Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

SocietyFebruary 20, 2024

The cost of being: A 21-year-old gym manager who lives to save

Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

As part of our series exploring how New Zealanders live and our relationship with money, a scrupulous saver spills the beans.

Gender: Female

Age: 21

Ethnicity: European

Role: General manager of a fitness facility. Occasional volunteering for charities such as Youthline and Rainbow Youth, but has become less since taking on full-time work.

My living location is: Suburban

Rent/Mortgage per week: $385 per week split between myself and my partner. We live with one other person in a three-bedroom flat. 

Student loan or other debt payments per week: I have a student loan, but no other debt payments. I’m steadily paying off my student loan now and no longer adding to it.

Any major upcoming costs: I’d like to believe I’m saving for a house eventually, but I don’t have any upcoming costs like planned holidays etc. 

Typical weekly food costs

Groceries: My partner and I spend about $230 on groceries per week, and will add more to this if we know we’re having people over or have something to celebrate. If we spend less than that, we put aside the money left over into an account that gets added up at the end of the month for paying for something we want to do together.

Eating out and takeaways: We eat out rarely enough I don’t think I’d include it as a cost. $30 a week for takeaways, which we try to only do once a week, if one of us has had a hard day or a late work shift.

Workday lunches: I always pack lunch from home.

Cafe coffees/snacks: $10 per week if that.

Savings: I save $250 per week and this goes into the above-mentioned savings account. I’m going to define this as “general life savings” because I have no idea what I’ll be wanting to do with that money by the time I have enough of it to buy something like a house, but I think it will probably be a deposit on a house. I have about $13,000 in this right now and want to have $20,000 saved by the end of the year. 

I worry about money: Rarely.

Three words to describe my financial situation would be: Secure, fortunate, stable.

My biggest edible indulgence would be… Maybe salmon from the grocery store?

In a typical week my alcohol expenditure would be… $0 as I don’t drink.

In a typical week my transport expenditure would be… $20 per week on petrol, $10 per week on other transport fees for when I park at work and have to go somewhere else via bus.

I estimate in the past year the ballpark amount I spent on my personal clothing (including sleepwear and underwear) was… Probably about $1,500? But my work clothes are naturally more expensive due to being activewear and having to replace them more often so I suppose that skews it a little.

My most expensive clothing in the past year was… Alphalete leggings which cost about $100.

My last pair of shoes cost… $60 and they were new running shoes from Platypus on sale.

My grooming/beauty expenditure includes: I think I’m pretty low maintenance in regards to makeup and treatments. Maybe $100 per month including hair products and skincare?

And the annual cost would be about: About $1,200.

My exercise expenditure in a year is about: I kind of have to include exercise equipment like running shoes in regular expenditure since it’s my job. But I do have a free gym membership so probably under $150 annually.

My last Friday night cost: $0. However I was playing a new video game that had just been released that day. So you could say $100 depending on how you look at it?

Most regrettable purchase in the last 12 months was… A new pair of Converse that fell apart in three months. They were $120.

Most indulgent purchase (that I don’t regret) in the last 12 months was: A Nintendo Switch console.

One area where I’m a bit of a tightwad is: I get incredibly stressed about having to take money out of savings for some reason. Even if it’s an emergency I tend to freak myself out that if I don’t put as much money away as humanly possible I’ll be in trouble. So forking out money for unexpected costs. I’ll do it but be very stressed.

Five words to describe my financial personality would be: Cautious, overbearing, careful, thoughtful, thankful.

I grew up in a house where money… Not flaunted and respected but we were definitely fortunate. I never had to worry about food being on the table or whether my parents could buy me a winter school uniform or afford to go out to dinner. For that, Mum and Dad I’m very thankful. You correctly taught me to be aware of how fortunate I am that I can afford to eat three meals a day and use my money in a way that is (usually) responsible.

The last time my Eftpos card was declined was… I don’t remember so probably over two years ago. I always make sure I have money in there and don’t own a credit card so if I’m ever in an emergency I can use my Eftpos to pay.

In five years, in financial terms, I see myself… Paying off a house mortgage and about to finish paying off my student loan.

I would love to have more money for… Ensuring my partner and I have a house to live in and not be paying rent to our (actually very lovely) landlord.

Describe your financial low: Probably several years ago when I was being silly with my Studylink money and not considering saving any of it/spending pretty much all of it. I think it’s incredibly hard to find the mental energy to save when you’re not making enough money in order to make large strides in savings.

I give money away to… If my partner needs help paying for something urgently I always help. Otherwise I’ll give money to charities such as Youthline. I have bought friends lunch and groceries before if they were struggling, not expecting them to pay me back.

Keep going!