finance

What My Salary Gets Me: A 28-year-old media worker on $95,000 a year.

Mamamia’s What My Salary Gets Me asks Australians to record a week in their financial lives. Kind of like a sex diary but with money. So not like a sex diary at all. We still find out the best-kept secrets though. We discover what women are really spending their hard-earned cash on. Nothing is too outrageous or too sacred. This week, a 28-year-old from Sydney, Australia, shares her money diary. 

Industry: Media and entertainment

Age: 28

Salary: $95,000 + super

Housing: Renting a one bedroom apartment with my boyfriend.

Watch: Simple budgeting with a banana. Post continues below. 

Video by Mamamia

Monthly expenses:

Rent: $1,326

Internet: $40

Private health insurance: $100.59

Phone: $50

Gym: $80

Stan: $10

Netflix: $10

Spotify: $12

Opal card: $40

Index fund contribution: $100

Utilities: $50

Savings: $36,000 cash savings, $6,000 in index fund share portfolio.

Debt: Proudly, none. Have paid off my HECS and cut up my credit card after reading The Barefoot Investor a few years ago.

Sunday – Day One

There is a torrential downpour happening in Sydney today which means it’s the perfect kind of day to be indoors. The only problem is that eventually, I will have to head out into the sideways rain as we’ve run out food.

To put off the inevitable trip to the supermarket, I make blueberry pancakes for breakfast using ingredients we already have.

I also start making sourdough bread for the week. It’s one of my favourite hobbies, and it’s also very cost effective – I make two loaves most Sundays and they average out to cost about $2.50 each.

Today I’ve made a dried fig and hazelnut loaf, and an olive and rosemary loaf, using ingredients already in the cupboard/fridge.

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The time comes where I can feel a headache start to roll in because I haven’t had my morning coffee. With rain jackets on and umbrellas in hand, my boyfriend and I head up to our favourite cafe for a coffee before we go to Harris Farm and stock up on provisions.

My coffee is $4.50 and my boyfriend pays.

I buy ingredients to make us a risotto for dinner (and hopefully enough for lunch tomorrow) and also stock up on some pantry staples. The groceries add up to $40.15.

Later in the evening, I remember my sister wanted gold stud earrings for her birthday next weekend so I jump on The Iconic and buy her a pair ($88).

Daily total: $128.15

Monday – Day Two

I have breakfast at home today – a banana and a piece of the fig and hazelnut loaf – then walk to work.

Today we have a client in town for a few meetings. One of the meetings scheduled near lunchtime is cancelled so we go out for sushi and work pays.

Because today was so heavy on meetings, I get caught up at work trying to get on top of my emails from the day and miss my gym class. I save $20 but it is disappointing because I genuinely love starting off the week with the Monday afternoon gym class.

On my way home, I stop by Chemist Warehouse to buy a new moisturiser because I have run out ($28.99). Then I go to Woolworths and pick up some groceries to make dinner ($19.47).

I make a Mexican bean and rice bowl for dinner and spend the night on the phone to my dad, mum and sisters, organising birthday presents as it’s also my dad’s 60th next week.

Daily total: $48.46

Tuesday – Day Three

I wake up, make a green tea and meditate using the Headspace app. The subscription fee, paid a few months ago, is $92 for the year.

I try to meditate each morning for ten minutes. It keeps my mind clear and I find I am so much more focused on the days where I do meditate than when I don’t.

I get lucky again with lunch today – our boss offers to order in Deliveroo for the office. We have a very small team and a lot of work to do so it’s not uncommon for our boss to shout lunch every now and then… plus you take the work perks when they come around, am I right?! I am right.

After work I walk home, get changed, go for a run around the park and then do a core workout with the Nike Training App (it’s free!).

I’m trying to do this thing this year where I don’t pay to exercise, instead, I’ll go running in the park, steal my boyfriend’s pool membership to swim laps and do free yoga workouts on YouTube. It sounds great in theory but being a self-starter in winter will be TOUGH.

I have the leftovers from last night’s Mexican bowl for dinner and watch The West Wing.

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Daily total: $0

Wednesday – Day Four

This morning is the same as yesterday – wake up, meditate, green tea then get ready and walk to work. I took a banana and the fig toast with me for breakfast to eat at my desk.

I spend the morning on phone calls, then tackling my inbox. Do you ever just stop and think how wonderful life would be without emails? I do.

Anyway, as I am desk bound and strapped to the keyboard, I resuscitate my risotto from Sunday night to have for lunch. It’s vegetarian so that’s fine, right?

On Wednesdays, I play social mixed netball with friends and then we go out to the pub for dinner.

It’s the highlight of my week and I would highly recommend it to anyone. Not only do you get a workout, but you also get all of the benefits of human connection, friendship, therapy, and a pub feed. Tonight we try a new pub and my meal is $23.

Daily total: $23

Thursday – Day Five

Wake up, meditate, get ready, walk to work, get to work, and then need to get something for breakfast because I’m out of bread. I head up to Aldi and in the interest of time and convenience, I just buy a box of knock-off Just Right ($3.30).

I get back to the office, eat my cereal with milk that we have in the fridge then head out to a couple of meetings.

When I get back it’s past 12pm and I am light-headed and need to eat immediately. I go up to our local Vietnamese shop and order their vegetarian vermicelli noodle salad ($11).

By lunchtime on a Thursday I have been paid so I go online and divide up my pay cheque – pay my weekly rent and internet amount to a separate account, and then split what’s leftover into Fire Extinguisher (20%), Smile (10%) and Splurge (10%).

After another eternity replying to emails and making phone calls, I pull up stumps and make my way home.

I have an itch to go out for dinner and drinks but resist and head to Woolworths to pick up some things for my go-to-weeknight-I-could-not-be-bothered dish: broccoli, peas and roast potatoes ($7.32).

I get home and decide I need to do something, anything, so I get out my yoga mat and do a 20 minute YouTube routine. Then I make dinner, watch The Bold Type, and scroll on The Iconic looking for work clothes.

Daily total: $21.62

Friday – Day Six

Friday mornings I go to my gym class before work, and work pays for this class – another perk (free).

From there, I walk up to the office, have a shower, get ready, eat my cereal, then go to a meeting. My colleague goes down to the bakery to pick us up some food for lunch. He pays because I bought lunch last Friday so now we’re even.

Today is Valentine’s Day and my boyfriend and I are going out for a dinner date.

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We have the 8.30pm sitting so we go to a bar for a couple of drinks beforehand. My boyfriend pays for the first round and I pay for the second ($23.23). Dinner is at a restaurant close to our home that we both always walk past and say “we should try there”. It’s a delightful three-course meal and a bottle of wine. It comes to $220 and my boyfriend pays.

I feel a bit of guilt because he’s in his final year of university and has recently started his own business. Money is pretty tight for him and I help when I can. He is a hard worker and I know both of our hard work will pay off one day.

Daily total: $23.23

Saturday – Day Seven

It’s the weekend so this is where things get interesting and can really blow out. I meet up with three of my girlfriends for brunch. We split the bill and my share comes to $32. I pay using my Splurge card. We then go for a walk up to the markets.

Two of the girls buy candles from one of the stands and I am so tempted, because our one candle is done, but I resist.

I come home, do some cleaning, put some washing on, read a little then get a bit of cabin fever.

My boyfriend and I go down to the cafe near our building and they’re about to close so they offer us two for one pastries. We double up and I pay ($9.30).

After lunch, we go and read in the park for a little bit before heading back home. We have no plans tonight so we decide on a hot date to Woolworths to stock up on food for dinner and some much-needed cleaning products that I need help with carrying home. It totals $75.53!

Daily total: $116.83

Weekly total: $361.43

Reflection

Saving in Sydney is hard, especially when you add in a social life. This was really good week for me financially, but it’s mostly because I’ve luckily been shouted quite a few meals.

As lovely as it is, this definitely doesn’t happen every week! A quiet weekend at home is also helpful, though sometimes a bit dull.

I know I spend most of my money on food, both by dining in and out. One thing I could improve on is meal planning and prepping for the week ahead.

I would love to own my own apartment one day, but I also want to enjoy my life, so this is the balance I’m always trying to strike with my finances.

The author of this story is known to Mamamia but has chosen to remain anonymous for privacy reasons. The feature image used is a stock photo from Getty.

Mamamia’s What My Salary Gets Me series drops every Thursday. Want to share a week in the life of your bank account with us (anonymously of course, no judgement here)? Send us your Money Diary to [email protected]

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