Personal Finance

A $14,000 pay rise!

A few weeks ago, I presented my friends on Instagram with a dilemma I was having: to take a higher paying role that is aligned to my career path, or to take a lower paying role that is aligned to my purpose and passion?

The question came with the exciting news that I’d received two job offers:

Option 1:

$12,000 pay rise

No WFH that I knew of

Aligned to my career path (financial services industry)


Permanent

Option 2:

$4000 pay cut

WFH 3 days a week

Aligned to my purpose and passion (humanitarian industry)

Fixed term until January 2022

I then asked in a poll: Would you take a pay cut to do what you truly love, and excites you?

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Personal Finance

I quit my job! (without another lined up)

A few weeks ago, I shared with some close friends online:

So I’m working through a ‘job quitting list’.

I remember when I wrote this. I was sitting in a local cafe, eating French toast and sipping my favourite sparkling wine. I don’t usually have wine when out at lunch, but I remember feeling immensely stressed.

Because I was going to quit my job – without another lined up.

Even in my stressed moments, and as much as I tend to idealise and make intuitive decisions, I like to think I have my head screwed on straight (most of the time!).

So if you are in the same boat, and if for any reason you are also quitting your job without another lined up, I wanted to share the things I did to financially secure my husband and I.

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Budgeting, Lifestyle, Money Mindset, Personal Finance

Love & money | Budgeting, saving, and making space for each other’s needs & wants

Money had always been an awkward topic to talk about.

So in 2018, when I first heard of the term ‘getting financially naked’ from Erin Lowry of Broke Millennial, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my partner and I had already done it without knowing. Rather than shying away from the topic of money – how much we made, how much we had in our bank accounts, how much debt we had, how much we had in savings – we’d brought it up as easily as one would bring up what they had for lunch.

Talking about money wasn’t the only thing that suddenly seemed simple and easy with him – being in a relationship was also much less complicated and messy, and full of more joy, affection, and communication. So, surprise surprise – my first real ‘partner’ (rather than boyfriend or girlfriend) became my husband!

Our (financial) relationship timeline

March 2016 Went on our first date + became a couple.

March 2017 I bought my house.

July 2017 He moved in.

September 2017 Made our first big purchase together – a 5 x 5 white cube shelf!

April 2018 Opened our first joint account.

November 2018 Went on our first overseas holiday as a couple to Melbourne, where we got engaged at Eureka Skydeck 88.

November 2020 Finally got married in Queenstown, after COVID delayed our March 2020 wedding!

As a couple, we’ve always been extremely open and honest about money. While personal finance books constantly cite money as the #1 topic couples fight about, I feel like my husband and I have avoided this due to a few reasons:

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Personal Finance

How I save money at Christmas + gift ideas under $100

Dear friends, happy holiday season!

Christmas. The most wonderful time of the year, and the most expensive. Today I’d like to share with you a few ways I save money during the festive season! (I named the blog so – how I save money – because it can be a very personal thing based on your traditions, love languages, etc. More on this at the end if you want to get to know me *wink wink*)

Why am I writing this? To combat what has become one of my pet peeves: normalising debt.

Can’t buy that PS5 for Christmas? Just put it on finance and suffer later! Can’t afford that luxury home appliance? Buy it today – no payments & no interest for 12 months – then astronomical interest after! All the presents you want to get your friends & family a bit out of your budget? Put it on Afterpay to limit your life choices for the next 4 fortnights!

But 2020 has been hard enough. I don’t want you, dear reader, to start 2021 in debt, stressing about money. So here are some gift swaps and meaningful, inexpensive gift ideas that might make Christmas shopping easier – and lighter on your wallet.

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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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Personal Finance

How COVID-19 has affected our personal finances

Hello friends,

I hope you are doing okay during these crazy times! Personally, I have been doing my best to stay sane and practise self-care while at home by doing more of the things I love: reading, writing, and taking online classes that excite me. (If you’re not from New Zealand, our country is currently in a 4 week lockdown, so everyone is staying at home, in our ‘bubbles’ – except for grocery shopping, essential services and enjoying local scenery).

Today, I want to share with you my thoughts & experiences on how COVID-19 has affected money and personal finances. I imagine that life looks very different for most of us at the moment, including how we handle our money and what our incomes & expenses look like. I hope this helps you if you’re looking for ideas – and the knowledge that you’re not alone.

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Money Mindset, Personal Finance

Are you getting a tax refund? 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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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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Personal Finance, Wedding

Creating Our Dream Wedding | Chapter 5

Sophia20

Hello friends, it’s been a while. Welcome to Chapter 5 of my wedding planning series, and the last before my fiancé and I get married. Yes, it’s less than 100 days out, and the next time I update this series with our final and complete wedding expenses in Chapter 6, I will be a Mrs!

My last update was in August, and it’s crazy how things have changed since then. I’d just updated you on my new job and new savings plan, but since then, as you may already know, both my fiancé and I have had another change (increase) in income.

Our income isn’t the only thing that’s changed. There’s one massive change I haven’t shared with you all; and the reason I’ve been quiet and avoided writing about my wedding for a few months.. We cancelled our wedding reception.

Phew! I wrote that with a huge sense of relief and joy.

Why did we cancel our wedding reception, and what are we doing now? Also importantly, what are we doing with all our wedding savings and the thousands of dollars we’d saved for the occasion?

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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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Personal Finance

I have no money and it’s all my fault: a brutally honest guide to taxes

Hi friends,

It’s time.

I’ve been contemplating writing a blog post on income tax for so long, but put it off due to the fact that.. Well, I couldn’t write it with the same positive, optimistic tone of my usual blog posts. Why? Because it’s a rather confronting topic, where most people realise that everything is their fault.

If you’re a calm, humble person, you’ll accept and learn from it. You’ll even thank the person informing you for enlightening you of how income tax works.

If you’re not, you’ll throw a fit and scream at the officer at the other end of the phone as if they are personally responsible for your taxes and your tax bills.

Let’s start from the beginning. In the early years of my career, I used to receive a tax refund every year. But one year, I didn’t, so I asked my tax intermediary why.

“A tax refund every year isn’t guaranteed,” they told me. “It depends on if you have paid the right amount of tax throughout the year. If you have overpaid your taxes, that’s when you get a tax refund.”

I thanked them and moved on with my life.

(I now know that it’s likely when my income went over the $48,000 mark and made me no longer eligible for the IETC – Independent Earner’s Tax Credit. More on this later.)

Who knew that years later, I’d find myself working for the national tax department, explaining people’s tax bills and tax refunds to them on a daily basis? I was recently very surprised to discover that even a friend who was an experienced chartered accountant didn’t understand their tax bill – saying “Why do I have it? I only have PAYE income.”

It’s not the fact that they said it. It’s the fact that they said it coming from a place where they were already assuming everything was IRD’s fault. Some people, on the other hand, open-mindedly and kindly ask, “I don’t get this – could you please help me understand?”

So here are some things I want to preface this blog with:

  • Stop complaining about the government. You’re not edgy.
  • Stop trying to put the blame on the government, or your Kiwisaver provider, or your bank, or your employer.
  • Stop thinking of the IRD as bad, greedy people. They are neutral and have no agenda at all.
  • IRD doesn’t hate you. Most people don’t realise that IRD doesn’t take people’s taxes – IRD only collects information about people’s taxes, and fixes them up at the end of each financial year. In fact, there’s a lot of things IRD wishes they could do, but can’t, because they themselves simply do what the government tells them to do. But if you had to say whether IRD was ‘good’ or ‘bad’? Definitely good. IRD’s policies are inherently lenient and compassionate.

(Or, if you asked me where IRD sits on an alignment chart, I’d say neutral good.)

Let’s get started!

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Personal Finance

Money Habits I Nailed in My 20’s

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.

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Budgeting, Lifestyle, Money Mindset, Personal Finance

Money Mistakes I Made in My 20’s

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, Lifestyle, Personal Finance, Wedding

Creating Our Dream Wedding | Chapter 4

Wedding Invitations Ruby Chocolate

Hi friends,

Welcome to Chapter 4 of my wedding series!

Last month, I shared how my fiancé and I are managing our wedding finances. Today I’m excited to elaborate on this topic and why we’re creating a new budget, as well as other progress we’ve made with our upcoming wedding.

In July, we

  • created a new wedding budget / savings plan
  • customised and received our wedding invitations (!!!)
  • booked the videographer for our Queenstown ceremony
  • ordered my wedding reception dress

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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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Lifestyle, Personal Finance, Wedding

Creating Our Dream Wedding | Chapter 2

Hi friends,

Welcome to Chapter Two of my wedding series!

May was an expensive and eventful month, one full of wedding accomplishments. Some of these include:

  • paying off our honeymoon
  • booking our florals, lighting, decor, and photography
  • ordering my wedding dress

…And attending two amazing wedding shows!

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