Your money in 2022: Experts give their top tips to 'green light' your finances this festive season

Financial and property experts share their top money tips heading into the festive season.
Financial and property experts share their top money tips heading into the festive season. Photo credit: Getty Images.

The festive season is almost here, giving people more reasons to reach into their back pocket.

There are gifts to pay for, gatherings to attend, and children to entertain. Things can pop up at the last minute, costing more money than planned.

New freedoms under the COVID-19 traffic light system, where all areas aside from Northland move to 'orange' at 11.59pm on December 30 may mean more money is spent at bars, cafes, restaurants and Christmas gatherings.

To help people 'green light' their finances ready for 2022, Newshub asked financial and property experts to share their top money tips.

Tom Hartmann, personal finance lead, Sorted

To start 2022 in the best way possible, Tom Hartmann suggests people set up an automatic process (e.g. automatic payments), to funnel their money towards their goals.

Ideally, financial goals should be made for the short-term (one-to-three years), medium-term (four-to-nine years) and long-term (10-plus years).

"When you figure out what you’d like to see in your near and far future, automate savings as much as possible into separate accounts so those funds can grow and be there when you want them," Hartmann says.

For long-term goals, such as saving for a first home or retirement, Hartmann suggests setting aside a bit of time to make the most of KiwiSaver.   

"To do that, you may need to tweak your settings - whether it's picking a better fund for your needs or contributing a bit more," Hartmann adds.

Free online tools, such as the KiwiSaver fund finder and Smart Investor, can help.

Gillian Boyes, manager investor capability, Financial Markets Authority

Before starting a new investment, Gillian Boyes suggests people research the companies, funds or products they're interested in. 

Due to the risk of no protections, she cautions against investing in any exchange or business that isn't licensed or registered in New Zealand.

"Ask yourself questions, such as, 'do I understand the company or investment?', 'are there any additional costs or fees I will need to pay?' and 'what other options are available to me in the market?'" Boyes says.

As markets fluctuate (go up and down), it's important that people set up their investments based on their tolerance of risk.

"You can do this by thinking about when you need the money and adjusting the risks of your investments accordingly. If you need the money soon, seek low-risk investments, and vice-versa," Boyes says. 

It's useful to remember the golden rule of 'time in the market', as opposed to 'timing the market'.

Dr Pushpa Wood, Fin-Ed Centre, Massey University

To guide spending decisions, Dr Pushpa Wood suggests people check whether they're  spending because they 'have to', 'want to' or feel 'pressured to'.

There may be times when a decision is made not to spend, so money can be set aside for future use.

"The age-old question, is it a 'need' or a 'want', needs to be regularly revisited during 2022 as there are so many uncertainties still surrounding us," Wood says.

"It's wise to have a ‘rainy day fund’ in your sight as often as you can."

Christopher Walsh, founder, Moneyhub

Financial freedom starts by understanding where money is going, Christopher Walsh says.

For those who haven't already, he suggests people get familiar with their bank account, ideally installing their bank's app.

Scroll through all purchases, including fixed expenses over the last month, to get a gauge on essential versus non-essential spending.

"Do you remember them? Were they essential or did they bring joy? Do you regret something?

The more you review what you spend the less you'll waste, because you'll be conscious of where your money is going," Walsh says.

Money saved means debt can be repaid and savings can grow, giving people more financial freedom in 2022.

Sharon Cullwick, executive officer, NZ Property Investors Federation

For people who are setting their sights on buying a first-home in 2022, as a first step, Sharon Cullwick suggests setting up a meeting with a bank or mortgage broker.

They're able to advise on the maximum borrowing amount - and whether existing savings are on track. As the application process takes time, it's a good idea to start early.

"If you've been putting money into your Kiwisaver you will have a good headstart and can use this for your deposit," Cullwick says.

Remember that a first home isn't a forever home. As salary and savings increase, there's an opportunity to move up the property ladder.

"As the housing market goes up and down, once you're in the market, you can ride the peaks and troughs," Cullwick says.

It's been a challenging year, with the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions affecting Kiwis mentally and financially.

Whether finances are currently in the 'red' zone, where there's risk of debt or debt to clear; 'orange', where spending needs to be contained; or 'green', where things are moving forward and just the odd tweak is needed, the Christmas break is an ideal time for a financial and personal reset.