One Question Quiz
Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

SocietyNovember 14, 2023

The cost of being: A couple living on a yacht

Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

As part of our series exploring how New Zealanders live and our relationship with money, a marina-dweller explains where their money goes.

Gender: Female

Age: 34

Ethnicity: Pākehā

Role: Part time researcher, part time artist

My living location is: Suburban (maritime)

Rent/Mortgage per week: I live with my partner on a yacht in a marina. It’s small enough that you have to shimmy like crabs to pass each other in the lounge. The weekly cost to keep our boat there is $100 and the weekly cost for the two of us to live aboard is $100. We also rent a garage to store our surfboards and tools for $90 a week. My personal weekly rent including power and water comes to $145.

Student loan or other debt payments per week: My only debt is a very plump student loan. 

Any major upcoming costs: There’s a brown spot on my tooth and I’m nervously awaiting a visit to the dentist next week.

Typical weekly food costs

Groceries: $250 (shared between two)

Eating out: $25

Takeaways: $20

Workday lunches: $15

Cafe coffees/snacks: $5

Other food costs: $5 (food I burn and have to throw away)

Savings: In high school maths they taught us about compound interest. I remember thinking: what dark magic, money turns into more money if you just leave it in the bank? I found a summer job in a factory and put the pay in a savings account. My approach has always been to save whatever I can without making life miserable. At the moment that’s about $200 each week. I’m not sure exactly what I’m saving for, but I picture sunshine coming through a window, a kōwhai tree, some rhubarb in the garden and a couch to offer visiting friends. There’s enough for a modest house deposit in my KiwiSaver.

I worry about money: Rarely

Three words to describe my financial situation would be: Comfortable, independent, frugal.

My biggest edible indulgence would be: A strong peppery olive oil.

In a typical week my alcohol expenditure would be: $20

Lifestyle costs

In a typical week my transport expenditure would be: Train $25, petrol $20.

I estimate in the past year the ballpark amount I spent on my personal clothing (including sleepwear and underwear) was: $200. That went towards a few work clothes and a sparkly pumpkin-coloured gown to wear as a laugh to a dance. I try to keep my clothes alive by repairing them and washing them carefully.

My most expensive clothing in the past year was: A decent raincoat for $250. It makes catching public transport in the rain bearable. 

My last pair of shoes cost: $220. Also purchased to get me to work in the rain. I ummed and ahhed about them for about a month before I bought them but I’m too embarrassed to say what they are. 

My grooming/beauty expenditure includes: I recently replaced my hair brush – which had lost all but three of its bristles – with one from New World. I also have a game with a friend where we pick up scrunchies we find around the city and send each other photos of where we found them. Sometimes I’ll wear those. Once a year I’ll get a cheap haircut. That’s about as far as my beauty routine goes. The annual cost would be about: $65

My exercise expenditure in a year is about: $400. I’ll spend about $100 for a new pair of running shoes. My partner shouts our weekly tennis lesson because he’s a tennis fiend and needs someone to practise his backhand with on the weekend. Sometimes I’ll drive to do a tramp, so there’ll be travel costs and hut fees.  

My last Friday night cost: $16.00 for a vegetable curry on the Interislander.

Most regrettable purchase in the last 12 months was: Spending about $15,000 doing up our shabby yacht so it was safe to sail from Tāmaki Makaurau to Te Whanganui-a-Tara. In retrospect, we could have bought a better boat for that amount and saved ourselves six weeks of DIY hell. 

Most indulgent purchase (that I don’t regret) in the last 12 months was: A birthday dinner at Mr Morris, a posh restaurant in Tāmaki Makaurau. I wanted to find out what seriously fancy food tastes like and the answer is: ambrosial.

One area where I’m a bit of a tightwad is: Paying rent. Over the years I’ve tried every trick I can think of to avoid it, including taking conservation work on remote islands (free living in bunk rooms and chilly, lonely ranger houses) and hunkering down in a bus at the bottom of someone’s garden in exchange for weeding their swamp every morning.  

Five words to describe my financial personality would be: Admires the game-plan of trees (send down some deep roots so you can endure a drought, take it slow and steady and hopefully one day you’ll reach the sun).

I grew up in a house where money was: Squirrelled away like acorns. My parents grew up in working-class households and maintained a strong sense of caution. My sister and I did have music lessons, family holidays to the beach and bedrooms of our own though.  

The last time my eftpos card was declined was: A couple of months ago, after eating dinner in a pub. I blushed lots and got my friend to pay.

In five years, in financial terms, I see myself: Ageing as gracefully as a depreciating asset.

I would love to have more money for: Giving away to a million good causes. And a little house beside a big tree. 

Describe your financial low: I graduated from university aged 23 with fine arts and philosophy degrees and failed to convince anyone to give me a job for about six months. My case worker at WINZ tried to get me on the payroll at McDonald’s. I’m a hard worker and wanted to do some good in the world and felt at a complete loss. Eventually I found work as an interviewer for a longitudinal population study which was an absolute joy.

I give money away to: The Green Party, Oxfam, Greenpeace and the Burnett Foundation. As you can see, I’m terrible at shirking footpath fundraisers.

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

Read the previous Cost of Beings here.

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