finance

What My Salary Gets Me: A 26-year-old social worker living in regional Victoria on $75,000 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 26 year-old social worker shares her daily money diary.

Age: 26 

Job: Social worker/researcher.

Salary: $75,000.

Housing: Owner/mortgage payer of a 100-year-old weatherboard house on half an acre in North-west Victoria which I purchased 18 months ago. 

I’m also newly married and my husband lives with me in my house. We don’t have any children yet but we do have three dogs and two cats. My most important financial achievement has been purchasing my first home, I made a huge sacrifice in order to do so which was moving seven hours away from my home (Melbourne) to break into the regional property market which was affordable to do so as a single person (which I was at the time). 

Since moving to the country, I met my partner, bought a home (by myself) and put down some roots. I’m recently married and navigating the next phases of our life together - planning and saving up to start a family.

I’m happy to report that I'm very good at managing my budget and saving money. It’s one of the strengths I bring to my relationship because my husband is actually terrible at it.

I’ve never understood why women have been given such a bad rap around having an inability to manage money when almost every married woman I speak to (in hetero relationships) reports the same thing: they manage the money because their husbands are frivolous. Where did this notion of women being hopeless with money come from? I’d seriously like to know. 

My monthly expenses are roughly $1,289 plus my mortgage $1,200. I work for a not-for-profit organisation so I use my salary sac each fortnight to pay my mortgage and the remaining $1,600 gets paid into my main bank account. 

I have six different bank accounts, which is how I manage my money, and every fortnight I transfer a lump sum into each of the following accounts. 

Splurge/date night: $100.

Rates and water: $100.

Renovations: $175.

Baby: $100.

Savings: $300.

This usually leaves around $800 in my daily expenses per fortnight account to cover my living expenses. 

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Monthly expenses: 

Mortgage: $1,200.

Insurance: $225 (car, home, health).

Electricity: $115.

Water and rates (per quarter): $650.

Internet: $80.

Leisure centre membership: $50.

Phone: $128.

Entertainment (Netflix, Stan, Spotify): $48.

Cleaner: $132.

Fuel: $150.

Groceries: $400.

Monday.

My partner and I woke up early and went for a swim at the local leisure centre before work. We try to do this three times per week, but now that it’s winter we are struggling and usually only go twice a week (our membership is $25 per fortnight). 

I made our breakfast the night before (usually overnight oats), so we eat, shower and get ready at the leisure centre and then both go off to work. I always (ok, 90 per cent of the time) bring my lunch to work and it's usually something I meal-prepped on the weekend. 

Today I had marinated tofu with quinoa and brown rice and chipotle sauce (my husband had the same but with chicken). After work, I went past the supermarket to get a couple of things I forgot to grab on my weekly shop (usually a Sunday task - $14.89). For dinner I cooked something out of my Dinnerly box which gets charged out each Wednesday. We usually have an early night on the days we swim because we are knackered. 

Daily total: $14.89.

Tuesday.

First thing, I received the invoice for our cleaner who comes once a fortnight ($66). Sometimes I feel guilty for having a cleaner but she just does the things I never get around to like washing the floors and cleaning the bathrooms, and ultimately, I believe you either spend the time or you spend the money. In this instance, I spent the money because it gives me more quality time to spend with my husband. 

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Our Stan membership came out today ($14) and my mobile phone as well ($71.40). We both had breakfast at home - apple cinnamon porridge - and packed lunch which was left over butter chicken from Sunday night's dinner. I went for a walk after work followed by fueling up ($50) and stopping by the supermarket to get dog food ($25). 

For dinner, we had leftovers from our Dinnerly meal from Monday. We watched TV on the couch and then went to bed at around 10pm. We’re trying to improve our sleep hygiene by not watching TV in bed on weeknights. 

Daily total: $226.40.

Wednesday.

We didn’t go for a swim today because it was raining; and let's be honest, it’s hard to get out of bed for a swim when it’s raining outside! So we’ll make up for it with a walk after work. 

I made us both breakfast - peanut butter overnight oats - and packed our lunches (marinated tofu with quinoa and brown rice from the other day) and set off for work. Today my Dinnerly subscription comes out ($55), my health insurance fortnightly premium was due ($22) as well as the first two payments on my new car insurance policy ($170). Big bills day!

Daily total: $247.

Thursday.

This morning, we got up nice and early and went for a swim at the local leisure centre. Then we ate our packed breakfast and went to work. 

I made my own lunch for work and ate that, while drinking an instant coffee (I've cut back on how many coffees I go out to buy during the week and have set myself a goal of one per week.) After work, I stop by the supermarket to get a couple of things including pads and tampons ($36). We had dinner at home and watched TV on the couch - standard night. 

Daily total: $36.

Friday.

Friday is always a great day because it’s my short day at work. I finished at 2pm and went for a walk, grabbing a doggy door from Bunnings ($54) before meeting up with my partner for date night (it was his turn to pay).

We saw the new Downton Abbey movie and then went to the new 400 Gradi restaurant that has opened in town for a small bite to eat. We always take it in turns each week to plan our date nights and set aside a budget of $100 per date. 

Daily total: $54.

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Saturday.

Today was mostly spent at home doing housework with a quick stop at the local IGA for milk and hot chocolate powder ($17). 

I ate all my meals at home (which reduced my spending) and dropped off some clothes to charity. That was basically it!

Weekends are usually when I catch up on housework - doing the washing and preparing meals for the following week. You know how it goes.

Daily total: $17.

Sunday.

Today my partner and I had a wedding to attend which was five hours away. It was a medieval themed wedding, so it was definitely the most unique wedding I've been to. 

I had a travel voucher from a previously canceled trip so I booked the hotel and my husband paid for the fuel. We stopped at a bakery for breakfast ($20) and went through the Maccas drive through for chicken wraps for lunch ($18). 

I definitely find we spend more money on days when we travel and we definitely don’t eat as healthily because there aren’t many options for fresh, healthy food.

We both contributed $50 for our wedding gift and then drove home the next day after filling up on the complimentary buffet breakfast at the hotel (who doesn't love a hotel breakfast?). 

Daily total: $88.

Reflection:

Weekly total: $683.29.

This is probably what I would consider a higher spend week - I normally like to keep it to around $400 - because I paid two months in advance on my insurance and we had to purchase a doggy door, gift for the wedding, and takeout whilst we were on the road that contributed to a higher total than what I would usually aim for. 

On reflection, I can see that I went to the supermarket quite a few times during the week and I think that’s a habit I'd like to reduce. I'm probably spending more money going to the supermarket three times rather than just doing one larger shop once a week. I am definitely starting to feel the pinch of the increase in cost of living, especially around groceries and petrol. 

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Feature Image: Canva/Mamamia.