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What My Salary Gets Me: A 25-year-old marketing executive on $90,000 living at home.

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 25-year-old marketing executive shares her weekly money diary.

Age: 25.

Job: Marketing Executive.

Salary: $90,000.

Housing: Living with parents.

Monthly expenses: 

Rent: $1000 (to parents to support some of the mortgage and general household costs).

Gym: $75.

Therapy: $162.

Spotify: $3.17.

Phone bill: $232 a year on prepaid Boost.

Savings: $77,000.

Investments: Around $2,000 in ETFs, managed funds and bit of crypto.

Assets: Off the plan townhouse purchased for $545,000, which is getting completed in 2024.

My salary is automated into four buckets to control expenses and savings:

Savings: $2,700 (emergency + settlement + partner shared).

Investments: $940.

Fun money: $906 (big fun + small fun).

Fixed outgoings: $1,100.

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


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Monday.

It’s WFH for me today, which means basically zero cost! Feeling grateful for the hybrid working my company affords me, as I really get to save a lot of time and money. 

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I used my lunch break to buy flights for an upcoming Singapore trip – digging into my fun money quota from the past year. I purchased return tickets for my boyfriend and I ($970), which includes 20kg baggage and seat selection – hurrah!

I also chose the times for the flights where we maximise as much of the day as possible when we land and depart, meaning we get to save on hotel costs for two days since we’ll be sleeping on the flight (hot travel tip: flight times like this are also better for beating jetlag). 

After dinner, it was trip-planning time with my boyfriend. We FaceTimed and got straight to looking at booking.com and Expedia. I have the Cashrewards chrome extension and it alerted me on 11 per cent cashback on Expedia (massive savings!) so I focused my search there. 

I’m a frugal spender so I’m happy staying at more boutique/hip hotels that cost less than $200/night and using those savings on food and shopping. However, he’s more the luxury type and wants to stay at 5-star hotels that cost more than $320 a night.

Since I paid for the flights, he’s happy to pay for the hotels and wants to splurge a little bit on something nicer for the five nights we’re staying. 

It also turns out some of his friends work at Hilton, so he started hitting them up for their friends and family deal that Hilton gives staff. Since his friends were working, they couldn’t get back to us that night, so we put the hotel booking on hold till the next day.

Daily total: $970.

Tuesday.

Another WFH day. I drank my coffee for breakfast and went straight into work 'til lunch. 

I had leftovers from last night’s dinner for lunch again and went back to work. 

After work, I looked at hotels again and checked whether the prices had gone up. Out of curiosity, I also checked Scoot and the prices for the same dates had increased by $100!

I also did a Deliveroo alcohol audit, where I got reimbursed for my purchase up to $35 and received $10 in exchange for completing the audit. I ordered a beer for my dad and a pita wrap for my mum’s lunch tomorrow. I also ordered some churros ($3.15) from Oliver Brown through Deliveroo, as I had a $10 voucher to use as compensation from a rejected order I made for an audit last month.

After dinner, I checked in with my boyfriend whether his friends got back to him on the Hilton discount. His friend needed to check with the manager on how to work the system as he couldn’t figure it out, which meant we needed to wait another night. However, his friend could check that it was going to be $250/night for the newly refurbished Hilton Singapore hotel, which typically goes for $600/night. 

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At the same time, the 11 per cent cashback on Cashrewards was active till the end of the night, so we were weighing up whether to book a refundable room now or wait for his mate to get back to us on Hilton. We opted to just wait for his mate as purchasing a refundable room meant paying an extra $100 a night. 

Daily total: +$6.85.

Wednesday.

Another WFH day where I woke up for an early walk to the coffee shop to pick up a bag of beans for my colleague ($17 but he’ll pay me back). 

I was also tempted to order a coffee to-go while I was there but I figured since I’m already spending for a holiday, I should think about where every dollar is going and decided against the $4 coffee. 

When I got home, I got an email from the Woolies Bunch program to collect a new sample! On this program I get to trial a Woolies product for free in exchange for my review. Last week it was a 2kg bag of potatoes which isn’t too exciting, but this week it’s the Woolworths Macro Date and Tahini Sauce (normally $6). Something I would’ve never thought of trying if not for this program.

I made myself a coffee for breakfast and got into work. For lunch, my aunty had brought over some sticky rice rolls and I ate some of that and last night’s leftovers. Since I have a late meeting tonight (5.30-6pm), I also did a quick gym sesh after lunch.

Around 3pm, I got an email from my mystery shopping organisation for a few upcoming locations. I’ve put down my interest for five locations this month, so hopefully I’ll get scheduled for at least one or two. 

With mystery shopping, this means I assess a shop when I make a purchase, get reimbursed for the item and receive an additional $20-30, depending on how long the audit is. Just another way to earn a few bucks here and there and get free items.

I ate dinner at home again and had an early night… still no word from my boyfriend’s friends about the discounts.

Daily total: $0.

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Thursday.

Thursdays are the day I usually go to the office as it’s the marketing ‘team day’. 

I love working in tech as I don’t need to buy work-specific clothing and I get to wear the entirety of my wardrobe. We also get a lot of company swag so half the hoodies and t-shirts I wear to work are given by the company.

I go into work on the train and that costs me $9.10 return on peak hour. 

When I get into the office, I grab a banana and chia bowl that one of the in-house chefs made and head straight to finding a hot desk for the day. Along the way, I swing by the snack pantry and grab a packet of healthy nuts and protein ball in case I feel snackish later in the afternoon.

Then for a morning tea break, a colleague and I head downstairs to fix a coffee. My company used to provide double shots but there’s been a lot of wastage of the beans, so we’ve changed our machine settings to single shots instead.

For lunch, my company also provides a big spread of lunch. Today we have tomato chicken, tomato fish, lentil pasta, potato salad, coleslaw and mixed pickled veggies.

Another colleague shares with me that they're also looking to book a hotel in Singapore. I saw that there’s an even better cashback this time around with 12 per cent cashback on Booking.com, so I shared with him my Cashrewards referral code in the hopes of earning myself $10 in referral credit.

For an afternoon snack, I eat the protein ball I grabbed earlier in the morning. Then I get an email from the mystery shopping company and I’m allocated with one survey for my local area. SCORE! 

For this audit, I spend $20 and will get reimbursed $20 for the store purchase – that’s a free $40 for a fun shopping activity. I make a mental note to get it done next weekend.

I leave work at around 5pm and head to the station to catch a train to meet my boyfriend. It’s cold, so we decide to just stay in and eat some YouFoodz he bought.

His friends didn’t seem like they were getting back to us, so we booked our hotels for Singapore with the cashback. Altogether it was $1,922 with our 12 per cent cashback for the hotels, it was $382 off at $1,540 in total!

Hotels were his share of the spend, but I’ll make sure on the trip that I’ll be paying for some meals to make it a fair split.

Daily total: $30.90.

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Friday.

Today I decided to WFH as my friend, whom I was supposed to meet up with after work, bailed on the plans. I drink my coffee for breakfast and get stuck in to work. 

For lunch I ate some chicken wings my dad made for dinner last night. Between my meetings, I process the reimbursements for the work conference I went to last week in Hawaii. This came down to $200USD to be reimbursed, so I’m pretty happy.

After work, I head to the gym and I just love how quiet it is on a Friday evening. I had a chill rest of the night at home eating the rest of last night’s chicken for dinner and baked some chocolate fondants using leftover ingredients I got from last month. 

Spent the remainder of my evening packing for my road trip to Blue Mountains tomorrow and researching some hikes for the weekend. 

Daily total: $0.

Saturday.

I was scrolling Instagram when I woke up and found out my favourite artist was performing the same time I was going to be in Singapore. I took the opportunity to buy the second most expensive ticket at $278. He hasn’t had a concert in Sydney before, so I had to grab the chance to watch him and decided to splurge a bit on myself. 

I double-check all the packing, then my boyfriend comes and we drive to the Blue Mountains. We stop by a resort for high tea which was $65pp including tea and the set. This was his shout, so it was really nice to just relax with some high tea. 

Then we stroll around the little suburb and wait till it’s sunset and go for a hike. After the hike, we get dinner at a quaint Indian restaurant and share an entrée and a main. He pays for the meal as well, which cost $35.

We drove to the hotel and checked-in. I had paid for this earlier on a cashback offer and I’m glad I booked this hotel well in advance, given just how busy the weekend was in the area. We spend the night resting and staying warm.

Daily total: $278.

Sunday.

We wake up and check-out of the hotel, then head to the little town and grab some breakfast. We found a busy cafe and ordered a big breakfast and two coffees to share. It was my turn to pay, and it was $32 for the both of us because of the Sunday surcharge.

We plan the itinerary for the rest of the day and head to different lookouts along the way back home. It takes us about two hours to drive back to Sydney and at night we head out to the city with my boyfriend’s younger sister to take her to eat frozen yoghurt. 

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I paid for our two bowls as my treat and it comes to $17. I joined the loyalty program as well since I receive a 20 per cent discount the next time I come back to the shop. I also noticed that if you make a TikTok in the shop, you get a $10 voucher, so I made a mental note for that. 

Before heading back home, we stopped by a fancy grocery store called Maloneys to buy ingredients to make a cheese board. Then stopped by Woolies to pick up some other items. I used my voucher for the Woolies purchase and my boyfriend paid for the shop at Maloneys.

We made a cheese board to share with his family, then watched Netflix before catching some snooze. 

Daily total: $49.

Reflection:

I’ve been caught in trip-planning mode for this week of the diary and I realise that I’m a real comparison shopper who loves a good cashback.

I’m also really grateful I get to still have the privilege of living at home with parents which means most bills and grocery expenses are covered, but I try to do my part with a little bit of pocket money for my parents at $1000/month.

I also feel like I’m a really careful spender, as I even had to think twice about buying a cup of coffee. 

It wasn’t included in this week’s diary but typically I try to catch off-peak trains to work to save $1.30 for every ride, which doesn’t seem like a lot but adds up over time. I have a goal of owning two properties by the time I’m 30, so I think I’m on track if I keep following a strict budget. 

It also helps that my boyfriend and I try to find ways to split the costs of our activities – eg. I’ll book the accommodation, then he’ll pay for the food. 

I’ll also always try to find good deals for him like whenever he’s looking to buy clothes, I’ll see if there’s any cashback on The Iconic or ASOS, or when he’s looking to fuel up, I always try to lock him the cheapest price on 7/11 app. 

We don’t split cleanly, but we try to follow the "you pay, then I pay" strategy and hope it balances it out in the end.  

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