finance

What My Salary Gets Me: An Executive Assistant on $70,000, who has a long-term money strategy.

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 24-year-old Executive Assistant tells all. 

Age: 24

Occupation: Executive Assistant

Salary: $70,000 + super (paid monthly)

Additional Income: $4,000 (paid weekly)

Relationship Status: De-Facto with partner of 18 months

Given my partner and I budget together for our living expenses and our future, I will include him in this too.

A study found the optimal salary for happiness, and it’s more achievable than you might think. Post continues after video. 

Partner’s Age: 28

Occupation: Internal Transportation Liaison

Salary: $70,000 inc. super

Additional income: $10,000 (paid weekly)

Combined monthly income: $8,850 approx.

Monthly expenses: 

  • Groceries: $600 ($150 a week)
  • Rent: $1,600
  • Gym Membership: $80
  • Car repayment: $600
  • Petrol: $520
  • Public transport: $160
  • Phones: $250
  • Internet: $100
  • Netflix: $10

Combined assets: None.

Saturday – Day One.

6:00am wake up this morning, much to my partners misfortune, and I get to the gym ASAP for my workout. Gym membership is $80.00 per month, which deducts from our billing account on the 1st of each month. Today is the 11th so I’m in the clear today!

By 7:30am I’m home for breakfast which consists of oats, almond milk, a banana and a coffee from my Nespresso coffee machine. All this is covered in our weekly grocery bill, so today it’s free.

From 9:00am – 11:30am I teach dance classes in a neighbouring suburb, I earn $100 for the 2.5 hours (#hustle). Classes only run during school terms, so I work about 40 weeks of the year for this particular studio. I top up with petrol on my way to the studio which costs me $40.00.

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After dance we head to my sister-in-law’s for my nephew’s birthday. My partner went and bought our nephew’s gift while I was teaching, and it came to $50.00. While he was at the shopping centre my partner also did our weekly grocery shop which totalled $150.00.

When we got home we had homemade spaghetti bolognese and watched Netflix. Both of these expenses have already been budgeted for in our monthly spend.

Daily Spend: $240.00

Sunday – Day Two.

My partner started his shift at his weekend job at 8:30am this morning, so I rolled out of bed just as he was leaving.

He doesn’t eat breakfast and he takes a packed lunch to work which comes from our grocery budget.

I enjoy my Nespresso coffee, oats, banana and almond milk. I’m a creature of habit.

I spend the morning cleaning the house and getting our laundry done from the week prior.

At 12:00pm I chow down on some delicious left over spaghetti bolognese from the night before.

Once I’m done I throw the lamb shanks from the freezer into our slow cooker and add potatoes, carrots and recipe base.

Sunday is my chill day and my introverted self is so excited to settle in for an afternoon of Harry Potter movies and knitting. At some stage I fall asleep because when I wake up its 5:00pm and my partner is calling me to say he’s gone for a drink after work with mates of his. He ends up spending $22.00 and is home by 7:00pm, which is when we have dinner together.

Daily Spend: $22.00

Monday – Day Three.

Rise and grind! This morning starts at 4:30am with a 4:45am gym session.

By 6:30am I’m home eating my usual breakfast and preparing for the day.

My pre-paid Myki gets me to the office by 8:00am and I eat my packed lunch at my desk around 1:00pm.

Work supplies fruit and beverages free of charge, so any additional snacks or drinks I feel like during the day are both healthy and free.

I leave the office at 6:00pm and take the train home.

I make it back by 7:15pm and my partner has made chicken kiev for dinner from our weekly groceries.

Daily Spend: $0.00

Tuesday – Day Four.

Sleep-in Tuesdays mean no gym and a 6:30am wake up.

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My day follows the same trajectory as Monday did except I get myself a $2.00 coffee from 7/11 on my walk from Flinders Street station to the office. Mostly because I can.

I meet up with two colleagues from my old job for a coffee during my lunch break. To avoid the shakes I get a chai latte for $5.50.

My partner also spends money on a treat for himself today, he gets a smoothie from the café at his work for $7.00.

Daily Spend: $14.50

Wednesday – Day Five.

This morning I’m back in the gym by 4:45am.

Train to and from work with an 8:00am start and 6:00pm finish.

My partner and I finish our home-cooked dinner at 7:45pm and we sit down to work through our finances.

Today is the 15th which means we have both been paid our monthly salaries.

Every Wednesday my partner gets paid for any weekend shifts he has worked the week prior.

I have my dance teaching pay waiting in my bank account.

In total we have around $8,850.00 to manage.

My workplace runs a Charitable Giving Program where they match any contribution their employees make to any charity, paid directly to that charity on your behalf. I selected to give $40.00 a month to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, which means they will have received $80.00 in my name this today. I don’t deduct this from our budget as the money has never landed in my account.

We start by putting $4,000.00 into our high-interest savings account which we will be using for our Home Deposit when the time is right.

That leaves $4,850.00

We set aside our $1,600.00 for rent, which will automatically deduct from our Bills Account on the 1st of every month.

The same for my $80.00 gym membership.

$600.00 for my monthly car repayment also gets moved to that same account.

This leaves us with $2,570.00.

We move $693.50 into our Large Expenditures account, which will cover both our car insurance and registrations as well as our quarterlies (gas, electricity and water) when they are due. By saving this amount monthly, we won’t be left scrambling when those bigger expenses come around.

Next we take $600.00 for our groceries and $520.00 for this month’s petrol and split it between our two accounts that connect to our personal debit cards. This means when we need to buy petrol and groceries, the money is easily accessible. We also transfer $160.00 to my Myki so that I don’t need to worry about it for the next month.

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We then pay bills. Our phones come to a total of $250.00, our internet is $100.00 and Netflix is $10.00.

We are left with $1,236.50 (roughly $600 each) to spend on leisure. Bearing in mind that I will be paid another $100.00 next week and my partner will be paid for his Sunday shift. We aren’t stressed about cash-flow now all our big expenses are taken care of.

I’m not entirely sure what my partner does with his $600.00 + 3 weeks of weekend pay. That’s his business.

I choose to allocate my half of the $600.00 + 3 weeks of weekend pay as follows:

$200.00 goes into a rainy day account

$300.00 goes into an Investment Account with compound interest of 8%

$400.00 is for me to do with as I wish.

Daily Spend: $3,613.50

Saving Contributions: $4,500.00

Thursday – Day Six.

Thursday sleep-ins are what get me through the tail end of the week!

I get up at 6:30am and train to and from work with an 8:00am start and 6:00pm finish.

We have a new intern who will start with us next week and she has come in today to get to know everyone. I shout us both a coffee and croissant which comes to $22.00.

During my lunch break I go to Target to buy my niece her birthday present. She loves Emma Wiggle so I get her the Emma Wiggle Bowtiful Ballet Studio. It has a DVD, a mat and a ballet barre. Its $50.00, but I also have to pay for postage to Adelaide which is $17.65, a birthday card for $2.00 and gift wrap for $2.00.

Daily spend: $93.65

Friday – Day Seven.

Friday morning means a 4:45am gym session.

By 6:30am I’m home eating my usual breakfast and preparing for the day.

My pre-paid Myki gets me to the office by 8:00am.

I meet my Dad for dumplings in the city, he pays #blesshim.

I leave the office at 6:00pm and head to my favourite bar to meet friends, and I spend around $50.00 on drinks.

My partner picks me up and we get home around 11:30pm.

Daily Spend: $50.00

Total: $4,033.65 (including all monthly bills).

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Total without bills: $420.

A self-made millionaire has come up with three steps parents can follow to raise a rich child. We discuss, on our family podcast. Post continues after audio. 

A little about our thoughts on managing money.

Our “friends” have passed comments about how lucky we are to both be paid monthly. We are not lucky. We have worked hard and earned promotions. We analysed how we wanted to live and we hunted out the roles we are in now, at companies within industries where monthly payment is standard. There is not an ounce of luck in all our hard work, research and dedication to our careers.

We both agree on common goals: 1. Marriage, 2. Owning a home, 3. Children and 4. Travel.

This for us means that we need to optimise our next five years to create a solid foundation for our children to be raised the way we want for them to be. We value life-skills such as swimming lessons and participation in sports, music and additional languages. Certain life lessons can only be learned through travel, so we hope to also be in a position to take our children overseas. We also recognise that as parents, it is our job to educate and provide these opportunities for our children, which is our main motivation for working so hard now.

Financial literacy among young women is lower than in any other demographic. I have made it a priority to learn about optimising my finances and have had to overcome a lot of confusion and fear surrounding managing money. The more I do it the more confident I become and I know I will have an excellent skill set to pass on to my children when they are old enough to start making decisions regarding money management.

I’m particularly wary of the superannuation gap I will create when I take maternity leave to start our family, hence why I began a separate Investment Account. With $300 monthly contributions over a 40 year period and interest of 8%, this will hopefully become a $900,000 -$1,000,000 asset by the time I retire, which will be additional to my standard industry superannuation fund.

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]

For more What My Salary Gets Me stories:

What My Salary Gets Me: A 24-year-old journalist who earns $55,000 a year.

What My Salary Gets Me: A 23-year-old student pharmacist who earns $51,000 a year.

What My Salary Gets Me: A 29-year-old public servant with a mortgage and a 6-figure salary.

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