What My Salary Gets Me: A 46-year-old freelance journalist and mum-of-two on $53,000.

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 46-year-old mum from Melbourne, Victoria shares her diary.

Age: 46

Job: Journalist, freelancing for websites, generally working three or four days a week

Income: Around $53,000 a year

Housing: My partner and I live with our two kids and a dog in a three-bedroom house with no mortgage (we paid it off five years ago)

Regular expenses (monthly):

Superannuation: Because I don’t have an employer paying superannuation for me, I put $1000 of my own income into super each month. (I actually wasn’t putting anything into super until I was commissioned to write an article about how women don’t have enough when they retire and that scared me into getting serious about it.)

Charities: Regular monthly donations of $100 to Oxfam and $35 to Medicins Sans Frontieres

Utilities: Electricity $200, water $100, gas $75 (split with partner)

Transport: I fill up the car around once a month, so roughly $60 (split with partner)

Subscriptions: News Ltd $28 (for work purposes only), Fairfax $15, Netflix $10, Amazon Prime $7

Phone/internet: Mobile $83, home internet $60, home phone $120 (I work from home)

Insurance: Health $390, home and contents $190, car $100 (split with partner)

Regular kid expenses: Martial arts classes for my daughter, $88 (split with partner)

Current savings: $118,000 (split with partner)

Debt: None

Long-term planning: We want to buy an investment property/future retirement home sometime soon, but because of the bushfires over the summer, we’re having a bit of a rethink about where we want it to be.

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

Video by Mamamia

Wednesday – Day one

My kids are at home with me on holidays, and I’m not working today, so we head into the local Westfield to buy some things I’ve been promising them.

At EB Games I buy a late Christmas present for my son, a Minecraft board game ($68) – anything that might lure him away from playing Minecraft on a device. I head to Kmart to buy two swimming masks and some cardboard to make signs for a climate change protest but can’t find either.

Walk away with an inflatable mattress and a tub of plastic dinosaurs ($25.25). I head to Woolies to buy some pita bread and walk away with a bag of groceries but not pita bread ($32.24). I even have to buy a bag.

The evening is spent playing the Minecraft board game and eating chicken and salad leftover from the night before.

Daily total: $125.49

Thursday – Day two

Working at home today, so I leave the kids to amuse themselves. I let my daughter buy some gems ($14.99) in a game she’s playing on my phone because I feel guilty about leaving the kids to amuse themselves.

Knock back an offer of extra work because it’s holidays and I want to be with my kids.

Once work is finished, my son and I decide to make some chocolate crackles, but because we haven’t had any Rice Bubbles in the house since the 1970s, we need to go shopping.

Decide to wait till my partner gets home so I don’t have to bring the kids with me, but when he comes home, he goes straight to bed because the smoke in the air is making him feel sick. Decide to wait to see if he feels better before I think about dinner.

Drink white wine and eat lamington-flavoured chips because I know my kids won’t beg me to share them, but they taste so disturbing that I throw them out and get stuck into the Barbecue Shapes (and share them with my kids).

Eventually, go shopping for Rice Bubbles and pick up a few other things while I’m there, including biscuits to replace the ones that the ants got into ($85.48). Eat soup from a packet for dinner at around 11 pm.


Go online to buy tickets to the Sydney Aquarium for myself and the kids ($100.80).

Daily total: $201.27

Friday – Day three

Another day off work today. The air isn’t smoky for once, so I start the day with a run. My son and I make chocolate crackles in the morning while my daughter works on her sign for the climate change protest.

In the afternoon we catch the train ($10.29) to the Aquarium.

On the way out my daughter wants to buy a plush seahorse with baby seahorses from the gift shop – she’s very impressed that it’s the male seahorse that looks after the babies.

My son doesn’t want me to spend money on him but I don’t want to look like I’m playing favourites so I buy him a plush polar bear cub while getting my daughter the seahorse ($33).

Go to climate change protest. Catch train again ($10.29). My daughter has been asking me for money for every busker and homeless person we’ve walked past, but I haven’t had any coins. Finally give her a $5 note to give to an elderly busker because I don’t want to crush her generous nature.

My partner has had a late lunch at the pub so he only wants kippers for dinner. Kippers and rice it is.

Daily total: $58.58

Saturday – Day four

Walk to Westfield for a haircut, taking my daughter with me. I normally only have my hair cut once every few months, but the haircut I got just before Christmas was so awful that I’m going back to see if I can get it fixed.

The hairdresser tells me the revenge fantasies he’s been having regarding his father. My hair ends up significantly shorter but just as awful. I thank the hairdresser and pay ($35). Maybe I can fix it later when I get home. (Later: I can’t.)

Go to Woolies to buy pita bread and walk away with pita bread and nothing else ($3.60). Victory!

Go to the newsagency and buy a Sydney Morning Herald and some cardboard for protest signs ($9.40). My daughter wants to go to EB Games. I tell her we’re not buying anything there, but then I remember she needs a new schoolbag so I get her a Pokemon one ($38).

Partner takes son to a playdate and comes home with a supply of alcohol from a nearby bottleshop. Not sure how much it cost, but there’s a few bottles of Theakston Old Peculier in there, so it wasn’t cheap.

Decide to watch The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy movie because my son is obsessed with the book series. I can’t find it on Netflix, so we pay for it on YouTube ($5). Bond as a family over how bad it is.


Have store-bought lasagne and homemade salad for dinner.

Daily total: $91.00

Sunday – Day five

Was planning to take the kids to do a high-ropes course, but the air is really smoky again. Stay at home and play with Lego, and introduce the kids to Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic” and other classics on YouTube.

Grocery shop ($154.87). Use groceries to cook up a big batch of chilli for dinner.

Buy two swimming masks online from Kmart ($20). It’s annoying that half of that cost is postage, but I can’t be bothered going on another shopping trip.

Daily total: $174.87

Monday – Day six

Working today. My partner is home looking after the kids, and I’m actually going somewhere and talking to people face-to-face. I’m wearing a dress I bought just before Christmas – the only work outfit I’ve bought in the past 12 months because I’m nearly always at home.

Catch a train ($5.15) and decide to walk from the station to the place I have to go for work, to save on a taxi fare. It looks close on my phone but actually takes me about half an hour.

Get bored so I play a game on my phone while I’m walking and end up buying some coins for it (aargh! $2).

Free lunch! Free food tastes so good! Catch train home ($5.15).

For dinner, make nachos out of the leftover chilli. Unfortunately, the dog eats some chilli that gets spilled on the floor.

Last time the dog ate spicy food – just a couple of weeks ago – we ended up with an $800 vet bill.

Sleep in a tent in the backyard because my son thinks it might be fun and also so the dog won’t mind sleeping outside for the night, in case of diarrhoea. At least I’m getting some use out of the inflatable mattress.

Daily total: $12.30

Tuesday – Day seven

Working from home again. In the afternoon, the kids and I discuss whether to go on another climate change protest or go swimming. We agree: protest today, swimming tomorrow.

Go to protest, and then walk to the playground afterwards.

On the way back home, my daughter asks me for some money for a homeless person ($3).


My partner is back on the 5:2 diet so doesn’t want anything big for dinner. I feel like pasta but don’t have any fresh veggies to make a sauce so I add a jar of salsa to the pasta instead. Surprisingly tasty.

Daily total: $3.00

Weekly total: $666.51


This was a relatively cheap week.

We have an old house, a fairly old car and a very old dog, so we frequently get hit with some kind of unexpected massive bill.

Also, kids can be expensive, especially in holiday time, but they didn’t cost much this week, because – depressingly – we stayed inside so much due to air pollution.

Having said that, doing this money diary has been a bit of an eye-opener.

I’ve never done up a budget before, so it was a shock to realise how much money I spend each week. Obviously there are lots of ways I could save, including getting a better phone and internet plan, and spending less on groceries (eg, not buying weird-flavoured chips).

But having said that, I think I’m doing okay for this point in my life. Spending money doing fun stuff with my kids is one of the things that makes me happy.

Feature Image: 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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