Me and My Money: Steve Jurkovich

Kiwibank CEO Steve Jurkovich
Kiwibank CEO Steve Jurkovich says by acting now, young people can make the most of compound interest to grow their savings. Photo credit: Supplied.

"I grew up with a solo mum and things were a real struggle.  

"Without her incredible work ethic and the amazing support of her parents (my grandparents), things would've been even tougher."

Steve Jurkovich, CEO, Kiwibank. 

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.  

Reflecting on his own upbringing, Kiwibank CEO Steve Jurkovich says family support is valuable to help people get through tough financial times.

To get ahead financially, he says it's important people understand the value of compound interest (interest earned on savings is reinvested, meaning the balance grows over time).   

He's always tried to shorten the time frame for repaying debt - a practice he says forces people to budget and saves money on interest costs.

1. Are you a saver or a spender?

Usually a spender, to be fair. But at various times, I've saved hard or tried to pay down borrowing as fast as possible.

2. What's been your biggest financial lesson, success or failure?

I grew up with a solo mum and things were a real struggle. Without her incredible work ethic and the amazing support of her parents (my grandparents), things would've been even tougher.

Their support and her discipline taught me that if you support the ones you love, work hard and manage the spend hard, you can come out the other side. 

For many cultures, family is the main economic unit - they support each other to get ahead. 

3. Give an example of a recent purchase you consider was value for money?

For me, golf equipment clearly fits in the 'great value' category. 

I'd also say purchasing things that give time with friends and family are highly valued: getting some time to create memories is great value.

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

A refresh of some casual clothes as I was walking around our neighbourhood. It was a random stop, but I was happy to find a few things I liked.

5. If you had spare money to invest, what would you invest in and why?

Property has worked for us, but I'm also a massive fan of investments like KiwiSaver and hopefully one day, compulsory superannuation. 

The money is gone before people can decide what to do with it, experts manage it and it's long- term with regular contributions. 

6. Does having more money increase happiness?

No, but it certainly creates options and freedom from some worries. 

It allows people to tackle some issues that would be a hell of a burden if they were struggling.

Steve pictured with his chocolate Labrador, 'Cocoa'.
Steve pictured with his chocolate Labrador, 'Cocoa'. Photo credit: Supplied.

7. What do people getting started need to know about saving money? 

Understand the power of compounding interest (good and bad), think long term - but act now. 

Pay yourself first: things like KiwiSaver and managed funds. If it's invested, it's earning you a better future.

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

A wise banker told me to shorten the term of debt repayment wherever and whenever I could. Advice along the same lines of 'paying yourself first'.  

A shorter term saves money and is a way of forcing people to budget - that helps if you're a spender.

The views expressed in this article are personal and are not professional financial advice.