Personal Finance

Money Habits I Nailed in My 20’s

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Hi friends,

I’m glad a lot of you enjoyed Money Mistakes I Made in My 20’s!

Today, I’m back with another reflective post. After sharing my financial regrets, I’ll be sharing with you mindful money habits I’ve done right – from my teens to mid 20’s.

Mindful Money Habit No.1: Starting work at an early age

I was a motivated young teen. At the age of 14, I decided on my own to start earning a regular income by delivering newspapers – the Eastern Courier and Property Press – around my local area of Bucklands Beach, Auckland.

At the age of 15, I started working at Warehouse Stationery – my first proper job. This means I’ve been working for over a decade! It might not seem like a lot, but it means I experienced ‘the real world’ sooner and had more time and experience in the workforce. Honestly, I’d give this as advice to my own children when I have them – to me, the earlier the better.

Mindful Money Habit No.2: Having multiple income streams

I’ve always worked multiple jobs or had multiple income streams; sometimes out of necessity, most times out of passion and curiosity. To make a long story short:

In 2012, I worked three part-time jobs (in beauty, in retail, and in a nightclub).

In 2013, I worked two jobs. The part-time beauty job had turned into my first full-time job; I later picked up waitressing & bartending at a restaurant & bar on weekends.

In 2014, I also worked two jobs: I’d switched full-time jobs and later on, started bartending at a club on weekends.

In 2015, I dedicated myself solely to one job working as an insurance consultant. It was my first corporate job and the one that changed much of my life.

In 2016, I was still at the same corporate job, but started thinking about turning my passion for photography into a side hustle. So, alongside this job, I photographed an engagement shoot, a graduation shoot, and an engagement party!

In 2017, I bought my house and started earning rental income by renting out the second bedroom. I had a full-time corporate job, and later, a part-time job in banking. I continued to shoot events here and there – in that year, it included a few graduations and a wedding. As such, I had two consistent streams of income and a third occasional stream of income.

Late 2017 – early 2018, I launched my candle shop on Etsy! 

In 2018, I worked part-time, continued earning rental income, continued making & selling scented soy candles, continued photographing events (this time I was popular with birthday parties), did a few research panels, and in November, started working for the government in a full-time corporate job. Messy? Yes, but it was a very fun and enlightening year, full of personal and spiritual growth.

Now, in 2019? Since leaving my government job near the end of the contract, I have two streams of income: a full-time job and rental income.

Why am I proud of this mindful money habit? Looking back, I’m proud of the fact that I’ve gained experience in a lot of different industries and types of work. I can say that I’ve worked in tax, sales, customer service (online, face to face, contact centre – inbound & outbound), retail, hospo, makeup artistry, general insurance, life insurance, banking, administration, and more. All of this is valuable life experience to me – the extra streams of income and extra value for my CV have been a bonus!

Mindful Money Habit No.3: Having a strong work ethic

I’ve always worked hard, both in terms of effort and time. For example, at my job as an insurance consultant, if I didn’t think you were being treated fairly, I’d literally do anything to make sure you were looked after, even if it meant repeatedly negotiating with underwriters. I like to think I always went above and beyond to make something complicated, simple and easy for customers!

My efforts paid off especially well in April-June 2016, when I won a $150 Prezzy card for being in the winning team in a competition for the most sales that quarter, and another $50 Prezzy card for individually making the most life insurance referrals. This coincided with one of our six monthly bonuses, based on our performance. To add to this, thanks to various incentives happening at the same time, I also won movie tickets and fuel vouchers! I rarely paid for fuel that year, as I spent little to begin with and simply accumulated fuel vouchers.

But I was very generous with my time, too: I volunteered for lots of overtime. Opportunities came up every week, and I would always volunteer to do additional hours without hesitation. This was great because overtime hours paid at 1.15! My office was 15 minutes walk from home, and most people going home from 4-5pm meant that my extra hours could be spent in a peaceful, quiet office mostly in solitude. When I was with a customer, I’d give it my all. But when I wasn’t, I could blissfully spend my time reading, writing, or organising my life (I spent a good deal of my downtime in the evenings planning my London & Paris trip itinerary).

I was also always willing to work public holidays if given them; especially because they were paid at 1.5 and always gave me a day in lieu I could use later on!

Mindful Money Habit No.4: Joining Kiwisaver from the beginning

Since I’d been a member of Kiwisaver since my very first job, I’d accumulated over 10 years of savings when I used my Kiwisaver first home withdrawal to pay for part of the deposit on my house. My whole working life, I hadn’t thought much of it – but I’m glad I’ve always stuck to it and kept consistent contributions for so many years! The only exception was my recent 6 month contribution holiday / savings suspension.

Another personal win is that in recent years, I’ve chosen to be conscious about where my Kiwisaver is invested, after much research into the ethics behind the scheme. Now that I’m aware, I’ll always have my Kiwisaver invested with an ethical provider.

Mindful Money Habit No.5: Personalising my bank accounts

Saving and spending money is psychological. This is why it’s easier for people to pay off debt starting with the smallest balance, rather than the highest interest rate (debt snowball vs. debt avalanche): it’s motivating and creates momentum!

A money tip I’ve often heard is to personalise your accounts – with names, pictures, and goals. For as long as I’ve had my BNZ account, I’ve always done this. Given I’m able to have up to 25 YouMoney accounts at once, I’ve found it best for clear record-keeping to have different accounts for everyday spending, flexible saving, long-term saving, as well as necessities – split into power, water, internet, insurance, food, events, and miscellaneous bills (where I like to keep a little ‘buffer’ every pay).

But what makes saving easier, and creates more resistance to spending, is also having accounts created for specific goals – such as ‘Melbourne’, ‘Japan’, or ‘Wedding’, with pictures that create excitement. Excitement is, of course, key to self-motivation. As someone who loves colours and vision boards as a way of manifesting, my accounts now look like a mini digital vision board for a well-organised dream life, slowly coming together.

While BNZ was the first to offer personalised accounts, I know that nowadays, you are able to do this at most other banks, such as ANZ and Kiwibank!

Mindful Money Habit No.6: Investing in myself

I’m proud of myself for learning and developing my candlemaking and photography skills, and having them to fall back on in case anything goes wrong. While I know I need to get myself out there more and actually promote my work, I now know for sure that people love both my candlemaking and photography work and are happy to pay for it, which gives me a strong sense of security (and warm fuzzies of appreciation). Rather than having to go out and get a part-time retail or hospitality job if need be (like in the past), I can confidently rely on myself rather than external circumstances. Skills can’t be taken away – only constantly refined and improved on to become even better.

Another bonus to this is that, as cheesy as it sounds, I am passionate about these skills. I happily put my energy into them, even when I’m not getting paid for them. And the more time and effort I invest into my side hustles and myself, the more I myself achieve personal growth – unlike putting more time and effort into working for a company. Plus, since I’ve learnt the ins and outs of income tax at my government job, I already know exactly what to do about my taxes if I ever dive into the exciting and scary world of self-employment!

If you have a talent or skill you are passionate about, why not use it? I’ve met people who speak 5 languages fluently, have played a musical instrument for over a decade, or are just exceptionally knowledgeable about a certain field – and I always ask, “What are you doing here?

There are so many opportunities out there. I genuinely believe that if half the people in the workforce dedicated themselves to turning their passion, hobby or skill into an extra source of income, we could all work part-time instead of full-time and spend the other half of our time doing something we love and enjoy.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

What do I want you to get out of this blog post? The inspiration to use your talents and skills to grow and to invest in yourself, and the knowledge that working hard and giving everything 100% is well worth it!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this mini series on my relationship with money in my 20’s! Share your thoughts with me on this blog or anything else by leaving a comment below or by contacting me here. 

Love,

Sophia

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