Job series 2: Life outside work…

You may wonder why my second post in the #jobseries (let’s make this a trending # people!) isn’t really about work at all. But, hear me out, it actually is. So many people make the mistake of thinking that going to work, coming home, eating, sleeping and repeating is all they’re capable of . Well, take my over-committed word for it – you can achieve so much more!

I’m really big on hobbies, for numerous reasons. One of the first questions I’ll always ask someone is what they enjoy doing outside of work and so often I hear that people just don’t have a life outside of work. I’m not saying this is wrong, but it’s very hard to achieve work life balance when your work is your life. Remember that little paragraph at the bottom of your CV? The ‘interests’ section? This isn’t put there to challenge your imagination (you will get weird looks if you put down ‘cat collector’ in this), it’s there to show your future employer that you’re a complete person with a well-rounded life.

Having hobbies is also a great way to meet new people – if that’s what you’re into (introverts fear not) and is vital to decreasing stress. If you have a full on job, leaving work and fully investing mentally/physically into something else is super important for your mental well-being. The best way to deflate stress is to not focus on the thing you’re stressing about (thank you psychology podcasts) and this can be really hard when you don’t have anything outside of work to throw your energy into.

Finally – hobbies show what kind of person you are. My hobbies, for example are yoga, gym, walking, reading, writing and being a Brownie leader (if you can count this as a hobby- it’s definitely an activity I enjoy). This tells you I’m active, like to work with children and am a bit of a book nerd. Hobbies help you develop bonds with people based on shared interests and we all know how important relationship building is to success (do we?).

You don’t have to pick something super time consuming, or expensive as your hobby. My general rule of thumb is to pick one indoor and one outdoor hobby (covers your bases in winter). Here’s some ideas of what you could do to boost your happiness, CV and maybe learn something new (gosh what a helpful blog today):

  • Knitting club (seriously though – I hear they’re making a comeback)
  • Sports – a lot of clubs have social grades you can join if you’re coordinationally challenged like myself
  • Journalling/scrapbooking – if you’re a creative
  • Networking events/groups – these can be for professional, or there are heaps of local book clubs, language clubs, you name it…
  • Volunteering – as a Girl Guide Leader, SPCA dog walker (just don’t take them all home), mentor etc.
  • Gym – if you hate the solo thing, try classes
  • And if you hate the gym – dance classes (Viva Dance in town have a good range – I went to a Bollywood dance class once…)
  • Learn a language – super good motivation to travel
  • Finally – if all of these extremely helpful ideas don’t sound like you, try Meet Up, which has a huge host of different activities you can try with other keen people

If you already have hobbies, try something new! You might like it and it’s always going to look good at the bottom of your CV – let’s take a lesson from Twitter on this one:

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#worktips – Surviving your first full time job

Today’s blog inspo brought to you by my current two hour flight delay thanks to Auckland fog. In my return back to blogging, I thought it would be fun to do a work-related series – covering such exciting topics such as achieving work/life balance, managing stress and useful (hopefully) tips and tricks to help you survive and thrive (classic conference manager line) in the wonderful world of work.

The first topic is for those of you who have left the comfortable world of uni and have been thrust into the scary world of working full time. I wrote something on this a while back – when I had just started working full time myself, three years into my current role and with all my experience (right?), thought I’d shed some wisdom about managing the looming ever-present deadlines and constant stream of emails that seem to make up the majority of modern jobs. These suggestions are very geared toward the corporate world, so I apologise to any trade/other occupations that don’t quite fit this mold.

I’m basically now an expert in working (obviously self-appointed), so here are my top tips for those who are debating going back to study to avoid having to work full time (don’t do it!).

  1. Sleep. Lots. The first six months of working full time, whilst seemingly easier than staying up all night to finish writing that assignment that you definitely didn’t start the day before it was due…is actually really challenging. Being mentally awake for eight hours a day and committing to a regular schedule will push your body to new heights of exhaustion (unless you’re one of those magically energetic humans that survive without coffee). Aim to get abundant levels of sleep – 7/8 hours nightly to manage the mental focus you’ll need.
  2. Don’t overcommit. The weirdest thing for me about working full time was having free time after 5pm – I was so used to studying/working etc. all the time that I didn’t actually know how to use my free time. Three years in I decided to start studying again (I’m weird so do as I say, not as I do…), but definitely don’t attempt this in the first year or so. Relating to the first point, allow your body and mind to get used to working for a full 8 hours a day/more depending on your industry, then reassess before taking on new hobbies. I did always want to learn line dancing…
  3. Don’t go overboard on the work wardrobe. My recommendation is to buy minimum staples e.g. blazer, pants and a couple of tops before you start working and then gradually build up your wardrobe. Take a gauge on what everyone else in the office is wearing and then go from there. I went out and bought three pairs of gorgeous leather heels before starting work only to wear them twice before realising how impractical it was to wear high heels all day, especially when you’re 5”11…
  4. Leave work at work. There are very few jobs, as first jobs, that will require you to work from home, writing emails at 8pm on a Friday night and updating the work Facebook at 5am in the morning. Unless you’re one of these people, who I presume are paid extremely well to work 24 hours a day, leave work at work! I’ll do a later blog post on the importance of work/life balance – which is extremely hard to do if you never actually stop working. Don’t be that person.
  5. Have faith. The final tip for today is the most vague, but almost the most useful. It can be disconcerting moving from an environment of constant feedback at school/uni to work where you may get minimal feedback (unless you’re a conference manager) and you may not always think you’re on the right track. Trust that, most of the time, if you’re doing something wrong, people will tell you and until then, carry on as if everything is fine. You’ve been handpicked to answer emails and sweetly tell people they’ve got the wrong number and no, you cannot help them find Raj in accounts because he doesn’t work here and no, you don’t know a Susan either. Back yourself – you got this!

There you go – the first instalment of what promises to be an exceptionally helpful series to navigate the weird world of work. Basically, it boils down to taking care of yourself and not having unrealistic expectations of rising to general manager in the first year. Be patient, enjoy and have fun!

Curly Girl out.

The millennial money champion (well, not really) – how I survive with a monthly paycheck

Earlier in the year, I wrote an article for the YWCA blog.. Here’s the longer, less edited version with all my handy finance tips.

KimK

Three years into being paid monthly, you’d think I’d have it sorted by now…. I definitely don’t and still live on tuna and rice for about a week leading up to payday, but I have at least learned some tips and tricks to make it easier to manage on a monthly pay cycle, manage a budget and still save for a house (well, maybe a tap in the bathroom) and put money aside for travel.

We’ll call this Part 1 – if I was to share all my money hacks in one go, we’d probably be here all day. I never write anything too long, as I’m aware that millennials have the attention span of a goldfish, if we’re lucky. So, I hope this is interesting enough to pull you away from the YouTube clip of the cover of Duolipa (is this still relevant???) with a kazoo or, my personal favourite, reading the comments on your local community page.

#1 – The budget

When I think of budget, as most people, I don’t get excited and instead, a sense of unexplained anxiety creeps over me, reminding me of how I managed to spend double my entertainment allowance last month… Fortunately/unfortunately, budgets are absolutely crucial when you don’t earn millions of dollars to spend whatever you want on eating out every night because you cbf cooking. For most people, budgets are crucial to manage the spending and the saving.

The most important thing to consider with a budget is that it has to work for you. I use an Excel spreadsheet based off a template from the ever useful ‘How to grow the fu*k up and act like an adult’ here. This gives you a good foundation of categories you may be spending money on – great for beginners. I just use an enhanced version of this every month.

For the more tech savvy, there is a myriad of budgeting apps. Not going to lie, I haven’t actually used any of them… I’ve tried to download a couple of different ones, but they didn’t work for me at all. But hey, worth a try? Check out some of the recommended ones from Investopedia (sounds legit). Some banks also have good budgeting apps/budgeting tips too and I’m even told that you can get your own financial advisor.

#2- Sticking to said budget

This is undoubtedly the most difficult part of budgeting. You’ve set aside $80 a week for ‘entertainment’ (this is my actual entertainment amount), but there’s brunch to pay for, movies to go to and your friend has just invited you to dinner at the Grill… There’s no way you’re going to be able to do all of these things on your weekly budget. So do you:
a) Say no because you’re super disciplined
b) Put it on your credit card because that doesn’t actually count
c) Borrow from something unimportant in your budget like ‘petrol’, or ‘food’?

Obviously the best answer is a, but this is much easier said than done and temptation is always going to be there. I have a couple of suggestions here. Firstly, create separate bank accounts under your main bank account and name them. Currently I have beauty, food, entertainment, petrol, rent and savings. I have trained myself not to borrow between these accounts and its going surprisingly well. I get paid monthly, so if I overspend on food one week, traditionally I spend less the next week and it seems to work out well. Plus, I never run out of money for petrol, or rent.

Secondly, take out your entertainment budget in cash. I found entertainment was the hardest thing to stick to – I spend a lot of unnecessary money on coffee and gluten free muffins… Having cash in my wallet means I have a finite amount I can spend, reduces temptation to overspend and gives me greater visibility about how much money I have left without logging into my banking app and seeing how much money I’ve spent… Well worth a try!

We’ve only covered budgeting and you’ve already been reading for at least two minutes, which I’m aware is taking valuable attention away from the rest of the apps you’ve got open, so I’ll leave it here for now. Give the budgeting apps a go, be gentle on yourself and remember that it may take several tries to find a system of money managing that works for you. Stay tuned for the next part of my money smart series and we’ll delve into credit card fees, savings accounts and general fun things to stop you from being permanently poor.

Until next time – the modern millennial. *I’m not expert in money, or savings, but I have made a lot of mistakes when it comes to budgets and spending!

I’m back from hibernation!

My WordPress site tells me that I am yet to write a blog post this year… And it’s June. Which is fairly embarrassing given my endless goals to write at least once every two weeks… Safe to say that I definitely took on a bit too much when I decided to keep working my job, start studying my Masters of Management and become a Brownie leader. Which has taught me a fuck tonne about time management, balance and learning my limits of how much I can achieve without turning into a zombie/grumpy crazy lady at my flatmates for not doing the dishes.

I have resolved to write more – I know, I know… I’m open to suggestions, but am pretty keen to get started on a work/life balance series that I’m sure you’ll all find useful. I’ve learned a fair bit about myself in the last six months, so my first post back will be a nice overview of what I’ve learned from substantial over commitment.

  1. You absolutely cannot do everything. Unless you’re some kind of super human. And if you do everything, you definitely won’t do it all well. Pick your priorities and pour your energy into those. Take it from me – if you spread yourself too thin, like a layer of jam on toast, the thinner you go, the less tasty your toast will be. (What an excellent analogy right?)
  2. Manage your time and energy wisely. I read a book – the Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, Mark Manson – which highlights the importance of focusing on where you spend your time and energy. If it’s not going to bring you a good return of happiness, or a sense of achievement, don’t stress it. There’s enough to worry about. Also related to time management – have some sort of organisation system. I bought a whiteboard from (can you guess?) Kmart, which allows me to plan out what I’m doing for the week and sits on my desk with important deadlines and reminders. 10/10 recommend.
  3. Look after number 1. One of the hardest lessons I learned was that it’s okay to say no sometimes. It’s okay to skip going out for drinks with your friends when you’re tired and have a bath. I try to have one night of ‘me time’ a week and although I only actually do this about once a month, I feel so much more refreshed when I do. Part of this too is eating healthy and exercising. Pretty basic, but when you’re busy, it’s really important to look after your mental and physical health.
  4. Remember it’s okay to have fun sometimes! I’ve spent most of my weekends for the last three months studying and writing assignments and most weeks I’m lucky if I finish my readings, go to the supermarket and finish washing… Sometimes I forgot to have fun. Taking a night off to go out with my friends – or go to Sydney, didn’t kill me and definitely didn’t affect my results either.

There are many more things I’ve learned, but those are the highlights of my life so far. Stay tuned for my work/professional series and whatever else I feel like posting. Ciao for now!

Modern millennial #financetips

After a full two years of being paid monthly, I still haven’t figured out the knack of budgeting without spending two weeks in what I call ‘treat yo’self mode’ then the next two weeks in ‘can beans on toast for dinner’ mode. I recently read a blog post on financial books that didn’t sound like ‘an hour with the accountant’ and have finally decided to take control of my financial life.

I haven’t finished the book yet (I’m still halfway through and trying to navigate myself through American finance terms – what the fuck is a 401k?!), but I thought I’d save you the effort of actually reading the book and give you a nice summary in a handy bulletted list (aren’t I nice?). So here some handy tips, which to be honest, seem kind of common-sensical, but really aren’t as well practiced as I thought (you’re not alone!).

  1. The first handy dandy finance tip does seem pretty obvious, but relates to the fact that millennials are kinda lazy: shop around! I chose my bank account truthfully because my dad was with that bank and any payments he made would be instant (yes, classic #bankofdad millennial story). I opened my savings account with a different bank because my grandfather used that bank. These are okay reasons to go with a bank, but don’t really give you any insight into bank fees, interest gained or how a bank can help you achieve your finance goals (do you have finance goals?). Moral of the story here – take the time to do your research. Don’t go with a bank because they have a cute app, or hand out free elephants when you sign up for a new account. Find out what it can do for you and go from there.
  2. The credit card. I got a credit card for 100% the wrong reasons (although I told my parents it was too make small purchases and pay them back). At the time, I thought I was being amazingly savvy. I’d read up on how credit cards can help you build credit (if you don’t max them out and pay them back on time…) and I even took the time to read the boring terms and conditions. Except, I had no idea what they meant or really what a credit card is for. So going back to the previous point on shopping around, take the time to find a credit card that will actually do things for you: your credit card should make you money, not cost you in fees. And it shouldn’t be used as a day-to-day transaction card.
  3. Saving. So it seems that saving for Fiji, or shoes, or a new laptop aren’t supposed to be the same account as your ‘I’m going to get old one day or need a house or something when they run out of avocado’ fund. I’ve read a couple of things on saving recently. Obviously, save as much money as you can but most places seem to say 20-25% of your income is a pretty reasonable amount. Remember what you’re saving for. You should have a separate holiday fund, house fund and around $1000 minimum saved for ‘a rainy day’ – basically when you find out that your car needs an entire new set of tires to pass its WOF. Throwback to an earlier post – I recommend opening a bank account with a separate branch as an online-only account for serious savings. Remember to shop around for the best interest rate (there are helpful websites for this like this one)
  4. Budgeting. The bane of my existence. There are many tools and apps out there designed to help you manage your money better. Or better yet, you can go with a bank like BNZ that has a cute app where you can drag money across (but definitely don’t choose a bank because you can set a cat as your savings account icon). I still budget the old fashioned way with a good old excel spreadsheet and what’s called a ‘zero sum‘ budget – where I allocate every dollar of my paycheck to a certain category. This is a good way to do it if you’re a Finance 101 student such as myself and helps to ensure you always have money for rent and food. If you’re a bit more proficient with money you can loosely allocate money to things, but chances are, if you’re reading this you’re probably not… Another thing to try (this is on my to do list) is the cash entertainment budget. Each week you get out the money allocated to entertainment in cash and that’s your limit for the week. Try and see what works for you.

So, halfway through the book, these are my top tips so far. Basically the main point is to do your research and not blindly enter in to bank contracts because they put you in the draw for a Samsung TV. Finances might not be the most exciting topic in the world, but they’re an essential part of life, you may as well get savvy now. And buy all the avocados.

Finding balance- can you have it all?

For a while, I wrote about what it was like to be a single pringle millennial living in Auckland. That was actually the whole point of this blog. Aside from a hobby to distract me from the fact that I was, in fact, a single pringle. Which actually wasn’t that bad. I experimented with Bumble, Tinder, online dating and even a bit of face to face interaction, mostly in bars. I discovered the weird and wonderful pick up lines that men use and decided that I’d rather be single than succumb to the compliment of being called a ‘cutecumber’.

I met my boyfriend, oddly enough, at my house. He literally turned up one day, to see my flatmate and watch the rugby. He ate a pie and left the crumbs in a trail across the living room, much like a modern day Hansel and Gretel. I discovered his charm and never-ending stories as we bonded over a mostly cooked risotto and the rest is history. So, begged the question – what do I blog about now?

In the months since we’ve been dating, my life has become incredibly different, as I discovered how time consuming having a boyfriend was when you lived 5 minutes from each other and didn’t have an assignment to finish or a lecture to be at (as were the hallmarks of my previous relationships). I’ll admit, myself, like many others in a new relationship, succumb to its charm and interest and lost myself, my hobbies and above all: my balance. I’d become the girl that I promised myself I never would be and spent all my spare time doing cute couple things like getting brunch, going for walks along the beach and watching our ‘couple show’ on Netflix.

This isn’t the first blog post I’ve written about balance – I recall being a student and reminding myself not to stay up all night finishing an assignment, ensuring that I exercised, saw my friends and made time to do all the stupid things that young people at university did. When I reflected on this/got some prompting from my friends, I realised that I was forgetting to do the things that made me different because I was now investing so much time in a new relationship. And, as most of my blog posts revolve around, or include lists, I thought I would write some tips for other aspiring relationship igniters/those who perhaps need to realign their priorities a bit to ensure that you don’t tip the scales too far in one particular direction. Here we go;

  1. Number one priority – always make time for you. And this is a fun Dr Seuss style quote to remember ‘in order to be a good ‘we’, you must first take care of ‘me” – I’m not sure how good this is, but rhyme is proven to aid memory so eh. Set one night, afternoon, or whatever you need aside a week to ensure you take the time to do the things that you enjoy. For me, this is reading, writing and oddly, cleaning. Taking care of yourself will ensure you don’t come to resent the other person for dominating your spare time.
  2. Don’t forget your friends. We all know that guy/girl who gets a partner and suddenly disappears off the face off the planet. I’m ashamed to say that this, in part, was me. My friends fortunately/unfortunately are also very busy, so it was easy to not make plans because I knew they’d be busy. Don’t make this mistake – it’s better to reach out and be rebuffed than not try at all. Show them you care and make the time to do the walk/coffee/brunch that really is just a stroll to the cafe for the full breakfast (with extra hashbrowns).
  3. We’ve done friends, next comes family. You don’t have to introduce your new partner to your parents in the first week – the integration will eventually come – but you do have to keep spending time with your family (if you do spend time with family like I do) one on one. It’s just as upsetting for your parents to feel as though they’ve lost a child when they never see you and you never reply to their email chains about cute puppies they saw online (or is this just my family?) as it is to your friends. My advice here is my advice with pretty much everything else in life – schedule it in.
  4. Don’t become Nigel No-Hobbies. I’m sure you all had something that absorbed your time before your significant other entered your life – don’t give these up! You don’t have to drag your boyfriend/girlfriend to crochet class with you – it’s important you both can do your own thing (see point 1). I also suggest investing in a good couple hobby (no Netflix does not count). I dragged my boyfriend along to the gym with me and although we both do different workouts, we’re both spending time doing something we enjoy.

I’m blatantly aware this blog post is rather long and that the attention span of a millennial is akin to that of a goldfish, so I think I’ll wrap this one up here and save the rest of my ‘helpful relationship tips’ for future blogs. Just remember – your partner was attracted to you because of the person you were before you became ‘we’; take the time to nourish yourself and remember: ‘me before we’. You’re welcome.

My thoughts on ‘the Block’

There have been many posts in the almost 7 days since the Block auction was broadcast live on TV, leaving many on the edges of their seats and shocking viewers with the underwhelming result (yes, I know, I should go write for the Herald – until then, here we are). I found the entire event depressing. As a millennial imminently aware of the housing crisis, I was shocked at the prices of what I’d call a typically family home in the suburb I grew up in and where my mother bought her first house (for ~$55k!!!). It really hit home just how grim the current situation is.

People accuse millennials of being selfish, indulgent – somehow the reason we can’t buy a house is because we’re spending $18 a week on smashed avo’s on toast. In light of the impending election, I thought it was worth writing a post on what it’s like being a millennial in the depressing reality that is the current state of affairs. (Spoiler alert, it’s pretty shit).

There was a show not to long ago about ‘who really owns NZ’, which, to be honest, felt like a xenophobic white man complaining about how immigrants are buying NZ land and taking over. That’s not the issue, the issue is demand versus supply in Auckland. And, in fact, we need immigrants, to fill the labour shortage. There are simply too many people who want to live in Auckland.

30 years ago, when my mother bought her first house, she got given a subsidy to buy a house that was worth just over 3.5 times her salary. For me to buy a house now, with 0 subsidy would cost be at least 10 times my salary – for a shack in Hamilton. Awesome.

Anyway, back to the heart of this post – the Block. What I found particularly hard to watch was the price of houses, being purchased by (what I presume were – correct me if I’m wrong) foreign investors, because no one in New Zealand can afford the reserve. I know that we can’t change the current cost of houses and I don’t want those with houses to lose the value of their property. What we need is to develop other areas and spread the wealth around the country so we’re not all bidding for Ling and Zing’s house in central Northcote.

I write this from Whangapoua, a beautiful but sleepy town in the Coromandel that is only inhabited (mostly) for 6 months of the year (see stunning image below #jelly). I’d love to live here. But I can’t. What events am I going to run in Whangapoua? Who would utilise my communications skills that I spent three years honing at uni and piled on the student debt for? Therein lies the issue for the modern millennial – even if we don’t want to live in the cities there are few opportunities for my skills outside of city centres.

I don’t want to accept that I will be renting all my life, never achieving the kiwi dream of home ownership unless I greatly reduce my spending and basically become a hermit. I don’t want to be endowed with so much debt that I feel unable to travel or buy the extra latte… I don’t want it all, but I want the quality of life that my parent’s generation were offered. And I want to be able to do it out of Auckland.

So, I’m not sure how much change a blog post can affect, but if the Internet is good for anything, it’s for providing a voice to those who would otherwise not be heard. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but I hope by the time I’m thirty, I will be at least able to plant some strawberries (or maybe some tarragon?) in a garden that belongs to me. And I look forward to seeing a season of the Block in another part of New Zealand.

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From where this blog post comes from today- Whangapoua Beach #summeriscoming