Esther is a 28-year-old Sydneysider currently working in health and medical consulting and runs an investment blog as a side-hustle.
She earns $110,000 a year, spends $450 per week on rent and manages to save 40 per cent of her pay.
Esther shares her personal finance story with Yahoo Finance.
How much do you earn?
I currently earn approximately $110,000 including super. This equates to a take-home pay of just over $6,000 per month or $1,500 per week.
I am also an avid equities investor and am actively working on improving the passive income stream generated by my investment portfolio. I currently earn around $5,000 in interest/dividend payments per year.
How much does your rent/mortgage cost
I currently pay approximately $450 in rent per week (including utilities and internet) but this is largely because I made a conscious decision to live within walking distance to work to save on transport costs, which partly offsets the steep rent. I live and work in the north shore area of Sydney.
Do you have any other ongoing expenses?
I’m a meticulous budgeter and I love a good spreadsheet to track all my incoming and outgoing expenses.
In terms of my essential expenditures, I currently spend roughly $20 on public transport per week and anywhere between $50 and $80 on groceries per week. My private health insurance premiums incur a monthly cost of $110 and my phone/internet cost me $100 per month.
In terms of my discretionary spending, I allocate roughly 10 per cent of my weekly take-home pay to “guilt-free” spending to put towards things like dining out, shopping, or other recreational activities that your typical social millennial would engage in.
Do you have any debts? How did you pay them off?
I have a big fear of debt and possess a natural aversion to things like credit cards and buy-now-pay-later loan schemes like Afterpay.
One of the best quotes I once read goes “if you live fake rich now, you’ll live real poor later”. This philosophy has been permanently ingrained in my mind ever since.
Like most other uni students, I had a HECS-HELP debt but throughout my 8 long years of uni, I ensured I made regular upfront contributions, so I have managed to pay it off.
How often do you eat out and how much would food cost you per week?
I am fairly disciplined in minimising my daily food costs by either bringing my lunch to work or capitalising on my workplace’s very generous lunch provisions.
Having said that, I will eat out anywhere between two and three times a week because I love a good catch-up with friends over a good meal.
Between groceries and dining out, I would typically spend $50-100 per week on food.
Do you spend money on travel?
I predominantly travel domestically – either for work or to visit family and friends back home in the west.
However, I have been fortunate enough to travel to Asia, Europe and the US/Canada a few times in the last 5-10 years. The US/Canada trip was funded by my PhD scholarship so luckily it didn’t leave a massive American supersized dent in my wallet.
I think there is a general mentality in this Instagram-fuelled culture that travelling overseas annually is a “normal” part of everyone’s travel plans and budget. But I would much rather consciously save up to go on an overseas holiday every two to four years in favour of putting an annual overseas trip on a credit card and spending money I don’t have on annual trips for photos to put on the ‘gram.
Do you put money into savings?
I follow the philosophy of “paying yourself first”. In other words, I aim to save/invest first and spend what’s leftover, rather than spending first and save/invest what’s leftover.
Currently, I am saving around 40 per cent of my take-home pay – 20 per cent towards a house deposit, 10 per cent towards my investment portfolio, and 10 per cent towards short-term big-ticket items like travel or a car.
Do you receive any financial assistance?
What are your tips for getting by?
In terms of general budgeting tips, the first thing I’d recommend, as basic as it is, is to track your spending.
The more you track your spending, the more interested you’ll become about your personal finances and the more conscious you’ll be about your spending habits. Technology is your friend, and there are plenty of apps that can help you track your expenses if you’re not quite as big of a spreadsheet nerd as I am.
After that, my tip would be to adopt the philosophy of “paying yourself first”. That means automatically redirecting a set portion of your pay into savings. You’ll be surprised just how quickly you’ll adjust to living off the remaining amount.
But above all, I would say be interested about taking charge of your finances. Managing your personal finances is something no one can escape. Invest in knowledge - it pays the best interest.
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