What My Salary Gets Me: A 36-year-old manager and mum on $140,000 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. In this series, we discover what women are really spending their hard-earned cash on, and nothing is too outrageous or too sacred. This week, a 36-year-old manager shares her weekly money diary.

Age: 36.

Job: Mid-level manager with a federal government agency.

Salary: $140,000 + superannuation. My husband earns $130,000 + superannuation, and we share all finances. 

(For context and transparency: I’m 10 years into my career, and my husband has been with his company since he was an 18-year-old apprentice.)

Housing: I live with my husband and six-year-old son in our house in the Sydney suburbs, purchased in 2013. We have a mortgage that we are paying off. Slowly.

Watch: Four money hacks that don't cut out your daily cup of coffee. Story continues after video.

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We transfer a sum weekly to our bills account to cover all of our fixed expenses - we use a spreadsheet to calculate all of these expenses and determine a weekly transfer amount to cover them.


We also have a fixed amount of money that we transfer to a separate bank each week as our spending money - this covers food, groceries, petrol, incidental expenses, etc. We also save a fixed amount of money every week, out of which we put aside $50 for a health expenses sinking fund, and also make small regular investments for our son, and another managed fund.

Before this system, I was pretty crap with money. I recognise that I was privileged enough to be taught the basics about savings and debt, so I never had credit cards or personal loans which gave me a leg up. However, I was prone to spending everything that came in, and covering my eyes whenever the ATM would display my balance! 

This system has given us the room to build savings, begin investing and enjoy our life without stressing and arguing about money.

Monthly expenses:

Mortgage: $3,400 paid fortnightly, between variable and fixed mortgages. We have several linked offset accounts for sinking, savings and emergency funds. 

Health insurance: $349

Phone: $25 each with Woolworths mobile - cheap, plentiful data that we can share between us, and 10 per cent off a shop per month.

Internet: $100

Union fees: $30

Parking: $250


Subscriptions (Netflix, Spotify, iCloud): $54

Cleaners: $360

Contribution to investment - managed fund: $200

Contribution to investment - bond for our son: $120

Weekly expenses: 

Savings: $1,100

Weekly spend: $1,100

Bills account: $1,500 (this covers all listed expenses, including our mortgage payment)

Health sinking fund: $50 (out of savings)

OOSH: $50

Quarterly expenses:

Rates: $350

Electricity, gas and water: $1,010 

Annual expenses:

Insurances (house, comprehensive for two cars): $4,850

Car expenses (rego, CTP, and tolls for two cars): $2,245

Subscriptions (security cameras, Disney+, Amazon Prime): $270

School fees: $2,900


Two cars: $100,000 

Superannuation: $460,000

House: ~$1,200,000 

Investments: $55,000 in a managed fund

Cash savings (savings, emergency fund, and health, car and holiday sinking funds): $77,000

Our son has an investment bond and a savings account that we contribute to, but as these belong to him, we don’t count them as part of our assets - approximately $10,000. 


We started saving $30 per week for him when he was born, and then invested this money in 2021 (terrible timing, but time in the market is more important than timing the market, as they say!) We haven’t decided when we will give him this money yet - it might go to fund a car, pay for tertiary education should he want it, or help him supplement a deposit on a house one day (hopefully!)

The savings account houses any birthday or Christmas money he might receive, plus $10 a week from us out of weekly spend to ensure he receives the maximum interest rate on his ING Savings Maximiser account. When this amount reaches $500, we will invest it in his bond, and start again! 


Mortgage: ~$665,000 (refinanced in 2021 for a loan of $720,000). We bought our house for $745,000 in 2013, with an original loan of $650,000. We have since refinanced to use our equity to fund much needed renovations to our 1920s house, and to take advantage of great fixed rate offerings.

Important transparency note: we bought our house with help - I lived rent free during my university years, and my husband received a $15,000 inheritance that he used to supplement his savings to buy his first small home in 2008 as a newly qualified tradesman. He sold this house to help build up our deposit to buy our family home. We saved the rest of our deposit and gave up luxuries like travel and nights out to do this, but living rent free was a significant help.


Credit card: limit of $15,000. Expenses are paid on the card to earn frequent flyer miles, and it’s automatically paid off every month. Any other incidental spending on the credit card is immediately covered by transfer to the bills account. If we don’t have the cash, we don’t buy it - generally, we avoid credit cards but the card is free with our mortgage package, otherwise I wouldn’t consider the annual fee worth it just to earn miles.  

I will occasionally choose to buy things on the credit card if there are bonus points going via the Qantas online mall - you can occasionally get up to 6 frequent flyer points per $1, or bonus blocks of miles at particular stores that change monthly.

We have no other debt as I finally paid off my $50,000 HECS-HELP debt at the end of the 2022 financial year, and we paid cash for both our cars (one new, one second hand) and our mobile phones.


We are both on leave today - it’s our son’s last day of school holidays, and I have an excessive leave balance to manage post-pandemic. My husband is on leave from work following a torn muscle, which means he’s not allowed to drive at the moment. 

We duck to Shoes & Sox to grab new school shoes for our son - thanks to the NSW Government’s back to school vouchers, these cost a grand total of $7!

Later, our son is watching Mister Maker, and expresses an interest in doing some craft - this is a miraculous event. Taking full advantage of his sudden desire to engage in an activity that does not involve Pokémon, we race out to Officeworks to grab some assorted haberdashery ($51). We spend an hour or so making 'monsters' out of googly eyes, pom-poms and pipe cleaners. 


Our son has dinner early, and it is his favourite - Xiao Long Bao (frozen from Woolies), with a side of veggies. We read a book and he goes to bed.

Later, my husband and I decide to order UberEats (as we do about once per week because we are lazy individuals) and decide on the restaurant Wingboy ($59). This is my husband’s favourite as it always leaves us with leftovers for lunch the next day (leftovers are his favourite food, regardless of type). 

We’re working our way through Suits on Netflix at the moment, so we watch a couple of episodes while we eat, and then head to bed.

The water bill is due today, and is billed to our card automatically ($269 and under budget - excellent!).

Daily total: $114 from spending and $269 from the bills account.


Today is our son’s first day of Year 1 - we both go to drop off and see him off at the school gate and he’s very excited. His school doesn’t have a canteen, so he has morning tea and his lunch box packed in his bag. 

Later, my husband has physio for the aforementioned torn muscle - this costs us $48 out of pocket, and our private health insurance picks up the rest ($50). As he’s not allowed to drive, I take him to his appointment and wait while he has his session. 


Joyfully, he is granted permission to start driving again, and he is thrilled, though he will be off work for another week or so. He is lucky to have a large leave balance grown after many years with the same employer, so his injury does not impact our income. 

Lunch is meal prepped chicken and rice for me, and my husband pops to our local bakery for his favourite beef, dijon and brie pie ($9.90).

Kiddo needs some new sandals, and I find some that I like ($94.95 from The Iconic). Being the hound that I am, I start looking for a discount code. Unable to find one for The Iconic, I google the sandals, and find them from the brand's website with a 50 per cent off code and free shipping for $47.50. Sorry, The Iconic.

After school, we take our son for a celebratory, obscenely decorated milkshake, as we did after his first day of kindergarten. Can something you’ve only done twice be called a tradition? Not sure, but the outing costs $38. 

Dinner is chicken nuggets and veggies for our son, and enchiladas from Aldi for us later on. We are pretty low key cooks (and by we I actually mean my husband, because I rarely cook), so dinners are usually very simple in our house. 

He makes a really nice tomato salad to go with our Aldi enchiladas, and it’s delicious. We watch Suits again (I can’t believe Netflix is $24 a month now!), and then go to bed. 


Daily total: $143.


Back to work today for me - I’m working from home today, so no associated costs. I log into work early, around 7am and catch up on emails from my five days of leave. Either things have been very quiet, or I am not integral to the show, as there is nothing alarming to catch up on - big win!

I pause on work to take my son to school. On the way, I have to get petrol. During the months when fuel became incredibly expensive last year, we got into the habit of using the FuelCheck app to keep an eye on when fuel is cheapest, and decide that today is the day. It cost $68 - way cheaper than it was six months ago.

We usually listen to podcasts on Spotify ($16 a month for our couples plan) during the drive to school - this morning’s edition is a 7am pod discussing the Voice to Parliament. I love listening to a variety of podcasts when my son is in the car, because I never know how closely he is listening, or what kind of discussion it might prompt! 

This particular pod, plus recent discussion around January 26, has prompted a lot of questions from our son, so when I get home from the school run I pop onto Amazon and buy him a book so we can discuss these issues more thoroughly. I choose Young Dark Emu. While I’m browsing, I also grab the new Nikki Sava book, Bulldozed ($44).

After this brief bout of consumerism, I dig back into PowerPoint. While I’m working, husband uses his reinstated driving privileges to pop to Woolies to do a grocery shop. We shop at both Aldi and Woolies, depending on what we need on that day - though I do like the Frequent Flyer miles that Woolies Everyday Rewards provides! This shop costs $140, and will cover lunches for all three of us, and several dinners.


I have my meal prepped chicken and rice dish for lunch, and husband has leftover Wingboy. For dinner, we all share a family meal of tacos with ingredients from Woolworths earlier in the day.

Daily total: $252.

Listen to What The Finance, Mamamia's money podcast. Story continues after audio.


Thursday is payday! I'm paid fortnightly, and my husband is still paid weekly. This week is a double pay week. I get to work on the budget first thing in the morning - transferring our spending, savings and bills money ($3,700). The remainder of our pay will remain in our 'salary' offset account to supplement next week - single pay week.

Our son’s beautiful speech therapist comes to the house at 7.50am before school and does a session with him, working on his literacy. Our son has ADHD, and we’re doing a range of therapies to ensure that he is well supported. We fund most of those privately, utilising private health rebates. This session is invoiced later for $178 - I pay this out of our health sinking fund, and claim back $70 from our private health insurance that will refund back to the health account. We hustle to get to school after his session, and make it just in time for the kiss and drop. 


I’m working from the office today, so I head there after drop off. I take my lunch and snacks, and I don’t drink coffee so there are no costs there. I generally work through lunch, and suffer from serious food indecision, so taking my lunch saves money, time, and decision making. 

I do pay what I consider to be an exorbitant monthly amount for parking, but this is a sanity saver, and makes dropping my son off at school in the morning much easier. These parking fees are offset a bit because we don’t have to pay for OOSH every morning before school.

Thursday is an after school OOSH day for our son, and I swing by after work and pick him up at around 6pm. We budget $50 a week for OOSH, which covers three sessions a week, and a little more which goes to fund vacation care days during school holidays. We receive around 40 per cent child care subsidy rebate for this (the full cost is $31 per day), which will increase to 50 per cent from July with the new childcare package bill that passed last year.

Dinner is homemade bolognese pasta for all of us. My husband regularly makes large batches of this sauce from my mum’s recipe, and we defrost some and enjoy it together. 

Daily total: $50 from bills account, and $178 from health sinking fund (net $108 spend after rebate). 


My husband takes our son to occupational therapy in the morning before school. This costs us $41 out of pocket, and this session is one of five annual allied healthcare visits that Medicare will pay a benefit for - covering the remainder of $56. 


Another office day today - no costs incurred, but I take an extra can of Coke No Sugar along from home to chuck in the work fridge to satisfy that 3pm caffeine need. While I’m at work, our amazing cleaners come by - they come fortnightly and cost us $180.

Daily total: $41 from spending (I don’t bother taking this out of the health sinking fund today, but would if it ate into our weekly spend too much), and $180 from bills to pay our cleaners.


Our son’s swimming lessons start back up again today - my husband takes him to swimming, and pays the term’s fees ($110, plus the $100 Active Kids voucher provided by the NSW government twice per year). After swimming, their little ritual is to stop for a donut, milkshake and play at the shopping centre playground - this costs $15, and they avoid a side quest to Kmart (this time!). 

While the boys are at swimming, I duck into Aldi for a top up shop - I grab some essentials, narrowly avoiding the Special Buys aisle (my own personal kryptonite and the reason my husband prefers to do most of the grocery shopping himself) - this comes to $105. 

Hello Fresh arrives today - we’ve recently resumed using this service after a fairly long break. It costs $58 for three double meals because I had a voucher code to entice us back in. 

A few friends come over for an impromptu dinner with their kids - one of the friends brings some cheese and nibbles, and I rustle up a bit of a platter from fridge leftovers, and serve some sparkling wine left over from New Year's Eve. 


Later, we order dinner from a restaurant ($120), and split this cost between the three families.

Daily total: $318.


We haven’t got much planned for today, so we decide to pop to Westfield. My husband takes our son to Timezone ($30), and I duck into Mecca (a lot more than $30) because Timezone is very, very loud.

I have a $100 gift card from my birthday last year and spend far too long sampling all of the things. Eventually, I buy a Kosas eyebrow pencil ($36) and a Mecca Max Pout Pop Sheer Lipstick ($20) - this is a great dupe for the much more exorbitantly priced Hourglass glossy lip thing that everybody is obsessed with right now. 

I also grab the Kevyn Aucoin Curling Mascara ($45) which I only allow myself to buy with gift cards because $45 for mascara is a lot of money. I normally grab the MCo Beauty Xtend Lash Mascara when it’s on sale, which is also great.

I look at every single mini thing they have at the checkout, but bravely resist grabbing anything adorable that I don’t need. My out-of-pocket total for this little haul is $1.

The boys grab some sushi for lunch ($30) and we head home - I have meal prepped chicken and rice, because I don’t like sushi. After lunch, we head to my parents' house for a swim and dinner. Mum asks us to pick up bread rolls and ice cream on the way over, so we make a quick stop at Coles ($35). We leave our son at my parents' house for a sleepover with his grandparents, who will drop him off at school on Monday morning. 


Daily total: $96

Weekly total: $964


I’m okay with our spending. We have spent under our $1,100 weekly spending budget, and have managed to fund some incidentals (swimming lessons, OT, physio) without having to tap into other sinking funds. 

For a family of three, I think we spend relatively quite a lot of money week to week, but we live below our means. We could probably spend less money on take out though. We used to have a weekly spend amount of $900, but we found that we were regularly transferring money from our savings account, so we recalibrated with the cost-of-living increases.

Saving money is really important to us, but so is living a bit. Our ratio of bills (including mortgage), saving and spending is 40:30:30 which I think is reasonable. We are very lucky that rising interest rates have not negatively impacted us yet, as the bulk of our mortgage is fixed until 2025 at 1.95 per cent, and we have been overpaying our variable mortgage for many years. 

In terms of reflection, every time I pay for a therapy session for my son, I think about the lack of assistance and government funding for early intervention, how lucky our family is to be able to afford to source this additional help for our child, and how frustrating it must be for parents who can’t find or fund therapists. A great deal of good has been done by the introduction of the NDIS, but there is a gap in funding short-term help for children that will pay enormous dividends later in their lives. 


Our son sees an occupational therapist, a physio and his speech therapist fortnightly, which we fund privately with private health cover - we pay for these sessions out of a sinking fund for health costs that we add $50 per week to out of our savings. This is the first year we are trying this method, so hopefully it covers everything.

My other biggest consideration this week is more ethical than financial - I’ve become really reliant on the convenience of Amazon Prime since the height of the pandemic, and have spent way too much money on the site over the past couple of years. Ideally I would like to find other alternatives, but the convenience and speed of their shipping makes this swap challenging. This battle is ongoing, I have no answers. 

This week, urgency won. This is something I’d like to change going forward.

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