SocietyApril 23, 2024

The cost of being: A frugal charity director with two teens and two houses


As part of our series exploring how New Zealanders live and our relationship with money, a charity director outlines how she’s saving for retirement and buying secondhand.

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Gender: Female

Age: 45

Ethnicity: Pākehā

Role: Charity director, mum of two, board member for another charitable organisation.

Salary/income/assets: Salary: $90k per year for me, my husband gets $78k per year as a nurse.
Income from rental property: Approx $8k per year.
Assets: Estimate $2.2million (two properties, KiwiSaver, savings, two cars).

My living location is: Suburban.

Rent/mortgage per week: Nil

Student loan or other debt payments per week: Nil

Typical weekly food costs

Groceries: Two hungry teens, two adults and a dog – estimate $450 per week including the odd takeaway.

Eating out: Rarely

Takeaways: About three times a month.

Workday lunches: Once in a blue moon – I always make lunch or bring leftovers 

Cafe coffees/snacks: Stove top at home, maybe a coffee out once a week tops ($5).

Other food costs: Grow lots of veggies and herbs, I forage lots of fruit and nuts.

Savings: Saving for kids’ uni, a new(er) car and retirement! My husband puts 10% into KiwiSaver and I put 8%. We also save about $500/$600 a month.

I worry about money: Always.

Three words to describe my financial situation would be: Lucky, privileged, careful.

My biggest edible indulgence would be… Chocolate and chippies.

In a typical week my alcohol expenditure would be…$30 (I’m lucky I only like cheap beer)

In a typical week my transport expenditure would be… $80 on petrol, $10 to top up kids’ bus cards.

I estimate in the past year the ballpark amount I spent on my personal clothing (including sleepwear and underwear) was… Definitely under $1,000 including a spend up on a new rain jacket – I get almost everything from op shops and clothing swaps.

My most expensive clothing in the past year was… Macpac rain jacket, $350

My last pair of shoes cost… Nothing, a pair of nearly new Adidas from a clothing swap.

My grooming/beauty expenditure in a year is about: Under $500 – I’m a pretty low maintenance gal!

My exercise expenditure in a year is about: $40 per week on martial arts training.

My last Friday night cost… $14 in Kosco for bao buns and drinks for my kids who were super hungry as they occupied the city council building as part of the school climate march.

Most regrettable purchase in the last 12 months was… $50 secondhand coat that I just don’t wear often enough to justify.

Most indulgent purchase (that I don’t regret) in the last 12 months was: My new raincoat 😊 also kids’ Christmas pressies, I’m a sucker for Christmas.

One area where I’m a bit of a tightwad is…Everywhere! Living frugally makes me feel good, I love secondhand shopping , new stuff is too expensive and it’s shit for the planet.

Five words to describe my financial personality would be: Get it secondhand.

I grew up in a house where money was… tight.

The last time my Eftpos card was declined was… Oh nearly every pay check but we only keep our spending money in there.

In five years, in financial terms, I see myself…Doing the same as now.

I would love to have more money for… Visiting family, a newer car.

Describe your financial low: In debt after uni in the early 2000s.

I give money away to: Saving into kids’ KiwiSaver, school donations, school fundraisers.

Keep going!