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Matariki: a time to reflect on and plan your finances
June 16, 2022

Matariki is a star cluster which is visible in the early morning sky during mid-winter, here in Aotearoa New Zealand. For many Māori, the rise of Matariki signals the new year – a time to reflect on the past, celebrate the present and plan for the future. While it has been celebrated for centuries, on the 24th June, 2022, it will be officially recognised as a public holiday.

As one of the closest star clusters to earth, it’s also one of the brightest in the sky, with significance in many cultures around the globe at different times of the year. In English, Matariki is called by its ancient Greek name, Pleiades or the Seven Sisters. In Hawaiian it is Makali’i, ‘eyes of royalty', and in Japan it is Subaru, meaning ‘gathered together’.

Traditionally, Matariki celebrations involve farewelling the dead, honouring ancestors and celebrating life, alongside friends and whānau. With the change of season, it’s also a time to celebrate and feast on the year’s harvest, as well as prepare the ground for new plantings in the coming year. The stars are used to make predictions on the upcoming harvest: If the stars appear clear and bright, it signifies an abundant season ahead.

This makes Matariki a great time for a kōrero (a discussion) on our financial wellbeing and planning for the year ahead. It’s the modern-day version of ensuring your harvest is enough to feed the whole whānau. So, what are some steps you can take to improve your financial position, to better the future for yourself and your family?

1. Evaluate your debt

There’s no denying it has been a difficult year for many. Beyond the challenges that Covid-19 has presented, inflation and the increasing cost of living have put a strain on many people’s finances. If your debt has increased this year, it’s understandable – though it’s important to have a plan in place to ensure you meet your financial obligations. Sorted have a helpful debt calculator and budgeting tool, as well as a range of other helpful; resources so you can make a plan for reducing your debt this year.

2. Set your financial goals

Having clear financial goals in mind can help you stay on track and keep yourself financially accountable. We’ve written a separate article on setting your financial goals, with 10 key considerations to keep in mind.

3. Plan ahead

Have you ever looked into how much you’ll have in your KiwiSaver by the time you’re 65? Will it be enough to fund your retirement? Matariki provides a great opportunity to plan for the year ahead – but it’s also important to look even further into the future. If you’re saving for a big overseas trip, buying a house or retiring by a certain age, are those goals realistic for the amount you’re currently saving and investing – or do you need to adapt your current strategy to ensure you can reach those goals? Try mapping your goals out on a timeline with how much money you’ll need to fund each of them. Then try breaking this down to work out how much you’ll need to save each year in order to achieve them. Perhaps it’s time to ask for a raise, change up your savings plan or consider investing to create additional income?

4. Consider investing

Saving money is a great habit to get into – but keeping your money in the bank may not be the best idea, given the current environment. Inflation is the highest it’s been in 30 years, sitting at 6.9% meaning every year, the money you have sitting in the bank is worth that much less each year. Though you’ll still receive an average of 2-3% interest in return, historically, share markets return an average of 8%, which is more than enough to match inflation and maintain the value of your savings. If you’re new to investing, finding out more about your risk appetite and wider investor profile is a good place to start. It’s important to remember though, share markets go up and down. The markets are relatively volatile at the moment and they may go down in the short-term, which is why it’s important to keep a long-term view.

5. Consider diversifying your portfolio into growing NZ businesses

Small-to-medium businesses (SMEs) make up 97% of all Kiwi businesses and are the backbone of the New Zealand economy. By diversifying your portfolio to include investments in SMEs, not only are you helping to support the growth of these businesses, but you get to invest earlier in their growth journey, with the potential for higher returns. Catalist is a stock exchange designed specifically for investing in SMEs. We’re building new opportunities for investments that you may not have previously been able to access. If you’re interested in staying up to date on upcoming investment opportunities, you can sign up for a Catalist account and opt in to our newsletter.

So, this Matariki, acknowledge your progress so far, reflect on your failures, celebrate your achievements, and pull together a plan for the year ahead. It’s been a challenging year in many ways, but the future holds many opportunities for growth.

Ngā mihi o te tau hou, happy new year.

By Holly Smith