One Question Quiz
(Image: Archi Banal)
(Image: Archi Banal)

SocietyApril 24, 2023

The cost of being: A thrifty rural nana living with mokopuna

(Image: Archi Banal)
(Image: Archi Banal)

As part of a new series exploring the cost of living in New Zealand, a retired woman living rurally breaks down her budget.

Gender: Female

Age: 82

Ethnicity: Pākehā/ Māori

Role: I’m retired and I have one mokopuna living with me. I’m either out in the garden pulling weeds or dodging housework.

My living location is: Rural

Rent/Mortgage per week: Not one cent

Typical weekly food costs

Groceries: I would probably spend $60 a week on groceries. My grandson has dinner with his parents. I’ve started this new system where if you cut the bottom off the celery stalk from the supermarket and you plant that, it grows again. The same with onions. So I hardly buy any vegetables, which is a big saving. If I buy potatoes and they start to sprout, I cut the sprouts off and plant them – you get potatoes for nothing. I grow things like spinach, kale, potatoes, pumpkin, tomatoes and salad greens. At the supermarket I buy fish, butter, milk, coffee, bread, toilet rolls and yoghurt. I like buying tropical fruits when they’re in too – things that I can’t grow myself.

Eating out: $0

Takeaways: At the most, $20 a week

Workday lunches: $0

Cafe coffees/snacks: $0

Other food costs: $0

Savings: My pension is $900 a fortnight and I’m saving close to $1000 a month because I don’t pay any rent and I don’t waste any money. I might do a South Island tour, I’ve got enough money to do that now if I wanted to. Whatever money is left in the bank I would want to be spent on the education of my two mokopuna. 

I worry about money: Absolutely never. I’ve got no wrinkles because I don’t worry and that’s because I live within my means.

Three words to describe my financial situation would be: I feel secure.

My biggest edible indulgence would be fresh tropical fruits. And seafood too, because fresh fish is a luxury these days and when I want to eat fresh fish I don’t care how much a kilo it is, I’ll pay.

In a typical week my alcohol expenditure is $0

In a typical week my transport expenditure is probably $10. I fill my little car up and it costs me around $60 a month.

I estimate in the past year the ballpark amount I spent on my personal clothing (including sleepwear and underwear) was $0. I haven’t bought any clothing for about two years. I love it when my clothes wear out and I know I’ve got every cent out of them.

My most expensive clothing in the past year was nothing.

My last pair of shoes were a pair of red leather ballet flats for $1 – brand new from the op shop.

The annual cost for my grooming/beauty expenditure would be $90. I spend about $15 every two months for a haircut. I just use organic soap, that’s all I use. No moisturisers and all that humbug – I just wash my face, that’ll do. The last time I bought makeup was in the early 2000s.

My exercise expenditure in a year is $0. My exercise is out in the garden. You don’t need flash accessories or equipment for pulling weeds.

My last Friday night cost $0

Most regrettable purchase in the last 12 months was: I have no regrets.

Most indulgent purchase (that I don’t regret) in the last 12 months was: I’m quite extravagant when it comes to buying New Zealand history books. I just purchased [Vincent] O’Malleys Waikato Wars. If I want a book that is Aotearoa history I don’t care about the price, I’ll buy it if I want it. They’re expensive but I want them so that I’ve got a good library for the boys.

One area where I’m a bit of a tightwad is: I don’t waste money full stop but if people need money I’ll always give it to them.

Five words to describe my financial personality would be: appreciative, careful, generous, independent and thrifty.

I grew up in a house where money was spent wisely. We went without fancy clothing but we always had good food and my parents never had any debts.

The last time my Eftpos card declined was: never

In five years, in financial terms, I see myself: comfortable 

I would love to have more money for: I’ve got enough, I’m happy with what I’ve got.

Describe your financial low: In 1988, when we had a business and the recession happened. It was the worst time of my life. It happened almost overnight and we ended up with nothing and we came back home, lived in an old shack and started again. That’s life though, it’s a risk you take in business.

I give money away to: I regularly give koha to my church and I recently gave some to Tina Ngata’s cyclone relief fund.

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