NZ Herald

She's just 24 and owns two houses

SHE'S only 24 but Ashley Verheul owns a home in Auckland, a bach in Pauanui and is looking for her third property.

But it wasn't having rich parents that got her there - she's worked since she was 13, sacrificed nights out and saved like crazy - even putting food low on her list or priorities.

Mrs Verheul bought her terraced townhouse in Botany in 2012 when she was 21 for $378,000, before the 2013 LVR restrictions came in which mean most first home buyers need a 20 per cent deposit. Hers was about 13 per cent.

In November, she used equity from the home to buy a bach in Pauanui for $248,000.

She married her roofer boyfriend over Easter and the couple are now looking at bigger properties in Highland Park and plan on renting out the Botany home.

But with price escalating, they've realised they might need close to $800,000 to buy in the area.

Money was tight when Mrs Verheul's was growing up. She lived with her mother as her parents split when she young.

Her work ethic was evident from an early age when she convinced her mother to move within the zone for Botany Downs Secondary College as her best friend was attending.

"It wasn't cheap to get into the area, and it was a bit of a struggle for me and my Mum to afford to rent a place in zone. I promised her that if we made the move, I would get a job as soon as I turned 13... We ended up renting a two bedroom granny flat on the side of someone's house.

At age 16, Mrs Verheul worked at an after-school care centre five days a week.

When she started studying business management at AUT University she also worked before-school shifts and took on other jobs that fitted into her schedule including data entry for a transport company.

With all the work and study, she was too tired to go out.

"I was so exhausted from working," Mrs Verheul said.

"I didn't want to go out anywhere - which was good for the bank."

Now working in air and sea freight operations/customer services, Mrs Verheul still works 11 hour days, is studying and planning to set up her own business.

She credits her work ethic to the fact her parents - who had her when they were 19 - never graduated university and were forced to work to support her.

"I, like most kids, wanted my parents to be proud of me so was motivated by that... I knew my parents wanted me to finish school, go to university and travel, all the things they never has the chance to do."

Her grandmother taught her how to budget and she had a unique way of deciding what her necessities were.

"First you work out what it costs for all your needs - a place to live, power and water," Mrs Verheul said.

"Notice that I didn't put food? This is the most variable need we have as people and it always comes into my budget second to savings. Once you have calculated your basic needs, you decide how much you ideally want or need to save.

Then what ever is left over after that is left for food. Cereal bread and milk doesn't cost the world, and neither does a can of tuna or a bag of rice."

As a student, she got her weekly food bill down to $40.

"I mentally had to tell myself that food is just fuel for your body, cause of course you get sick of eating the same things over and over."

When she wanted a "a decent feed" she would grandparents or either parents' home for dinner.

Mrs Verhuel says her husband is "rubbish" with money so she handles it.

"He only has a bit of spending money on his card for buying a cold drink on a hot day ... otherwise he just cant help himself but swipe away on things he doesn't need like bakery food and energy drinks. When we first got serious I went through his bank statements and added up that he had spent over $60 that week on just on bits and pieces from the dairy and bakery."

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