SocietySeptember 19, 2023

The cost of being: A young woman supporting her parents


As part of our series exploring how New Zealanders live and our relationship with money, a 30-year-old public servant describes life with a solo mortgage.

Want to contribute? Email  to receive the form.

Gender: Female

Age: 30

Ethnicity: Sāmoan European

Role: Public servant

My living location is: Kilbirnie, Wellington but grew up in a large family in South Auckland

Rent/Mortgage per week: I live with two flatmates and pay $300 per week, total rent is $820.

Student loan or other debt payments per week: Student loan repayments are $500ish a fortnight

Any major upcoming costs: I bought my family a home this year. My mortgage repayments are $1,900 a fortnight. 

Typical weekly food costs

Groceries: $100-150 a week straight to Pak n Save Kilbirnie <3

Eating out: $50 

Workday lunches: once a week, usually $15

Cafe coffees/snacks: $5 a few times a week, soy flatty of course

Savings: Not really saving at the moment due to my solo mortgage, but I do contribute 3% to Kiwisaver and $25 per week to Sharesies

I worry about money: Always. It’s a Sāmoan thing, I think?

Three words to describe my financial situation would be: Blessed but stressed

My biggest edible indulgence would be… buying free range eggs on a weekly basis

In a typical week my alcohol expenditure would be… nil! I don’t drink alcohol

Lifestyle costs

In a typical week my transport expenditure would be… $20 ish a week. I get the bus to work and I own an e-bike. I don’t own a car.

I estimate in the past year the ballpark amount I spent on my personal clothing (including sleepwear and underwear) was… $2000. Mostly on work clothes, it’s important that I keep up with the Wellington public service Joneses x

My most expensive clothing in the past year was… A blue silk Gregory dress for Christmas Day, $500ish.

My last pair of shoes cost… Work shoes from Ecco, $280

My grooming/beauty expenditure annual cost would be about: $65 haircut every three months, moisturisers and SPF probably $200 a year, retinol from my doctor is $5. I don’t dye my hair and I don’t do injectables.

My exercise expenditure in a year is about: $700 for the community pools and gym

My last Friday night cost… $1.50 for the bus to town and back. Free opera ticket. $6 ice cream. I ate dinner at home!

Most regrettable purchase in the last 12 months was… Probably my ugly shoes for work.

Most indulgent purchase (that I don’t regret) in the last 12 months was… My blue silk Gregory dress, $500

One area where I’m a bit of a tightwad is… Underwear. Kmart is fine for me.

Five words to describe my financial personality would be… Frugal, committed, generous, lucky, alone

I grew up in a house where money was… few and far between. My parents were payday-to-payday people and had lots of debt.

The last time my eftpos card was declined was… buying dinner for my family at Food Junction in Manukau when I was a Uni student. A random person paid for me and my family, she could tell I was super embarrassed.

In five years, in financial terms, I see myself… without a student loan, still with a mortgage. 

I would love to have more money for… to retire my parents from work.

Describe your financial low… Our family’s financial low was having to sell our family home in 2014 due to owing tax to the IRD. The house already had a mortgage on it so when all debts were paid we had very little cash remaining. My parents will never be able to purchase a home again.

I give money away to… On a regular basis I give $50 a fortnight to my cousin and her son. I sometimes buy school uniforms, pay school fees, buy winter coats for various extended family members. Random family commitments crop up from time to time. For Sāmoans like me who live away from family, “commitments” is code word for giving money. Lol.

Want to contribute? Send us an email briefly describing your situation at costofbeing@thespinoff.co.nz

Read the previous Cost of Beings here.

Keep going!