In the latest Ipsos New Zealand Issues Monitor report, the rapid cost of living increases ranked as the top concern for New Zealanders. We spoke with Rose Solia, a Pasifika financial wellbeing expert, about ways to take the pressure off over the summer and beyond.
“Many people are understandably stressed about the cost of living now. Everything is more expensive; food, petrol, and mortgage interest rates have risen a lot. These increases can be a huge shock to your financial system. To me, financial wellbeing is being able to meet all your current financial obligations and living costs, plan and save for the future, and enjoy life without constantly stressing about money. Money is not everything, but it impacts things you need to live a healthy life. Worrying about finances can have a significant impact on your mental health and health in general,” says Rose.
Growing up, members of Rose’s family were in very different financial situations. She saw firsthand the opportunities and privileges that came with being in a good financial position, versus the struggles faced when living in hardship. Some of her family members often had to manage on a tight budget, with limited access to fair and affordable lending and therefore found it hard to break out of the debt cycle.
“When you're stuck in a debt cycle and don’t have any extra money, it limits your ability to take opportunities and get ahead. It can dampen your spirits when you feel like you are trying your best, just to keep your head above water. It’s exhausting, draining and stressful.”
She also saw the effect that predatory lenders and unethical shopping trucks selling things for huge markups in her neighbourhood had on the people in her community. It didn’t sit right with her, because she thought everyone deserved to live a life where they weren't constantly struggling, stressed and anxious.
This spurred Rose’s interest in finance, and after university she worked as a community loan adviser on Salvation Army’s ‘Goodshop’, an ethical shopping truck that disrupted the predatory mobile shopping truck market in South Auckland and Porirua. She then worked at Good Shepherd as a community loan adviser and financial wellbeing and debt coach, helping people struggling with unmanageable debt with financial mentoring and debt advocacy. Rose was able to offer low interest debt consolidation loans to her clients, which often saved them plenty of interest and cleared up some space in their budgets to get ahead. She also managed a financial wellbeing team for another community organisation that helped Pasifika to buy their first homes.
Throughout her career, Rose has realised many people face social barriers and have a lack of financial knowledge. She believes that those who need financial knowledge the most are somewhat gatekept from learning, due to complex jargon and taboo. She started an Instagram profile called Money Chats With Rose @money.chats.with.rose
simplify complicated concepts and open up the much-needed conversation.
“I want us to normalise talking about money, both the good and the bad stuff. Money taboo does not help anyone, but it can be shameful to talk about it. Remember that if you’re struggling, your financial problems are not unique – there are other people who are in the same situation, who have made the same choices and who have the same questions. Talking openly about money is an important part of sharing much needed knowledge about financial wellbeing.”