Me and My Money: Grant Robertson and Paul Goldsmith reveal personal spending ahead of NZ election

Grant Robertson and Paul Goldsmith
Finance Minister Grant Robertson and National finance spokesman Paul Goldsmith agree money doesn't buy happiness. Photo credit: Newshub.

"I recently bought a painting… the more I look at it, the better I feel."

Grant Robertson, Finance Minister, Labour

"An Icebreaker jacket. [It was] on special but still very expensive."

Paul Goldsmith, finance spokesperson, National

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 regular feature that investigates Kiwi attitudes towards money and what drives the choices they make. We also explore if COVID-19 has changed peoples' money habits and how.   

Newshub spoke to Grant Robertson and Paul Goldsmith about how they manage their own money and what they spend it on. They may be on opposing sides, but both pay off their credit card each month and agree money doesn't buy happiness.

1. Are you a saver or a spender?

Grant Robertson: I've been both in my life, but I'm always careful with money and think through any major purchases.

Paul Goldsmith: A saver.

2. Has COVID-19 influenced your attitude towards money?

Grant Robertson: As Minister, I've had to make some significant decisions on spending to support people through COVID-19. 

My underlying principles on that have not changed. I think about the total value of spending, now and for future generations.

Paul Goldsmith: It's reinforced the importance of having a buffer, in case of the unexpected.

3. Post lockdown, have your spending habits changed and if so, how?

Grant Robertson: Personally, I've been so busy that I haven't spent as much as normal.  But I'm looking forward to some opportunities to support the recovery. 

Paul Goldsmith: My wife does most of the spending, I seldom get a chance.

4. Your mobile phone dies - what do you think is a reasonable amount to spend on a new one? 

Grant Robertson: I try to make them last: I'd spend around $1000 (keeping in mind I have a work-provided phone).

Paul Goldsmith:  I'd shop around to find the best deal. 

5. Give an example of a recent purchase that you consider great value for money

Grant Robertson: A coffee machine at home - not that recent, but it's saving me money every day.

Paul Goldsmith: $5 for a large bunch of freshly picked asparagus from a farmers' market in Gisborne - superb!

6.  What was your last impulse or 'fritter' purchase and how did you feel about it afterwards?

Grant Robertson: I recently bought a painting… the more I look at it, the better I feel.

Paul Goldsmith: An Icebreaker jacket. [It was] on special but still very expensive. I felt great: so warm in the bitter winds of winter.

7. If you have spare cash to invest, what's your preferred form of investment and why? 

Grant Robertson: I tend to look to topping up savings or managed funds.

Paul Goldsmith: As a parliamentarian, it's simpler to avoid direct investment in shares.

Money goes into managed funds, but as a father-of-four, any spare cash tends to go into experiences, clubs or lessons for various kids - there's no better investment than that.  

8. Do you use a credit card and if so, do you pay off the entire balance by the due date?

Grant Robertson: Yes and yes.  Paul Goldsmith: Yes and yes.

9. Does having more money increase happiness?

Grant Robertson: Not necessarily. Obviously, having adequate income to meet your basic needs is important to wellbeing. But as the story goes, money can't buy you love - the core of happiness to me.

Paul Goldsmith: Not necessarily. For me, the quality of key personal relationships, satisfaction gained from meaningful work and good food after some hard exercise are more important.

10. The best money advice someone's ever given you?

Grant Robertson:  Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves (this person had grown up pre-decimal currency)!

Paul Goldsmith: He didn't give it to me directly, but Warren Buffett wrote to the effect: 'It doesn't matter how many billions you have in the bank, if at the end of your life, the people that you want to love you don't love you, then life is a failure'. 

The point I take from that is that success, financial or otherwise, is all well and good, and we should strive for it. But in the final analysis, no amount of it will make up for failure in our key relationships.  So get your priorities straight.