Money well spent: 4 recent things I’ve bought and loved

One of the small benefits of the last 18 months is that a lack of things to do and places to go has meant it’s been a good opportunity to save money. Steve and I have been busily building up our savings for our wedding next year and for a deposit on a house, so we’ve been doing what we can to avoid unnecessary expenses. We’ve been lucky enough to be able to live with his parents since moving back to Ireland, so that’s also helped a lot, but in the day-to-day the lockdown has definitely made a difference in not spending money on travel and bars.

Still, even when saving as much as possible for important things, it’s good not to deprive yourself entirely of little luxuries, if you can swing it. And there are a couple of things I’ve bought in recent weeks that are well worth the money.

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Inspire art: supporting your favourite creators (with more than just money)

If you’ve got a creative bone in your body, you know how hard it is to make a living from your craft. And if you don’t know, someone will tell you. Unsolicited and often. Most of us will only ever write our novels, take our photos, play our instruments for fun, and we accept that our passion will probably have to be an evening pursuit after our time spent at the workplace. But for some, making a living from doing the creative work they love isn’t just a pipe dream.

There’s a certain feeling of pride and jealousy combined that comes up every time I read about a friend’s book deal or see their byline on one of my favourite websites. It’s amazing to see people achieving their dreams, especially if they can actually pay the bills with it. While I’ve been lucky enough (or, sometimes I think, unlucky enough) to incorporate my love of writing into my work, it’s definitely not easy or lucrative.

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Tracking Every Dollar I Spent in February

One of my favourite things to read online is Refinery29’s Money Diaries. This ongoing series features a different subject each time, recounting a week’s worth of expenses in their city of residence. A week in London on a 50k salary; a week in NYC on a 12k salary; a week in Dallas on a 200k salary, and so on. From the good (detailed budgeting from people with similar jobs and incomes as me!), the bad (the people who’s parents/partners/gift cards pay for everything so they don’t “count” those expenses), and the lol (that writer who spent 70 quid on cocaine and then got her credit card declined at a takeaway), it’s always interesting to get a glimpse behind the curtain of someone’s financial life.

When I moved to New Zealand, I sadly had to mostly give up on using my favourite budget tracker, Mint. While I can still log in to keep an eye on my American accounts, my New Zealand bank is not supported on their interface and so I can’t connect it for all-in-one account-monitoring convenience. The exchange rate also makes the budgeting feature fairly useless. However, as tempting as it is to use this as an excuse to let my expenses be a free-for-all, I decided to track my spending the old fashioned way and see where things were at.

So for the month of February, I made a list in my bujo of every single dollar I spent. Whether it was several hundred dollars for rent or a single dollar to contribute to the work lotto pool, I accounted for all my spending. Now, unlike R29’s Money Diaries, this isn’t an anonymous post, so I’m not going to share every single detail of where my money went, but here’s a look into the cost of living in Wellington, NZ (all numbers in NZD unless otherwise noted).

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