9 New Zealand Product Testing Companies That Want Your Feedback

product testing in new zealand

What if you could have some of the perks of being rich and famous, without the effort?

Sadly, we’re not talking about the mansions – but just like a celebrity, you can get companies to send you free products to try, and use your opinions to influence brands.

Product testing in New Zealand seems to good to be true, but there really are companies who are eager to send you products to try in exchange for your thoughts.

You give them your details, fill in some personal information – and then wait for your free items!

Here are some great options for Kiwis who have opinions to share and don’t mind getting some free stuff.

What is product testing?

There are plenty of ideas that seem great in a boardroom, but don’t work when they get released to the public.

There is a long list of development, quality, and marketing checks that a product needs to go through before it hits the shelves – but none of that matters if no one actually buys it!

At different stages through the process, you can get involved with giving your opinion on things like whether the packaging appeals to you, how much you would be willing to pay, and whether you’d buy the product.

There are plenty of sites dedicated to getting your opinion during these stages.

The final stage is sending the final product out to be tried by potential future customers.

The trial participants will send through their thoughts, influencing the final stages of marketing – companies sometimes even gather direct quotes to use in their marketing materials.

You’re unlikely to get rewards or additional payments for product testing.

Normally, the product itself is the reward. But it’s still a pretty good deal.

You try a product and say what you think of it, the company gets feedback and some free marketing when you tell your friends and family – it’s win-win!

Who can become a product tester?

product testing nz
Generally, anyone can join product testing sites.

They’re geared towards the person who makes household purchases, and some have special groups to target – mums are a big one.

But in general, if you’re an adult who has some influence on what products your household uses, you’re in with a chance.

You’ll need to fill out your profile information first, as it’s how they decide who is the best fit to receive a product.

They might be after a specific group or looking for a broad cross-section of the population, so the more information you give the more likely you’ll be included.

You should get involved in as many as possible to increase your chances.

There’s no guarantee of what you’ll get or how much, but for free products to try (and the associated savings), it’s worth signing up.

The Best Product Testing Sites for New Zealanders

Here are some of the best product trial opportunities for New Zealanders to try:

Social Soup

Social Soup specialise in product trials, with a large panel of “soupers” signed up to receive goods and give their opinions.

Signing up is as easy as downloading the app on either Android or iPhone, completing your profile, and waiting to be selected.

If you’re big on social media, you might sign up as a Creator – in exchange for featuring products on your posts, you’ll receive different items to try.

Mouths of Mums

While it has an Australian web address, Mouths of Mums is actively looking for mums to complete product testing NZ-wide. 

A site dedicated to reviewing parenting products, Mouths of Mums teams up with brands related to raising kids, and sends samples to members.

You can sign up online, and then get reviewing.

Black Box

If you like to share your experiences, Black Box is for you.

In addition to a site for members to share about any products that stand out to them, there is an option to sign up to potentially receive a box of free items to try and then review.

There is a free option with no guarantees, or you could choose to pay $38 per year to guarantee you will receive one box and be at the top of the list for any others you might qualify for.

Home Tester Club

The Home Tester Club emphasises honest opinions – they really want to hear what you think, and will publish your thoughts regardless of whether you loved or hated a product.

Sign up is easy. The Club offers weekly prizes and incentives to keep reviewing, and you could find products showing up in your letterbox to try.

Prime Research

Instead of the products coming to you, with Prime Research you’ll go to them.

Specialising in focus groups and sensory/ product testing, you could be invited to a hosted event to get your opinions for a brand or product.

It will typically take between 30 – 90 minutes of your time, but you’ll be compensated for the extra effort – most studies pay between $50-$150.

Kidspot

A thriving community of parents who come for the reviews, giveaways and articles, Kidspot also offer product trials for families who like to try new things.

The sign-up form is found on their website, and while you’re waiting you can try your luck at a competition or engage with the community.

Pureprofile

While they’re primarily a survey-based market research group, Pureprofile also offer the occasional product trial for their members.

You’ll be selected based on your demographics – which means as always, it’s very important to keep your profile information up to date.

You can focus on earning points to turn into rewards as an extra way to get some perks, in addition to any product trials you might be invited to.

Valued Opinions

True to their name, Valued Opinions are all about getting consumer feedback on products they use.

Members earn points for their opinions by completing surveys, watching ads, and other tasks within the site. They also offer product trials, but there’s no guarantee when or if you’ll be invited to participate.

Signing up is easy – complete the online form, verify your email address, and you can start earning.

Product trial participants will be selected based on their profile information, so it’s important to keep it up to date.

Beauty Review

If you love health and beauty products, this is the site for you.

Sign up is free, and instead of waiting for free products to arrive, you can earn them – reviewing products and being active on the site will earn you points.

10 points equal to $1 off a product from the Beauty Vault which opens periodically to allow members to spend their points, so you can select your own free products.

You can also join the Expert Review Panel, which is where the product trials come in.

Anyone can apply to join, and if accepted you’ll be receiving free beauty products to trial, just in exchange for a review.

Making the Most of Product Testing


Product testing offers a lot of great opportunities to try different items for free – but invitations are not likely to be very frequent.

It’s best to maximise your chances by keeping your details up to date, staying active in the community, and making 100% sure that you submit great reviews on time so you’re considered for the next round.

It does sound too good to be true, but as the thousands of Kiwi mums who are receiving free products in the mail can agree – for a small amount of time and effort, it’s a simple way to find yourself on the fun side of market research.

Read next: These Kiwi survey sites will pay you for your opinion

10 of the Best Money Making Apps in New Zealand [2021 Edition]

When it comes to money-making apps NZ options have been lacking for a long time. I’m pleased to report that is no longer the case.

Some people are surprised to learn about apps that make money or think they must be a scam. Well, there are plenty of scams in the making money online world, but these apps aren’t them.

As with most simple online tasks, you won’t get rich from earning money apps, but you might just make enough to cover birthday presents or the little extras that always pop up during the year.

I make money with apps in the form of surveys or get paid to sites. Most of the make money apps will require you to participate in an activity in order to earn credit.

This usually means you fill out a survey or watch videos, play games or complete a task from your phone and receive credit.

10 Top Money-Making Apps for Kiwis

There are hundreds of making money apps out there, but some of them pay badly, offer a terrible user experience or just won’t accept Kiwis!

I recommend the following apps as the best money making apps New Zealand has to offer, I really don’t think you’ll need any more than these top-earning apps to boost your income.

1. Nielsen Computer and Mobile Panel


In terms of free money apps, Nielsen Computer and Mobile panel takes the cake.

You quite literally need to do nothing other than install the app on your mobile and keep it installed in order to earn gift cards and selected items you choose from a catalogue.

Nielsen uses the data they collect in order to build knowledge around internet trends and usage behaviour.

You must be over 18 and the owner of the device you download the app on.

You can also use this on your home computer and you’ll earn more rewards for having more registered devices.

You must keep the app installed for a minimum of 14 days to earn rewards.

2. Pureprofile

Pureprofile is a make money app which offers surveys for cash.

As in real cash – deposited into your bank account.

Pureprofile is one of my favourite New Zealand survey sites because they pay cash, the surveys are frequent and the interface is delightfully clean.

3. Toluna Influencers


If you’re looking for survey apps to make money in New Zealand, you can’t go past Toluna.

Their app has a neat layout and functions really well.

Toluna is one of the most unique apps where you can make money from surveys, polls, games and sweepstakes. I’ve always found the surveys pay best. 

Just follow the instructions in your welcome email to download the app. Read the full Toluna NZ review here.

4. i-Say

200 points are equivalent to $2.

i-Say is the newest survey option in town and they have a mobile-friendly site, with lots of surveys and polls.

Rewards are in the form of gift vouchers from JB Hifi or iTunes from $10 (1000 points) or Bunnings and Caltex for $50 (5000 points). 

They don’t pay cash but JB Hifi vouchers are great for Christmas so I consider them as good as cash.

5. Univox[$2 Signup bonus]

Univox is one of the best money making apps NZ has to offer

The Univox app lets you make money with your phone from taking surveys, as well as the $2 signup bonus. In my experience, the surveys are very frequent.

6. Nielsen Homescan


Nielsen Homescan is a shop and scan app, requiring you to scan your groceries through their mobile app. You’ll earn points which you can exchange for items from their catalogue.

All active panel members are also entered into a prize draw.

You can nominate to receive a handheld scanner, but the mobile app is a less cumbersome way of scanning.

7. The Panel Station

Want to make money from your phone? Check out this list of New Zealand money making apps and start making extra cash right away.

The Panel Station is another one of the top apps that make you money.

Their transparent rewards system means it’s easy to figure out how much each survey is worth. Plus, when you screen out of a survey, you’ll be entered into a quarterly draw to win cash which is a nice extra bonus.

Your earnings increase the longer you are a Panel Station member so it really is worth checking out The Panel Station as it’s one of the best survey apps in New Zealand.

The Panel Station offers flexible redemption options including gift cards and cash via Paypal. Once you have accumulated 3000 points you can redeem.

8. Parkable


Parkable is an app that lets you make money by renting out your car space. You could earn up to $300/month per car space.

Demand is highest near city centres or special events venues. If you live near to where people pay for parking already, you could cash in.

Click here to read more about Parkable

9. Swagbucks [$5 Signup bonus]

Want an easy way to make money online Australia free? Swagbucks is a free app that can do just that.
Swagbucks has long been one of the best solutions for people wanting to know how to make money on your phone.

Swagbucks is a GPT (get paid to) site and one of the best-paid survey apps New Zealand has to offer.

It’s definitely one of the best apps for making money and having fun at the same time.

You can earn points (called SB) from activities such as watching videos, doing daily challenges and more. There are surveys on offer but I don’t tend to qualify for them as they are mainly targeted at Americans or Australians

10. Sweatcoin

This is a different kind of earn money app for Kiwis. Check it out.
Sweatcoin pays you to walk. No, seriously.

You earn Sweatcoin by walking outside. Whether it’s a stroll around the block or a power walk up the Mount, Sweatcoin can enrich you while you walk. You’ll need to keep your phone on you but the app will run in the background so nothing else required.

It’ll take you a while to earn the $1000 cash (in US dollars) prize, but you can redeem your Sweatcoins for prizes and vouchers before that stage. I’m shooting for the 1k – I’ll let you know how I get on.

There you have it, the top apps for making money in New Zealand. I hope this list has been helpful in showing you that when it comes to apps that pay you, New Zealand now has loads of options to choose from.

Read next: 16 Lucrative Ways to Make Money Online in New Zealand

4 Wealth-Crushing Real Estate Investment Mistakes to Avoid

One of the main reasons I started to write about money was to share the many mistakes I have learnt in my ongoing journey to wealth. I’ve mentioned before that I purchased my first investment property at the age of 24.

This blog is about my current and future financial position so I’m not going to rehash every purchase I’ve ever made. That said, by jumping in so deeply at such a young age I had a very steep learning curve.

Investment fundamentals hardly ever change, so I think sharing my real estate investment mistakes may help a new investor to refrain from making the same ones.

My Real Estate Investment Mistakes

Mistake 1: Not buying earlier

In 2002 I was in a permanent full-time job. The house I had spent my early childhood in came up for sale. It was purely emotional but I loved the house, a 1920s character bungalow in an up-and-coming area.

My parents had purchased it as their first home in the late 1970s for $15,000. They sold in 1995 for $87,000. Seven years later the asking price was only $4,000 more.

I met with a mortgage broker to talk about finance. My income was enough to service the loan and I intended to get flatmates to help with the payments. For some reason – which I still cannot pinpoint – I didn’t pursue it. I didn’t even look for other smaller properties. I just walked away.

I’m chalking it down to being 20 years old and wanting to enjoy my life – then. But I still regret it. The house is now valued at between $290,000 and $320,000. I would have around $250,000 equity now had I gone ahead with the purchase and paid the minimum on a 30 year loan.

I could have been very close to early retirement now had I purchased my first house in 2002 and another couple in the years preceding the boom times of 2004-2007.

Just some of the growth I missed out on.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t until 2007 that I began to get interested again (here are some of the books that piqued my interest).

By this time I was living in Sydney earning $45,000 per year working in the head office of a large travel company.

My partner (now husband) earnt about $60,000 per year. We lived in a share house with very low expenses. We were the bank’s dream clients.

The world was in the midst of an enormous bouncy credit bubble, property prices were rising faster than ever before.

Developers all over the world were accessing easy credit to build over-inflated homes for people who had never been so rich in their lives.

I began reading anything I could find on the topic.

First I got every property investment related book I could find from the library. Then I started buying books.

In those crazy days there were many ‘property education’ services charging thousands for access to their ‘knowledge’. I reasoned that book purchases were education costs – a couple of hundred on some perspective-altering books seemed a solid investment.

One of the most common themes I read about was Analysis Paralysis – the act of over-thinking something so heavily that you never take action.

I had a few grand in the bank, a trusting partner and youthful optimism. I was ready to take action. No analysis paralysis for me.

Mistake 2: Negative Gearing my first property

The opportunity to take action came when my parents were considering selling a non-performing rental unit. They had chosen a bad property manager and were losing money. As with many first-time investors, they were nervous.

But Dad with his ever-hopeful and savvy business eye saw a way to keep it. He offered to sell me ⅓ and my brother ⅓ and they would keep the remaining share.

With ownership split between 3 the monetary risk was lower and they would be helping their children to become property owners.

At the agreed price (and market value) of $60,000 for a ⅓ share in a $180,000 property we had finance organised. Dave and I had to part with a 10% deposit of $6000 and were left with a loan of $54,000.

Through one of his contacts, Dad found a new tenant willing to pay market rent of $230 per week for a gross yield of 6.6%.

I was so desperate to buy a property that I didn’t fully consider the numbers.

With interest rates around 7% at the time, the property was negatively geared from the outset.

There was some relief in my tax bill and I earnt a decent income with a lot of disposable cash so we considered the required top-up (around $200 per month) as forced savings.

Still, it’s not something I would recommend to someone buying their first property.

Why?

Negative gearing plays on the assumption that the property value will grow.

This is speculation as growth cannot be guaranteed. By having to top up to meet the outgoing costs you are effectively subsidising a non-performing asset in the hope it will eventually net you a capital gain.

In some markets this can be an excellent strategy – usually low-yielding markets with high growth – but in my case it was simply a case of not doing the correct due diligence.

Whilst growth on the property kept pace with inflation during the time we owned it, the extra expense affected my ability to borrow for further purchases.

Still, three months and a savvy mortgage broker later we were again approved for finance up to $150,000.

Mistake 3: Not thoroughly researching economic fundamentals

With some idea of what my limited budget would buy me I booked flights to New Zealand and organised a drive to the West Coast of the South Island.

At that time resources were producing a lot for the region, employment was high and wages for mining staff were leading the country.

I had been in contact with a real estate agent by email and she organised to show me some of her listings. I eventually decided on a 3 bedroom wooden bungalow with an asking price of $139,000.

After some negotiation the sale price was agreed at $128,000. The market rent at the time was $195 per week for a gross return of 7.9%

Gross return: Annual Rent/Purchase Price x 100

At the time I was delighted with my purchase. The house was rented easily and managed by the same agency who had sold the house. The rent slowly rose to $230 per week.

Then a couple of years after the purchase the second largest employer in the town closed, taking with it 120 jobs, a huge deal in a population of 5000.

Had I done my research I would have known about the plant closing as it had been proposed for 5 years.

In 2014 the largest employer – a coal mine – made 187 people redundant.

Although I am very lucky that my tenant does not work for the coal mine I am nervous. If the current tenant moves out it is likely I will have to drop the rent drastically to secure a tenant.

Mistake 4: Entrusting people who didn’t have my best interest at heart

With two properties under my belt I was ready to buy again. It was March 2008, I’d just had a small pay rise and finance was approved this time for up to $150,000.

I found a one bedroom unit close to the city centre of Christchurch that had been re-listed after the first offer fell through.

The asking price was $129,000. As the unit was small (40sqm) my bank would only lend 80% of the purchase price so naturally I wanted to get the unit as cheaply as possible.

I asked the sellers agent what price the offer was that fell over.

Yes that’s right, I asked the sellers agent.

The same agent that would be receiving a commission from the seller. The agent had not one notion of helping me.

They told me the offer was in the low $120s. So we offered $121,000 and it was accepted.

Of course it was accepted – the agent was under no obligation to be upfront with me, he likely told me the figure both he and the seller wanted to achieve.

Oh man, I felt like such a fool after that.

After closing on the sale I sourced a property manager to secure tenants. I’d been in contact with her regarding another business she ran and I felt like we had established rapport.

She quickly rented the unit and I waited until the first of the month for the rent to appear in my bank account.

It never came. I emailed her and she reported a glitch in the system. I waited and waited – anxiously sending emails.

After being told the money was coming for nearly 7 weeks I finally took action and replaced her. My new property manager contacted the tenant directly to instruct them to pay the new rental agency.

The tenant was devastated to learn that the bond she had paid (equal to 4 weeks rent) was never lodged with the correct authority and that the property manager had run off with her rent as well.

All up I was around $1500 down which really hurt at the crucial beginning period of a new real estate investment purchase.

Thankfully my new property manager proved to be trustworthy and reliable and I used them for many years.

It wasn’t all bad news

Since early 2008 we have purchased a further three investment properties and lost two due to irreparable damage in the Christchurch earthquakes.

Both were fully covered by insurance. 

Values have increased steadily and rents have remained stable on all but our Christchurch properties which experience a huge increase in rental values after the earthquakes.

I’m not sure if further investment in real estate is in our future as we could live a frugal but comfortable existence on the rents of our current portfolio if the mortgages were cleared.

That said if an excellent cash-flow opportunity came my way I’d find it hard to resist. (I did! Read the case study here).

Have you invested in real estate? And property investment mistakes or wins you’d like to share?

Note: this blog post was first published in 2015.

Sharesies Referral Code: Get $15 Free Until August 23

With a $15 welcome bonus on offer until August 23 there has never been a better time to grab a Sharesies referral code and start investing with Sharesies.

Use this one to get started now: Join Sharesies Now

How does Sharesies work?

Sharesies started in 2016 with a goal of making investing as accessible for people with $50 to spare as it is for those with thousands.

Their mission is to make investing something we talk about and celebrate, not something we don’t think about until we’re old and grey and have missed the best (compound-interest earning) years of our life. 

I really can’t paraphrase this any better, so direct from the horses mouth:

We want to make this generation the most financially literate. Starting with making investing easy—by breaking down the current barriers that stand in the way of investing today. We want someone with $50 to have the same investment opportunities as someone with $50,000.

We have an opportunity to make a real difference to how people manage their money and growing the wealth of everyday New Zealanders. We want our friends and others like them around buying and selling shares, comparing portfolios and giving each other tips to grow their wealth. Getting gratification from spending $20, not just on brunch, but investing in the portfolio sitting in their pocket.

Source

To that end, they are a certified B-corp, which means they use business as a force for good.

As a personal finance blogger, I have to agree that helping people better manage and grow their money is an awesome cause.

Why I personally love Sharesies

I’ve been investing for my kids with Sharesies for two years now and have been really impressed by how easy and accessible they make it to invest with smaller amounts.

Right now, I put away $25 a month per child as well as 50% of whatever they get for birthdays and Christmas gifts. 

I wanted to make sure they were still able to take advantage of the benefits of investing young and regularly, even though the amounts are small.

Sharesies is perfect for that and as you can see below, from little things, big things grow.

Sharesies dashboard, showing returns on my sons account

At this stage we are planning a world trip in 2021 (pandemic-aside), so I don’t see us being able to up contributions significantly in the short term.

For now, we are really happy with what we’ve been able to achieve by chucking $25 per month into Sharesies auto-invest function and waiting.

Sharesies portfolio value screen

Sharesies total growth screenSharesies offer 165 companies and funds to invest from, so you’ll be sure to find something you like.

We personally stick to index funds as we believe they are a superior investment vehicle for lazy sods who really can’t be bothered reading the financial media on the daily to stock pick.

I was so impressed with the returns I saw with my children’s Sharesies account that I started my own fund to invest $10 of my $25 weekly pocket money. It’s been great fun to watch the funds grow slowly.

So if you’ve wanted to try investing for a while and have a few bucks to put away each week, I highly recommend Sharesies.

You can use this Sharesies promo code here to get $15 FREE until August 23. I will get $5 too – I promise I’ll put it to good use.

5 Helpful Tips for Coping With Financial Stress

Are you experiencing money worries at the moment? If so, I’m very sorry to hear that.

Sometimes it’s tough to read blogs by people who have it all figured out.

For that reason, I wanted to share some of my money weaknesses and worries in the form of a real-life situation my family recently went through. 

It’s my hope that sharing will help you figure out a solution.

5 Helpful Tips for Coping With Financial Stress

My husband and I had returned from living overseas. I was pregnant at the time and we had a preschooler.

We returned home with $10,000 in our emergency fund to last us until we had regular income again.

Being pregnant, jobless and without any source of income, we were very stressed.

Acknowledge the problem

Acknowledging that a problem exists is the first step to fixing it.

Burying your head in the sand or going on a credit card fueled spending spree will make things one million times worse.

Whether you are overdue on a payment or facing a time without income, the hardest but most necessary step is accepting the problem exists.  

Only then can you figure out what to do to fix it.

Talk about it

One of the major factors that keep people in debt is the inability to discuss money issues with friends and family.

Admitting that you are experiencing financial issues can be difficult but it might also be exactly what someone else needs to hear.

Being the first to admit you are having problems might help someone else to do the same.

If for no other reason make sure you tell those close to you so they know why you can’t go out for dinner or do activities that cost money.

Tell them you are more than happy to go to the park or hang out doing free stuff.

Assess your means

This is where you sit down and figure out all of the resources you have available to help you through the tough times ahead.

Cash and funds

Work out what you have available in savings and cash accounts. These funds should be your first source of emergency income.

Only after you have accounted for savings should you look at your credit card.

It is, for this reason, I will never be without a credit card – they are great for emergencies.

But paying over 20% interest on your purchases should be sufficient motivation to minimise how regularly you use them.

Non-cash sources of income

Now, look at other ways to bring in extra income.

  • You might have a spare room you could rent out.
  • Look at eligibility requirements for income assistance.
  • Find things you can sell
  • Find a part-time/evening/casual job to help until you are back on your feet

I knew we had savings of around $10,000 plus around $20,000 available on credit cards – but it would have to be a near crisis for me to run a balance on the credit cards.

I know that as soon as we were able to re-enter the country we were eligible for child tax credits again and we did everything we could to find my husband a job within 6 weeks.

We planned ahead, using our free time to update CVs and scour job sites.

We also sorted out our storage unit and sold some things as we’d lived well without them whilst being overseas.

Finally, I’ll be investing more time into building up my freelance business to boost my income.

Play out your worst case scenario

This may sound a little negative but knowing how dire things could get is a great way to keep things in check.

Depending on the resources you have available your worst case scenario could mean having to ask for help from government agencies or it could just mean having to rein in spending for a few months.

Having funds in an emergency fund is what makes the difference here.

Personally, I’m comfortable with the amount we have left in savings. I know it can last a long time if we work on our leanest budget.

Our worst case scenario was having to stay with my parents for a few months whilst we built up enough money to move back into our house. 

Look after yourself

Make sure you get regular exercise, a 3o-minute walk in the fresh air will do wonders for your mental state.

This pamphlet from the New Zealand Ministry of Health provides some excellent advice on dealing with financial stress. 

Resource: Coping with Financial Stress: Looking after yourself and your family/whanau during tough economic times

Coping with financial stress is not something you have to do alone. Remember to ask for help and talk about your struggles.

And prepare for the worst – hopefully it won’t happen, but if it does you’ll have a plan in place to get you through the tough times. 

This post originally appeared here: 5 Practical Tips for Coping With Financial Stress

Help Bring Octopus Group Surveys to New Zealand

Listen up, survey takers.

Octopus Group are keen to launch in New Zealand but they need your help to build their membership to 5000 members to go to market here.

Octopus have long been the favourite of our survey takers in Australia and we have no doubt they will do great things in New Zealand.

You can join Octopus Group here

Octopus Group claim to pay more than 80 to 400% more cash rewards than other survey panels, they pay cash into your bank account after you’ve accumulated $20 and they are super reliable.

They also offer a generous refer a friend program which can earn you up to $20 for every friend you refer. You can read more about Octopus Group in our review here.

Case Study: Cashflow Positive Property in Christchurch

Although I really want Mum’s Money to be about my readers, sometimes it is immensely helpful to read a personal story. In that vein, I am sharing this property investment case study about a recent real estate purchase my husband and I made in Christchurch.

In February of 2019, we purchased an investment property in Christchurch. 

I’m personally a fan of compact, efficient housing, located near to amenities and have aligned my property investment strategy around this.

Since I’m the chief decision-maker when it comes to our money, I decided that we are now only purchasing cash flow positive rental properties (one of my many real estate investment mistakes was not doing this in the beginning), primarily 2 bedroom units and townhouses close to the city centre in Christchurch, New Zealand.

I personally feel Christchurch is undervalued compared to other major cities in New Zealand.

I’ll probably change my mind a few times, but right now, that’s what we’re aiming for.

As we plan to travel long term with the kids, we want low-maintenance properties that are easy to maintain and can be managed entirely by a professional property manager.

This post outlines my strategy for real estate investing moving forward.

I also want to achieve a minimum 7% gross return.

Finding a 7% gross return in a central suburb is not easy, but it’s not impossible either. Here’s how it played out for us.

Real Estate Investment Case Study: Christchurch, New Zealand

Living room looking into the kitchen

Purchase price: $190,000
Weekly rent: $290 (annual $15080)
Gross yield: $15080/190000 =  7.93% 
Council rates: $1389/pa
Home insurance: $1510/pa
Interest rate: 3.99% fixed for 1 year – now 2.99%

The property is an upstairs unit, 2 bedrooms with a large living room, kitchen and combined bathroom/laundry.

It has a detached carport which has been filled in (walls and a door added) to function more like a single garage.

Here are some more images:

A small but efficient kitchen
Master bedroom
Bedroom 2
Combined bathroom and laundry.

As you can see it’s a simple wee place but it gets great sun and is located close to the city centre. 

When we first found the property, the vendor was asking $215,000. We weren’t prepared to pay that and walked away.

A few months later the agent got in touch to tell us the vendor had reduced the asking price and put in a tenant paying $290/wk. 

The asking price was $199,000. At this stage we were interested. We submitted an offer of $185,000 and ended up agreeing to $190,000. 

Financing the purchase

If you subscribe to my emails you might be wondering what made me change my mind after deciding we were not going to invest in property any longer.

It’s simply this: the ability to leverage the equity in our home so we can borrow 100% of the purchase price.

A year and a half ago we paid off our very small and very cheap home (for now, we’ll rent it out when we travel).

This meant we purchased the property using almost none of our own money – except for legal and due diligence costs which were partly covered by a cash sum from the bank we borrowed from.

Now I know I could borrow a big chunk of change and do the same with shares, but I’m not sure where the share market is headed and I have faith in Christchurch property growing in value in the long term.

In the short term, this property pays for itself completely, including principal and interest repayments on the loan. 

It has a great tenant already settled in the home and looking after it and needs very little done (other than an external paint, as you can see).

The driveway and drainage need repairing but that is earthquake damage and covered by earthquake insurance. The claim was assigned to us as purchasers and we are working through it with the other owners in the complex.

It fits my requirements for well-located, low maintenance and cash flowing nicely. I couldn’t not buy it. 

Real estate as a store of wealth

This is a complete change of tune from the wannabe property mogul I was when I started to invest in New Zealand property from Australia.

Back then, I thought that property itself would make me rich but as it turns out, I’m not cut out to be a renovator, flipper or a property developer.

I like to buy and hold. After reading The Millionaire Fastlane by MJ DeMarco, I made peace with not becoming wealthy from owning real estate.

It made complete sense to me that many rich people own real estate but most of them didn’t get rich from real estate.

They created wealth through their own businesses and kept their wealth safe with a diversified portfolio of real estate and shares. 

As my online business has grown, my income has skyrocketed. I’m now earning more money than I ever have in my life.

And I need a place to put that money because I am too frugal to just spend money just for the sake of it. 

Throughout the year I’ve been contributing almost 100% of my profits to a global share ETF but I am wary of putting all my eggs in one (albeit highly diversified) basket.

Having a bit of extra debt to knock on the head has always motivated me to spend less, so taking on a mortgage for this property purchase has helped us mentally sharpen the pencil on our spending.

Ideally, we’ll become debt-free on this property within 10 years.

As I write this we have put an offer on one more property. It’s in a similar location but a more modern and upmarket unit. If the sale goes through, I will be sure to create a similar case study.

Do you have any questions about this purchase? 

The Beginners Guide to Property Investment in New Zealand

Are you interested in property investment in New Zealand?

You aren’t alone. Investing in property is a topic we Kiwis love to discuss.

Whether it’s your parent’s rental property ‘nest egg’ or your mate overseas who’s bought a rental at home while he travels, it’s no secret that us Kiwis love property.

There’s a good reason for it too. Many investors were burnt in the 1987 stock market crash and lost their trust in the sharemarket.

Property, on the other hand, was something you could touch. Something tangible that could be improved. With maintenance and the right tenants, it could bring income for a lifetime.

Property Investment NZ: Beginners Guide to Buying Rental Property

I have owned investment property since 2006. I have learnt a fair bit in that time and I wanted to share more information on this blog.

Related: Case Study: Cashflow Positive Property in Christchurch

I need to reinforce the fact that I am not a professional nor a financial advisor, I’m just an investor sharing my own experiences and some tips and tricks along the way.

How property makes money


Most of us have rented a home in our lifetime. We pay a weekly or monthly amount to a landlord or property manager and in exchange, we are able to use the property for a contracted amount of time.

As renters or tenants, we don’t have to worry about things like building insurance, council rates or building maintenance.

Your obligations as a tenant are to keep the property tidy, pay your rent on time and return the property to the condition it was when you moved in (allowing for fair wear and tear).

The landlord has to cover mortgage payments, council rates, building insurance, maintenance and repairs, improvements and property management fees out of the rent received.

In the early days of buying a new property, costs will eat up almost all of the rent received.

As time goes on rents increase and the landlord pays down the mortgage, so the amount leftover grows.

This difference between income and holding costs is how the property investor makes money.

Most investors will use equity (the difference between a property’s value and the debt against it) to borrow again and repeat the process over and over again.

Now if you know a bit about property, you might be screaming at your computer screen right now.

‘That’s not how it works for me, what is she talking about?!?!’.

That’s because when it comes to property investment NZers have varying opinions of what constitutes an investment.

I like to stick to the best and most accurate description of investment:

“the act of putting money or effort into something to make a profit or achieve a result” (source)

If you are buying a property and you need to top up the mortgage or put a significant amount of your own funds in to make the numbers work, then you are not making a profit.

You are most likely speculating on future capital gains to justify your purchase.

That is totally fine, but it’s not property investment.

Please note, it is very common for people to top up their rental properties. I had to do it for years. It was only recently that I realised that this is not really an investment and the opportunity cost is huge.

Putting $100 a week into topping up my rental portfolio since 2008 certainly adds up.

If I had put the same amount of money into the stock market over that timeframe, I would have made a lot more money.

Don’t be like me, only buy cash flow positive property.

5 Things to Consider Before You Buy Your First Investment Property


Here are 5 tips to get your property investment journey off on the right foot:

Know your why

The very first step is figuring out exactly why you want to invest in property. What’s your long-term game plan? Early retirement in Bali? You’re going to need multiple cashflow properties.

Want to create your own version of  ‘The Block’? Buying a do-up in a gentrifying area might suit you better. Knowing your end goal will help you follow the right path.

Get educated

Start at the local library. There are literally thousands of books on the topic of property investment.

Related: The Best Personal Finance Books for Beginners

If your local branch doesn’t have the books you want, request an interlibrary loan.

There is no need to spend thousands on your property investment education.

With plentiful blogs on the topic, plus online forums and the wonderful New Zealand Property Investor magazine, you can find out everything you need to know for low or no cost.

(See the list of recommended resources further down the page)

Construct your team

At the very least you’ll need an accountant, conveyancer or solicitor, property manager, and a builder you trust to call on in case of emergency.

Pro Tip: Even if you plan to self-manage your investment property, pay a professional property manager to complete a pre-purchase rental assessment.

For a nominal fee, you’ll get the opinion of an expert in your rental catchment area, who’ll be able to point out the strengths and weaknesses of your potential purchase.

Get your structure sorted

Before you make an offer you need to sort out your ownership structure.

Whether you plan to purchase as an individual, as part of a partnership, trust or via a company, discussing your plans with a professional is vital.

Your accountant will be able to point you in the right direction.

Have a plan for reducing debt

It’s prudent to have a debt reduction plan in place if you are borrowing to invest in property.

Aim to get your loan to value ratio (LVR) under 70% as quickly as possible, to remove any lenders mortgage insurance and/or low deposit premium from your loan.

This will see an instant increase in your cash flow and allow you to keep borrowing for more purchases.

How to keep growing your wealth with property investment

After you’ve bought one investment property, you might consider growing your portfolio by adding another.

1. Leverage

Leveraging allows you to use the cash you have available to purchase a more expensive property. Let’s say you have $90,000 in cash (or equity in an existing home).

Using debt you can purchase a property for $300,000 using your cash or equity as a 30% deposit. Now you control an asset worth $300,000 for just a $90,000 outlay.

If the property appreciates at a rate of 5% per year, you’ve gained $15,000 in the first year.

Compare that with gaining 5% on your initial $90,000 deposit (that would be $4,500) and you can see how powerful leverage is when it comes to growing wealth.

Leverage works both ways. It can amplify losses as well as gains.

2. Rental income

Income from rent is your bread and butter in the property investment game. 

Rents should rise over time whilst debt reduces, creating positive cash flow to fund your lifestyle and increased servicing capacity.

3. Debt reduction

Some people like to think of property debt as forced savings.

Whilst that is an oversimplification, it’s true that paying down any debt you owe on the property as quickly as possible will boost your net worth, therefore increasing your wealth.

4. Tax advantages

If you are a wage or salary earner or self-employed, you can receive tax deductions for expenses relating to your investment property. (Note: this is currently under review)

Paying less tax increases your monthly cash flow, just another way property investment can provide financial freedom.

For more information on rental properties and taxation, the IRD has some great resources on their site here.

5. Capital growth

Capital growth is simply the increase in the value of your property over time.

Capital growth is how you continue to add to your property portfolio.

As your property grows in value and you reduce debt, you can borrow against your increased equity to buy more investment property.

Property is a long-term investment, and should never be viewed as a way of getting rich quickly. 

If you buy well, however, your very first property could be worth much more than you paid for it by the time you choose to retire.

Buying a cash-flow positive property investment in New Zealand


What is cashflow positive property?

Put simply, cash flow positive property pays for all expenses from the rent received. There are a number of ways to achieve this.

Buying cashflow positive property

Buying property that generates a profit from day one is the dream.

Generally, this is possible in lower-income areas, regional towns or with smaller apartments. With all three of these scenarios, there is risk involved.

Lower-income areas may have less desirable tenants (and before anyone slams me for this, I live in a low-income area, I’m just stating a fact), regional towns can have massive swings in rental demand (ask me about that time my regional property was vacant for 8 months) and smaller apartments or flats can have high turnover.

Creating cashflow positive property

Another way to make your property cash flow positive is to create it. This simply means you increase the rental income produced from the property.

This could involve buying a larger house and splitting it up into flats. Adding on a bedroom will increase the rent.

Subdividing the section or adding a minor dwelling can also increase the amount of income derived from your purchase.

As you can imagine there are costs involved in adding on bedrooms or renovating a property to increase the rent. If you have the time and money/skills available to do this it can work out well.

I personally don’t have the time (as my focus is my online business) so I have rejigged my position and only buy 2 bedrooms units close to the city centre or local amenities like schools, shops and bus stops, which are cash flow positive from the outset.

I still own a 3 bedroom property in a regional area and will likely hold it for the long-term but I won’t buy another like it.

Low maintenance units suit my lifestyle. You will find what works for you.

How to calculate the return

Calculating the return on a property is done in two ways. Gross yield is a quick calculation you can do to work out if it’s even worth attending the open home.

Gross yield is simply annual rent divided by the purchase price.

On my most recent purchase this worked out as Annual rent: ($290 * 52)/$190,000 = 0.0793 * 100 = 7.93%.

Net yield includes the costs associated with owning the properties. This is the number you need to work out whether it’s a good investment or not.

Annual rent (15080) – holding costs (5000)/190000 * 100 = 5.30%

Holding costs include insurance, rates and property management fees.

Council rates vary widely in regional and metro areas.

As an example, we have a house in a regional town valued at around $130k with an annual rates bill of $3000.

One of our rentals in Christchurch is valued at $235k and has a rates bill of $1800.

The Christchurch rental achieves a higher rent and is a much better investment overall, but the purchase price of the regional property was much lower.

Pro tip: Make sure you consider more than just purchase price when assessing a property. Ongoing costs can obliterate your profit.

Property Investment Resources


Since us Kiwis are so obsessed with property, there are a lot of great resources available to increase your knowledge on the topic.

Books and Magazines

The New Zealand Property Investor Magazine is a monthly publication which covers interest stories and investor profiles. It’s a great read. (You might even be able to borrow it from the library)

Books
Online forums and Facebook groups

Property Talk is an online forum dedicated to property investment in New Zealand.

Property Investors Chat Group is a Facebook group run by a master investor.

Both of these forums are a wealth of knowledge. Remember, before you ask a question, run a search as most likely someone asked it before.

Websites

Property websites like homes.co.nz, oneroof.co.nz and qv.co.nz can give you a lot of free information about a property. I always conduct basic research on a property before deciding to attend an open home. I’ll usually check out sales history and get an idea of rates from the local council.

Online courses

iFind Property runs a free beginners course in Property Investment. It’s delivered via email. I highly recommend it. Check it out here: https://www.ifindproperty.co.nz/learn/property-course/

How I plan to build wealth with property

I want to share my own story as an example of what not to do! And also to show that even if you make mistakes, if you learn from them, you can come back stronger and smarter and do better next time.

In 2006 I (along with many others around the world) wanted to hop on the credit bubble and buy an investment property.

To be fair, I’ve always been interested in real estate and came very close to buying my former family home (simply for nostalgia) for 90k in 2002 when I was a 20 year old with a full-time job. Instead of doing that, I asked for a one-way ticket to Australia for my 21st birthday and moved overseas.

(I really should’ve bought that 90k house. It recently sold for 300k  – just one of my many real estate investment mistakes).

In 2006 we (my now husband) purchased a rental property in partnership with my brother and parents. It was a flat for $180,000 in Bexley, Christchurch.

Each of us had a ⅓ share at $60,000. We saved up the 10% deposit and landed a great tenant paying $230 a week.

If you’ve read and understood about yield you’ll know this was a 6.33% return. Not great, and certainly not a level I’d buy at now, but we were young and keen to own a rental property.

Although the rental return wasn’t great, there was equity in the deal. My husband and I were able to secure a $20,000 loan against the property as a deposit for our next rental.

With this money, we purchased a 3 bedroom house on the West Coast of the South Island. This time, the rental yield was very good. The purchase price was $128,000 and rental income was $230 a week giving a gross yield of 9.34%.

We now had 2 investment properties, both financed with interest-only loans and were young and cocky enough to want a third.

We both had good full-time jobs in Australia but we also loved to travel and eat out, so we weren’t great at money management.

Saving was hard but we managed to scrape together enough for a 10% deposit on a one-bedroom unit in Richmond, Christchurch. The purchase price was $123,000 with a weekly rent of $180 for a 7.6% gross return.

At this stage, we had a lot of debt and interest rates were rising, so we put a halt on buying. We still kept paying interest only on the loans (BIG MISTAKE!!) and as our debt wasn’t reducing things started to get tighter.

We then started to get vacancies, long ones. I was even interviewed by The Press about needing to drop the rent on our Richmond flat.

We had trouble with tenants on the West Coast where the population is highly transient. Our flat in Bexley was the only safe bet with a great tenant who really looked after the place.

In 2008 we purchased a house in Invercargill. The purchase price was $135,000 with a rental income of $220/week.

After that, buying was put on hold while we paid down personal debt and saved up for a round-the-world trip.

In 2011 we purchased a home we thought we’d like to live in one day. We purposely bought then as we were planning on travelling later that year and wouldn’t be able to get finance without the security of our jobs.

The NZ dollar was particularly low against the AUD at that point which made it much more attractive. I believe we got around $1.35NZ for $1AUD when we transferred out deposit over in early 2011. Buying a property in NZ from Australia wasn’t too difficult with all documents being signed electronically and us having a good team on the ground in New Zealand.

Our offer went unconditional three days before the Christchurch earthquake.

When the earthquake hit, all hell broke loose. The tenant vacated immediately, the asbestos roof was damaged and we were stuck with a lemon. The house was badly damaged but we’d put our life savings into it and couldn’t walk away.

I remember sitting in my hostel in Cusco, Peru while we were backpacking through South America when the zoning announcement was made. Both our Bexley and Richmond rentals were red-zoned, meaning they could not be rebuilt on the existing land.

My parents home was also red-zoned, and our house, specifically purchased to be near them, was in the green zone but near the boundary. We completed the sale and patched up the house to a rentable standard and returned to Australia.

Whilst back in Australia, we purchased from afar again before embarking on another big trip. This time in a more solid location in South-west Christchurch. 

We signed all the legal documents in a small notary public (notario publico) office in Merida, Mexico. The woman behind the counter was baffled at us buying a house in New Zealand while travelling in Mexico with a baby.

As time went on, it became more and more difficult to manage the insurance claims from afar. In early 2014 we decided to move home and get everything sorted.

Since then we have finalised the claim and sold that large house, accepted cash settlements for both the Bexley and Richmond rentals and are left with 3 properties (2 existing and a new unit we purchased in Christchurch in early 2019).

It is now my goal to purchase a new property each year with the eventual aim of all properties being fully paid off and able to support early retirement for my husband (since I already have a flexible business I don’t intend to retire for a long time).

More Property Investment Tips

If that story hasn’t put you off investing in property here are some things you should know to ensure you get the maximum benefit from your investment property portfolio.

Keep your borrowing separate

If you borrow to invest in property and use the borrowings solely for the purpose of purchasing a rental property, the interest on that loan is tax-deductible. However, interest on loans associated with your private home is not deductible.

Make sure your home and investment property loans are completely separate, otherwise you could have trouble claiming the maximum deduction come tax time.

Hire a professional property manager

Maybe you are trying to run your rental property business on the cheap, and wanted to self-manage? I understand.

Cash flow properties are hard to come by these days, so management is a place you can save a few bucks.

But hear me out. A good property manager is a vital member of your team.

They can advise on things to improve in the property to get you more rent or tell you problem areas to steer clear of when building your portfolio.

In fact, having a property manager carry out a rental income assessment before you buy is a cheap way to get an expert opinion on your property investment purchase.

Plus, if you sign a management agreement with them, they’ll often waive their rental assessment fee.

Property management is a tax-deductible expense, so not only is having a professional property manager a great way to save money on your income tax, but it’s like having access to a dedicated industry expert on an ongoing basis.

I call that a great investment.

Don’t sell (…for at least 5 Years)

Some investing gurus believe you should never sell. But sometimes you just have to get your money out for whatever reason.

If at all possible, try to hang on to the property for 5 years to minimise tax owing on the property. See more about this here: https://www.gra.co.nz/articles-by-matthew-gilligan/bright-line-rule-faqs

Invest in your knowledge

Much like painting a house, most of the work in property investing is in the preparation. Getting educated, choosing an area to focus on and then finding the right property for the best price that will make you money all take time and resources.

Expenses for subscriptions to property investor magazines and property information websites are deductible expenses and will help you to become a more efficient investor.

Investing in property can be a great way to save for your future.

With the right education, an investment in property has the ability to generate income in the form of regular rent and potentially net you a capital gain when it comes time to sell.

It’s also a tax-efficient investment and can be very enjoyable.

If you have anything to add, please do so in the comments below. I’d love to hear your property investment story.

5 Insider Tips to Save Money on Your New Zealand Wedding

Leah from Rosemary & Twine shares her insider knowledge on how to have a wedding on a budget.

Today I’m going to be sharing with you all about a topic that I’ve learnt a lot about over the years, and something that I consider to be a passion of mine.

I have worked in the wedding industry for the past six years, with wonderful brides planning their weddings.

My Top Tips for an awesome wedding on a budget
Photo: Nathan Fertig

5 Budget Wedding Tips from an Industry Professional

I absolutely love everything about weddings and I loved that my job gave me an excuse to obsess over anything and everything wedding-related!

One thing I did manage to pick up on while working in the wedding industry was a few tips and tricks to save yourself money and help you to stay sane throughout the process too!

I’m going to let you in on a few industry insights today.

If you are in the middle of planning a wedding or maybe know someone who is, I hope these tips will come in handy for you!

1. Plan An Off-Season Wedding

This is probably the best tip I can offer anyone planning their wedding.

It is amazing how much money you can save by having your wedding outside of the popular season.

Here in New Zealand, wedding season runs from late October to early April, with the big months being January to March.

Reasons for this are that people really want the best guarantee that they will have nice weather, which is understandable!

If we’re honest though, New Zealand’s weather can be unpredictable at best.

Unless the forecasters are predicting severe drought, there’s no real guarantee that you’ll get a perfectly clear sunny wedding day, even in the height of Summer!

In my opinion, off-season weddings are this industry’s best-kept secret.

Most vendors tend to be quiet and run off-season specials and discount rates.

Suppliers don’t need to fit your wedding in with the 28 other weddings they’re doing the same weekend, so they can be a lot more accommodating to your needs and give you more of their time.

Where some venues are booked up years in advance for popular summer dates (February 14th, anyone?).

Off-season, you will most likely get your pick of dates, as long as they’re May to September (and opposite in the Northern Hemisphere).

The same goes for photographers. Off-season weddings are the best time to ask “what can you do for me?”.

Vendors want your business in their quiet off-season months and are willing to throw in some freebies here and there, so it’s worth asking!

My Top Tips for an awesome wedding on a budget
Matt+Leah Pickering. Photography by Allen Carbon

2. Have an At-Home Wedding

Weddings are a fantastic excuse to head back to your hometown, not only because it’s a great weekend escape for your friends, but also because provincial towns charge much lower rates than big cities.

A little research into venue and vendor prices in small towns might help cut your venue budget in half!

Or help you step up a level of fanciness for the same amount you’d pay for a modest venue in the city.

Beachside baches make great wedding party accommodation, and the local economy can always benefit from your friends and family dropping by for the weekend, not to mention the local caterers, florists, car hire, bottle stores and the like that would love to work with you!

Y’know they’re probably also really friendly too.

Having your wedding at home is also a great way to involve family who otherwise may feel left out of the planning process.

My Top Tips for an awesome wedding on a budget
Photo: Dave Meier

3. Ask For Help

So often it’s easier to do things yourself.

You know how you want it done, and you’d rather just to do it than explain to someone else (and end up re-doing it later, let’s be honest).

The truth is, your family and friends would love to be involved, they just need an opportunity.

I’ll tell you now, doing everything by yourself with no help is not going to work out well for anyone.

Delegating jobs out to people will help them to feel like they have a part to play in this most important of days. Ask talented friends to bring their skill in place of a wedding present.

Tips for saving money on your wedding. You can have an amazing wedding on a tiny budget. A professional wedding planner shares her top tips for saving money and some other things to be aware of when you are planning a wedding on a budget.

Got a hot home baker pal? Get them onto the wedding cake!

That aunt who just has a knack for making things look good? Put that skill to use for the reception table set-up!

Your future brother-in-law is a technical whizz? He can man the PA system.

Your Type-A super-organised friend from college will be perfect for making sure the day runs smoothly.

A wedding is supposed to be about a community coming together, let some of these things off your shoulders so you can focus on the main thing: the getting married bit.

My Top Tips for an awesome wedding on a budget

4. Research Thoroughly and Save Yourself Money

Most wedding dress shops charge a fee to try on dresses.

In New Zealand, it’s usually somewhere around $50-70 for an appointment.

Some stores don’t charge if you would just like to browse without trying on and most should have pictures of their dresses on their website.

You can save yourself hundreds of dollars by looking on their website first and seeing if you like the dresses they stock and if they have free browsing sessions.

Going into a bridal store just to browse can give you a good impression of the store and if it’s a place that you would pay to visit.

I’ve had brides book up to two hours in a boutique with me, only to realise we don’t stock the type of dress they were wanting to try on.

If you don’t know what styles of dresses you like, that’s OK! Most people go into wedding planning with no idea what they would want to wear, it’s completely normal seeing as most of us have spent very little time in formal gowns!

See if there’s a free place to try on and get an idea of different styles, colours and fabrics first and go from there.

My Top Tips for an awesome wedding on a budget
Photo: Ben Rossett

TIP #5 Choose Carefully The Things You DIY

DIY is all the rage these days for weddings, and it’s a wonderful thing!

It’s a great way to save money, get your friends and family involved in wedding preparations and it’s a lot of fun.

Good easy DIYs include invitations and stationery.

Anyone with a home printer can make simple DIY invitations, and there are lots of downloadable PDF files you can buy off places like Etsy for less than $20. Just fill in your details and print!

What’s important with DIY is to cost up your projects before you start them.

By the time you have purchased all the necessary materials and tools to make something yourself, you may have spent more than if you’d just bought that thing ready-made!

It’s also good to avoid feeling pressured to DIY.

Some people love being crafty and would DIY their wedding even if it wasn’t trendy.

Other people just plain hate it and even thinking about getting elbow deep in PVA glue and tissue paper makes them cringe.

If you’re not a DIY person but have friends who love that stuff, recruit them to be your “Creative Team” and hand over all the decorative things to them!

If you trust them and their ideas seem good, let them take that whole area off your hands and create something handmade and beautiful for your wedding.

Thanks for letting me share these tips with you today!

For those people planning weddings, or even big celebrations and gatherings, I hope these were helpful.

10 Easy Ways to Earn Free Gift Cards in New Zealand

One of the easiest ways to save money is to stop spending it. We all know that.

But that doesn’t stop us needing to replace things when they break or buy gifts for the special people in our lives.

One of my favourite money saving tips is to stop using your own money to pay for these expenses.

Use gift cards instead! Free gift cards preferably.

This post will show you where to earn free gift cards NZ-wide and some nifty tricks for getting the most bang for your gift card buck.

10 Ways to Earn Free Gift Cards in New Zealand

Note: nothing is ever really free. No one is going to come up to you on the street and say ‘Hey you awesome person, here’s a gift card’.

That never happens (unfortunately).

But if you’re prepared to spare a little of your time to earn gift cards, it can be quite a lucrative endeavour.

1. Answer surveys with Valued Opinions


We are lucky to have some awesome survey options in New Zealand, and Valued Opinion is my favourite for earning gift cards.

I can easily earn $20 a month in gift cards which adds up to a decent sized slush fund for Christmas – and I could earn more if I put in more effort.

I like that the surveys offered are given a dollar value, so you know you’ll earn $2, $4 or sometimes even $5 per survey.

There’s no confusing points system. They also don’t charge you to cash out.

They send physical gift cards so order them as soon as you qualify to allow time for them to arrive.

Valued Opinions currently offer the following gift cards:

Farmers $20
Rebel Sport $10
Mighty Ape $20
Xbox Digital Gift Card $25
J-B Hifi $20
Subway $10
XBox live 3-month subscription $30
iTunes $20
Super Cheap Auto $20
Hoyts cinevoucher $12 (1 Adult ticket)
Unicef donation $10

Click here to join Valued Opinions>>

2. Sign up for focus groups


Focus groups or market research panels are also a great way to earn gift cards.

Usually, you are required to attend a session with other participants where you will share opinions and ideas on new products or advertising, policies etc. Sometimes researchers will attend your home to interview you.

Payment could be in cash or gift cards.

Click here to find out how to register for research panels>>

3. Test products with Ipsos i-Say

I am so excited that Ipsos i-Say has just launched in New Zealand.

Not only do they offer online paid surveys, they occasionally require users to test products for them.

For your feedback, you’ll be rewarded with gift cards.

Click here to join i-Say New Zealand>>

4. Share your browsing history with Nielsen

Nielsen Digital Voice rewards people for sharing their browsing history, in the form of gift cards or items selected from a catalogue.

You will need to download a piece of software which will sit on your computer and monitor your browsing history.

It will not slow down your computer.

Click here to learn more about Nielsen Digital Voice>>

5. Join Airbnb


If you are new to Airbnb, using the link below will get you a $50 credit towards your first trip.

Whilst this is technically not a gift card, it is an online discount and Airbnb is a great way to travel on a budget so I highly recommend signing up.

Get your Airbnb credit here>>

6. Join the Flybuys Survey Panel (Colmar Brunton)

You can boost your Flybuys points by completing surveys with Colmar Brunton.

This is a great way to earn free gift cards through the Flybuys program.

According to the Flybuys website “… for every 10 – 15-minute online survey you complete, you’ll get a minimum of 10 free Fly Buys points”. Not bad at all!

Flybuys members can learn more here>>

7. Do battles with Toluna

Toluna is one of my favourite New Zealand survey sites because they offer a lot more than just surveys.

You can sign up for quizzes, do battles with your friends and of course, complete surveys.

Whilst Toluna offers an option to receive cash rewards with Paypal, they also have a huge range of gift cards for redemption.

Click here to join Toluna>>

8. Enter competitions

Would you believe there are people out there who win thousands of dollars in gift cards and other prizes each year?

They are called compers, basically, people who boost their income by entering competitions at an almost professional level.

I was lucky enough to receive an email from a lovely comper called Rae who shared her tips on how to win competitions with me.

You can read Rae’s tips here

9. Become a mystery shopper


Mystery shopping is a great way to get free gift cards. Whilst you technically have to spend the gift cards in the store you have been assigned to, it’s still free!

You can find the mystery shopping companies in New Zealand here

10. Sign up for multiple survey sites

I’ve already mentioned Valued Opinions and Toluna as great options for earning gift cards but there are loads more survey sites in New Zealand where you can build a healthy stash of gift cards.

Check out this post for more information on the best survey sites in New Zealand.

I hope these ideas will help you save some cash.

Do you have a favourite way of earning gift cards to save cash?

Read next: 20 Money Saving Tips Every Kiwi Needs to Know