finance

17 women on how much they earned in their very first job versus now.

This post mentions financial abuse, and could be triggering for some readers.

Money, money money, must be funny in the rich man's world. 

As ABBA put it so brilliantly, many of us have been in a bit of a tight money situation at some point in our lives, often during our younger years in junior positions with little salary. Not to mention the continual pay gap between women and men...

We wanted to unpack this further, speaking with 17 women on how much money they earned in their first jobs compared to now. These women have also shared a golden money rule they wish they could have told their younger selves back in the day.

Our data is from the one and only Mamamia Money Survey, which paints an overall picture of women's finances in 2021.

So without further ado, here are their stories. 

Watch: Ladies, let's talk... money! Post continues below. 


Video via Mamamia.

How much money were you earning in your first full-time job, versus now?

At the age of 18, this woman was earning $24,700 per year working as a pharmacy assistant at a chemist full-time. Now at the age of 26, she is an admin assistant in the agriculture sector working full-time, earning $80,000. Her best piece of money advice to her younger self: "Save your money! The more money you put into savings at a young age, the better."

At the age of 18, this woman was earning $18,500 per year working as a trainee accountant full-time. Now at the age of 39, she is a financial controller working full-time, earning $173,000. Her best piece of money advice to her younger self: "Buy a copy of the Barefoot Investor book ASAP."

At the age of 23, this woman was given her first full-time job, earning $73,900 per year as a primary school teacher. Now at the age of 29, she is a school coordinator working full-time, earning $112,000. As for her golden money advice? "Money doesn't have to be stressful if you make smart decisions and live within your means. Sometimes that means making sacrifices: not going out on the town every weekend. But setting aside money for your savings helps when those surprises do come up."

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At the age of 17, this woman was a chef's apprentice, earning $20,000 a year working full-time. Now at the age of 35, she is a full-time teacher, earning $80,000 per year. "I wish my younger self would have kept her debt down and paid things off quicker than the set repayments," she says. "It's a good lesson to have learned."

Image: Mamamia. 

At 19, this woman was working full-time as a kindergarten assistant, earning $20,000 a year. Now at the age of 42, she is a sales administrator in the manufacturing industry working full-time and earning $60,000. As for her golden money advice? "You don't need a lot of material things: save, save and save to set yourself up for the future. You'll be supporting your adult children while they study (and the government won't help much)!"

At 21, this woman was earning $25,000 in a general office job full-time. Now at the age of 46, this woman is a HR manager in the mining industry, working full-time and earning $200,000. As for her golden money advice to her younger self? "In the early years, aim to start salary sacrificing into your superannuation. It will help down the line."

Listen to What The Finance: Future you needs you to sort your super. Post continues after podcast.


At 23, this woman was given her first full-time job at a butcher, earning $24,000 per year. Now at the age of 31, she is in admin for the state's police department, working full-time and earning $65,000. "Honestly, I was always quite smart with my money and given good advice: I just didn't have enough disposable income to follow it. It's hard to save when you're earning crap money that barely covers the rent."

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At 18, this woman was working at a cafe, earning $12,000 a year and working full-time. Now at the age of 57, she is a senior product manager in the finance sector working full-time, earning $210,000. Her best piece of money advice to her younger self: "Start purchasing property as soon as you can: you'll thank me later, as property prices will only keep rising..."

Image: Mamamia. 

At the age of 23, this woman was earning $32,000 a year, working as an assistant in a nursing home full-time. Now at the age of 51, she is a veterinarian working part-time, earning $45,000 per year. As for her golden money advice? "Change career. Yes, you love it but the money just isn't good enough."

At the age of 17, this woman was earning $15,000 as a hairdressing apprentice working part-time. Now at the age of 32, she is a roster coordinator in the health care sector working part-time, earning $59,600 per year. As for what she would tell her younger self: "Stop spending all your money!"

At 18, this woman was earning $43,000 as a junior librarian assistant working full-time. Now at the age of 33, she is a full-time librarian earning $82,000. "What I wish I knew when I was younger is that, it's okay to spend on yourself: it's worth investing in your health and wellbeing, so for example buy those good running shoes or treat yourself to a muscle massage. Also: see a specialist when referred, don't delay looking after yourself simply to save some coin."

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At 21, this woman was given her first full-time job in the nursing sector. She can't remember exactly what it was she was earning, but it was around the $30,000 mark. Now at the age of 49, she is a registered nurse earning $71,000 per year and working part-time. As for her golden money advice to her younger self? "Mum knows best. Try and get into the property market early."

Image: Mamamia. 

At 16, this woman was earning $41,500 as a sheep shearer. Now at the age of 26, she is a full-time chef, earning $75,000. Her best piece of money advice to her younger self: "Saving is important even if it's a small proportion. Try to avoid consumer credit."

At 14, this woman was earning $27,600 working full-time as a receptionist. Now at the age of 37, she is a part-time teacher earning $84,000. "Don't live beyond your means. And don't base your decisions on what others or friends are doing: it's your money."

At 18, this woman was earning $18,000 as a full-time governess. Now at the age of 38, she is a farm director in the agriculture sector, working part-time and earning $160,000. Her best piece of money advice to her younger self: "Stop buying new clothes to wear out every weekend. It's the biggest waste of time and money, and not many people care if you're wearing the same dress as two weeks ago. But do invest in a good hairdresser early: it's worth it."

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At 17, this woman was earning $20,000 a year working in a call centre full-time. Now at the age of 50, she is a public servant with the government, earning $60,000 a year and working full-time. Her best piece of money advice to her younger self: "Start saving money in a secret account when you are younger. Financial abuse is a real thing, and you will fall victim to it in your marriage. Keep an eye out."

At 23, this woman was given her first full-time job in a mental health facility, earning $50,000. Now at the age of 26, she is a provisional psychologist working full-time and earning $95,000. As for her golden money advice to her younger self? "Always sleep on impulse purchases."

Image: Mamamia. 

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home. 

You can also call safe steps 24/7 Family Violence Response Line on 1800 015 188 or visit www.safesteps.org.au for further information.

Feature Image: Getty/Mamamia.