16 weeks till Christmas – are you ready?

Christmas day is 16 weeks from Monday (the 4th of September).

Now that this has horrified you, you should be wondering about what you are going to do for Christmas and the spending for it.

Most people tend to overspend at Christmas, on presents and food and usually this goes on credit cards. If you do this, you spend much of the following year paying back the overspend and paying a bunch of interest.

This happens due to lack of planning for Christmas and what you are going to spend.

In the counselling work I do, it tends to dry up in November and December as people don’t want to be told what they can and cannot afford before Christmas.

But in February once the holidays have worn off, I get a lot of people coming in to get help to fix what they did.

Many people will think there is no time to plan for Christmas without borrowing, but there is.

If you get paid this week, you have 8 pay days before Christmas, so have time to save something.

Firstly, work out how much extra you want for food, and for entertainment. If you don’t have the supermarket stamps plan going, then you need to get this in cash. So, let’s assume $200 for extra food etc.

Then let’s look at presents.

Work out who gets a present and what amount each person gets spent on them.

If it’s you, your partner and two kids let’s assume $100 a person, so that’s $400.

Then if we have 8 grandparents, cousins etc, let’s go with $50 each, another $400.

All up this is $1000 needed between now and Christmas.

This equates to $125 a fortnight payday from, this week till Christmas.

Now if you have a smaller or larger family, are travelling or hosting people, your situation will be different.

But whatever it is, sit down and plan it out, work out the total you need and then how much you need to put aside each pay.

If you cannot free up the money to do this, you need to cut the amount you are going to spend, maybe great Auntie Muriel who no one likes and never talks to you anyway, does not get a present?

Then you simply must stick to your limit.

Next year, to make it easier, start this plan in January, you won’t need to save anywhere near as much.

You will find that this makes Christmas much less stressful, and reduces the post-Christmas blues as you realise you overspent.

This is just one step towards taking control of your finances, staying out of debt, and helping yourself to build wealth for the future.

DUX – 7 years on and where we started

7 years ago, DUX was formed.

It was the last Friday of August in 2010 and the place I had worked for 6 years, and assumed I would be working at for another 10+, decided that they did not want me there anymore.
That is a bit of a shock to the system I can tell you and I was in a bit of a daze. My wife was shocked too, but I did not tell her till I got home.

We spent the weekend moving all my stuff out of the office (15 archive boxes of paper files, now all scanned so no more carting paper), and once my head cleared on the Sunday, I sat down to plan what I was going to do.

Once I had a chance to think about it, it became quite exciting. It was still scary, I had never worked by myself before, but I would get to keep all the money I made and make the decisions.

When I looked at all the ideas I had had over the previous years, that had been rejected as they did not fit the company, or the ways of working I wanted to push, I got excited.

I designed DUX to be a full-service advice company, focusing on service in the long term and good advice. I realised that the profession I am in is not great at service and communication and I aimed to fix this. I think we have a way to go, but am proud of the quality of service we provide. We don’t always get it right, but we work to be better tomorrow than we were yesterday.

DUX went from working out of my spare room on my own, to working out of a new office with 2 staff and various contractors, all working to help DUX clients.

I had two choices 7 years ago, cower, go get a job or join another company or chase my vision. 7 years on I am very glad I took the harder choice as the result and where we are going has made it worth it.

What I have learned from this, is that when faced with a difficult choice, it’s not the event itself that’s the key, it’s how you choose to react to it.

I look forward to working with my current and future clients for the next 7 years and many beyond that.

Happy 6th Birthday to DUX Financial Services

Today is the 6th birthday of DUX Financial.  It’s crazy to think it’s been 6 years, but it means I have now been at DUX longer than any other financial company.


One day I will give the full history of DUX Financial, but for now, a very short summary.6_5


On this day, 6 years ago, I was on my first day as a sole operator of a financial services company.  I did not have a name yet, but by the end of the week I decided on DUX.


I had not planned on going out on my own, but the previous Friday that decision was made for me, and it was the best decision for everyone.


What I have learned is that sometimes you cannot see the truth right in front of you and you need someone to give you the push.  Someone did, and now 6 years later DUX is a thriving business with great clients, and continuing to grow.


Thank you to all DUX clients past and present, some of whom have been with us for most of my career, and followed me to DUX.


Without clients there would be no business, and I would have to get a job; so, seriously, thank you.


Thank you to all DUX staff past and present, for helping carry my vision of the right levels of service to our clients and making my life easier, most of the time :).


The future has changes coming, and I am looking forward to all of them.  We are not going anywhere, other than to new premises at some point.  We are here for the long term, giving common sense advice to all who want it, and growing, and protecting the wealth of New Zealanders.


Alan Borthwick

29 August 2016

KiwiSaver Hardship, Access Your Savings

KiwiSaver Hardship, spurred on by this article:


I thought i would add some comment.

They are correct that WINZ cannot force you to access your KiwiSaver as its locked away as per the article.

The bit i want to comment on is this KiwiSaver Hardship:

KiwiSaver Hardship money can be accessed by savers in cases of hardship, and if you are calling on the benefits system you are probably in hardship.

KiwiSaver Hardship

Now this is not quite accurate. You have to be in “Significant” Financial KiwiSaver Hardship, where not getting access to your KiwiSaver is going to leave you significantly worse off than getting access to it.

So for example we need to be able to show that if we can get your KiwiSaver, we can clear x,y and z debts which will reduce your spending to below your income, so you stop going backwards and you can start to make some savings etc on your own.

If you are in a situation where its uncomfortable, KiwiSaver Hardship will definitely help but its not 100% critical, then you are likely to be out of luck. So for example, you are in debt, but have $10 left over each week after all your expenses, it will be difficult to get the money out. Your KiwiSaver Hardship provider is not interested in the fact that the your interest costs over time will be more than the KiwiSaver, they have a high bar to getting your funds out.

The medical needs situation is where you need funds to make changes to your home due to major medical issues, or you have been diagnosed as terminally ill or permanently disabled.

When you want to apply to get your funds out, you have to complete a detailed application form, provide evidence and submit it to your provider, who review all applications regularly. Many of them will want you to get back up advice from an Authorised Financial Adviser, who can look at your options and provide a third parties opinion on whether this is legitimate. One of the things they want to know is are there alternatives to getting KiwiSaver Hardship, and will you be negatively impacted by not getting your KiwiSaver.

Now if you are thinking that the last thing you want to do if you have hardship is then pay for an adviser to review there are options. If your KiwiSaver was set up by an adviser, then i believe they have a duty to review it for you. I will always provide this service for my KiwiSaver clients, free of charge. You may be out of luck if your adviser is only a Registered Financial Adviser as they cannot advise on whether you should dispose of an Investment product and likely do not have the skill and competence for budgeting etc (as its not normally part of the training needed for insurance and mortgage product sales).

If your KiwiSaver is directly with a bank and not through an adviser., then i beleive they have a duty to do this for you (but be aware that they will be mostly out to protect themself, so if you are in danger of bouncing payments to them, they may take early action).

Your other option is to call EAP services if your employer is a member and book a time with the Financial Adviser for your area. In Wellington (including the Hutt), that person is me, Alan Borthwick of DUX Financial. I have done many hardship reviews and supporting letters for clients via EAP. There is no cost to you. You can call EAP on 0800 327 669

While KiwiSaver is meant to be for your first home and ultimately your retirement, there are situations where its best to get the funds now. In that case, advice from a properly qualified adviser is your best bet.