Sunday, April 14, 2024

Money, Honey: Inside the Life and Budget of an Auckland Account Manager on $90,000 a Year

How much are we all earning? How does your profession add up? How are women your age spending their money? Is everyone in debt? And is the cost of living crisis biting everyone?

It’s time for some honest, candid conversations about money and budgets as we steer down a recession – so welcome to our new series ‘Money, Honey’, where we’ll be diving deep into the bank accounts of wahine across the country to truly get a sense of what’s going on in our piggybanks.

Up this week, Auckland sales rep Sarah!

Name: Sarah, 31

Location: Auckland

Living situation: With partner, one two-year-old child

Job: Account manager

Salary per year: $80,000 plus company car (pro rataed to four days)

Commissions: For the last 12 months, $10k

Take-home pay per week: $1,344 myself – together with my partner is around $3,000 per week.

My situation:

I live with my partner who makes a very good salary – more than $50,000 more than me. So in terms of the household finances everything is in one big pot, but we still have our own separate bank accounts as well for our own spending. Lately I’ve been very aware of my privilege – in my job I work with people who are on the breadline and struggling, even if they’re on a good wage or salary.

But in the last few years my spending habits have definitely changed – in large part due to having a child who are absolute money vacuums!

Weekly budget:

Rent/mortgage: $1,100 a week

Food: For the household, $350

Bills: For the household, $250

Day care: $280 (for four days)

Investments: N/A

Debt payments: None apart from the mortgage

Savings: $250

Spending: $250

What’s inside your bank account?

Savings: $$15,000

Kiwisaver: $11,352 (we used it to buy our house)

How do you approach budgeting?

I’m a pretty good budgeter – I’ve always been able to work towards savings goals, and I’ve just transferred that over to looking at finances. It’s almost easier when you have a kid to think about because it really eliminates a lot of the off-the-cuff casual I could do when I didn’t have my son’s daycare, food and clothes (and everything else!) to worry about.

Are you a spender or a saver?

I’m a saver but I also think that life is for living, so while I like to have a healthy amount in the bank so I’m not anxious about having to cover something unexpected, I also work hard to enjoy things that are important to me, like spending time with my friends and family. My partner’s family live in Christchurch so we travel down the line a little, and I’d like to think we could have a family holiday in the pipeline soon.

Do you have any debt, and what is it from?

No, apart from our humungous mortgage!

How has the cost-of-living crisis affected you and your spending?

It’s on my mind a lot – I know that our interest rates on our mortgage will go up a LOT next which I’m dreading, and like everyone else the food bill is bloody ridiculous. But while I say it’s on my mind, I’m again so aware that we’re ok in the grand scheme of things.

What are your financial goals?

I’d love to grow my investment portfolio, it’s an area that really excites me but I haven’t had the mental space to really dive in while managing a two-year-old, but I feel like now’s the time. And honestly, isn’t keeping on top of a mortgage at the moment a goal within itself?

What’s the best thing you’ve bought in the last three months?

A friend convinced me to purchase the Dermalogica – Daily Microfoliant and I love it! A little goes a long way and makes your skin feel amazing.

What’s the thing you regret buying the most in the last three months?

Cheap picture frames that fall down. I’m spending a bit more and going for quality ones next time!

What (if anything) are you saving towards?

My partner and I want to have another baby, so that’s a big savings goal for us – I mean you’re never ‘ready’ to have kids are you, but I’d like to go into baby number two as stable as we can be (ha, what even IS that?!).

Aside from the big stuff (rent/mortgage, bills etc) what’s your biggest source of discretionary spending?

I’d say a lot of my spending would go on wining and dining. I love good food (and wine!) so a long lunch with my girlfriends or a dinner out would be where my money goes.

Also, takeaways, after a long day at work sometimes cooking is just not happening, so our local Thai is our go-to.

Do you worry about money?

Sometimes. My partner and I work so hard for what we earn and we’re comfortable, but I grew up seeing my parents, who worked even harder, never quite manage to get ahead and it breaks my heart. I know how money can be fickle and how nothing is ever guaranteed, which is probably why I’ve been quite conservative with spending in the past (well, apart from the two years I lived in London because hell, that was my time for living my best life and NO regrets there!

Where do you think it’s worth spending money, and where do you think you can save it?

I’m not a big ‘thing’ person – I know it’s so cliché to say but you don’t regret memories. I’ll spend my money on socialising with my friends – well, as much as my son lets me! – and I never want to have to miss out on joy with the people I love.

But when it comes to the little things in life, I think things like good coffee, good bread and good wine are worth spending a little more on. You have to treat yourself!

Do you have any money-saving tips you’d like to share that work for you?

About three years ago we setup a bank account with a different bank. We don’t have cards linked to this account and set up an automatic payment that goes out on payday. It accumulates over time and isn’t as tempting to spend. Out of sight out of mind!

What’s the first and last thing you would cut from your spending if you had to make some savings? 

I’m never letting go of my favourite coffee – it’s one of life’s little pleasures! But the first thing to go would probably be spending on clothes. I’d actually like to try and arrange more swaps and thrifting meetings with my friends, so then you have new stuff but you aren’t paying. It’s a win win for everyone!

If you’d like to contribute to a Money, Honey story (anonymously!) please email [email protected]

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