Kiwi Saver, Mary Holm financial writer and columnist

  Independent and down to earth financial info you can trust
  from Mary Holm, New Zealand's most widely read investment writer


Read Mary's current Herald column on-line now, listen to recent radio broadcasts, or search the archives for previous subjects in her Herald and syndicated columns or broadcasts.

Personal Finance Segment on RNZ National

Every second Thursday, at about 2.20pm, Mary discusses personal finance issues with Jesse Mulligan on RNZ National.

Links to the broadcasts will be posted below after the broadcast date.

RNZ Radio 27 April 2017

Investment risks - Part 1

In a four-part series, Mary talks about the risks described in the newly updated booklet she wrote for the Reserve Bank, "Upside Downside - a guide to risk for savers and investors". You can download it at In this session:

- The one high-return, low-risk 'investment'
- Risk is not a dirty word
- Next: Some of the risks you run into when investing

RNZ Radio 13 April 2017

Why investing offshore is wise rather than risky

- Applies to KiwiSaver and other investments
- Much better diversification
- Foreign exchange adds risk
- Or does it?
TO LISTEN: click here

RNZ Radio 30 March 2017

Gender and Investing

- How gender affects goal setting
- Are men or women more likely to take risks?
- Are women or men more likely to trade frequently?
- Which gender is scammed more?
- As a result ...
- Messages for each gender
In this segment, Mary refers to an RNZ interview about women running businesses. You can listen to it here:
TO LISTEN: click here

RNZ Radio 16 March 2017

Bonds - Most of us are in them. How safe are they?

- What are bonds?
- A key investment in many KiwiSaver funds
- A worried listener's letter
- Two types of risk - and how to cope with them
For a brief explanation of credit ratings:
TO LISTEN: click here

RNZ Radio 2 March 2017

What savers and investors are entitled to

In your dealings with KiwiSaver providers, financial advisers, banks, peer-to-peer lenders, equity crowdfunding platforms and others providing financial services, the Financial Markets Authority says you are entitled to:
- Competence
- To be treated fairly and honestly
- To be informed
- To know how much you are paying
- To have your problems and complaints dealt with properly
What does this amount to?
For more info see

TO LISTEN: click here

RNZ Radio 16 February 2017

KiwiSaver - heading into retirement and after you retire

- What happens at retirement
- 60-64 and not in KiwiSaver? Join!
- What type of KiwiSaver fund?
- Is a listener's plan good?
TO LISTEN: click here

RNZ Radio 2 February 2017

Is it wise to borrow to make a property or share investment?

- What is leverage - a.k.a. gearing - and how does it work?
- Pros and cons of using it
- Why it's wise to pay down your mortgage
TO LISTEN: click here

RNZ Radio 22 December 2016

KiwiSaver: Why some people aren't in it (Part 3), and listeners' questions about the scheme

Final reasons for not taking part in KiwiSaver
Conclusion - what are valid reasons?
Best way to contribute to KiwiSaver
Suggested changes to contributions holidays
Other listener questions about KiwiSaver
TO LISTEN: click here

RNZ Radio 8 December 2016

Why some people are still not in KiwiSaver, or are on a contributions holiday: Part 2

(See November 10 for Part 1)
- A couple of pretty good reasons
- Reasons that have some merit
- Other
TO LISTEN: click here

RNZ Radio 24 November 2016

One person's take on the Fraud Film Festival:

- New Zealanders' susceptibility to fraud
- Tips on staying out of trouble online
- How the experts try to tell if people are lying
- Does upbringing lead to fraud?
- How much integrity have we all got?
Next time: More on why some people are not in KiwiSaver - a follow-up to November 10
TO LISTEN: click here

RNZ Radio 10 November 2016

Why some people are still not in KiwiSaver, or are on a contributions holiday. Part 1

Basically why you should be in
Should US election results affect KiwiSaver?
Common reasons for not joining - Worries and fears:
- Bad experience with managed funds
- Lack of trust of government
- Fears about economy
- Ethical reasons
On December 8: Other reasons
TO LISTEN: click here

RNZ Radio 27 October 2016

Eating your house: ways to make use of the value of your house in retirement

- Comfort for struggling younger savers?
- Sell and buy smaller, but ...
- Various ways to share your home with others
- Getting a break on rates
- Reverse mortgages a.k.a. home equity release - a good idea?
- FOLLOW-UP from last week to listener's question on how to buy shares
TO LISTEN: click here

RNZ Radio 13 October 2016

Listeners' questions, comments and quibbles on the last discussion - on index funds and exchange traded funds

- How to begin at share investing
- Some critical views about shares, index funds and corporations
- Why fewer than half active funds can beat index funds
- Medians and averages - the difference, and when it matters

TO LISTEN: click here

RNZ Radio 29 September 2016

My favourite type of share investment - index funds and exchange traded funds (ETFs)

- Don't bother to try to beat the market
- A good company is not necessarily a good buy
- Lusha the chimp
- What are index funds and ETFs, and how to get into them.
- The Buffett bet
- 2 misunderstandings
TO LISTEN: click here

RNZ Radio 15 September 2016

Why I'm sticking with shares for the long term - despite recent research

- Provocative email from a listener
- Research suggests cash deposits beat shares
- Quibbles and serious concerns about the research
- Best ways to invest in shares
- Why I think shares will always win in the long term
- Next time: why I like index funds and exchange traded funds
TO LISTEN: click here

RNZ Radio 1 September 2016

How emotional thinking can get in the way of good investing

Understanding common reactions can help you guard against bad decisions. Reactions include:
- Responding to how things are presented
- Sticking with the status quo
- Responding to how things are named
- Following the crowd
- Emotional attachment
- Being overwhelmed with information
- Fear of regret
- Not considering the whole portfolio
TO LISTEN: click here

RNZ Radio 18 August 2016

Ethical KiwiSaver. Also my approach to investing in shares.

- Ethical KiwiSaver: how funds invest, risk, returns and which providers
- A listener's critical letter and my response
- Warren Buffett is special
- Can amateur investors beat the market?
TO LISTEN: click here

RNZ Radio 4 August 2016

Clever and not-so-clever moves with mortgages

- 2 worrying trends: longer mortgages, people adding to mortgages
- Good news: people repaying faster
- When rates drop, maintain your payments
- Paying down your mortgage a great investment
- Mortgage on rentals a bit different
- Revolving credit loans give flexibility but risky for some
- Main points
TO LISTEN: click here

RNZ Radio 21 July 2016

KiwiSaver rules, and how to make the most of the scheme

- Follow-up on first home help
- Rules about joining KiwiSaver
- Other rules about KiwiSaver
- Getting the most from the scheme
TO LISTEN: click here

RNZ Radio 7 July 2016

Timing the housing market, and KiwiSaver first home help

- The one market where you can't invest gradually
- How to make the decision
- How much does it matter?
- 2 ways KiwiSaver helps first home buyers
TO LISTEN: click here

RNZ Radio breaking news interview 29 June 2016

Brexit and your investments

Mary discusses with Jesse Mulligan what to do with your KiwiSaver and international currencies following the world turmoil caused by the Brexit vote
TO LISTEN: click here

RNZ Radio 23 June 2016

Spending too little, spending too much

- Shopping is a favourite pastime
- People who are too mean on themselves
- People who spend too much - why do they do it?
1. Keeping up with the Joneses.
2. Psychological
3. Credit card company behaviour
- Help for big spenders
- Most important of all: Change your habits
PS: Final reminder about KiwiSaver tax credit
TO LISTEN: click here

RNZ Radio 9 June 2016

Listeners' questions on KiwiSaver performance and timing markets

- Why average investors do worse than the market as a whole
- How to pick a good fund manager
- Would it be good to buy recent losers?
- Will brokerage prevent drip feeding into shares?
- Etc.
TO LISTEN: click here

RNZ Radio 26 May 2016

No session because of the Budget

RNZ Radio 19 May 2016

KiwiSaver performance, and timing markets

- When should we take note of KiwiSaver performance?
- What's happened since KiwiSaver started
- Why shares always do best over long periods
- Why timing markets doesn't work
- What to do about that
TO LISTEN: click here

RNZ Radio 12 May 2016

More on spreading your money around

- How to diversify each type of asset
- Chances of your account balance falling
- Diversifying ... around the world
- ... With mortgages
- ... Over time
TO LISTEN: click here

RNZ Radio 5 May 2016

Two key points about investing

- 1. What should you invest in?
- How to work out the right assets for you
- Taking the easy way out
- 2. Why diversify - and how?
- Lots of shares, bonds, properties
- Spreading over different types of assets
- Next week: Diversifying: around the world; with mortgages; and over time
TO LISTEN: click here

RNZ Radio 28 April 2016

Different types of investments

- The main ones: cash, bonds, property and shares
- More about bonds
- How to tell how risky a bond is
- What about forestry, collectibles etc?
- What is a managed fund?
- Next week: which of these are best for you?
TO LISTEN: click here

RNZ Radio 21 April 2016

Good borrowing: How gearing boosts returns - and losses

- Good and bad borrowing
- A simple example of gearing
- Compare this with investing without borrowing
- 2 other ways gearing is risky
- Can you cope with gearing?
TO LISTEN: click here

Radio NZ 14 April 2016

Listeners' questions and comments about compounding and KiwiSaver

- Doubling your money
- What if employer ignores KiwiSaver?
- Is it hard to get a contributions holiday?
- KiwiSaver for the self-employed
- Etc.

TO LISTEN: click here

Radio NZ 7 April 2016

KiwiSaver for people nearing and in retirement

- The rules
- Which funds?
- How much should you spend each year?
- Other tips on how to use KiwiSaver in retirement
TO LISTEN: click here

Radio NZ 31 March 2016

The magic of regular saving - both in and out of KiwiSaver

- How compounding works
- And ... you buy more when it's cheaper
- The big KiwiSaver bonus
- Beware of KiwiSaver contributions holidays
- Take part in KiwiSaver even if you're heading overseas soon
TO LISTEN: click here

Radio NZ 24 March 2016

No session because of Easter

Radio NZ 17 March 2016

Listeners' questions on investing in shares and your own home

- Should listener get into investing directly in shares?
- Would that involve filling out a tax return?
- Getting your head around house price gains
TO LISTEN: click here

Radio NZ 10 March 2016

Should you try to pick shares?

Market has done well lately
Lessons from student stock picking game:
- Most people are not good at picking
- Buy several shares to reduce losses
- Shares are for the long term only
- Best way to invest in shares
TO LISTEN: click here

Radio NZ 3 March 2016

Tips on buying and selling property - Part 2

- An idea to make real estate commissions fairer
- One man's strategy
- Mary answers listeners' questions and comments on commissions, auctions, buying or selling first etc.
TO LISTEN: click here

Radio NZ 25 February 2016

Tips on buying and selling property - Part 1

- Planning to move? Should you buy or sell first?
- How to handle buying at auction
- Other tips
TO LISTEN: click here

Radio NZ 18 February 2016

Listeners' questions on rental property and KiwiSaver

Questions include:
Rental property
- A good idea to buy a second rental?
- Are providers rated?
- Contributions versus mortgage repayment
- What happens at 65?
- What happens if I die before 65?
- Join up under fives?
TO LISTEN: click here

Radio NZ 11 February 2016

Why it's not easy to get rich quick

- How you might get rich quick without putting in heaps of time and taking high risk
- Not via scams (discussed last year)
- The other ideas need luck
- What would happen if someone found a low-risk easy way to get rich quick?
- 3 ways you could try to get rich quick
1. High-risk shares
2. Start a new business
3. Highly geared investments
- What do they all involve?
TO LISTEN: click here

Radio NZ 4 February 2016

Listeners' questions on setting financial priorities

- Quick summary of last week's segment
- Listener's comment on repaying your mortgage
- Listener questions on KiwiSaver
- Listener questions on non-KiwiSaver funds
TO LISTEN: click here

Radio NZ 28 January 2016

Setting financial priorities

Best thing to do with excess cash: the rule about repaying debt versus investing
Applying this to: credit card and other high-interest debt, mortgages, student loans
Top priority for all: repay credit card debt
Next priorities:
- If you don't own a home
- If you have a home with a mortgage
- If you have a mortgage-free home
TO LISTEN: click here

Radio NZ 21 January 2016

Goal setting and the B word (budgeting)

Goals should be SMART - specific, measurable, achievable, (w)ritten, time-bound.
- The goal habit: If you save before a trip, buying a car etc you can have many more trips and cars
- Tips on goals
Budgeting: Firstly estimate spending in different categories, then keep track for a while
- Tips on budgeting
- Robert Frost poem
- Emergency money
- Help with budgeting:
TO LISTEN: click here

Radio NZ 17 December 2015


- Why it's best to be "ripped off" by insurance
- Key info on life and disability insurance (who needs it? how much?)
- Other types of insurance: Income protection; house and contents; car; travel; health (what they are, and how much?)
- Which company?
- Cost cutting tips
- What to do after a car crash
- A comment on insurance fraud
TO LISTEN: click here

Radio NZ 10 December 2015

How overconfidence can make you poorer (and other psychological aspects of investing)

- Applies to shares, property, fixed interest etc
- Which gender?
- Overconfidence leads to:
1. Too little diversification
2. Frequent trading
- What to do instead.
Many women have their own problem - too little risk
- Other ways emotions affect investing
TO LISTEN: click here

Radio NZ 3 December 2015

Too good to be true? Warning signs of a scam

- Who are victims?
- Warning signs
- False friends - features that make you think you're OK
- What to do if you're suspicious
- What to do if you've been ripped off
TO LISTEN: click here

Radio NZ 26 November 2015

Are you in the best KiwiSaver fund for you?

- 1st question: which type of fund is best
- Then ask which provider
- It's easy to change funds AND providers.
Some unusual KiwiSaver funds to consider
TO LISTEN: click here

Radio NZ 19 November 2015

Getting through Christmas without going broke. Also, the big spender and the big saver.

For big savers, Christmas is no problem. But there's a downside. More later...
Turning to the big spenders:
- What really makes the kids happy?
- Ways to cut back gift giving
- Tips on shopping wisely
- Meaningful Christmas gifts
- Spending lots on food and booze
Back to the big savers - a challenge for them
(Includes lots of suggestions from listeners)
TO LISTEN: click here

Radio NZ 12 November 2015

Two issues: Is home ownership the only way to go? And ethical investing

Firstly, a bit more on children and KiwiSaver. Put in $1000 yourself, or don't sign them up!

1. Is home ownership the only way to go?
- You can instead save lots to cover accommodation in retirement
- Home ownership is declining
- Owning vs renting - Pros and cons of each option

2. Ethical investing
- What is it?
- Possible problems
- Are returns higher or lower?
TO LISTEN: click here

Radio NZ 5 November 2015

KiwiSaver for children and younger people

1: Under 18s
- Differences in KS for under 18s
- Should you sign up a baby or child under 18?
- Should you make contributions to a child's KS account?
2: Over 18s
- Best way to save for first home
- KS help for first home buyers - 2 aspects
3: Which type of fund for the young?
TO LISTEN: click here

Radio NZ 29 October 2015

Investing in rental property - the pluses and minuses

- Low and high-risk ways of investing in property
- Don't overlook the costs along the way
- The rental property personality
TO LISTEN: click here

Radio NZ 22 October 2015

Why every NZer under 65 should be in KiwiSaver

- What makes it almost impossible to beat
- Your reasons not to join, and why they're probably not valid
TO LISTEN: click here

Radio NZ 15 October 2015


- Fixed vs floating rates
Which? advantages of each
- Types of mortgages
Ordinary (table), interest-only, revolving credit
- Should you pay down your mortgage fast?
Or is it better to save?
TO LISTEN: click here

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