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SocietyJuly 2, 2024

The cost of being: A cheese-loving chicken owner in her early 30s

As part of our series exploring how New Zealanders live and our relationship with money, a cheese-loving chicken owner in her 30 shares how she and her husband are getting by.

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Gender: Female

Age: 31

Ethnicity: NZ Pākehā

Role: Communications advisor with a district council.

Salary/income/assets: $1,070 a week after tax.

My living location is: Small town

Rent/mortgage per week: $830 a week mortgage, between myself and my husband.

Student loan or other debt payments per week: $188 a week paying for a car loan.

Typical weekly food costs

Groceries: $120 per week average, feeding two of us.

Eating out: We very rarely eat out, maybe once every 3-4 months. When we do it costs about $120.

Takeaways: $50 a week. We’ve really upped our takeaway consumption in the last year. We moved into town and it’s meant we’re a) closer to the takeaways and b) doing more in the evenings, leaving less time and energy to cook.

Workday lunches: We make extra for dinner and take leftovers to work.

Cafe coffees/snacks: $5 a week. I might get one coffee a week.

Other food costs: We have chickens which cost about $10 a week to feed. They in turn give us amazing eggs, make compost, and eat all our food scraps. I also do veggie gardening, I have a good seed stock which might cost $100 a year for topping up expired seeds and buying a max of seed mix or potting mix.

Savings: We manage to save about $300 a week, spread over our accounts for different purposes: Pet bills, car bills, general savings, and emergencies.

I worry about money: Sometimes.

Three words to describe my financial situation: Secure, comfortable, current.

My biggest edible indulgence would be: Cheese other than a mild block. Every couple of weeks I’ll grab some feta, parmesan, or mozzarella depending on what’s on the menu that fortnight. I feel like I can tell how good our financial situation is because of our cheese box in the fridge.

In a typical week my alcohol expenditure would be: $0. We don’t drink a lot. Once a year we’ll buy a bottle of gin for about $70 and drink that over a couple of months with tonic water.

In a typical week my transport expenditure would be: $50 to pay for petrol getting around town and charging our electric car. We mostly use the electric and my husband walks to work.

I estimate in the past year the ballpark amount I spent on my personal clothing (including sleepwear and underwear) was: $1,000. I bought a few things and have bought fabric to make my own clothes. They aren’t cheaper than buying exactly, but they are better made, better fitted and suit me.

My most expensive clothing in the past year was: n/a

My last pair of shoes cost: $100, a pair of sketchers sandals for wearing to work in the summer

My grooming/beauty expenditure in a year is about: About $1,200 a year for monthly wax, quarterly haircut (if I remember) and the occasional bit of makeup.

My exercise expenditure in a year is about: $200 for rock wall and pool membership (I get insane discounts through my job) and maybe a pair of walking shoes.

My last Friday night cost: $50. We got takeout and played D&D with friends.

Most regrettable purchase in the last 12 months was: An airfryer. It’s not bad or anything, I just don’t think we actually use it enough to justify the $200 we spent on something we didn’t really need.

Most indulgent purchase (that I don’t regret) in the last 12 months was: This is going to sound silly, but a $480 platform ladder. We were repainting a bedroom in our house which has vaulted ceilings. It cost us $80 a weekend to hire one, and we did the math on how long it would take to do the project and decided to buy one (AND we have three rooms and the hallway to go).

One area where I’m a bit of a tightwad is: Definitely clothes. I know what makes good quality and 80% of what’s available in my town ain’t it. I’ll look at something and decide I can make it myself. Sometimes I do, sometimes I just go without.

Five words to describe my financial personality would be: Sensible, creative, learning, tentative, concerned.

I grew up in a house where money was: Very tight. I never realised how poor we were as a kid, but I’m beginning to see now how tough it was on my parents. I never felt totally deprived but the tween/teen years were tough because of clothes and activities etc.

The last time my Eftpos card was declined was: Like a week ago, I didn’t check that I’d moved money between accounts before paying.

In five years, in financial terms, I see myself: Slightly better off. I hope to grow my career and pay down the mortgage a bit (interest rates dropping would be nice too). The car will be paid off so that will free up some money, but the other car might need replacing :( Hopefully I’ve started investing.

I would love to have more money for: Hobbies and renovations. I love to be creative and have a lot of hobbies on the go at once. To be fair, I’d also need time and energy to do them, so maybe the same money for less hours working would be sweet.

Describe your financial low: Five years ago, I had no job and my husband was studying. We had savings but watching them dwindle was terrifying. Finding a job was tough and I was having a real crisis of worth and what I wanted to do. We made some not-great life decisions in response to that unfortunately.

I give money away to: Our church, an equine therapy program, local fundraisers.

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