SocietyMarch 5, 2024

The cost of being: A healthcare worker with a penchant for fine dining and ‘wearable art’


As part of our series exploring how New Zealanders live and our relationship with money, a healthcare worker who loves a bit of luxury explains her approach to budgeting.

Gender: Female

Age: 30

Ethnicity: East Asian

Role: Healthcare (private practice)

My living location is: Hamilton

Rent/mortgage per week: Between my fiancé and me we have one house we live in and an investment property which we also used to live in but didn’t sell when we moved. Mortgage per week is about $670.

Student loan or other debt payments per week: I have about $45k left on my student loan. My fiancé is finished with his, he is in tech. The amount comes from our wages at about $530 a week between the two of us.

Any major upcoming costs: Wedding – yikes.

Typical weekly food costs

Groceries: For two of us about $150 on average, some weeks less if we have vegetables from the garden or if Mum gives us food.

Eating out and takeaways: Average $100 on eating out. Not much on takeaways, maybe $20.

Workday lunches: $0, we bring from home 99%.

Cafe coffees/snacks: Hardly, $10 for a bubble tea when we are in town. We are not big on takeaway coffee.

Other food costs: We have a vege garden for herbs and some seasonal things, we are not good gardeners so I feel like it’s under-utilised. Seeds are free from my parents, who are keen gardeners, minimal fertiliser.

Savings: KiwiSaver around $40k. We emptied our cash savings to buy the properties but usually keep at least $10k floating around for cash flow. There’s another $10k in stocks I haven’t withdrawn, but they’re not doing well right now so we’re in it for the long haul, unfortunately.

I worry about money: Never.

Three words to describe my financial situation would be: Comfortable, hopeful, improving.

My biggest edible indulgence would be… Fine dining. Five-plus courses. Not too often, thankfully, but I will use any celebration as an excuse to go.

In a typical week my alcohol expenditure would be… Average $10, maybe one cocktail at a restaurant but otherwise nothing.

In a typical week my transport expenditure would be… $15 for petrol. I drive a hybrid and live close to work. I have never done the maths for sure though.

I estimate in the past year the ballpark amount I spent on my personal clothing (including sleepwear and underwear) was…$1,500? Not including the auction mentioned below.

My most expensive clothing in the past year was… A wool blazer from Trelise Cooper, it was on sale for around $300.

My last pair of shoes cost… $200. Leather shoes on sale for 50% off for work. With sole replacements I hope they will last two to three years of daily wear.

My grooming/beauty expenditure includes: Limited makeup since Covid masks, mid- to high-end skincare and perfume.

And the annual cost would be: About $600, more if I buy more than one new perfume a year. Trying to cut back, otherwise they will go off.

My exercise expenditure in a year is about: $1,000, for gym membership, shoes and Lululemon.

My last Friday night cost:$0. Watched a movie at home.

Most regrettable purchase in the last 12 months was… A $55 bento set meal-type thing at a local Japanese establishment that was TERRIBLE. I usually love Japanese food and I want my money back.

Most indulgent purchase (that I don’t regret) in the last 12 months was: $16,000 at a Webb’s fashion auction. They are beautiful pieces of wearable art.

One area where I’m a bit of a tightwad is: Supermarket shopping. I always buy on special and in season, bulk when possible.

Five words to describe my financial personality would be: Calculated, never beyond my means.

I grew up in a house where money… Was always talked about positively. My parents were office job people, above-average wage, they invested, budgeted very well and never got into bad debt. I have been taught since for ever how to manage money. It doesn’t mean we didn’t spend on luxuries, we were just really frugal about unnecessary spending. I think I am fortunate that running out of money was never a problem I had to worry about, but my parents would absolutely never let me waste any money either. My parents’ motto is that if I am unable to budget and provide the basics for myself after age 18, I must have not been listening to them. I’m grateful I did listen.

The last time my Eftpos card was declined was… Never. I am always on my internet banking apps and always top up the joint Eftpos account.

In five years, in financial terms, I see myself… Better off than now, since our incomes will be higher and I will no longer have a student loan.

I would love to have more money for… So I could take more unpaid leave to travel. Currently there’s neither time nor spare money to take a month or more vacation. Too much patient demand, not enough appointments or practitioners or funding.

Describe your financial low:When we were at university, my boyfriend didn’t tell me that his employer messed up payroll and he hadn’t been paid from his part time job in months. I had savings and a part-time job, so I bailed him out while he was chasing up the pay check. I can’t remember how many thousands of dollars I lent him. For a few weeks until he paid me back, I really thought I was going to have to call my parents and ask them for a loan! They would have told me off and helped, but I didn’t want the lecture so I just lived frugally with less than $200 to my name and didn’t tell them. He paid me back 100%, so the incident resolved without issues and we’re engaged now. It opened up our first serious talk about finances, and I am glad it happened because we learned a lot about each other.

I give money away to… Charities, sometimes my parents.

Keep going!