Money

Bank Balance Confessions: The Woman With A Stacked Social Life

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 don’t actually know yet what my weekly income after tax would be as I get paid monthly now – but roughly $950, I think? My rent is $250 a week. Pretty decent for a big room in a nice street five minutes walk from a great inner west pub.

Last year I got my credit card debt in hand: a balance transfer, then I took a massive freelance job and managed to pay more than half of the remaining balance down. Now it’s just over $2000. At least half of any freelance invoice goes straight onto it.

I maintain a buffer-zone rule: I can never have less than $1000 in my long-term savings, which I’ve been known to raid in lean times. (And to be clear, I’m from a middle-class family and we’re close and supportive, so I’m never in danger of experiencing genuine financial hardship.)

It’s better to get rid of bad debt than to save good money, I know, and I’m trying to do both at the moment. But I’ll keep plugging away, and once I’ve got $1000 more in savings than I owe on the card, I’ll pay off the full balance and save the plastic for major stuff like tickets and flights – which means I’ll probably look at getting a different card that’s structured less around low interest and more around incentives like free travel, and be very disciplined in how I use it so I actually get value out of it.

I’ll also divert some of the freed-up salary and freelance earnings into my emergency fund – I plan to keep that separate to my long-term savings account, which will finally be about saving for big future stuff, and not just to ward against the spectre of emergency dental work.

Monday

  • 1am. My spending week starts early: the meal box I forgot to cancel last week arrives on my doorstep, and ding, the money comes out of my bank account. It’s still six servings for that much, including some good-quality meat, and I’m pretty good about bulking the meals out to make them last (lentils ftw). Plus it forces me to cook, which I find soothing, and will stop me spending money on workday lunches and burritos on the way home.  -$69.90
  • I robo-snoozed and I’m running late. I grab an (surge priced) Uber to make sure I beat everyone into the office. I can’t make a habit of this – I’ve just started a new job and I’m now on a monthly pay cycle. – $28
  • Triple shot large flat white, thanks. – $4.40
  • I get an email reminding me of something I left in my cart on Tictail. It’s a small gift for my housemate’s birthday, so I grab it while I remember so it’ll arrive in time. – $11
  • Lunch! I get a banh mi wrap (sacrilege, I know) from the corner shop. – $6.50
  • I grab some supplies for the week’s cooking, some cheese, eggs and bread for lazy dinners (because if I crave melted cheese and there’s none in the house, I WILL order a burger), plus some dishwasher tablets – my housemates and I don’t really keep track of who buys what and when, but in theory, we vaguely know when it’s our turn. In practice, I suspect one ends up spending way more than the rest of us and is much too polite to say anything. I make one of my meal box meals, and end up eating both servings. (“It’s not like chicken kiev reheats well,” I think reasonably, sweeping a chunk of chicken through a pool of garlicky butter. They’re normally healthier and more leftovers-friendly than this.) – $43.00

= $162.80

Tuesday

– I have a doctor’s appointment (free, thank god for my bulk-billing GP) and have to Uber to work again. $17

  • A large coffee with an extra shot. So sleepy. $4.40

– I finally get enough work done to grab some food. A green juice and chips with chicken salt (look, this isn’t a nutrition diary). $8.50

– I have a voucher that’s about to expire, so I buy a new novel my bookshop’s been holding for me – the voucher brings it down to $11. Then I make a truly spectacular toastie for dinner, using some leftovers from the meal box ingredients and some home grown herbs.

Some time after midnight: I’m up doing work, still, and as my focus drifts I remember a comic I want is out soon. I pre-order it on Book Depository and put myself to bed. $19.75

= $60.65

Wednesday

– I coincidentally time my coffee run with one of the mysterious entrepreneur-y guys who works in my office suite, and he insists on shouting me.

– A workmate grabs me an avo roll and miso soup from around the corner. I’ll do the same for him later in the week.

– I duck in for a leg and brow wax on the way home – it’s been a while on both counts. – $48

– Japanese again, this time with a mate before a film. We share a few dishes and a beer each. I owe him for a gig tomorrow night, so dinner is on me. Our tickets are free (thank you, Club Dendy), but I shout him a movie beer, because I’ve heard the movie is kind of a downer. – $61 + $19.

– On my way home, I notice a freelance invoice has been paid, so I treat myself to another long-awaited title that’s discounted on Comixology. At some point today $4 also came out of my account for the latest issue of Black Panther. I have three or four digital comic subscriptions on the go – some monthly, some less regular (I’m looking at you, Sex Criminals) – but I’m not keeping up with BP, so I should really cancel it and either wait for the trades or buy single issues later so they’re cheaper. (This sounds like an expensive habit, but I’m a lot more restrained than I was a few years ago, OK?) – $13

= $141

Thursday

– Coffee and an Opal top-up. $43.50

– My turn to shout the sushi. $19.60

– I head out to dinner and a gig: a burger, chips and a beer first, a couple of rounds for me and my friend at the show, and a cab home. $79

= $142.10

Friday

– I have a meeting with a label rep, and they shout me a coffee.

– Subway for lunch. Instant regret (never get the olives, for they taste of sadness). Slightly ameliorated by a cookie. $9.50

– I grab a six-pack of beer for my team, as we’ll probably be here lateish, and the Friday lizard is thirsty. $21.90

– I’m in the office late and am equally disappointed and relieved not to hear back from a friend I was going to meet up with for a drink. I pick up a (sub-$20) bottle of wine from my local and climb into my trackies. One RSL pour and an episode of Legion later, I also grab a cool skirt on sale and a three-pack of plain tees online ($89) – I have a slightly fancy work event coming up and last winter’s basics are getting ratty. -$108

= $139.40

Saturday

My biggest expense today is, surprise surprise, beer! One at the pub, a round for four at the footy (stadium prices, ughhh), then a round for two at a show – $67. Plus lunch – $10. I do other things, but they’re all paid for: my club membership (a Christmas gift) gets me into the footy, I’m a +1 to the gig, there’s free food and beer at the party we go to afterwards, and a friend drops me home in a cab they can charge to their work. I’m not bragging – that’s just the reality of how I can afford to spend nearly $70 on drinks and still go to four different social events, one of which is in a suburb that’s a total public transport desert.

= $77

Sunday

– I buy a six-pack ($20) and spend the afternoon at a friend’s housewarming, where I am fed and loved and enjoy a rooftop sunset for the low, low price of bupkis. I then head out to dinner with a few girlfriends ($20) who feed me more wine, and then uber home ($12).

= $52

 

It’s been a weird week – normally I feel like there’d be more banal expenses, antidepressant refills and tampons, my phone bill and the ClassPass I never use. (And I feel like I need to note that I’m chipping away at my credit card debt and putting away about 20% of my pay – I can’t wait until I’m rid of the debt and can save properly.) Not every week is so boozy (I’m quite self-conscious about the amount I spent on alcohol this week now it’s all written out here) and filled with fun free stuff. I also ate out more than I planned, but I made sure to cancel the next few weeks of meal box deliveries, and can use the supplied ingredients for this week to make something tasty in the next few days so nothing goes to waste (except the herbs, which go sad in our fridge in about two hours no matter what).

I’ve also gone through less of my pay so far than I thought I would have at the halfway point of my new monthly pay cycle, probably out of sheer paranoia – um, I mean, sensible thrifty choices – so I suspect I’ll get more complacent next month.

 

Total weekly spend= $774.95