One Question Quiz
Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

SocietyNovember 7, 2023

The cost of being: A single retiree in Wellington

Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

As part of our series exploring how New Zealanders live and our relationship with money, a downsizer in his 70s tells us where he spends and saves.

Gender: Male.

Age: 74.

Ethnicity: Pākehā

Role: Retired public servant.

Income: National super; payments from reverse mortgage.

My living location is: Suburban Wellington.

Rent/mortgage per week: Zippo. I live in a brilliant one bedroom self-contained flat in my old family home. It is partitioned from the rest of the house and has a separate entry door. Part of the reverse mortgage deal with one of my adult children and her family was that I live rent-free. My flat would have a rental of at least $500 per week in this area. I simply could not afford that kind of rent on my present income.

Power: My electricity bill is about $180 a month. I shower in the mornings and have a bath at night, that’s why its probably so high. Call me Mister Clean.

Debt payments: Nil.

Any major upcoming costs: Probably need new glasses soon, that always involves big dollars.

Typical weekly food costs

Groceries: $150 just for myself. Most of the things I buy in the supermarket have shot up in price, but some vegetables are getting cheaper now.

Eating out: $50.

Takeaways: I love sushi and buy it a couple of times a week costing about $12. Last time it was $36 because it included portions for each of my two grandchildren who I was looking after at the time.

Cafe coffees/snacks: $50. I have a coffee out most days.

Savings: I don’t save money systematically.

I worry about money: Sometimes. People I know have spent thousands on hearing aids. My last major dental bill was $2,500. Even just getting my teeth checked and cleaned cost $120 a couple of weeks ago. A 10 minute visit to the doctor costs $61. I need to see the doctor regularly to manage the usual stuff to do with getting older.

Three words to describe my financial situation would be: Comfortable, and reasonably manageable. That’s because I have downsized my living situation well before I really needed to. I see people my age still in large family homes they don’t really need.

My biggest edible indulgence would be: Fresh mussels with basil, bread and of course a nice wine. Not really expensive.

In a typical week my alcohol expenditure would be: $60.

In a typical week my transport expenditure would be: Bus (mostly free on my Gold Card) and Uber, $60.

Lifestyle costs

I estimate in the past year the ballpark amount I spent on my personal clothing was: $300.

My most expensive clothing in the past year was: Bright red sleeveless puffer jacket (love it, makes me look really cool), $99.

My last pair of shoes cost: Trainers for about $120

My annual grooming/beauty expenditure would be: A haircut every six weeks for $35.

My exercise expenditure in a year is about: $0.

My last Friday night cost: $65.

Most regrettable purchase in the last 12 months was: A new iron from Briscoes (I love ironing), bought at a massive discount. The old one was leaking, but now the new one leaks too. Rubbish.

Most indulgent purchase (that I don’t regret) in the last 12 months was: Canterbury trackpants, but I didn’t really need them.

One area where I’m a bit of a tightwad is: Mobile phone. I’m pre-paid at the absolute minimum.

Five words to describe my financial personality would be: Always looking for a budget option for things, yet splash when I feel like it (I know, that’s not five words).

I grew up in a house where money was: Very tight. Everything was really basic.

The last time my eftpos card was declined was: About three years ago when an ATM gobbled up my card because I entered my pin code incorrectly three times.

In five years, in financial terms, I see myself: Could be in heaven any time where I’ll have nothing to spend money on. Everything is free, so they say.

I would love to have more money for: Travel.

Describe your financial low: A long overseas holiday when I really spent too much money. I actually visited Jerusalem in the last week of the trip. I have never been to a walled city. I walked around the top of the walls.

I give money away to: Don’t really give money away.

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

Read the previous Cost of Beings here.

Keep going!