Money Diaries

A Week In Wellington, New Zealand, As A Senior Analyst On $93,000

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Today: a senior analyst who makes $93,000 a year and spends some of her money this week on a toaster.
Note: The currency has been converted to AUD.
Occupation: Senior Analyst
Industry: Government
Age: 30
Location: Wellington, New Zealand
Salary: $93,000
Net Worth: $200,000ish ($57,800 in index funds, $23,000 in Kiwisaver (New Zealand's retirement fund), $8,000 in transaction and savings bank accounts, and half a home worth ~$690,000.)
Debt: Half a $466,666 mortgage, so $233,333
Paycheque Amount (Fortnightly): $2,360.45
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses

Mortgage: $1,243. I co-own a house with my friend and flatmate since owning alone is nearly impossible and we're both too single to get a co-owner the traditional way. It cost more than it's worth now, but we were lucky enough to buy prior to the real peak of the bubble and have been paying as much as possible in lump sums while we're on favourable interest rates.
I met him when I moved into a big student/hospo worker flat where he was already living about seven years ago, and we quickly became friends. I was looking on my own for about a year and a half, mostly at apartments, but the lending requirements on them are really strict in New Zealand, so I wasn't having much luck. Already having lived together made the decision to join up pretty easy, especially because the first place we considered was the big flat we already lived in! A builder's report changed our mind on that, but we kept looking anyway.
The housing market in New Zealand is really bad. It has some of the fastest growing house prices in the world (about doubling in real costs between 2010 and 2022). As such, having two incomes is basically the only way to service the necessary loans to buy property. Doing it with a friend or family member instead of a romantic partner still isn't common, but it's definitely becoming more so, with local banks starting to design and publicise standard mortgage arrangements designed for group purchases.
Utilities (Power, Gas & Internet): $320 (Higher than necessary in summer, lower than necessary in winter)
Mobile: $24.32
Meal Boxes (Woop's Foodie Menu): $265
Patreon: $8. I'm paying for a monthly membership to Naddpod.
Dropout Streaming: $7
Donations (SPCA and a local homelessness charity): $33
Savings Contributions: $420

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

Yes, I have a Master's degree. It was all paid through student loans. For my Bachelor's, I qualified for a living cost allowance which didn't have to be paid back, while my living costs for my post-grad were also loans. Total cost of that was $34,200, which I've paid off now.

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

Mostly, my education on money was that the cheapest option was always the correct one. It's taken me quite a bit to get over that as an adult and learn to buy things that will last or that I'll enjoy more, rather than always cheaping out.

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

At 13, I baked cakes for the dessert case at my stepmother's Thai restaurant. I also waited tables there. It got me much better meals than being at home and I got to keep the mark up on the cakes.

Did you worry about money growing up?

Yes. Growing up, we were too rural to be poor, exactly. We never went hungry with what we could grow or butcher. But we certainly weren't well off, especially when my dad lost his job.

Do you worry about money now?

A little, though I think healthily so. If I have particularly high-spend periods, I try to cut back and keep an eye on my savings. Right now, I'm comfortable, though we'll need to refix this year and our mortgage repayments are likely to need to rise a lot. New Zealand’s OCR has been rising steadily for a while to help control inflation, which is coming through at much higher interest rates. We’re fixed just below 3%, and unlikely to get below 6% when we refix this year.

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

17, when I went away to university. It was definitely the period in which I was most stressed about money since the student allowance was really not enough to live on, but I also didn't want to take out more loans or try to juggle a job too.

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

Yes. When I was 22, my oma and opa passed away in quick succession and left me $37,400, which is a big part of how I built my house deposit.

Day 1

7:15am — I wake up half an hour before my alarm — daylight savings is still carrying me through. The cat’s come in for cuddles, which I know is just because my flatmate has already gone to the office, but I pretend it’s a choice. I spend some time surfing social media and reading on my phone, even though I’ve got laundry to do. It’s a work from home day and the weather’s atrocious — no sense in rushing when it’ll need to go in the dryer regardless.
8:30am — Work time! I check my emails, and they’re clogged to death with meeting invitations. We’re about to have an acting manager for the next six weeks, so every regular team meeting and casual hui need to be canceled and rehosted. She’s supposed to be travelling to meet us today, but the weather means flight delays, so I gleefully cancel the icebreaker meeting scheduled for the morning.
9:30am — Admin briefly finished, I pop on a load of washing, then jump in the shower and wash my hair. When I get out, I see a message from said acting manager asking if I was going to join them in a meeting starting 20 minutes earlier. Damnit. Turns out the icebreaker was still on virtually. It’s halfway over, so I send my regrets and contribute to the brainstorm of fun team meeting questions and qualities we want out of a manager via IM instead. 
10:00am — As some sort of apology, while everyone else is finishing up, I answer some quick queries in the team inbox before shifting to quarterly progress monitoring and prepping for meetings over the next couple of days. It’s nearly Easter, so I pair work with a hot cross bun as well as my coffee. Why hot cross buns aren’t available year-round, I’ll never understand, but I’ll eat them as much as possible while they’re here.
12:00pm — Good thing I had breakfast, since the cat makes his way out of bed and wants a lap for second naptime. I abide by the rule that cats mustn’t be moved when sleeping, so I guess lunchtime will be a little late today…
I also get an update on a Society6 shipping order, which is exciting. I bought a set of ten frames some time ago, telling myself I’d find art a little bit at a time to build a gallery wall organically. A year into that plan, I decided to give up and just order a bunch of prints I liked online where I knew they’d be the right sizes and could see them all together on my screen. The only downside is that they’re all coming from the US, so I suspect it’ll be at least another month until I can hang them.
2:15pm — Turns out my unwillingness to move the cat is trumped by a constantly beeping dryer. Now I’m up, I eat a cold Turkish chicken salad for lunch. 
2:30pm — A friend texts to see if I want to go to a drag show in a few weeks. The local drag king scene is amazing, and I’m definitely keen. $17.22
5:10pm — Work’s over and I give myself a second to breathe before getting started on chores, beginning with feeding and drugging the cat (in reverse order, or he’d never be catchable).
6:15pm — Changed my sheets, cleaned the bathroom and emptied the dishwasher, after which I have officially run out of energy for cooking a real dinner. Instead, I chop up some potatoes for oven fries. With a glass of wine, it’s basically cuisine!
While I wait for it to cook, I grab my book, Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson. The mystery’s pretty good, but I'm not sold on the interactions between the main character and reader that pepper what would usually be introspective scenes or discussions between characters.
11:11pm — I think of 10:30pm as my bedtime, but watch me not hit it basically at all this week. At least I finished my book?
Daily Total: $17.22

Day 2

7:15am — I get up and hang out my sheets, which I set up to wash this morning the night before. It’s going to be a beautiful day, so I decide a heavy jersey dress is the right mix between how cold it actually is and the summery vibes of the blue sky.
8:25am — Basically punctual on leaving. I walk to work most days, which takes between a leisurely 45 minutes or a hustling 30. I usually allow for 30, don’t hustle at all, and then just skulk in late. Today was a 9:04am arrival, which isn’t bad and means I manage to find a sunny desk.
9:30am — Coffee with someone who’s thinking about transferring to our team. Hopefully I didn’t put her off — she seemed a little taken aback by how busy we are. Still, if that doesn’t appeal, better for her to know now. Coffee’s free at work, so no cost. I also eat the banana I brought from home for breakfast as I bounce between meetings.
11:50am — Lunch with a couple coworkers. We get Korean fried chicken and fries to share. I get a ginger beer, while they stick with water. We have a good yarn about restaurants and bars that don’t exist anymore, which is pretty classic Wellington chat. I pay for the whole meal ($49) as I have to get back by 1pm and leave the receipt with them to transfer me cash for. They sent over $31 to cover their share, so I essentially pay $18 for my share of food and drink. $18
2:56pm — Work social club announces cheap tickets to Wicked when it comes to town in August. I check what the full price would be, and immediately snap one up when I see it’s over half off ($27.89). I also grab a second, but that’s paid for by a friend who loves musicals. $27.89
5:15pm — I escape the office, but not work, as I spend my whole walk home on Teams. Despite my phone focus, it’s quicker than the way there, since it’s mostly downhill, and I’m home by 5:45pm to feed the cat and pull in the laundry. I grab some chocolate-coated almonds and a glass of wine and settle in with Breath of the Wild on the Nintendo Switch.
6:45pm — Leftover chorizo gnocchi for dinner. My flatmate gets home and we discuss the fact that the dryer’s been a bit rubbish lately and may have water trapped in the duct again. I volunteer his tall services to a quick fix over the long weekend, which he takes with relatively good grace, and promise that I’ll organise a plumber if we decide to get it properly sorted.
9:00pm — Watch a couple episodes of The Cleaner since I love Greg Davies, and then scroll through TikTok until 11:30pm, when I head to bed.
Daily Total: $45.89

Day 3

7:45am — Woken by my alarm. I have a text from NZ Post saying they failed to deliver a parcel at 6am, but the URL's a bit weird. I do some Googling and try to access the tracking number from their official website — no dice. I email NZ Post’s security team, who confirm it’s a scam, and then report it to the DIA. 
8:30am — The sleuthing took some time, but luckily it’s a WFH day. We’re technically flexible and allowed to work wherever whenever, but I prefer to keep my home days fixed on Monday and Wednesday so the team knows how to find me. I check my email and calendar from bed, and see that the social club is giving out Easter treats today! I immediately message a coworker and ask him to save mine for me, since I’m not in.
9:30am — Breakfast is marred by the toaster being broken. I remember toasting my hot cross bun a couple days ago, which definitely ended in a spark, and cringe. In the spirit of DIY, I flip the toaster and try taking the case off and check the lever, but two of its screws are stripped and they’re too deeply recessed to get at with anything else. I eat my sad half toasted bun, and text my flatmate to let him know we might need a Briscoes trip on the weekend. I also take out the trash and recycling, since my coffee sachet going in really was the straw that would have broken its back.
11:30am — I’m forwarded an ‘emergency’ request that needs to be done by tomorrow. There’s a suspicious two-month gap in the email chain, which I think has more to do with why it’s now an emergency than any actual urgency, but that’s not for me to judge… 
The sun’s out, so I migrate down the couch to lounge in it like a cat while I keep working. I also grab a couple of feijoas to snack on, even though I’m not too hungry, because otherwise, I won’t get a chance to eat until 3ish. My tree’s just a baby still, and only has one fruit, so I’m still relying on the kindness of friends and family to keep my fruit bowl full for autumn.
3:00pm — A gap in meetings, and time for lunch! The last of the leftover Turkish chicken, still delicious. I eat it while wrangling the data request. 
4:45pm — I’m sent my flu vaccine voucher. Work pays, which is awesome. I book it in along with my second Covid-booster next week, just before a dental appointment, and request the whole afternoon off as medical leave.
5:05pm — The cat gets drugged and fed. I usually like to make him wait a little after I finish work, so he doesn’t come tackle us the moment the laptop goes away, but I’m heading out for a Dungeons and Dragons game at half five, so it’s easier just to get him sorted first. Thankfully, I did get dressed and shower this morning (not always a guarantee on WFH days), so it’s just a case of gathering my dice and cards and changing from stained sweatpants to a pair of navy corduroys. I’m out of food too, so I include a reusable bag to get groceries on the way home.
5:45pm — As I’m walking over, pizza is pitched for dinner, and I’m immediately in. It ruins my plans to grab groceries, but leftovers will sub in tomorrow. I request an apricot chicken and cream cheese pizza, and jump in on some table wedges and delivery. $25.37
9:45pm — My leftover plans were almost scuppered by grabbing the wrong box on the way out. Luckily, I hadn't walked too far away, so my friend met me for a suspicious street pizza trade.
10:05pm — Once home, I spend some time chatting on Messenger and idly surfing Reddit. Another 11:30pm bedtime.
Daily Total: $25.37

Day 4

7:05am — Woken by the noise of coffee being ground in the kitchen. I remember that I left it in an absolute mess yesterday and cringe a little. By the time I get up, my flatmate’s at least turned the toaster upright, and I sort the rest by hiding most of the dishes in the dishwasher and wiping down the bench. Today’s outfit is pretty similar to last night’s — navy cords, a green tee, and a beige waffle knit sweater. I also throw on a denim jacket, mostly because I need something with big pockets and it’s still too warm for a full coat.
8:30am — I decide to take the bus to work and write my Money Diary for last night onboard. Nearly miss my stop, but that’s the price we pay. I pay for it using a prepaid Snapper bus card, and I think it takes about $1.30 off. I brought a banana for breakfast and eat it along with my free coffee at work.
11:50am — I’m incredibly busy today, so I’m pleased I brought lunch. Much quicker to race down and reheat pizza than to go and get something! I eat it at my desk, along with some baby spinach in a pomegranate dressing (also brought from home) and a handful of salt and vinegar chips (grabbed from the remains of someone else’s morning tea).
5:30pm — Finally done! I go to the supermarket and try to work out what I’m going to eat tomorrow. Exhausted from decision-making all day, I somehow walk out with chips, carrots and dip, and another pack of hot cross buns. It’s not going to be a healthy weekend! $16.45
5:45pm — I catch the bus home, unload my bag and feed the cat before racing out again. It’s the City Gallery late night, so I power walk over. 
7:00pm — Outside the gallery, there’s a Hong Kong food truck. I grab three pot stickers ($4.69). I donate to the gallery on entry ($4.69) and grab a glass of wine ($9.40). $18.78
7:20pm — First up is an illustrated lecture about one of the exhibiting artist’s favourite contemporary artists, billed as “20(ish) painters in 150 images in roughly 30 minutes”. My flatmate’s there too, so I sidle in beside him, and we catch up while the technology’s sorted. He arrived straight from work, so he heads out after the lecture, while I linger to check out the new exhibitions and try my hand at some still-life drawing. Once I’m tired out, I head home on the bus, though not before grabbing some wontons from the food cart ($4.69). $4.69
Daily Total: $79.84

Day 5

9:15am — It’s a public holiday! I wake up and my flatmate grills us some hot cross buns while I search for new toaster options. I send him an indicative range, and settle in to watch Dimension 20.
11:30am — There’s a very brief window of sunshine our backyard gets, so I pause my show to go clear moss out of the courtyard and clean the gutters. The inspiration lasts until the sun passes, so by 1:30pm, I’m back inside to vacuum and continue vegging out. After I finish D20, I start on a couple new episodes of Taskmaster.
3:15pm — Of the options I sent, my flatmate picks a long four-slice one that’s quite similar to our current. Probably sensible, given the fancy bread he likes to buy, but I mourn the cute mint green two-slice alternative I also pitched. I owe him money for an elopement gift we’ve gone in on together, so I buy the toaster ($72.85) and send him the other $19.67 I still owe. I’m really not sure what the gift-buying etiquette is for an elopement, but they’re having a party on Sunday, so we figured a nice bottle of whiskey wouldn’t go amiss. $92.52
4:00pm — An early dinner/late lunch of leftover pizza while I mess about on my phone. It’s a flea treatment night for the cat, to add to his usual dinner routine. 
6:00pm — My flatmate throws on Queen of Spades, a 1949 horror film. It’s delightfully tame by today’s standards and puts me in the mood for mysteries, so after we’re finished, I watch an episode of Agatha Christie’s Poirot while he does his dishes. 
11:00pm — I head to bed, and the cat comes in not too long after. I’m evidently forgiven for the flea treatment betrayal as he flops on my feet and settles in.
Daily Total: $92.52

Day 6

9:00am — I wake up slowly, and stay in bed playing on my phone and drinking my coffee. I’m going to a board game day today, and I can feel myself procrastinating because — though the people are lovely — they’re mostly the second-degree friends of my friend rather than actual friends, and it’s always a bit tiring to keep the conversation rolling.
10:45am — Determined not to be early, I leave and catch a bus to town ready for the second bus up north to the suburbs. Turns out it’s cancelled, so I’m going to be actively late, which is also not ideal. I check whether I can find snacks in town so I can at least get that errand done while I wait, but nowhere’s open on Easter Saturday except an exorbitantly priced souvenir and convenience store. I give up, and factor that into my apology and updated ETA.
11:36am — Once I finally catch my bus, I settle in with a new (to me) podcast: Who shat on the floor at my wedding? I love a true crime parody, and this one promises to be hilarious. Turns out one of my friends was on the bus with me, so we swing by the supermarket where I grab a six-pack of Bundaberg Ginger Beer and two bags of hot cross buns ($17.71). Then we walk over together. $17.71
3:45pm — Really fun day in the end! We played Werewolf Legacy, which is a social deception/bluffing game. We got through about three rounds before kids needed to be taken home for naps (and all the adults were pretty ready for one too). I get home bang on 5pm, ready to feed the cat, and collapse with my Switch before heading to bed at 10:15pm.
Daily Total: $17.71

Day 7

9:00am — A beautiful morning! I decide to get some work done, since it’ll be much easier to do without interruptions now than next week. Chuck on some Poirot in the background and start coding, waiting for the sun to directly hit our backyard.
11:30am — Taking full advantage of the sun (well, not quite… I wasn’t organised enough to do laundry), I get dressed in my gardening clothes, and go out to hopefully finish cleaning the courtyard. We definitely left the grass too long, because prising it out’s a real mission. I keep listening to my new podcast while I do, but it starts to drag near the tail end. Good concept, but it didn’t need 13 episodes, especially when (spoilers) the ending is inconclusive. If someone presents me with a whodunnit, I like to know the answer!
2:00pm — I finish my leftover pizza for lunch. It reminds me my meal box is due, so I put out the box and recycling from the last one for the delivery person to swap. This week’s meals are za’atar spiced chicken, teriyaki beef, and eggplant parmigiana. I love my meal boxes because they decide the menu, deliver all the groceries and pick up the recycling. They also do the more intensive prep (like making sauces and parboiling potatoes) for me, so I've decided to keep going with them even though it's definitely more expensive than just cooking the same things myself.
When my new box gets dropped off, I see that I've also been sent a pancake mix as a long weekend treat, which I appreciate, but it also calls for a lot of pantry staples. If I were the kind of person who had eggs and milk, I wouldn’t need someone to premix my dry ingredients, you know?
3:00pm — A shower and a facemask, ready to go out tonight! It’s kind of a friend’s wedding, but also they already eloped, so really more of just the reception. Either way, I’m excited! I spend the afternoon pottering, finishing my code and cuddling the cat, before putting on some makeup and pulling out a black jumpsuit. The dress code for tonight was ambiguous, so I’m going a little formal, but still comfy in white sneakers. I’m also not sure what the deal is with drinks, so I load up a backpack with the makings of Aperol spritzes, since they’re a great wedding cocktail and if there’s bubbly floating about, can be shared with anyone else who wants one.
7:05pm — My flatmate and I arrive punctually and pop our gift on the gift table. I wander upstairs to find somewhere out of the way to leave all my jackets and bag, and run into the bride, who looks amazing! I’m glad I went on the formal end since the couple wore their wedding outfits again and look incredible. Drink in hand, I head downstairs and settle in at one of the tables they’ve set up. I manage to snag one a bit out of the way, so I can call the dog over and give him scritches while I chat. It’s great to catch up with people I don’t often see, and I also get to meet most of the bride’s family due to my shameless dog-hogging. 
8:00pm — In a very on-brand move, the couple organised our regular pub quiz hosts to come as entertainment as well as guests, and we have a surprise trivia quiz! It’s great structurally too — a couple of rounds, then speeches, then a couple more rounds. There’s plenty of pizza and snacks and a delicious non-alcoholic punch I start alternating my cocktails with.
10:30pm — The quiz winds down. We came 4th out of 12 teams, which is a pretty good result! Apparently, the groom’s family were talking a big game beforehand, not knowing that a good third of the room live and breathe trivia. Afterwards, the front tables start being cleared away to make room for karaoke. Everyone sticks around for at least a couple songs (including a very cute rendition of ‘Bad Habits’ by one of the young cousins), and then the older people start trickling out.
12:00am — Technically, at this point, it’s midnight, and I can stop, but I’d feel dishonest if I didn’t confess that when I left — joining the 'close-it-out' crowd at about 2:45am — I left my phone behind. I decide to leave fetching it until the morning, partly in case the happy couple used our exit to go straight to bed, and partly because I’m not 100% sure I didn’t leave it at home… Still, an excellent evening!
Daily Total: $0

Anything else you'd like to add or flag?

I did find my phone in the end! It got put upstairs by a helpful table clearer, who thought it belonged to the bride. Also, this was a pretty good reflection on my drinking as well as my expenditure — I tend to have a glass of something most evenings, and this made me a little more conscious of that. I might try to stock some non-alcoholic options for the next month or so, and see if I can shift away from reaching so reflexively for wine or a cocktail to end the day.
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