One Question Quiz
Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

SocietyDecember 5, 2023

The cost of being: A Wellington barista and cafe manager

Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

As part of our series exploring how New Zealanders live and our relationship with money, a Wellington student / barista explains where their money goes.

Gender: Cis female

Age: 26

Ethnicity: Pākehā

Job: Currently working full time as a barista and managing a cafe during the day while taking a semester off from uni. Usually I do uni full time via distance and work three days a week. 

My living location is: Vogeltown in Wellington. 

Rent/mortgage per week: $640/week for me and my partner (full time worker) for a lovely three bedroom house that my parents own and rent to us generously. 

Student loan or other debt payments per week: Probably like $50 a week at the moment for student loan.

Any major upcoming costs: We are heading on a three week holiday overseas which will total around $6,500 between two of us. 

Typical weekly food costs

Groceries: $20-$30 at the greengrocer for fruit and veg and generally $50-$60 at Pak’nSave for everything else. We are lucky to get eggs from a mate who works for an egg company, and coffee from a mate who works at a coffee place. I also have a garden that is starting (slowly) to have some returns. 

Eating out: At the moment like $50 a month – we have stopped eating out really at all. 

Takeaways: Pretty much only a few times a year. 

Workday lunches/cafe coffees/snacks: Nothing! 

Savings: $14,000 in a managed fund, $4,500 in emergency and $24,000 in Kiwisaver. 

I worry about money: Constantly, but less of an intense worry and more of a constant consideration of what I have. I am concerned more for the future and when it comes time to start having a family, though I know right now I am very privileged and lucky to be secure financially and not at all struggling. 

Three words to describe my financial situation would be: Conscious, privileged, focussed. 

My biggest edible indulgence would be: Wine! I enjoy buying and trying new wines. 

In a typical week my alcohol expenditure would be: $40

In a typical week my transport expenditure would be: $20 for petrol – I walk to work when weather permits.

Lifestyle costs

I estimate in the past year the ballpark amount I spent on clothing (including sleepwear and underwear) was: $200 – I mostly shop second hand and wear everything until it absolutely falls apart.

My last pair of shoes cost: $100 for a second hand pair of Skechers D’lites on Trade Me that came from a reseller in America because you can’t buy them in New Zealand anymore, and to be fair they had a hole in them when they arrived.

My annual grooming/beauty expenditure includes: Maybe $100 for hair dye and $50 for eyeliner.

My exercise expenditure in a year is: So far $0 – I got a good pair of runners from a friend for free and I just run outside and do an ab workout at home.

My last Friday night cost: $60 odd in total for a few drinks and some kai before heading home.

My most regrettable purchase in the last 12 months was: I bought a pair of pants (for only $23 but still) that I wore once.

My most indulgent purchase (that I don’t regret) in the last 12 months was: A trip to South Korea – $1,300 for flights + another $1,500 odd for accom and other stuff.

One area where I’m a bit of a tightwad: Eating out – I like to cook and I am pretty good at it so if I go out to eat it’s got to be worth it.

Five words to describe my financial personality: Frugal, conscientious, scared, conservative, thoughtful.

I grew up in a house where money was: Respected. I was taught to save and be mindful of money and plan for the future from a young age, which I am really thankful for. 

The last time my Eftpos card was declined was: Probably years ago as a teenager lol 

In five years, in financial terms, I see myself: Probably not far off from where I am now… I am good at saving between $5,000-$7,000 a year but I also still have two years of uni left so I won’t really be earning properly for a few years. I also plan to travel overseas again once I’m graduated so all that money may just be spent on that. 

I’d love to have more money for: Putting into savings for the future. 

My biggest financial low was: When I was 18 and had quit uni and just started a new job – I didn’t have enough money for the bond for my new flat and had to ask mum and dad. I am so fortunate that they were able to lend me that money (which I paid back within a month) because I know that other young people in the same situation aren’t able to go to mum and dad for short term stuff like that. 

I give money away to: I don’t really give money, I prefer to give my time through volunteering.

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

Read the previous Cost of Beings here.

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