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How Do You Do Money? E., Editor

April 24, 2014
Personal Finance
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NerdWallet’s How Do You Do Money? series asks people from various walks of life to share their attitudes and approach to personal finance, with the goal of bringing transparency to discussions surrounding money. In this installment we speak with E., a 25-year-old web editor living in Auckland, New Zealand. This is how E. does money.

What do you do for your main source of income and how did you get into that line of work?

I am a web editor, so I spend my days writing, editing and tweeting. I studied communications, did internships, and one of those led to a part-time industry job, which turned into a full-time job after graduation.


About how much do you earn before taxes per year?

Between $50-60K. [Note: Here and elsewhere, E.’s figures are in New Zealand dollars. In this instance, it’s between $42,000 and $51,000 based on current exchange rates.]


Do you feel secure with that amount? If not, how much would make you feel secure?

“Secure” is an interesting word. I suppose so, but more would definitely not go amiss especially since I’ve been the main earner in my relationship for a while now and the cost of living here is pretty high. I don’t have a fixed amount in mind, though.


Do you have any savings goals?

My main goal is to be able to buy a house. (Houses are about seven or eight times the average income in this city…) Unfortunately, renting in Auckland is a pretty miserable proposition. The quality of housing here is unbelievably bad and we have a housing shortage overall. Renter or owner, everything is overpriced here. I’m not really sure what is going to happen on that front.


Wow, sounds like a tough situation. Are there any resources or tools you’ve used to learn about and manage your personal finances?

I used to read MSN Money and trawl their forums pretty extensively. Then I got into reading personal finance blogs. I’ve read a few personal finance books, but the web has really been it for me.


How was the topic of money approached in the home you grew up in? What factors do you think influenced that approach?

I’ve written a lot about my financial upbringing, most extensively in this post. My parents were very thrifty, rarely bought anything and always on sale. I knew they put away money for me in a savings account in my name from when I was very young, and I guess that’s how I grew up knowing that you should always save first. I think they also invested a small amount of money in shares on my behalf. I don’t ever remember any specific conversations explicitly about money, though.


How do you think that affected your attitude toward money and your personal finances?

Well, they set me up well—frugality and savings are ingrained in me. I never really knew anything about debt—my parents have been mortgage-free almost as long as I can remember—and so I’ve never really considered it as an option for anything beyond education or a house.

Has your approach toward personal finance changed from the time you left home and how so?

I have become a little more relaxed about spending. I earn more and can now afford to travel, for example, and to splurge on good food sometimes.


What is the best monetary investment you’ve made?

Travel. I took six months off in 2013 to travel around the world and it was a priceless experience.


Amazing, travel is a great investment! What monetary investment do you regret the most and why?

I don’t have any investments I regret. I do regret a horrific living situation a few years ago where I was the head tenant in a house of four people and wound up out $1,000 thanks to one particularly terrible flatmate.


What does financial stability mean to you?

A solid emergency fund. Being able to save with ease as income exceeds expenses by a decent margin. Not stressing out when the car needs an expensive fix/you get a huge dental bill. Having your net worth grow every month. Being employable—having valuable/marketable skills.


What financial accomplishment are you most proud of?

Being able to take a six-month trip overseas (and be valued enough to come back to my job afterward).

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Illustration by Brian Yee.