My parents can always help out if I'm really struggling

Published on: 7 June 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?

In addition to her master's degree, Emma Verschure runs her own business as a tax consultant.


Emma Verschure (23)

Profession: Master's student and tax consultant

Weekly working hours: About 24 hours

Income: Last year 20,000 euros profit

Savings: More than 40,000 euros

Pension arranged? Not yet


What exactly do you do?

“I'm studying for a master's degree in tax law and I also work independently as a tax consultant. I mainly help female freelancers with their accounting and tax assessments. It's quite challenging to combine my studies with my business, because both take quite a lot of time."


How many hours do you work?

"It varies every week. I think I average about 24 hours. In a month with VAT returns and income tax, it's a lot more, but I can never exceed 40 hours anyway, because I simply don't have that time. Ultimately, I want to do this full-time, but not in its current form. I'm very ambitious and want to enter the legal profession. I'd like to set up a company where entrepreneurs can go for legal assistance, as well as their accounting and tax returns. A fixed point of contact for all things that, as an entrepreneur, you don't actually want to deal with. It appeals to me."


How much do you earn now?

"Last year, I made a profit of 20,000 euros and had a turnover of 35,000 euros. I very consciously made all kinds of investments in December, including in courses, so I had to pay less tax. This year, my goal is a turnover 50,000 euros, of which 35,000 euros profit."


Are you happy with that?

"Certainly, I earn a lot more than friends and fellow students. I don't worry too much about what comes in. I'm very serious about my work, but because I'm still a student, I don't necessarily have to take it super seriously. I mean: if I don't meet my turnover target, there's no stress. My parents can always help out if I'm really struggling. They also pay my study costs and a large part of my health care costs. I really appreciate that. We all went skiing at Christmas and they paid for that holiday in full, right up to the PCR test. We wouldn't be able to afford such a luxurious holiday ourselves, so we're very lucky in that respect."

'I don't want to live on an old-age pension later on'

What about your home?

"I live in a rented house in Amsterdam with my boyfriend. We pay a lot of money for what we get. 1,200 euros 'including all bills', but we pay for hot water separately. Our apartment is 40 m2 and is also located in Holendrecht, one of the worst neighborhoods."


How do you divide the expenses at home?

"I pay 550 euros for rent and insurance, my boyfriend pays the rest. He's a PE teacher and also works in the hospitality industry. He earns about 50,000 euros per year. More than me, so this way it's fair to both of us. For the rest, such as groceries, we go halves."


What other fixed expenses do you have?

"Health insurance at 130 euros per month and a telephone contract at 25 euros. I don't really know what we pay for electricity and such. We have Netflix and Videoland, I believe the latter costs 5 euros with commercials in between. And my dad pays Spotify for our whole family. We don't have a car, it's incredibly expensive in Amsterdam. I also have student public transport, so I often travel for free with public transport."

What else do you spend a lot of money on?

"We both used to pay 200 euros for groceries into the joint account each month, but we can no longer manage due to inflation. That's why we increased it to 250 euros per person, let's see if we can manage that. It helps that my mother always buys me detergent and dishwasher tabs; she keeps an eye on all special offers and then immediately buys a huge amount. What's a relatively large cost item for me is the toilet at the station. I study in Tilburg and every time I have to transfer at Den Bosch, I have to go to the toilet. That's 70 cents four times a week. Not a huge amount, but it's adding up, you know. I can also use the toilet on the train, but that's dirty. I also like to buy designer clothes, but for that, I save for a long time."


How much savings do you have?

"More than 27,000 euros, plus an investment account that held about 15,000 euros when the stock markets were doing well. Quite an amount, but a large part of it my parents saved for me and there's also part of my grandmother's inheritance. I myself have invested about 1,600 euros through other investment apps. I see that more as play money, because I don't fully trust that I make the right choices. For example, on the advice of my friend, I invested 2,000 euros in exchange rates, but now I only have 600 euros left… He forgot to tell me how risky it was. Also my own fault, I should have looked into it more. A wise lesson."


Where do you make savings?

"Saving is a big word, but since grocery prices have risen, we often go to cheaper supermarkets now. We also order food much less often and we deliberately no longer have a TV contract. We hardly even watched TV anyway and haven't missed it for a moment. But I don't want to deny myself things. I'm not going to cut on electricity. I don't think that's necessary. What I do pay attention to is what exactly my insurance covers. That tends to change and before you know it, you pay more and more premium while you get less and less in return. So I'm very careful about that. You're going to pay over the odds if you stay a customer with one particular company for a long time. Strangely enough, switching to a competitor almost always pays off."


Do you think about your pension?

"Last year, I looked at my annual margin, but it was so little that it made no sense to do anything with it. I definitely want to build up a pension, but first I have to earn a little more. I don't know of a single student who's already building up a pension."

I don't really understand the whole FIRE movement. Do these people find their work so terrible that they can't wait for their retirement?

How much would you like to receive each month once you retire?

"Hard to say. It's about fifty years away, who knows what an amount like 5,000 euros will be worth by then? In any case, I don't want to have to compromise on how I live before I retire. It looks like I'm going to be a lawyer and I'm going to earn a nice amount of money. More than a hundred thousand a year is very likely. I don't want to live on an old-age pension later on. When you have so much free time, it's nice if you have money to do fun things."


How do you envision your future?

"I hope I have a big, nice house and that I can eat out and go on holiday whenever I feel like it. I will probably do volunteer work, mean something to people who need it. My parents do that too, and they're not even retired yet, and I like that. For now, I want to keep working. I don't really understand the whole FIRE movement. Do these people find their work so terrible that they can't wait for their retirement? I don't want to retire at 40, I wouldn't know what to do with my time."


Does money make you happy?

"That's a difficult one. I believe it's hard to be happy when you have to be tight-fisted and have a lot of money worries. Money can contribute to a nice and easy life and it allows you to do a lot of nice things. Beautiful experiences can make you very happy. But having a lot of money can also cause certain concerns. You'll have people who want to take it away from you, and you never know for sure if your friends are friends with you for you or because of your money. So let's say money buys happiness to a certain extent."