A Week In One Tree Hill, Auckland, As A Product Manager On A $338,000 Joint Income

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Today: A senior product manager who makes $175,000 a year and spends some of her money this week on bags of concrete for her DIY home renovations.
Occupation: Senior Product Manager
Industry: Tech
Age: 34
Location: One Tree Hill, Auckland
My Salary: $175,000. I just got a pay rise last week!
Partner's Salary: $163,000
Net Worth: $1.63 million, combined with my partner. We've been together for 15 years and all our finances are completely combined. This is made up of roughly $1.3 million in property (equity in our house and a commercial investment property), $200,000 in cash, $50,000 in shares, and $100,000 in managed funds, which includes both of our Kiwisaver. Our value has taken quite the hit lately with the downturn across the markets — lucky we're investing for the long term!
Debt: $567,000 ($325,000 in home loans and $200,000 in commercial loans. My partner also has $42,000 family loan as his parents lent him money when his grandmother passed away. He used this to pay off his student debt.)
My Paycheque Amount (Monthly): $9,525
Partner's Paycheque Amount (Monthly): $9,481
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses

Mortgage: $2,027. My partner and I live in a two-bedroom house that we own.
Insurance (health, life, car, boat, home and contents): $350
Rates: $150
Utilities (Water, Electricity, Internet): $250
Groceries: $500
Transport: $350
Entertainment and Wellbeing (Netflix, Spotify, meals out, therapy, appointments, etc.): $720
Between the both of us, we budget about $4,280 to spend on all expenses within the month. After these above expenses, we'll set aside a bit of cash towards our travel fund, investments, and a fund for house and boat maintenance, as well as unplanned expenses that fluctuate throughout the year.

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

Yes. I completed a Master's degree at a university overseas, paying for it from my own savings. It probably cost me $20,000. In hindsight, I would have done things differently — I would have kept the money in the bank, either looking to complete higher education through my employer, or maybe just not studying at all.

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

Money was a pretty big topic of conversation growing up, however, we never spoke about actual dollar figures — just concepts. When my grandfather passed away relatively young, my dad took on managing his estate to support my grandmother. As a result, there was often discussion about what shares were being bought or investment properties — that sort of thing. There was also a lot of discussion about what my parents deemed was worth spending money on (mainly having nice food in the house and schooling) and what wasn't worth it (cars and holidays). They emphasised the importance of hard work in setting yourself up for success.

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

I was 14. I took it upon myself to get a job and earn some money as I wanted to get some work experience. On weekends, I worked at a cafe in my small town — I’d make coffees, run plates, do dishes, and cook food in the deep fryer. Reflecting back, I probably got it to prove that I could do it. I also really wanted to live that value of hard work that was instilled in me as a child. Prior to that, I would occasionally do odd jobs like collating the local golf club programmes or delivering calendars — I was always scrounging around for some extra money.

Did you worry about money growing up?

Fortunately not. The only thing that concerned me was that my parents would often remind me that my school fees were very expensive. I never knew how much the fees were, but I knew that it was a considerable cost. I often felt guilty about it and like I had to make up for the money that was spent on my schooling.

Do you worry about money now?

Yes, especially now that I'm in my 30s. I feel very fortunate for what I have, but at the same time, I really want to make sure that we are set up for the future. I want to have a very comfortable retirement so we can actually live those years up. One of my rules to live by is “make hay while the sun is shining”.  With the cost of living being so high and continuing to escalate, it does cause me some worry.

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

At age 20, once I finished my university studies and got my first full-time job, I was completely on my own. My safety net is my savings, then investments that I could sell to raise a bit of cash if worst came to worst.

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

I have a small investment in a commercial property fund that pays out dividends rather than re-invests them, which is $250 to $300 per month. I also receive rental income from a commercial property in a business partnership with my parents, but that all stays within the business to pay off loans. I was also lucky enough to have received a lump sum of $10,000 a few years ago from my grandmother who decided that she wanted to make some disbursements to her children and grandchildren.

Day 1

6:00am — I wake up and after 30 minutes of scrolling, drag myself to my yoga mat. This morning consists of yoga and a light breakfast of chia pudding with a big mug of hot water. I tidy the house, then head off for a nice 30-minute bike ride through our local park with my partner, T., to see him off on his commute. I’ve recently taken a job working from home full time. The biggest thing I miss is my active commute to work, so I’m piggybacking on his commute! Most days, we'll just ride our bikes next to each other (occasionally holding hands).
9:00am — I log on to my work computer, check my emails and Slack messages, and have a few meetings. 
12:30pm — I take myself for a walk around the block while chatting to my partner, updating him on the events of my morning. Then I write in my journal — I like to journal right after my morning yoga, but I spent too long doing chores this morning so I catch up at lunchtime. I write three things that I’m grateful for from yesterday, my intentions for today, and any reflections from yesterday. Then it’s time to eat. Our fridge is completely bare at the moment — we’ll have to go to the supermarket this evening. I make a ‘bunnice’ burger out of some mince and the last half of onion, tomato and cucumber that we have left, plus some lettuce leaves from our last iceberg lettuce. 
1:15pm — Back to work for some more meetings. Lots of changes are happening at work at the moment, so uncertain times are making for difficult and taxing conversations. By the time I’m finished, I’m exhausted and need to take a half-hour break before my next round. Because we have no food and I need a sugar hit, I consider walking to the dairy for a pick-me-up. Instead, I opt for the last dribs and drabs of any chocolate I can find in the house.
5:00pm — Finally knock-off time. It’s been a long couple of days, so I veg out on the couch with some trashy reality TV. I’m supposed to run to pick up T. after his commute, but he’s late leaving and it’s getting dark — there goes my excuse!
6:30pm — We need to leave shortly to pick up some DIY materials ($45) that we’ve bought second-hand off TradeMe, so I make some more ‘bunnices’ for a super quick dinner and then set off to pick up our steel reinforcing. It’s about a 30-minute drive one way, which is a bit of a chore. But the pick-up is easy and we’re getting way more than we bargained for! Excellent! We’re doing some landscaping and building a retaining wall. We are expecting the full scope of our landscaping to cost us around $5,000, but we’ll break it up into stages. Because we're doing so much of the work ourselves, it'll work out tens of thousands of dollars cheaper than bringing in professionals. Plus it’s a bit of a challenge and fun for us. $45
9:00pm — After dropping our supplies at home, we head to the supermarket when it’s a bit quieter and do our once-a-month large grocery shop. Grocery prices are just out of control here, and we end up paying $370 — almost our whole monthly budget on just the first day of the month. Throughout the month we should just be grabbing fresh fruit and vegetables — fingers crossed we haven’t forgotten anything major! We got such a massive haul that it takes us another 30 minutes to pack it all away. I’m finally in bed at about 11:00pm. $370
Daily Total: $415

Day 2

7:00am — Late wake-up today and a very slow morning of journalling, breakfast and getting ready for the day. I bought two cheap pork shoulders to slow cook and freeze during our grocery shop last night, so I prepare them for cooking later — marinating them in paprika, garlic, brown sugar and seasoning.
9:00am — Log on to my work computer and review my calendar, clear emails/Slack messages, and set my intentions for the day. It’s going to be another gnarly day of meetings, so it’s important to make sure I’m in the right headspace.
9:45am — I head out for a walk with a former colleague who lives in my neighbourhood. We go to the local cafe and I opt for my drink of choice — a hot water. My companion orders a hot chocolate and a smoothie. After about 45 minutes, I’m back at home and joining some meetings, which are mostly through the afternoon today.
12:20pm — One of my meetings finishes 10 minutes early so I take this opportunity to put the pork I prepared this morning onto the stove, adding some beer to the mix. It will slow cook for three to four hours. Once that’s on the go and turned down to a simmer, I head back into meetings.
1:30pm — I’ve been craving pesto and tomato on crackers, so I opt for a very simple lunch, despite having a full fridge of food. I scoff it down while in meetings. I continue working for the rest of the day.
5:30pm — My partner arrives home with some treats and Febreze that he picked up on the way from the dairy ($11). Even though our fridge is packed, there is still some mince leftover from yesterday's bunnices. So it’s round three of bunnice burgers for me. The rest of the evening is spent blobbing on the couch while I toil away reading work documents to get prepared for a new remit that I’ll be taking on in the next week or so. $11
8:30pm — I’m surprisingly tired this evening so I head to bed early.
Daily Total: $11

Day 3

5:40am — Heading to bed early has worked out well as I earn a 90% sleep score and wake up pretty alive by the time my alarm goes off. In the last few weeks, I’ve been using a sleep app as my alarm. It uses a time window and sets off a lovely quiet alarm when it thinks you’re at your most awake. I take my time getting up this morning, having a scroll on Instagram, doing my Wordle (in three today!) enjoying a lovely pink sunrise.
7:15am — We head to Bunnings to grab the last of the supplies that we need this morning for our DIY project. We’re landscaping, and it’s been raining a lot the last week. This weekend is not forecast to be any different, so we really want to make sure we have as much dry time possible to get work done rather than tripping back and forth to the shops. We’re getting concrete, mortar and odds and ends today, but we pay with a Prezzy card voucher that I was given when leaving my last job, so we don't pay a cent. We do need to fill up the car with petrol so we get that chore out of the way too — $117 later and ouch! This price inflation is really biting. $117
9:00am — We are in the planning stages of quite a considerable extension to our house. There is some demolishing happening near our neighbourhood and we’ve reached out to them to see what we can scavenge that matches our existing house. Anything we can re-use or bring back to life is fantastic, as getting anything custom to match what we already have will be an expensive exercise. So we head down to meet the development manager who gives us free rein over a container of salvaged stuff. We grab two doors that match ours and grab the details of the demolition people as we'll need them for the next round of development.
9:20am — After getting the doors home, I have some toast for breakfast and log on to my work computer and start my day. Today is going to be pretty quiet which is nice after a heavy week AND it’s the eve of a long weekend — bonus! 
2:30pm — After being in meetings and getting a bunch of handover work done, I grab another lacklustre lunch and get through some work on the finances for our company. T. and I are in an equal partnership with my parents on a company — we currently own one commercial property together. My dad runs the property management side of things and I run the financials. So today, I’m reviewing our finalised returns, paying the accountant, and completing the current GST return. It costs us $3,000, but it’s all out of our business account rather than our personal account.
5:30pm — It’s the Friday ahead of a long weekend and it’s been a rough week. So after a few hours of reading through documents to get myself up to speed with my new remit, I log off. We make ourselves dinner and have a relaxing evening. The weekend forecast is for a lot of rain so we know Saturday will be a big day. We’re in bed by 9:30pm and watch a little bit of Netflix before falling asleep.
Daily Total: $117

Day 4

6:00am — I’m up after a good long sleep (and a great sleep score, according to my sleep app) and have a nice relaxing yoga session before the world wakes up. I write in my journal and get dressed for a day of DIY. We have a light breakfast and are outside by 8am, ready to start the day. Thankfully, because we bought all the materials during the week, we should be able to spend our whole day focused on getting as much done as possible before the rain comes. We don't want to make too many trips back and forth to the hardware store. 
1:00pm — After a full morning of site prep and laying and levelling the first layer of concrete blocks, I grab us a super quick lunch while we work. Frozen pumpkin soup leftovers from a big tub I made for friends with a newborn, some Vogel's bread, and a chocolate bar for T. 
5:00pm — We’ve got the whole wall up and we’ve run out of concrete with only just over half of it poured. T. takes off for what is thankfully our only trip to the hardware store of the day, and grabs some more concrete and odds and ends (including a torch) ($96). While he's gone, I pack up the site and clean everything we no longer need before the sun sets. $96
7:45pm — We finish pouring the concrete in the dark and get everything packed away. We finally head inside to shower and sit down after what has basically been a 12-hour day of hard labour with no breaks. Unsurprisingly, we don’t have any energy to cook, so we grab fish and chips from our local ($20) and are asleep before 10pm. $20
Daily Total: $116

Day 5

6:00am  — I’m awake by 6am. I can feel all the muscles in my back. I notice the rain forecast has changed and we have until about lunchtime before it packs in. I research additional waterproofing and drainage solutions above and beyond what we already have planned. I also see a bitumen paint product that we need. We have to grab some capping blocks anyway, so by 8am (opening time), T. is at the hardware store while I am finishing off the last of the mortar that we couldn’t complete in the dark yesterday. The additional supplies cost us $99.
12:00pm — The rain starts and we’ve got our coats of paint onto the wall. Tomorrow we’ll put the drainage in, but seeing as it’s raining, there’s not much more we can do today. So we have lunch. I make us a treat — toasties with tomato and cheese and some leg ham that T. won at a golf match. I also make us some oat cookies — yum!
2:00pm — We head out to a very cool garden centre in the rain to look for some plants. Unfortunately, they don’t have what we’re looking for so we walk away empty-handed and decide to propagate our own. Even though it will be a slower process than we were looking for, it will be free! We set about learning to propagate from the internet and harvesting and planting our cuttings.
5:30pm — It’s been a lot of time out in the rain this afternoon, so I decide to have a relaxing bath while all our dirty clothes from being outside are in the washing machine. I’m a big Agatha Christie fan and I’ve found this British murder mystery series online, so I watch that as I soak. 
7:00pm — I’ve got the washing into the dryer and T. has made dinner — Mexican salad. We settle in to watch a couple of episodes of a series we’re watching, The First Lady. We’re both really enjoying it. We’re asleep by 10:30pm.
Daily Total: $99

Day 6

6:30am — A long weekend! Thank goodness. It’s pouring outside so we’ve got nothing to get up for today. I stay curled up in bed, messaging a few friends who live in Europe, and reading my book while T. continues to sleep. I’m reading A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman — I really enjoy his humorous, heartwarming stories. 
9:00am — While I fold the washing, T. is lovely and makes me a poached egg and bacon in bed. We eat together before deciding that it’s a good idea to get up and make the most of the day. The rain has finally started to calm down somewhat, so we head outside to check our handiwork, do some transplanting, and start to lay the drainage. We won’t backfill the wall until the concrete has cured so with this weather it might be a couple of weeks — but we’ve got plenty of things to do as we continue our landscaping project. 
11:30am — The next step in our project has hit a little bit of a snag because we ideally need to hire a tradie and the job is a little bit tricky. Being a public holiday and everything, we’re thinking we’ll need to wait until tomorrow to get things organised. But being impatient, I log onto Builders Crack and decide to list a job — just in case we get any bites. Within two minutes, I have about three enquiries. The first guy is keen to come right away and says he’ll be here at 12pm to assess the job!
12:00pm — The tradie arrives and assesses the job. He checks his van and has all the tools he needs to complete it on the spot. Less than an hour later, the job is done — unbelievable! ($160). By the time the tradie is off on his way, the rain has fully cleared. T. spends the afternoon watching Game 2 of the NBA finals, while I continue to potter outside, clearing plants for the next phase of our project. T. comes out to assist when it’s clear the game is over after the third quarter. $160
4:30pm — Inside again and time to finish my book. It’s a pretty light read, so I finish it within an hour or two. T. heads off to play touch footy at about 5:30pm, so I take the opportunity of a quiet, empty house to do some yoga and prepare for dinner. Just as T. arrives back, I finish off yoga. We have a roast vegetable and kale salad for dinner and I finish preparing some stewed rhubarb and apple for this coming week's breakfasts. 
10:30pm — After a very relaxing evening, we head to bed.
Daily Total: $160

Day 7

6:30am — The weekend is over and it’s back to work today. The weather is super gloomy and misty this morning, but T. is heading into the office, so I hop on my bike alongside him. After, I head out for a bike ride by myself, then come home for a breakfast of healthy apple and rhubarb crumble, made with the fruit I stewed last night. I top it with a mix of blitzed nuts and seeds. 
8:00am — I do a wee yoga session and write in my journal before getting ready for a day of sitting inside at the computer. My work day starts at about 9:30am and is filled with meetings!
10:00am — I notice that the green waste people have arrived to pick up a 60-litre bag of waste I’ve left on the street. They’re a new business starting up, so it’s been quite cheap. Today it costs us $23 because we need to pay an annual fee. We usually have to pay an extra $23 each time they pick up a bag, but seeing as this is our first pick-up, they’ve given it to us for free. $23
1:15pm — I have a tiny 15-minute break in between meetings to have some lunch. I accidentally burn my kale, but it somehow still tastes good. Waste not, want not! Throughout the afternoon and evening, I graze on fruit, chocolate and cheese.
8:00pm — It’s been a long day at work, but it’s finally time to shut my computer. After returning home a bit later, T. kindly makes dinner. We eat it on the couch while we watch an episode from one of our favourite sailing channels on YouTube. It's a nice reminder that our own little sailboat is well overdue for some TLC. As a way of winding down, I spend the next hour or so playing the guitar. Then we’re in bed by 10pm.
Daily Total: $23
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