"Despite the stress, that swimming pool has ended up being worth it!
"Auckland gets stinking hot in summer and the family are in and out of that pool over and over throughout the day.
"I don't know what the cost per swim is, but I think we've definitely come out on top in the end."
Jesse Mulligan, The Project co-host and RNZ National presenter.
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.
A born saver, co-host of The Project Jesse Mulligan is happy to splash out on things that provide long-term enjoyment...like a swimming pool and tap filter system. But he draws the line at paying for high-end cellphones.
1. Are you a saver or a spender?
Beyond food and drink, I don't tend to spend anything on a daily basis. Mind you, I have four children: that’s a lot of food and drink!
I never formed shopping habits - to a fault! A new pair of shoes come when the old ones get a hole in them.
2. Has COVID-19 influenced your attitude to money?
When lockdown came and various media companies shut down, I became very, very thankful for the work I had.
The trick is to maintain that gratitude - even when the immediate danger is over.
3. What has been your biggest financial lesson, success or failure?
When we renovated in 2019, we spent more than I wanted to.
Some of it was unavoidable stuff - the sorts of things that happen during a build.
But some of it was stuff I could have avoided if I’d planned things differently or got expert advice earlier.
A couple of times when we were putting in a swimming pool, I made a judgement call to do things a certain way to save money. By trying to cut corners, I ended up spending more cash in the long run. It was extremely stressful, spending hours on the phone with the designer, the council, the pool installer, the fencer, the engineer, the digger driver!
I left myself with problems that were very difficult to solve as the pool progressed. I’m reminded of these failures every time I look at our mortgage balance!
4. Give an example of a recent purchase that you consider was great value for money
The other day Guy Williams mocked me for my obscure phone brand.
I've fallen out with Apple and Samsung over the years and hate having to spend so much to get a new one.
I asked a guy in a tech shop what the best bang for buck is and he replied, 'OnePlus'. So now when I need one, I buy second-hand, old model OnePlus phones from Trade Me.
That's the long answer. The short one is $300 to $400.
5. Give an example of a recent purchase that you consider was great value for money?
Despite the stress, that swimming pool has ended up being worth it!
Auckland gets stinking hot in summer and the family are in and out of that pool over and over throughout the day.
I don't know what the cost per swim is, but I think we've definitely come out on top in the end.
6. What was your last impulse or fritter purchase and how did you feel about it afterwards?
When renovating, we bought a Billi instant boiling water and filter tap for the kitchen.
It was a lot to spend to replace a $20 Briscoes jug, but I love it every time I use it.
I wouldn't call it an impulse purchase because we chatted about it for a long time before making the decision. But it’s definitely a luxury item of the best sort - one that I'm thankful for several times a day.
7. If you had spare cash to invest, what would you invest in?
A friend at the leading edge of regenerative agriculture has just opened up a capital raising project for his farm.
I would love to put some money into that, but I can't justify locking cash away for an indefinite period.
8. Do you use a credit card and if so, do you pay the full balance off each month?
Yes, money writer Mary Holm got me onto this trick. Put everything on the credit card and use a revolving mortgage to pay it off in full each month.
It works like this: keep money in the mortgage account to keep interest payments as low as possible, then pay off the credit card the day before interest is charged on purchases.
9. Does having more money increase happiness?
I'm afraid it does. But the returns are diminishing.
There’s a lot of happiness from no longer being in financial trouble every month, a bit more happiness from being able to buy what we need when we want...and a tiny little bit of extra happiness by drinking wine that costs $25 a bottle compared to a $15 bottle.
10. The best money advice someone's ever given you?
To pay the kids' pocket money and split it three ways:
1. Money they spend.
2. Money they save.
3. Money they donate.
That's the approach we’re going to take when they’re old enough. We hope it goes some way towards raising good citizens of the world.
The views expressed in this article are personal and are not professional financial advice.