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Meet Nicola, or Nic as she’s known to friends. By day she is a Customer Support Agent for PocketSmith - “the coolest personal finance management company ever” – her words, not ours! When she’s not helping customers, you’ll find Nic hanging out at her beachy hometown north of Auckland with friends and family – and her dog Beau!

We talked to Nic about her investment journey so far and the lessons she’s learned along the way, plus her plans for the future. But first, we wanted to know what money myth she’d encountered and why it didn’t ring true for her.

‘Avocado on toast’ will stop you from getting on the housing ladder

That’s a lot of avocados! Nic believes that there are a whole lot of reasons including interest rates, inflation and the cost of living that make homeownership out of reach for many Kiwis.

A student flat and YouTube is where it all began

It’s hard to believe that Nic’s interest in investing started at age 20 after watching a YouTube makeup tutorial. True fact! After watching a YouTuber chat to her financial advisor, Nic started following the financial advisor who turned out to be Canna Campbell.

Hearing Canna’s personal experience with building a diversified share portfolio and creating a passive income stream struck a chord with Nic. “I wanted this too”, she says.

Around the same time, Sharesies came on the scene. As a student living away from home with a part-time job earning minimum wage, there isn’t a lot left over for investing.

Nic found that being able to invest little amounts was a huge help – $5 one week, $3.20 another. Over time, those little amounts added up – plus, she found it fun! Watching her investment grow, dip and grow again.

Eventually, the little amounts grew to over $1,000. Nic opened an investment portfolio and began contributing almost every week, as and when she was able to. That was until a month ago. Overcoming her initial fear of trying to time the market, she bit the bullet and transferred her investments to Kernel where she plans to stay.

Time is precious – life balance is Nic’s goal

Her dream? To spend more time with family, enjoy the great outdoors and have a healthy work-life balance. With this in mind, Nic is happy to sacrifice a little in the short term to achieve her goal. She recognises that having anything spare at the end of the week is a privilege.

Whilst Nic doesn’t specifically want to “retire early” as per the FIRE movement, because she enjoys working, she aims for the “financial independence” part.

Kernel’s goal tracker keeps Nic on track

Nic says that transferring to Kernel was a no-brainer. She loves the low fees and easy-to-digest information, but it’s the goal tracker that is the game changer. “I love love love the goal tracker”, exclaimed Nic.

Nic finds watching her investments get closer to a goal so motivating. Having this focus on the long-term outcome also aligns with her own personal values.

And did we mention how easy auto-invest makes her regular investing? Mwah! (Chef’s kiss, says Nic.)

A relaxed investor with a disciplined approach

Being relaxed and disciplined might seem confusing when it comes to investing. But for Nic, it’s the perfect combo. Nic finds having a high growth strategy investing across the Kernel High Growth Fund and S&P 500 an easy way to “set and forget”.

Nic knows that short-term fluctuations are part of the journey, and is in it for the long haul. The discipline comes with regular investing, even “loose change amounts” that amount to much more over time. We think it’s a great strategy.

Whilst there are always lessons to learn about investing – these are Nic’s top 3

  1. The power of compound interest. It’s never too late to start; do it when you can!

  2. No amount of money is too small. Regularly investing small amounts will add up over time. But don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t invest for a time. It’s a personal journey that should evolve and move with you.

  3. I thought my goal was to make a huge lump sum and then pull it all out to spend. My big ‘aha moment’ was realising that a better plan for me would be to leave it to build and grow. One day providing a source of passive income by withdrawing the dividends each year.

And any words of wisdom to those just starting out?

Knowing where your money goes is the first step!

For Nic, PocketSmith has helped her to see how and where she spends her money and what changes can be made to stash any extra amounts. All in a colour-coded, easily accessible and truly fun way!


The content shared in this blog reflects the author's personal experiences and should not be taken as financial advice. Individual circumstances vary, and readers should seek professional guidance before making any investment decisions.

Nicola Maling

Nicola Maling

Office & Events Manager



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Indices provided by: S&P Dow Jones Indices