Episodes

  • Each week the NZ Herald and Newstalk ZB's Cooking the Books podcast tackles a different money problem. Today, it's why all investments need a certain amount of safety, and how to organise that. Hosted by Frances Cook.

    No matter where you're at in your investing journey, you need a mix of high and low risk investments.

    In a previous episode, I talked about the rule of 100 – the idea that if you take your age, subtract that from 100, what's left is the ideal percentage of high risk investments you should have your money in.

    That's because investing is always about time, and the more time you have, the more risk can help you make money while you sleep.

    But that also means that we all need a certain amount of low risk. Even if you're younger, and you're mostly going for wealth boosting options like shares, a little bit of low risk investment rounds out your options to be better in the long term.

    And if you're older, you might need quite a few low risk investments.

    Lower risk means you don't make as much money over the long term – but they are dependable, and should keep a little trickle of money coming in even when the economy goes through a rough patch.

    One good option is bonds.

    For the latest Cooking the Books I talked to Mark Fowler from Hobson Wealth.

    We discussed what bonds are, how to use them as part of your overall investment strategy, and the rare times when bonds can be high risk.

    If you have a question about this podcast, or question you'd like answered in the next one, come and talk to me about it. I'm on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/FrancesCookJournalist/ Instagram here https://www.instagram.com/francescooknz/ and Twitter here https://twitter.com/FrancesCook

  • Each week the NZ Herald and Newstalk ZB's Cooking the Books podcast tackles a different money problem. Today, it's how to figure out what insurance is worth getting, and what's not. Hosted by Frances Cook.

    Insurance is one of those areas that gets murky even for the experts.

    There are lots of different things you can insure, from your stuff, to your house, even pets or your health.

    There's also insurance for your income, and one rather worrying statistic shows about 55,000 NZ households lose their main source of income each year, whether that's because of accident, illness, or unemployment.

    Most of us need that income to get by, yet only about 15 per cent of us have income protection insurance.

    But what's hard about insurance more generally is knowing when it's worth it. Insurance can cost a lot, and while it gives you peace of mind, you also want to be sure you get the benefits that make it worthwhile.

    There is a school of thought that says you should "self-insure" – otherwise known as making sure you have enough savings to replace something yourself, if disaster strikes.

    That can work well for the small stuff.

    Happily the Herald has rolled out a series on insurance, putting all aspects under a microscope.

    For the latest Cooking the Books I talked to Herald money editor Tamsyn Parker.

    We discussed what most people are missing, how to figure out what you need for your life, and common areas of overinsurance.

    You can read more about the insurance series here:
    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=12295127
    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=12300549

    If you have a question about this podcast, or question you'd like answered in the next one, come and talk to me about it. I'm on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/FrancesCookJournalist/ Instagram here https://www.instagram.com/francescooknz/ and Twitter here https://twitter.com/FrancesCook

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  • Each week the NZ Herald and Newstalk ZB's Cooking the Books podcast tackles a different money problem. Today, it's how to stay ahead of the tax man if you're side hustling, or self-employed. Hosted by Frances Cook.

    One good way to grow your wealth can be to start your own business.

    Whether you're starting out with a side hustle, or jumping straight into it by launching a full-time business, it's a move that pays off for a lot of people.

    That's because if it works, you're not limited to your salary – your wealth grows as the business does, and you could even sell the whole thing one day.

    But all of that will backfire if you make an enemy of the taxman.

    Even when the IRD is trying to be helpful, it can be hard to figure out what to do, when, and how to file it.

    Not to mention, can you get any money back from them?

    For the latest Cooking the Books I talked to Hnry co-founder James Fuller. We discussed what your tax obligations actually are, common traps, and the changes the tax system has gone through recently.

    If you have a question about this podcast, or question you'd like answered in the next one, come and talk to me about it. I'm on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/FrancesCookJournalist/ Instagram here https://www.instagram.com/francescooknz/ and Twitter here https://twitter.com/FrancesCook

  • Each week the NZ Herald and Newstalk ZB's Cooking the Books podcast tackles a different money problem. Today, it's how to check that your retirement fund is only funding companies you're ok with. Hosted by Frances Cook.

    To say that New Zealanders care about ethical investing is a bit of an understatement.

    Research from Mindful Money shows the vast majority of us want guilt-free investing, and it's more of us each year.

    In 2019, 83 per cent of us said we expected our KiwiSaver to be invested responsibly, which is up from 72 per cent of us in 2018.

    The ultimate test, of course, is whether people will put their money where their mouth is.

    Again, most of us say that we would – two thirds of New Zealanders say they would move their KiwiSaver if they disagreed with what it was being invested into.

    It's not just customers either.

    The world's biggest money manager, BlackRock, has started pulling out of fossil fuels across the board.

    And just this year, New Zealand's own Institute of Directors said responding to climate-related issues should be boards' top priority for 2020, to make sure their businesses can last long term.

    Now this is very nice, but it's a murky world out there when you're trying to be ethical.

    There's no set criteria for companies to report on ethical standards, so they're all reporting different things in different ways. This can make it a nightmare when you're trying to compare apples with apples for your investing options.

    Besides, everyone's idea of what is ethical is different. Weapons are produced by many engineering companies that also produce important technology that makes our lives better.

    Social media companies aren't usually on the ethical blacklist, but I personally think they behave in deeply troubling ways.

    So how can you find your way through this, to make sure that your money is supporting the things you want to see in the world?

    For the latest Cooking the Books podcast, I talked to Mindful Money founder and CEO Barry Coates.

    We discussed the increasing push for ethical options from money managers and customers, the difficulty of getting good information, and whether you should consider the "olive" option even if a company isn't fully green.

    If you have a question about this podcast, or question you'd like answered in the next one, come and talk to me about it. I'm on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/FrancesCookJournalist/ Instagram here https://www.instagram.com/francescooknz/ and Twitter here https://twitter.com/FrancesCook

  • Each week the NZ Herald and Newstalk ZB's Cooking the Books podcast tackles a different money problem. Today, it's how to stop a broken heart also breaking the bank. Hosted by Frances Cook.

    Just like finding someone to team up with in the game of life can have the happy side effect of boosting your wealth building, going through a split can have the opposite impact. It can be financially devastating.

    That's why the latest New Zealand Relationship Property Survey caught my attention.

    It found that people in their 40s are in the most danger of a split, and the 50+ age group is also on the rise.

    That's a time pretty close to retirement, and could make it hard to recover well enough to enjoy your golden years.

    So, is there any way the system should change to reduce the financial hit, if you really need to separate?

    And is there anything you can do when you first get into a relationship, to future-proof yourselves?

    For the latest Cooking the Books I talked to Kirsty Swadling, chair of the family law section at the New Zealand Law Society.

    We discussed what impact a split can have on your finances, whether the system needs to change, and how people can protect themselves at the start of a relationship.

    If you have a question about this podcast, or question you'd like answered in the next one, come and talk to me about it. I'm on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/FrancesCookJournalist/ Instagram here https://www.instagram.com/francescooknz/ and Twitter here https://twitter.com/FrancesCook

  • Each week the NZ Herald and Newstalk ZB's Cooking the Books podcast tackles a different money problem. Today, it's how your workplace could be helping with your money. Hosted by Frances Cook.

    Money and work are clearly closely linked, but we don't always talk about how one can hold you back from the other.

    Financial worries are a big problem in New Zealand, with research from the Commission for Financial Capability showing that 69 per cent of us are concerned about money. That's a clear majority.

    The impacts are wide-ranging, including creating problems in our personal relationships, or some people feeling physically ill.

    But the stress about money can also hurt our ability to make it, with a worrying 10 per cent of people between 18 and 34 taking regular days off work to deal with money problems.

    Other people are spending hours at work trying to fight personal financial fires, or are less productive because they're so stressed.

    Clearly this is impacting lots of us – so should employers step up to help, and how could they do it?

    For the latest Cooking the Books podcast I talked to Nick Thomson from the Commission for Financial Capability.

    We discussed how money stress can hurt your career, why they started the Sorted at Work programme, and whether employers should just be paying you more.

    If you have a question about this podcast, or question you'd like answered in the next one, come and talk to me about it. I'm on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/FrancesCookJournalist/ Instagram here https://www.instagram.com/francescooknz/ and Twitter here https://twitter.com/FrancesCook

  • Each week the NZ Herald and Newstalk ZB's Cooking the Books podcast tackles a different money problem. Today, it's how the FIRE movement works, and how New Zealanders are adapting it to their own circumstances. Hosted by Frances Cook.

    Retiring decades early in your 30s, 40s, or 50s, sounds like something a millionaire would do.

    And yes, it helps to have a big stack of cash to get there, but you don't have to be earning millions in order to do it.

    That's the argument of the people who follow the FIRE movement, also known as Financial Independence, Retire Early.

    The idea behind it is relatively simple. You work out how much you spend in a year to stay alive. You save and invest until you have 25 times that much.

    Once you hit the goal, you retire, and you only withdraw four percent of your investments per year. If you've invested well, that should be a safe amount to pull out for decades to come.

    To help get there, the FIRE crowd is a big fan of frugal living. It's a double whammy, because of course cutting back to basics means you can save and invest more money.

    It also means you need less money to hit your 25 times goal, as you've downsized the lifestyle you'll want to pay for.

    So ok – how achievable is this for normal people, and how long will it take? Let's talk to someone who has given it a crack.

    For the latest podcast, I talked to Nick Carr, from Your Money Blueprint.

    We discussed why he's changed his original FIRE goal, the techniques he's used to achieve financial independence, and what the future looks like for him now.

    If you have a question about this podcast, or question you'd like answered in the next one, come and talk to me about it. I'm on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/FrancesCookJournalist/ Instagram here https://www.instagram.com/francescooknz/ and Twitter here https://twitter.com/FrancesCook

  • Each week the NZ Herald and Newstalk ZB's Cooking the Books podcast tackles a different money problem. Today, it's what's changed in housing, and what it means for you. Hosted by Frances Cook.

    This time last year when we tried to predict the future, the Herald’s money team was focused on instability.

    Particularly international instability was a theme, with worries that Trump’s tweets, tension with China, and ongoing Brexit problems would cause ripples to New Zealand.

    And yes, all of that turned out to be a big factor, one that led to KiwiSavers’ having some nail biting moments, and business confidence taking a couple of tumbles over the year.

    But this year the turmoil could be closer to home.

    We are heading into an election year, and the biggest thing every politician hopes to do is grab your attention by grabbing for your wallet.

    So for the latest Cooking the Books I asked Herald business editor at large Liam Dann and money editor Tamsyn Parker, what the crystal ball tells us this time around.

    If you have a question about this podcast, or question you'd like answered in the next one, come and talk to me about it. I'm on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/FrancesCookJournalist/ Instagram here https://www.instagram.com/francescooknz/ and Twitter here https://twitter.com/FrancesCook

  • Each week the NZ Herald and Newstalk ZB's Cooking the Books podcast tackles a different money problem. Today, it's why giving to others can give you a boost too. Hosted by Frances Cook.

    This podcast focuses a lot on how to fix your finances, but once you've got yourself sorted, should you be helping others?

    Well, yes.

    For starters, nobody succeeds purely on their own. Even when you work hard, there's usually some sort of family support, or a workplace taking a chance on you, or a social scheme that helps you get ahead.

    So once you're doing well, it's a good idea to pay it back and help out others who are just starting.

    But if you want to be really cynical about it, it turns out you might be one of the biggest benefactors when you decide to give back.

    Apparently our brains quite enjoy when we decide to be charitable.

    For the latest Cooking the Books I talked to University of Auckland psychology lecturer Dr Sarah Cowie.

    We discussed what we get from giving to others, whether there's a difference in giving time or money, and how to vet charities to make sure your money goes further.

    If you have a question about this podcast, or question you'd like answered in the next one, come and talk to me about it. I'm on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/FrancesCookJournalist/ Instagram here https://www.instagram.com/francescooknz/ and Twitter here https://twitter.com/FrancesCook

  • Each week the NZ Herald and Newstalk ZB's Cooking the Books podcast tackles a different money problem. Today, it's why more New Zealanders are picking family time over presents. Hosted by Frances Cook.

    It's the most wonderful time of the year, or maybe the most stressful.

    Christmas is traditionally a time of big spending, but new research shows New Zealanders are getting sick of that.

    The Commission for Financial Capability has released research that shows what most of us really look forward to at this time of year.

    For 62 per cent of us, it's time with family. That's closely followed by enjoying the summer weather at 37 per cent, and time off work at 33 per cent.

    What we're enjoying least is the commercialism of the season, which annoys 36 per cent of us. It's closely followed by 35 per cent of us saying it's too expensive, and 34 per cent dreading the shopping.

    The worst part is that all of this stress may be for nothing, as one in four of us got at least one unwanted gift last year. For those of us who did, 42 per cent of us have it still sitting in a cupboard, unused.

    Honestly, this just seems like a lot of silly social pressure to do something that less and less of us are interested in, when we could be enjoying the much more fun parts of Christmas. So, how can we do it better?

    For the latest Cooking the Books I talked to Tom Hartmann, from the Commission for Financial Capability.

    We discussed why people are moving away from an overload of presents, what to do about Christmas debt, and how to keep the magic of Christmas while staying on a budget.

    If you have a question about this podcast, or question you'd like answered in the next one, come and talk to me about it. I'm on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/FrancesCookJournalist/' Instagram here https://www.instagram.com/francescooknz/ and Twitter here https://twitter.com/FrancesCook

  • Each week the NZ Herald and Newstalk ZB's Cooking the Books podcast tackles a different money problem. Today, it's what needs to change to reduce financial abuse. Hosted by Frances Cook.

    They say money is power, and it's true. That's exactly why we spend so much time on this podcast talking about financial independence, and how to achieve it.

    But what if someone wants to take that independence from you, so that they can have the power over you instead?

    Financial abuse is a real problem. It can take many different forms, but the most basic idea is that someone is using money to control another person, maybe even terrorise them.

    Now researchers say we should be fighting back.

    For the latest Cooking the Books podcast I talked to AUT's Dr Ayesha Scott.

    We discussed what financial abuse can look like, and what needs to change at both the individual and society level.

    If you have a question about this podcast, or question you'd like answered in the next one, come and talk to me about it. I'm on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/FrancesCookJournalist/ Instagram here https://www.instagram.com/francescooknz/ and Twitter here https://twitter.com/FrancesCook

  • Each week the NZ Herald and Newstalk ZB's Cooking the Books podcast tackles a different money problem. Today, it's what's changed in housing, and what it means for you. Hosted by Frances Cook.

    This year has been a huge one for changes to every New Zealander's favourite investment: property.

    Whether you're buying it to live in, or buying it as a rental investment, almost every Kiwi wants to buy a house and sees it as a path to wealth and security.

    So the changes we've seen this year could well have made your head spin.

    For those keeping track, we've seen: the Government scrap a proposed capital gains tax, and the Prime Minister promise she'll never bring one in; the loss of tax breaks for investment properties; KiwiBuild has floundered and is getting a reset; increasing focus on healthy homes standards becoming a legal standard; and our Official Cash Rate was cut twice, resulting in some of the cheapest mortgages in decades.

    That really is a lot.

    So with the OneRoof property report out this week, I was ready to look at it in interest to see where all this had left us.

    The best part is, the OneRoof team has not only looked at where we are now, but also the past couple of decades to see how we got here.

    For the latest Cooking the Books I talked to OneRoof editor Owen Vaughan and Valocity's James Wilson.

    We talked about where the housing market is now, how we got here over the past 20 years, and what to expect over the next year and beyond.

    If you have a question about this podcast, or question you'd like answered in the next one, come and talk to me about it. I'm on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/FrancesCookJournalist/ Instagram here https://www.instagram.com/francescooknz/ and Twitter here https://twitter.com/FrancesCook

  • Each week the NZ Herald and Newstalk ZB's Cooking the Books podcast tackles a different money problem. Today, it's the good and bad of buying a house with a friend. Hosted by Frances Cook.

    Money can be particularly difficult when you're flying solo. You don't have the luxury of pooling resources with someone else, buying the same thing for a fraction of the price.

    Or don't you?

    Particularly in the house buying world, some people are now teaming up with friends.

    It's a smart way to get around steep prices - particularly when most houses have more than one bedroom anyway, and you were probably already thinking about a flatmate in order to keep the bills down.

    There's just one issue; buying a house is a major commitment, even for those in a romantic relationship.

    For a friendship you want to make sure you do this right, as there's no standard divorce law to help you out if things go sour.

    That means there are a couple of legal considerations you need to be aware of first.

    For the latest Cooking the Books podcast I talked to Joanna Pidgeon from Pidgeon Law.

    We discussed what legal problems can come up, what to put into a contract, and how to vet the person you're thinking about buying with.

    If you have a question about this podcast, or question you'd like answered in the next one, come and talk to me about it. I'm on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/FrancesCookJournalist/ Instagram here https://www.instagram.com/francescooknz/ and Twitter here https://twitter.com/FrancesCook

  • Each week the NZ Herald and Newstalk ZB's Cooking the Books podcast tackles a different money problem. Today, it's the evidence behind the growing trend in passive investing. Hosted by Frances Cook.

    The digital revolution is notorious for making things cheaper and easier, and it's doing the same for our investing.

    Passive investing and particularly index funds have been going for a few decades, but are building up steam with every tech advance.

    The idea is that rather than paying a person to pick and choose investments for you, you put your money into a fund that automatically invests your cash across a wide number of companies.

    It's set and forget, and no need to pay someone's wages, so is the ultimate in cheap and easy.

    There's also a growing number of apps and websites that let you set this up, without needing to go through a broker. So it's a double bargain.

    The problem is that sometimes we don't trust these technological changes.

    Cheap and easy surely has to come with a downside, right? Not necessarily.

    For the latest Cooking the Books podcast I talked to Kernel Wealth founder Dean Anderson.

    We discussed why he's a fan of passive investing, whether it can lead to bubbles, and what changes he thinks are coming in the future.

    If you have a question about this podcast, or question you'd like answered in the next one, come and talk to me about it. I'm on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/FrancesCookJournalist/ Instagram here https://www.instagram.com/francescooknz/ and Twitter here https://twitter.com/FrancesCook

  • Each week the NZ Herald and Newstalk ZB's Cooking the Books podcast tackles a different money problem. Today, it's why ignoring commercial property could be a missed opportunity. Hosted by Frances Cook.

    Getting a foot on the property ladder is part of the kiwi dream. Many regular people plan to increase their wealth by first buying their own home, and then maybe a rental or two, to invest in their future.

    But the residential rental market is flooded with people with exactly this same idea, and that's pushing prices out of reach for many people.

    There's another part of the market that doesn't get anywhere near the same attention, and could work for some situations; commercial property.

    As in, shops, offices, maybe even some warehouses.

    When you zig while others are zagging, you can find more opportunities. But there are a few things to know first.

    For the latest Cooking the Books podcast I talked to Kaison Chang, from Baker Tilly Staples Rodway.

    We discussed the pros and cons of commercial property, what you need to consider to invest successfully, and whether an economic downturn could spell trouble for investors.

    For the episode watch the video podcast above.

    If you have a question about this podcast, or question you'd like answered in the next one, come and talk to me about it. I'm on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/FrancesCookJournalist/ Instagram here https://www.instagram.com/francescooknz/ and Twitter here https://twitter.com/FrancesCook

  • Each week the NZ Herald and Newstalk ZB's Cooking the Books podcast tackles a different money problem. Today, it's why a budget could be the key to feeling less deprived, not more. Hosted by Frances Cook.

    If someone tells you they're trying to stick to a budget, your first response is probably... a grimace.

    That's because budgeting has a terrible image problem, where we think of it as depriving ourselves, and never doing anything fun.

    This is actually backwards, as without a budget we can easily get caught by mindless spending, which soaks up our money and means we can't afford the other things we really want to do.

    So how do you do it, so that you get the good stuff without missing out the rest of life?

    For the latest Cooking the Books podcast I talked to PocketSmith CEO Jason Leong.

    We discussed the different ways of budgeting, how to make room for the things you love, and whether open banking could help.

    If you have a question about this podcast, or question you'd like answered in the next one, come and talk to me about it. I'm on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/FrancesCookJournalist/ Instagram here https://www.instagram.com/francescooknz/ and Twitter here https://twitter.com/FrancesCook

  • Each week the NZ Herald and Newstalk ZB's Cooking the Books podcast tackles a different money problem. Today, it's why building could be what helps those with a small house-buying budget. Hosted by Frances Cook.

    Houses are now so expensive, first home buyers are considering anything and everything to tip the scales in their favour.

    One of the options you can consider is building. There's a financial incentive, for starters.

    The KiwiSaver HomeStart grant doubles if you're planning to build. It's $5,000 for buying an existing home, and $10,000 if you're building a new one.

    You can also have a bit more control over what type of house you buy. Maybe you can keep costs low by going for a smaller house on a smaller parcel of land, instead of the standard three bedroom Kiwi home.

    But the issue is that as a first home buyer, by definition, you're new at this.

    Building can be complicated, and there are more ways it can go wrong.

    For the latest Cooking the Books podcast I talked to Kevin Atkinson from Generation Homes.

    We discussed what first home buyers need to know before building, the trend for smaller homes, and the opposite strategy, of building bigger multi-generational homes.

    If you have a question about this podcast, or question you'd like answered in the next one, come and talk to me about it. I'm on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/FrancesCookJournalist/ Instagram here https://www.instagram.com/francescooknz/ and Twitter here https://twitter.com/FrancesCook

  • Each week the NZ Herald and Newstalk ZB's Cooking the Books podcast tackles a different money problem. Today, it's how a rule of thumb can give guidance on your personal investing strategy. Hosted by Frances Cook.

    Time is everything when you're investing.

    Long-time podcast listeners will have heard it here before - the longer you have, the more that risky investments will be right for you, like shares or property.

    If you have less time, a lower risk investment like bonds or term deposits are usually the suggestion.

    Well if you're looking for more detail on this idea, there's a rule of thumb that some people like to use.

    It's the rule of 100, or, 100 minus age.

    It means that if you take 100, subtract your age, then what's left is the percentage of your investments that should be higher risk, because you have the time to build your wealth like that.

    So for me, at 31, the suggestion is 69 per cent of my investments going into higher risk options.

    But like any rule of thumb, there are exceptions, there's fine print, there are little adjustments before you can apply it to your own personal situation.

    For the latest podcast, I talked to Mark Lister from Craig's Investment Partners.

    We discussed when the rule of 100 works, when it doesn't, good low risk options, and how property fits into all of this.

    If you have a question about this podcast, or question you'd like answered in the next one, come and talk to me about it. I'm on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/FrancesCookJournalist/ Instagram here https://www.instagram.com/francescooknz/ and Twitter here https://twitter.com/FrancesCook

  • Each week the NZ Herald and Newstalk ZB's Cooking the Books podcast tackles a different money problem. Today, it's the upcoming KiwiSaver changes you can have a say in. Hosted by Frances Cook.

    A milestone of looking after your money in New Zealand is to buy a home, and pay it off.

    That's because our system, and especially the pension, is designed with home ownership in mind.

    Pension payments depend on what you're entitled to, but if you're single you get about $20,000 a year, and if you're in a couple, you get about $30,000 a year.

    That doesn't leave much room for paying off a mortgage, or even continuing to rent.

    That's why it's worrying that stats from the Commission for Financial Capability show that the numbers of people going into retirement still paying a mortgage or rent, are increasing.

    But there is a suggestion on how to fix this.

    KiwiSaver is often the first stop for those who want to save for a house, as the candy coated retirement scheme seriously boosts your savings.

    There are currently strict rules about when you can withdraw money for a home - so the question is, should those rules change.

    For the latest Cooking the Books podcast I spoke to interim Retirement Commissioner Peter Cordtz.

    We discussed whether home ownership is going down, the proposed changes to KiwiSaver, and how you can have a say.

    If you have a question about this podcast, or question you'd like answered in the next one, come and talk to me about it. I'm on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/FrancesCookJournalist/ Instagram here https://www.instagram.com/francescooknz/ and Twitter here https://twitter.com/FrancesCook