Warning – blunt stereotypes follow: You may have noticed a key difference between women and men – gals have a much more cost-effective way of communicating than guys do.
Women need far smaller quantities of alcohol to open up and share something significant (a single glass of bubbly will do it). The fellas – if we get there at all – can need vast quantities of beer before they’ll talk about anything remotely close to what’s really going on with them inside!
Of course, these are generalisations that are proven wrong daily. Some guys talk a lot; some of us like our own voice a bit too much.
Yet I continually marvel at how some conversations can stretch for three or four hours at a time… Some people just enjoy talking in tens of thousands of words.
What are we talking about?
There’s so much to say. It’s a chance to catch up on all the goss, shoot off about sport, weigh in on the weather. The pets, the kids, the tech, the trips, the media. And don’t get me started on politics, reaching a whole new level of crazy around the world.
What do you find yourself talking about the most?
Somewhere amid all this conversation, you’d think there would be room to talk about our long-term wellbeing and lifestyles. But somehow we’re missing how investing – particularly in KiwiSaver – is about just that.
As it happens to be World Investor Week, perhaps it’s time to drive the conversation a bit. What should we talk about?
First up is to realise that we’re not just saving, but investing – which was once the reserve of the “pale, male and stale”. But now, KiwiSaver (a bit of a misnomer, actually) enables almost anyone to become an investor.
Our KiwiSaver money is being put to use, buying assets such as shares or bonds that spin off returns. Those returns are added to our fund and will earn more returns themselves, and so our money grows for the future.
Here are conversations worth having:
- Has our fund been growing? (Hint: the number to look at is after fees and taxes.) Short-term returns can be all over the place. When it comes to judging performance, the longer the period the better (within reason). It helps to assess at least five years of information, although no one can be sure that any trend is likely to continue. (A key tip is not to choose a fund based only on how it’s done in the past.)
- What are we invested in? And is it ethical? (Hint: it’s not always easy to tell.) When you put money into KiwiSaver, managers invest it in income or growth assets (or both). The many KiwiSaver funds are grouped depending on the proportion of growth assets they hold. Over the long term, growth assets usually bring higher returns on average than income assets, but there are more ups and downs along the way.
- Shall we put the kids in KiwiSaver? (Hint: it depends what the money is for.) There can be many benefits to having kids in KiwiSaver early: they can think about their futures or imagine where they might want to live someday. They can learn about investing, and how money is not just for spending – it’s for growing. But like all investing, it needs to be driven by your goals for that money and the timeframe you’re investing for. KiwiSaver is typically restricted to retirement savings or a first home, so using it to save for education, for instance, will not work. So what’s the goal for that money? And how soon will they need it back?
Somewhere amid all the daily catch-ups, we need to make space to discuss our long-term plans and wellbeing, too. KiwiSaver, and investing beyond KiwiSaver, can be topical.
It’s time to bring it up, wouldn’t you say?
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