How to move forward after money mishaps

5 min read
3 February, 2021

It's time to cut yourself some slack. We've all made mistakes, and when they’re money-related it can be incredibly stressful. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, but it’s important to acknowledge what we can do in these situations.  

While we can't change the past, there is lots we can do about the future. So instead of beating yourself up, look ahead to what you can do differently next time.  

The FSC has done some interesting research that’s found there are a lot of ways Kiwis could improve their financial know-how to create healthier, happier lives.  

Here are some ways you can use your experiences to move forward in financially challenging times. 

Common money mishaps 

  • Getting into too much debt 

  • Falling victim to a scam 

  • Putting all your eggs in one basket 

  • Having no buffer for emergencies 

1. Getting into too much debt 

If you’re in debt, you’re not alone. It has been reported that a third of Kiwis used their credit card to fund their 2020 Christmas spending.  

Being in a lot of debt can stop you from living the life you want. Maybe you put too much on the credit card last Christmas, took out a personal loan you’re struggling to pay off or borrowed a large amount from a family member, and you can’t seem to get your head above water. 

How to move forward:  

Luckily, there are strategies when it comes to paying off debt. Here are two common ones: 

  • The snowball approach: Concentrate on the smallest debt first.  

  • The avalanche approach: Start with the debt with the highest interest rate. 

Any  strategy you choose will depend on what works for you and the way you like to tackle problems. If you’re really struggling with debt, talk to a MoneyTalks financial counsellor for free or call them on 0800 345 123. 

There are also personal blogs and Instagram accounts out there run by those who have paid off excessive amounts of debt, like fellow Kiwi Tracy Hemingway, the Debt Free Diva. Take a look at some of those if you’re after some motivation and inspiration for your own debt-free journey.   

2. Falling victim to a scam 

Unfortunately, there are people out there who make a habit of preying on others, imitating financial service providers to rip off unsuspecting folk. Plenty of us fall for it, too; Netsafe reported that Kiwis lost nearly $19 million dollars from online scams and fraud between 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2020.  

Scammers try to get your personal information such as bank logins and passwords or credit card details so they can use your money for their own purposes.  

If you think you’ve been the victim of a scam, there are actions you can take. Update all your passwords and install decent security software on your computer. Let your bank or financial institution know what’s happened, and report the incident to Netsafe. It’s also important to take some steps to protect yourself from future scams:  

How to move forward:  

  1. Be critical when receiving emails from financial institutions in your inbox. Banks, insurers and other providers will never ask for your personal information over email.   

  1. Make your passwords stronger by incorporating upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. 

  1. Think before clicking on links in emails – even if they seem legit.  

  2. Read up on common scams and ways to protect yourself on the NZ Government website and Netsafe’s website

3. Putting all your eggs in one basket 

The issue with putting every egg in the same basket is that should you trip and fall, all of those eggs are going to break (and you won’t be able to make that delicious omelette you’d been drooling over).  

The same goes for your money.  

If all of your money is invested in one place (say property, or the share market) and there’s a recession or a housing market dip, then all of your money will be affected.  

However, not all of us are aware of this; our research found that 57% of Kiwis who haven’t sought financial advice have a good understanding of having a variety of investments. However, this was 77% for advised Kiwis (indicating that getting some financial advice could be very useful!)  

How to move forward:  

If you’ve experienced financial hardship as a result of having everything tied up in the one place, make a decision to expand into a range of other areas in the future. Putting your money in different places (what we in the industry call “diversification”) is a good way of doing this.  

Diversification basically spreads out the risk so that if something goes wrong, only some of what you own will be affected. If one particular industry or market goes through a rough patch, the ones that are performing well will balance this out, and you won’t be as affected. People that invest in shares do this in a variety of ways: by choosing a range of companies in different industries, having a geographical spread or putting their money into ETFs (which are funds that invest in indexes that track many companies). As always, we recommend seeking advice when starting out or changing your investing strategy.  

4. Having no buffer for emergencies 

According to our research, only about a third of us could survive for a month and only a quarter could survive for three months. More than 25% would not be financially stable at all.  

We Kiwis tend to live life with a “she’ll be right” attitude, and our laidback approach to life is no doubt the envy of many around the world. Yet it can work against us when it comes to being prepared for things like job loss, health scares and family emergencies.  

Not having a buffer in place in a time of crisis could greatly affect not only your financial security and wellbeing but that of those who depend on you, such as children, partners and older family members.  

How to move forward:  

Open up a separate bank account and start funneling some of your pay check into it for emergencies. Try to aim for a minimum of 3 months of expenses in there. Shocks don’t happen every day, but they can happen, and a rainy day fund will give you the peace of mind that should something happen to you or someone you love, you’ll be able to get by financially for a while.  

Top 3 Tips to Move Forward After Making a Money Mishap 

1. Learn and grow 

Instead of dwelling on the negatives, consider what you can learn from what went wrong. What lesson can you take from it, and potentially pass on to others? 

2. Make some changes 

 You can’t change what happened in the past, but you can change what you do next. 

3. Get some guidance 

Only 18% of Kiwis get financial advice, despite there being a connection between advice and both financial and overall wellbeing. Advice can not only help you get out of your current situation, but set you up with habits and tools to improve your financial know-how and stay financially well for the rest of your life.  


This information is general information only. It is not intended to constitute financial advice and does not take your individual circumstances and financial situation into account. We encourage you to seek assistance from a trusted financial adviser or other professional advice.

The links that are provided are additional resources that you access at your own risk and the FSC takes no responsibility for any third party content.

The FSC and its employees make no express or implied representations or give any warranties regarding this information and we accept no responsibility for any loss, damage, cost, or expense (whether direct or indirect) incurred by you as a result of any error, omission, or misrepresentation in this information. 

3 February 2021

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