In September and October this year, my partner and I both received a pay rise in our respective jobs. As you may have guessed from the title, it was approximately $3000 each – a $6000 increase in our joint gross income. Hooray!
Today I’ll be sharing with you what we did with our extra income and how we chose to be mindful with this money.
If I acted from the same place I was before I was mindful with money, I may have acted with the same impulsiveness and spontaneity I had back then. But, being older and (hopefully) wiser, I tried my best to avoid the slippery slope that is lifestyle inflation.
What is lifestyle inflation? It’s a phenomenon where, when you earn more, you spend more. My first few years working full-time is a classic example: as my income increased, so did my standard of living, and because I was earning more, I could also borrow more. Because I was borrowing more, I was paying more in repayments and interest, etc, and the cycle went on. Fortunately, that was years ago. I know many more things now than I did back then, one of them being that – surprise surprise – more money doesn’t necessarily equal more happiness!
How did these pay rises come about? For my partner, it was well and truly deserved. He’s in an important role, works very hard, and has been at the same company for 6 years (!!!). So his pay rise was simply due to him being awesome at his job. Mine was due to a new job altogether – a new role in my new company after being there for 2 months.
Now, as you may know, I believe in manifestation and synchronicity. I’d also worked in customer service for 7 years, across insurance, banking, tax, makeup artistry, retail, hospitality & more. What could be so different about this role? A lot, apparently.
One day, about 2 months into my time in the customer service role, I got really intentional. I’ll be honest, there were several reasons why I wasn’t overjoyed in the role; reasons I did something about, too (of course, not everyone is happy when a new person stands up for what they believe is right. A close friend asked me, ‘Do you really give a shit?’ and I’m trying not to. At the end of the day, my actions created positive change).
What allowed me to get really intentional was uncovering and identifying another reason for my feelings about the role, beyond what I’d already raised concerns about:
When you are a customer and raising an issue or a complaint, you have one – one problem. But to the people who customers complain to, we see ALL the problems. What you have one inconvenient or negative experience of, we deal with hundreds every week.
So that was it. I was dealing with people’s problems, all day, every day.
In all of my customer service roles across the last 7 years, my work was either positive, or a harmonious balance of positive and negative (for example: working in tax, disappointing some customers with tax bills and delighting others with tax refunds. It’s always nice to give people good news!).
This, however, was mostly negative. So much negativity. And when you’re an empath (even if you’re not), absorbing negative energy 8 hours a day, 5 days a week is very exhausting. The effects aren’t limited to just those exclusive 40 hours each week, either; as optimistic as I try to be, you can’t expect someone to deal with negativity all day then suddenly walk out the door beaming and frolicking with joy. It was so mentally draining dealing with people complaining about things all the time; dealing with their anger and disappointment and resentment and entitlement; especially when their problems could be trivial. I’ve been through a lot in this lifetime, okay? (Life hack: cover your pain with copious amounts of saccharine pink!) So don’t hate me for thinking that you may be overreacting a little bit about your video game being delivered 15 minutes later than guaranteed. Once, I said my sincere apologies to a customer for something that was agreed amongst my team to be objectively their fault, then gave them free credit just because.
They wrote back to me, “Fuck off.”
Anyways, manifestation and synchronicity.
I set an intention to leave customer service – not a light decision because it was an industry I’d once genuinely loved. I loved making a real difference in people’s lives. I loved solving people’s problems, albeit ‘meaningful’ problems such as
“How will I protect my new investment property?”
“How will I be supported financially when I go on parental leave to spend time with my baby?”
“How do I choose the best bank accounts for my financial future?”
I loved all the times I’ve solved these problems and seen my customers go from full on panicking to calm and thankful. I loved taking complicated situations and making it simple, positive for people.
So, the day after I set this intention, an email landed in my inbox from the co-director. “There’s a new marketing role, and I’ve already recommended you and given your CV to the manager!” An interview later, and I got the job. Boom, pay rise!
Earlier in the year, I’d read a personal finance book called ‘It’s Not Your Money’ by Tosha Silver: ‘How to live fully from divine abundance’. The author said that she named the book as such because when she said it’s not your money, she meant it.. It’s not yours, it’s God’s. It may sound strange, but that’s how it felt for me. Everything happened so suddenly; even on the day I moved to my new role, I didn’t know until literally on the spot when I was asked to move my desk from Customer Services to Marketing – effective immediately. It took me by surprise, as did the new job and pay rise – what I consider to be a manifestation of my intentions. Something I had unexpected, but was super grateful for.
So, my goals were to:
1. Avoid lifestyle inflation – ie. keep my standard of living the same; my lifestyle doesn’t need to be fancy or extravagant
2. Use my new income mindfully and to give back to the world
Here’s what I did with my pay rise:
Started payroll giving
GAWD my work is awesome. On top of being New Zealand owned and having an award-winning environmentally friendly building, they make it super easy to start payroll giving, where you can donate to the charity / charities of your choice, straight from your pay. So clever. So conscious. So progressive!
I took the difference in my net fortnightly income and put half towards payroll giving. It took me some time, because my amazing work partnered with so many charities with so many worthwhile causes, but I chose the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand. Remember Jacinda encouraging everyone to free call or text 1737 if they were in distress following the Christchurch mosque terror attacks? The Mental Health Foundation is behind that. They’re also behind Lifeline, Youthline, and the Samaritans. Mental health is so important to our wellbeing and has more impact on our physical wellbeing than we realise, and it’s heartwarming to know that we have help and support available if we need it. I support them 100%!
Increased payments to my mum
I send money to my mum every fortnight. She had not had an easy year, with my dad passing away a few months prior, on top of a difficult decade of house repairs and medical treatments for my dad. Fortunately, things are a lot better now, and with my extra income, I was able to send more with my fortnightly payment.
Here’s what my partner did with his payrise:
Took my advice about avoiding lifestyle inflation and decided to hide the pay rise from himself. (Yay!)
Here’s how he did it:
Calculated the actual, dollar amount difference between his old income and his new income
Because we all know that a $3000 increase isn’t $3000 more per year; after you have contributed your part to society (income tax), and to your Kiwisaver and student loan if you have one, it can be $1800-$2000 in reality.
Say his old income was $1500 in the bank every fortnight; now it is $1600 every fortnight. He notes down this difference of $100.
Started saving this difference
Every time my partner gets paid, he immediately transfers the difference in pay to savings.
Continued consistently saving as if it never happened
After my partner transfers the difference in pay, he then saves 20% of the remaining pay!
Essentially, it’s like he didn’t receive a pay rise and like his income remained the same – but with faster savings! I’m also still saving as per the 80/20 rule, so we’ve got a good emergency fund, and after the wedding, can plan for other exciting plans (like renovations and travel!).
I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into what we did with our pay rises and hope that maybe, you found some inspiration too. As always, if you have any thoughts or questions, you can comment below or message me anonymously here.