Bleeding money: Big drain on $140,000 salary
WHEN it comes to a weekly trip to the supermarket, 37-year-old Roh from Brisbane knows all too well how quickly and easily money disappears at the checkout.
Working as a public servant for the government, Roh isn't cash poor. Bringing in $140,000 each year, she doesn't struggle week to week.
But despite having a tight budget, and using a financial app to log each cent she spends, Roh said there was one area she would find herself bleeding money each week - at the supermarket checkout.
Splashing out on quality cuts of meat, cheese, dairy as well as processed and pre-packaged foods, Roh said she would spend $1600-$1800 each month on just her and her husband.
"It's crazy," she told news.com.au of her monthly grocery spend. "We were always trying to be healthy and getting better cuts. We would do meal delivery services as well sometimes, which would cost an extraordinary amount of money. But they were convenient, we were time poor and always trying to be healthy."
Roh and her now ex-husband were dishing out $450 a week on just the two of them to eat at home. Without children, her daily meat consumption was quickly becoming one of her biggest monthly spends.
"There was a bit of waste," she said. "We found doing meal deliveries didn't have as much food waste, but instead you have a lot of wasted packaging, so you feel bad in that regard.
"But the main expense [for me] came from meat."
But after a marriage breakdown, and subsequently meeting a new partner, a dietary change soon lead Roh to save thousands over just a few short months.
"I started eating vegan at home six months ago, and when I'd go out I would still eat dairy and eggs," she said. "But in the past six weeks I have gone full vegan.
"Before, I was spending at least $1600 a month, now I spend half of that for both of us. It's halved my shopping bill."
According to the latest report from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, in 2016 the average household was estimated to have spent $74,301 on general household living costs.
The report shows that a typical Australian couple, where one party is under 35, would spend $239 together each week on food and groceries.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which released its Household Expenditure Survey in September last year, Australians are spending $190 more on basic items than they were six years ago.
To put that in perspective - an average household dishes out 16.6 per cent of their household budgets on food.
In 2016, discount retailer Aldi found that despite the cost, meat continues to be the meal of choice for Australians, who are spending $378 million a week on various cuts.
The figures showed that the average household cooks four-and-half meat meals each week, spending about $46.
"The fact is meat is expensive," Roh said. "If you buy lentils, tempeh, soy, tofu and vegetables, it is just cheaper per kilo.
"Sure we splash out on avocados and nuts, which can be quite expensive. And fake cheese can also cost a bit more. And yes sometimes I feel like I am missing out, but I am now spending $60 on takeaway where I was once spending more than $100 on my own."
Roh said that following her separation, she became concerned about her finances and how she'd live off a single income. After recently buying a house 30km south of Brisbane, she turned to Scott Pape's Barefoot Investor book for tips on how to manage money alone.
"While I am not a complete convert, I have set up a number of accounts," she said. "I'm also a bit obsessive about logging all my expenses on my personal finance app called YNAB (You Need A Budget).
"One account (MOJO) is like a safety net, so if I have a large medical cost, or some sort of disaster, I can use that money.
Having a separate account to her current partner, Roh said her biggest spend would be her mortgage repayments of $2450 each month.
"I set $350 aside each month for council rates/sewerage, $195 for house and contents insurance, and $820 each month for my splurge account like coffee, takeaway, new clothes and make-up," she said.
In addition, Roh dishes out $100 for her iPhone and iPad data, as well as $50 for Netflix and Spotify and $70 for her share in electricity bills.
"I have a one-hour commute each day, so spend $180 for public transport," she said.
"I spend $90 for pet insurance for my dog, and another $90 on pet supplies including tick and flea treatments, treats, toys and high quality raw BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food).
"Another important thing is my superannuation. As I work for the commonwealth government I get 15.4 per cent which is fantastic - obviously less cash in the hand but future retired me will be well looked after."
Roh said she focuses on specific areas when it comes to saving her annual income.
"I always pay my credit card down to zero each month and try not to use them too much," she said.
"I never use those Afterpay type services - if you don't have the money now you should save up.
"I would never get a personal loan because that interest is crazy, and don't try and 'keep up with the Joneses'.
"Spend your money on stuff that is important to you. I don't care about designer labels but I do care about spending money on fun experiences with friends and family and of course my partner."
Care to confess your monthly spending habits? Are you a savvy saver who knows how to spend smart? We'd love to hear from you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org