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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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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Budgeting, Lifestyle, Personal Finance, Wedding

Creating Our Dream Wedding | Chapter 1


Hi friends,


It sounds fancy and official, but really, it’s a practical and sentimental record of our wedding planning journey – a diary to share my inspirations, reflect on in the future with sweet nostalgia, and of course, keep ourselves mindful with money. I’m excited to share with you every part of this journey – of creating our dream wedding that will be both magical and money-conscious.

This month, we:

  • went to a gorgeous wedding open day
  • started making a financial plan for funding our big day
  • started requesting quotes on florals, lighting, photography & more
  • booked our wedding venue!

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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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