One Question Quiz
Design: Archi Banal
Design: Archi Banal

SocietyJuly 4, 2023

The cost of being: A self-employed artist

Design: Archi Banal
Design: Archi Banal

As part of our series exploring how New Zealanders live and our relationship with money, an artist describes how they make ends meet.

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Gender: Male

Age: 22

Ethnicity: Māori

Role: Writer, actor, director, educator

My living location is: Urban

Rent/Mortgage per week: $112 for me and my partner. We live in a tiny home that my partner owns outright, but we pay a sum for the land. This fee also covers things like insurance on the house, electricity and things like that too, so we’re in a pretty lucky situation here.

Student loan or other debt payments per week: In paid employment over the last year I have paid between $11 and $56 per week against my student loan. Most of my work, however, is self-employed, so I cover most of my student loan repayments in one big chunk at the end of the financial year. In April 2023, I paid around $2,100 against my student loan.

Any major upcoming costs: A trip to New York in October. We’ve already paid accommodation and flights, so this is just for expenses whilst over there.

Typical weekly food costs

Groceries: $160 for two of us in the house. We mostly shop at Asian supermarkets and fruit and vegetable shops.

Eating out: $35, we probably go out for a fancy dinner via First Table once every two weeks which costs around $70 for two of us each time.

Takeaways: $20/week, we probably get takeaways once every two weeks and spend around $40 each time.

Workday lunches: this varies a lot, but I’ll spend around $10 per day that I’m out of the house. Most weeks, this looks like around $30. 

Cafe coffees/snacks: $20

Other food costs: none


This year when in regular employment I have managed to save between $100 and $500 a week. This covers around 26 weeks of my year. For the rest of my year, I don’t manage to save at all as I’m contracting and scraping things together for the remaining months. I save for the times I’m not working rather than aiming toward any particular goal. In savings I have around $16k at present, with another $2k in a Simplicity growth fund. 

I worry about money: Sometimes

Three words to describe my financial situation: Insecure, comfortable, fluctuating 

My biggest edible indulgence would be… hummus!

In a typical week my alcohol expenditure would be… $12 for one pint out at some stage during the week

In a typical week my transport expenditure would be… $60 for petrol. Both me and my partner share the car and prefer to bike most places. Some of our work at the moment is quite far away from home. 

I estimate in the past year the ballpark amount I spent on my personal clothing (including sleepwear and underwear) was… $220, I buy mostly secondhand.

My most expensive clothing in the past year was… a $30 pair of new underwear.

My last pair of shoes cost… $120 for some decent sneakers. 

My grooming/beauty expenditure includes hairdressers and the annual cost would be about… $60 for two basic haircuts, I’ll have around four haircuts a year but do two of them at home.

My exercise expenditure in a year is about… $120 for a pair of shoes each year.

My last Friday night cost… $0 because I was at home sick, lol. But a $0 Friday is actually fairly typical for me, I tend to have rowdier Thursdays or Saturdays at the theatre, costing maybe $40 for a theatre ticket and a drink on average.

My most regrettable purchase in the last 12 months was… nothing, I am really careful with money and tend to worry over purchases (honestly maybe a little too much) before buying things.

Most indulgent purchase (that I don’t regret) in the last 12 months was… multiple massages while I was performing in a show around NZ. They cost between $85.00-$120.00 each time but were well worth it among a busy touring schedule. 

One area where I’m a bit of a tightwad is… buying gifts. I’ll often aim for the cheapest option – with Christmas I am especially a bit of a grinch, then suddenly realise I want to go all-out about three days before Christmas. Terrible timing! 

Five words to describe my financial personality would be… a mix of cautious and frivolous.

I grew up in a house where money was… always stressful. It was probably the major motivating factor in fights between my parents. Even though I can recognise that I am in a relatively lucky financial situation, I still stress about money fairly regularly, I think as a result of this being the primary stressor in my family life growing up. 

The last time my Eftpos card was declined was… earlier this year, when moving between contracts, trying to buy a movie ticket.

In five years, in financial terms, I see myself… in a similarly precarious position, but hopefully with more savings. 

I would love to have more money for… the ability to take more regular holidays. Even though we’re getting a full month away in New York this year, which is extremely lucky, I’ve spent the last four years working year-round without any formal holiday seasons, so it’s been a long time coming. 

Describe your financial low… working a 20-hour PTE salaried job that paid $500.00 a week and simultaneously completing a bunch of unpaid artistic work for personal pleasure. The conflict between being both time poor and money poor was a serious stressor, though even at this “financial low” I was still luckily able to afford all the important things like rent, food, petrol and so forth. 

I give money away to… arts organisations and fundraisers via sites like Boosted, and will sometimes buy food for homeless people on the streets.

Want to contribute? Send us an email briefly describing your situation at

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