SocietyApril 16, 2024

The cost of being: A skint student waiting anxiously to start a new job


As part of our series exploring how New Zealanders live and our relationship with money, a 30-year-old who’s just finished his studies will be breathing a sigh of relief when that first paycheck comes in.

Gender: Male

Age: 30

Ethnicity: Māori/European

Role: Student/trainee, volunteer for a youth organisation.

Salary/income/assets: Me: $400pw student allowance, $240pw scholarship, $30,000 Kiwisaver, $6,000 shares; (starting a new job shortly; $100,000 salary). Partner: $92,000 salary, $60,000 Kiwisaver, $10,000 savings account. Joint: $600pw rental income from one property in the city.

My living location is: Urban.

Rent/mortgage per week: $600pw rent, $800pw mortgage.

Student loan or other debt payments per week: $30,000 student loan.

Typical weekly food costs

Groceries: $130.

Eating out: $80 per month ($20pw).

Takeaways: $80 per week.

Workday lunches: Free.

Cafe coffees/snacks: $30 per week.

Other food costs: Dog food, $130 per month.

Savings: $100 per fortnight into shares and nothing into a savings account (I have no self-discipline if it’s in a savings account).

I worry about money: Sometimes.

Three words to describe my financial situation would be: More than three words, but, after studying for two years, I’ve exhausted my savings account and sold off some of my shares. I’m anxious about any big sudden expenses that pop up or missing a mortgage payment. However, only three more months of this and then I’ll be earning comfortably again.

My biggest edible indulgence would be… The local bakery’s fried chicken and chips.

In a typical week my alcohol expenditure would be… Nothing, I prefer not to drink.

In a typical week my transport expenditure would be… $130 on fuel every 1.5 weeks.

I estimate in the past year the ballpark amount I spent on my personal clothing (including sleepwear and underwear) was… $40 at secondhand stores and whatever I get for Christmas/birthday.

My most expensive clothing in the past year was… $22 pack of trunks from Kmart.

My last pair of shoes cost… $150 Hush Puppies, bought with my last paycheck before becoming a student.

My grooming/beauty expenditure in a year is about: $500.

My exercise expenditure in a year is about: $45 per fortnight with Snap Fitness.

My last Friday night cost… Nothing, spent at the marae as ringawera.

Most regrettable purchase in the last 12 months was… Signed up with Duolingo for the free month, but was too dumb to remember to cancel and ended up paying for a year’s premium subscription.

Most indulgent purchase (that I don’t regret) in the last 12 months was: Fishing rod to go out with the boys, didn’t catch anything and haven’t used it since.

One area where I’m a bit of a tightwad is… Buying clothing.

Five words to describe my financial personality would be: Risk-taker, growth, giving, half-arsed, impulsive.

I grew up in a house where money… Not really talked about.

The last time my Eftpos card was declined was… It happens every week.

In five years, in financial terms, I see myself… Owning two houses, growing savings and shares, and above-minimum mortgage repayments.

I would love to have more money for… Helping my friends, family and hapū. Living comfortably in a suburban property.

Describe your financial low: Eight years ago, homeless and jobless for six months, owing money. Failed too many uni courses, couldn’t find work, and I was too proud to ask for help from Winz, friends or family.

I give money away to: My mates when they need the help.

Keep going!