Money Diaries

A Week In Wellington, New Zealand, On A $68,500 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we tackle the ever-present taboo that is money. We ask real people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we track every last dollar.
We're on the search for new Money Diaries! Submit yours here.
Today: a policy analyst from New Zealand who makes $68,500 a year and spends some of her money this week on wedding dress appointments.
Note: All currency has been converted to Australian dollars.
Occupation: Policy Analyst
Industry: Government
Age: 27
Location: Wellington, New Zealand
Salary: $68,589
Net Worth: $16,824 ($53,040 in joint savings between my fiance, D., and I, $17,418 in my KiwiSaver retirement account, $465 in my daily transactions account, and an old car worth around $1,000).
Debt: $26,527 ($21,995 left on my student loan (this is interest-free while I remain in New Zealand), and $6,513 remaining on a personal loan from my parents for an elective surgery I had 18 months ago. We use credit cards for the majority of our purchases to rack up Airpoints, but we pay it in full every month and have never had debt on the credit card.)
Paycheque Amount (Fortnightly): $1,729
Pronouns: She/Her
Advertisement

Monthly Expenses

Rent: $744. I share a one-bedroom apartment in Wellington CBD with my fiance, D. He pays the rest ($1,003).
Student Loan: $456. This comes out of my paycheque pre-tax.
Personal Loan To My Parents: $420
KiwiSaver (Superannuation): $160. My employer matches up to 6%.
Public Service Union Fees: $32 which comes out of my paycheque pre-tax.
Phone Bill: $75 — this includes unlimited data and free Spotify.
Home Contents Insurance: $27 for my half.
Internet: $32 for my half.
Third-Party Car Insurance: $7 for my half.
Power Bill: Between $10 — $50 a month each. In summer, it's super low and in winter, the most it's ever been is $100.
Disney+: $11. I pay this and D. pays for Netflix My parents and brother use our streaming services.
Prime: $4.50 each.
Savings Contributions: $100 — $200 towards our joint savings. This is a bit less than I would normally contribute as I'm still paying back my parents. D. normally puts in $1,000 a month.

Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?

Yes, I got my three-year bachelor's degree and paid for it with student loans. Loans didn't cover all my living costs in my first year, so my parents paid for half of my university hostel living costs. My brother also helped me out in my first year as I spent all my student loan money on alcohol and food (biggest eye-roll — so young and dumb!). After, I moved into a flat and my student loan covered my rent and bills. My parents gave me a $200/fortnight allowance. I also worked part-time so I could save up for my overseas experience (OE).
Advertisement

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?

I didn't have that many conversations about finances. My brother has always been a saver, but I'm a spender. I always had money problems until just a few years ago when I met D. This is all my own fault though — I just had no self-control and liked spending money! I wish my parents had educated me on shares, but that wasn't really a thing when I was young. Their main message to us was to not go into unnecessary debt and while it is fine to use credit cards and layby, if you don't have the money to pay for it upfront, then don't buy it.

What was your first job and why did you get it?

My parents wouldn't let me get 'proper' job in high school as they wanted me to focus on studying. So instead, I babysat for a family in the last two years of school — one night a week, and some weekends. I went to a private school and I really wanted to keep up with my peers, so I just used the job for extra spending money. My first taxed job was the summer between school and university — it was in catering and it gave me money that I could save for uni.

Did you worry about money growing up?

Not really. I did ballet for 16 years which isn't cheap and we did heaps of extracurricular activities. We also went on domestic and overseas holidays regularly. When we moved to Wellington, my parents put me in a private school and I was surrounded by people with heaps of money. While my parents were upper-middle class, it was nothing on these kids. I worried about going out with friends because they just used their parent's credit cards while I just had my weekly allowance or extra money I had begged for from my dad.
Advertisement

Do you worry about money now?

I don't really worry now that I'm with D. I'm in a better financial space. There were times when I was overseas that I had $10 to my name and was always worrying about money. Now, we have solid savings and both of us make good money, but the property market in Wellington is insane so I'm worried it will take us ages to buy a house. We also have our wedding coming up that we need to pay for, so there are a few stresses, but I don't worry in general anymore.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?

I moved out of home at 18 to go to university and then went overseas. But during this time, my parents still paid me an allowance. When I moved back home, they let D. and I live rent-free for 18-months. So I probably wasn't fully financially responsible for myself until D. and I moved into our own place when I was 24. We have our savings to fall back on, but I also know that my parents would help us out if we needed it. My parents are always asking us to move back home, so we can always fall back onto that if we need to!

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.

Yes. My brother gave me $1,200 when I was in uni to pay for my hostel fees. My parents also paid for some of my uni accommodation. They also paid off a $2,000 overdraft for me while I was overseas and never asked for repayment. They also gifted me $5,000 for my surgery and will pay for some of our wedding. D.'s parents gave us $20,000 to go towards a house deposit which is currently sitting in our savings. They've also given us $10,000 toward our wedding. We're very lucky.
Advertisement

Day 1

7:00am — My alarm goes off just in time for me to say goodbye to D. who is on his way to work. We are currently staying with my parents as the kitchen in our apartment is being redone (it's been a whole drama, honestly), so he has to get up earlier than usual to commute to work. 
7:15am — I eventually get up, have a quick shower and use a Sukin facial scrub on my skin. I get changed for the office — since Omicron has taken off in New Zealand, we're only in the office part-time. We also have a roster for our office days — I do Thursdays and Fridays (although, even before Omicron I was only in the office three days a week).
8:00am — I get changed into a tiered dress from Seed and my pale pink Veja sneakers. I straighten my curtain bangs and put my hair in a low messy bun as it's muggy AF today. I do a basic makeup routine today — CeraVe moisturiser and Mecca SPF50+ To Save Face sunscreen, NARS tinted moisturiser, Mecca Max blur stick, Nars Laguna bronzer and Orgasm blush, ABH brow pencil and gel on my brows, and a Tarte mascara. I pack my bag and then my dad runs me down to the station — it's only a 10-minute walk, but it's raining and he's a saint. 
8:45am — I wait for the train and it's late of course. Normally, I walk to work but my parents live in the suburbs so I have to get public transport. The train finally comes so I pop on my mask and pay my fare ($3.20 on my pre-loaded transport card). The train only takes 15 minutes and then I hoof it up the street to get to work. I arrive very sweaty and my fringe has already frizzed with the humidity. 
Advertisement
9:30am — After settling in at my desk, I add $20 to my transport card as I'll be getting the train another couple of times while I am at my parent's. I drink a bucket load of water and clear my emails before I have a 10am catch-up with my Principal Analyst. $20
11:00am — I head down to the cafe on our ground floor and get an iced Americano ($3.50 — I brought ten coffees pre-paid on a coffee card so I don't have any out of pocket today) and stare at all the slices and brownies in the cabinet. After I finish my coffee, I make a cup of instant coffee with the stuff that work provides. 
1:30pm — I have a pretty uneventful morning working on a project plan and proofreading a couple of memos. I break for lunch at 12:15pm and eat at my desk — microwaved lemongrass and ginger rice with smoked salmon. I have an afternoon of policy work ahead of me, so I put headphones in and listen to a Daily Mix on Spotify.
2:50pm — I really need some fresh air and a break so I head to the supermarket just down the road from my office. I pick up a block of limited edition Cadbury chocolate that I think D. will like, a beef jerky stick and some savoury banana chip things (?!) for a snack. I almost buy a sugar-free Redbull but stop myself. Last year, I probably would have had one of these three or four times a week, but since being in Australia over Christmas followed by isolation in a hotel, I kicked the habit. I don't want to start it up again. I try and save them for Friday afternoons and drinking nights. I'm still craving something fizzy, so I buy a sparkling water, hoping it'll trick my brain into giving me energy. $10
Advertisement
4:30pm —  I spend the rest of my afternoon brainstorming a policy document and sending emails. At 4:30pm, I pack up my things and leave work to walk to the train station.
5:30pm — I meet D. at the train station and we get the train home ($3.80 on my preloaded card). When we get home, my dad asks us if we want to go to the movies this evening. We're both keen! We have spaghetti bolognese for dinner and leave for the movies.
8:00pm — We arrive at the Brooklyn cinema to watch Death on the Nile. Dad pays for our tickets, so D. and I handle snacks. We get a choc-top each, a lemonade, some pringles, and D. gets a beer — $22.
10:00pm — We finish the movie and head home. I'd give it a solid 3.5 stars. Once I get home, I get ready for bed. I cleanse my face with The Ordinary Squalene Cleanser and do my teeth. Then, it's time for skincare — I use the Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum, moisturise with CeraVE lotion, pop The Ordinary Caffeine solution under my eyes, Kate Somerville EradiKate on some breakouts, and then finish with The Ordinary Virgin Marula oil. I get into bed and browse Facebook for a while, then it's lights out just after 11.
Daily Total: $52

Day 2

6:30am — Ugh, it's too early for me to be up. I prod D. out of bed and enjoy five minutes of having the bed to myself. Once I hear that D.'s out of the shower, I get up. Today is hair washing day so I have to get up earlier than normal. I wash my hair, cleanse and do my teeth. D. comes to say goodbye. It's casual Friday today, so I get changed into a pair of white shorts, an oversized white and blue striped button-down and my white ASICS platform sneakers. 
Advertisement
7:00am — I blowdry my hair. It's awful as it's really muggy out today. I'm sweating by the time it's done. I normally do a full face of makeup on a Friday, so I moisturise and apply my sunscreen. I prime with the Hourglass Veil Primer and the Mecca blur stick. Foundation is the Nars Sheer Glow, followed by the Maybelline FitMe powder to set. Mecca concealer under the eyes and then I bake that with my Hourglass powder. I contour with my Mecca Maxima contour stick, use NARS Laguna bronzer and Orgasm blush and highlight with a Mecca highlighter. My brows are a disaster and I still have five more days until I get them done, so I do my best with ABH brow gel and brow whiz. I use my Morphe truth or bare palette on my eyes and don't worry about mascara as my eyelashes are still lifted and tinted from a procedure done before Christmas. I set with my Hourglass powder and Urban Decay setting spray. I'm running short on time now, so I quickly curl my hair, pack my bag and have my mum run me to the station.
8:30am — I get on the train ($3.80 on my pre-loaded card) and do today's Wordle. I walk to my office, get settled and drink half a litre of water in one go.  
10:00am — After clearing my inbox and doing some filing that I've been putting off, I go to the cafe and get an iced Americano ($3.50 on my pre-paid coffee card) and have a muesli bar as a late breakfast. I read Stuff (A New Zealand news website) and some headlines in The New York Times to procrastinate starting a difficult policy document. 
Advertisement
12:00pm — I make an instant coffee in the office and drink another bottle of water. Man, this humidity! I browse on Etsy for wedding bands. I want a moissanite and platinum wedding band and it's very hard to find one that I like. I bookmark a few that I think have potential. We're getting married in the summer of next year and despite being engaged for a year already, I haven't done a lot of wedding planning besides booking the venue, photographer and caterer. After wedding band browsing, I continue working on my policy template and start trying to identify problems we need to address. 
1:00pm — I decide to break for lunch and since it's Friday, I get to buy my lunch! I head to the Thai place down the road and have a satay chicken and rice dish ($17) and read through NYT articles while I am there. I stop off at the corner shop and get a sugar-free V and some peanut M&Ms ($7). I want to leave early today, so I'm out and back in 25 minutes. The combination of humidity and my attempt at curling my hair this morning means that I now look like Farrah Fawcett. It's not the look I was going for. $24
4:00pm — My afternoon passes pretty quickly. I'm busy creating a policy document so that takes up most of my time. I also end up putting my hair in a half-up style to combat the 80s frizz look I'm now rocking. At 4pm, I pack up my stuff and leave the office. I'm meeting some friends at a bar in town, so I put on a Casefile podcast while I walk the 15 minutes to Juniper. There's a massive anti-vaccine, anti-mandate protest happening at Parliament. People have been camping out for four days already. It takes me a bit longer to get to the bar as I'm trying to avoid all the protestors, but three people still yell at me to take my mask off. I want to retort back, but it's not worth it. I finally get to the bar, only a couple of minutes late. 
Advertisement
6:30pm — The three of us make the most of happy hour and get three cocktails each ($33). I get a lemon sour, an elderflower martini and a margarita. We spend two hours chatting and catching up as I haven't seen them in about six weeks. After we finish up, we decide to go to a BYO place and get some food and continue drinking. $33
9:30pm — On the way to the restaurant, we stop at the supermarket and get two bottles of wine to split — my friend's pay. We get to the Malaysian place and spend another couple of hours getting progressively tipsy and having deep and meaningful conversations. For dinner, I get a Nasi Lemak ($18) and we polish off our bottles of wine with ease. We wrap up and I decide to meet D. at a friend's place close by. My friend hops in and I pay for the Uber to make up for the wine ($14). $32
 10:00pm — I meet D. at the house party and we spend the evening chatting and playing slappy cup. I don't have any alcohol on me, so I go to the liquor store a few doors down and buy a 4-pack of vodka sodas ($14). Everyone leaves at 11:30pm, so D. and I decide to go home. We split an Uber home with a friend, D. pays. $14
12:30am — We get home and despite being a few drinks deep, I cleanse my face and moisturise. Taking makeup off and doing my skincare while drunk is my superpower. We head to bed and I scroll Facebook for a bit before passing out.
Advertisement
Daily Total: $79

Day 3

9:00am — We wake up and I'm feeling fine, though D. is slightly worse for wear. We get up, have showers and start packing up all our stuff as we're moving home today. It's storming in Wellington so it's not ideal weather, but we have our car so we should be okay.
11:00am — We get back to our apartment, park the car and unload our stuff. My parents followed us into town so they could check out our new kitchen,so we take them to the cafe below our building to buy them a coffee for letting us stay for the week. We get three flat whites, an iced Americano, and D. also gets a sausage roll ($28 on our joint card). After coffee, we say goodbye to my parents. We grab a few bags of clothes we want to donate and get ready to drive out to a jeweller. $28
1:00pm — We drive to the jewellers and start looking at wedding bands — I have an opal that was gifted that I want to get re-set into a ring. We discuss our options and choose a couple that we like. They'll get back to us in a few days with quotes and I leave a necklace there to be cleaned. I'm starving at this point, so we head out to Pita Pit — I get a chicken Ceaser pita with extra jalapenos ($14). We also stop by the hospice and we drop off three bags of clothes for donation. $14
Advertisement
5:00pm — Once we get home, we tidy up around the house a bit, then D. packs up and heads to his basketball training session. While he's gone, I play Animal Crossing on my switch, watch some episodes of Scrubs and have a nap. He gets home and parks in the 24 hour paid parking spot near our house. It comes out of the credit card — $14.
8:00pm — We decide on an earlyish dinner as D. is starving. We watch an episode of Reacher and order a small pizza each, some chicken tenders and wedges ($44 on our shared credit card). We watch some episodes of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia while we eat. $44
 11:30pm — After dinner, D. jumps on the PlayStation to have a session with his friends back in Australia. I watch some Scrubs on the iPad and just chill on the couch. I get ready for bed at 10:30pm and do my skincare routine. I scroll through Tiktok and Facebook until 11.30pm and then its lights out.
Daily Total: $100

Day 4

10:00am — We both have a solid sleep-in today — phew! We're enjoying being back in our own place and clearly need the extra zzz's. We lay in bed for a bit and get up to tag-team showers. It's still storming so I just scrub my face with my Sukin scrub, pop on some moisturiser, and don't worry about SPF. D. makes coffee in our Nespresso and I pour myself a bowl of gluten-free Sultana Bran for breakfast. While we have our coffee, we watch another episode of Reacher. Our parking expires at midday, so we decide to head to the supermarket sooner rather than later.
Advertisement
1:00pm — Because we've been away for six weeks and haven't been staying at ours for the last week, we have basically nothing in the house. Today's shop will be big to re-stock everything. We get fresh produce, sweet potato, beef mince, pork mince, a massive pork shoulder to slow cook, gluten-free pasta, corn chips, gluten-free wraps for me and regular ones for D., chicken breasts, yoghurt, hummus, chicken tenders, BBQ sauce, aioli, toilet paper, paper towels, mouthwash, bread, milk, Babybel cheese, ricotta, and some other things ($230 total, paid on our shared account). We get home and park the car across the road in the free parking. D. will take the car back to my parents later — a permanent parking spot in Wellington is extortionate, so it's usually the best option. We unload the groceries and while D. cleans out the fridge and freezer, I put the pork shoulder in the slow cooker for dinner. I marinate it with smoky chipotle BBQ sauce, rice wine vinegar, cayenne pepper, cumin, smoked paprika, fajita seasoning, garlic, olive oil and celery salt. Once the meat is on, I unpack the groceries. $230
5:00pm — We have a pretty lazy afternoon. D. plays PlayStation with his mates while I watch Scrubs and play Animal Crossing again. I have a nap sd napping on the weekend is my favourite thing to do. When I wake up, I watch another episode of It's Always Sunny with D. before he heads to basketball. I would normally go watch him play but with the current Covid settings, no spectators are allowed. 
Advertisement
8:30pm — After D. leaves, I watch some more Scrubs and then go and shred the pork. It's turned out great. I make a couple of burritos for dinner and play Happy Home Paradise on my Switch until D. gets home. We chat and he tells me about the game (they won!).
11:00pm — After I clean up, we notice the dishwasher isn't working properly so we spend 15 minutes fixing it. After the dishwasher debacle, I rinse my face, do my usual skincare and jump into bed. D. stays up in the lounge watching basketball and reading his book. I scroll NYT and TikTok and it's lights out by 11 for me.
Daily Total: $230

Day 5

8:30am — Monday, ugh. D.'s alarm goes off at 7:20am and he gets up and ready for work. I stay asleep and mumble goodbye to him as he leaves for work. At 8:30am, my alarm goes off and I decide I better get up. I have a shower and wash my hair, get changed into my WFH staple outfit — Lulu's, a t-shirt and because it's freezing today, a Roxy fleece. I moisturise, blow dry my hair and log on, just in time for my 9am check-in. 
11:00am — I decide to treat myself to my Covid booster jab today. I sneak in a Nespresso and a bowl of Sultana Bran in between meetings, before heading out to get the jab at 11am. I don't even get a lollipop for my troubles. I pick up an iced Americano from the cafe under my building — I'm up to my free coffee on my card, so I don't spend a cent today — woo!
Advertisement
3:00pm — I check the news and do my daily Wordle. I'm still working on the policy document and I need some evidence, so I spend two hours trawling through academic papers, studies and journals trying to find information to back up my policy proposal. I break for lunch and leftover burritos.
5:00pm — Oof, I am not feeling great. It's weird as I had no problems with the first two vaccines. I'm all clammy, headachey and exhausted (get the booster anyway!). I message my manager and let her know I'll be logging off for the afternoon so I can rest up. I have never had side effects from any vaccine before, but hopefully, this means I have an extra-strong immune system. I head to bed and spend a few hours sleeping.
8:00pm — D. wakes me up from my sleep when he gets home. I'm still feeling like garbage, but I need to eat some dinner. We make nachos with my pulled pork and watch the season finale of Reacher (it's such a good series!). I'm off to bed earlier than usual.
Daily Total: $0

Day 6

7:30am — Woah, I slept for 11 hours last night. My arm feels like a dead weight but apart from that, I feel pretty good. D. is up and about getting ready and I doze in bed for a bit. Once he leaves, I get my phone and scroll through Facebook and Insta and do today's Wordle. I get up out of bed, have a shower, and get changed into my WFH outfit, logging on just in time for my 9am check-in. 
Advertisement
10:00am — After my check-in I make an iced coffee in my Nespresso and have my standard Sultana Bran and kiwi fruit for breakfast. I read through Stuff and NYT while I eat. I have a couple of meetings today, so after I eat, I start to prepare for the first one. 
11:00am — I finish my first meeting and make another iced coffee. I don't have to be on camera for a while, so I put on The Ordinary Salicylic 2% mask while I work. I am reviewing submissions and finding ones relevant to my policy workstream. I whack on an indie/folk Spotify mix to help me stay focused.  
1:00pm — I am knee-deep in submissions, so I grab a Babybel cheese to get me through until lunch. For lunch, I cook up two gluten-free chicken tenders and put them in a wrap with leftover ranch slaw, aioli and cheese. I pop the wraps on a pan and grill them until they're crispy. I watch a Scrubs episode while I eat. My friend messages me that she booked an Airbnb for her birthday in April, so I transfer her mine and D.'s share for the accommodation. D. pays me back straight away, so it's just $131 for my share. $131
3:00pm — I get off my last meeting for the day and feel the need for something sweet, so I make a bowl of gluten-free Coco Pops. I send off a few emails to wedding dress boutiques as I want to try on some gowns. After some wedding admin, I proofread some memos and then get stuck back into analysing submissions. 
5:00pm — I log off after two hours straight of policy analysis — my brain is fried. D. gets home from work and we chat for a bit before he makes dinner. 
9:00pm — Dinner tonight is tandoori chicken and we've made enough to have leftovers tomorrow — yay! I want something sweet, so I have a bowl of frozen blueberries, some pineapple and some dark chocolate chips sprinkled on top.
Daily Total: $131

Day 7

7:30am — I wake up to D.'s alarm and I snooze while he's in the shower. Once he says goodbye, I do the usual — scroll through NYT, Stuff, and do my daily Wordle, logging into work at half-past 8.
9:30am — I have an eyebrow appointment at 10. I get an iced Americano from the cafe below my building ($5) and walk 25 minutes to the clinic. I get my brows tinted with henna ($50) — they're looking great. After, I run across the road to Mecca and pick up the NARS liquid blush in Orgasm, a Frank scalp scrub, a Brush and Sponge shampoo and a brush cleaning pad ($100). I head to the supermarket and pick up vermicelli noodles, rice paper, pork belly and lettuce ($40). I power walk home while listening to a JLo playlist. When I get home, I log in and make sure I haven't missed anything important (I haven't). I make an iced coffee and since I haven't eaten yet, I grab a Babybel from the fridge. $195
1:00pm — I smash out two hours of writing and send my report to my Principal Advisor. I have a 90-minute meeting starting at 1:30pm, so I quickly make lunch — a peanut satay sauce and three rice paper rolls with pork belly, vermicelli noodles, lettuce and cucumber. I also grab a bowl of pineapple, frozen blueberries and dark chocolate chips to snack on during my meeting. 
3:30pm — My meeting wraps up and I decide to bite the bullet and book in times to try on wedding dresses. I book in at two places and email a third — $100 paid on the joint card. I let two of my bridesmaids know so they can come along. I thought I'd feel excited about booking these appointments, but I just feel stressed. Scrubs plays in the background while I review some documents and organise my inbox. $100
5:00pm — I finish up for the day and decide to clean the bathroom, listening to a Casefile episode while I clean. After, I make a cold brew coffee for myself. 
8:00pm — D. gets home and spends ages looking for a new phone plan. We watch an episode of It's Always Sunny before he goes to indoor netball. I eat leftover tandoori chicken and watch the Tinder Swindler while I eat — that shit is wild!
10:00pm — I put on an Origins honey charcoal purifying mask. After a while, I take it off and moisturise my skin with the Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream. D. and I play some Overcooked before heading to bed. I win.
Daily Total: $295
Money Diaries are meant to reflect an individual's experience and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behaviour.
For many of us, money can be a major source of stress. But it doesn’t have to be. Become more confident with our beginner's guide to managing your money.

Do you have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Submit it here.

More from Work & Money