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You may have heard that heaps! is now fully owned by Kiwibank following a buy out of our partner, Social Capital, in June.

We’re very proud to have full ownership of heaps! – our award-winning online money management tool that’s helping Kiwis achieve their financial goals and get more out of life.

And we’re continuing to work on improving heaps! Currently we’re working on a number of fixes for common problems raised by our users. We’re aiming to have these delivered in the next 6-8 weeks.

In the meantime, to make sure we don’t miss any of your feedback and ideas, we’re streamlining the way heaps! users can communicate with us on social media. You can now post messages about heaps! directly to the @KiwibankNZ, Facebook and Twitter pages. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Over the next two months the heaps! Facebook and Twitter streams will be migrated over to @KiwibankNZ, and closed.

Any support issues should still be raised via the support function within heaps!

Thanks so much for your support so far. We look forward to helping you get more out of life going forward.

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Spread the word! We’re offering free emergency office space at our heaps! headquarters for displaced Christchurch small businesses and freelancers. We’re based in a shared office space in Central Wellington and currently have heaps of office space we’re happy to share. We can also supply desks, WiFi, access to scanners and printers… whatever you need while you get back on your feet.

Access to the space can be provided immediately. Contact team@livingairspace.com or Tim Norton 021463331.

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Fantastic news!

heaps! cleaned up at the prestigious Onya Awards, held in Wellington on Saturday night. Kiwibank and Social Capital won awards for Most Innovative site and Best Web Application against strong competition from some of New Zealand’s most cutting-edge websites.

Head of Online Channels Peter Fletcher-Dobson said “To win both the categories we were entered into is a testament to the Kiwibank and Social Capital team who have made heaps! New Zealand’s premier online tool for managing your money. It’s especially exciting to win the innovation award, as it shows Kiwibank is really pushing boundaries and leading the best.”

In awarding the honours, the judges commented that heaps! was “an awesome way to manage your personal finances”, saying, “wish I had this!” and, “this is what I’ve always wanted from online banking!”.Needless to say we’re stoked with the excellent result and the judges’ feedback! We’re continually improving the site and developing new features to make sure our customers enjoy their heaps! experience, and it’s only going to get better from here!

heaps! was launched in March 2010 and now has 30,000 users. Last year, we also won two TUANZ awards last year for innovation.

Remember that if you have any questions, suggestions, or feedback about heaps! please contact us at support@heaps.co.nz – we love hearing what you have to say.

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Starting the year without financial stress

After a fun-filled summer of vacations, festivals, and tonnes of alcohol, it’s time for students to return home – and university calenders to kick off.

Looking for ways to stay away from financial stress?

Watch your spending during O Week!

O Week is the most fun-filled week on most university calenders, but also the first financial hurdle you’ll face as a student.

Let’s be honest: being a student does mean empty pockets. If you’re not careful, this week of shenanigans can blow your budget for the first semester – if not the whole year. Before O week begins, set aside a realistic amount of money to blow out on O Week activities, and just use that. Spend that and no more, and you won’t find yourself starting the year financially stressed.

Make a budget – it’ll be worth it!

Most students I know make some sort of a budget at the beginning of each new year of university. However, many of them calculate what they can spend in their heads, and don’t take the time to create a proper detailed line-by-line budget. These are the students who usually find themselves overspending because they’ve underestimated what things really cost.

A few weeks ago, I read about a study in America. They found that supermarket shoppers who add up their purchases in their heads spend on average 19% more than people who bring calculators with them.

Have you thought about travel costs?

The two major financial elements to consider when you’re planning your study is course fees and living costs. Course fees are generally fixed, so your budgeting will mainly revolve around living costs.

If you’ve never put together a proper budget, try giving heaps! a go – you may be surprised how much your living costs really are. Knowing how much you can spend before the year starts could save you from getting into financial trouble later.

When you’re making your budget, don’t forget about travel costs. Maybe you’re lucky enough to live on campus and can walk everywhere – but if you’re commuting from a suburb, you could find yourself spending a small fortune on trains and buses. Take this into consideration when you’re looking for a place to live – and remember, you can save on transport by walking, biking, or even car-pooling.

Student Loans – yes or no?

With the exception of a mortgage, a student loan is the biggest debt most people will ever take out. Because they are interest-free, lots of students borrow as much as they can. It seems like free money, but you will have to pay it back when you finish your study! This is why there are so many articles and blogs advising against taking out more than you need.

There is definitely some merit in that advice, but, personally, I don’t agree with them (controversial statement to make, I know!). If you’ve planned your budget for the year and you don’t need to take out the full $163.38 a week, maybe you could consider taking out the full amount out anyway – and have the surplus automatically paid into a savings account each week. This will only work if you never touch the money in this account! If you can do it, at the end of your study you can pay the unused loan back 0 and you’ll have made money from the interest!

Feel free to comment if you have any other good ideas for students about to begin uni for the year! :)

Cheers

http://www.heaps.co.nz

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Hope you’re all enjoying using heaps! – both Kiwibank and non-Kiwibank customers! In this upgrade, we’ve made some great improvements based on feedback, mostly around making budgeting and categorisation clearer and easier to use. Have a read below to find out what has changed, and then log into heaps! and check it out for yourself!

Budgeting on heaps!

Easier to use design
The budget page has been redesigned and improved with new budget row styles, new expanded transaction row styles, and a new “I Save” section which includes messages for when a goal allocation won’t be achievable.

Simple two-tier budget categories
When setting your budget, you are now able to see both tier 1 and tier 2 categories. With the ability to now click and expand a category to see the subcategories, you can now break down your budget even further.

heaps budgeting improvements

Income/Spending types
The budget page has been simplified, with all regular payments together (instead of being separated into fixed and variable), as well as necessary, and unnecessary types of income and expenditure.

“Everything else” bar
The new budget page has an “everything else” bar that you can expand to see categories that you haven’t budgeted for.

heaps budget improvements everything else

Bugs fixed

  1. Removed goals link from budget progress widget on dashboard.
  2. ANZ uploads can now support accounts that begin with 11 (previously only supported 01)
  3. Orange warning messages on the budget page were being displayed at the wrong time, in certain scenarios. This has now been fixed.
  4. When deleting extra income in the welcome wizard it no longer stays on the page.

And as always, if you have any issues, questions or suggestions please feel free to contact support@heaps.co.nz. Have a great weekend!

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New love is exciting. There is nothing quite like the first few months of a budding relationship – you think about each other constantly, you chat during all hours of the day and night via every available form of communication technology, you go on magical dates and there is mind blowing chemistry between you. Almost everything else goes out the window – including your budget. The idea of today’s blog is to give you tips to kill the over spending without killing the mood. So here are seven ideas to become a master of romance without becoming a slave to your credit card.

Dining in
Dinner dates can be amongst the most expensive so an obvious way to cut the costs of having a new man or woman in your life is to dine in, rather than out. Spend a day preparing a glorious three course meal at your own house. You don’t even have to be a master chef to pull this one off as everyone likes a trier and who’s to say whether or not you called in backup?

Gifts
Giving your loved one little unexpected gifts is the expected thing to do these days. Making someone feel spoilt is almost always a good thing, but not when it’s also spoiling your monthly budget. Keep the extravagant gifts to a minimum and go for clever and thoughtful gifts instead. Let me give you an example. The two of you are watching a movie and one of the characters is drinking out of a cup that’s in the shape of a boot, your loved one exclaims “Awesome, that cup is so cool – it’s in the shape of a boot”. Now there is a perfect opportunity for you to jump on Trade Me, find a boot-shaped cup and give it to them. It will set you back $10 and you have the added bonus of being the cute, thoughtful partner who listens and delivers.

Poetry
Cheesy – yes. Fail – no. Poetry can be delivered from two angles so it can definitely have a place in your relationship. Write something special and personal then deliver it. If your partner is a hopeless romantic they will lap it up and be extremely moved by your old-fashioned charm. If you’re partner finds that kind of thing awkward then the whole thing was a thoughtful joke and you’re Mr/Mrs cheesy and hilarious who has a special way with words.

A romantic getaway
A romantic getaway doesn’t have to mean a long weekend at an expensive holiday house or a 5 day trip to Fiji. Go camping or go for a road trip to nowhere in particular. If properly prepared for, comparatively inexpensive holidays such as these can be just as fun, if not more fun, than the luxurious kind.

Local events
Look up events that are happening in your area. There are a lot of performers who put on really cheap or free shows. Look up upcoming events that are happening in your area for a night of fabulous free entertainment.

A night in paradise
Forget an expensive night in a luxury hotel and bring the experience to your house. Fill a room with fairy lights, flowers, food and drink. Its super romantic and will encourage you to tidy the house properly (which, let’s face it, you have probably been putting off for the past few months).

Vouchers and deals
To prove you’re not all about the DIY dates it’s good to have a few conventional ones in the mix too. Plan ahead for these, as deals and vouchers pop up all the time on various websites and on the backs of supermarket receipts.

Happy courting everyone!

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Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could all have the will power or support and motivation to stay on track with repaying debt perfectly without falling off the horse sometime?

It would be, we ‘should’ never fall of the horse, but in reality we’re likely to, so the important thing is to not feel like a complete failure, relax, and get back on to your debt repayment scheme and back on the road forward!

Failure is part of the road to success, accept it once it’s happened, learn from it, and move on. Good luck, everyday you do the right thing is a good day!

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Puppies. Playful, precious and oh-so-popular. But how much is your furry friend really costing you? The initial idea of a brand new, fluffy addition to your family may seem like the greatest thing in the world but that doggy in the window will cost you a lot more than it’s $900 price tag.

Your budget may allow for that one off payment that gets your new friend from the pet shop or breeder to your door, but does it allow for all the expenses you will encounter after that? Consider things like food, toys, beds, leashes, collars, grooming, veterinary care, training, and pet sitters, not to mention the time and attention you will need to provide. The average dog ends up costing a responsible owner between $1400 to $6000 every year. Obviously that varies a lot depending on the breed and health of your dog, but you get the idea. Can your budget still allow for a dog? If so; good for you! Enjoy! If not, then don’t worry, man’s best friend is great but man has more than one friend.

Cats are an obvious alternative. They may not provide the same kind of loyalty and devotion that dogs do but they generally require less attention and less money. The average cat will cost its owner between $500 and $1500 every year. Better… but still not great.

Rabbits, fish, mice, birds and guinea pigs are much more affordable to maintain. Their initial set up cost is high but, all going well, if you can manage the initial cost then you can manage them for the rest of their happy wee lives.

Cheapest of all, of course, is getting a soft toy replica of your chosen animal. They cost a grand total of about $30, they smell good, they cuddle you when you want them to, and people won’t think you’re evil if you leave them alone for a day. Up to you!

Taking on a pet is a massive responsibility and not a decision to be made spur of the moment. If you have planned for your pet then they will always be a happy and welcome part of your family.

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In the fifth installment, of the Lisa Dudson video series, Lisa Discusses how often you should be reviewing your finances to make sure you don’t get off track. By monitoring your budget quite closely for the first 3 months you will help set yourself good habits and then be able to review your progress each month, making adjustments as required. In these short videos, your financial questions will be answered by financial expert Lisa Dudson from Money t.v.

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A night out can be a pricey choice for an evening activity and it almost always ends up costing you more than you bargained for.  One night of fun can easily end up putting you out until your next pay comes through so here are three basic pointers to help you avoid those financial hangovers.

Paper, not plastic
Set yourself a limit and then withdraw that amount in cash. Leave your eftpos, and definitely your credit, cards at home. By removing the means for you to over spend you have no choice but to stick to you budget, and when your cash is gone – your night is over (this also has secondary benefits of encouraging you to pace yourself throughout the night).

Clothing sharing and recycling
This one is more for the ladies (but also for those men out there that care deeply about their attire). Don’t buy something new every time you go out! Your town budget may be $50, but that dress cost you $200, those shoes cost you $180 and that fake tan you have cost another $80. $510 per outing isn’t really a spending pace that one can afford to maintain.  Have a few town outfits that you love, mix and match with friends and buy bargains.

Transport
Taxis may be the most convenient way home but unless you are sharing with a few people then they are definitely not the most affordable.  Know the bus timetable, have a sober driver or, if you are lucky enough to have someone who is willing, get a ride.