If Chantelle Howell has it, she’ll give it. But the generous maamaa of two has learnt the hard way that spending excessively on the people you love and things you want doesn’t always lead to happiness.
As one of 13 tamariki from a blended whaanau Chantelle knows what it’s like to go without so she vowed one day her children would have everything they wanted and more.
Now a maamaa to Brooklyn, nine, and Kauri, three, it’s been a steep learning curve when it comes to finances.
“I always thought, ‘Man when I have kids they’ll get everything.’ Now I have two really entitled children who expect everything,” says Chantelle, 31.
While she’s in a healthy financial position to spend on her tamariki, Chantelle and her husband Paul, 32, are putting boundaries in place around money in an effort to educate their children.
“If our daughter wants something she needs to work for it. That means cleaning her room without being asked and keeping it tidy, emptying the dishwasher, things like that,” says Chantelle, who at nine-years-old was expected to contribute around the home without any financial reward involved.
“Teaching her these things is teaching us about ourselves. You think it will be amazing to give your kids everything and actually it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, the ramifications can be really scary.
“Now I appreciate more what my parents did for us. They didn’t have a choice but being raised the way we were made us the people we are today.”
While there are changes at home for the kids, Chantelle maintains whaanau is everything and she never hesitates to help her siblings financially when needed, or to house her parents, who have both lived with her at separate times.
“I’m a very caring person and whaanau is everything. If I have it, I’ll give it,” she says.
Both Paul and Chantelle work full time, Paul as a tire technician and Chantelle as an accounting technician at Murray Kidd Falconer, where she has worked for 16 years.
Chantelle also has other revenue streams selling Tupperware, Norwex, catering and bookkeeping.
The Te Kuuiti couple want a certain lifestyle, to finish renovating their home, buy nice things and reach their financial goals, so working hard is a non-negotiable.
But in the past they’ve struggled with spiralling debt.
“I was the book-up queen. I financed everything and it was out of control – tens of thousands of dollars, to the point we really couldn’t handle it.”
With a young daughter at the time and mounting costs, Chantelle knew they had to make some serious changes.
“We re-mortgaged, got rid of all of our credit cards and sorted our finances,” says Chantelle, who owns the whare she grew up in after buying it when her nana passed away.
“It’s a vicious cycle of over extending ourselves. If a sibling needed help, we’d help them even if we couldn’t really afford to.”
It’s been challenging to avoid debt but two years ago, Chantelle vowed to stop overspending for good after being declined by the bank for a loan to renovate their kitchen.
“We could afford the repayments so I didn’t understand but the bank said we had too much debt from financing and hire purchases. We had to have a really good look at ourselves.”
It’s taught the couple how to prioritise and budget as they get really clear about their financial goals.
“When we got rid of all our credit cards and hire purchases and started living within our means it made us appreciate what we had more because we know we paid for it.”
They’ve made some mistakes but Chantelle is proud that they’ve learnt from it and achieved so much already.
“We set ourselves a 10-year goal for renovating the house to have a new deck and roof, re-lined, carpet, the works and we achieved all of that in five years.”
For these plans, Chantelle worked closely with her bank to borrow against her mortgage. She’s also grateful for the support of her manager at work who’s shared plenty of financial advice over the years.
Chantelle and Paul are now starting to plan their next goals - a hot rod for Paul and lap band surgery for Chantelle. But the big dream is to be mortgage free by 50.
It’s aiming high but Chantelle wholeheartedly believes she’ll achieve it and encourages others to set goals and do the same.
“Goals are the biggest thing. It’s not just going to fall in your lap, you have to work for it, so set goals.”