Saving, sacrifices and a good attitude towards money

After years of flatting and saving, Jaedyn & Ngatiriti are homeowners but it wouldn’t be possible without the support of whaanau, spending sacrifices and a good attitude towards money.

A shared money mindset and willingness to sacrifice spending has been the key for young couple Jaedyn Falwasser and Ngatiriti Eparaima-Hautapu buying their first home at 27 years old.

It was years of flatting and saving where they could while Ngatiriti completed full-time study and Jaedyn worked as a Conservation Ranger before they became a couple. Eight years later, their common principles towards money have put them in good stead to buy their first home together and achieve their life aspirations.

“Basically, we mapped out our expenses, and then tried to work out if we could afford to pay for a mortgage and all the other costs that come with that. We went into the home ownership process a little bit cautious and with a little bit of uncertainty but we felt like we had a plan to help us move forward in the process,” says Jaedyn, 28.

Armed with a solid strategy and budget, they applied for a home in Te Kaarearea, a Hamilton, iwi-led, housing development founded to help tribal members into their first homes.

“If I reflect on where we were a year or even two years ago before we jumped on this journey, it’s taken this experience to get serious about money. The language of banking, insurance and mortgages can be pretty overwhelming at the start but I had a foundation to stand on through my business studies. A commitment to a loan this big can be hard to comprehend when you aren’t necessarily in touch with a network of inter-generational homeowners and are pretty much figuring this all out for the first time,” says Ngatiriti.

Neither of the hard working pair knew many people who were homeowners – Ngatiriti is the first in her whaanau to buy a home and only one of Jaedyn’s parents is a homeowner. They found that the housing market today is very different to what it might’ve been in our parents’ time and often had to lean on other advice to assess the overall investment. They used a broker to organise their mortgage and believe KiwiSaver was vital in affording a housing deposit.

“We were thankful we had KiwiSaver. My mum told me to sign up for that as soon as I could and I think that’s the biggest thing that helped us,” says Jaedyn, “even though we were able to have these savings and access the Home Start Grant, my Mum was able to support us with an unexpected shortfall to our deposit. Access to capital in a situation like this unfortunately is something that can hugely affect your options.”

Financial literacy wasn’t something they learnt growing up, but they were both always taught to work hard and not to spend money they didn’t have.

“It comes back to that collective approach. We live within our means, we know what we can afford and if we really want something we’ll make sure that we can actually afford it first” says Jaedyn.

“The good thing is that we’re happy with that. We don’t look at people with envy for things we can’t do and instead try to focus on being content with what we have or planning for the greater outcome of what we are trying to achieve, which essentially is mana motuhake for our whaanau,” says Ngatiriti, 28.

Since purchasing their first home, the couple have gotten smarter with their money and planning for the future. It has been almost two years of mortgage-life and adjustments are still being made to their living expenses. Even on one income while Jaedyn dedicates one whole year to completing Te Tohu Paetahi, a full immersion Te Reo Maaori course at the University of Waikato, the couple are able to find ways to make things work.

“We have high aspirations and we're pretty lucky we’re like minded when it comes to money – at the end of the day if there’s a will, there’s a way” he says.

Now they’re settled in their whare, the pair is always willing to share their experience with whanaunga and peers to encourage others along this journey. “I’m a real advocate for our whaanau and honestly believe if I can do it, bro, you can do it too. It’s about making it a norm in your own community, your surroundings and with your own mates and not being whakamaa or ashamed to talk about money” says Jaedyn.