I am often asked, mostly on my page called Calculating Your Comfortable Family Income in Australia, whether people would be able to live comfortably on the wage they have been offered.
The questions usually take the form of…
“Hi, I have an opportunity to work in insert name of place here, I’ve been offered a salary of insert annual income in AUD here, and I’m wondering if that’s enough money for a decent standard of living for 1) me 2) me and my partner or 3) me and my partner and X children (choose 1, 2 or 3 replacing X with the correct number if 3 is applicable).”
It’s a pretty straightforward question, and I try my best to give some kind of indication of the likely outcome, but in reality it’s impossible for me to answer.
Because people have different budgeting needs and expectations.
I did think of maybe designing a questionnaire to help me to give a more accurate answer, like:
- Are you a non-smoker, occasional smoker, regular smoker or a chain smoker?
- Do you drink alcohol occasionally, three or four times a week, every or day all day every day?
- Do you gamble? – No, occasionally, you bet I do!
- Will you be walking to work, getting the bus, or hiring your own chauffeur driven limousine?
- Are you using any addictive, illegal, recreational drugs on a regular basis?
- Do you own an ever expanding Marvel Toys and Action Figures collection?
- Do you eat out in expensive restaurants never, occasionally or all the time?
- Do you have the latest iPhone on lease, and when a new one comes out, you will get that as well? And the next one, and the next one, and the next one… because not having the latest iPhone is unthinkable?
Trouble is, with this questionnaire, I just kept thinking of more and more questions. And it seemed to me that no matter how many questions I might potentially ask, it would still be impossible to give an accurate answer, because everyone is different.
And the new series of articles being printed on news.com.au called Cash Confessions has proved just that.
When I Google “cash confessions” in google.com.au, I get the following results…
So far there are six stories from real Australians explaining how much they earn each year, and what their expenses are on a monthly basis.
From the headlines alone, you can see that somebody in a family of four survives easily on $52k, whereas elsewhere, a father of one is struggling on $300k a year.
I’ve had similar disparities mentioned in the comments here are my website. I’ve had a single person living in Brisbane earning $175k complaining that ‘isn’t working’ for him and that he feels $225k+ would be the ‘right amount to live comfortably’.
Elsewhere, I’ve had a mother of two living in Sydney, earning just $50k, saying she still managed to afford two holidays a year. I’ve looked high and low and I cannot find that comment at the moment, it could be five or six years old by now, although I have found plenty of my comments where I have referred to it.
I have found this comment from Elsie though, her husband and three children are getting by on $68k…
It is a long comment, click on the image to read it in full. It’s interesting because Elsie was actually responding to a comment made by Heythere earlier in the thread who was complaining that her and her husband, both on pretty good incomes, could not afford to have kids.
Her comment got quite a backlash.
Clearly, Cash Confessions have had similar experiences. Let’s check out each of the six stories so far. I’ll give you a very quick roundup of each story as well as the headline, the image of their monthly expenses budget and a link to the full article.
Let’s get stuck in; we will do this in chronological order, oldest article first:
9 August 2018: How mum-of-one spends her $700k+ income
This CEO of her own company from Sydney earns more than most of us can dream of. She spends pretty good too, here are her monthly expenses…
Looks like she’s spending around $22,000 a month, so even after tax, with this huge income she is still putting by for a rainy day. This was the first in the series of Cash Confessions, and probably the least relevant to us all.
24 August 2018: Sydney Mum on 170k still facing financial challenges
This Sydney mother of two is earning $170k per year, and a husband works as well, so between them they are bringing in $300k.
She says it’s not enough, here are her monthly expenses…
Seems their outgoings are around $12,000 a month, so it looks like their earning enough to cover that.
20 September 2018: Our income doubled but we feel poorer than ever
This Melbourne couple more than doubled their annual income, going from $60k to $150k. Not happy though, their expenses have increased in line with their income. Here are those expenses…
Their monthly outgoings appear to be around $7500, but $2000 of that is on a loan. Still living comfortably within their means though, I would say.
Time to slip downwards in the wages ladder.
28 September 2018: My family of four easily lives on $52k a year
This family, who live in a suburb in Geelong, went from two incomes to one when they wanted to start a family. Now with two kids, and a challenging income, they are not complaining.
Strangely, no graphic showing their monthly expenses on this one, but they are fully detailed in the article. This young couple clearly put a lot of work into their budgeting and ensuring they live within their means.
“It is hard … but it is very doable,” said the 23 year old mother.
12 October 2018: Couple on $60k a year buys $200 of food a month
Living in Brisbane, Sam and Eric earn just $62,000 a year between them. To get by, they also run a tight budget. Here are their monthly expenses…
They keep their weekly food bill down by eating a lot of rice.
Time to return to the high wage category.
27 October 2018: Melbourne father ‘struggles’ on $300k a year salary
Let’s be fair, $300k a year is a terrific salary, I think most people would be ecstatic to earn so much. Phil though, the father of one in this story, says that if he earned anything less “life would be impossible”.
Phil also has eight investment properties under his belt though, which is why the mortgage payments in his monthly expenses graphic are through the roof…
If we adjust his monthly expenses to take out those investment mortgages, I reckon we get down to around $8000-$9000 a month. Without those extra expenses, I don’t think life would be a ‘struggle’ at all.
How much will you need to live comfortably here in Australia?
I don’t know.
There may be more Cash Confessions stories on the way, to find them, click “cash confessions news.com.au“.