“Free time is more important than earning a lot” (Copy)writer Erica (45) about work and money

Published on: 24 February 2021

Series: Work & Money

How do you deal with work and money for now and in the future? Do you live from day to day or are you consciously planning your financial future? And do you arrange ‘later’ yourself or are you a member of a pension fund?

In this edition: Erica Pierik, (copy)writer, keeps her expenses as low as possible to have more leisure time.


Erica Pierik (45)

Profession: (copy)writer

Weekly works: between 15 and 30 hours per week. On average 1 day as a copywriter and the remainder of the time as a writer of books.

Income: approximately 1,500 to 1,600 euro per month

Savings: 4,000 euro in a joint account, 10,000 euro in private

Pension is arranged? Yes


What is it that you do exactly as a writer and copywriter?

“I write books. My first book, Een boek over wereldvrede (A book on world peace, ed.), was about my search for a more beautiful and sustainable world. My second book is almost finished and is more about world peace in miniature, about my attempts to find peace and quiet in my head and, eventually, also in my life. In order to earn some additional money, I take on writing jobs for local authorities for instance.”


Is that enough to make ends meet?

“I have calculated that, if I get paid about 1,200 to 1,300 euro on assignments, it is enough for me to earn my keep. I usually succeed in doing so.”


Are you satisfied with your income?

“It is enough. Time is more important to us than money. We have truly made an effort to lower the significant costs, such as mortgage payments, as quickly as possible. We are also almost energy-neutral. The investments we made, now pave the way for financial peace of mind. We don’t have to work a lot. I allow myself some ‘time off’ whenever I feel like it.”


How much savings do you have?

“We have a joint buffer of 4,000 euro, our own buffer separately and an investment account amounting to 20,000 euro. It is our goal to have the latter grow so we are able to work less in about ten to fifteen years and can live on the proceeds. My corporate buffer amounts to 10,000 euro which is enough for me to live on for about seven months should I not have any other income. My husband’s buffer is approximately 3,000 euro.”


How much do you pay on fixed costs?

“We live on approximately 2,000 euro per month. We have almost repaid the mortgage on our house in Amsterdam-West and we only pay 150 euro per month on housing expenses. We used the excess value on the house we lived in previously to pay towards the mortgage on the new house. We deliberately chose to move to a house half the size and less expense. In addition to our mortgage, we pay fixed costs such as the association of owners, internet, telephone subscription, insurances and our private lease car.”


How do you divide those expenses?

“My husband holds a permanent position as a college teacher and team leader which earns him about 2,700 euro per month. He contributes slightly more to our housekeeping than I do. And he made the conscious decision not to work more than four days per week.”


What else do you spend your money on?

“Being a writer, my laptop is extremely important. I have now also purchased a quite expense Apple Watch, motivating me to exercise more as I spend a lot of time sitting behind my computer, especially during this corona pandemic. Apart from that, I spend some money on my hobby art journals, but that mainly involves beautiful pens and washi tape and doesn’t involve huge amounts of money.”


What do you arrange for the future?

“To be honest, I believe that by the time I would be allowed to retire, the pension funds will have evaporated for the large part. The AOW (state pension, ed.) also doesn’t seem sustainable to me, as increasingly less employed people have to pay for an increasingly larger group of older people. In my opinion, the best pension scheme is to have as little expenses as possible and to wish for as little as possible. But that doesn’t keep me from putting some money aside. I transfer an amount of 150 euro to BrightPensioen every month and that amount is invested on my behalf. In addition, I also accrued some pension at ABP from the time I was working for the municipality of Almere and prior to that, Kunstenaars&Co, currently known as Cultuur en Ondernemen.”


How much money will you receive every month once you retire?

“I have currently deposited 11,100 euro at Bright. The way it stands today is that I will receive 1,625 euro net per month as of the age of 67 and 3 months, including AOW.”


What could you still improve in terms of your pension?

“Our fixed costs could be lowered even more and I would like to invest a bit more money. But in particular, I think I just shouldn’t want too much, later on. When I hear all of those people saying they want to travel the world once they retire, I think: Oh, come on, by then your legs are sore or you may suffer from rheumatism, surely you don’t want to do all of that? As a writer I am able to continue my work until I’ve reached an advantaged age and I won’t be needing a lot more than just my laptop. That’s the thought I hold on to. A laptop, the internet, three meals a day and a roof over my head, that’s all I really need.”