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What My Salary Gets Me: A 27-year-old media worker living in Sydney on $82,000 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 27-year-old working in media shares her daily money diary.

Age: 27.

Job: Working in media.

Salary: $82,000.

Housing: Renting a two-bedroom house with my partner.

Monthly expenses:

I live with my partner in a two-bedroom house in the Inner West. We are currently renting with no intention to buy property in the near future. It also feels very unattainable given the rising cost of living.  

I still have my HECS debt (roughly $38,000) that I’ve put to the back of my head since it’s a payment that comes out of my salary. I bought my car through Toyota Finance and I split the monthly repayments with my partner. We still have $22,000 left to pay back. 

Rent: $1190 

Utilities (quarterly): $150

Car repayment: $200

Transport (including parking, public transport, petrol): $270

Groceries: $328

Eating out & takeaway: $250

Shopping: $309

Car insurance: $133 

Health insurance: $125

Chiro: $30

Functional Fitness gym: $120

Mobile: $25 (I buy a six-month pre-paid)

Somehow I’ve managed to piggyback off friends and family for Spotify, Netflix and other streaming services. 

I separate my accounts so that everything is bucketed by utilities including rent, my car repayment, gym membership and insurance fees. This helps me track when money is coming in and when money is coming out. 

I will try and save at least $1000 a month which includes my savings account and Raiz investment account. This may be less some months when there’s unexpected medical bills or car costs (or parking fines) I need to cover. 

In addition to the loans, I pay $400 a month on my credit card, and I try to contribute more if I have extra cash flow that month. 

The buy now pay later repayments will vary monthly based on how much I spend. I used to have all of them but have now just narrowed it to one provider so it can’t get out of hand. I also have a personal rule of not going over $300 debt balance in a month; as a ballpark I’d say I have around $100 a month in repayments these days. 

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Monday.

Since the pandemic began, my company has been super flexible when it comes to the work from home policy. We can go in as much as we want or as little as we want. I am recovering from being a COVID casualty the week prior so have decided to take it easy and work from home today.  

I started the day with a 20-minute yoga stretch – I have a subscription to Alo Moves online fitness classes, my parents gave me a voucher for Christmas so I’m covered until July. I would usually go to functional training but I put my membership on pause for two weeks as I wanted to give my body time to recover. 

Once I moved my body, I had a shower and got ready for the day. Time for some breakfast! I am trying to drink less coffee so I opted for some tea (T2 Melbourne Breakfast). I had breakfast covered as my parents dropped off some Burek over the weekend. It’s an eastern European staple dish – delicious cheese pastry. It's not the healthiest, but it's tasty.

Monday mornings are filled with meetings, WIP catch-ups and getting set up for the week ahead. I also spent the previous week off on sick leave so I had an inbox full of emails I needed to get through.

It’s then time for lunch. Surprisingly, our fridge is pretty stocked so I decide to make myself a quick salad followed by a quick power nap (priceless). 

The WIP meetings extended into the afternoon - I have about an hour block of calls coming up. I grab some water and take myself back to my home office. 

I then have a free afternoon so I try to smash out some emails and I need to get some planning work out of the way. I check my bank account and my expenses from work have been paid so I’m up $300! 

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We have a lot of March babies on our team, so I expensed a few presents and transport receipts I had from the previous month. I instantly transferred a $100 into my Zippay account so I can get ahead on my payments.

By 5pm, I'm feeling very low on energy, and really can’t be bothered to cook. We decide to order some Thai food. I search the food delivery apps and see that MenuLog is offering $5 coupon. Every penny counts! I offer to pay for the dinner which ends up being $27 for two dishes, delivered within the hour ($27.52).

Even though my birthday is three months away, I like to book a getaway ahead of time since there’s more to choose from and we could even score some good flight deals. I realised we had a $300 Riparide voucher that we haven’t been able to use since COVID. I spend the next few hours looking through off-the-grid cabins. I sent a request to a host for a property on the north coast. If we get approved, we’ll need to send our part of the payment ($395 pending).

Once we finished dinner, my partner had to go get something from the chemist so we jumped in the car and went up the road. Petrol prices weren’t looking too bad, so we decided to fill up and get ice cream on the way home. I decided to pay for the petrol and my partner paid for the ice cream ($30.01). 

I check my account after we get home – I have a Raiz investment account that will take roundups out of my account a few times a month. They had decided $20 from my everyday account to go into my investment account ($20).

We were approved for the property up north for my birthday weekend! The property cost $692 for the weekend – I used our $300 voucher to cover half. I put the remaining $392 on my credit card, I instantly transfer my half of that to the credit card – I have a 'travel' savings account so I was good for it. My partner will transfer me the other $196 in a week when he gets paid ($392).

I had two tickets to a concert in Melbourne in July, which we can no longer go to so I post the tickets up on Gumtree. Within an hour we have a buyer! The transfer was super quick through Paypal – I did lose a bit of money on the original ticket value since Paypal does take a small fee for transactions (+$145.80).

Daily total spent: $123.73.

Tuesday. 

I’m still not feeling 100 per cent so I’m working from home again today. Not having to go to the office everyday definitely helps save money on transport costs and any temptation to splurge on a coffee and breakfast. 

I take it easy in the morning and make myself some oats for breakfast. I challenge myself to avoid coffee for another day and make myself a tea. I get to work early and try to get the admin work out of the way while it’s quiet. 

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I take my lunch break to go to the shops and get some food for the fridge. I feel like making nachos for dinner and need to get some ingredients. I make a list before I head out so that I don’t get sidetracked once I’m in the supermarket. I promise myself I’ll only get Cadbury Caramilk marble chocolate if it’s on special. 

Fast forward 30 minutes and the damage is done ($28.78) and yes, the Cadbury Caramilk marble chocolate was on 30 per cent discount special.

I spend the rest of the day in front of the computer again, with an afternoon of calls and intermitted email checking. As the work day wraps up, it’s time to start cooking dinner. We enjoy the rest of the dinner with some home-made nachos and catching up on WeCrashed on AppleTV+. 

Tuesday is when our weekly rent is due. My partner and I have a shared account on CommBank specifically for the rent payments. He gets paid fortnightly, so he deposits his portion of the rent. I get paid monthly, so I’ll contribute a lump sum at mid-month. Since we keep this account separate to our other spending accounts, it’s easy to stay in control of our weekly expenses ($595 total, $297.50 for my contribution). 

Me and my partner are trying to build up a good bedtime routine, so we put away our phone early and try get ready for bed. I do my night time skincare routine and take the time to review the day, think about what’s coming up tomorrow and enjoy the stillness. 

Daily total: $326.28.

Wednesday.

The morning felt like a proper autumn day. Slightly cloudy, sun peaking through but it’s also a little cold and crisp. It felt like perfect weather for a stroll to the coffee shop. I get ready for the day and go for a walk. There’s a good coffee shop around five minutes from my house, I order a mocha and put it on my everyday spending card. As soon as I paid I remembered we have an overflowing coin jar at home I could have used. Too late ($4.30). 

This Wednesday is full of back-to-back meetings, in the morning we have our client WIPs to check in on campaign progress and next steps. We also had a briefing for a new campaign which was exciting! I spent the morning on video calls. 

I don’t know where the last four hours went, but it’s time for lunch. I only have half an hour before my next meeting. I have some pad Thai left from the other night so I quickly heat up lunch and prepare for my 1.30pm presentation. 

Another four hours of meetings and the day is almost done. I had my performance review with my manager and business director. We discussed some great goals for the next six months and how to level up in my current role. I feel drained from the day, a lot of connecting and discussions!

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I decide to wind down and get started on dinner early. I’m not feeling too inspired, so I peak into the fridge to see what we have. First few things to catch my eye, chicken, some vegetables and rice... I guess it’s stir fry night. I added some teriyaki sauce, sesame seeds and we have a meal! 

I didn’t feel satisfied with dinner alone, so we decided to get some ice cream. We drive to the local Messina to treat ourselves. I get the hazelnut and my partner gets the chocolate fudge. I offer to pay for both of us ($11.37).

We’re not doing too well with our bedtime routine, I’m not feeling tired yet so decide to do some online shopping. With the weather getting cooler, I’m feeling inspired to get some new autumn clothes. I look through Instagram and Pinterest for some outfit inspiration. Next, I browse H&M, Zara and Uniqlo. I end up buying a few basic pieces from H&M. I had a $100 e-gift card from work so I decided to use it on this purchase. The total price came a little bit over $100 so I contributed $39.94 from my ‘splurge’ account ($39.94).

Daily total: $55.61.

Thursday. 

There is another break in the weather this morning and the rain has held up. I put on my walking shoes and get outdoors. I catch up on different podcasts as I walk, quickly passing two coffee shops as I try to avoid the temptations. My morning walking route usually takes around five kilometres around Blackwattle Bay, it’s a great way to start the day by the water. 

I’m showered and ready to start working (from home). As I make my breakfast and tea, I’m browsing the net for a webcam attachment for my monitor. I find a sleek looking light bar and webcam from Kmart ($45). Not too bad! I add it to click and collect at my local shopping centre. Hopefully it will be ready by the afternoon.

The morning was meeting free, so I was able to get through some deep work I’ve been meaning to do. I get a text from Kmart and my webcam is ready to pick up. I take an early lunch and head down to the shopping centre. 

I make my way to Kmart, avoiding eye contact with Sephora and Mecca, otherwise I will get sucked in! As I get into Kmart I realise I need some cotton pads ($4). 

As I walk back to the car I pass Boost, I decided to pick up their Chocolate Protein Balls ($5). I had a $5 note in my wallet (score). That will help tide me over to lunch.

I decide to stop at the local grocery store for some food for dinner, I also had cravings for orange juice. I walk past the tea section and can’t help but try a few new flavours – if I am going to become a tea connoisseur I should try something other than green tea. Another $40.45, we are done! 

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It was a meeting-free afternoon too, so I had time to get some admin out of the way and get some campaign planning done. After finishing off on emails I shut my laptop and it’s time to cook dinner. Tonight, I’m making korma curry with cucumber yogurt. I got the ingredients earlier in the day so it’s an easy transition straight to the kitchen. I catch up on YouTube videos while making dinner and spend the evening chatting with my partner about the day. 

I get a text from my mobile provider that my monthly credit is running out soon. As I’m switching providers, I had my pre-paid sim ready to go, I try to buy six-month packages and pay upfront as it breaks down to cheaper on a monthly basis. I picked up a $150 sim earlier in the month, so I spent the rest of the evening connecting to the new service. 

Daily total: $99.45.

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Friday.

Today I am going into the office, so I get up early to do some pilates at home. I use the Alo Moves app again, doing a 40-minute pilates and core class.

After showering, makeup and two outfit changes I am ready to head to the office. I live on the light rail line so it’s super easy to get to work. I load around $40 a month when I get paid on my Opal card so I don’t need to transfer multiple times ($2.24 deducted from the Opal balance).

I get to work and am already feeling hungry. I remember we have a publisher catch up at 10am so I opt for a glass of water and a few biscuits to calm the hangry down while I get through morning WIP meetings. 

We head down to the local coffee shop near the office, the smell of coffee fills the room. I order a mocha and scrambled eggs on toast. One of the perks of working media agency side is you get opportunities to meet with different publishers for coffee or breakfast (which they’ll generously cover). It’s a great way to meet new people and also talk through what’s coming up in the next few months.

I’ve wrapped up my meetings for the day, as the rain has cleared I decide to walk home. It’s around six kilometres to the office which takes me a little under 40 minutes to walk. I take the scenic route through Blackwattle Bay by the water. On the way home catch up on some new music and zone out. 

I’m home and back at my desk. I’ve made a small sandwich for lunch, I was still feeling full from breakfast. I check my account and the car insurance fortnightly fee has been taken out. I have a separate account to my everyday account for all subscriptions, fees and memberships so I know I’ll always be covered ($66). 

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It’s a quiet afternoon on the emails. I end up doing a bit of campaign planning and finish off some reporting for the week. 

I’m getting through some work when my partner sends me a link to a new Toyota Corolla GR that is due to be released in Australia later in the year, we’ve been looking to sell the current Corolla for either a Subaru BRZ or wait for the Toyota 86 when it lands in the country. 

Both options are some time away – due to supply chain issues the wait times for a new car are at least six months. I’m fine with that since that gives me more time to save before taking out a loan on a new car. 

We decide to sit on the Corolla a bit longer, increasing its value by getting it detailed and updating to CarPlay. I’ll have a look at some options and costs over the weekend. 

I’ve wrapped up work for the week, I spent a little bit of extra time to clear out the inbox so that I can feel ready for the following week. I relax on the couch for a while, catching up on my personal emails and social media. Someone reaches out to me to finish an industry survey for a $65 reward. I spend around 20 minutes working through that. A friend messages me on Instagram to come to a new brewery for a drink and dinner.

My partner and I arrive at Hawkes Brewery, it’s their opening weekend and it’s packed! We order beers (his shout this time). We spend a few hours at the venue and I shout the next round of beers ($18.00). I check my account and the Raiz maintenance fee has also been taken out ($3.00). We drove to the venue, so we didn’t have to spend money on Uber or transport.

We decide to go to our friends place around the corner from the pub. My partner and I didn’t have dinner so we’re feeling a bit hungry. We order pizza to the house, I had $15 credit on Uber Eats so only ended up paying $17 for two pizzas and garlic bread delivered. After a few hours we drove home.

Daily total: $41.24.

Saturday. 

Saturday morning started out looking a little gloomy. I decided to do a pilates class through Alo Moves. I start craving a coffee but push through the workout.

After I’m done with exercise, I potter around the house, make some tea and decide to get some life admin done. Since the amount of rain in Sydney we have had a bit of mould in the house, I email the real estate to organise an inspection and have someone come look at it. 

I load up the washing machine before hitting the shower getting stuck into some self care with a face mask and washing my hair. I check my bank account and some more of my work expenses have been paid back into my account (+$146.36). I transfer $100 to my credit card. 

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My gym membership starts again next week, so I pre-book a few classes. I’m trying to ease myself back into working out post-covid so I book three classes. As it’s billed fortnightly, it’ll get taken out of my account next week once the membership resumes. 

I book an optometrist appointment for Sunday at Bailey Nelson since I already have prescription glasses with them. I have had some issues with my peripheral vision and have been meaning to get it checked out. From reading their website it looks like appointments are only $30 with a medicare and private health card. I don’t have to pay until the day.

I get a call from my chiro to book my appointment for April, because of Easter holidays, I’ve decided to push my appointment to later in the month. I don’t have to pay until the day of the appointment either.

I also reach out to Toyota and Midas for car service quotes and how much it would cost to get the CarPlay update; I’ve been putting it off for a while but need to book it in over the next few months. But I’ll probably leave it until May since quotes are upwards of $700. 

With all the upcoming appointments lined up, I’m feeling a little stressed, I also have a haircut appointment in late April (usually around $100) and will need a gynecologist specialist appointment in late May which will probably set me back at least $300. I tell myself it’s okay – if I stick to my budget I should make it work. 

I spend the rest of the day pottering around the house and doing a bit of weekend cleaning. I end up FaceTiming my parents, chatting through the week and to plan a catch up. I’m feeling hungry so my partner shouts some Maccas delivery (can’t say no to nuggets with sweet and sour sauce). 

It’s Saturday night but we’re both feeling like a night in. We end up watching YouTube and hanging out together. We also spend some time chatting to friends on the phone. 

My partner and I then get invited to the pub. I have a moment of energy and feel like I’m up for it. Five minutes later I retract my decision and decide to stay home instead. 

I put on some feel good music and tidy up the dishes in the kitchen, I’m feeling a little peckish but not hungry enough for dinner. 

I make myself a cheese and meats platter with what I could find in the fridge – olives, pickles, ham, salami, cheese and some baguette. I had some grapes and a tea for dessert. I get settled on the couch for the night and chuck on the latest episodes of Minx. I signed up to the Stan account earlier in the month so I’m still on the free trial for now. 

Daily total: $0. 

Sunday.

I take some time to wake up then I consider doing some yoga or going for a walk to get a coffee. I end up on my phone for a while browsing a few fashion websites. 

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I see an influencer on Instagram wearing a quilted vest and thought, 'I could use one of those'. I find it on & Other Stories and I can feel the impulse to hit the add to cart button. I check my account and although I do have the money for it, I try to resist. I add it to my wishlist instead. 

Payday is less than 15 days away; so if I still want it by then I can buy it. I go through the wishlist again and remove anything that I’m no longer in love with.

My Optometrist appointment is coming up, I get ready for the day and decide to take the light rail ($1.56) to the local shopping centre. The stop is a few minutes away from the shops so I can get a walk in too. 

On my walk towards the shopping centre I pass a few coffee shops. I have a bit of time so I order a coffee and spinach scroll ($11.50). This cafe used to do amazing olive focaccia, but it’s not on the menu anymore. I’m feeling a bit disappointed, but the coffee was good! 

I get to the shopping centre and have some time to kill. I make my way through H&M, Sephora and Mecca seeing what new products they have. This is a good test for my self discipline, I tell myself. I start to feel overwhelmed and make my way to the third floor. I knew I wanted to pick up another batch of Melbourne Breakfast tea from T2 so I had already mentally accounted for it ($25). With that, it’s about time to head to my appointment. 

Appointment is all wrapped up. Since I have medicare, the check up ended up being free which is great! I decided it’s time to go home. Once I’m out of the centre the weather is perfect for a walk. I make my way through the inner city streets all the way down to the Glebe foreshore. I live pretty close and it’s about a four kilometre walk back home, so at least I’m saving on transport costs.

The sun is still out, so it’s a good day to wash the cars. Since we live in a quiet residential area, we can wash them on the street (and save money since we don’t have to go to the car wash). I make a cup of the recently acquired Melbourne Breakfast tea, chuck on some music and we get down to business. 

We spend the rest of the afternoon doing small tasks around the house. I get a little bit hungry and raid the fridge for some ideas. I'm going to make a breakfast wrap for my late lunch using scrambled eggs, cheese, ham, onion and topped with Sriracha in a wrap. I get comfortable on the couch for the rest of the afternoon. 

I check my account and an Afterpay refund has come through, a concert we were meant to go to back in August 2021 was finally cancelled after being postponed during COVID lockdowns (+$103.30). That’s going straight to the credit card. 

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I decide to shop around for some car insurance quotes, since changing phone providers there are a few offers at the moment on competitor car insurance providers. If I switch I could save up to $30 a month, plus get member reward points. I email myself the quote, I’ll sit on it for a few days and do some research on the reviews before I make the jump. 

We’re getting hungry, my partner also wants to go to Kmart to pick up some work pants. We jump in the car and head down to the local shopping centre. I get sidetracked and go to the home fitness section of Kmart, I could use an exercise band for stretching... I quickly snap out of it.

Once we wrap up at Kmart, we go to the Coles to pick up some food for dinner – we’re on a mission to make enchiladas. With rising food prices our small shops have gone from roughly $30 to $40. My partner offers to pay for this one.

I start on dinner, chucking on YouTube as I prepare everything. I find watching videos about money management has really helped keep me motivated to pay off debt and also up my savings game. I watch a few Christina Mychas and CNBC Millennial Money videos while waiting for dinner to cook. 

We spend the rest of the night watching Netflix and I scroll through my phone. I then quickly clean the dishes before getting ready for bed. Looks like tomorrow is going to be a sunny one, I lay out my workout clothes at the foot of the bed so I can grab them first thing. I’m going to do a walk at the Bay Run loop – I’ll take any sunshine I can get.  

Daily total: +$65.24.

Reflection.

Looking back on the week that was, I feel like my finances are looking pretty good. I managed to stay on top of the bills and weekly expenses (that I can’t escape). I also managed to not give into temptation to splurge big or buy things on impulse. 

I’ve implemented a lot of ‘good’ money habits like the ‘wishlist’ strategy to keep track of what I want to buy and have savings goals towards it! There are a few bigger costs coming up in the next few weeks, like the car and specialist appointments that I know will put some financial pressure on me but if I keep my weekly costs down, I should be able to make it work.

Want to contribute your own anonymous money diary for What My Salary Gets Me? Email [email protected] to get involved.

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

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