Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

SocietySeptember 26, 2023

The cost of being: A suburban homeowner in their 30s

Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

As part of our series exploring how New Zealanders live and our relationship with money, a healthcare worker with a $700-a-week mortgage shares where their money goes.

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Gender: Male

Age: 34

Ethnicity: Pākehā

Role: Healthcare/Social Services Manager 

My living location is: Suburban

Rent/Mortgage per week: $708 per week mortgage. We were very fortunate to buy a four bedroom house in a city for under $600k and we locked in for 4 and 5 years across two mortgages in early 2022 when rates were starting to climb. It was clear to me what was going to happen with inflation so we moved quick to get a good rate. 

Student loan or other debt payments per week: $284 a fortnight towards my student loan and $20 a week towards a loan for an electric scooter which is saving money on petrol and parking. 

Any major upcoming costs: Not that I’m aware of, but fingers crossed! 

Typical weekly food costs

Groceries: As part of a family of five, we try to keep it to $350 a week, (which includes Hello Fresh for meals) but it’s often more than that as we do little trips through the week to top things up.

Eating out/takeaways/weekday lunches: Usually between $20-$30 a week depending on how organised I am to pack lunch (I do try!)

Cafe coffees/snacks: None – I try to make my coffee at home to save that cost. 

Other food costs: Nil 

Savings: Currently saving $100 a week and putting $50 a week into an investment portfolio. Between Sharesies and a small amount of cryptocurrency, there’s about about $8,000 NZD invested and about $1,000 in savings.

I worry about money: Hardly ever – I have more than enough to meet my basic needs and can cover a big expense if needed. 

Two words to describe my financial situation would be: Lucky and secure – I know I’m definitely better off than many my age and I don’t take that for granted. 

My biggest edible indulgence would be: Lunches at work.

In a typical week my alcohol expenditure would be: Occasionally I might drop $20 on a pack of craft beer from the supermarket if I feel like it, but this is fairly infrequent. 

Lifestyle costs

In a typical week my transport expenditure would be: $20 or so – I tend to use my e-scooter for trips around town.

I estimate in the past year the ballpark amount I spent on my personal clothing (including sleepwear and underwear) was: $1,000, including running shoes and exercise gear. I also tend to always have holes in my socks and underwear as no one can see it anyway… 

My most expensive clothing in the past year was: A pair of carbon-plated running shoes. Waste of money lol.

My grooming/beauty expenditure includes: Nil – I cut my hair myself with a pair of old clippers.

My exercise expenditure in a year is about: About $2,000, including running gear and gym membership 

My last Friday night cost: Nothing – stayed in and played Nintendo Switch.

Most regrettable purchase in the last 12 months was: A bike that has barely been used. Paid $50 for it second hand.

Most indulgent purchase (that I don’t regret) in the last 12 months was: Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom for Nintendo Switch (bought as a pre-order).

One area where I’m a bit of a tightwad is: Transport costs. 

Five words to describe my financial personality would be: Future-focused, mindful, grateful, aware.

I grew up in a house where money was: Extremely scarce. My mother, who raised us herself, was on a benefit for most of our upbringing. Often she would go without to feed us.

The last time my Eftpos card was declined was: I actually can’t recall a time this has happened.

In financial terms, I see myself: Secure and comfortable, with a decent amount of savings behind me for emergencies or treats and the feeling I’m not living paycheck to paycheck.

I would love to have more money for: Travel, a bit more to save and invest would be nice too. 

Describe your financial low: When I got laid off from a job, had nothing else lined up and I had a friend who I was helping at the time living with me on a mattress in my room in a flat. I had a month’s wages as an exit package and I do remember being stressed as I felt responsible for both of us.

I give money away to: Previously I’ve given money to the person on the other side of equity trades, but nothing at the moment (I’ve quit day trading).

Want to contribute? Send us an email briefly describing your situation at

Read the previous Cost of Beings here.

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