‘Vacation is my biggest financial priority’

Published on: 16 February 2022

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

Soraya Koendjbiharie (34) spreads out her income over 18 pots, of which the pot ‘vacation’ is the most important one to her.


Soraya Koendjbiharie (34)

Profession: Coach and consultant

Weekly works: Between 32 and 42 hours

Income: 2700 euro per month

Savings: Has a buffer of 6 months in salary plus 18 savings funds

Pension is arranged? I am working on it


What do you do for a living?

“I started as an independent entrepreneur two years ago. I work as a change and communication consultant for the central government, as a personal branding coach and as a work-life balance coach.


What's that work-life balance like in your case? Because it sounds pretty busy.

“The balance is good 90 percent of the time, but there are some weeks in which I am a bit too busy. I will then consciously take a vacation and/or a break and make sure I have no or less work after that, instead of just continuing. I am very careful consuming my energy. It has become even more important to me to unplug sometimes since I became an entrepreneur. You have the freedom to take on everything you want, but that is a pitfall at the same time. That's the reason why I really plan my days off.”


How much do you earn?

“I always make sure I am able to pay myself a monthly salary of 2700 euro. That's an amount I can afford every month. I rather not share my revenue, which of course differs on a monthly basis, but that's usually well above my salary.”


Is it enough?

“Yes, I am very happy with it. I would not want to pay myself any more than that. More revenue is always nice, but not at the expense of my work-life balance. Especially in these difficult times, I am truly grateful that I earn the amount I earn. I only have little to wish for.”


How much do you pay on fixed costs?

“I purchased a home on my own back when I still was in paid employment. My mortgage payment amounts to 1200 euro. I reserve 120 euro per month for groceries and 80 euro per month for going out to dinner/drinks. I pay 110 euro per month on gas, water and electricity, 40 euro on insurances and 60 euro on internet. I pay my healthcare insurance annually because of the 2 percent discount that applies in that case. Oh, and the most important thing: I also reserve 500 euro per month for vacation.”


Wait a minute, 500 euro per month for vacation?

“Yes, I found out vacation is a priority to me. When I still worked for an employer as a department head digital communication and made 50 hours’ workweeks, I really needed vacations to be able to cope, regardless of how much I enjoyed my job. I noticed it contributed to my success. It is my way to stay productive and energetic. I always want to have the possibility to go on vacation and that's why I designed my salary as a vacation-first fund. I often go to Greece - no less than ten times per year at its height – and don't want to have to struggle if I feel like ordering an extra cocktail or go out for lunch in a fancy restaurant. Having enough money to be able to enjoy life, that's important to me.”


What else do you spend much money on?

“I love beautiful things and invest in a new piece of furniture once in a while. Other than that, I don't spend a lot of money. I kept track of all of my expenses in an Excel sheet for two years. That's how I discovered I made quite some impulse purchases in the drugstore and shops such as Action, and found I could do with a bit less. There didn't appear to be a need to cut down on other things, but I did start creating savings goals to handle my money way more consciously.”


Where do you save money on?

“In 2020 I didn't buy any clothes for a year. I had plenty of clothes, didn't go anywhere in that Corona year and wanted to live a bit more environmentally conscious. I was surprised to succeed so easily, because I love clothes and went shopping every month previously. I buy more consciously ever since that successful experiment. I also save on groceries: I buy these as much as possible with bonus discounts.”



Stress related to money is the worst stress possible. Money gives me freedom and freedom equals happiness to me

How much savings do you have?

“I don't want to share the total amount, but I keep a buffer of six months in salary. I set aside 600 euro per month of which I invest 200 euro and spread out 100 euro over several pots. In total I have 18 different pots for varying savings goals. I even have a pot for my wedding, should that ever occur. At the moment I am single but a girl’s gotta dream.”

Does money bring happiness?

“It makes everything a lot easier. I believe stress makes a person unhappy and stress related to money is the worst stress possible. Money at least ensures you don't have financial stress. Money gives me freedom and freedom equals happiness to me.”


Do you think about your old age sometimes?

“One of my 18 savings pots is a pension pot. I now need 2700 euro per month to be able to live a comfortable life, but I don't know how much that will be by the time I retire. I cannot see into the future. Will I still be single or do I have a family? Am I still an entrepreneur? What will happen in terms of inflation? What will be the state pension by then? I just assume I will always need that 2700 euro which means I have to accrue a considerable amount of money.”


What do you do to accomplish that goal?

“I took an investment course through Instagram. In my millennial bubble of entrepreneurs everyone is investing. I invest 200 euro per month. I hope that amount will provide for a decent pension. The pension I accrued in seven years of paid employment is not enough; I don't know the exact amount, but I do know I wouldn't even be able to pay for my groceries on those payments. I hope the combination of my investments, my already accrued pension, the state pension and my savings pot will eventually be enough.”


How do you envisage your life as a pensioner?

“I don't think I will be sitting idle. I want to continue doing things, maybe volunteer work, contribute to society. And for myself? The world appears to be much bigger than just the Netherlands and Greece, so I would like to travel and discover a lot more.”