Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION -

It was a son’s home­work as­sign­ment about ‘‘ Dad’s vi­sion for the fu­ture’’ that helped set Zechariah Reuelu on a path to­wards cre­at­ing the fi­nan­cial free­dom needed to carve out a fu­ture for him, his wife and chil­dren.

Born and bred in Porirua, he is the old­est son of six chil­dren.

‘‘We may have lacked ma­te­rial things, but my par­ents taught us about Chris­tian val­ues and prin­ci­ples.’’

His mi­grant par­ents worked hard – of­ten two jobs – to buy their own house and help bring other Toke­lauan and Samoan fam­i­lies to New Zealand.

Zechariah’s sense of cul­tural obli­ga­tion meant he put his own dreams on hold. He left school and got a job. He also took on the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the mort­gage for his par­ents’ home some years later.

When he first had his own in­come, ‘‘I was reck­less in my spend­ing,’’ Zechariah re­calls.

Mat­ters came to a crux when he ac­crued an enor­mous credit card debt while over­seas on a rugby tour. For­tu­nately, he was coun­selled by a friend who ad­vised him to be hon­est with him­self and his fam­ily.

Zechariah re­alised that un­less he changed his ap­proach to debt, his lack of fi­nan­cial knowl­edge would be passed to his chil­dren.

He and his wife started their de­sign busi­ness and the jour­ney of con­stant learn­ing that went with it – fi­nan­cial and emo­tional.

‘‘We want to be debt free so we have learnt as a cou­ple to be dili­gent and con­tent,’’ he says.

‘‘We plan. We know that De­cem­ber and Jan­uary are quiet ... for the busi­ness so we use lay-by to buy our chil­dren’s Christ­mas gifts dur­ing the mid­dle of the year. Also we open a Christ­mas Club [su­per­mar­ket] ac­count.’’

As part of teach­ing fi­nan­cial prin­ci­ples to the chil­dren, each fam­ily mem­ber now has their own sav­ings ac­count with Ki­wiSaver.

‘‘We have used the 10:10:80 rule – we live on 80 per cent of our in­come, we tithe 10 per cent to our church and we save the other 10 per cent.’’

The fam­ily has also tack­led harder is­sues.

‘‘It is the heart of Pa­cific peo­ple to give, par­tic­u­larly at fu­ner­als.’’

Zechariah and his wife put aside some sav­ings for fu­ner­als, and more.

‘‘We give our time, we cook or we give in some other way.’’

This is the fi­nal in a se­ries of ar­ti­cles run in as­so­ci­a­tion with Wes­ley Com­mu­nity Ac­tion and the Good Cents ini­tia­tive, on lo­cal peo­ple who have taken pos­i­tive steps to­wards fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity.

Find­ing a new path: Be­com­ing debt free has been the be­gin­ning of a new ad­ven­ture for Zechariah Reuelu.

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