“If I don’t find work soon, I will have to apply for unemployment benefits”

Published on: 25 November 2021

How do you handle work and money for now and for the future? Do you live hand to mouth or do you deliberately plan your financial future? And are you setting up arrangements for the future yourself, or are you a member of a pension fund?


Nikki Dix-Stork (26) worked full-time in a supermarket after her studies, but ended up at home due to burnout. “I just started to really hate the work,” she says.


Nikki Dix-Stork (26)

Profession: Beginning entrepreneur

Works weekly: About 40 hours a week

Income: Up to December 1, € 1972 gross from employment, after that, probably € 1636 unemployment benefits.

Savings: None.

Pension set up? Accrued a bit of a pension at her previous job.


What kind of work do you do?

“I am currently unemployed. Or actually, I recently started my own company, but that is not earning me any money yet. After I completed my leisure management studies two and a half years ago, I couldn’t find a job in that field. So, I went to work full-time in the supermarket where I worked part-time as a fresh employee since I was 16. I thought an employment contract like that was pretty great. Mindless work, make money and save some. Until I was just done with it.”


Why were you done with it?

“After a while, I just started to hate it. I was not being challenged, I had lost my ambition and I was feeling like I was being lived. I increasingly started to think, I have a degree; what am I doing here? But, you know, finding work in my field was not easy, especially since the Covid outbreak. I applied for about ten jobs, but I didn’t hear back from most of them. And the few times I did get a job interview, they didn’t pan out. Most of them required more work experience.”


What did you do then?

“At one point, I was at home, due to burnout, which happened because of a bunch of things piling up. I was mentally and physically exhausted. After a month on sick leave, my employer and the company physician told me I had to start getting back to work. I told them several times that I couldn’t do it, but that fell on deaf ears. It made me feel absolutely miserable. Finally, in consultation with my employer I decided to end my contract. I quit on October 1 and will be getting paid through to December 1. I was supposed to get a new job by that date, but it doesn’t look that’s going to be happening. So, I will have to apply for unemployment benefits. That’s not the end of the world, but it kind of scares me.”  


Do you actually want to be looking for a job when you’ve just started your own company?

“I am applying for jobs, but to be honest, I’m not at all excited about it. I love being at home. I finally have time for the household and our kittens, and I get to invest a lot of time in my company and my recovery. But I’m not making any money yet, so the smart thing to do would be to have a job until I can live full-time on my enterprise. On the other hand, that does cut into the time I can put into my company. It’s hard to get motivated to get a job. I still haven’t completely recovered from that burnout and if I start pushing myself, that’s not going to get better.”

What kind of company did you start?

“I’m going to be helping entrepreneurs with their visual brand identity and online visibility on social media. Having my own business really energizes me and I enjoy helping other people. I hope to be able to do this full-time in the future and that it will lead to financial freedom for me. But first, I have to work really hard for a while.”


How much did you make, working at the supermarket?

“On average, between 1700 and 1800 euros a month. During busier time and with overtime hours, it often went up to 2000 euros.”


Were you happy with that?

“No, it was a bit tight, every month. But it did enable my husband and me to buy a house in the center of Utrecht last year. We got a 270,000-euro mortgage, which we paid 271,500 for. If we sold it now, I think we could make a big profit already. In a year’s time; bizarre. But we’re going to stay there for a while.”


How do you currently make ends meet?

“The supermarket gave me a 3500-euro gross compensation. It wasn’t much, but it’s something. And I’m still getting paid until December 1, although that is considerably less than when I was still working, because I was doing a lot of overtime hours then.”


What are your regular monthly expenses?

“Our mortgage payments are 937 euros, and household, legal and travel insurance all together about 100 euros. We each have a 140-euro health insurance and a phone subscription at 40 a month. We pay 66 euros for TV and internet. Energy will be 98 euros. And we lease a car, and that costs us about 400 euros a month, including insurance.”


What else do you spend a lot of money on?

“I invest a lot in myself and my business. I take self-development courses and masterclasses to increase my knowledge. We also order in dinner about once a week, but that doesn’t mean we get 50 euros worth of sushi. It’s often just picking up some French fries or pizza or take-out food. I don’t think we can save a lot of money on that on an annual basis. We also enjoy eating out, but we only do that when we can afford it, so we don’t do that every month.”


How do you keep your expenses in check?

“We don’t take a lot of vacations. During my burnout time, we went to Curaçao, because we really needed it, but that was the first time in six years that we went somewhere together. When we have more money to spend, we would like to travel all over the world. I also save money by only going to the hairdresser once or twice a year. Oh, and we have Netflix, Videoland, Amazon Prime and Disney+, but we share the costs for that with relatives. So, everyone has one subscription and with each other’s passwords we can watch everything.”

From age 68 on, I will get 250 euros in pension payment. That was pretty startling.

How much do you have in savings?

“Nothing. We have a joint savings account that we each put 500 euros into every month, but we never end up saving it. All we saved up before – about 10,000 euros – we spent on our trip to Curaçao, by being cheated, and on buying a house.”


Wait, what? Cheated?

“Yes, a few years ago, the lease on our old house expired and we were desperately searching for a new place to rent. I had put an ad in Marktplaats, saying we were looking for a home. That’s probably how they found me. He replied, ‘Thanks for your interest in the home.’ I had responded to so many ads I didn’t think twice about it. He said he lived in Sweden and had bought a house in the Netherlands as an investment. It sounded very plausible. So, the story was that we could book the house for a month through Airbnb, to see if we liked it. Through an Airbnb website – fake, it turned out in retrospect – we paid 2500 euros. We never heard from them again. I know, it sounds really stupid, but at the time, we just really wanted to believe it. It was a hard lesson.”


Another topic now: are you making any arrangements for your old age?

“Now that I have my own business, I am going to have to figure out exactly what I have to do for that. I don’t know much about it yet, except that I have to cough it up myself. I accrued a little bit at the supermarket, but that doesn’t amount to much.”


Do you worry about that?

“Yes, a little. Especially because I am still in the beginning stages of my company. I will need an income in the future.”


How much would you get per month if you retired now?

“According to my pension overview, the expected amount is 1,558 euros a month. But that is probably what it would be if I stayed in that job till retirement. Oh, wait, up till now, it is 177 euros a month net, it says. Starting from when I turn 68, I will get 250 euros a month. That’s pretty startling. But I try not to worry about it too much right now. I’m sure it will be okay. I have already started small-scale investing with Peaks. They let you do it with change. And I do want to find out more about investing for when my company is financially more robust. Then I will also put aside a portion of my profits towards an old age reserve or I will apply for life insurance.”


How do you envision your life after you retire?

“I hope we will still both be healthy, that we will have saved up some money and will be able to enjoy our life without worries. Maybe buy a cottage in Curaçao or Italy: that would be great, wouldn’t it?”