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Is it possible to save in NZ?

Is it possible to save in NZ?

Old Feb 23rd 2014, 2:58 am
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Default Is it possible to save in NZ?

Sorry this is a bit of a moan ~ in the UK Hubby only was working, we ate well, didn't go out very often at all, managed to pay all the bills and could manage to put money into our savings most months despite the occasional spree at Next! 18 months later in NZ, Hubby still working, me working too and we can't save at all. The groceries are outrageously expensive, clothes too, for decent quality. School uniforms, swimming lessons, kids sports, school fees, the list goes on... We do love living here but are really struggling to keep our heads above water despite almost everything in the trolley branded "Budget" and no unnecessary expenses. Is it just me?
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Old Feb 23rd 2014, 4:29 am
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Default Re: Is it possible to save in NZ?

Sorry to hear that Florabundi, it can't be a nice feeling, but I think it does depend on circumstances rather than country.

We save more than in the UK, but I work here but didn't work in the UK and our mortgage is far lower. Nothing to do with New Zealand per se, just economics. If I'd worked in the UK rather than looking after the kids then who knows?

Children also get more expensive as they grow up especially once they reach college - uniform, books, trips, stationery and now obligatory laptop. But this would be the same in the UK.

My parents were over at Christmas and were amazed at some grocery prices in comparison to the UK (chicken and milk expensive, but steak cheap), but we can't do much about it unless NZ becomes part of the EU and gets farmer subsidies We also discussed bills in general and came to the conclusions:
food - more expensive in NZ (but you need to take seasonality into account)
electricity - about the same
gas - they paid far more in UK but they've got gas central heating so can't compare properly
car insurance - we pay less
parking costs - we pay less
household insurance - about the same post earthquake
commuting (train) - we pay less than half for double the distance
internet - we pay far more


So all in all, our expenses were about the same, some things more, some less.

We've cut our food bills quite a bit by planning and shopping weekly and then withdrawing a bit of cash to buy the bits we need during the week whereas I used to go to Countdown fairly regularly and buy more than we needed and give in to temptation too much. We also turn our internet off at night to ensure teenage children actually sleep
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Old Feb 23rd 2014, 4:40 am
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Default Re: Is it possible to save in NZ?

Since your problem is not so much being able to survive but more around not being able to save, you can look at temporary solutions to the problem (because some of them may not be appealing long term). May I suggest the following:

1. First thing I notice is that you have teenage children so it won't be long before you no longer have school fees/uniforms or swimming lessons. If they get jobs you can hit them up for board (tax free income up to a certain limit). Or you can get a lodger in to fill an empty room (if you have one, or once they move out). Remember this only has to be temporary.

2. If the kids are going on to tertiary education they should still be getting part time jobs and paying some of their expenses themselves. This encourages independence and more careful budgeting from them. Ask them how they can help the family to budget - they may come up with some good ideas.

3. Cancel Sky and review your mobile phone usage and contracts to make sure you are on the cheapest.

4. Check you that you are on the cheapest power supply: https://www.powerswitch.org.nz/powerswitch

5. Use the internet for purchases - check the sticky thread here for ideas

6. Shop seasonally. In the UK we got used to cheap imports, but here off season food is expensive.

7. Look for other ways to make money - growing fruit and veg to sell or trade, make craft items, have a garage sale or sell stuff on Trade me. Have a think about what skills you and your husband have that are saleable. Maybe start your own business alongside current employment

Funnel any savings or extra income directly into a special savings account - mine has a good interest rate with bonus rate if I don't make a withdrawal. Also, plan long term. Maybe you can't start up a business now, perhaps you can work towards it once your kids have left home.

Those are some thoughts anyway.

Last edited by jmh; Feb 23rd 2014 at 4:50 am.
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Old Feb 23rd 2014, 4:50 am
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Default Re: Is it possible to save in NZ?

Great suggestions JMH

I should add a disclaimer to my post that we moved from the expensive South East Commuter belt around London to the way cheaper Kapiti Coast. Our 3 bed in the UK worth $600,000 would buy a very large house here probably with sea views, BUT If we'd moved to Auckland our economic situation and housing costs would have been very different.

People moving from cheaper parts of the UK to Auckland would experience the same problems as if they'd moved to London.

Following on from JMH's comments about college costs, we pay $50 monthly to cover costs (not including uniform and laptop) and most colleges allow you to start making payments while your child is still at primary school. We should have started this in year 8 to save being hit by huge costs when she started year 9. Her year 9 costs came to $450 not including most uniform, general stationery or laptop to give you a rough figure. Again, this could be more in Auckland?
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Old Feb 23rd 2014, 4:58 am
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Default Re: Is it possible to save in NZ?

Note that voluntary school donations are tax deductible:

As School Donations are voluntary contributions, schools do not have to pay GST on the money they collect. New Zealand tax residents can claim 33.33 percent of the donation back through the Inland Revenue Department, by filing a Tax credit claim form (IR 526) with the donation receipt attached after the end of the tax year (i.e. 31 March) in which the donation was made.
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Old Feb 23rd 2014, 5:13 am
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Default Re: Is it possible to save in NZ?

Thanks for the ideas ~ we have moved from rural Scotland to Dunedin, so some costs are bound to be higher. We do have heaps of stuff we could put on trade me that we brought with us that are surplus. No sky TV here! I am going to withdraw cash once a week for groceries and go armed with a list. It is very tempting to blow the budget when your favourite wine is on special! Growing our own veggies is something I will need to learn about but it should definitely be worthwhile. I guess we were just a little spoiled in the UK with supermarket special offers. It looks like we should be able to make it work, we just need to be a bit more creative! Teenage daughter does have a part time job and I ask her to pay for her own stationery for school and also her "want" items as opposed to her "need" items. We used to pay a small fortune for her toiletries but now she also pays for these herself. It used to be high end shampoo, conditioner, scrub, bubbles and moisturisers. Now she is paying it is special offer shampoo, conditioner and a bar of soap Lessons for the future!
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Old Feb 23rd 2014, 5:16 am
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Default Re: Is it possible to save in NZ?

Originally Posted by florabundi View Post
Sorry this is a bit of a moan
It's fine florabundi .If you can't have a groan here, where can you?

Is it just me?
I've had a lifetime of having to be careful about expenditure. I believe I know all the tricks and tips out there.
Saving is a struggle for us without kids so no , it isn't just you.
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Old Feb 23rd 2014, 6:37 am
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Default Re: Is it possible to save in NZ?

I have a normal job, nice house (couldnt afford it in the uk) and save $$$ every payday.
I run two cars, a motorbike, go out t'th pub a couple of times a week and eat out at least once a week.
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Old Feb 23rd 2014, 7:34 am
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Default Re: Is it possible to save in NZ?

I manage to save but I'm in a pretty different situation to you.
I'm single, no kids. I own my own home in Auckland and have a reasonably (but no where near a 6 figure salary) paid job. I dont really scrimp on stuff, have sky, broadband, dont grow veggies/fruit or anything and I'm terrible at shopping around. I save about $100/month as well as sticking $80/month into my car upkeep fund.
I know this sounds a bit like bragging but its really not, just showing that it is possible.
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Old Feb 23rd 2014, 7:45 am
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Default Re: Is it possible to save in NZ?

Well done ~ it can be done! I think I have to make changes to the way I shop and hopefully I will get there. Life was definitely easier for us in the UK but there are many advantages of living here so we are going to have a big push on saving money
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Old Feb 23rd 2014, 9:00 am
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Default Re: Is it possible to save in NZ?

I save about $300 a fortnight into a Superannuation (pension) fund, but I wouldn't 'save' any other way. I t just comes out of the wages, so I don't even really notice.
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Old Feb 23rd 2014, 10:30 am
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Default Re: Is it possible to save in NZ?

we can save more here than we could back in the uk. the main reason for it is that our lifestyle here is very different.

1) we go out a lot less here than in the uk. we spend far more time at home or at the beach = free
2) we only run 1 small car (compared to 2 cars in uk)
3) we eat less, especially less snacks or treats
4) we never or rarely go shopping (clothes) or accessory shopping, we just hang on if that makes sense. wear everything we have till it falls apart (hopefully will have a planned trip bk to uk by then to buy clothes). at the same time no luxuries or phone upgrades or anything materialistic.
5) we hardly ever drink. alcohol is expensive here, have bought 1 bottle of wine since xmas.
6) very rarely eat out or get takeaway. justifying even a dominos pizza is the norm now
7) when we go away, we go camping. holidaying in nz compared to uk is expensive. camping keeps costs low.
8) cheap $19 a month pre pay sim

i can save in the region of 2500-3000 a month by living like the above. if i wanted to buy a house in auckland, that would be the story of the rest of my life, but my savings would be spent on my extortionate mortgage. hence we are going back to the uk again in a few months, where hopefully we have some form of 'interesting' existence again.
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Old Feb 23rd 2014, 2:06 pm
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Default Re: Is it possible to save in NZ?

Originally Posted by MOSO View Post
My parents were over at Christmas and were amazed at some grocery prices in comparison to the UK (chicken and milk expensive, but steak cheap), but we can't do much about it unless NZ becomes part of the EU and gets farmer subsidies

Import costs and EU farmer subsidies are part of the picture, but New Zealand also puts GST (VAT) at 15% on all food, whether processed or not, unlike the UK. New Zealand also suffers from comparative lack of supermarket competition with only two corporations (Foodstuffs and Progressive) stitching up about 95% of the market with a cozy duopoly, unlike the UK where you have Tesco, Sainsburys, Waitrose, Morrisons for starters... not forgetting Asda, Lidl or Aldi either. Don't think things are going to change much on that score until New Zealand's population increases to perhaps 7-8 million, perhaps higher. Apparently Warehouse have tried to get into the grocery market with little success.

Not sure what the additional sin taxes on alcohol are, but that was also a disappointment when I was there. Admittedly, I only visited supermarkets a few times, but was a little surprised to see Wairarapa Pinot Noir more expensive in Masterton's Pak N Save than it is in my nearest Waitrose or Sainsburys here in London.

Personally, I don't support the idea of food and home energy being taxed at such high rates. It's highly regressive, hitting low and average income households the hardest as a proportion of an average household budget, especially as there's no zero-rated tax-free personal allowance on earned income in New Zealand. Think the UK's got this side of things right, to be honest... so there's a large range of factors that all adds up to making NZ a bit spendy when it comes to your shopping basket.

As far as savings go, in addition to all the advice given on this forum, there's always Oily Rag for tips and tricks.
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Old Feb 23rd 2014, 5:39 pm
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Default Re: Is it possible to save in NZ?

Have tried but things turn up. Daughters college cost, let's swap elective around so stuff already bought no good till term 3 now and need to get equipment for subject moved to. Need scan, so $250 required there. Tooth hurts so looks like visit to dentist after already spending $60 odd for hospital visit and prescription. All that just this months unforeseen costs.
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Old Feb 23rd 2014, 7:04 pm
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Default Re: Is it possible to save in NZ?

Originally Posted by davros1984 View Post
we can save more here than we could back in the uk. the main reason for it is that our lifestyle here is very different.

1) we go out a lot less here than in the uk. we spend far more time at home or at the beach = free
2) we only run 1 small car (compared to 2 cars in uk)
3) we eat less, especially less snacks or treats
4) we never or rarely go shopping (clothes) or accessory shopping, we just hang on if that makes sense. wear everything we have till it falls apart (hopefully will have a planned trip bk to uk by then to buy clothes). at the same time no luxuries or phone upgrades or anything materialistic.
5) we hardly ever drink. alcohol is expensive here, have bought 1 bottle of wine since xmas.
6) very rarely eat out or get takeaway. justifying even a dominos pizza is the norm now
7) when we go away, we go camping. holidaying in nz compared to uk is expensive. camping keeps costs low.
8) cheap $19 a month pre pay sim

i can save in the region of 2500-3000 a month by living like the above. if i wanted to buy a house in auckland, that would be the story of the rest of my life, but my savings would be spent on my extortionate mortgage. hence we are going back to the uk again in a few months, where hopefully we have some form of 'interesting' existence again.
To be fair though, you're not doing that on a mechanic's salary are you?
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