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What My Salary Gets Me: A part-time teacher and payroll officer with a baby on the way.

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 32-year-old part-time teacher and payroll officer shares her daily money diary.

Age: 32

Job: Part-time teacher and payroll officer.

Income: I’m currently 30 weeks pregnant, and due to being unwell throughout this pregnancy I have been on a combination of paid and unpaid personal leave from my teaching job since I was 24 weeks pregnant (I was working three days per week before this, plus my payroll job hours). 

I’m relying mostly on my payroll job and my husband’s income until my maternity leave will kick in at 34 weeks.

My current net income is approximately $1,300 a fortnight based on hours worked (I also need to pay tax and super on this). My husband’s fortnightly income is approximately $3,200 - this varies depending on hours worked and shift penalties.

Housing: We have two houses, both in Melbourne, one of which we receive $2,100 per month in rental income.

Watch: Simple budgeting with a banana. Post continues after video.


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Monthly expenses: 

Mortgage: One owner-occupied mortgage which we pay $850 a fortnight against ($400,000 owing), and an investment property mortgage ($600,000 owing) costing us $2,400 a month.

It can feel overwhelming owing the bank so much, but we hope it will provide a nice retirement nest egg. It’s located in Melbourne's Inner West and was the first house we bought 10 years ago, as well as reducing my husband’s taxable income.

Health insurance: We pay for top hospital cover and I have top extras cover as I use it, especially in pregnancy for physio appointments - $430 per month.

Phone and internet: $85 per month for two plans; internet $95 per month.

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Gym: Occasional Pilates classes, but I pay as a casual and buy passes, so this is not a regular expense but has been helping with the aches and pains.

Savings: $5,000 cash, $20,000 in our mortgage offset.

Assets: Two cars that we own with no finance, two properties as detailed above, $5,000 in shares and $700 in crypto.

Streaming services: Currently only paying for Spotify - $16 a month for a family account. Use family passwords for streaming services and we were given 12 months of Disney+ free from Telstra rewards.

Monday.

Today is one of my favourite days, even though I’m working from home. My husband wakes up with our toddler, "M", gets her ready and takes her to childcare ($65 out of pocket). This gives me a chance to have a slow start with a bit of me-time - breakfast, a couple of pieces of toast with a cup of tea, while scrolling on my phone before jumping on to start work from home at 9.30am. 

This is the only day my child goes to childcare - we manage other days by working around each other’s hours and my husband works every second weekend to have every Wednesday off with M. 

This helps us save on childcare fees, especially when she ends up sick more often than not. Being able to work flexible hours has helped me get through this pregnancy and I am so lucky to be in this position.

During the day I snack and have smaller meals more regularly as I can’t stomach huge meals at the moment - lunch was some cereal with kiwifruit and a brewed soy chai in the afternoon before I pick up M.

We stop at the shops on the way home for some supplies to get us through the week. Every few weeks I stock up on basics at Aldi but top up our shop regularly for fresh produce, milk, bread and meat at our local supermarket/deli/bakery. 

I am shocked at the price of some of the fresh produce - over $10 a kilo for tomatoes seems insane. I only ended up getting some zucchinis, carrots and pumpkin and will use what's left at home as well as frozen items as I can’t justify the cost of some of the produce. 

I also needed to get coffee pods for my husband (he rarely buys coffee out), some yoghurt, milk (soy for me), some other bits and pieces ($95), scripts from the pharmacy ($45), bread from the bakery ($15) for two loaves of sourdough, and some meat from the butcher ($25). This was only a small shop and in total cost $180.

After heading home, I make meatballs with veggie mash and air-fried veggies for dinner - I cook most days and I am always trying to squeeze in extra veg to my toddler’s ever-shrinking diet. I love my multi-cooker and find pressure cooking saves a heap of time, especially as we’re coming into the colder months.

After she goes to bed at 7.30pm, I cuddle up on the couch and watch some Foxtel GO (thanks, Mum!) before heading to bed. 

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Daily total: $240.

Tuesday.

Today is a non-work day and usually we head to playgroup ($9 a session which is paid as a term fee), but as my husband had an early shift today, we had to stay home to wait for a plumber to have a look at a drain.

I don’t mind having to stay home as the weather is cold and wet, so our daughter, who thankfully sleeps in until 7.45am, comes into bed with me to watch some TV and have cuddles while we wake up. 

Then it’s breakfast, toast with a cup of tea for me and cereal and an orange squeezed out for her (a very occasional homemade juice that she enjoys). 

Thankfully, the plumber was able to fix the issue with little difficulty, a far cry from the $6,000 we had to spend a month ago as we had blocked stormwater that required extensive work - have yet to receive the bill but I imagine it will be a couple of hundred dollars that we will take out of our 'mojo' account - our emergency fund.

M then helps me make some veggie and lentil soup in the pressure cooker which, to my absolute amazement, she happily eats for lunch and asks for a second serving. Take the wins when you can!

My mum comes around to watch M who is again refusing a day nap (oh, the pain when you’re exhausted and they won’t sleep!) while I head off to a remedial massage appointment ($60 out of pocket).

On the way home, I top up petrol (who would have thought that paying $1.90 per litre was considered a good deal?). I also forgot to get cow's milk yesterday and couldn’t resist the Kit Kats (random pregnancy craving), total $97.

For dinner, it’s chicken and veggies from supplies we already had, before the usual bath and bed routine and slumping down tired in front of the TV.  

Daily total: $166 plus whatever the plumber’s call-out fee will be. 

Wednesday.

After making myself porridge and a tea I begin work. My husband is home with M today and takes her out for a babyccino, as well as a coffee for himself ($7). 

I have a skin appointment for micro-dermabrasion (damn pregnancy hormones). I bought a package over a year ago but appointments kept being cancelled due to COVID so I didn’t have to pay for today - bonus! 

I stop in at a toy shop as I’m slowly building up a breastfeeding basket of activities for M to play with when I’m feeding the new baby. I bought a craft activity and some play jewellery she will adore ($35).

After buying two muffins from Muffin Break (one for mum, $11), I go to mum's to work from there. I rarely need to go into the office to work and can work my own hours (one of the benefits of my job).

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Today is my husband’s payday and we follow The Barefoot Investor guide, so we use a spreadsheet to track our money to know what to pay into different accounts and what expenses are coming up.

Much to my surprise I still received some income from my teaching job (it must be the last of my personal leave - I'm paid $690) and my husband’s fortnightly income was higher than usual, as he had several unapproved timesheets that went through (+$4,128).

$700 goes into our living expenses fund to cover groceries, petrol, medications etc. (We put in an extra $50 due to the cost of living going up).

$100 goes into each of our splurge accounts fortnightly for meals out or other purchases we want to make - it’s not a lot but I think it’s important to allow yourself some ancillary spending.

$660 goes into our ‘smile savings’ account - this is for short-term savings goals like holidays or expensive purchases. And $500 into 'mojo'. We’re trying to build this back up to $20,000 after it was depleted by home renovations.

$100 paid to our daughter’s savings, as it was her second birthday over the weekend. We commit at least the amount per week into her savings based on her age, so it’s now $2 per week that we have set up as a fortnightly direct debit. We contribute extra when we have extra cash come in.

We pay the $500 rates bill (quarterly per property), $280 water bill (quarterly), $130 electricity (bi-monthly, solar helps to keep this down) $130 for two purchases on PayPal and $95 for internet (monthly bill).

Daily total: $1,188.

Thursday.

We had a rough night with M who had a temperature of 39.5 overnight.

Some medicine and into bed with me at midnight settled her down, but today we will take it easy as I now don’t feel well due to the lack of sleep. Husband is off to get new tyres through a family friend as his are no longer safe ($400). 

I feel like every day we’re paying for something, and while I’m grateful to be in a double income family and financially stable, I can’t help but worry with the cost of living increasing, as well as mortgages. 

I do wonder whether it’s worth keeping our investment property. We did just re-sign our tenants for another 12 months with no price rise - they are great tenants and we didn’t want to lose them - but with mortgages expected to go up so much and me going on maternity leave its something I constantly worry about. 

Mum paid us $350 and used flight credits we had from a cancelled flight, so I transferred $350 extra into our 'mojo' fund. Some direct debits also came out ($90 for swimming lessons for M and $15 for union fees).

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Daily total: $505.

Listen to What The Finance, Mamamia's podcast all about money. Post continues after audio.

Friday.

Bills just keep going up. We got an email overnight from our power company saying prices were going up 100 per cent. We also had another late night last night with M - her molars are coming through and we’re dealing with sleep regression too (fun times!). 

After breakfast at home, we head to the library to meet up with a friend. M is very excited to see her bestie and borrow some new books.

Afterwards, we head to Baby Bunting and stock up on nappies. I get three bulk boxes (one box for the new baby too) as they’re on sale, as well as wipes and a winter bear suit for M ($160). 

I take M to a cafe for some lunch - loaded vegan fries with a chai and strawberry milkshake for her. It’s delicious and comes out of my splurge ($30). I then buy some gnocchi for dinner and some more toothpaste for her ($19).

When we get home, M has a short nap while I do some work, and boy, was it a short nap - 20 minutes. So, I chuck a movie on while finishing some more work - this too doesn’t last long, as she’s feeling pretty miserable. 

By the evening, she is screaming in pain, and painkillers don’t seem to be helping - we called our GP at 5pm and the receptionist advised that the GP would call back, but that call never came. We call Nurse on Call at 8pm and they advise us to go to the emergency department as M is in so much pain. 

Three and a half hours later, we finally saw a doctor who suspected a cold sore virus, but wasn’t overly thorough, prescribing some mouth gel and to keep up pain meds. She then spent the night waking every hour or two screaming.

Daily total: $209.

Saturday.

Today was much the same - trying to manage M’s pain and get her to drink anything. 

We ended up booking Doctor on Call and this GP was adamant it was a viral infection, not a cold sore virus.

We order and pick up some burgers from a local shop ($30) as we are too exhausted to be cooking today.

Daily total: $30.

Sunday.

M’s temperature kept going up and down so we stuck out another painful night with her in my arms and the day was spent pleading, bribing and offering M anything and everything in an attempt to get her to have fluids and take medicine that she was now refusing.

We ended up having to call six pharmacies to locate some paracetamol suppositories as there is a widespread shortage of pain relief medications for children (at least in Melbourne). 

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This helped and her temperature settled down, meaning we were able to convince her to drink something. Needless to say, I am absolutely exhausted; it has been a stressful and upsetting few days, but hopefully we’re on the mend. 

I have cancelled this morning’s swimming lesson and they will offer a make-up session, which isn’t much consolation, and have emailed childcare about tomorrow. It’s such a sting knowing we will still be paying to keep her home sick, but I understand the system and it’s to pay the educators.

My husband went out to get some things from the supermarket to offer M and some milk ($30), fuel ($80) and a trip to the pharmacy ($11).

Daily total: $121.

Reflection:

What started as a normal week quickly descended into chaos. Luckily, my husband was able to take time off to help care for M and still earn an income (I know not everyone gets personal leave). 

As I was writing this diary, I have spent more time thinking about spending and money this week than I would usually, and although we’re cautious and do budget, we’re definitely feeling the strain of rising inflation. I really hope something happens to ease the cost of living soon, as I can see how single income and low-income families would already be really struggling.

We’re turning the heater off more and being more mindful of our spending, especially on things like takeaway or meals out, which unfortunately means small businesses will suffer.

I would like to try using reusable nappies for the next baby, but know I need to invest in them initially, which is what is putting me off. I do have a couple to try out and hope this will make a difference to the number of nappies we need to buy, as well as training M when she is ready. 

We didn’t spend a whole lot of money on ‘extras’ this week and I guess M’s sickness, coupled with the bad weather and current economy, contributed to these things. 

We try and have a family outing once per month to places like the zoo or museums, which we aim to continue doing. We will also continue trying to save extra and cutting expenses to prepare for the next six to 12 months, especially as things will get tighter when our new baby arrives and once my maternity leave finishes.

Want to contribute your own anonymous money diary for What My Salary Gets Me? Email [email protected] to get involved.

You can catch up on our previous What My Salary Gets Me articles here:

Feature Image: Canva/Mamamia.

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