What My Salary Gets Me: A 26-year-old salon owner, currently on JobKeeper in Victoria.

Mamamia’s What My Salary Gets Me series 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 26-year-old whose business has been closed since March, due to COVID-19.

Name: Kirsten Laurie-Rhodes

Industry: Beauty Salon / Online Beauty Training Academy Owner in Melbourne, VIC. 

Age: 26

Salary: Last year I made $86,000. I’m currently living on product sales, $7000 from my superannuation and Job Keeper due to COVID. 

Housing: I moved in with my partner during COVID to save money. 

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

Video via Mamamia.

Monthly expenses:

Rent: $550 personal, $2291 commercial

Petrol: $60

Groceries: $300

Ordering In: $100

Phone: $162

Fitness: $0

Utilities: $100

Internet: $0

Health Insurance: $150

Spotify: $11

Savings: I have $5000 left from my superannuation which I haven’t had to use yet – I’m hoping I can return it.  

Debt: I have a car loan that I managed to pause for 6 months in COVID, and about $10,000 in credit card debt.

Monday – Day One

Each day starts the same, I wake up and make a coffee. I stopped buying take away coffee at the beginning of the year in an effort to have more savings. I am actually loving my coffee machine so I’m not missing coffee at all. Each coffee costs me 40 cents, and today I had three.


Each morning I also jump on Zoom to do a workout class. I am super lucky and my personal trainer and I have arranged a training/lash swap during COVID. I’m giving his partner lashes and DIY kits and he is giving me training! Welcome to the new COVID currency. Generally, I spend my days either working on new content for the training academy, or at the salon preparing it for when we are allowed to reopen. 

Today I choose to work on the academy. We are working on a masterclass as a refresher after months off due to COVID.

I eat out of my cupboard every day – I usually don’t eat breakfast, and will have last night's leftovers for lunch. I have leftover satay chicken today. ($5)

For dinner I try to cook something substantial. My partner is working from home so I like to have a nice meal with him each night. Tonight I cook steak ($6.50), home made fries and greens ($5)

Daily total: $21.50

Tuesday – Day Two

This morning I do a HIIT class on zoom. I am such a competitive person that each class I pick another attendee and have a little competition to beat them (they don’t know it’s them).

I smash my opponent today. 

Each Tuesday morning I jump on Zoom with my business coach and our business networking group. This usually results in my attention waning after about 45 minutes, so I catch the end of it on the recording later.

I have toast for lunch. Toast is such a versatile “meal” and I use it as an excuse any time I am feeling lazy. I have it with avocado, tomato and feta ($3.85).

Today I get stuck into some renovations at the new salon. I spend three hours holding a hairdryer to the window to lift off the previous tenant’s signage, and manage to sand, paint and install three skirting boards (we took out a wall so I used the boards of it) using liquid nails ($10). 

We have had to do the majority of our salon fit out ourselves to cut costs, so I am becoming very handy. I don't have to use many materials today, just leftover paint from other projects and a sander I borrowed my brother.

I cook up some mince meat ($2.25 p/serve) in some taco seasoning, and make home made burrito bowls tonight. 

I like them because they are cheap! They cost about $4 a serve.


Daily Total: $15.3 (cheap day)

Wednesday – Day Three

I’ve woken up on the wrong side of the bed; This happens a bit at the moment with our strict lockdown. 

I decide to do some at-home pampering, so I gave my hair a treatment and wash and blow dry it, put on some fake tan and waxed and henna my brows at home. 

Luckily having a salon, the entire treatment costs me under $5 ($4.50).

I have a mountain of bills to pay today; utilities from my old place before I moved ($154), my car rego (I opted to pay three monthly during COVID; $230) and my phone bill ($162).

At the moment, money really stresses me out, so I make my boyfriend hold the boxing pads for me and do 45 minutes of boxing at home!

I’ve been working on our new volume eyelash extension course so I spend the rest of my afternoon glued to the computer.

We order ROLL’D for dinner as neither of us can be bothered cooking and my partner wanted to treat me so it was FREE! Then we watch a few episodes of AP bio on STAN ($10 per month). 

Daily total: $560.5 … YUCK

Thursday – Day Four

I’m meeting with some tradespeople to quote the plumbing in the salon today, so excited to leave the house!

I also have some deliveries to pick up! Workout gear (Style Runner, $186), a probiotic powder and book on gut healing ($99) and our new tap wear for the salon ($200). 

I unfortunately seem to have champagne taste on a beer budget when it comes to interior design, so finding these stunning brushed brass taps on eBay for $100 less than everywhere else pretty much made my year.

After the tradies have come and gone I go on a cleaning rampage and scrub the construction site of a salon from top to toe.

I come home and my partner has cooked us spaghetti ($7 a serve), and we finish a bottle of pinot noir together ($23) because, as it turns out, plumbing a salon is not cheap!

Daily total: $515

Friday – Day Five

I always feel most lonely on Fridays as it is the third day in a row in my week home alone. 

I FaceTime two girlfriends all morning and join in on a HIIT zoom class.

One of my favourite things to do in iso is bake, so I go down to woollies and grab a block of black forest chocolate ($3.50) and some butter ($4).


I make one batch of blackforest and coconut cookies, and one batch of white chocolate raspberry cookies. 

With all the other ingredients I already had at home, these cost me about $11 for both batches in total. Naturally I must sample them and I end up eating 10 cookies.. oops.

I am surprisingly not hungry after that, and relax on the couch doing some work and binge Everybody Loves Raymond all afternoon. 

Tonight as part of a little series I am running on The Lash Squad Instagram, I attempt to give my partner a haircut and accidentally scalp him. 

Thank god I caught it on camera. We have fish and chips for dinner because we both end up drinking too many beers to count ($40).

Daily total: $51

Saturday – Day Six

Due to the excessively large amount of beers consumed last night, we sleep in until 11am.

We eventually drag ourselves out of bed and go for a walk to a local café. We get coffees and toasties ($21) and then come home and watch a movie we rented on Apple TV ($4.99).

Tonight I am hosting a trivia night with my family. I've made a family-themed quiz on Kahoot. My sister in the UK joins in, along with my three other siblings and parents. 

It turns out, five very outspoken children (with two very outspoken parents) makes for one incredibly loud and difficult Zoom. My dad wins - which to be honest I would be disappointed if he didn’t!

In true hungover fashion we order burgers on Uber eats ($32) and go to bed by 8:30. 

Daily total: $47.99

Sunday – Day Seven

Sunday is my FAVOURITE day. The weekly ritual.

I get up around 8 and walk down to the local café and grab coffees for us ($10), and the Sunday paper ($3).

I always sit down and do the Sunday crossword every Sunday, and see if I can get more clues than the previous week. 

This is followed by working out our meals for the week and developing our shopping list, and then I go and do the shopping. As a self-confessed shopping addict, without shopping centres going to the supermarket for an hour is the only fix I can get at the moment.

I bring the week's groceries home ($176) and put a lamb shoulder in the oven which I slow roast for the next eight hours in Middle Eastern spices.


Today we get some amazing news that the salon moving date has been moved forward an entire week in line with the next stage of restrictions easing!

I cry actual happy tears, then have a minor meltdown at the realisation of how much work there is to do in the salon.

I spend the rest of the afternoon making lists of the jobs that need to be done and making a start on a few of them. I order new work shirts ($80) and make a start on scheduling appointments from our waiting list.

Daily total: $269

Weekly total: $1480.29


This week has probably been the most expensive one I’ve had since lockdown began. I held off making purchases for the salon until I had an opening date, as I didn’t know how long my money had to last me.

I have cut back my spending on myself so much since COVID, mostly because I had to. I would always buy a new outfit for every event I had and would buy anything and everything. 

I have basically lost all of my income throughout this, and it's only JobKeeper, withdrawing from my super and the launching of our online training academy that has kept me afloat. Although, now I have withdrawn from my super I will have to repay that, so it really is going to cause me pain down the line. If anything, lockdown has made people want to return to getting beauty treatments done even more, so I know that when we reopen I will easily recoup my losses and gain extra clients. I have found lockdown extremely challenging compared to my previous social butterfly lifestyle; I wouldn’t spend a single night at home some weeks. 

This has given my partner and I a chance to really settle into living together; we’re rock solid now, so it has definitely brought us closer together.

I have reflected deeply on what my expenses used to be like on things I just didn’t need. I know moving forward I will always have that nest egg stashed away for when the unexpected happens. I have also figured out where costs can easily be cut when necessary, especially on our household expenses.

Kirsten Laurie-Rhodes is from Melbourne, Victoria. She is founder of The Lash Squad. Kirsten’s business closed in March 2020 due to COVID and is yet to reopen.

You can find them here.

You can catch up on our previous What My Salary Gets Me series here:

Feature image: Getty.