One Question Quiz
Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

SocietyOctober 10, 2023

The cost of being: A family of four in Auckland

Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

As part of our series exploring how New Zealanders live and our relationship with money, a mother of two with a full-time job and a side hustle explains how she makes the sums work.

Gender: Female

Age: 36

Ethnicity: Indian

Role: Mum, communications manager, co-founder of a small business.

My living location is: Auckland

Mortgage per week: $1,050

Student loan or other debt payments per week: Gem Visa card – about $400/week. We got the card when we bought our house to help us with furnishing it and we were going to stop it after the 36 months were up. But there’s always some big expenditure coming around the corner so the six months interest-free really helps.

Typical weekly food costs

Groceries: About $350 – $400 (for two adults and two children).

Eating out: $150 a month.

Takeaways: $60.

Workday lunches: $30.

Cafe coffees: $15.

Other food costs: We pay someone to help with the weekly cooking. A treat for myself to save me from the grind of feeding hungry children which costs $75 a week, not including ingredients.

Savings: $200 a week that goes in an index fund for the kids’ education/a rainy day (in the last six months it’s been getting harder to do this). Also, Kiwisaver – 4% contribution for retirement, which I know is not enough.

I worry about money: Sometimes.  

Three words to describe my financial situation would be: Comfortable, well-earned (I work a full-time job and also run a business so that’s about 55 hours of work each week – not counting unpaid hours of being a mum), ambitious (I’m trying to save up so I can go full time into my business).

My biggest edible indulgence would be: It’s not edible, but a pizza oven I bought for Christmas. However, it’s already helped us save the $50/week we used to spend on pizza so technically an investment?

In a typical week my alcohol expenditure would be: We don’t drink.

In a typical week my transport expenditure would be: $80 every 10 days for petrol in the family car, and $42 for the train to go to office three times a week.

Lifestyle costs

I estimate in the past year the ballpark amount I spent on clothing (including sleepwear and underwear) was: No more than $350. But the kids’ clothing costs more as they are constantly growing out. Theirs would be $500.

My most expensive clothing in the past year was: I only buy clothing when it’s end-of-season sales.

My last pair of shoes cost: Skechers, $80.

My annual grooming/beauty expenditure includes: Waxing, haircuts twice a year; essential oils and wholesale beauty stuff like a tub of shea butter to make my own beauty products and moisturiser.

And the annual cost would be about: $1100

My exercise expenditure in a year is: Nothing. I try to go walking every day and take advantage of free community classes

My last Friday night cost $60. Takeaways for the kids.

Most regrettable purchase in the last 12 months was: A secondhand car that gave up on us after just four months and cost us $7000.

My most indulgent purchase (that I don’t regret) in the last 12 months was: $600 collectible for my husband for his 40th birthday and $3000 spent on learning and personal growth like coaching etc.

One area where I’m a bit of a tightwad is: Clothes. I just buy the basics I need.

Five words to describe my financial personality would be: Careful, knowledgeable, hustler, splurger (on learning), saver.

I grew up in a house where money was: was: Tight. It was just my mum and me and we came to NZ with just $5000. I started working part-time jobs to help Mum and I’ve always been scared that a turn of events will mean that I don’t have money again. That’s why financial independence is one of my biggest goals.

The last time my Eftpos card was declined was: Touch wood, never.  

In five years, in financial terms, I see myself: Working full-time in my business with my partner.

I’d love to have more money for: Travel. I hardly travelled in my 20s as I got married young; now I dream of being able to do more of it.

My biggest financial low was: I had a business before that I ran by myself and it had revenue but not much profit. As a woman who has always earned decent money, I found it hard to not be bringing in “my equal share” for the family and that led to me feeling bad for buying the things I wanted. I’m a big believer that both partners need to be bringing in equal money to maintain equilibrium in a marriage so no one has the upper hand.

I give money away to: Putting a bunch aside for the kids, helping my parents when they need anything. 

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

Read the previous Cost of Beings here.

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