"Having control over your money increases happiness.
"That needn’t mean going without: it’s just a case of knowing what you can afford, when - and not being surprised."
Kevin Bowler, CEO of My Food Bag.
Money. It's the driving factor behind many life choices, but is it the be-all and end-all?
'Me and My Money' is a weekly feature that investigates Kiwi attitudes towards money and what drives the choices they make.
Newshub spoke to Kevin Bowler, CEO of My Food Bag about the importance of checking that price matches quality, spreading investment risk and why health is wealth.
Share an example of a goal that you achieved in 2019.
I finished a building project at home - a gorgeous outdoor living space.
As anyone who’s done work requiring consent knows, it’s nearly always a longer and more expensive process than you’d imagine - although the end result is appreciated this summer.
Are you a saver or a spender?
I’m a saver and have been all my life.
I had jobs from a young age while at school and university, so I always kept an eye on how I was saving.
Now in my 50's, I’m starting to enjoy spending a bit more to get the most out of life.
You need a new dishwasher. Are you mainly driven by quality, price or both?
I’d go for a quality appliance but be wary of paying too much for a prestigious brand.
As price can be an unreliable indicator of quality, I’d check out online reviews and chat to be sure.
Give an example of a recent purchase that you consider was great value for money:
I’m a fan of Garmin sports watches. They’re an extravagant purchase but I use mine almost every day as both a wrist watch and a fitness device.
My latest one plots all the exercise I do on maps, reminds me when I need to be doing more, congratulates me on achieving goals, and keeps track of my fitness. I’d say it has a lot to do with keeping me fit and healthy.
I love the expression, ‘health is wealth’. It's so true.
Have your buying habits changed from in-store to online?
I go through phases of buying online, but it depends on what I’m shopping for.
For everyday purchases like food, it just makes sense. On the other hand, I’ve had a few failures with clothes that didn’t quite work out.
I’m a big comparison shopper: I make a lot of decisions online but end up transacting in the real world, partly because I’m too impatient to wait for shipping.
If you had spare money to invest, what would you invest in?
My advice is to have a good balance of assets.
If like many of us most of your assets are in property, any spare money after clearing debt might be better directed to a good managed fund with exposure to many asset classes, including capital markets.
What was your last impulse or 'fritter' purchase and how did you feel about it afterwards?
I’m a sucker for a sale and have more things in my wardrobe than I’d admit to that looked like a great bargain, but never quite fitted.
I’ve been running in some trainers that are half-a-size too big for a few months and every time I lace them up, I’m reminded of my temptation to leap at a sharp price as opposed to pay up and get the right product. I’m learning!
Do you have a household budget?
I keep an eye on spending, but don’t have a strict household budget.
One clever thing I've learned is funnel as much spending as I can through my credit card for points or rewards, then immediately transfer funds from savings to the account that pays off the card in full each month.
Does having more money increase happiness?
Controversially, I’d say yes! Having a little more money gives more choices and takes away the worry of not having enough when bills pile up.
I’d also add that having control over your money increases happiness. That’s something I’ve always tried to share with my children: being in control is so important.
That needn’t mean going without: it’s just a case of knowing what you can afford, when - and not being surprised.
What are your golden rules for saving money?
If you’re having trouble saving, try recording all your spending over a period to fully understand where the money’s going. Once you know what you’re buying, you can reprioritise and reset saving goals.
It’s so easy to regularly spend on little things that aren’t really essential (e.g. takeaways and coffees). When added up over a month or year, [they can amount to] quite a lot that could have gone towards something you’d value much more.
For big spenders keen to make a change, [try] leaving all your cards at home and only use cash. Somehow, parting with hard cash might just feel more real than swiping a card!
How much cash do you have on you right now?
I always have $50 or so in my wallet. Having said that, it can sit there for a few weeks gathering dust as I’ll mostly use a credit card or EFTPOS for day-to-day transactions.
I feel a bit under-dressed if I don’t have any cash with me.