One Question Quiz
Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

SocietyJanuary 30, 2024

The cost of being: An office worker living with their parents

Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

As part of our series exploring how New Zealanders live and our relationship with money, a Pasifika office worker explains how fear of debt hangs over her every financial choice.

Gender: Woman

Age: 28

Ethnicity: Sāmoan/NZ European

Role: Hybrid office worker.

My living location is: Tāmaki Makaurau

Rent/Mortgage per week: $150. I am living with my parents.

Student loan or other debt payments per week: My student loan automatically comes out, but I pay back $50 on my credit card, and I spend $75 paying my parents back for my car they helped me get.

Any major upcoming costs: Dental work, and even with my health insurance I will be looking at at least $400, and $300 for a new car battery.

Typical weekly food costs

Groceries: It varies between $150-$200.

Eating out: $20 for each of my two office days.

Savings: I currently have $4,500 in my savings, and $37,000 in my Kiwisaver. I also am lucky to have around $4,000 in shares given by my work which I also buy into each pay.

Three words to describe my financial situation would be: Healing, genetic and stressful.

My biggest edible indulgence would be: Fresh veges – I’m slowly starting to freeze them before they go bad!

In a typical week my alcohol expenditure would be: Zero, I’m sober.

In a typical week my transport expenditure would be: $10 if AT stops hiking the prices of the buses! My car is also out of action so it’s bus or foot.

I estimate in the past year the ballpark amount I spent on my personal clothing (including sleepwear and underwear) was: $4000 at least I think

My most expensive clothing in the past year was: $180 dress for a work function.

My last pair of shoes cost: $160 for a pair of Crocs.

My grooming/beauty expenditure includes: The usual hair stuff, body wash, lots of moisturisers and face creams, electric razor, normal razor. I am always trying to find the right product for myself so I tend to always be buying more!

And the annual cost would be about: Well over $700.

My exercise expenditure in a year is about: My gym membership is $720, and Apple Fitness is included in my Apple One subscription.

My last Friday night cost: $50 movies with a friend.

Most regrettable purchase in the last 12 months: Buying a car, it’s not really necessary and it likes to guzzle my money.

Most indulgent purchase (that I do not regret) in the last 12 months was: Crocs. Always. (And maybe therapy.)

One area where I am a bit of a tightwad is: Haircuts, I love Just Cuts, I’ve never had a bad experience and for the price I pay it’s a great bonus to have a head massage and wash!

Five words to describe my financial personality would be: Anxious, generous, flippant, wishful, curious.

I grew up in a house where money was: Scarce, and was brought up a lot in conversations. We couldn’t do certain things because there wasn’t enough money, we had to visit grandparents for dinner, etc. I was pressured into getting a job at 16 so that I could start funding myself, but the fear of never having enough money has stuck, over a decade later. 

The last time my eftpos card was declined was: Last month at the supermarket I accidentally used the wrong card. I have two eftpos cards (one for spending, one for bills) to avoid this from happening. It is a legitimate fear of mine, as it happened so often when I was a child using my parents card. Such a horrible feeling.

In five years, in financial terms, I see myself: With a great credit score – I have spent the past two years moving it from pretty much zero, to a very stable place. I would love to own a house, but it’s just not going to be feasible unless I get a $40k pay rise, and leave the city.

I would love to have more money for: Travel.

Describe your financial low: When I changed jobs I decided I would continue with my health insurance (greatest decision of my life). I was already in financial deficit, and was eventually sent a $1,500 bill for the insurance arrears. I was so upset when I had to ask my parents for money, because it’s only been in recent years that they could afford to lend me the cash, and I loathe owing people money. I have internalised stigma around asking for money, so it was a really difficult time for me, but I knew I needed to do it so that my future would be a bit brighter.

I give money away to: Lots of different people. I don’t like to carry cash and sometimes end up with it, I’ll usually give this to the kids in my life, or chuck it in donation boxes. I’ve been approached a few times outside supermarkets and have always offered money in those situations – give the person the autonomy to buy what they need/want. I have been helped out in the past from friends and family and I like to pay it forward now I have a tiny bit of financial stability.

I worry about money: all the time! It’s in my DNA – my bank’s app is open 24/7.

Keep going!