finance

What My Salary Gets Me: A 39-year-old on $163,500, living with her friend and their kids.

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 39-year-old mum from Melbourne shares her money diary.

Industry: Sales

Age: 39 

Income: $163,500 (salary + investment property income)

Housing: Rent a four bedroom house with my friend and our kids.

Dependants: Two primary school aged kids.

Watch: Budgeting explained with a banana. Post continues below.


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Monthly expenses:

Mortgage Repayment: $1,600

Rent: $3,250

Internet: $37.50

Private Health Insurance: $190.55

Phone: $45.00

Personal Trainer: $134.00

Netflix: $7

Utilities: $75

Urban Brew Coffee Pod Subscription: $22

Investment Property Costs: Approx. $400

Monthly spending money into joint account with boyfriend: $250

Cat Expenses: $25.00

Debt:

Home Loan: $212,000  

Credit Card: $1,840 

Assets:

Investment Property: $800-$850,000

Car: $10,000

Sunday — Day One 

Yesterday was my daughter's birthday party, so we are all pretty tired today. I make her and her best friend pancakes for brekkie from what we have in the fridge and cupboard. 

She wanted to change one of her gifts so we head to the shops and do an exchange on a jumper for her and next minute I am buying three different hair scrunchies for her because "I love them Mummy phleeeaasseee." She's so tired and I dare not say no for fear of a public meltdown. I spend $13.98 on the scrunchies for her. 

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I grab her a smoothie ($7.20) and gingerbread person and a coffee for myself ($7.80). Then we grab some sushi for lunch ($17.80) before heading home for a couch and Lego day. 

Dinner is pasta with bolognese that we have batch cooked the week prior so no spend against that for today.

Daily total: $46.78

Monday — Day Two

Brekkie is a protein shake and the kids have Weet-Bix. The kids are at school today and I am working from home. 

WFH due to Covid has been a money saver for me. I'm not spending on my usual Opal card/transport costs which saves me $38 a week. 

I'm also not sending the kids to after school care which is saving me between $50 and $70 a week. 

Not to mention the Ubers, the meals and drinks out, coffees or 3pm snacks that I inevitably spend on when in the office and not distancing at home.

Lunch for me today is chicken and vegetable soup that I made last Friday. I make a huge batch in the slow cooker each fortnight and that usually makes around 12-14 meals between the broth, veggies and the poached chicken. 

While I eat my lunch I fall prey to some Instagram advertising and buy myself an early birthday present, a zodiac necklace for $136.80. I did save myself 10 per cent on this purchase by signing up to the newsletter. I also grab a coffee and a protein ball from the local cafe ($8.00). 

Dinner is fresh spring rolls. All the ingredients were purchased in a big grocery shop that was delivered last week. That shop usually lasts for two weeks with a few small top ups here and there.

Daily total: $144.80

Tuesday — Day Three

I pay $208.24 off my credit card, mainly because I like my accounts to be even numbers, not because a payment is due. I use my credit card in a really transactional way, pay it off in full every month when I get paid and never pay interest. 

I pop to the local ALDI for some groceries and spend $37.20 (This is really only $18.60 for me as my friend who I live with and I split rent/bills/groceries down the middle using the app Splitwise). 

In the evening I grab some groceries for dinner with my boyfriend ($12.97). He has already bought most of the meal. All my other meals were at home from stuff in the fridge/cupboard today.

Daily total: $239.81

Wednesday — Day Four 

Today I only spend $18.20 (50/50 with my friend again so only $9.10) on four protein balls. Usually I would make them myself and an entire batch wouldn't cost me this much but working from home with an entire batch of protein balls just results in me eating all of them, so I choose to pay a little more! 

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Brekkie, lunch and dinner are all things I already have on hand.

Daily Total: $9.10

Thursday — Day Five

I transfer $849.39 to my home loan, this is an additional payment to the monthly repayment listed above. I try to do this when the rental income comes in from my investment property to stop me spending it. 

I take my daughter to have her hearing tested this morning and that appointment costs $110. This isn't covered by Medicare or our private health insurance, so I pay the amount in full. 

After that appointment we go for a coffee and babycino date and share a croissant. Total $18.00. 

Lunch is just salad and poached chicken that is still going from the slow cooker from last Friday! I see some heels I like and decide to buy them. I get $20 off for subscribing to the brand's newsletter so spend $229.95. 

A dress I have been watching for weeks is now 75 per cent off and I get an extra 15 per cent off with another code that is applied through the app Honey. All up, including postage I spend $74.19.

Dinner is nachos. All covered from last week's grocery shop.

Daily total: $1,281.53 (although $849.39 of this is paying down home loan debt so a healthy kind of spending).

Friday — Day Six 

Brekkie is a protein shake, morning tea is bone broth and lunch is tuna, vegetables and rice. All ingredients that I have on hand as per previous days. 

The kids are with their dad this weekend, so I am heading up the coast with my boyfriend to stay with friends. I top up the car with petrol but pay for this with our joint card which we both contribute $250 to each month which I transfer on pay day, so I'm not spending additional money here. We grab a coffee on the way but that is also on the joint card.

Dinner is at our friend's place, prepared by them, and we contribute a bottle of wine. Purchased with the joint card again.

Daily total: $0

Saturday — Day Seven

Brekkie and coffees at a cafe but as I am with my boyfriend that again goes on the joint card that I put money into every month so no additional spend from me there.

We go for a bushwalk and then have lunch at the local pub. Again this goes on the joint card. 

Dinner is with friends at their house, so I'm not spending anything today.

Daily total: $0.

Weekly Total: $1,722.02

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Reflection:

I feel like the weekly number is really inflated by the mortgage and credit card payment that I chose to make in addition to my usual payments. 

If you take those out I have only spent $664.39. I haven't bought a lot of clothes while I've been working from home for the past three months and I always check the returns policy when I am ordering online so I can always return it. The shoes may go back if they aren't quite right.

I have really felt the financial benefits of the recent COVID restrictions and have tried to use that to save additional money and pay off more of my home loan. I would easily be spending less than half of what I usually do. 

Our average fortnightly spend on groceries and alcohol is around $300-$380 but that was last fortnight so not captured here and is split 50/50 with my friend so only $150-$180.

I'm happy with my financial situation and feel in control of it. Having got into the property market over 10 years ago definitely helped.

The author of this story is known to Mamamia but has chosen to remain anonymous for privacy reasons. The feature image used is a stock photo from Getty.

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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