One Question Quiz
red and green cost of being background with a croc shoe and avocado next to each other
Avocado delivery: totally worth it (Image: Archi Banal)

SocietyMay 2, 2023

The cost of being: A married 40-something in a small town

red and green cost of being background with a croc shoe and avocado next to each other
Avocado delivery: totally worth it (Image: Archi Banal)

As part of our series exploring how New Zealanders live and our relationship with money, a 42-year-old in a small town explains her budget. 

Want to contribute? Send us an email briefly describing your situation at costofbeing@thespinoff.co.nz

Gender: F

Age: 42

Ethnicity:  Pākehā

Role: Fulltime self-employed

My living location is: Small town 

Rent/Mortgage per week: $0. Two adults live here and we paid off the mortgage last year.

Student loan or other debt payments per week: $0 – Paid off my $65k (incl interest) student loan in 2018, which took about 16 years. 

Typical weekly food costs

Groceries: $250/week for two of us. We budget $1000 a month for supermarket shops which includes shampoo and cleaning stuff, etc. 

Eating out/takeaways/workday lunches/café coffees/snacks: $50/week for each of us. We budget $200 a month each for “fun money” which has to cover all food and drinks outside the home as well as fun stuff like movies.

Other food costs: Our last vege garden cost about $100 in setup for good soil and we got a few tomatoes, silverbeet and parsley out of it. Trying again… 

Savings

We have Kiwisaver of $152k between us and I put 10% of every paycheck in mine as I am self-employed. We have $11,000 cash saved in a 90-day term deposit so I can take some time off work soon as I don’t get annual leave. $4,800 is stagnant in Sharesies. Our goal is to try to keep a few thousand in the current account to stay a month ahead of bills and the budget, but we often get down to $10 or so and panic.

I worry about money: Always

Three words to describe my financial situation would be: Fortunate, comfortable, anxious

Spending

My biggest edible indulgence would be: Avocado delivery for $32.49 a fortnight. I can’t believe I am having avocados delivered but it works out to about $2 each and they are perfect every time. 

In a typical week my alcohol expenditure would be: $5-$10. Probably once a month I would buy a drink out, and we would only buy a bottle of wine if we are going to someone’s house for dinner. 

In a typical week my transport expenditure would be: $78 (average spend of $312 a month petrol cost over two cars)

I estimate in the past year the ballpark amount I spent on my personal clothing (including sleepwear and underwear) was: $500. I don’t need to go to an office so I wear the same things every day until they literally wear out. Sometimes I would like a nice capsule wardrobe of quality clothes but I am not that person. Maybe when I am older. 

My most expensive clothing in the past year was: A $249 pair of sunglasses. Stupid because you’re only paying for a brand but I had a moment of weakness where I wanted to feel cool.

My last pair of shoes cost: $80 for a pair of Crocs (didn’t care about being cool).

My grooming/beauty expenditure includes: Every year or so I get sick of my hair and will spend $240-ish on a cut and colour. I sometimes pay $42 to get my eyebrows tidied up because I can’t do them. In my late 30s I once spent $600 on a whole skincare setup thinking I needed to grow up and “look after my skin” but then I found Jessica DeFino’s anti-beauty culture writing. Now I want that sort of money in savings for a future health problem or for retirement. Being past 40 it becomes increasingly obvious how little time is left to earn for retirement – it is a lot easier to visualise health or mobility issues cutting working years short. And as I get older and I get delivered more ads for anti-aging products and procedures while the world burns, I am getting anarchic about overconsumption and toxic beauty standards and how women have to pay a lot more to “maintain” themselves while ending up worse off than men in retirement. And the annual cost would be about: $400

My exercise expenditure in a year is about: $350 for a new pair of shoes and maybe a new sports bra or getting sucked into subscribing to some fancy workout app. Otherwise I try to use the free apps. 

My last Friday night cost… $25 buying a round of McFlurrys for my friends

Most regrettable purchase in the last 12 months was…  A $99 air fryer… unnecessary clutter but my partner loves it. 

Most indulgent purchase (that I don’t regret) in the last 12 months was… Avocado delivery!

One area where I’m a bit of a tightwad is… Petrol. I resent oil companies so I stack trips and errands, or bike so I don’t need to give them too much money.

Five words to describe my financial personality would be… No inheritances = anxious for future. 

 

I grew up in a house where money was: Chaotic. There was not enough of it, it was not talked about, and you spent all you had. My parents frequently had to take second nightshift jobs and set a terrible example – I remember we kids tried to set up a pocket money system of $2/week or something but they would forget to give it to us or borrow it back in the week before payday and not return it (still bitter).

My parents did not come from money but as white able-bodied boomers they had a huge head start and could have done the bare minimum and been comfortable now. But they have spent or lost every dollar they ever had through bad luck and years of stupid decisions to the point where they are now in dire financial straits. They have no savings and no home of their own and work like dogs for minimum wage. Their pension won’t be enough to live off. I was heading down the same road until I learnt about money in my 30s. Their future scares me and I am worried about their health and how I will support them financially.

The last time my eftpos card was declined was: Probably the years I was 28-30 and spent all my tiny salary going to everyone’s weddings.

In five years, in financial terms, I see myself: Still anxious, but hopefully time and luck will bring us a savings buffer for retirement and for our own or parents’ aged care or health needs. Between us my partner and I have three parents who will need financial support or somewhere to live as they age.

I would love to have more money for: Feeling like I will have a secure retirement and am safe if one of us gets a chronic health condition, and to ensure our parents are worry-free and cared for in their old age. 

Want to contribute? Send us an email briefly describing your situation at costofbeing@thespinoff.co.nz

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