Where has all my money gone?

NZ Today - - TALKBACK -

My life is a bot­tom­less pit of spend­ing and what do I get in re­turn? That’s right, dis­ap­point­ment. What hap­pened to the days when a babysit­ter would look af­ter your chil­dren for $10 for the whole night? Now it is $15 per hour, they want sick pay and hol­i­day al­lowance, half of them be­long to a union and if you don’t have Sky TV, well for­get about it. It costs more to pay for the babysit­ter than the evening out with your friends.

And what about the cost of school lunches? I at­tempted to give my nine-year-old $5 for her lunch, think­ing that would be a gen­er­ous amount.

“Five dol­lars?” She asked me in­cred­u­lously, “what am I meant to get for five dol­lars?”

“Well I used to get a meat pie and a cream bun (re­mem­ber them, yum!) for about fifty cents when I was a girl” I re­sponded.

“But mummy, the na­chos are six dol­lars and I like to get a hot choco­late for morn­ing tea and some­thing sweet af­ter the na­chos, I need at least ten dol­lars”, she im­plored.

“Na­chos?” I say. Since when do school tuck shops sell na­chos? Have we all be­come posers? I live in Wellington, not Auck­land I think to my­self.

Now I know all about the time value of money. I have a de­gree in fi­nance and eco­nom­ics and I can as­sure you, even tak­ing into ac­count com­pound­ing in­ter­est, in­fla­tion and so on, fifty cents in 1978 does not equate to ten dol­lars in to­day’s terms.

The cost of liv­ing has spi­ralled out of con­trol and New Zealand is at the top of the heap in terms of be­ing ex­pen­sive. Ap­par­ently our cheese and milk are cheaper in Lon­don. When my UK-based sis­ter comes here to visit, she reck­ons apart from meat (which is more ex­pen­sive in the UK), gro­ceries are much higher-priced here. I re­mem­ber my­self, when I lived in the United States a decade ago, cloth­ing and makeup were a frac­tion of the price they are here and I am sure things have got­ten worse.

Even go­ing out to a café for lunch has be­come pro­hib­i­tive, let alone an evening meal. And go­ing to the movies is the same. In the school hol­i­days, if I take the short one and two of her girl­friends and they want pop­corn and ice creams, there is no change from $80. I hon­estly don’t know how some fam­i­lies af­ford it, par­tic­u­larly if they are on one in­come. I guess sadly, a lot of Kiwi chil­dren miss out on the school hol­i­day fam­ily movie rit­ual.

I just read that the av­er­age house price is $650,000 in Auck­land. Ab­so­lutely ridicu­lous. How on earth are peo­ple meant to be able to af­ford their first home? Wages have cer­tainly not gone up to the same ex­tent as house prices. Now banks want at least a 20 per cent de­posit. Un­less you are a cou­ple or go in with a fam­ily mem­ber or friend, you won’t be able to af­ford it.

I worry about how things will be for my daugh­ter when she starts work­ing. Un­like my day, she will prob­a­bly have a stu­dent loan (fin­gers crossed she goes to Uni) and have to go over­seas to make her for­tune.

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