finance

What My Salary Gets Me: A 21-year-old admin assistant on $42,300 who eats out every day.

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 21-year-old working in admin/retail in Melbourne, Victoria, shares her diary. 

Age: 21

Industry: Administration/Retail.

Salary: $42,300 per year.

Housing: Renting a two-bedroom city apartment which I share with one housemate. 

Assets:  Jewellery from my partner ($2,100) and a few designer bags. 

Debt: $17,283 of HECS.

Regular expenses:

Rent: $1300 per month.

Stan: $0, I use my boyfriend’s account. 

Hayu: $0, I’m doing a free thirty-day trial. 

Internet: $30 per month for my share.

Gym: $0 (my apartment building has a gym).

Other less regular expenses:

Electricity: We get our bills quarterly but I’ve only moved in recently, so I haven’t had a bill yet. 

Main savings account: $600 per month.

Shopping fund: $600 per month.

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

Friday – Day One.

I wake up late and skip breakfast. I live a short distance from my workplace, so I grab a latte on the walk to work ($4.50). I eat lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant with a colleague and it’s my turn to pay ($37.60). For dinner a friend cooked me pasta. My partner is overseas working at the moment and I miss him a lot! 

Daily total: $42.10

Saturday – Day Two.

I work most weekends, but it’s just me in the office. I buy an espresso shot and a muffin on my way to work to perk me up ($11.90). I decide to take a late lunch and buy a footlong from Subway and eat it alone in the breakroom listening to a podcast about The View ($12.45). I sip on water throughout the day as I seldom snack. For dinner I meet a friend at a Thai restaurant and order veg pad thai ($17). 

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Daily total: $41.35

Sunday – Day Three.

Working yet again! I buy another espresso and muffin and it’s somehow cheaper today? ($9.50). For lunch my boss brings in sushi rolls and buys me a second coffee. Work is long and slow. For dinner my boss and his wife take me out for pizza and wine and they pay.

Daily total: $9.50

Monday – Day Four.

It’s my day off, but I still rise at a reasonable hour to go meet a friend for coffee and matcha slice ($9). We decide to walk to the National Gallery and wander through the free galleries. I walk her back to the train station and bid farewell. I do a little shopping and buy a pair of Calvin Klein underwear from a department store. With 40 per cent off plus my $10 store credit they cost only $7. I stop by a very trendy burger bar on my way home and order a combo ($19.50). I eat it once I arrive home and watch The Real Housewives of New York. Then I call my sister and lay on the couch gossiping for about an hour. I eat leftover pasta for dinner that my friend made.  

Daily total: $35.50

Tuesday – Day Five.

I buy a coffee and banana bread before work ($7.50). I have an odd craving around lunchtime for a schnitzel, which I get from a nearby café ($13.9). For dinner I go to a Japanese restaurant with friends for katsu and matcha ice-cream ($23.45). Tomorrow is my day off, so I stay up late applying a Korean face mask and watching a documentary about America’s disappearing middle class.  

Daily total: $44.85

Wednesday – Day Six.

I wake up about 11am and go to a Krispy Kreme for coffee and doughnuts ($7.95). My housemate is home sick with the flu, so I walk around the city to be alone with my thoughts and stop in at my favourite Italian restaurant for a second coffee and lasagne ($25). I wander to Tiffany and Co to window shop and get a ring polished (complimentary service). I come home and do some online shopping, and promptly order a camel-coloured coat I find on sale ($150). I eat a can of flavoured tuna for dinner, and for dessert I have a few pieces of chocolate and a cup of tea. 

Daily total: $182.95 

Thursday – Day Seven.

I head to work and grab my usual espresso and snack ($9.00). I visit a client’s office in the afternoon, but get so carried away with my tasks I skip lunch. For dinner I cheat and go to a fast food restaurant ($11.95). Later in the evening I walk to my nearest supermarket and buy a small punnet of blueberries ($3.75). 

Daily total: $24.70

Weekly total: $380.95

Reflection: I’m a little embarrassed by my spending. I’m not a confident cook, so I clearly spend an exorbitant amount on eating out. I often have to dip into savings, overdraft or ask my parents for extra money. I tend to buy more high end clothes and cosmetics, but I buy much more sparingly than my friends. I live in the Melbourne CBD so I walk almost everywhere. It definitely saves me a lot on transport and it’s great exercise. 

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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