Bank Balance Confessions: The 20-Something On Her First Salary

Until the beginning of this year I was student/casual hospo worker/wannabe freelancer with very little disposable income and a diminished savings account. But in January I started my very first 9 to 5 job and, once I paid off various debts (mostly to my parents, sorry guys!), I had to figure out how budgeting works when you’re no longer living pay check to pay check.

$729.39 is deposited into my account every Tuesday evening, and I have two automatic transactions set up so that I don’t immediately burn through my hard earned cash. $150 goes into my long-term savings account and $200 goes into a separate rent/utilities account. When I get any extra income I try and chuck at least 75% of it into my savings account, and then treat myself with the rest.

I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved this year in terms of money. I used to think of myself as a saver, not a spender, and when I moved out of home I had over $10k in savings despite the fact that I’d been on several overseas trips in my late teens/early 20s. It was hard adjusting to renting and budgeting on an uncertain income, and this year has really built my confidence back up. While I’m not exactly about to drop a deposit on a home, so far this year I have survived a lot of unexpected medical costs, two house moves and many, many smashed avocado brunches and I’m still doing okay!


By eating leftovers for lunch, drinking tea at the office and cooking whatever I find in the fridge for dinner, I manage to avoid spending any money today!

Total: $0 – most of my weekday expenses are food-related, so to get to the end of a day with no money spent is actually a big achievement for me.


$14.07 – my boyfriend and I split groceries for tonight’s dinner (chicken curry) and some other bits and pieces.

$2.50 – I duck into the shops to buy some emergency undies (because it’s been that kind of week).

$60.40 – I buy my boyfriend and I tickets for a performance next week. He’ll pay me pack at some point this week!

Total: $76.97


$14.99 – a layby payment is direct debited from my account to pay for a top I bought a couple of weeks ago. I like using layby, especially for bigger purchases, but I’m wary of having too many on the go at once because that really defeats the purpose.

$20.00 – dinner and a pot of beer with friends after work – it was a long overdue catch up!

$12.50 – I send my friend some money for an afternoon tea we had on Sunday. Neither of us had cash so I said I’d pay her back…one gentle reminder later and it’s sorted.

Total: $47.49


$11.00 – I get a pie and a cheeky caramel slice at lunchtime. I currently have no food in my fridge and a trip to the supermarket in the next day or two is looking unlikely, but at least I’ve made it all the way to Thursday before buying lunch!

$4.10 – train fare as I head into the city for the evening

$8.50 – I buy a beer at a show that I’m at

$15.00 – I convince my boyfriend to come to the second half of the show but feel bad that he has to pay full price for the ticket so I send him half to make up for it

$4.10 – train fare back out of the city

Total: $42.70


$3.99 – I buy a statutory declaration form from the Post Office for an application I’m preparing

$12.00 – I get a delicious Japanese bowl with honey soy chicken, rice and lots of fresh crunchy veg from one of my favourite local cafes. They have a different home cooked meal on offer every day and update their website daily with what’s on offer. I’ve never had a bad lunch there!

$13.50 – I pick up fish and chips for dinner on my way to my boyfriend’s house

Total: $29.49


$23.99 – I pick up a prescription from the chemist

$12.00 – we pop into Kmart to buy my boyfriend a pot for his new plant but I end up buying two for myself instead. Oops!

$10.00 – the weather is finally nice so I buy ice cream for both of us – we’ve had a pretty full on day so it’s a nice reward!

$25.00 – I get some drinks on the way to a house party

$27.07 – we Uber home – it’s surging (boo) but I’m so tired I fall asleep on the journey so it was money well spent!

Total: $98.06


$35.00 – we drive to my boyfriend’s parents’ house for dinner after a really low-key day, and I chuck some petrol in the car on the way home

Total: $35.00

Weekly total: $329.71

If I’m honest, I’m a little surprised at my total because I’ve definitely had a quieter week than usual – which makes me wonder if I spend more than I think on a weekly basis?

In the lead up to this particular week I had a big spending month, with my dad’s birthday, my boyfriend’s birthday and Father’s Day all within a few weeks of each other, and I also bought a festival ticket, so my ‘usual spending’ has been very different recently.

In the course of this week my circumstances changed and I decided to move out of my current share-house and into my own apartment, which is going to be a big financial commitment.

While I know this is what savings are for, it’s still a bit stressful to see them disappear on things like bond and rent. I know I’ll make that money back eventually (that’s what full-time work is for!) but I had been so happy to see my savings account go up this year!

Maybe it’s time to work on that side hustle I’ve been dreaming about all year…