Author Topic: Case Study - Seeking advice for starting out right in my first 'real job'  (Read 4173 times)

Sharon8

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Hi there,

So I'm 22 and I've just got my first job after uni in Wellington, New Zealand. I need to decide on a living situation and figure out how much money is reasonable to spend - given that I have always been poor and done without things that some people call necessities I am likely to try save too much while being unhappy that I "cannot afford" x, y, and z! At the same time, I know that it'll hurt less to save a high proportion of my income now than to get used to living a fancy lifestyle before trying to cut down. I'm hoping that some of you kind people will take a little time to give me advice because I know I have a great opportunity here with my new income and no financial commitments, but I'm afraid of making dumb decisions to try fit in with new friends and be less stressed about moving to this city.

So, firstly, my financial situation (everything is in NZD, 1NZD = .83USD):
Assets - $5,000
$5,000 savings in an savings account that gets 3.75% interest (about $20/month) - I know I may be able to get a better rate, but it was best for my situation previously
My car is older than me and reasonably fuel efficient. It's probably not worth anything because my parents gave it to me when they wanted to upgrade.
Debt - $9,000
$9,000 interest-free student loan
No other debts
Money going in - $50-60k
$50-60k income from the new job
Money going out - $14,300 per year but going up to get work clothes, non-leaky shoes, and individual cooking
$150 per week rent, have to find a new place to live this month
$20 per week shared utilities
$40 per week fixed annual costs - insurance, car registration, dentist, dr, etc
$5 per week cellphone
Food, personal spending, and fuel for car used to be $60 per week, but it's crazy now with moving and buying work clothes

So, the things I would like some other opinions on are: making new friends cheaply and what to look for in the place I choose to rent. I'll research where to keep my savings using some very handy NZ-specific threads that already exist on the forum.

Firstly, making new friends! I don't know many people in this city, certainly no close friends. Most people's approach would be: pay to join some sort of sport or hobby club; socialise expensively around coffee, alcohol, and meals in the city; or go to free community events. I've tried going to free community events by myself but mostly I just feel more lonely because I am the only person by myself in a sea of people who are with their friends or family. I'm comfortable talking to strangers for no reason, but I don't see anyone sitting around unoccupied! What should I do to meet people around my age/life stage? Would it be worthwhile to pay for membership to a hiking club or something?

Secondly, I need to find a place to live and the rent prices are scaring me because they're ~150% up on the last city I lived in. I've decided to flat with others, because look at the price of living by yourself here! http://www.realestate.co.nz/rental/search/bedrooms_max/1/districts/265 In those "cheaper" places you don't even get a carpark or your own bathroom/kitchen. The qualities I have to weigh up are: 1) living within walking distance of work vs living further out by a bus stop. Note that living further out could hinder my friend-making efforts because buses stop running at midnight and it is quite difficult to find a place with a bus stop directly outside (people freak out about females walking from bus to home alone at night and I'm a rolling road hazard on a bike). The bus would be about $2 each way and rent is probably $30-$50 cheaper per week to live away from the city centre and it's a 10 min drive or 25 min bus rather than a 5 min walk. 2) living with young students vs living with people my own age. Note that people my own age might spend lots of money and probably want me to pay a share of SkyTV (it's like cable and I don't even watch TV), but they'll sleep and wake at normal working-person hours. Also, the less 'spendy' people my age seem to live outside the city centre. Would it be worthwhile to drive to meet friends in the city at night, perhaps if I found a free event to go to?

So maybe someone has some advice or tips for me? Please? Haha hopefully I haven't written too much.
Thank you from Sharon in NZ!!

lcg377

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I've met a lot of people through volunteer work.  That's free, and if you take on a task like helping to plan an event, you'll automatically have something to do together! I don't know if you like animals, but with dog rescue, it's pretty common to meet up with others in parks to go for walks on the weekend. 

We volunteer for a greyhound rescue that has chapters in many different parts of the U.S., so whenever we have moved, I just email the local volunteer coordinator and have been able to meet people right away.  Maybe you can find an organization that you like in your new city, and let them know when you're coming, and how you can help. 

Sharon8

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Thank you! That's such a good idea! A quick google shows me that I can volunteer with animals - even at the local zoo! Or I can get free access to local large events by volunteering, for example I could have helped out at the premier of the Hobbit movie had I been here in time for that. And there are lots of gardening and native forest care groups where I'd learn how to care for plants.

Russ

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I just moved states a few months ago so I feel where you're at with the whole friends thing. It's difficult but totally doable.

My favorite advice for making friends in a new place is:
1. do the things you like to do.
2. when you run into other people doing the things you like to do, invite them to do those things with you some other time.

The hard part for me is #2. I've found that if you keep cool plans for yourself a week or two in advance that really helps. They don't have to be set in stone, just a general idea of what's going on so that you have an activity ready if you come across somebody with similar interests. Most people don't have cool plans or do fun things (sad but true) so if you're always doing cool interesting things there will always be people glad to tag along. So if you were to volunteer for movie premiers, maybe have the next one or two planned out in advance so if you meet someone you can say "you should come with me to X premier next week!". For gardening groups, perhaps "did you hear about this other group Y? they meet on the third wednesday of every month... I've never been but we should go together!"

There are also quite a few kiwis on the forums here. I don't think there's a meetup thread yet, but you could always start one!

The other thing that jumped out to me was
I'm afraid of making dumb decisions to try fit in with new friends and be less stressed about moving to this city.
This is a totally valid feeling... and that feeling is what will keep you from making (too many) decisions you don't like, so be glad you have it :-)
Things will probably be stressful/hectic/different for a month or two after you've moved... don't be too worried about money to not cut yourself a little slack when you need it. "I can get back with it later" is a slippery slope, but IMO this is one of the times it's a little necessary. When the moving stress starts to lessen, that conscience of yours will let you know it's time to tighten up.

Congrats on the job; I hope it's everything you want it to be.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2014, 10:45:47 PM by Russ »

lucille

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I lived in Wellington for a couple of years following graduation.

My advice re making friends is that depending on where you are working there may be other graduates to connect with in the workplace or similar workplaces (e.g. if you work for the govt, other govt departments). It's always good to make the most of these connections and also seek out others that have moved to Wgtn for work. There are loads of graduate lawyers and bureaucrats in wgtn (this can be a positive or negative depending on whether you are one).

Also, flatting is a GREAT way to make friends. I would say it is worth paying a bit extra rent to live centrally and with people you have a connection with as they are likely to become your friends plus you get to meet their friends etc. If you live centrally it is also easier to make your home a social place for dinner, drinks etc as people don't have to travel out to the burbs, particularly in Wgtn where you can likely find somewhere to live within walking distance of the city. Public transport there is pretty good too.

I volunteered for the Refugee Migrant Society when I lived there which was also a good way to meet people. You do a short course and then get assigned into teams of about four and work together to help people newly arrived in the city as refugees. I met loads of great people doing this and had a lot of fun.

Also, you definitely need weatherproof clothes, invest in a warm winter coat, good shoes and don't bother with an umbrella as they do not last in wgtn wind! Make sure you don't wait for nice weather to get outside and do things - during my two years there fine days were few and far between so you just have to embrace the wind (and rain) and make the most of it. Big weather! And don't complain about it either as wellingtonians do not like being told the weather is bad! Especially if you are from Auckland ;)

Accountess

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NZer here 3 years out of uni.


Cheap friends- have a baby or marry someone with a large family (kidding kidding).

Second the volunteer work though those will be filled with the older generation based on my experience.


Join one (or a few) social sport teams. This will be made of younger people. Seeing as you an in Wellington I would double check you are adequately insured.

Your interest rate for savings isn't as puny as you think. Here are some of the best deals from interest.co.nz:

http://www.interest.co.nz/
Institution    Type    Percentage
RaboDirect   PremiumSaver   4.25%
Nelson BS    On Call    3.20%
Heretaunga    On Call    3.00%
Napier BS    On Call    3.00%
CU Baywide    Online Saver    3.50%

Secondly, make sure you do not opt out of kiwisaver. It is one of the best and fastest ways to save for a house. The 3% employer match doesnt hurt either.
http://www.kiwisaver.govt.nz/new/benefits/home-sub/

The general ideas here are great. We are paying more in interest on mortgages and everything is more expensive, so sometimes we need to remember the specifics of the NZ path to FI might be a littler different.


You mentioned you came from a poor background. I would borrow some person finance from the library to cover the basics. It is possible no one has put the fear of consumer credit into you. There could be a lot you don't know.  So fill the information void.

Annamal

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Hi Sharon welcome to Wellington =) , I  think you're in almost the same position I was in about 12 years ago (I was 22, had just moved to Wellington with some savings and got my first job, I was moving in with my boyfriend though, which is extrememly inadvisable and shouldn't have worked nearly as well as it did).

So advice I would have given my younger self:

1) One of the best things we did was dump the car when it was no longer worth repairing, public transport is good and Wellington is extremely walkable (plus having no car makes you redefine walkable). I let lifestyle inflation go to my head but not having a car has still saved a huge amount of money.

2) The Willis street Sunday morning market is an amazing place for deals on cheap fruit and veg (also as you begin to make friends in the city you will invariably run into them there)

3) Now is going to be bit of a stressful time for flat hunting (you've got an advantage in not being a student but this is still a pretty busy time), I would suggest aiming for a flat with people your own age even if it does cost extra for sky, student flats tend to be pretty fluid and disruptive and you're going to be trying to get into your job and build up some routines.

4) If you haven't joined up with Wellington library, you totally should, they do things like host board game nights (which might be a good cheap way of meeting people).

5) this group might be a good one to join up with http://www.meetup.com/adventurewellington  they have a wide variety of activities and lots of them are free.

6) The walks around Wellington are amazing (my favourites are the loop around the outside of the Wildlife sanctuary  and the Southern Walkway), a great low cost way of getting to grips with Wellington.



Strawberrykiwi75

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Welcome to MMM and congrats on graduating! Another Kiwi here, I live in Christchurch.

I think there's some good advice here already. In your situation, I think the key is to just get into a savings habit and getting comfortable in all areas of your life. I remember leaving uni and suddenly having money and it was so exciting to go and get new things- like you I was one of those people that needed new hole-less shoes etc.

First things first, renting. Find somewhere that isn't flashy and expensive, but that you could put up with for at least one year. Meet with the flatmates and pick one where you can see yourself becoming friends with the other flatmates, and have similar interests. You can make friends with them, and their friends. Make sure it's in an area where you feel comfortable and has local facilities like a cafe, supermarket etc.
Try volunteer work and sports teams to make friends, and also your workplace. Don't be afraid to strike up a conversation with random people if you feel the situation is appropriate.
Join Kiwisaver. This is a great way to save for your future and get your share of your taxes back from the government. Even if you decide it's not for you, you can ask for a contributions holiday after 12 months for up to 5 years.
Have more than one savings account. One should be easily accessible, like an online account. This is your 'back up' savings and for getting yourself established comfortably with work clothes, new shoes, anything else you may need. The other should be a high interest account, and this is for saving for a rainy day, for a holiday, for a house, anything you want really. Set up an AP for an amount you feel comfortable with and don't touch it!!
Your student loan is interest free, so at the moment I wouldn't worry about paying this back when you could be saving the money. But I would keep an eye on the situation and be prepared to pay it off ASAP if they bring back interest. I would consider paying it back however if you plan to work overseas in the future. You don't want it hanging over you.

Don't worry about investing until you have a good emergency fund behind you and all the things you need to feel comfortable, as for small amounts the fees will just eat your returns all up. And remember that you're still adjusting to your new budget, it will take a couple months to get it right! Play around with it regularly until you have a balance between lifestyle & saving. Then come back to us for stage 2! :-)

Sharon8

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Re: Case Study - Seeking advice for starting out right in my first 'real job'
« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2014, 04:02:57 AM »
Hey everyone!

Thank you all so much for your advice and kind words! It sounds like I'm actually doing ok... I've already opted into kiwisaver, am only paying my student loan back at the rate I'm legally required to (and even then it'll be gone in a year), and I left my umbrella back in Dunedin. Also, the only complaint I ever utter about the weather is "Wow it's too hot today!" whenever it gets over 20C, which Wellingtonians seem to find a very complimentary complaint. Oh, and I think I'm earthquake insured because it's mentioned on my policy specifically.

I tried to meet people who were looking for flatmates and pick the best place, but not only did I not get to "pick the best", I didn't even get to pick the worst as I got rejected time after time because I was competing with 20-50 people for each place I looked at. I'm just not socially dazzling enough to win that kind of competition haha! So I rented a sort of flash small apartment directly from a colleague and I'm getting a flatmate in to keep rent reasonable-ish. I consider that I'm paying more to get a reference that'll help me outshine the rest next time I look for a place. As for the car, I'm going to leave it parked out in the suburbs in the free parking.

I've got all your suggestions for socialising noted down, and I'll try them out bit-by-bit. It's actually going to involve a lot of confronting situations that make me uncomfortable/afraid. Who would have thought that there are people who are uncomfortable in both libraries and gyms?? Hopefully I can find some "try before you buy" opportunities in case I don't like what I try :) I particularly liked Russ' way of breaking down the process into a formula that I can easily remember - thanks Russ!

And once again, thank you to everyone who gave suggestions! I realise now that this isn't really a case study or anything - at the time it just seemed the easiest flag to say "help me I feel overwhelmed!". PS what's 'Stage 2' Strawberrykiwi75??

SwordGuy

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Re: Case Study - Seeking advice for starting out right in my first 'real job'
« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2014, 07:42:18 AM »
My favorite advice for making friends in a new place is:
1. do the things you like to do.
2. when you run into other people doing the things you like to do, invite them to do those things with you some other time.

The hard part for me is #2. I've found that if you keep cool plans for yourself a week or two in advance that really helps. They don't have to be set in stone, just a general idea of what's going on so that you have an activity ready if you come across somebody with similar interests. Most people don't have cool plans or do fun things (sad but true) so if you're always doing cool interesting things there will always be people glad to tag along. So if you were to volunteer for movie premiers, maybe have the next one or two planned out in advance so if you meet someone you can say "you should come with me to X premier next week!". For gardening groups, perhaps "did you hear about this other group Y? they meet on the third wednesday of every month... I've never been but we should go together!"


That is INCREDIBLY good advice!

Annamal

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Re: Case Study - Seeking advice for starting out right in my first 'real job'
« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2014, 04:57:00 PM »

I've got all your suggestions for socialising noted down, and I'll try them out bit-by-bit. It's actually going to involve a lot of confronting situations that make me uncomfortable/afraid. Who would have thought that there are people who are uncomfortable in both libraries and gyms?? Hopefully I can find some "try before you buy" opportunities in case I don't like what I try :) I particularly liked Russ' way of breaking down the process into a formula that I can easily remember - thanks Russ!



Oh one other thing you might like to try (and it's even a little mustachian) the mountain biking around Wellington is supposed to be really good (and there are mountaing biking groups who get together to build or improve trails on the weekend).

I'm a little clumsy for it but I see so many different kinds of people (including groups of kids) out on the trails (and they're usually pretty plite to us lowly pedestrians), that I think it might be a great way of meeting people (or at least getting mud splattered every weekend).

Strawberrykiwi75

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Re: Case Study - Seeking advice for starting out right in my first 'real job'
« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2014, 01:20:36 AM »
Stage 2= growing your stache, after getting established :-)