One Question Quiz
Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

SocietyJuly 11, 2023

The cost of being: A stay-at-home mother in suburban Auckland

Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

As part of our series exploring how New Zealanders live and our relationship with money, a self-described ‘Scrooge-like personality type’ shares their conflicted feelings.

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Gender: Female

Age: 48

Ethnicity: NZ Pākehā

Role: Mother to two

Location: Suburban

Mortgage per week: For a household including myself, my partner and our two kids, $550

Typical weekly food costs

Groceries: $300 (for 4 people)

Eating out: $0

Takeaways: $0

Cafe coffees/snacks: $50

Savings: N/A

I worry about money: Sometimes

Three words to describe my financial situation would be: Stable, low-income, boring

My biggest edible indulgence would be Kombucha, I get the $1.99 one from Pak’nSave so about $10 per week.

In a typical week my alcohol expenditure is: $0

My transport expenditure per week is: $100 on petrol

In the past year the ballpark amount I spent on my personal clothing (including sleepwear and underwear) was: $50

My most expensive clothing item was: $25 – a Spacemen 3 T-shirt

My last pair of shoes cost: $0 (They are usually gifts)

My annual grooming/beauty expenditure is: $100 (That includes hair dye and moisturiser; I cut my own hair badly.)

My exercise expenditure in a year is: $0

My last Friday night cost: $0 – I don’t go out at night

My most regrettable purchase in the last year was: $4,000 to replace our bath. I didn’t ask around for a good plumber.

Most indulgent purchase (that I don’t regret) was: It’s hard to think of one. I got the $25 Spaceman 3 T-shirt off the internet as consolation for having to be part of a really depressing conversation. I love that T-shirt.

One area where I’m a bit of a tightwad is: Ha ha ha. One area ha ha.

Five words to describe my financial personality would be: Anxious, spendthrift, uninterested, careful, stupid

I grew up in a house where money was: Idolised. Both my parents wanted to be rich. We also went through a lot of bankruptcies and repossessions.

The last time my Eftpos card was declined was: A couple of weeks ago

In five years, in financial terms, I see myself: The same

I would love to have more money for: cafes

Describe your financial low: When I was 15 I went for a week with no food because I had no money. You get really hungry when you don’t eat for a few days.

I give money away to Unicef

Most of the time, I feel contempt for money and possessions. My car is an old silver station wagon. It has the wing mirror hanging off, part of the front bumper drags on the ground, and there are big scratches all over it. I hate cars and it sort of suits me to drive a car like that. It doesn’t pain me not to buy things because I don’t like things. Things are annoying, always getting in the way and making you have to dodge.

I grew up with no money right from the start and I just kind of clicked into living without buying things and it suited me anyway, because I love books, music and art, and I hate glossy houses and good looking people. I feel like focussing on possessions is an insult to the beautiful things that people are actually capable of making — things beyond physical embodiment, like a song that combines emotional intensity with intellectual complexity.

On the other hand, I am obsessed with money and I feel a fear of it not sitting in my bank account, accumulating. I actually think this is common for a certain Scrooge-like personality type. You have an anxiety about money for whatever reason — growing up really poor maybe — and you come to almost fetishise your own poverty while you save enough to buy, say, a house. There’s some pleasure in the pain. 

The Russian novelist Dostoevsky features several scenes in his novels where people throw money into the fire — demonstrating his contempt for money, a contempt that all civilised people must of course feel — but it’s notable that in every scene, the money is somehow rescued just in time. He can’t go through with it. I identify with that.

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