Money Diaries

A Week In Gippsland, Victoria, As A Teacher On A $96,000 Salary

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Today: a teacher from Gippsland, Victoria, who makes $96,000 a year and spends some of her money this week on fees for her netball competition.
Occupation: Teacher
Industry: Education
Age: 38
Location: Gippsland, Victoria (Bunurong Country)
My Salary: $96,000
Net Worth: $307,367 ($142,367 in superannuation and $170,000 in savings). I sold a house and have been looking to buy another, so I haven't moved my deposit out. Unfortunately, rising house prices mean that I haven't been able to re-enter the market. I also own a 2011 model car that doesn't skip a beat, but probably isn't worth much anymore!
Debt: $5,000 in HECS.
My Paycheque Amount (Fortnightly): $2,600
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses

Rent: $1,200. I live alone in a small country town with my two dogs. Both are re-homed pound dogs of unknown origin and unknown age — one is old and the other is young. I live in an old, draughty weatherboard house that is impossible to heat up, but it suits my needs and the rent is relatively cheap. I have moved around a fair bit, but love living in Gippsland — the accessibility to beaches, rivers, lakes, mountains and rainforest is a highlight. There is never nothing to do! My family live two hours away, so that is a downside, but two hours is mostly quite manageable.
Internet: $79.90
Private Health Insurance: $61.62
Union Fees: $64.39
Life Insurance: $49.79
Kayo: $25
Mobile: $30
Spotify: $12.35
Cloud Storage: $4.49
Newspaper Delivery And Online Subscription: $34.20
Donations To Charity: $75. I have a sponsor child and support some other organisations regularly.

Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?

Yes. I have an undergraduate and two postgraduate degrees (both in Education), all paid for with HECS.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?

My family has an interest in money as my grandfather received a substantial payout when he retired. He invested and did quite well, creating a family trust. As kids, we were aware of this, especially as my dad was also financially savvy. We were always encouraged to save for things we wanted and had many conversations about superannuation and tax, even when we were young.
As I have grown up, I’ve asked more questions about money. I review my insurance annually to ensure I'm getting a reasonable deal, and pay off my credit card each month to avoid any fees. Dad is a great resource and we often chat about the best ways to use my money. At the moment, we both agree that purchasing a house is my first priority. I have considered an investment property as I am a bit nomadic and have moved a lot, but having been a landlord in the past, I know I don’t enjoy having tenants and managing a rental property.

What was your first job and why did you get it?

Dusting furniture at my uncle's factory. I got it because my parents thought I needed to learn what having a part-time job was like. I mainly just wanted a bit of pocket money. I was a big saver as a kid — my first purchase was a film camera that I kept for many years. I took a gap year after university and worked in a number of jobs. It was the first time I had access to regular money. I felt I was earning ‘too much’ and organised to sponsor a child straight away. I have maintained this practice ever since. I am very aware that money means a lot more to those who are less fortunate than myself.

Did you worry about money growing up?

No, but there were times my family would have worried. Dad was retrenched at one stage, and at another, set up his own business and worked from home. Mum had to return to work to 'pay for the groceries', but I'm sure it was probably a bit more urgent than that. We were never denied anything, although we didn't live a lavish life. For example, we enjoyed camping holidays and family days out, rather than overseas travel. We were able to participate in any sports or school camps we wanted to, but if we wanted new clothes that weren’t necessary, we were encouraged to save our pocket money and use that.

Do you worry about money now?

Yes, much more than when I was younger. I'm concerned about my ability to provide for myself as a single person, especially as I age. I also want to be able to leave a financial legacy for my nieces and nephews so they always have something to fall back on, just as I have had. I am aware of the great privilege I have experienced in knowing that although I desire and intend to be completely independent, if something terrible happens, there is money there to bail me out.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?

I left home and moved interstate for university at 19. I was essentially financially independent, although my family was always there and willing to assist me with my accommodation fees whenever I needed. Once I got my first job after graduation, I was on my own. My current financial safety net is still my family, but I don't want to lean on them.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.

Yes. Through the family trust, we (my siblings and cousins) occasionally receive sums of money. We also receive money for big events or purchases, such as our first home or weddings. We never know when these sums could be transferred and how much we may get (so we don't depend on them), but we're very grateful to receive them. My grandfather was very strategic in ensuring that we wouldn’t become dependent on inherited wealth, but that we would appreciate the extra help it provided. I choose to use it in a way that will benefit me in the long term, such as putting it into superannuation or paying off a mortgage. My grandfather was also very generous and supported a number of not-for-profits and charities. At the conclusion of each financial year, I make a significant donation to a charity of my choice in his memory. I enjoy being able to help others with my relative wealth.

Day 1

7:30am — I enjoy a cooked breakfast (eggs, tomato, hash browns and halloumi) and some tea before heading to the local fire station where I am a volunteer. I have really enjoyed connecting with people in the local community and doing my bit to keep the community safe. I start all the petrol motors, which is a significant learning curve for me. I return home and take the dogs for a walk around the local oval. 
12:30pm — I head to my sports match with a friend. We carpool to away games because it's better for the environment, it's cheaper, and we also get to catch up. She offers me some money, but I don’t accept — what goes around comes around, and I’m sure she will drive me soon. We play well but eventually go down to the top side. 
5:30pm — I head home to watch the football on Kayo with the dogs (not that they are particularly interested). I’m not using social media today — I try to have one day off each week for my mental health. The Saints get up in an exciting match, although I fall asleep on the couch in the second quarter. I enjoy some rice, chickpeas, vegetables and chips for dinner, with a bit of dark chocolate for dessert. I’ve read that people who eat dark chocolate regularly are happier, so I’m trying it out. I’m exhausted, so I head to bed by 10:30pm. 
Daily Total: $0

Day 2

7:00am — I wake up and check the surf on the surf-lifesaving club camera. It looks great, so I decide to head out after drinking a cup of tea and eating some peanut butter on toast. While having breakfast, I book my flu vaccination — $24.95.
8:00am — I surf for two hours with friends. The stoke level is high as we cheer each other on. I’m last out of the water and decide to settle the mood with a relaxing chai ($7.20) from a coffee shop owned by one of my student's parents. It’s more expensive than others, but it's reliable and delicious, and I feel good that I’m able to support a local family. I fill up fuel in my car on the way home for the week ahead ($99.23). $106.43
11:00am — I settle in and read the paper at home with a cooked brekkie of eggs, tomato, halloumi, hash brown and toast. I’ve been wondering if my news subscription is still worth it as I rarely get to read the entire paper on weekends, preferring to use free news sites during the week. I remain undecided as I really enjoy a leisurely breakfast with the news. I usually take the dog to obedience school on Sundays, but I’m shouting myself a day off given the surf was good.
2:00pm — I spend the afternoon cleaning the house and mowing the lawns. While I’m walking the dogs, I chat with Grandma and thank her for making a donation to one of my causes. I recently shaved my head, and I’m proud of raising $5,000 for two different charities. Although I’m still getting used to how my shaved head looks, I am enjoying how low-maintenance it is.
5:00pm — I turn on the gas heating for the night. My rental has a reverse cycle air conditioner but it is mounted high on the wall and there is no fan, so it is completely ineffective. I try to keep the heater for evening use only as it is expensive to run. I Facetime Mum and Dad to hear about their weekend. They suggest I look at a house that’s for sale around the corner, but it just doesn’t feel like the right time to buy. I sold around 12 months ago and have a significant deposit in the bank, but the market has been so high that I’ve struggled to buy back in, even though owning a home would offer me greater security and a sense of satisfaction. 
7:00pm — I eat leftover Indian food for dinner and read a few pages of Tim Cope’s On the Trail of Genghis Khan. After a ginger tea and some dark chocolate, I turn off the heater at 10:30pm — I never leave it running overnight. 
Daily Total: $131.38

Day 3

6:30am — I wake with my alarm, but it's very windy, so I don’t get up until 7. Plus, my head is cold. I make my own lunch — carrots and hummus, a cheese and tomato sandwich and a pot of yoghurt. I eat porridge for breakfast (featuring locally purchased nuts, blueberry sauce and a dash of cream), and put on and hang out a load of washing. I always have heaps of washing after the weekend. I decide to drive to work today as I have errands to run after work this afternoon. 
8:45am — While I am checking my emails, I pay $11 for shipping on some uniform items for a coaching position I have later this year. Getting free clothes and only paying for shipping seems like a good deal to me. $11
4:20pm — After a busy day, I head off a fraction early. I give a watch that stopped working to be repaired ($10.40 for postage and tracking) and pay for my car service last week ($363). I can’t always get back to the mechanic before close of business, so he trusts me to pick up my car and return to pay as soon as I can. I really appreciate this flexible arrangement. $373.40
5:00pm — I’m home to complete an online professional development course. It's a bit dry, but it does give me some good ideas for including First Nations perspectives in my classes. I bake a batch of Anzacs and prepare dinner (pumpkin soup) in the slow cooker for after netball tonight.
6:45pm — I leave for my netball game, although the game doesn't actually start until 7:30pm. We win! I play in a neighbouring town and although the drive is inconvenient, the team members are really lovely.
8:25pm — I pick up a few groceries on my way home — dog food ($25.50), mandarins ($3.54), dishwasher cleaner ($2.90), rinse aid ($4), a banana ($1.37), almond milk ($2.70), dark chocolate ($3), an avocado ($1.80), and a bunch of flowers ($10). $54.81 
9:00pm — I enjoy some slow-cooked pumpkin soup for dinner with a gluten-free English muffin and dark chocolate for dessert. I savour my ginger tea and head to bed at 10:30pm to read more about Tim Cope’s adventures. I made a New Year's Resolution to drink herbal tea each night, which is going well so far. I’m not very adventurous, so I tend to swap between peppermint and ginger. 
Daily Total: $439.21

Day 4

6:15am — The dog wakes me. I decide to get up at 6:30am and walk the dogs before work, even though it’s freezing. I wear a beanie and rain jacket and turn the heater on before I leave home — a special treat to reward myself for getting up early. Breakfast this morning is scrambled eggs and tomato on a gluten-free English muffin and tea. I admire the flowers I purchased yesterday while I wait for the tea to brew.
I pack my lunch for an excursion today — a cheesy-mite scroll from the freezer, Anzac biscuits, a mandarin and some nuts. I decide to drive to work as I have a meeting after work, so I won’t finish until after dark.
12:50pm — The excursion goes well. The students enjoy learning about future careers and opportunities for study at university. Pathways and careers are so important for rural students to consider early in their school life — there’s a whole world out there that they have never contemplated!
12:55pm — I pay $5 to a colleague for shouting me a chai. $5
7:15pm — I arrive home after my meeting for a dinner of pasta with vegetable sauce (from the freezer) and dark chocolate for dessert. 
8:20pm — I pay my overdue netball fees ($55) and spend some time sorting out my emails and finances. I like to keep a general track of how things are going and pay any bills, transfer money between accounts, and pay my credit card once a week. $55
9:30pm — I have a ginger tea, then head to bed to read more about Mongolia. I have friends who have travelled there twice and absolutely love it. I think I’m beginning to understand why. It sounds fascinating.
Daily Total: $60

Day 5

6:40am — I’m up to walk the dogs. When I get home, I consume a breakfast of muesli, yoghurt, banana and blueberries and a cup of tea. I pack my lunch — a toasted cheese and tomato sandwich, Anzac biscuits, a mandarin and kiwi fruit. By 8:15am, I'm out the door and heading to work. I drive again as it's started raining.
9:00am — A day of teaching is usually pretty hectic. I teach classes for most of the day, but often have appointments with students or staff at recess and lunch, with meetings after school. If I get a free period, I am generally preparing lessons or assessments, marking, or organising excursions. My lunch is generally eaten at my desk between tasks, usually while catching up on emails. I try to get to work a bit early to get in the right headspace for the day ahead, and I generally hang back after most colleagues have left so I can complete my planning and preparations for the following day. I hate heading home knowing I have lessons to plan. It’s the kind of job that you never really feel on top of, or like you're doing it well. But that being said, I really enjoy it and most days include a healthy dose of fun!
5:30pm —  I swing past home and receive a message from the sports club president. There are some concerns about the competition that we need to discuss. I throw down a quick snack of rice crackers and hummus and promise to meet him at the start of training, apologising to the dogs who are going to get a short second walk.
6:30pm — The drive takes 45 minutes. I arrive and tell the girls they’re on their own for the warmup. I double as a coach for the team as we haven’t been able to find one, as well as serving as a board member. We have had so many post-Covid hurdles thrown at us this year. It’s been hard work getting teams on the field, but the committee works well together and I respect the work each member does. Volunteers are the lifeblood of community sport! The president and I have a pitch-side chat about fixturing and some uniforms that haven’t been delivered. I join in for an hour of training with my team and meet some new players who are in attendance. I share my time between training with my team and helping the new players feel welcome as we always need more players.
9:00pm — I arrive home, infinitely grateful for Monday’s pumpkin soup. I have it for dinner with some popcorn as dessert. I enjoy another square of dark chocolate. I’m not sure if I’m feeling happier, but I’m not unhappy — maybe it’s working?
I shower and wash my very short hair because it will dry before bed. I wonder how long this will be such a novelty. After having very long hair, this short hair is a delight. I check my ‘saved’ houses on my real estate app and notice that one sold for approximately $30,000 less than it was advertised. Maybe house prices are starting to shift? Ginger tea and in bed by 10.45pm.
Daily Total: $0

Day 6

6:45am — Up and walking the dogs. Breakfast of scrambled eggs and English muffins, and a cup of tea. While the kettle boils, I admire my flowers — they're still looking good! I really enjoy having fresh flowers in my home. It’s a small luxury that I occasionally shout myself. I note that I’m low on yoghurt, dog food (again!) and oats (that I forgot to purchase on Monday). I pack my lunch of pumpkin soup, nuts, yoghurt, Anzacs, a mandarin, and kiwi fruit. I’ve got appointments after work and prefer to have food on hand rather than having to purchase it — it saves money and time, especially given all my dietary requirements.
4:30pm — After work, I head to the osteopath for a review of my knee. I hurt it playing netball a few weeks ago, and the physio I saw wanted an MRI. I disagreed, so I'm seeking a second opinion. The osteopath doesn’t think an MRI is necessary. I’m relieved as sport is great for my mental health and also my main social connection outside of work. I’d be devastated if I had a significant injury. The osteo instructs me to rest more and do some strengthening exercises. My private health insurance covers about $20, and I pay $61.60 out of pocket. I don’t feel like I get value for money with health insurance, but I know that my extras are the cheaper part of my cover. I keep it because it feels like the right thing to do as I'm able to relieve the burden on the public system. If I injure myself and need surgery, I know I will also appreciate the shorter wait times. $61.60
5:40pm — I travel to another town 30 minutes away to have my legs waxed. I know it would be more convenient to see someone closer to home, but I like the owner of the salon and often need to head this way for other appointments. The leg wax costs $36.
6:00pm — I stop past the grocery store for more dog food, oats, berries, yoghurt, bread and a choccie milk. $73.80
7:00pm — I’m home for a dinner of stir-fry vegetables, rice noodles and tofu, followed by a piece of toast with peanut butter. I run out of peanut butter and add it to my never-ending shopping list. I eat some dark chocolate. I wonder if I’ve got it backwards — maybe happy people are more likely to put up with the bitterness of dark chocolate, rather than the chocolate making people happy? 
9:30pm — I run the cleaning cycle on the stinky dishwasher while I finish some work from earlier in the day. I end the day with a ginger tea and head off to bed to read more about Mongolia.
Daily Total: $171.40

Day 7

6:45am — I’m up and walking the dogs. I am relieved to have oats for breakfast since I purchased them yesterday. They are my breakfast of choice. I top them with cream, berries, berry sauce and nuts, and drink my cup of tea. I replace the water in the flowers (they're still looking good) and prepare a packed lunch of a salad sandwich, fruit and Anzac biscuits. I have to drive to work as we do Meals on Wheels on Fridays with some students. The students are completing some community service for one of their subjects — it's been great to see them embracing the responsibility of checking in on elderly members of our community. They seem to love what they are contributing and usually bounce back to school at lunch feeling pretty proud of themselves.
6:00pm — I stay back at work tonight to catch up on marking and lesson planning. It’s nice to work in the quiet and I feel better heading into the weekend with all that work done. I head home via the fire station as there is a call out for a burn-off. Nothing much eventuates.
6:30pm — I’m home and snack on some Doritos before taking the dogs for another quick walk, then settling in for dinner. I cook tofu and stir fry vegetables with rice noodles, adding my own spices — chilli, ginger and soy sauce. With my dietary requirements and living alone, I find that I tend to eat the same things over and over again. Sometimes I wish I was more adventurous, but there is a comfort knowing I can have a delicious meal ready in 15 minutes, and that my shopping list doesn’t change much week to week. 
8:00pm — I watch the Friday night football while I scroll social media. I’m constantly refining my feed to keep it positive and uplifting. There’s enough gloom in the world, and as someone who reads a lot of news, I need an alternative. I follow a lot of nature-based accounts and enjoy seeing how people are caring for the environment and some of the amazing places there are in the world. 
10:30pm — I enjoy my usual ginger tea and dark chocolate. I’m still wondering if I’m feeling happier. I guess that means it hasn’t worked — I might switch back to milk chocolate next week. I head to bed, ready for a big day of sports tomorrow.
Daily Total: $0

Anything else you'd like to add or flag?

This is a fairly typical week for me. I usually like to ride my bike to work, but it's difficult in winter with the rainy weather and reduced daylight hours. I obviously don’t usually pay for a car service, but there would generally be a significant bill of $300 or more each fortnight to pay for, so this is not too extraordinary.
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