"As soon as I started earning my own coin, the frills came thick and fast. I became an avid follower of fabulous fashion, food and finery!
"All that did was increase my waistline and leave my wallet empty, whilst thinking I looked good - so subjective. I worked hard and spent harder.
"The evolution of life with its experiences had a way of opening my eyes to the benefits of savings for future financial security."
Buckwheat (Edward Cowley), drag queen
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 former spender, Kiwi drag queen Buckwheat was once caught in the trappings of fame and fortune. He's now a saver with a financial plan in-place and a nest-egg tucked away.
Buckwheat spoke to Newshub about the virtues of a personal clothing steamer, having a savings plan and why property has been his best investment.
1. Are you a saver or a spender?
As a younger Buckwheat, a spender.
Growing up, we had a lot of love and not a lot of frills. As soon as I started earning my own coin, the frills came thick and fast. I became an avid follower of fabulous fashion, food and finery!
All that did was increase my waistline and leave my wallet empty, whilst thinking I looked good - so subjective. I worked hard and spent harder. Always looking great with no real resource behind the shiny exterior.
Fast forward 20 years and the more mature Buckwheat is a saver!
The evolution of life with its experiences had a way of opening my eyes to the benefits of savings for future financial security.
Having a family makes me think of saving for our future as opposed to me just spending on myself.
2. What's been your biggest financial lesson, success or failure?
It was stupidly lending a large sum of money to help someone out and not getting it back - not once, but twice (not to the same person).
Epic failure! I lost those dollars that could have really been useful for something else, like a home deposit.
Success in that I learnt a very important and expensive lesson. Unless I have the expectation of it not coming back, I will never lend money to anyone again.
Don't lend what you can't afford to lose.
3. Give an example of a recent purchase that you consider great value for money?
A personal clothing steamer! It works amazingly well and it's so much faster than ironing.
I take it when I travel for costumes and use it often.
In my mind, it has more than paid for itself and I'm stoked with it. Life-changing in fact!
4. What was your last impulse or 'fritter' purchase and how did you feel about it afterwards?
I bought some beautiful fabric which I thought would come in handy for something: it was stupidly expensive.
On reflection, I paid too much for it. What's worse is I haven't done anything with it yet.
I'm reminded of my lapse of judgement every time I look at it. It's sitting in view in my workroom as a reminder of what not to do in future!
5. What's your best saving tip?
If you're not saving, get a savings plan happening now! If you can't do it yourself, enlist some help.
I used a financial advisory service which was initially both uncomfortable and confronting: they looked at my spending and savings with a microscope.
The advice offered and the plan was manageable. I was able to get ahead and create an asset base and savings in a relatively short time.
Up until then, I was burying my head in the sand and buying lotto tickets (not such a good plan). I had no clue how to get ahead.
They sorted out all the mortgage brokers and bank loan structures and put me on a plan to save for a quality retirement.
They check in on me regularly and keep me updated with any government policy changes.
6. Does having more money increase happiness?
I know I'm happier now knowing I have a tidy nest egg tucked away for the future.
I remember the feeling of living from payday-to-payday. At times, it was stressful.
That feeling of fear when you're paying for your groceries and hoping like hell it goes through...then the relief when the screen shows the payment is 'accepted'
I'm not sure that money actually increases happiness. But money certainly gives more options.
7. What's your preferred form of investment and why?
I'm blessed enough to have made a first home purchase in the 90's. Since then, I've been able to upscale in home value a couple of times.
For me, the single highest return on investment has been property investment. It's not so easy given the current housing situation and the expense of first homes we in Aotearoa are currently experiencing.
I have no knowledge or understanding of shares and term deposit returns are minimal so that's certainly a no go for me.
8. The best money advice someone's ever given you?
My darling mother sat me down and said this to me:
'Stop buying clothes and going out - and get rid of your credit card debt'!
I managed to get rid of $40,000 of credit card and overdraft debt in 12 months.
It showed me what I could actually achieve if I thought about it. It finally taught me the difference between 'need' and 'want'. Thanks Mum x.
The views expressed in this article are personal and are not professional financial advice.