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.