NZ Rental comparisons by district; Debt naughtiness in 2012; Are pensions still worth it?; Personal finance holiday reading guide; The seedy sex trade and the "talk''

NZ Rental comparisons by district; Debt naughtiness in 2012; Are pensions still worth it?; Personal finance holiday reading guide; The seedy sex trade and the "talk''

By Amanda Morrall (email)

Dear readers; 

For a future Take Five charity edition, I would like to compile a list of the top five NZ charities. I know that's limiting a very big pool down to a small margin. I have my own favourites but would be keen to hear what yours are and why? 

1) Rent by postal code

Regulars to our site will know we have a gold mine of data and information herein. Sometimes, it takes a bit of digging to find it but well worth the treasure hunt.

Our good man Suhaimi has put together this nifty list of average rents by district and the increases over the past two year. I received another financial spanking when I saw my district among the highest in the country, having shot up 9% in the past two years. I know I can get cheaper rent elsewhere but whether the cost of moving, the added hassle, and the disruption to kids, pets and my already stretched self would be worth it, is questionable. Plus, I have really cool landlords who take good care of the house I live in, and bonus they even like my puppy. That's a value add as a renter.

Others, less encumbered than myself, could be incentivised to hire the trailer and pack a suitcase. Check it out.

2) Household debt

The U.S. is in a sorry situation to be sure.  I felt even sorrier for my former neighbours after reading this piece from Investopedia, describing the effect a prolonged economic slump will have on householders.

While householders are digging out of debt, many still have a long way to go. The average debt, not including mortgages, is reportedly US$14,500. The article talks about the financial oppression facing many headed into what would normally have been their retirement years. Mortgage debt means many will have to work well into their '70s to make ends meet.  Personally, I don't see how this will be possible given the obesity epidemic facing the nation and the limitations that will impose on an ageing population dealing with the related health fall-out.
Are we any better off in NZ?  Possibly.
Average household debt here (not including mortgages) is about half what it is in the U.S.; NZ$7,075. Throw in the mortgage and it's about NZ$104,874. It's a crude calculation as the data set held by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand clumps together the 1,469,700 households that are rented, owner occupied or provided free. Also it doesn't differentiate between mortgage holders and freeholders. Still, it's better than nothing.
As of October 2011, there was $173.010 billion owed to banks and other lenders for "housing debt" and there was $11.673 billion owed to these same lenders for "consumer debt" (ie not housing related).
3) Is a pension worth it?
I had an interesting conversation with my just turned eight-year old son yesterday who proudly, without prompting, announced his plans to put his birthday money into his KiwiSaver account.  I swear I didn't make this up or foist our new contributions calculator upon the wee chap.  His rationale was that he would use his compounded savings, (he loosely grasps the concept) to buy a pet-store. When I told him that actually he couldn't touch that money until he was 65,  he was gutted as well as being outraged. I suggested an alternate savings vehicle might be better his for pet-shop project. Given that he plans to give his pets away or sell them for $10 a pop, he has his work cut of for him. So to do I apparently on the financial education front but bless his benevolent little soul.
On the subject of self-saving and pensions, some interesting points are raised in this Guardian Money piece on whether a pension is still worth it given the heavy losses sustained by so many investors. Three different views are expressed but the general consensus is that as long as someone else is matching your savings, you'd be a fool not to. Hard to disagree with that.

4) Frugality is cool

Twenty years ago, I probably would have thought anyone blogging on personal finance was a loser. Then again, I don't think blogging existed, except maybe in the form of a published column that was heavily censored by editorial teams and buried deep in the business section.  Today, as one of them, I think it's pretty cool. Sure, there are some crack pot suggestions that get flouted (it'll be a cold day in hell before I scrape road kill off the street to feed my pets or cultivate maggots for fish food) however these true life tales from the streets are interesting, informative and inspirational.

You can thank a regular follower and fellow personal finance junkie for a pointing me in the direction of Frugal Dad in this post shares his 35 favourite blogs of the year. Some good holiday reading for the i-pad that you saved for well in advance having already paid off all your debt. No I don't have Apple shares though I wish I did. 

Thank you Nathan.

5) The seedy sex trade

Okay, I admit it. I'm stretching the boundaries of personal finance by including this latest column on the seedy sex trade (and the implications of its legalisation) from my one of favourite bloggers,  Dalhousie University economist Marina Adshade. I don't expect there are too many who budget for that service, well not consciously anyway.

Adshade, writing from Brussels, looks at the effect of legalising prostitution on the welfare of women forced to do this kind of work for a living and also the correlation of human trafficking.

On a lighter note, I  was amused (though some will undoubtedly be horrified) by the frank approach Adshade takes on the subject with her traveling companion, her 12-year-old son. I recently had a PG rated talk about the birds and bees with my own kids. One reacted in disgust, the other in curious wonder. I'm glad I have sons.

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Actually, times were lean for my parents. We started off life in student housing as my father was fresh out of a phd onto his new job as a professor.  Traditional family back then. No double incomes.  I also remember living off rice cooked in tomatoe juice in university for weeks on end. "Spanish rice" was cheap as well as being exotic and I remember it tasted not half bad. Draught beer was super cheap back then so I didn't suffer.

My apologies for shortage of Kiwi content. There just isn't that much here. In most cases you can extrapolate and apply to NZ. Always happy to put up links that you find informative and interesting.




Peel back the layers of a cabbage and you'll find a rich yarn and a hardy soup.

Thanks for sharing your recollections of farm life in NZ. I expect it'll revert back to that kind of lifestyle, one day.


Good Lord Amanda, you are beating yourself up about the fact that your lad hadn't understood that KiwiSaver is not a general purpose savings account   -  I don't know what you imagine an eight-year-old's level of financial literacy ought to be, but I can assure you that there are many adults who have not yet grasped that point.   And he's got the idea about compound interest?!   You should be as proud as Punch.

I wish there were an environmental charity with a grasp of basic economic principles, if there were it would be my favourite.   In the absence of that I'm very taken with the Cancer Society's Look Good Feel Better programme.

I was impressed with the lad wanting to give his Animals away. Bless him, we need more of that attitude about.

Since you are into Yoga Amanda, I thought you might appreciate this Yoga Undressed Trailer. Someone had it up on facebook and I couldn't pass that one. Shhh don't tell GBH.

OH me, Oh my. Don'tell Bernard either.