One Question Quiz
Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

SocietyMay 9, 2023

The cost of being: A renter whose flat was damaged in the Auckland floods

Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

As part of our series exploring how New Zealanders live and our relationship with money, a 23-year-old living and working in Auckland opens their books.

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Gender: Non-binary

Age: 23

Ethnicity: Sāmoan Tongan

Role: I work full-time, and I have a range of contract work on the side (some long-term, some only one-off). This is my first full-time job and I just started two weeks ago; prior to this I was caring for my grandma and freelancing.

My living location is: Auckland

My room was affected by the floods and my landlord still hasn’t fixed it. So now I live between my family’s house (sleeping on the floor and sharing a room with three others) and my partner’s family house (it’s close to work).

Rent/Mortgage per week: $0 now, but plenty mentally. I try to give at least $250 a week to family for support.

Student loan or other debt payments per week: My student loan is $37,439.29 as of last night, but I have no degree yet. I keep trying to go back to university to finish, only to be interrupted by significant life events. I paid $114 towards it in my last pay. I also pay $174 a month for a storage room in Wellington. Inside is a bunch of stuff like a bed and desk, from when I used to live there. I can’t afford to bring the contents back up to Auckland yet or pay for movers to do so either. Sometimes I miss the monthly payments (like when I was freelancing).

Any major upcoming costs: I’m saving for a bond and moving costs so I can finally stop living between two places. The goal is $2000.

Typical weekly food costs

Groceries: Between my partner and I we spend about $120 a week on our groceries. This past week I spent maybe $80 on food for my family’s house. There are seven of them living there, so it was more of a mini supporting grocery shop as opposed to the big family one. 

Eating out / takeaways: Eating out, I probably do once every two or three weeks, and I don’t budget for it. That’s my luxury I allow myself. As for takeaways, every week is not the same for me, so when life is doing its thing, I eat takeout heaps. On good weeks I plan to eat takeaways only once. Sometimes my sister covers it, especially if it’s unplanned. Last week I left home before 8am and wasn’t home till after 11.30pm every day, so I ate takeaways every night because I was too tired to cook.

Workday lunches: $20 (once a week)

 Cafe coffees/snacks: $20


I have about $200 saved right now. First time saver with this new job.

I worry about money: Always. I grew up watching my grandma and my mum stretch $20, but now $100 is the new $20. My groceries used to cost $60 but it’s doubled. For years, I would cancel on friends and family because I couldn’t afford to meet up with them and didn’t want everyone’s plans to change just for me. I would budget down to the cent, and when I would allow myself one luxury, it would ALWAYS have a carry-on effect in the weeks that followed.

Three words to describe my financial situation would be: Unlearning, anxious, resourceful

My biggest edible indulgence would be: a feed from Spicy House or Burnt Butter Diner

In a typical week my alcohol expenditure would be: $17 on a bottle of wine or $16 for two sojus

In a typical week my transport expenditure would be: $250 on petrol, $10-30 on bus

I estimate in the past year the ballpark amount I spent on my personal clothing (including sleepwear and underwear) was: $350

My most expensive clothing in the past year was: $80 leather jacket from Savemart

My last pair of shoes cost: $200 pair of Nike Dunks

My grooming/beauty expenditure includes: I get my hair styled once every two months for special events – that costs $65. I thread my eyebrows every two to three months too which is about $15.

And the annual cost would be about: Maybe $300?

My exercise expenditure in a year is about: $0 – walks in public parks or running to catch the bus is my gym.

My last Friday night cost: $20 for alcohol, $60 for two art prints from a local artist. It was their first art show and I wanted to support them.

Most regrettable purchase in the last 12 months was: Probably when I broke my no-new-clothes-all-year rule in July 2022 for a pair of fake leather pants from Glassons. It was for a western themed party.

Most indulgent purchase (that I don’t regret) in the last 12 months was: Probably spending $200 on a pair of Nike Dunks.

One area where I’m a bit of a tightwad is: clothing. I’ve tried to cut my spending on clothes and just re-use what I already have.

Five words to describe my financial personality would be: Big spender on experiences/memories

I grew up in a house where money was: the topic of many arguments, the source of trauma and tension and the driving motivator to try and succeed for a long time. Financial literacy was lacking. It was no one’s fault though, in my opinion.

The last time my Eftpos card was declined was: Probably in February this year. I don’t get embarrassed anymore though, we have to remove the stigma around being shame about things like that.

In five years, in financial terms, I see myself: Saving and being more responsible with my spending. To be honest, I still don’t know what financial terms are lol.

I would love to have more money for: holidays for my family because we don’t really get to have them. I’d like to create memories for everyone.

My financial low: Sleeping instead of eating, having a nap waiting for pay to come in. Not having enough money to get to work via public transport. This was at the end of last year.

I give money away to: Family – freely and because I want to. I know this isn’t the case for other Pacific people though, every situation is unique. I do it because it’s my responsibility to give back to the village that nurtured me. I also give money to local Pacific artists and local businesses – from food, services, to clothing. I prefer to give my coin to places and people who have a grassroots focus or a community enhancing kaupapa. To places and people who care about the planet, privilege indigenous sovereignty and are focused on making the world a better place for marginalised communities.

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

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