"After living overseas for 10 years where people care a lot less about owning their own home, I'm incredibly turned off by the property market in New Zealand.
"Our market has become so inflated...I guess it just feels gross and greedy right now."
Claire Chitham, actress, director, author and pilates teacher.
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.
Talking to Newshub about her experience with money, former Shortland Street and Outrageous Fortune actress Claire Chitham has come full circle.
Going from earning $200,000 per year in her 20's, to finding just $200 left in her account in her 30's, Chitham says facing fears about money has taught her to be self-reliant.
Having just released a book, Good For You documenting her 20-year journey from disease to wellness and channelling spare money into a start-up, this is one Kiwi who won't be investing in property any time soon.
1. Are you a saver or a spender?
Being a freelancer with inconsistent income means I'm a saver out of necessity.
While I'm working, there's no time to spend it. But I'm not afraid to splurge when the accounts are full again.
I wouldn't call them vices but when I spend, it's on health, skincare and dining out with friends.
I learned a long time ago that investing in staying healthy is the most valuable thing I can do for myself. If I don't have my health, I have nothing.
2. Share a financial goal for the New Year
To start investing.
My freelance income tends to mean I hold on tight to what I have, when I have it.
But as my life now has more consistency, my goal is to hand some savings over and start an investment portfolio for the first time.
3. What has been your biggest financial lesson, success or failure?
When I was 23, I earned $200,000 a year.
When I was 35, there was a moment where I had nothing except $200 in my account.
I've run the full gamut from so-called 'rich' to 'poor' - and learned a lot about myself as a result.
Most importantly, that taught me to get over any fears about money, be it not having enough or being stuck because of it.
I now trust that I have what it takes to be totally self-reliant - pretty empowering for a lifestyle in the arts!
I'm no longer scared of being without. I trust I'll find a way to be OK. That enables me to make braver choices: take risks in my career, move around the world or use money to enrich life experiences. These are more valuable to me than 'things'.
4. Give an example of a recent purchase that you consider was great value for money
A cute bluetooth portable speaker for $68. It's teal-coloured and looks like a 50's retro radio.
Music is priceless, but I thought that was pretty cheap. It's got great bass - and it's way cooler looking than a UE Boom.
5. What was your last impulse or 'fritter' purchase and how did you feel about it afterwards?
Cheap clothing for a dress-up party.
As I want to be more conscious of wardrobe choices, I tried to get something I'd wear again. I won't wear it again. Well to justify it, I probably will. But I'll be living a lie!
Impulse clothing buys make me feel wasteful - I need less clothing, not more. I give a lot away to Women's Refuge.
Now, I'm trying to only buy pieces that I really love, have longevity and incorporate ethical manufacturing.
Our consumer power is prompting large chains to switch to more ethical lines - but I'm not sure how ethical they are yet. There's an array of local brands that are kicking butt in that department.
6. If you have spare cash to invest, what's your preferred form of investment and why?
After living overseas for 10 years where people care a lot less about owning their own home, I'm incredibly turned off by the property market in New Zealand.
Our market has become so inflated...I guess it just feels gross and greedy right now. But my mindset is a little bohemian.
I plan to invest in companies that are focused on social good, conscious growth and environmental progress.
At the moment, I'm investing everything I have in the start-up of my own company, 'Good For You TV'. Eventually, I hope to turn it into a health service and a foundation that's useful in the preventative healthcare space.
And art. If and when I can, I invest in art.
7. Does having more money increase happiness?
Of course not.
Happiness is a state of mind.
Money is a tool and a part of the equation of living today. Not having enough of it can cause untold stress, distress and unhappiness. The disparity of wealth in our world is an outrage and a cause of great unhappiness to many.
If we can change our mindset towards doing more of what makes us happy: being of service to each other and focusing on what we do have instead of things we don't have, we create more happiness for ourselves. This tends to attract good things - including money.
8. The best money advice someone's ever given you?
I don't know about 'best' advice but recently, a wise sage said to me:
'It doesn't matter how much you earn, as long as you spend at least $1 less than that, you should be fine'.
The views expressed in this article are personal and are not professional financial advice.