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

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 54-year-old community sector worker shares her diary. 

Age: 54

Job: My typical day is working four hours a day, four days a week in providing community access and personal care to elderly people in their homes. I do three morning shifts and one afternoon shift per week (16 hours). I choose not to work full time as I have to look after a health condition.

Salary: I work in the community sector and clear $31 an hour after tax. My Earnings are $3757.78 per month, or $822 per week. I also receive a government pension

Housing: I live in public housing and have done for 14 years. I first entered public housing at 40 with my two-year-old daughter to enable me to have housing security. I am extremely lucky to have stable housing and very low rent in a capital city. As a single parent it is extremely hard to survive on a part time income and pay private market rent in our city. An equivalent inner city, two bedroom unit is $440 per week.

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

Regular expenses:

Rent: I pay $110 rent a week on a Friday

Utilities: $129 quarterly

Two mobile phones: $162.60 monthly

Car Insurance: $30.28 monthly

Netflix membership:$9.95 monthly

Apple I-cloud fees: $1.50 monthly

Toll Road fees: $25 monthly (approx)

Other: I give to four charities per month. This seems a lot but I can’t say no. It comes to a combined total of $32.25 a week

Medicines Sans Frontier: $30 monthly

Child Sponsorship Nepal: $30 monthly

Orangutan Project: $30 monthly

Soi Dog sponsorship: $39 monthly


I live very well on $822 a week but I rarely go to anything and spend money only on lunch and coffee, and the occasional movie. I do a lot of free trips to the art gallery or South Bank. I do have a low fee credit card as back up and I can make use of After Pay if needed.

Monday – Day One

I spend four hours with a client and we always have a coffee and cake. It makes her happy to buy me a coffee but I usually pay for myself, $10.30.

I spend the evening watching Mad Men on Netflix.

Total cost: $10.30

Tuesday – Day Two

I spend four hours working, and then I do my own grocery shop at Aldi and Coles. This is my main shop for the week where I buy three meat based meals. Meat is expensive and this costs about $35-40. We also have four vegetarian or fish meals a week.

I spend $82.78 at Coles, and $44.32 at Aldi. I did a bigger shop than usual at Aldi this week as it’s school holidays and I wanted to buy more treats. I also buy the new Frankie magazine at the newsagent ($10.95), and have coffee and lunch at the deli, which costs $14.30.

I make my dinner at home and it’s another evening of watching Netflix.

Total cost: $152.35

Wednesday – Day Three

Today I spent $9.49 at the pharmacy and $40.34 on petrol. I have lunch with my daughter which comes to $35.50. I also buy $85 worth of clothes in a sale as they were 50 per cent off, and buy my daughter a new pair of shoes for $60/

Total cost: $230.33

Thursday – Day Four

I worked a five hour shift today and my client paid for lunch. I pay $20 in tolls for work and altogether drive 106km.

In the evening, I babysit for my niece, and then it’s home to bed.

Total cost: $20

Friday – Day Five

I see clients until 2pm today and then it’s straight home for dinner and Netflix. I’ve spent a lot this week because it’s school holidays.The rent is also due today ($110).

Total cost: $110

Saturday – Day Six

We go to 10 Pin Bowling. It’s $19.95 for an adult and $33 for two student tickets. I also pay $20 for snacks.

Total cost: $72.95

Sunday – Day Seven

We go to brunch for a family birthday. It’s $45.

Total cost: $45

This week I spent: $696.09

What’s left? $125:91

I realise I don’t have a month of cash saved for emergencies which is considered a minimum. I might start putting $60 away a week and eat less cake. I see that I live a fairly spartan life but I’m happy.

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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