What My Salary Gets Me: A 21-year-old student working part-time on $50,000 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 21-year-old student shares her daily money diary.

Age: 21 

Job: Part-time (30 hours per week) eCommerce sales role and full-time final year communications student. 

Salary: $50,000 a year. 

My income depends on the amount of extra hours, public holidays and weekends I work. I'll often work full-time during university holidays as well to earn extra money. 

My partner works five casual jobs and is working on a couple of community theatre productions while studying his master's degree. 

We don’t share incomes but we share certain bills including internet, rent and groceries. We do this because we both have different saving goals and earn about the same income. 

Housing: My partner and I live in student accommodation in Brisbane near our university. 

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Monthly expenses: 

Rent: $1,396. My partner and I split the cost of rent 50/50. We pay $349 a week and our rent includes all of our bills excluding the additional Wi-Fi device we use. We also get gym [access] and breakfast included as well. 

Health insurance: $80. I use extra cover to help pay for expenses like dental and optical.  

Phone: $25. I use a prepaid mobile plan to save money.

Internet: $79 (Optus, 5G). We split this 50/50.

Groceries: We budget for $700. We don’t normally use all of the budget but save it for when we need medications or extra things like toilet paper from Who Gives A Crap. I contribute $200 a fortnight and my partner contributes $150 a fortnight. 


Car insurance: $113.

Petrol: I put away $50 a month. I try to use my car as little as possible because petrol is expensive and it’s really hard to grab a park in my street during the day. 

Gym: $0. My building has a gym that is free to use for residents. I use it two to three times a week.

Savings: $11,331.33. 

Zip Pay: $140.

Assets: I don’t own any assets but I do own my car outright. 

Streaming services: I don’t have any subscriptions. But I use my partner's Disney+ (he pays $10ish).


For me Monday was a pretty lazy day. I work from home on Mondays and my partner was also home because he had uni in the afternoon. 

We realised we were out of milk so we had breakfast that our building provides because we couldn’t have our regular cereals. No milk means no coffee *sad face*. I decided to splurge and treat myself with a coffee from the local coffee shop next door on my lunch break. I bought him a small hot chocolate and got myself a large dirty chai on soy ($10.60). 

After we had our coffees, my partner went to the shops and got us some groceries which were paid for from our joint groceries account ($16.45). For lunch I had a frozen meal that was already in our freezer and he grabbed a snack while grocery shopping. 

After work I attended the online version of my classes because it was cold and rainy. Plus, I didn’t feel like leaving the house. I was feeling too lazy to cook, so I grabbed an $8 pizza from the Dominos across the road for dinner. 

Daily total: $35.05.


On Tuesdays I don’t particularly have anything on, so I generally work on uni assignments or do the course work for my classes. 

For breakfast I had my favourite cereal with fresh banana. I also had a hot dirty chai that I made using my pod coffee machine. During breakfast I decided to book in for a casual tap dance class at the dance school in the CBD for that afternoon ($21.90).

I then went to work at the uni library for a bit of an atmosphere change and I made iced coffee to take with me. 

After I finished up at the library, I walked to Woolworths to pick up some groceries for dinner and some household cleaning supplies we needed more of ($61.30). After putting away the groceries, I walked to a cafe and grabbed a $10 student deal schnitzel burger for lunch.


After watching some online content for uni at home I headed off to my dance class. My uni offers a campus shuttle bus that goes between the campuses for free. So I caught the shuttle and then walked to the studio. After class I headed home using the shuttle bus and then went to the gym. After that I was so tired I went straight to bed. 

Daily total: $93.20.


On Wednesday, my partner came down with COVID. So Wednesday was the start of our seven-day isolation period.

After his RAT came back positive, I went through our medicine cabinet and had a look at what we would need delivered from the chemist ($276.38). Luckily I have an emergency fund for times like this, so we paid for the order from that account. 

We had a bit of a lazy day on Wednesday and really didn’t do too much. I made lunch and dinner using the groceries bought the previous day.

I decided to call in sick for the weekend so I could care for my partner as he was unwell. 

Daily total: $276.38.

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Thursday was very similar to Wednesday. Another day of isolating. Thankfully, I am still testing negative. 

Today I just did some cleaning around the house and ordered some groceries online from Woolworths to be delivered on Friday ($165.48). Generally, we do our grocery shopping in small lots because we have a small fridge and are not normally home for every meal at the same time. 

Our TV died two weeks ago, so I also spent some time looking at options for a new one on Facebook Marketplace and online. 

For lunch we had hamburgers with some medallions from IKEA that I had in the freezer and for dinner we ate the leftovers from lunch the day before from the groceries. 

My partner also rented a movie online from YouTube - Sweeney Todd ($5) - so we spent the night watching it in bed. 

Daily total: $170.48.


Another day in isolation. We are still undecided on the TV to pick and spent some time looking into the best option for us. Our online grocery order arrived and I made avo toast for breakfast.

For lunch I made pesto pasta, creamed rice with banana and an iced coffee and spent some time working on uni work. 

For dinner, we ate leftovers from the groceries.


Daily total: $0.


On Saturday it was my turn to test positive, so we had a lazy day again. I made avo toast with eggs for breakfast, and for lunch we got KFC delivered for a special treat ($20.50). 

We finally made a decision on the TV and scored one pretty cheaply second hand from Gumtree. My father-in-law picked it up for us ready to deliver ($160).

We spent most of today watching YouTube in bed and resting. I worked on some uni work as well. 

For dinner I was feeling exhausted and made a charcuterie board. I made it using random leftover snacks, cheeses and salami that we had in the fridge. Putting all the random snacks and leftover foods on a board really does make you feel fancy on a tight budget.

Daily total: $180.50.


On Sunday we slept in pretty late, then my partner's parents delivered the TV for us. So we set that up and organised our TV space in the lounge room. 

For lunch we had steak and roast veggies that we purchased as part of the groceries. We weren’t feeling very hungry for dinner so we ate some snacks that we had at home. 

After dinner I spent some time looking at what I still needed for my uni graduation in the next couple of weeks. I completed my first degree on the Sunshine Coast. So we’re staying up there for a couple of days for a bit of a holiday to celebrate my graduation. 

Daily total: $0.


I feel pretty happy with our spending over the past week. When I signed up for What My Salary Gets Me I didn’t expect to get COVID during this week. I also didn’t expect for both my partner and I to need to take most of the week off work either. 

Thankfully I have sick leave, but my partner is only casual at all of his jobs. So for him, he didn’t earn any money this week. I’m glad I had been putting away money each week for the last couple of years when I could afford to put it into an emergency fund. 

My emergency fund only has roughly a month's worth of my income ($3000) but it definitely helped us get through this tight financial period. The only thing I do know is I need to spend less money on my 'treats', but I feel that can start next week!

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