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Money Diary: A 25-Year-Old In New Zealand On 31k

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we’re tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We’re asking a cross-section of women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period – and we’re tracking every last penny.This week: “My financial situation has been a bit anomalous for the past few years as my income has been supplemented by scholarships since 2017. My current role is also the first ‘proper’ job I’ve had – previously my income has been a patchwork of scholarships, research/teaching jobs, nannying, hospitality, etc. My partner, J, and I came to New Zealand in 2019 for J’s job. I found it very hard to get a job that reflected my level of qualifications when we moved here and ended up working as a barista and in a call centre, which is what prompted me to look for further study opportunities. I already have one master’s degree from Canada and am currently doing a second master’s here in Auckland. Ironically, once I started my degree I found a new job and ended up getting two promotions in the space of about eight months, so my income has increased about £8,600 ($17,000) in that period (minimum wage is pretty generous in New Zealand so I was already on £22,300 ($44,000) as a call centre worker). I’m lucky to have some very generous scholarships that cover all my fees and most of my living costs. My previous master’s was also covered by similar scholarships, which has allowed me to save quite aggressively for a few years (although as you’ll see, I do like spending money a bit too much). I currently work between 25 and 30 hours a week, alongside full-time study. I have also recently taken on a marking job and do some ceramic work as well. My relationship with money is pretty erratic: I had a comfortable childhood and never had to worry about money growing up but I still have a lot of guilt and anxiety around money and spending (although speaking to lots of my millennial/Gen Z friends, I think this is quite a common age/gender feeling). I definitely look at my peers from undergrad and measure my salary/job prestige against theirs (and generally come up short), which I think also contributes to money worries! J is the smarter financially of the two of us – he persuaded me to move my savings into equity last year and also built the budgeting spreadsheet that I use religiously. Overall, I have been trying to balance spending money to enjoy living in such a wonderful country and being free to travel/socialise/live (almost) COVID-free with saving enough for the future.”Industry: Tertiary educationAge: 25Location: Auckland, New ZealandSalary: £31,400 (60,800 NZD)Paycheque amount: £775 approximately but I am only working 25 hours/week while studying. This will go back up to £965 (1,870 NZD) full-time. Number of housemates: I live with my partner (J) and another couple (L and D) in a three-bed, three-bath apartment. Auckland rent is notoriously expensive so this is pretty standard for a central rental. Monthly ExpensesHousing costs: £510 (1,000 NZD) rent per month (for my half). £60 (120 NZD) on household bills (my half). Our household bills cover Wi-Fi, water, power, a fortnightly cleaner and generic house expenses (toilet roll, tin foil, etc.). One of my scholarships currently covers these costs for me, so my rent has effectively been £0 while enrolled as a student. Loan payments: £0 right now but my student loan repayments will restart once I go back to working full-time. Transport: Normally £40 (80 NZD) a month on the bus and £36 (75 NZD) or so a month on petrol but this varies a lot depending on whether we have trips planned.Savings? ISA, approximately £22,000 invested in various equity funds. £15,000 in shares for a company my mum used to work for. £6,500 (12,500 NZD) in a three-month notice access saver in New Zealand (half of this is earmarked as my 2020 pension contribution, half will go towards travelling around NZ next year). £1,000 (about 2,000 NZD) in a superannuation scheme through my employer, I contribute 5% of my pre-tax paycheque to this and my employer adds another 6%. J and I own a car and a camper van together. We split rent, petrol, insurance, household bills, food and other joint expenses 50:50 (we have a joint account but only really use it for direct debits and bills). Other: Phone: £15 (29 NZD) a month for 2GB and unlimited texts/calls. Les Mills gym membership: £60 (119 NZD) a month. Car insurance: £11 (22 NZD) a month. We paid our annual camper van insurance and AA membership in a lump sum earlier in the year, approximately £100 each (190 NZD). Charity: £10 (20 NZD) each to a children’s charity. We also donate semi-regularly to local charities/the food bank but this tends to be larger one-off sums. Pottery studio membership: £47 (90 NZD) annually. Spotify and Netflix: I’m still on my parents’ family plans for both (eek). Cloud storage: £2.09 a month. Health insurance: £309 (600 NZD) annually but my scholarship paid for it this year. I will be eligible for NZ healthcare once I finish so won’t renew. I try to contribute between £500-1,000 a month to savings. Day One6.15am: Kicked awake by the person next to me in our bunk room. Check the time, roll over and try and get another hour’s sleep. We (my partner, J, and friend, A) are on day five of one of New Zealand’s Great Walks – a five-day canoe trip down the Whanganui River – and staying in a 20-bed bunkhouse.7.15am: Wake up properly. Sleeping bag away, wash my face, brave the camp toilets. It looks like J broke his toe trying to go to the toilet in the dark last night so I offer some sympathy while he attempts to tape it up. We pack all our belongings into waterproof barrels to go back in the canoes. 8am: Make a coffee with A’s AeroPress. The hut we stayed at last night is on the edge of Tieke Kāinga Marae (a Māori meetinghouse), which looks gorgeous in the mist this morning. Drink my coffee and watch the piewakawaka catching bugs. 12pm: We’re finally off the river and meet the trucks driving us back to our car. It started to rain a few hours ago so I’m soaking wet and freezing cold. Managed to not capsize this trip, which means I can put my (irrational) fear of being bitten by an eel to rest. Change into dry clothes and wolf down two packets of chocolate belVita breakfast biscuits. 1pm: Get signal for the first time in five days, see that I have 78 emails in my inbox. Manage to resist checking Teams for about five minutes before caving. Luckily there’s nothing urgent in my inbox or Teams and it looks like an email campaign we had planned for last Friday went off without a hitch. 2.30pm: Stop at a gas station and grab some coffees, a bag of crisps, a pie for J, some water, and an air freshener for the car (we don’t smell the best after five days and it’s a long drive). £10.30 ($20) but J pays. 4pm: Fill up the car with petrol. £31 ($60) split three ways. £10.304.15pm: Stop and pick up 10 avocados and a watermelon from a roadside fruit stand a few km later – avocado toast is my go-to work lunch and they’re often £1.30 ($2.50) each or more in the city. £9.30 ($18), J pays again but we’ll even up later. J is driving so I run through my to-do list on my phone. Schedule a laser hair removal and Botox appointment for later in the month while I remember. I’ve been getting laser hair removal on my neck and chin for a year or so now – it’s been one of the best investments, no more pesky black chin hairs! I get a few units of Botox in my frown lines and forehead every few months and am due for a top-up. Book in a mole spot check for next week as well – my mum’s had problem moles removed before so I try to be proactive with getting them checked. See a Teams notification pop up and can’t help myself checking it. I want to delete the app off my phone as I inevitably end up working on my days off because of it but I worry about being out of the loop with my team. 5pm: Stop and get a veggie burger and sweet potato fries from Burger Fuel in Hamilton. The first proper meal I’ve had today. £10 ($19.50) for mine. 8.30pm: We got home at 7pm, unpacked, laundry, showered etc. I have great plans to do some work but end up going straight to bed. Do my skincare routine and respond to some of the more urgent emails that came in over the weekend from my bed. Total: £20.30Day Two6.15am: Alarm goes off, snooze for 20 minutes. Finally get up at 6.35am. Immediately make two double Nespressos with a dash of soy milk (Happy Happy Soy Boy is the best I’ve found in NZ). I have a pretty packed day and feel like I can’t face it without truckloads of caffeine this morning. Run through my skincare (La Roche-Posay mist and serum, Sunday Riley C.E.O. Glow, Dr. Jart Ceramidin, Ultraviolette suncream) and put on some makeup. 7.30am: Make it out the door for work. Stop at the German bakery on the corner to buy croissants for my team. One of my team had a COVID bereavement this week and we had two new team members join last week so I figured we could all do with a treat, £10.50 ($20.30). Realise by doing so I’ve probably made myself miss my bus but, honestly, I’ve put in so many unpaid hours at work this year I’m not too worried about being late. Catch a later bus, 80p ($1.70) with my tertiary discount (but topped up £10.30 ($20) last week so £0 today). There are no community COVID cases in Auckland at the moment but masks are still mandatory on public transport and we have a COVID QR scanner app to check in places. Text J from the bus and try and persuade him to see a doctor about his toe.9am: Make it an hour at work before my team all go for a coffee. Buy a sandwich for lunch later since we haven’t had time to get groceries yet for this week. £7.75 ($15) for sandwich and a cold brew. 10.15am: Cave and eat my croissant from earlier. I’ve been trying to do intermittent fasting (not eating for 16-18 hours overnight to lunch) but I’m starving today and just got my period. Catch my boss for a quick five minute chat to ask about some staffing issues for my team. One of our temps has been offered a job in another department but I’d really like to keep her so want to see if we can offer her a permanent job. 12pm: Eat my sandwich at my desk, RSVP to a friend’s wedding in the UK that was rescheduled to this summer. Sadly with the current NZ border restrictions we can’t leave the country to go home for a visit, as we wouldn’t be allowed back in to NZ.2pm: Eat three of the free biscuits at work, mostly as an excuse to take a break. I’ve been flitting between various tasks all morning and not really getting anything done. I have a meeting with my master’s supervisor at 2.30pm to go over the data analysis for my final chapter. My supervisor is amazing so I’m hoping this makes me feel more productive. 5pm: Finish work and head straight to a meeting for a not-for-profit consultancy firm. I was ‘hired’ last week as a team leader for one of their upcoming projects – I want to move into consultancy but don’t have any relevant experience at the moment, which is why I applied for this firm. It’s all volunteer work so I’m doing it alongside my job/study but the organisation’s values align with mine and hopefully it will pay off in the long run. Feel a bit out of my depth in the meeting with all the consulting lingo but remind myself that’s why I’m doing this. Make a mental note to google ‘value proposition’ and ‘discovery questions’ on the bus home. Text J about dinner plans – neither of us has had time to get groceries yet so I offer to go on the way home if he cooks. Bus 80p ($1.70) but comes off my loaded credit so £0. 6.30pm: Stop in New World and get enough food to hopefully last us both the rest of the week. Shopping in New World always makes me tempted to buy fancy groceries I can’t really afford (think the NZ version of Waitrose). £50.60 ($98) split between two, my scholarship will cover my half. Get home and cook filled pasta for J and I (we renegotiated the dinner deal if he picked me up from the supermarket). J reminds me that I owe him £77.50 ($150) for canoe rental from last weekend (debate whether I have to include this in this week’s money diary and decide it was last week’s expense?). 7.30pm: Feeling pretty shattered from my period so make a decaf Nespresso to try and trick my brain into work mode. Settle down at my desk to work on my thesis. 9pm: Procrastinate by making a COVID QR check-in poster for a party we’re having this weekend and discuss what we need to buy with our housemates. Watch the fireworks for the end of the Americas Cup (yacht race) out of the upstairs window. New Zealand won so most of the city is celebrating. 11.30pm: Upstairs, shower, skincare, etc: prescription tretinoin, Glow Recipe Banana Soufflé Moisture Cream and more Dr. Jart Ceramidin tonight. In bed by midnight (how have I let it get to midnight). Total: £43.55Day Three6.35am: Make it out of bed by my second alarm. Nespresso with soy, skincare. It’s one of those mornings where every outfit I put on looks wrong. Make an iced Americano to take to work and out the door by 7.20am to catch the bus (80p ($1.70) but off my loaded credit). I’m lucky to have some great bus routes within a few minutes’ walk of my house so my commute is normally only 20-30 minutes. Read a novel on the bus (this was my NY resolution to try and stop spending so much time on Instagram) and text my siblings back in the UK. My sister went back to in-person school today so I catch up with her about that. 9.30am: Walk to the coffee shop with my team but resist buying anything today. The baristas know our names and orders, which is probably a sign we spend far too much time (and money) here. 12pm: Finish a training session and eat some pita and hummus at my desk. Message a friend in Canada to check in with her after the Atlanta shootings last night. Send her an Uber Eats card to buy dinner tonight to try and take one task off her mind today (£29/50CAD) and match it with a donation to the Chinese seniors outreach programme run by the women’s centre in her city (£29/50CAD). Feel a bit lost trying to support friends from so far away, especially with such heavy issues like anti-Asian racism in the wake of COVID. 12.30pm: J texts asking if I want to meet for a bubble tea. Only too happy to get away from my desk. £8.70 ($16.80) for a soy matcha milk tea for me and a dirtea coffee milk tea for J (whatever that is). I get a mango green tea with coconut pearls for my friend D back in the office. I pay for all three (but get one drink free with my loyalty stamp card).5.45pm: Finish work. I’m supposed to go to welcome drinks for this consultancy gig but most of my project team aren’t going (and I still haven’t googled what a value proposition is) so I decide to go home and work on my thesis instead. I’m finishing work early tomorrow, which is why I’ve stayed late the last few days. 80p ($1.70) on the bus (but off my stored credit).6.20pm: Get home and knit a few rows on a vest I’m making for my sister before starting work on my thesis. I taught myself to knit a few weeks ago, mostly driven by a desire for fancy hand-knitted sweaters (but not the price tag on fancy hand-knitted sweaters), only to realise they cost that much because wool is bloody expensive and knitting takes ages. So now instead of spending that money on someone else making me a beautiful hand-knitted sweater, I’m spending the same amount to make myself a lumpy, misshapen hand-knitted sweater. But I find the process therapeutic at least. 7.30pm: Cook sweet potatoes with chilli chickpeas, kale, avocado and hummus for J and I for dinner. 10pm: Wrap up work and FaceTime my mum for an hour. Start getting ready for bed at 11pm. Catch up with a good friend I haven’t spoken to in a while who also happens to be up late. Shower, skincare, creep in bed by midnight to not wake J (how has this happened again? I’m normally better at early bedtimes!). Total: £66.70Day Four6.15am: Wake up at my first alarm, scroll social media in bed for a bit and reply to texts from my family in the UK that have come through overnight. Get up and make a Nespresso, skincare, get dressed, etc. 7.30am: Make an iced Americano to take to work, out the door at 7.30am. I’m driving to work today because I have an appointment this afternoon and don’t want to have to rely on the bus. £8 ($15.60) for parking. D arrives at work with a caramel slice for me from our favourite coffee shop. My team are honestly the best and my favourite thing about this job. 9.30am: My team go to the coffee shop again and I join for the walk but resist buying anything. Eat my caramel slice back at my desk at 10am (intermittent fasting has not been going well this week). 12pm: I had brought avocado toast ingredients for lunch but my team is going to a local Japanese place so I decide to join them and save my lunch ingredients for later. J meets us there. £12.90 ($25) for a tofu donburi for me and a chicken katsu for J. 2pm: Finish work and head off to my tattoo appointment – I’m getting a little portrait of my dog who passed away last year. I booked this appointment mid-2020 and it’s been rescheduled three times due to COVID (on top of the waitlist for this artist). This is a pretty big one-off expense but one that I’ve budgeted for as I’ve known about it for so long. Pay £3.40 ($6.60) for street parking. 5.30pm: Appointment done! I love it. Bank transfer the artist £206 ($400) (I had previously paid a £52 ($100) deposit). J texts and asks if I want to go out for dinner with his work friends. I have a bag of filled pasta in the fridge but tell him to let me know where they end up. My thesis is calling in the meantime. £2067.30pm: I have the laser hair removal appointment I booked earlier in the week. I get my lip, chin and neck done. The clinic has a sale on so only £11.60 ($22.50) for all three areas. 8pm: Decide to skip J’s drinks and eat at home. Embarrassed to admit but it’s filled pasta with ketchup and cheese for dinner. I promise I AM an adult even if my sleep pattern and food choices say otherwise this week. Walk to the Dairy (NZ corner shop) and get an ice lolly for dessert and one for J when he gets home. £3 ($5.80)11pm: Get ready for bed, skincare, etc. I actually ended up spending most of my evening building a bedside table instead of studying. I’ve wanted one of those tiled cubes that are popular right now but they cost £250+ ($500) here. It turns out alright, although definitely a first attempt! Total: £244.90Day Five7am: Alarm goes off but it’s still dark outside and I can’t face getting up in the dark on a weekend so I snooze it and go back to sleep. 9am: Wake up, J is already downstairs tidying up for the party. Reply to texts from people in the UK that came in overnight. Send photos of my tattoo to various family group chats (my dad is not impressed haha). Have two Nespressos with soy milk for breakfast. 10am: Head out to my pottery studio. I’ve got a commission I need to finish and I’ve not been able to go with my work hours this week so squeeze it in now. £15.50 ($30) for studio time and an espresso cup I pick up from one of the other artists to send to my dad. 12pm: Spend the rest of the morning tidying the house and moving anything remotely breakable upstairs. Catch up with my brother about his uni work. J wakes up from a nap (his work group went quite hard last night) and I make us both avocado toast for lunch. J heads to Countdown to get the remaining things for the party. £25.80 ($50) but he pays. 2pm: House is tidy, valuables are upstairs (including my precious houseplant and ceramic collections) and drinks are out – we’ve made huge quantities of Pimm’s and sangria, and J brewed 40 litres of beer for this. Settle down on the couch to do some marking of student papers before people arrive. We’ve invited about 40 of our colleagues and other friends from Auckland, and our housemates’ friends. 12.20am: We asked guests to bring food and four people bizarrely brought packs of crumpets (’cause we’re English maybe?). Toast and eat four crumpets and have a fierce debate with our housemates over the appropriate level of toasting for a crumpet. Most people have left, decide to go upstairs and try to hide from everyone debating where to go out. Hear murmurs of ‘karaoke’ from downstairs but the false eyelashes are off so I’m committed to bed. Somehow shower and do my skincare routine. Discover a drunk man passed out in our room and recruit J to help me get him out – we park him in the spare bedroom and both go to sleep about 1am. Total: £15.50Day Six8am: Wake up feeling remarkably fresh, although I had super vivid dreams all night. Drunk man from last night let himself out earlier this morning. Brace myself to look at the mess downstairs from last night – our housemates are already up and having a go at cleaning. Sit in bed with my Nespresso and read the most recent money diary (impressed by how much she saves!). 10am: J and I head out for brunch at a super popular place just round the corner from us. Normally we have to queue to get in here but we’re lucky today and get seated straightaway. J orders a full English breakfast and I go for an eggs benny and an oat iced latte. Chat about family back home and how much we miss doing things like this with them. J’s dad gave us some money last week that we use to pay for this – last weekend was the first Mother’s Day since we lost J’s mum to COVID so he wanted us to have a Mother’s Day meal to celebrate her. £39.50 ($76.40) for us both but £0 as J’s dad paid. 12pm: Spend the morning doing my bit tidying up the house. Luckily our cleaner comes tomorrow so it doesn’t need to be spotless for now. Feeling a bit sticky and hungover so have a cold shower and wash my hair. Hair washing is a once-a-week activity as my hair is below my bum and takes ages to wash and hours to dry.1pm: Make an iced oat latte and sit down to do some more marking. I have 34 student blogposts to mark this week for my supervisor. 3pm: I’ve been meaning to wash our down sleeping bags and jackets for about the last three months. Finally get round to washing them today. We don’t have a tumble dryer so drive round the corner to use a laundromat. Get £10.30 ($20) out in $1 coins, spend £5.20 ($10) on the dry cycle. J will go pick them up in an hour. 3.30pm: J’s done an online food shop from Countdown for the next week. Avocado toast for lunches and pineapple tofu, pesto gnocchi, orzo primavera and Mexican bowls for dinner this week. I am vegetarian (mostly vegan), J occasionally eats meat when we are out but we cook vegetarian at home. Also get other household necessities like Nespresso pods, shower gel, protein powder and a lunch bag (because someone keeps stealing my food from the work fridge and I hope the bag will put them off). £56.80 ($110) for my half, my scholarship will cover this. 4pm: Go to a spin class at Les Mills. It’s a five minute drive down the hill – I normally walk but can’t face the idea of walking back up the hill today. I try to go to the gym at least once a day but haven’t had the time/energy since we got back from the canoe trip. Resolve to do better next week. 5.30pm: Class finished, stop in New World and grab a garlic bread and a detox drink on my way home (I’m kidding myself I know), £6.50 ($12.50) off my scholarship. Home and showered. Cook the gnocchi for dinner for J and I and eat with our housemates, discuss who was the most embarrassing last night. A video surfaces of me performing “Love Story” by Taylor Swift complete with dance moves so I definitely win the embarrassment competition. Remember to transfer £46.50 ($90) to our cleaning lady for tomorrow, this comes out the bills account. Back to my desk to do some uni work. 9pm: FaceTime my parents and sister. I’ve been wanting to pick my dad’s brains about this consulting project as he works as a management consultant. Finish the call with lots of ideas and a methodology in mind for approaching the project. 10pm: Debate doing some more work but I’ve made it all day without a nap and I’m shattered. Skincare, brush teeth, etc. Knit a few more rows on my sister’s vest – I want to get it finished this week so I can post it home along with the espresso cups for my dad next weekend. 11pm: Scroll Instagram for a bit before going to sleep. Total: £51.70Day Seven6.30am: Snooze my alarm for 15 minutes, up by 6.30am. Have a Nespresso with soy, scroll Instagram while I get ready. Grab my lunch stuff and out the door by 7.30am (including my new anti-theft lunchbox lol). Ran out of time to make a takeaway coffee this morning. 8am: I have a dentist and hygienist appointment this morning. The last time I went was in 2019 in the UK so this appointment is long overdue but my insurance doesn’t cover routine dental so I’ve been putting off paying out of pocket. I’ve already postponed this appointment once which is why I ended up with a tattoo and dental in the same week (my poor bank balance, sob). The dentist is next door to my office so catch the same bus as usual, 80p ($1.70) but off my stored credit. 9.45am: Dentist appointment done. £147.30 ($285) for dentist and hygienist – no problems with my teeth though, which is good! 10am: Set up at my desk then nip out to grab a soy latte with D and catch up about her weekend. Commiserate about how hard it’s been to find graduate jobs in our fields of study. D finished her master’s of architecture the same year I finished my master’s of history. £2.89 ($5.60). Back to work! 11am: Procrastinate work by ordering a box of doughnuts to be delivered to my tattoo artist as a thank you for creating such a beautiful tribute to my dog. £21.45 ($41.50) for four doughnuts, including delivery. Order from a tiny local WOC-owned company that I love, £5 ($10) a doughnut is pricey but I’m more than happy to support them over Dunkin’. 3pm: Work finished for the day. Had a productive team meeting before I left so feeling good about where we are for the coming week. Dash off to a marking meeting with my supervisor to discuss these student blogposts.4pm: Head to a two-hour lecture for the undergrad course I’m marking for. Catch up with the other teaching assistant on the way and stop to buy another soy latte – feel guilty at buying two coffees in one day (thank god payday is on Wednesday). £2.89 ($5.60)6pm: Bus home (80p ($1.70) but off stored credit). Our wonderful cleaner has been so the house is spotless. J has made Mexican bowls for dinner – eat together and chat about homesickness with our housemates. We’re all feeling the effects of not being able to go home and visit family (with no end-date in sight). Decide to crack on with this marking tonight, as I can watch Netflix in the background. 8pm: Head to Les Mills for a sprint spin class, persuade myself to walk down the hill instead of driving. 9pm: Back home from the gym, shower and back to marking papers for the rest of the evening. 11pm: Wrap up marking for the evening, shower, skincare, etc. Teeth are feeling very clean and shiny after my appointment this morning. Try not to wake J up. Scroll Instagram in bed for a bit before going to sleep. Total: £174.53The BreakdownFood & Drink: £105.38Entertainment: £15.50Clothes & Beauty: £11.60Transportation: £21.70Other: £463Total: £617.18Conclusion”This was an expensive week for me, although with the exception of my tattoo and the dentist it was a pretty typical week. I would never normally have two big expenses in one pay cycle like this but the COVID lockdowns in February meant things got rescheduled. On the whole I was quite happy with my spending. Even though it was a lot of money, most of my spending was quite mindful/conscious (rather than mindless clothes shopping, not eating food I have at home or buying multiple coffees out, which I only did once or twice). It did make me think maybe I need to address some of the anxiety I have around spending/money. I did realise this week how much financial privilege I have, and how lucky we are to be living in New Zealand right now! Going on trips, having a party, going to the gym and having a tattoo – I definitely don’t take all this for granted.” Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?Money Diary: A TV Producer On £300/d In LondonMoney Diary: A 25-Year-Old Civil Servant On 40kMoney Diary: 29-Year-Old Comms Executive On 25.5k