Image: The Spinoff
Image: The Spinoff

SocietyJune 4, 2024

The cost of being: An immigrant New Zealander with generational wealth

Image: The Spinoff
Image: The Spinoff

As part of our series exploring how New Zealanders live and our relationship with money, a 30-something Canadian immigrant tells us what it’s like to be financially set for life.

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Gender: Female

Age: 34

Ethnicity: Canadian European. My Canadian partner and I came to NZ on working holiday visas in 2015 and never left. We worked our way to a residency visa, and then were granted citizenship in August 2023.

Role: Strategic brand manager, no kids.

Income: $80,000 a year, $170,000 inheritance, $810k house with a $500k mortgage .

My living location is: Small town.

Rent/mortgage per week: $825. I pay the mortgage in full. Partner pays $650 a week into our joint account for meals out, groceries, etc.

Student loan or other debt payments per week: Zero – my parents paid for four years of undergrad and two years of community college. They covered everything: books, tuition, rent, and spending allowance.

Typical weekly food costs

Groceries: $350 for two adults.

Eating out: $250.

Takeaways: $40.

Workday lunches: N/A. I work from home so I generally just make something or have leftovers.

Cafe coffees/snacks: My partner spends about $20 a week on takeaway coffees.

Other food costs: None.

Savings: No savings goals really. I’d like to renovate our house at some stage or maybe start a business one day. I feel like we should start saving for kids.

I worry about money: Sometimes. I’m extremely lucky my parents were high-income earners, and have had investments make them a lot of money. I have a huge financial safety net because of generational wealth.

But it is also makes me “bad with money”. I know I can always get more money so I don’t really make my money work for me in smart ways. I have virtually no budgeting skills, or have the same financial worries most of my friends do. I feel very guilty all the time that money is not a huge stress for me. So maybe to some extent I do worry about money all the time, just in the opposite way 99% of people do – I feel I have too much of it.

My biggest edible indulgence would be: Good groceries. I buy healthy, wholesome food that’s grown close to me. Happy to support farmers and local bakeries, dairy producers, etc.

In a typical week my alcohol expenditure would be: $65

In a typical week my transport expenditure would be: Zero. I work from home.

I estimate in the past year the ballpark amount I spent on my personal clothing (including sleepwear and underwear) was: $3,500. I’m not into labels or designers but I make sure my clothes are tailored to me. I buy something and almost always have it altered by a seamstress. I try to buy higher-end items that will last a long time and avoid fast fashion like the plague.

My most expensive clothing in the past year was: $350 for a pant suit I wore to a wedding.

My last pair of shoes cost: $250 for On Cloud runners during a trip to NYC. I needed them for all the walking we were doing, and had to stand in line for 20 minutes to even get into the store.

My grooming/beauty expenditure in a year is about: I get my hair done three times a year for a full head of foils, balayage, hard water treatment and cut for $300 a pop – so $900 a year. I get my nails done every three weeks for $90. I get waxing every four weeks for $55. Plus skincare and hair products from Mecca is about $2,000 a year.

My exercise expenditure in a year is about: A $155 pair of Nike Metcon Frees a year. Gym is $71 a week for unlimited classes at F45 and I spend about $700 a year on workout clothes.

My last Friday night cost: $18 for a bottle of wine to have at home while watching TV. I hate being out on a Friday after a long work week, I just want to chill at home and have some peace and quiet.

Most regrettable purchase in the last 12 months was: Honestly, vape pods. I am so addicted, and I feel guilty about how wasteful the packaging is and how bad it is for my health.

Most indulgent purchase (that I don’t regret) in the last 12 months was: $71 a week for the gym is pretty steep, but it helps my mental health so much that I don’t care.

One area where I’m a bit of a tightwad is: Not supporting unethical companies. I am happy to give my money to good people who are trying to make an honest living. I’m very choosy about where my money goes.

Five words to describe my financial personality would be: Guilt-ridden, generous, uncertain, reliable, and fun.

I grew up in a house where money was: The top priority for my parents. I was a very anxious child and wanted my mom to be home more with me but she explained she couldn’t do that because our family’s lifestyle couldn’t be upheld if she didn’t work. Making money so we could have nice vacations, vacation homes, private schools etc was more important than anything else. Money can buy your way out of almost every problem. .

The last time my Eftpos card was declined was: I’ve had credit cards maxed out without me realising it and my card has been declined. This happens about twice a year. I then have to pay it off online with my banking app. I have a $1,000 limit on a Visa from my bank and $5,000 limit on my Amex.

In five years, in financial terms, I see myself: Better at managing what I do have, living more frugally so I can give everything I can to my future kids.

I would love to have more money for: Starting a community housing project, where I can use the money I inherit every year to give lower-income folks a chance to rent-to-own their own homes.

Describe your financial low: My partner gave me some money last year to cover a large cost and because I didn’t pay him back right away, I somehow misplaced about $9,000 of his money. I still don’t really know what I spent it on and try to not think about it. Because I’ve been given a lot of money from my parents this year I’ve paid it back.

I give money away to: My friends so they can afford a down payment on a house.

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