Grocery Shopping
Can you feed a family for under $300 a week? You can. But it will mean a lot of work on your part.
According to the latest annual survey (March 2008) by the Department of Human Nutrition at the University of Otago, a family of four can live on a basic but nutritional diet (including non-food groceries) for around $220 a week. A couple can get by on $120. Both of these are in Auckland - if you live elsewhere, where choices of large supermarkets are fewer and farther between, you should allow a few more dollars for top ups at the more costly local dairy or Four Square.
"Basic" means you will be making everything from scratch - no ready-made pasta sauces, frozen or chilled ready meals or bought cakes and biscuits. That's not for you? Then the Otago study suggests your weekly supermarket shop could range from $300 to $370 for a family of four or $168 to $212 for a couple.
www.consumer.co.nz the NZ equivalent if Which? carries out regular supermarket price surveys that show some supermarkets can charge up to $20 more for a basic basket of goods costing around $130 at Pak'n Save (Pak n Save is the consistent winner in their supermarket price surveys).
Top money saving tips
Buy fresh produce only when it's in season and check out the prices at the local greengrocers and farmers markets.
Try a dummy grocery shop online with Foodtown to compare a range of like for like, or similar products to what you would buy in an average week or month. Foodtown is not the cheapest supermarket, but will give you a good idea of what to expect.
Loose bulk dry goods, washing powder, flours, spices etc. can be bought from places like Bin Inn, which is often cheaper than buying packaged products.
It always pays to check prices and get to know the prices of the things you buy in order to spot the real bargains.
It is also beneficial to take a calculator shopping to check which product is the cheapest on a unit weight basis. Unusually, the biggest pack is not aways the cheapest and quite often two small items are cheaper than the larger packs.
Always check the best before or sell-by-dates; these are often very close to expiry (without being marked down) and don't be at all surprised to find things in supermarket fridges that have already passed their sell-by-date.
Next to food shopping, the largest bill through your mail box will be for power. Mainly we're talking electricity, as very few places have reticulated (piped) gas, although many do rely on LPG bottled gas (45kg) for heating water and cooking.
You can check out providers and price plans for electricity at Powerswitch , useful to keep an eye on this from time to time to check whether you are getting the best rates possible.
 Telephone and Internet
The options are varied, the biggest and by no means the best, providers are:
Telecom Xtra who offer various plans for home and mobile telephones, internet broadband. In Auckland we pay a fixed standing telephone charge of approximately $40 per month, which allows 'Free' local calls. Not being up to date since we moved away from Telecom, the all singing and dancing top level broadband was approx $60.00 per month. Rated consistently poorly, with slow connection speeds, but have recently announced a major $1.4 billion upgrade to ADSL2+ technology promised for 2009.
Orcon has a reasonable reputation, with a range of plans. Their 'top of the range' ADSL2+ Platinum Plan with 25GB of data, telephone line with unlimited calling around NZ and to one overseas country of your choice, is currently $120 per month.
Vodafone (Formerly iHug)
Inspire gets good rating and reviews
 Sky TV
Currently $46.12 per month for Sky Basic
with Sky Movies add $20.88 pm and Sky Sport is $26.34 pm extra
MySky HDi has an installation fee plus $15 per month OR a one off $599 joining fee.