Saturday, April 20, 2024

Money, Honey: Inside the Life and Budget of a Wellington Payroll Manager on $32,000 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 it’s 27-year-old Nalima*, a payroll manager from Wellington – and Click here for our previous Money, Honey instalments!

Name: Nalima, 27

Location: Wellington

Living situation: With my two-year-old Jamie*

Job: Payroll manager

Salary per year: $32,000 (I work 25 hours a week)

Any other income: Government support, child support

Take-home pay per week: $517 in salary, $319 in government support, $300 in child support (A mix of help like Sole Parent Support, Accommodation Supplement and Best Start Tax Credit) = $1136

Investment returns: None

My situation: I’m a single mother after having my son Jamie in 2021 and he mostly lives with me, seeing his father one weekend every two weeks. I rent a granny flat in Petone for him and me and it’s just the two of us. I don’t have much family in Petone, just a cousin, with the rest of my family scattered around the country and the world. So it’s up to me to make sure I provide for Jamie. I never, in a million years, thought I would be on benefits and if I am quite honest I’m a bit embarrassed of it but I get over that pretty quickly because Jamie’s well-being is the most important thing. I work 25 hours a week but I’m lucky I can work from home a lot. Jamie goes to my cousin’s house one day a week and childcare one day a week so I can get as much work done as I can, and I split the rest up the rest of the week (I’m so thankful for understanding bosses!).

Weekly budget:

Rent/mortgage:  $420

Food: $190

Bills: $210 (water, power, internet, insurances, phone, Netflix, petrol, public transport)

Childcare:  $140

Debt payments: $50

Savings: If there is any left…

Spending: $126 (the rest) – nappies, clothes (why do they grow so fast) haircuts, etc

What’s inside your bank account? $210. This is a lot for me actually because lately my bills have gone up so much but I’m working on trying to get this up. I don’t know what I would do if my car stops working or anything like that.

Savings: $210!

Kiwisaver: $7,021

How do you approach budgeting? Carefully. I find I can save the most money with food shopping so I do a lot of meal planning to make sure I’m making the most of what I buy.

Are you a spender or a saver? I’d like to be a saver.

Do you have any debt, and what is it from? Yes from buying my car and also from when I had to take an overdraft out last year because I actually ran out of money. Now I’m determined to not be in that situation again.

How has the cost-of-living crisis affected you and your spending? A lot. Things were pretty tight before but I’ve definitely noticed the pinch a lot especially with veggies and meat so I do vegetarian more now. I also had to do a big clothes shop for Jamie recently because he is growing so quickly and that added up like never before too.

What are your financial goals? Make sure I’m out of debt asap – that $50 a week will be amazing. I can’t wait.

What’s the best thing you’ve bought in the last three months? I bought a second hand air fryer of Facebook marketplace for $35 which I ummed and ahhed about but it’s really sped up cooking, which gives me so much more time with Jamie in the evenings. I’m obsessed. I make homemade chicken nuggets for him and I’ve started making fried chickpeas for me.

What’s the thing you regret buying the most in the last three months? I honestly don’t think I’ve regretted anything because I think about everything I’m buying so much, so I guess that’s something!

What (if anything) are you saving towards? A rainy day, for sure. Although I’d like to be able to take Jamie away on a bit of a holiday in the summer but we’ll see.

Aside from the big stuff (rent/mortgage, bills etc) what’s your biggest source of discretionary spending? Food mostly, although in the last few weeks it’s been very cold so our heating bill has been higher than usual.

Do you worry about money? Every day. I know I’m just one disaster away from an even bigger disaster but I also know that I’m doing my best. I’m also really grateful for the help I get from the government. I think I’m lucky.

How much money (honestly) do you think you’d spend on an average day? I’ll very occasionally treat myself to a hot chocolate down the road when Jamie and I go on our walks (they still do free fluffys), but otherwise I’m pretty strict.

Where do you think it’s worth spending money, and where do you think you can save it? I used to think fresh fruit and veggies but I’ve been using frozen for a while now because it’s so much cheaper and I think it’s just as good. I think you can find a bargain with most things.

Do you have any money-saving tips you’d like to share that work for you? Menu planning is my biggest one… plan meals that use the same ingredients so there’s no waste and you can buy better, and you can also make double of some things so you can use it for lunch too. Also Facebook marketplace has heaps of good stuff too. Also when I can I go to the toy library so Jamie has new toys, and I don’t have to buy them. It’s so great. It’s $75 a year but you can also get a bit of help if you can’t afford it, I was given my membership as a birthday present.

What’s the first and last thing you would cut from your spending if you had to make some savings? I really don’t know I think I’m at bare minimum right now! I guess Netflix – but it’s a lifesaver when you’re at home alone with a sleeping kid!

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