Money

Bank Balance Confessions: The 35-Year-Old Who’s Leaving Her Job

Here at The Cusp, we believe that talking about money empowers us to make more informed choices – and that tracking your spending can be revelatory. Here’s the latest instalment in our series exploring the income and expenditure of young Australians. Want to get better with money? We can help you there, too.

I’m saving to have savings. And also so I can take three months off work to go to South America, the US and Europe at the end of April.

As a single person, I can’t see how I’ll ever be able to buy a house unless I give up on the things that make me happy (going out with my friends, travelling). The idea of not going out/travelling for a year or more to save the money for a deposit, then not going out or travelling for the next five years to be able to afford the repayments, makes me feel way more depressed than never owning a house.

If anything, I feel like I’m going backwards a bit. I’ve just quit my job to go away, I recently moved back into a share house after living alone for a year. I’m almost 36 and I feel really, really ok about this (most of the time).

When I was living in London, I was freelancing and would get paid big lump sums once every three months or so. I was constantly worried about when my money would come in and where my next job would be. I also had a credit card debt that, even though it wasn’t that big, made me feel sick. I managed to save a tiny bit just before I left the UK but it should’ve been more.

When I moved back to Australia, I got a full time job that paid weekly. I also started using banking apps, which my bank in the UK didn’t have. For long stretches in London, I wouldn’t have a clue how much money I had in my account. Now I check every day and could tell you the totals of my everyday and savings accounts without looking. I recently got a credit card and paid for six weeks of holiday on it for the frequent flyer points, and then paid it off immediately. I got it for extra security while I’m away in case something happens to my debit card. I will never get into credit card debt again.

I now have saving goals that I track in my calendar and put as much away as I can – normally more than half my weekly salary. I also used to spend loads of money on clothes. I don’t do that any more. I think I’ve only bought some new bathers, a three-pack of plain t-shirts for $20 and a pair of trousers since September.

Thursday

  • $4.10 train fare to work – Normally I’d buy a coffee on the way to work but I’ve quit for a bit because it’s making me anxious so I drink tea at work instead. This saves me about $15.50 a week.
  • $738 monthly rent – This is half what I used to pay when I lived alone!
  • $17.80 Amazon 1 x Lorrie Moore book for Kindle, 1 x Lydia Davis book for Kindle
  • $16.20 pub – Two whisky sodas at the pub
  • $42.80 dinner at pub – Dinner and a round of drinks at the pub

= $818.90

Friday 

  • $8.20 tram to the hairdresser and back
  • $130 hairdresser – I just got my greys covered up at the roots. Hairdressers in Australia are SO expensive compared to the UK. I’m always shocked. But my hairdresser has a cute dog that sits on your lap while you get your hair done.
  • $9.78 groceries – Milk for tea and some chicken for lunch
  • $20 groceries (for the brunch) – We had people over for brunch the following day so this was food for that.
  • $28 alcohol (for the brunch) – Vodka for bloody marys!

= $195.98

Saturday 

We had people over for brunch and I had a quiet night in. I didn’t spend a cent.

= $0

Sunday

  • $4.10 bus fare to the pool
  • $6.10 swim – I get a free gym membership through work so swimming is the only exercise I pay for. I try to go once or twice a week.
  • $23.22 groceries – Salad supplies for a week of lunches so I don’t have to buy lunch.
  • $39 for two movie tickets – one for me, one for my man friend
  • $11 wine – I got to the bar early so had a glass of rose while I waited
  • $4.60 bakery snack – I found out the movie was 2.5 hours long and knew I wouldn’t get through it without a snack. I wish I got a hot cross bun instead of the Hawaiian pizza!

= $88.02

Monday 

  • $23 groceries – We had people over for a bbq in the evening so this was for that. Otherwise, I didn’t leave the house.

= $23

Tuesday 

  • $8.20 train fare to and from work
  • $12 lunch – I hate buying lunch on weekdays. It feels like such a waste of money when I have food at home and I’m always hungry afterwards. However, my friend is having relationship troubles and wanted a chat so we met for lunch. I was still hungry afterwards so snacked on work biscuits.

= $20.20

Wednesday

  • $8.20 train fare to and from work
  • $20 on whisky – My non-boyfriend paid for dinner and then we went for a drink after so I bought the drinks.

= $28.20

Total weekly spend: $1174.30. I suspected all my money would go on food and booze!