'I get nervous when I have less than 15,000 euros in my savings account'

Published on: 21 March 2022

How do you deal with work and money for now and later? Do you live by the day or do you purposefully plan your financial future? And do you arrange 'later' yourself, or are you a member of a pension fund?

Bianca Wolters (32) is a real saver.


Bianca Wolters (32)

Profession: contract administrator at a water board

Weekly working hours: 32 hours

Income: 3800 euros gross

Savings: 30,000 euros

Pension arranged? Yes, through employer


What kind of work do you do?

"I've been a contract administrator at a water board for two years now. This means I keep an eye on the contracts they have with suppliers for a certain department: are the agreements in the contract being fulfilled? Often in these types of positions, only the suppliers side is considered, but I also check internally whether the organization is meeting its obligations. Before that, I did similar work at a health care institution, but I also did purchasing."


What do you like about your job?

"That I'm kind of a spider in the web. I deal with different layers in the organization, from management to people on the shop floor, and with suppliers. It's very diverse. If things don't go well with a contract, I talk to them about why that is. Perhaps they have to make changes to their business operations. Getting my teeth into something like that is fantastic! My parents are both entrepreneurs and I do notice I have that entrepreneurial spirit in me, but I prefer to apply it within paid employment. I like that 'security', as far as it's there."


How much do you earn?

"3800 euros gross, that includes an individual choice budget. Net, I have about 2300 euros left."


Are you happy with that?

"I get by, but I could do with a little more. Colleagues of mine in about the same position are one salary scale up. The difference is mainly in the job title: I'm a contract administrator, they're contract managers. That position wasn't there when I started. But our tasks are not much different."


Do you dare to ask for more?

"Absolutely. It was something I had to learn. Because the labor market is so tight, you have a good negotiating position. I've already mentioned that I think I should also go up a scale, but as is often the case with authorities, it's a time-consuming process. The enterprising part in me can sometimes get frustrated: come on, if you really want to keep me, it shouldn't be that hard to come up with more money, right?"


Because the labor market is so tight, you have a good negotiating position

What would you like to earn?

"I wouldn't mind a gross salary of more than 4000 euros. If I calculate what I earn per hour, it's about 25 euros. I think I should ask for 50 euros. Now that I've gained some more work experience and achieved a couple of great results, I have a better idea of what I'm worth."


Do you own a house?

"Yes, I just bought a new house with my boyfriend. We both already had our own house, which we sold with considerable equity. I bought my house for 225,000 euros, 50,000 euros of which came from savings. When I sold it, I made 175,000 euros. My friend had only had his house for a year and had completely renovated it. He made a profit of 75,000 euros. This gave us the space to outbid 35,000 euros when we bought our new house."


How do you divide the expenses?

"Fifty-fifty. My friend is a truck driver and we earn about the same. I did contribute more of my own money to the purchase of the house, but we've also recorded that in our cohabitation contract."


What are your fixed charges?

"We jointly pay 1500 euros in mortgage, so 750 euros per person. We now pay an advance of 150 euros for gas, water and electricity, but because we've disconnected our house from the gas, I expect to get a lot in return. We each put 1500 euros in the kitty each month. We're doing everything we can, and so far, it has worked well. I pay 14 euros per month for my telephone contract. My gym membership costs me about 50 euros per month. I pay the health insurance once a year, that's 1400 euros. And I have a car. I pay 34 euros per month in road tax, 40 euros for the insurance of my car and bike together, and about 200 euros per month in petrol. Fuel is quite expensive now, but we can fill up in Germany, which makes a difference."

What else do you spend a lot of money on?

"I often have lunch at work, so quite a bit of money goes to the company canteen. I'm also very focused on healthy food, they've looked into what I'm intolerant to and the like. The nutritional supplements I have to take according to the results of that examination cost me about 50 euros per month. I also like to go to the beauty salon every now and then, or to a good hairdresser. Buying clothes comes in waves for me: sometimes I suddenly buy a lot of new things, and then nothing for months. I'm also regularly being coached on a personal level, to get more out of myself."


Where do you make savings?

"I think I live quite frugally. I don't need the latest phone, I deliberately opted for that contract of 14 euros per month. And we save a lot on energy at home by investing in a heat pump and solar panels. I only buy new things when the old ones are worn or broken. I'm becoming more and more aware of this, also because of the environment. I also often look at second-hand items. At times, I'm really amazed at the beautiful things you can find that still look like new."


Are you more of a saver or a spender?

"A saver. I have 30,000 euros in my savings account and get very nervous when there is little on it. 15,000 euros is the minimum for me. I never had specific savings goals, because my buffer was always large enough to pay everything I really needed. Now we want a hybrid or electric car and that has become a bit of a savings goal. In any case, I automatically save 200 euros every month. I'm now considering exploring further investment options for part of my savings. I would like get advice on this from someone with expertise."

To be honest, I hardly know anything about my pension accrual

Do you think about your pension?

"Not really, no. At my previous job, I did attend a pension meeting because I was curious about what they were discussing. My parents are about to retire, so they tell me bits and pieces, but it still feels like a long time off. I think I'll have to work until I'm 80 - that will take a while."


Are you building up a pension?

"Yes, through work. But to be honest, I don't know much about it. I do get statements so I can see what I've built up, but I couldn't tell you off the top of my head. All I know is that it's not nearly enough to live on."


How much do you think you will need per month?

"I think it's important to be able to continue the standard of living I'm used to now. That would amount to about 2000 euros per month. I think that's feasible, if I grow a little more in terms of salary. Of course, there's also a lot of money in the house. That will be released if we ever sell it."


How do you envision your future as a pensioner?

"I picture myself walking a lot with a dog and just living a little bit in my own flow. I think it'd be great to be able to do only what you enjoy."


Does money make you happy?

"To a certain extent, yes. If you don't have enough to get by, you really go into survival mode. I think it's terrible if you're in the supermarket and have to start doing sums in your head to make sure you can pay for your groceries. But I think having too much doesn't make you happy either. If you don't know what to spend your money on because you have so much of it, I can't imagine your life really being that much nicer."