SocietyMarch 26, 2024

The cost of being: A ‘lavish but weirdly sensible’ landlord who’s raising a teen


As part of our series exploring how New Zealanders live and our relationship with money, a finance manager who loves dining out shares her budgetary secrets.

Gender: Female

Age: 50

Ethnicity: Afakasi Pālagi/Sāmoan

Role: Finance manager (30 hours per week), mother of teen.

Salary/income/assets: $90k; partner $110k.

My living location is: Urban.

Rent/mortgage per week: We don’t have a home loan on our main home but we top up the home loan repayments on both our rental properties because the rent doesn’t cover the expenditure on loan, rates, insurance.

Student loan or other debt payments per week: Paid student loan off at age 40; no borrowing at all except for home loans/mortgages on two rental properties.

Typical weekly food costs

Groceries: $350 per week for three of us but if we’re entertaining at home easily an extra $200 (a side of salmon is $95!).

Eating out: Favourite pastime for me – $100 per week if just me, $250 if all three of us.

Takeaways: Seldom.

Workday lunches: Work provides lunch.

Cafe coffees/snacks: Seldom as I’d rather eat out for dinner and too busy during the week; have an espresso machine at home; work has coffee.

Savings: We have term deposits because we always want money we can draw on for a long-haul overseas trips. A trip to Australia would come out of everyday account.

I worry about money: Sometimes – I’m aware how easily it can all come crumbling down.

Three words to describe my financial situation would be: Comfortable and anxious – I’m worried I’ll be paying for my son for ever and that he’ll never own a home if we don’t help him. And that I won’t get the retirement I want.

My biggest edible indulgence would be… Deep-fried corn toast at The Ram Cuba Street.

In a typical week my alcohol expenditure would be… $100 – I make a mean Old Cuban at home .

In a typical week my transport expenditure would be… $25 petrol per week because I mostly walk.

I estimate in the past year the ballpark amount I spent on my personal clothing (including sleepwear and underwear) was… $4,000.

My most expensive clothing in the past year was… A custom suit from Gloria (fitted by Kristine Crabb).

My last pair of shoes cost… 2 x $200 – I got both black and white Adidas Sambas because I couldn’t choose between them.

My grooming/beauty expenditure includes: Bucketloads of serum and moisturiser and scent from Aesop.

And the annual cost would be about: $600 – oh and a $120 haircut every eight weeks.

My exercise expenditure in a year is about: $0 – golly, that makes me feel bad not good! I walk, that’s it.

My last Friday night cost… $300 – I had 10 friends over!

Most regrettable purchase in the last 12 months was… I feel bad about every head of broccoli or carrot or raspberry that doesn’t get eaten before it goes bad. Especially those $10-a-tiny-punnet raspberries!

Most indulgent purchase (that I don’t regret) in the last 12 months was: Handmade gold jewellery – matching earrings and necklace with gem stones. I wear them most days so price per wear is good.

One area where I’m a bit of a tightwad is: is… I won’t spend money on bad food. When I travel I have all restaurants organised because bad food costs as much as good, so plan and you will only eat good food!

Five words to describe my financial personality would be: Lavish and generous but weirdly sensible.

I grew up in a house where money… Elusive.

The last time my Eftpos card was declined was… Not sure that’s ever happened.

In five years, in financial terms, I see myself… In exactly the same position. It will take 15 years for the rental property loans to be paid off and the rent to all be income.

I would love to have more money for… Retirement. I haven’t really got enough of a retirement plan to live the life I want at 65.

Describe your financial low: $70k student loan that was $75k a year later just in interest, not borrowing. Interest-free student loans made a big difference.

I give money away to: Golly, Wikipedia (for the amount I use it, how could I not!) but my main thing is eating out because although I know the financial wisdom is to limit spending and to save but I prefer to spend money at the restaurants and stores I’d be really sad to lose. Support retail, support hospitality and real places including the local dairy!

Keep going!