Budgeting, Lifestyle, Money Mindset, Personal Finance, Wedding

Life, Love & Money: An Update

Hello friends,

It feels good to write again after 3 months of working through some shit. And while it is by no means over (is the journey of personal growth ever complete?), today I am back, I am inspired, and I would love to share with you a life update as well as some exciting news & money wins!

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Money Mindset, Personal Finance

Are You Getting a Tax Refund / Bill? How I Worked Mine Out

If you haven’t read my first post on tax – how it works, why you got a refund, why you should pay your bill, plus FAQs, check it out here.

If you’re a sole trader (self-employed) or business with 30% or more decline in revenue due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for a COVID-19 wage subsidy. Here’s more info on financial support during COVID-19.

Hi everyone,

It’s nearly the end of the financial year! You know what that means – EOFY sales (yay!) and tax refunds – or bills.

Tonight, I worked out if I was getting a tax refund or a tax bill. In case you were curious, I thought I would share how I did it and how you can too – so that perhaps, you can either have a tax refund to look forward to, or prepare early in advance for a tax bill you’ll now be able to effortlessly pay off!

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Budgeting, Money Mindset, Personal Finance

You Don’t Need to Be Rich to Be Financially Stable

Hello friends,

Today I’d love to share with you one of my biggest money beliefs: that you don’t need to be rich to be financially stable.

Shortly after deciding to write this, I realised that being ‘financially stable’ is a very personal thing, and means different things to different people. So I asked friends, both in person and on Instagram: what does being financially stable mean to you?

The answers I got were fascinating:

Whereas to the people I asked in person, it was more or less “Not living paycheck to paycheck.”

What’s my answer? For me, I would say that I feel financially stable now, but that I sure didn’t before. But whyWhat has changed? Personally, I still look forward to payday and save up for big wants & needs (eg. diligently saving 40% of my income for our wedding last year; saving up for a new car & laptop this year because they’re both old).

And it comes down to this: I don’t lose sleep over money. When it comes to finances, I’m grateful to have peace of mind and not to worry much. Of course, it’s not that I can afford anything my heart desires, but that if something comes up – a goal, a dream, a passion I want to pursue – I feel confident knowing that it is achievable. 

So what makes me feel financially stable now? If my definition is not losing sleep over money, what has changed to allow me not to worry and stress about it anymore? After all, I’ve had my financial ups and downs. Working 3 jobs at 21? Up. Moving to a new city on my own? Down. Landing my first corporate job? Up. Quitting a toxic job and spending the next year restoring my mental health and doing volunteer work? Down.

Here’s why I believe that you can achieve financial stability, whether or not you consider yourself ‘rich’:

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Lifestyle, Money Mindset, Personal Finance

My Favourite Personal Finance Books

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Hello friends,

Today I’m excited to share with you my all-time favourite personal finance books!

Sure, I could talk about Rich Dad, Poor Dad or The Four Hour Work Week, like most people do, but I’d rather not. Rich Dad, Poor Dad is extremely vague, unhelpful, and dated, while The Four Hour Work Week was written by a fraud & sociopath. I mean, come on – at one point, while discussing how he outsources his work and exploits human labour, Tim Ferriss actually writes “I would tell you how to do this, but I don’t want to. I want to watch Family Guy. So the next part will be written by my virtual assistant.”

What the fuck?

(Not at the outsourcing; at the arrogance. He then shares the story of a man who uses his virtual assistant to talk to his wife on his behalf and help with their deep-seated marital problems.)

He also boasts of his achievements & titles and how he gained them without actually earning them. It’s not about the journey for him; it’s all about the destination. At one point he encourages his readers to take notes from books on a certain topic, give a talk at a university, go to a Fortune 500 company and say that they’ve given a talk at the university, give a talk at the Fortune 500 company, and in doing so, be able to say, “I’m an expert who has given a talk on so-and-so at a Fortune 500 company.” You’re kidding me, right? You’re encouraging and empowering people… To be frauds?

Now that I’ve had a spontaneous intro rant, I’d love to share with you the books I did enjoy, as well as the real ways in which they’ve impacted my personal finance journey. Here are my 6 favourite personal finance books!

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Budgeting, Money Mindset, Personal Finance

My 2020 Personal Finance Goals | Savings, Debt, Travel

Hello friends, and Happy New Year!

I hope you had a wonderful and relaxing Christmas & New Year’s break. I spent a lot of mine getting reflective for 2020 – a fresh new year and new decade. What an amazing 10 years it’s been, personally, spiritually, and financially! Here are some of the experiences the last decade has brought me:

Graduating from university, moving to a new city and back, travelling + travelling solo, buying my first car (and only car to date), buying a house, working many jobs including those in insurance, tax & banking, creating extra income from side hustles, saving for a wedding, and of course, transforming my money mindset!

What are your favourite milestones from the last 10 years? I highly recommend writing a reverse bucket list – it’s perfect for celebrating all the amazing things you’ve achieved and experienced, while setting your intentions for the future.

Today, I’d like to share with you my 2020 money goals, and the checklist I created to make sure I was starting the new year right. From credit card debt to savings & investments, managing my income to funding my aspirations, I hope you’ll find some inspiration for your 2020 personal finances too!

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Lifestyle, Money Mindset, Personal Finance

What We Did With A $6K Pay Rise

Hello friends,

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.

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Budgeting, Lifestyle, Money Mindset, Personal Finance

Money Mistakes I Made in My 20’s

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Hello friends,

Today I’ll be sharing with you some personal finance stories from my 20’s – or shall I say, my early 20’s!

This topic has often been on my mind, but I’ve always been a little hesitant. As a believer in the Law of Attraction – which encourages manifestation of your best life through thoughts, actions & beliefs grounded in positivity, gratitude, and living in the present – it has always felt unconducive to dwell on the past and on mistakes.

But, I believe reflecting on the past can be incredibly valuable. If you look back on your past self and dislike who you were, or where you were in life, it’s a sign that you’ve grown and become a better person since then. Your growth is what makes it possible for you to have that realisation. It’s the same with personal finances.

So, I’d like to introduce you to the hot mess I was in my early 20’s, and the freeing changes I’ve made since. You could even call it my own financial #glowup! Please note these are definitely not all overnight fixes; whether they’ve taken weeks, months, or years to improve upon, they are all things younger me could have done better over the last 8 years. By the way, do y’all like my cute 90’s inspired scrapbook collage?!

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Budgeting, Money Mindset, Personal Finance

How I Got 10% More of My Pay

Hi friends,

Recently, I discovered a way to get 10% more of my pay. Not to be confused with getting 10% more pay, I made a few simple changes over the last few months to get 10% more of what I already earn. Today I’d love to share with you how I did it, and how you can too.

It all started when I made a mindful habit of reading my payslips. One day, I realised that there was a large discrepancy between my gross income and my take-home (net) income – specificially that I was receiving about 74% of my salary in my weekly pay. To give you an idea, here’s the same percentage based on different salaries:

If your salary is $52,000, making your gross weekly salary $1000, you would be receiving a net weekly salary of $740.

If your salary is $60,000, making your gross weekly salary $1154, you would be receiving a net weekly salary of $854.

If your salary is $45,000, making your gross weekly salary $865, you would be receiving a net weekly salary of $640.

Quite a difference, isn’t there?

With some easy steps, I managed to close the gap and lessen the difference between what I ‘earn’ and what I receive. I’d like to make a small disclaimer and highlight that these were personal decisions. With that, here are the steps I took.

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Budgeting, Lifestyle, Money Mindset, Personal Finance

When Shit Happens

A few weeks ago, my colleague & friend Lucius asked me, “Hey Sophia, you know your personal finance blog.. What about when shit happens?”

My response: “When shit happens? Do you mean like having money for an emergency fund?” He said yes.

So I told him I’d thought about writing about this, and the times I’d had to use mine (a brief period of unemployment, taking my car to get fixed at the expensive Mini Garage, etc). However, I was currently in a strange position as I had a large emergency fund that I was planning to use as my soon-to-be wedding fund and therefore, may soon need to start fresh. I offered, “You’re welcome to write a guest blog if you like!”

So here is the result, my friends. Please note that we have different opinions on our job, where I get to round out my financial experience in insurance, banking and tax; where we work in a tall building in my favourite suburb overlooking the Sky Tower & city skyline on one side and the majestic Mt Rangitoto & ocean on the other; where the pay is average but having a few other income streams makes it manageable; and where the job itself can be challenging (also, but less often, rewarding) but our team is amazing to work with. That being said, his thoughts are also completely true, valid, and hilarious. Enough of my rambling – enjoy!

Hello to all of Sophia’s readers. As you all might have guessed I have the fortunate “privilege” of working in a dead-end, shitty job wishing that some random shitstain would just throw you off the top floor of the excrement filled building… Motherfucker! A call centre job is not only career suicide, it presents you with constant and elevated stress due to dealing with the very dregs of society, being monitored like criminals by management, and more importantly, shit-all pay. With the cost of living only going up and the value of the dollar diminishing every year; our standard of living has been worse than it’s ever been.

Being more tight-fisted, finances has become a certain necessity for some and a daily struggle for many. Indulging in luxuries once in a blue moon could shove you into paupacy for a few weeks, while a catastrophic event like a car crash or medical condition could tumble you headfirst into financial ruin… And this is exactly why Sophia has invited me to be a guest blogger: to tell you how to prepare when the metaphorical shit/excrement/faeces/turd hits the fan.

Accidents happen, life is shit and shit happens; moral of the story is shit! Personally, when shit happens to me, it happens all at once. Not only did I crash my vehicle (my fault), the garage door malfunctioned, vehicle tyres needed urgent replacing and I had already pre-ordered re-enactment equipment that needed to be paid off that week. Fortunately, I was able to and am still able to pay these off and multiple times over should I need to. You can budget wisely and save to prematurely prepare for said unforeseeable event(s) that would put many ordinary civilians into crippling debt. I call it: managing micro-transactions.

Sun Tzu (shitstain) once said that the leadership of many is the same as leadership of a few; it is only a matter of organisation. Believe it or not, the management of micro-transactions can make the difference between having a safety net to fall back on or hanging yourself with your neighbour’s extension cord that you had to “borrow” due to financial depression. Saving a small sum on hundreds of small transactions can be much more effective than saving on big ones; the key point is to live within your means. I’m not here to tell you about how to manage your fixed costs, but to educate you wretched shits by how you can save over the long term by breakdown down your variable costs. Let me give you a few examples:

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Budgeting, Money Mindset, Personal Finance

How I Save Money on an Inconsistent Income

Hi friends,

Today I’d like to share with you how I save money on an inconsistent income. Just a few years ago, I’d rely on $1400 to hit my bank account every fortnight – and it did, each and every fortnight without fail. Even then, my income regularly fluctuated because I volunteered for so much overtime and, twice a year, received a performance bonus – but it was positively inconsistent in that I could always rely on at least that amount or more. It was blissfully easy to budget.

Fast forward to 2019, and I’m sure those of you who are freelancers, self-employed, contractors, or run a side business can relate to earning a wildly inconsistent income. It started in 2018, when I had six sources of income, one of them being a part-time job that would give me 21 hours one week, 4 hours the next; another being photography, where one month I’d shoot two events and others where I’d shoot none.

Here’s a snapshot of my income now:

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Lifestyle, Money Mindset, Personal Finance

My 2018 Money Wins + 2019 Goals

Hello friends, and Happy New Year!!!

I hope you’re all having a wonderful holiday season and feeling rested, refreshed, and inspired for the year to come! This time of the year always calls for reflection and aspiration, so today I’m sharing with you my 2018 money wins – the best things I did for myself financially. I’ll also share with you my financial goals for the year to come.

2018

Money Win No.1 I did a 0% balance transfer
I shared a little about this in How I’m Paying Off My Debt Faster | 3 Easy Ways. Instead of letting the interest-free period on my credit card balance pass and consider it sorted if I met the minimum payments, I said “no thanks” to 25.99% interest and transferred it to my bank. More than just the benefit of having tons of time to pay off the balance, the peace of mind I had made it easily one of the best financial decisions I made last year.

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Lifestyle, Money Mindset, Personal Finance, Purpose & Passion

Manifesting Money

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Hi friends,

Today I’d love to share with you what I’ve learnt about manifesting money – what it is and why it’s real.

My first experience consciously manifesting money was at the NZ Spirit Festival. I attended a workshop called ‘Tapping into Money’, which taught us the power of tapping on meridians to remove energy blocks and tap into a mindset of abundance, and was surprised to have seemingly manifested money that very night. From the $180 I made from selling concert tickets, to the $50 I made selling my extra festival ticket, to the $500-600 I’d receive later thanks to two photography enquiries in one night, it was excitingly strange and synchronous.

Since then, I’ve learnt plenty on the topic, mostly thanks to Youtube & books. Among the self-help books I’ve read this year, the money-related books I’ve read are Creating Affluence by Deepak Chopra, The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason, and You are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero. I’ve also bought Conscious Money by Patricia Aburdene and The $1000 Project by Canna Campbell to add to my reading list!

What stands out to me is that, no matter how practical and tangible people think money is, everything I have read or watched touches on the most important aspect of attracting more money and building wealth: your mindset.

No, manifesting money isn’t praying to the Universe to give you money while you’re sitting around doing nothing, or the opposite – working to the point of burn-out. It’s not simply using Law of Attraction and positive affirmations to say, “I am wealthy” – it’s so much more than that. Here’s the best lessons I’ve personally learnt about manifesting money.

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Lifestyle, Money Mindset, Personal Finance, Purpose & Passion

The Six Ways I’ve Made Money This Year

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Hi friends,

It’s only the end of September, yet so far, 2018 has been a very interesting year for me – in life, in love, and in finances. A few years ago, like most people, I worked full-time and had one income, but this year so far, I’ve earned income from several different sources – six to be exact. Today I’ll share with you these six ways I’ve made money this year.

First, let me take you back to last year, 2017 – where I lay the foundations for where I am today. Let’s go in quarters, shall we?

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Lifestyle, Money Mindset, Personal Finance

Is the Entertainment Book worth it?

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Recently, my partner and I made the exciting yet slightly unsure decision to buy an Entertainment membership. You may have heard of the Entertainment book, which claims that you can “discover thousands of valuable 2-for-1 and up to 50% off offers for many of the best restaurants, cafés, arts, attractions, hotels, travel, shopping and much more.”

How true is this? Today, I’d like to share with you our experience so far.

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Budgeting, Money Mindset, Personal Finance

How I Saved $232 a Month While Looking for a Job

Hi friends,

Today I wanted to share with you how I reduced my monthly expenses, and talk about whether I’ve noticed much difference in my life. I’d like to thank a brief period of unemployment that motivated me to make these positive changes, some of which were only temporary – if it weren’t for my need to reduce expenses, I might’ve never truly evaluated where my money was going, and what was important to me.

Here’s exactly what I cut back on..

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Homeownership, Money Mindset

First Steps You Can Take Today Towards Buying a Home in NZ

Hi friends,

Recently, I shared my personal home buying experience in Auckland, and at the end, I share a few helpful resources that I used. Today I’d like to expand on these, and share a few steps I’d recommend if you are an aspiring homeowner in New Zealand.

It can be overwhelming with the amount of information out there, so hopefully I can condense and simplify some of it for you. Some of these, like Kiwibuild, are extremely new developments that didn’t exist when I was looking to buy a home, but now do, thanks to our government. Aren’t we blessed to have access to such a wealth of resources and support?

Without further adieu, here are steps you can take today towards buying your first home. I hope they help!

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Money Mindset, Personal Finance

How I’m Paying Off My Debt Faster | 3 Easy Ways

Becoming debt-free has always been one of my biggest personal finance goals – and last year, I got to say that I achieved this. It was the moment I received a letter from my finance company confirming that my car, a gorgeous red Mini Cooper, had officially been paid off!

YASSSSS!!!

For a time, I had no consumer debt – and it felt good not to owe anyone anything. Unfortunately, this didn’t last too long because shortly after, I had to get several expensive dental treatments. Fortunately, my local dental clinic partnered with a finance company to offer interest-free finance for 6 months – so naturally, I went ahead for the sake of my oral health.

This interest-free finance felt like a personal loan, but technically, it was a credit card – and once issued, I was approved with a credit limit way higher than I needed. Seeing that they wanted me to spend more, accruing more interest, I reduced my credit limit immediately to help myself resist the temptation to spend. On top of this, here’s 3 more easy, effortless ways that I’m paying off my debt faster that you may find helpful too!

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Homeownership, Lifestyle, Money Mindset, Personal Finance

My Personal Home Buying Experience (Auckland, NZ)

Last year, I ticked off one of my bucket list goals: buy a freehold property. And by tick off, I mean literally – it’s long been written in my Bucket List Journal, alongside goals like ‘Go to Japan’, ‘Try anti-gravity yoga’, ‘Go to Tomorrowland in Belgium’ and ‘Fly a plane’. Needless to say, it was a dream come true!

After I shared the news, I got asked more or less the same questions from friends & acquaintances. So today I’d love to share my home buying journey, as a recount of my personal experience – ie. I’m not writing this from a place of trying to give financial advice, but from human to human to share what it was all like.

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The first thing I did was educate myself on KiwiSaver and how it can help you to buy your first home. I researched the eligibility criteria and house caps, then went ahead and applied for the HomeStart Grant. Since I’d been contributing to KiwiSaver for over three years, I was confident I’d be accepted. So when I received my pre-approval, I was ecstatic!

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Budgeting, Money Mindset, Personal Finance

How to Live on 80% of Your Income

When it comes to budgeting your money, it can be confusing to know where to start. How much should you be spending – and what should you be spending on? How much is ‘normal’ to spend on everything in your life, from your rent or mortgage, your car, entertainment and eating out?

If you have no idea where to start, or would just like to refresh your money mindset and give your budget a makeover, here’s a super simple budgeting rule: the 50/30/20 rule.

If you have a 50/30/20 budget, that means that:

50% of your net income goes towards needs;

30% of your net income goes towards wants; and

20% of your net income goes towards your financial goals, like paying off debt or buffing up your savings.

Let’s say that I bring home $1500 every fortnight. Ideally, my budget would look like this:

$750 (50%) for my needs;

$450 (30%) for my wants; and

$300 (20%) for my financial goals

So what does this mean? Because 50% goes towards needs and 30% goes towards wants, that means that 80% of your budget is allocated, leaving you with 20% to grow in your personal finance goals. Of course, if you can increase that 20% to 30%, 40% or more, even better! In an ideal world, right?

What it means for you is that you need to learn to live on 80% of your income. Here’s how I did it, and you can too!

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