New Zealand's second Money Week is being held from
September 1-7. It aims to encourage New Zealanders to ''start a
conversation'' about their money and take some action. Business
reporter Sally Rae talks to Ondine Grace, A Money Week
Ondine Grace outside her North Dunedin home, which she
bought when she was 20. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
Even when she was 11 and doing a newspaper delivery run,
young Dunedin woman Ondine Grace was acquiring a savings
Ten years later, Miss Grace (21) has just marked 13 months as
a home-owner, having purchased a four-bedroom house in
Northeast Valley in July last year.
The Money Week ambassador acknowledged that to own a house at
such a young age was ''pretty cool''.
''You have got a better start in life if you have your own
house,'' she said.
Level-headed and showing a maturity beyond her years, Miss
Grace credited her parents for being a ''major influence''
when it came to getting her into saving.
Born in France to a French mother and a Kiwi father, she
moved to New Zealand when she was about 3. The family
returned to France when she was 13 for three years.
While doing her newspaper deliveries, which amounted to
payment of about $50 a month, she saved enough after a few
months to buy ''a little MP3 player - the biggest thing in
the world'', she said, laughing.
On her return from France when she was 16, she got her
''first real job'', working at New World supermarket while
still at school.
That continued after she left school. She took a gap year in
2010 and worked as many as three jobs, doing as many hours as
she could and ''saving lots of money''.
In 2011, she spent a year at the University of Otago studying
languages - and did not have to take out a student loan -
before leaving to join the team at Language Perfect in a
Language Perfect provides language learning software to
secondary school pupils globally. That regular income was
essentially the reason she was able to buy a house, she said.
While the realisation she had bought a house was ''weird'',
it was more of a shock for others.
''My friends were like 'what? You bought a house? They were
kind of intrigued,'' she said.
No-one in her circle of friends owned a house, although she
acknowledged that home-ownership was not everybody's goal.
While her parents always said that ''the younger you buy it
[a house], the better'', she was not sure they expected her
to buy so young.
They were guarantors for the property and also helped her
with the deposit.
The house was ''going cheap'' as it needed quite a few
renovations, including the wiring and a bathroom overhaul,
and she acquired it for $182,000.
She has four flatmates, including her boyfriend, whose rent
contributions were paying off the mortgage.
''I think they are probably finding it quite good living with
the landlord,'' she said.
Miss Grace, who hoped to eventually become a language
teacher, said she would be moving out of the house ''probably
by next year and onwards'', when she shifted out of the area,
but would keep the property as an investment.
''Fingers crossed, it should have paid itself off in 10 to 15
years,'' she said.
Asked her tips for saving, Miss Grace said she had a spending
account and a savings account.
Her pay packet went into her spending account. That way, she
was only ever transferring money into her savings account,
not out of it.
If she made purchases such as groceries, she would round it
off to the closest $5 or $10, or even $50, with the extra
going into the savings account. While it might not seem like
much at the time, ''that little extra can always build'', she
She reckoned one of the big differences between her and a lot
of other young people was that she did not drink much
While she had nothing against drinking - ''it's part of being
young'' - not doing it helped with saving. She also often
bought second-hand or ''cheap'' items.
While she had to get a credit card this year to make some
whiteware purchases, she looked for cards that gave lengthy
interest-free periods and paid purchases off quickly.
Surprisingly, Miss Grace said she had always been bad with
budgets and she had started using an online budgeting
programme called YNAB (You Need A Budget), which had
With Ngai Tahu ancestry, she had also been able access Whai
Rawa, the iwi's savings scheme.