Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

SocietyNovember 28, 2023

The cost of being: A tech worker in their 50s

Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

As part of our series exploring how New Zealanders live and our relationship with money, we hear from a tech worker in her 50s who always knows how much money she has in the bank.

Gender: Female

Age: 56

Ethnicity: Pākehā

Role: Product manager for a tech company.

Income: $125k plus 10% in shares each year from day job, plus I do some work for family businesses which nets me another $10k per annum.

My living location is: Urban

Rent/mortgage per week: $500 mortgage per week for 3 bed house with my young adult son who’s currently at uni. I don’t expect rent while he’s studying. Older son lives independently in another city.

Student loan or other debt payments per week: No other debt.

Any major upcoming costs: $5k for a root canal – look after your teeth, people!

Typical weekly food costs

Groceries: $200 per week for me and my son (who eats like a horse).

Eating out: N/A.

Takeaways: $40 for the two of us on Friday nights.

Workday lunches: Usually work from home but I’ll take my lunch with me if I’m in the office

Cafe coffees/snacks: I don’t buy takeaway coffees or snacks.

Other food costs: N/A.

Savings: Managing to save about $1k per month at the moment which I use to pay down the mortgage. I’m so grateful for the shares through work. I was able to pay $100k off my mortgage earlier this year with most of the shares, just when I had to refix the interest rate at a much higher level. I’ve kept the mortgage repayments at the same level, so reducing the term. I’ll have it paid off in 10 years, just in time for retirement.

I worry about money: Sometimes.

Three words to describe my financial situation would be: Comfortable, fortunate, careful. I do worry about my retirement. I’ll have about $500k in Kiwisaver but my income will go down significantly from where it is now. I’ll probably keep working at least part time after 65 to get a bigger nest egg. I intend to stay single so it’s all up to me!

My biggest edible indulgence would be: Chocolate. I’m a hopeless chocoholic so I try not to have it in the house or I just inhale it!

In a typical week my alcohol expenditure would be: $15. I have a glass of cheap wine most nights. I very rarely go out. Sometimes I’ll take a bottle around to a friend’s.

In a typical week my transport expenditure would be: $10 for petrol, $10 bus. I work mostly from home and live close to my office. I have a hybrid car I fill up once every two months.

Lifestyle costs

I estimate in the past year the ballpark amount I spent on my personal clothing was: $500. I mostly buy from op shops.

My most expensive clothing in the past year was: $60 for underwear from Farmers on special.

My last pair of shoes cost: $300 a couple of years ago for running shoes.

My grooming/beauty expenditure is: I wear minimal makeup and am rocking the natural grey look. I get my hair cut every couple of months. And the annual cost would be about $500.

My exercise expenditure in a year is about: $1,200. I belong to a local gym for $20 a week, and also run a few times a week.

My last Friday night cost:  $0 – I stayed in and watched Netflix!

Most regrettable purchase in the last 12 months was: $30 for a bathroom shelf that I struggled to assemble and then it didn’t fit the space. I donated it to a charity shop.

Most indulgent purchase (that I don’t regret) in the last 12 months was: An airfare of $600 to spend Christmas with family in Australia. All the NZ family is joining the Australian family and I can’t wait!

One area where I’m a bit of a tightwad is: Clothes. I almost never buy new (except for underwear). I love older styles and have found some real gems in second hand shops. I wear my clothes until they fall apart.

Five words to describe my financial personality would be: Frugal, cautious, careful, optimistic, hopeful.

I grew up in a house where money was: Tight. Dad worked and Mum stayed at home. We had enough for the basics but treats were rare.

The last time my eftpos card was declined was: Never. I always know how much I have in the bank.

In five years, in financial terms, I see myself: Paying down the mortgage, only having myself at home so day to day expenses will be lower.

I would love to have more money for: Travel.

Describe your financial low: When I was in my early 20s I got down to my last $20 in the world while on my OE in London. I was about to ask family to finance a ticket home when I landed a temp job and I was able to claw my way back up to solvency.

I give money away to: A local charity that works with the homeless, Women’s Refuge, the One Percent Collective (through payroll giving at work). My family has always given to great causes and I feel a strong push to continue that.

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

Read the previous Cost of Beings here.

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