Link love (the I’ve-been-waiting-for-this edition)

Five days off in a row! That’s right, I’m taking a very long weekend. WOOHOO!

Enjoy a few reads for yours!

This week’s links

The woman you want to be is rich

Envy is a budget killer

Low income dads and their kids

If you’re wondering whether you spend a normal amount on groceries (NZ) … 

The financial empowerment game

Tempted by all the travel deals? Yeah, me too

Now is a great time to be a Kiwi with itchy feet.

It’s seriously never been cheaper to fly.  London from $1300 return? Tokyo from $800 return?

And I’ve been seeing flights to destinations all over North America – yep, not just LA – for less than $1000 one-way. There are so many places I still want to hit over there, possibly on one of these adventure tours

Suffice to say Grabaseat is giving me serious FOMO of late.

Luckily or unluckily, my passport expired earlier this year – pretty much right around the time I bought my house. If those two things weren’t helping keep me grounded I’d probably be raiding my bank accounts right about now!

Link love (the reinvigoration edition)

I’ve never had a performance review in my life. Between organisations not having any structure/process around that kind of thing, or the timing of my changing jobs, it just never happened.

But that changed this week! And I survived and it went fabulously. Whether it will result in more money remains to be seen (we’re publicly funded and knowing how much of a raise my manager got last year I don’t have huge expectations).

I’d been running on autopilot for a while and this was a good jolt to reinvigorate me. Now I’m looking into courses on Coursera and Udemy related to UX and digital (and this weekend many courses on Udemy are only $15!)

This week’s links

13 things I learned about NZ after I left

Women, money, and imbalance in the financial industry

Not every dollar is for building wealth, but every dollar has a purpose

Is fear the ultimate motivator?

Nobody has their shit together

The relationship between financial security and food security

How homeownership saves me money

The surprising ways home ownership saves me money

Over the past decade I’ve wasted thousands of dollars renting (not even counting rent payments – those would be in the tens of thousands and at least I got shelter in exchange for those).

There are costs that come with home ownership – some unavoidable, some totally up to you – but those are covered extensively elsewhere on the internet and I’m not getting into those today.

No, what I’m talking about are the surprising ways home ownership has saved me money here and there.

Power

A poorly insulated house is less efficient to heat. We’ve lived in iceboxes half the size of this house that cost the same in power bills as this one. And in the case where we’ve lived with flatmates, well, other people often don’t care about saving power the way you do.

Related: I’m probably saving a small fortune on tissues. I no longer have a constantly blocked or runny nose – it’s the exception rather than the norm now.  Rental standards in NZ are pathetic (and here’s even more skin-crawling stuff).

Now don’t get me wrong. This is still an older house and we’ll need to add more insulation to the roof, which will be in the realm of $1500-2000 if we DIY and more if we get in the pros to install it. On the very coldest nights this winter the roof has gotten down to single digit temperatures overnight, with the rest of the house plunging to low double digits, which isn’t ideal. But it’s noticeably drier and warmer than the many rentals I’ve endured.

I’m sure winters are getting colder (either that or I just feel it more with age) and T agrees. We experienced some record low temperatures this year and last, so I don’t think it’s entirely my imagination.

Insurance

My content insurance dropped to a third of its former cost once I became a homeowner. I’m deadly serious. Car insurance also decreased by a tiny bit. Just another way renters get ripped off.

Going out

Home is a haven now. Not a cramped, damp place to escape. Not a place with flatmates who grate on your nerves. I love my house so much, warts and all. I’ve always been a homebody and at last, after so many years, I have somewhere I can honestly nest and settle in for real. I feel an unbridled sense of joy and serenity every time I  step out onto my  sunny deck or sit down in my dining nook.

As you can probably guess, I have had zero regrets about buying a house. Home ownership has been everything I dreamed of and more.

brokeGIRLrich

PSA: Check your credit!

Credit check
Credit check
It’s that time again: time to check up on my credit report!

As a commenter wisely pointed out, my recent drama with collections (over $50, of all things) means I should definitely check and make sure that it has been fully withdrawn and isn’t on my credit record. If it is, I’m seriously going to go ballistic.

If you’re not sure how to check your credit report in NZ, here’s how. There are 3 reporting agencies. Below are the current links to request your free credit record:

You can do it all online – just enter your details and request a copy to be emailed or posted to you. They ask for your name/s, address history, and employment info. You will need the details of your ID (eg driver’s licence info) and may need to upload a scanned copy as well.

NZ credit reports include your personal details, a list of credit enquiries, any default, judgement or insolvency details, and repayment history. The repayment history isn’t exhaustive – not all credit is reported. For example, my 2015 report included my credit card history but did not include my car loan history at all.

Although I was able to obtain my credit score for free back in 2010 when they were first introduced, it seems you can no longer see your credit score unless you pay for it. Not like in the US – where you can easily get your free credit scores in a jiffy.  I have no idea what mine is now!

Unpopular opinion: Money CAN buy health

When money CAN buy health
“Go spend some money,” a nurse once told me when I sought out advice.

Thinking about that incident still pisses me off, even though I’m a long way from being that broke student. But to be fair, she wasn’t wrong.

Lack of money has caused many physical problems for me over the years, and money has in turn also fixed them. Full circle.

On the skin front

Know what disappeared once I solved my money problems? My intense eczema. It was a horrendous cycle – financial stress led to eczema that required expensive cream that didn’t exactly help the financial strain and made everything worse until the core money issue was dealt to. My stress eczema got so bad I couldn’t even wear a bra for some time. Now I just have to deal with the scars, and rosehip oil (again, thank you money) is helping with that.

Know what else disappeared and reappeared accordingly? My period. Not that I missed it from a practical perspective, but I knew its absence was a bad sign.

On the respiratory front

I quite like breathing. Unfortunately it can be a struggle sometimes. Years of living in cold damp New Zealand rentals will do that to you. Buying a house is the only thing that’s made a real difference in this area.

On the intimacy front

Okay, maybe a bit of a cheat here. A good sex life isn’t a requirement for health and wellbeing but it’s nice to have. Post-dinner bloat is a mood killer. A dirty house is a mood killer. But for me, money stress is the biggest turnoff of all.

Disease Called Debt

Link love (the spring-has-sprung edition)

NZMuse - Link love roundup with awesome reads from the week

Anyone else heard of/used Buxfer? It’s the first budgeting/spend tracking tool I’ve come across that actually plugs into all the NZ banks. (No, we don’t have our own equivalent of Mint, etc…)

Also, hallelujah! Winter is officially over!

This week’s links

On dating men with ‘potential’

The problem with ‘simple livlng’

Tolerating ugly stuff

The gender wage gap explained

Bookish confessions

Finding wisdom in your bedroom 

Here’s the SINGLE best thing about owning a house

The best thing about owning a house

I can breathe easier. Not just metaphorically knowing that we have security of tenure here, but literally.  It might seem like small stuff, breathing freely, but it’s priceless.

You might remember I first mentioned that I was having occasional trouble breathing back in 2010. So, I never actually got it checked out. I pretty much knew it was down to living in cold, damp places, and there wasn’t much to be done about that until I could buy a house of my own.

I’m pleased to report that owning a house has made a huge difference on that front. Breathing has not come this naturally to me in years. Even on brisk walks outside in the thick of winter. Even overnight.

Sometimes (not always, I grant you, especially through the colder months – but still much more regularly than never) I wake up in the morning and find myself breathing comfortably through my nose, rather than sucking cold air desperately through my mouth.

It used to be that the only time I didn’t struggle to breathe overnight was in nice hotels, or overseas in warmer climates. But otherwise, I was never able to breathe solely through my nose at night; I just couldn’t get enough air that way.

I haven’t had the flu this year – and I always get the flu each winter, which usually knocks me out for a few days.

It’s hard if not impossible to quantify good health. How much damage has 10 years of renting already done? Renting for life might not have actually killed me, but it would’ve taken its toll.

When sanity > principles

Money or sanity?

I have a strong sense of fairness and justice (which sometimes makes it hard to exist in this world). But I’m also quite pragmatic and getting more ruthlessly so over time.

Which is why I’ve made the conscious choice to write off certain sums of money over the past few years. To move on and look forward. Let go of the expended stress and energy, and devote that time and headspace into productively making that money back even quicker. And of course, to not get into the same situation again.

Let it goooo

Heinous flatmate (approx $1000)

Blood from a stone. He was a terrible person to live with and is terrible with money/being employed/adulting in general. I’ve written off the money he owes for bills and damage and moved on.

Tax refund

Can’t really remember the amount – maybe $500? Anyway, T was due a tax refund a few years back that went into limbo somewhere between the IRD and his bank account. Endless back and forth never resolved it and we’ve moved on. (Subsequent refunds have made it through fine.)

Work expenses

Again, the exact amount has faded from memory and I’m certainly not going to check and dredge it up, but a couple hundy? Suffice to say toxic boss #2 in this post was a nightmare from start to finish. T chatted to someone from the labour department but ultimately, not enough proof of the context and it being a work expense. Live and learn.

Unpaid freelance invoices (approx $1000)

Loved the work. Hated the chasing of payment. I did a series of features and was paid for about half. Struggling magazine, new editors, tardy accounts … just one big clusterfuck.

Unrefunded bond (approx $700)

Our last tenancy was a nightmare. Anything to put that memory behind me.

I know lots of you mentioned in the comments on this post that you’d written off small amounts in the past – what about bigger ones?

Disease Called Debt

5 things I’ve learned from surviving a marriage crisis

The best relationship advice I can give

After more than 10 years in a generally happy union, I recently realised that – like Jon Snow – I knew nothing.

Nothing at all.

I once read that good marriages begin after the first gigantic crisis. When you begin again, in spite of everything, and work to make it through the anger and fear and sadness.

Separately, the wise and inimitable Alain de Botton has said that pessimism offers a solution to a lot of the pressures around relationships. Romanticism is unhelpful, and makes a lot of what we go through in marriage seem exceptional and appalling.

Depressing as those two paragraphs may sound, I think they ring with truth.

There are five main things this crisis taught me. Here is what I’ve learned.

Love is a verb

Don’t just tell me you love me; show me through your actions.

So many of our habits and behaviours towards our partners are manipulative

Whether we realise it or not. Awareness is the first step.

Do not tolerate sustained unhappiness in a relationship

Don’t put up with it now, hoping that it will improve eventually, if you have no inkling at all for when that might be. Think about how long you could stick it out if nothing changed – a month? Six months? A year?

Never set yourself on fire to keep someone else warm

There is no glory in martyrdom. This isn’t a social movement; this is your life. Your happiness is what’s at stake.

We are flawed

All of us. So very deeply. This is something we must accept if we are to move forward.

There it is – the best relationship advice I have to give. Have you been through a relationship crisis, and has it taught you anything new?