as ever.  Martiin Hawes also chips in on this topic.