What My Salary Gets Me: A 26-year-old med student with $10,000 worth of designer clothes.

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 26-year-old medical student from Richmond, Vic, shares her money diary. 

Age: 26

Job: Medical student (final year), working part time as a netball umpire and in hospitality.

Overall Income: $30,477

Centrelink ‘Youth Allowance’: $11,477 a year

Part time work: $14,000 a year

Scholarships: This year I received $5000 from my university.

Housing: $610 a month – I have recently moved in with my partner who is a law graduate, which is nice because we are both very busy so I get to see more of him and our rent is cheaper. I live 3km from the hospital I’m based at and 2km from one of my jobs, so I also save money by walking a lot.

Assets: Car worth about $2000, it’s very old but does the job.

Designer Clothes: $10,000 (probably more… oops) I have a slight obsession with Gorman and like to treat myself to ‘investment pieces’ after exams and for birthdays etc.

HECS: $64,125.85
Student Start Up Loans: $5,333.25

Regular expenses:
Apple music: $6 a month (student price).
Phone bill: $50 a month, I recently paid out my plan and swapped to a prepaid option.
Groceries: $100 a week, I share this with my partner and we have a Splitwise account to make it easy to keep track of our spending.
Amazon Prime Membership: $7 a month (I’ll cancel my subscription once I have finished watching House, though.)
Netflix and Stan: $0, I use other people’s accounts.
Fuel and Tolls: $30 a week.
Gym: $0, I go for runs outside and make up my own workouts in the park or on my bedroom floor.

Other expenses: 
MCC Membership: $670 a year.
Car Rego and Insurance and Services: $1,500 a year.
Holidays and weekend activities: variable.
Wine: $200 a year. I buy it by the box when I get sent vouchers and discounts.

Watch: The optimal salary for happiness. Post continues after video. 

Video by MMC

Monday – Day one

I have the same breakfast everyday I have placement; an instant coffee and a smoothie. I prepare it the night before, blend it in the morning and drink it on the tram on the way to the hospital. I walk the 3km home because it’s cheaper and counts as exercise right? I buy a loaf of fresh sourdough ($7) and make avocado toast for my lunch. I play mixed netball that night ($10) and for dinner reheat soup leftover from the weekend. I transfer a friend $404 that I owe her for booking an Airbnb in Byron Bay for a trip at the end of the year.

Daily total- $421

Tuesday – Day two

Smoothie and instant coffee for breakfast and tram to the hospital. I take risotto from the freezer and have that for lunch. I always try to have a few frozen meals ready to go, I cook big batches of bolognese or curry or risotto on weekends. I top up my Myki card on the walk home ($30). I have dinner with two friends at a steak night, we all have the steak special and share a bottle of wine. We split it evenly so I transfer my friend ($31).

Daily total: $61

Wednesday – Day three

I have a breakfast function at my partner’s law firm, tickets are paid for by the firm. I pay for the Uber there ($17). I don’t go to hospital today and spend the afternoon running errands and studying. I go to the supermarket and do a big shop at Coles, including a HUGE jar of instant coffee because it’s on special and I get extra flybuys points if I spend $90 in one shop this week. I put the shop on our joint account so my portion is $48. That afternoon I do some meal prep and make enough chicken and pesto pasta to get us through the week. At night I work umpiring social netball and when I get home my partner has made salmon and vegetables for a late dinner.

Daily total: $65

Thursday – Day four

Smoothie, instant coffee and tram… again. For lunch I have the pesto chicken pasta. I get an email about graduation from uni and have to pay for tickets ($235). I have defrosted bolognese for dinner after umpiring netball.

Daily total: $235

Friday – Day five

Normal morning routine. After rounds my supervising doctor buys me a coffee. I also sell two textbooks online for $50. I have recently put a lot of clothes and things I don’t use any more on Gumtree and Ebay as a #sidehustle. Lunch is pesto and chicken pasta again. I work in a bar tonight, walk there and get picked up by my partner.

Daily total: $0

Saturday – Day six

For breakfast my partner and I have homemade smashed avocado (we think we make it better than any café). I go to Coles and get a roast chicken and bread rolls and other groceries ($38). I go to the MCG to watch the AFL, my membership gets me in. Usually I would have a beer or two but I don’t drink because I have to work after. I take a chicken roll for lunch, food at the football is not great and EXPENSIVE. I go from the footy to work. After work I walk home past the pub my partner is at and we walk home together via a kebab shop where I grab a halal snack pack for dinner ($15) because I didn’t get a chance to eat at work.


Daily total: $53

Sunday – Day seven

Another homemade smashed avo breakfast. I walk to work, have a roast chicken roll I brought from home for lunch and eat leftovers from service for dinner – a perk of hospitality. Walk home and end my weekend with a movie in bed.

Daily total: $0

Weekly total: $835

Reflection: I’ve been a ‘poor’ uni student living out of home for seven years now and keeping this spending diary made me realise how many ‘hacks’ I have picked up on saving. I skimp on some things so I can still have nice clothes and a good social life. I like buying things in bulk (especially wine) and I try to buy things when they are discounted. Meal prepping also saves me heaps. Upon reflection, I feel pride in myself realising how hard I work. The money I get from Centrelink for being a full-time student living away from home covers rent and basic living expenses, so other ‘optional’ expenses come out of my casual work. I find my budget each week is very different but so is my income.

This week was particularly expensive as I was stung with the graduation expense and I am making holiday bookings, but I also worked a lot. The good thing about casual work and having multiple jobs is I can pick up extra shifts when I want to buy something or pay for something. I don’t have a credit card, so if I want to do something fun or buy new clothes, I have to have the money in my account. I find working casually gives me a strong sense of the worth of every dollar I make and spend. I motivate myself to do a six hour shift in a bar after a full day of placement thinking ‘this shift will pay for for my flight to Queensland’ or ‘do I really need to buy that coffee, it’s 15 minutes of running up and down a netball court’.

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]

For more What My Salary Gets Me:

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What My Salary Gets Me: A 29-year-old on $108,000 a year, with $455,000 in savings.

What My Salary Gets Me: The 36-year-old project manager who spent $3,795 in one week.

What My Salary Gets Me: A Sales Director on $120,000 a year, who refuses to cook.

What My Salary Gets Me: A 34-year-old on $21,400 a year, who has hardly any daily expenses.

What My Salary Gets Me: A 54-year-old community worker who lives in public housing.

What My Salary Gets Me: A part-time physiotherapist who spent almost $2000 in a day.

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