November 2009 archive
Following on from Krystal, Frugal Dreamer and the Asian Pear sharing the contents of their purses
- Wallet – black leather, given to me as a gift
Dictaphone – brought it out to cover a live event last week but just ended up taking notes; much easier
Headphones (they plug into my phone so I can listen to stored music, of which I have non, or my radio)
Postits (not too sure what they’re doing in here…)
Swipe card for work
Hand cream (aka lifesaver)
Eye drops (ditto)
Little sample perfume vial
Invoice for academic regalia, with pickup/dropoff dates highlighted
Tags: about me
I’m starting to realise I have no particular niche, in this blog, in my personal life and in my professional life. I’m not hardcore PF – I don’t do spreadsheets, I don’t do fancy graphs, or read the big PF writers. I like looking at pretty clothes and shoes, but in nobody’s universe am I a fashionista; I don’t keep up with couture, I don’t know designers. I’m not a hardcore media junkie, I don’t listen to talkback and watch TV. I can’t claim to be a muso.. I don’t even play anything anymore, or keep up with new music as I dislike so much of it.
I’ve also been thinking about making this more of a ‘life’ blog, more personal (photos, etc) and combining in reviews and my portfolio – a little like what Amber has going on. That’s all the stuff I currently host on my posterous blog, which is home to my published work and other bits and pieces. Posterous is neat, but it doesn’t really lend itself to what I want. It’s a simple, bare bones interface; there are no pages, only posts. I’d probably import it all here, cutting out the hassle of maintaining two different blogs.
I’m pretty wary of no longer being anonymous though, given that I’m in the media/publishing field. Part of the reason I don’t post so frequently on my other blog is because I devote more energy here, and because I’m so acutely aware that everything I publish to my name is going to be scrutinised and could be seen by my bosses and future employers as a journalist (ie., no swearing like a sailor a’la Nicole, although IMO it simply adds to her cutting wit). But at the same time, blogs can definitely play a part in getting you noticed and getting a job.
Tags: blogging, internet
Exciting (if dorky) news – I finally joined Kiwisaver!
I haven’t had my first deductions yet so I don’t know how much exactly it will be, but given that I’m contributing 4% and should make $1320 in an average fortnight, I should be putting in $52.80 per paycheck. After tax this would be $1056, leaving me $1003 take home.
So in 6 months I should have… $2788, excluding fees, gains and taxes.
Of this, less than half would have come from my contributions, thanks to the generous initial incentives.
$792 – me
$396 – employer
$1000 – government kickstart
$600 – tax credits
Even if my fulltime hours don’t last beyond the next few months, at least I’ll have contributed a decent amount in that time!
(I would do the math for a year’s worth, but I really, really don’t want to jinx it).
After a lot of tossing back and forth, I decided to go with Huljich in their growth investment fund.
Seeing as Kiwisaver is only a couple of years old, none of the funds have much of a track record. But Huljich has performed well, in all of their schemes. I based this off information on fundsource.co.nz and this Morningstar survey.
I also switched T over to Huljich, moving him from one of the six default government schemes (AMP). Huljich’s high fees worry me a bit, given he’s not actively contributing, but even if returns don’t continue as they have been at least he still got a free thousand dollars in there.
There’s a wealth of Kiwisaver info out there, so I’ve just done a quick roundup here. A quick Google search should tell you anything more you need to know, or Sense to Dollars has done a nice series on joining up and picking a provider.
Kiwisaver is made up of:
- your contributions
- your employer contributions
- the government kickstart
- the government tax credit
You can contribute 2%, 4% or 8%. Your KiwiSaver contributions are calculated on your before-tax pay, but deducted from your after-tax pay. (Yeah…still scratching my head a bit on that one).
You also still pay tax on the full amount that you earn. Let’s say you earn $500 a week. You contribute 4% ($20), but will be taxed on the full $500.
(I definitely recommend the Sorted calculator for playing around with contribution levels and future projections!)
Your company will make contributions of 2%, and the government will stump up a tax-free $1000 three months after you join, plus up to $1,042.86 a year in what they like to call member tax credits. This is untaxed and will be claimed on your behalf by your fund provider in July each year. If you join KiwiSaver part-way through a membership year (1 July to 30 June), you get a tax credit for the portion of the year that you’ve been a member.
GETTING YOUR HANDS ON IT
Withdrawals are tax free. You’re eligible to withdraw funds at age 65. Alternatively, you can withdraw your funds if you are:
- buying your first house (you can take out your contributions and your company contributions, but not any the government contributions. you could also get a subsidy of up to $5000)
- suffering significant financial hardship (you can take out your contributions and your company contributions, but not the government contributions)
- seriously ill or disabled (you can withdraw all of the funds in your account)
- moving overseas permanently (you can withdraw your contributions, your company contributions and the government $1000 kickstart, but not the government tax credits)
To sign up, ask your employer for a KiwiSaver employee information pack (KS3) and fill it out. Your details go off to the IRD and you’ll be temporarily allocated to your employer’s chosen scheme, if they have one, or one of the six default KiwiSaver schemes. The IRD will hold your contributions and your employer contributions, and pay interest on them. Within 3 months of your first contribution you get the option to choose your own scheme (this is about the time you get the $1000 kickstart) and will then be enrolled with them.
OR, you can join directly through your provider of choice, which is what I did. Again, the IRD will hold your contributions for three months with interest, throw in the kickstart after 3 months, and then hand it over to the provider.
You’ll be automatically enrolled if you start a new job. You can opt out if you do so between 2-8 weeks. This is the ONLY time you can opt out of the scheme.
If you’re self-employed or not working, you can sign up and make payments directly to your provider. Some have minimum contribution requirements, so do your research if you’re going down this path.
MAKING A COMMITMENT
Once you’re in, you’re in life, basically. You can apply for a contributions holiday to the IRD of three months or more. Your employer will stop contributing as well, although you can continue to make voluntary ones.
There’s no limit to the number of times you can take a contributions holiday and you can renew it at any time. Generally, you do have to wait a year from the time you first join to apply for a holiday, unless you get into dire financial straits.
Phew! There’s quite a bit to wrap your head around at first, but it’s really not too complicated. I’m going with the set it and forget it route. Given that not only you and your employer contribute, but the government does too, it’s a pretty sweet deal.
Tags: kiwisaver, money
I came across a really interesting post on the TradeMe message boards not long ago on the subject of pay raises. This person was a qualified tradesperson on $20/hr, and had just had a request for a raise rejected. Not having had a pay rise for years, he was worse off in real terms because of inflation. His company also contracted him out on close to $90/hr – sounds about right, that’s what T’s employer used to do.
It turned into a pretty heated debate, with commenters telling him he was grossly underpaid and no qualified professional should be on a rate less than $50, and others railing against greedy employers failing to keep workers up with the cost of living.
$50 an HOUR!!! My god, that is a LOT of moolah. That’s $2000 pretax a week or $104,000 a year. I’m right in the average range for an entry-level journalism grad ($30-35,000), and even if I one day work up to a more senior role in subbing or editing I don’t imagine I’d be breaking the six-figure mark. It’s not a particularly lucrative field – maybe I should transition into PR one day? – but to be honest, I have trouble believing my work would ever be worth $50 per hour.
I do, however, believe everyone is entitled to at least a raise to keep up with inflation. In my entire life (marked by a series of short, casual and part time jobs to date) I received ONE payrise, at the worst waitressing stint I ever did. It was a 50c increase. I was overjoyed.
Hard work deserves recognition and raises should be based on merit. But we shouldn’t have to work doubly hard to gain a big enough raise every year just to keep up with the ever-increasing cost of living.
Now that I’m a newly graduated, FT employee – may the situation continue, touch wood – I should have performance reviews and all that jazz along with everyone else. Wages and salaries were frozen last year, but with things looking up, perhaps they’ll see fit to melt the ice a little bit.
Because otherwise, I’ll have been here 2.5 years, albeit parttime, without one. If I was on the collective contract I would have had two small raises by now. A lot of people at my workplace are represented by the union, but when I moved from evening to daytime hours after a year I switched to an individual agreement as the rate was higher. (For all those who do weekends and shifts, though, the union has a great thing going on with several different allowances and extra payments. It’s all a tad complicated – but at least they get compensation for their odd hours. I think Sundays garner double the pay!)
What about you – what do you consider a “professional” rate for your industry? Do you think employees deserve cost-of-living raises?
Tags: career, money, work
One of our flatmates picked up a girl on the weekend. Three days later, she turned up on our doorstep when he was out. She was in a bit of a state – agitated and twitchy, and against my better judgement I let her in to wait for him.
And holy hell! I unleashed a monster. She launched into a monologue about how she’d been sitting at home going mad waiting to hear from him, how he wasn’t answering his phone, how she didn’t know what the deal was with them and she NEEDED to know, how she already missed him, on and on and on…
It was all a bit intense, and way too much TMI for me. I really didn’t care about their relationship of lack thereof; I still don’t even know her name.
That being said, I do grudgingly admire people who are that open, who can be that that transparent. Who can get things off their chest without caring what others think.
And sometimes we’re the most painfully honest when we’re at our most desperate. I’ve been there: I’ve done that. It was a relationship based on physical attraction and further built on shaky ground. We really had no business being together, but I clung on to some romantic ideal and refused to let go. On the day it all fell apart, I made a last stab at saving us. It was probably the most honest I had been in our entire year together.
Inspired by Amber’s post!
What are your middle names?
Neither of us have one!
How long have you been together?
Since December 2005.
How long did you know each other before you started dating?
Technically, we’ve known (of) each other since we were about 10. Probably the first time we ever talked to each other was when I was sent to “time out” and he was there too.
Who asked whom out?
He asked me out.
How old are each of you?
Both 21. I’m three months older.
Whose siblings do you see the most?
His. I have one younger brother, he has two younger brothers, an older brother and older sister. One of his little brothers comes over every Sunday to watch wrestling.
Which situation is the hardest on you as a couple?
Money. And lately, the whole life direction dilemma. He’s good at a whole range of things – he’s a great cook, he’s good with his hands and practical things, he is quick to grasp new concepts, and explain how things work, he’s good at trades work and was a great sports coach. But he still doesn’t know what he wants to do career wise.
Did you go to the same school?
Sure did – went to the same primary school for two years, to separate intermediates, and then the same high school.
Are you from the same home town?
Yeah… I’ve been in Auckland since I was eight, and he’s lived here his whole life.
Who is smarter?
Academically I’m the better performer. But we’re both smart in different ways. He’s much more practical and logical. I have more of a flair for writing and creative ventures. He knows a lot about everything – has a good general knowledge, but doesn’t care for current affairs and news (that’s more my area). Honestly, I think he’s more intelligent and has the more useful smarts.
Who is the most sensitive?
Where do you eat out most as a couple?
Hmm. Probably Chinese, to be honest, even though I’m not a massive fan. But he never gets sick of sweet and sour pork.
Where is the furthest you two have traveled together as a couple?
Up north to Whatuwhiwhi - that was about five hours. We’re looking forward to travelling overseas together, though.
Who has the craziest exes?
Oh, that’s a tough one….I don’t actually know any of his exes, and I only have a couple. One of mine was pretty unstable, though.
Who has the worst temper?
We can both get pretty stormy. But he gets over it quite quickly and is always first to apologise. I’m probably more dramatic when I’m angry, but when he’s REALLY riled up he puts on a real show.
Who does the cooking?
He is by far the superior cook. I used to do the majority of the cooking, but now I get home later than him, and he usually has dinner ready for me by then.
Who is the neat-freak?
Definitely me. I do not understand why he leaves towels lying around, and how to train him out of the habit! That aside, I think we’re both fairly laid back, but like to keep things tidy. I don’t leave dishes lying around more than a day and like to keep the floors unsticky and the bathroom clean.
Who is more stubborn?
Who hogs the bed?
Who wakes up earlier?
NOT me. He’ll literally be awake hours before me and lie in bed next to me or watch TV. I really need to get him into reading or some other hobby so he can use that time more productively.
Where was your first date?
I couldn’t honestly tell you. We hung out so many times before officially dating. The first time we met up after that party where we connected though, I think, was one night late after work. I’d just finished up at Eden Park (I was working events with a catering company and there was a game on) and bussed to Blockhouse Bay. He met me at the bus stop in jandals and socks and walked me the rest of the way home to New Lynn.
Who is more jealous?
Hmm, we’re both pretty level headed. I’m probably more likely to get angry, though.
How long did it take to get serious?
A few months, I guess. It was a little difficult as we only had about three months together before he left for the army. We moved in together at 18 when we’d been together about a year which was too soon IMO, but it worked out okay.
Who eats more?
We both have huge appetites. But his varies wildly – sometimes he’ll eat and eat and eat, and other times he literally won’t eat a thing all day until dinner. Mine’s pretty constant.
Who does the laundry?
Who’s better with the computer?
Me, unless you’re talking troubleshooting
Who drives when you are together?
Definitely him – he’s a far better driver and has his full licence now. I can’t even drive our car, really – it’s one of my goals for the rest of the year!
I worked on Saturday afternoon, so my weekend consisted of Thursday off and Sunday. We had lunch at Mercury Plaza and drove over to Mission Bay, where we were going to hire out a tandem bike and go for a ride, but decided not to because the weather was pretty crappy. On Sunday, we hit DressSmart and bought T a new wallet and me some new underwear, then he cooked up a huge roast and we had a group for friends over for dinner.
$110 groceries, plus an anticipated $20 for lunches
$47.60 eating out
$83 for a full tank of gas (HAS to last us two weeks!)
$28 for T’s wallet
$6.50 for clothing
Tags: money, photos, spending
Mystery shopping isn’t going to make you rich by any means. For me, it’s a nice little side extra that gets me freebies such as gas, meals and prescriptions – what’s better than getting things for free that you’d otherwise pay for? I also do bus surveys regularly as I bus to and from work everyday, and have an unlimited travel pass. I make the most of that by mixing up the routes I catch as much as possible, getting off the bus halfway through and catching a different one the rest of the way, or fitting in a few extra on my lunch break.
Generally, the more work a survey entails, the more you get paid. You’ll soon work out which ones are worth your while and which aren’t. Some require you to make a purchase, and will reimburse some or all of the cost. If it’s something I need, or something I’d like to buy for myself but might not otherwise, I’ll jump at the offer. But if it’s something you have no use for, what’s the point? It’s like buying food in bulk to get a good deal, and never using it all up.
To really get the most out of it, you do need to be organised. Check your email frequently – for notices, and for new assignments. Most companies either email you when new jobs are up and direct you to the site, or email you the available assignments directly. And you need to get in fast! The plum jobs get snapped up right away – I’m talking within the hour for popular shops like restaurants and the like. The more regular and reliable you are, the more you’ll get and they will turn to you when they’re desperate to fill an assignment.
If there are assignments at the end of the month that still haven’t been filled, the company will also call and email shoppers to try and get it assigned. At this stage, they’ll usually offer a sweetener such as an extra bonus or mileage. Even if it’s for a store that’s out of your way that you’d never accept otherwise, a fat payment can make it worth your while.
Most companies will have a training guide of some sort, and/or guidelines on how they like surveys written up. For example, one of the companies I work with frowns upon using comments on race or skin colour when describing staff. Seriously, read this, and familiarise yourself with their style. Some companies rate their shoppers, and if they have to spend a lot of time editing your reports to get them up to scratch, this will affect your grading.
Some require you to write detailed comments about your experience. This is a bore, by and large, but be as specific as you can. Explain WHY you gave a salesperson a “satisfactory” rather than “excellent” score (because they didn’t greet you right away, or didn’t mention a special promotion).
Obviously, you do need to be observant. Read the brief thoroughly. Then condense the key questions and use these as the basis for your note taking. I usually try to jot a few points down in my phone while I’m in there, and then get the rest down as soon as I leave and head out of sight of the store.
Make sure you follow your chosen shopping dates and times. Most of the time, you need to get your survey written up and uploaded that same day. If you’re going to have trouble completing a shop or submitting it on time – let them know! Treat it like you would your regular job.
And lastly, always, always, always get a receipt! You won’t get paid without a receipt, if the survey requires one of you. You don’t want to have to re-do or forfeit a shop because you forgot to get proof of purchase.
Tags: mystery shopping
Frugal Dreamer had a GREAT idea for a post last week, which I am totally borrowing.
T and I both did it, and it was interesting to compare the two.
To be honest, I found it incredibly hard… I don’t know if it’s a lack of imagination, or the fact that I’m feeling a bit ambiguous about my career path and life in general… I’m not really sure what I want and so struggled to articulate where I might want to be.
We decided to pick a Thursday, approximately five years from now. We’ll both be 26, and although he’d like to have kids by then, I’m not so sure. Doing this visualisation without babies in the picture made our future life look pretty empty, actually – something I never thought I’d say!
1. What time do you wake up, and how are you feeling as you greet the day? 6am, as usual. Feeling pretty all right.
2. Where are you? If you’re at home, what does it look like? At home, in a 2bedroom open plan house, with a nice kitchen, bathtub and garage.
3. Who is with you? E (that’s me!)
4. What kind of work are you doing? (if you have no idea what kind of work you’ll be doing or want to be doing, list the qualities you want to find in the work you do and the kind of work environment you want.) Environment: a clean, quiet workshop with a steady workflow, where I have my own workstation
5. As you head out to face the day, how do you look? What are you wearing? What I’m wearing now (singlet and shorts). And shoes
6. How do you get to work? On a mountain bike
7. When you’re done with work, how will you spend you spare time and with whom? What activities do you enjoy? With E, watching old horror or zombie movies on my large screen TV. Fabricating in my garage, working on my toy (project) car.
8. What is your evening like? In front of the fire with a glass of whiskey or cup of tea
9. When you go to bed that night, how are you feeling after spending the day doing exactly what you love? Fulfilled
10. What are you most grateful for and what are you looking forward to as you go to sleep? Spending the next day with E.
1. What time do you wake up, and how are you feeling as you greet the day? I’m up at 7, feeling energised
2. Where are you? If you’re at home, what does it look like? In my own house (maybe a Lockwood) with big kitchen, walkin pantry, garage, ensuite bathroom and decent sized closet
3. Who is with you? T. Maybe a pet (preferably a cat, but more likely a puppy if T has his way)
4. What kind of work are you doing? (if you have no idea what kind of work you’ll be doing or want to be doing, list the qualities you want to find in the work you do and the kind of work environment you want.) I’m in the prime of my career, as a subeditor or a web editor, in an airy, sunny open plan office. I work in a friendly, supportive team and regularly have lunch with coworkers
5. As you head out to face the day, how do you look? What are you wearing? I look polished and effortless (ha!) I am wearing nice jeans with a shirt and flats, because the office environment is fairly casual.
6. How do you get to work? Walk
7. When you’re done with work, how will you spend you spare time and with whom? What activities do you enjoy? With T. I’ll bake, catch up on blogs, watch some TV or a movie. I enjoy photography, playing guitar, travel.
8. What is your evening like? I might catch up with friends at one of our houses for a few hours – lots of laughs, maybe a silly retro boardgame, good food.
9. When you go to bed that night, how are you feeling after spending the day doing exactly what you love? Contented and fulfilled. Glad that it’s nearly the weekend.
10. What are you most grateful for and what are you looking forward to as you go to sleep? T, a warm house, great job and good food.
Tags: about me, life, reflections
I caught up with a handful of other journo majors a couple of weekends ago. Out of all of them, I was the only one with a full time job. Don’t get me wrong – a LOT of others (albeit not in attendance) have found work, and in journalism. Even, surprisingly, in print. Something we discussed – in between bits of juicy, scandalous gossip – was that it’s funny how many of the people who got jobs right out of university are the ones who you least expected to. It just goes to show: you don’t need to be wildly successful at school to be successful professionally.
As time goes by, I think I’m starting to realise that where I’d really like to be is in subbing and editing. There’s nothing I get more satisfaction from than honing a piece to be the best it can be; spotting errors, fixing them, tightening up sentences. As much as I’ve learned this year, and as much as my skin has thickened (which admittedly is still not a lot) I still often find interviewing daunting. I’m not the most graceful of swans, socially speaking, at any given time. And when I’m facing people who don’t want to talk to me…
Right after I shook hands on the two projects I’m lined up to assist on (both technical in nature) some writing assignments came up. A few other grads from my class were brought on for those. The big boss apologised for how that panned out to me, and said my direct boss had been lobbying on my behalf and really believed in me. He’s the one who suggested me doing more writing, without even having to ask. And is giving me every opportunity to write as they come up. Can I just say how great it feels to have someone on your side?
And yet, I know I should be pushing for myself, you know, on my own. Except I’m not sure how to do that exactly. And as I said, a typical reporting job is something I’m slightly ambivalent about. But I guess I gotta do my time first, and surely the idea of my fellow grads being hired and surpassing me here will be enough to spur me on.
Tags: career, work