Real money talk: Amy

By Jessica Sier 22 April 2020 5 min read

This post is based on an interview we conducted with Amy in February 2019.

Amy's name has been changed at her request.

Real Money Talk is our series where we interview Australians from all walks of life about their personal finances.

The views expressed are those of the interviewees, based on their experiences with money, and as such are not necessarily representative of Spaceship's views.

We have changed the name of the interviewee for their privacy.

Amy is 22-years-old and a business and marketing student based in Sydney.


Name: Amy

Age: 22

Where do you live: Sydney

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m currently at uni, studying Business and Marketing. I work a few days a week at a hotel. Previously I’ve worked at bars, babysitting, nannying, and compliance stuff at a finance company. I travel a lot, and I love shopping.

What is your current net worth?

$22,500 (or $500 if you deduct my HELP debt).

How does it break down? (shares, real estate, businesses, home, superannuation, etc)

Superannuation  $2,500

Savings  $20,000

Any debts? (including HELP from Uni)

Yes, uni debt of $22,000 (so far).

How did you accumulate your net worth?

I started working when I was young, maybe 13. Doing the children service at my synagogue and babysitting. I started saving money as soon as I started making it. I didn’t spend too much when I was young, it’s definitely increased as I’ve gotten older.


Tell us a bit about your career

I don’t exactly have a career yet. I’m working towards a job in marketing or a similar area.

Do you have income sources outside of your job? If so, how much do you earn from each and how did you develop them?

At the moment, it’s just my job. I earn $25 an hour at work, so however much I choose to work will decide how much I earn in a week. Some weeks I work just one shift, other weeks up to 4 shifts.

In the past, I’ve supplemented whatever job I’ve had with babysitting/nannying jobs which paid $25/hour as well, but it was never regular.

What advice do you have for people who want to earn more money?

Take on as many things that will bring them income/ jobs as possible. That might seem pretty obvious, but actually, it isn’t. At one point I had been overseas travelling, and I came home for a few short months in between - I wanted to earn some money and go back overseas ASAP. I was working almost all day every day - nannying in the early mornings for a few hours, working in a store in the day, nannying again in the afternoons and working in a bar at night. I made so much money, in such a short time.


What is your savings rate? And how has it changed over time?

I never really have specific amounts. When I work more, I save more. When I only work a couple days it pretty much all goes to rent, petrol, and food.

Do you have a budget?

Yes, kind of. Made one recently, but still working on it. My budget is all over the place at the moment because my shifts are so erratic. I’m waiting for the semester to start back so I have more stability. I’m bad at this stuff.

How much do you spend per year?

Not too sure.

Do you make purchase decisions carefully, or are you loose with your money?

I’d say I’m pretty conscientious but I also do like shopping. I like good quality clothing and jewellery, but I try to keep an eye out for good quality things that are on sale.

How is your work-life balance?

I only work 2 or maybe 3 days a week so pretty balanced. I usually start work at 6:30am and finish at 2:30 pm, so I have the whole afternoon. My partner works 9 - 5, so I don’t see him in the mornings. I have the afternoons to do my own thing, go to the gym etc, then we spend evenings together.

What is your favourite thing to spend money on?

Clothes and travel.


How do you invest?

I have a term deposit at the moment, but no other investments just yet.

I have $15k in my term deposit, at 2.8% for 1 year.

Every few months I call up my bank and ask them to check my interest rate.  If you go in and ask, every few months they can usually up it.

What's been your overall return?

Nothing just yet, but it will be around $500.

Actually, does university count as an investment? I’m hoping it brings me a return with a good future salary!

How are you building wealth?

Savings, my term deposit, and eventually I plan on getting some investment properties.

What are your main roadblocks? And how are you addressing them?

Not being able to work enough due to University, and University HECS debt. They are inevitable so I’m just biting the bullet - one day they’ll bring a good return (hopefully)!

Do you have a target net worth you want?

Unlimited $$$$$! Just kidding. I don’t have a number in mind but I want to be comfortable. I want a house, what I need for myself and my family. Nice clothes and plenty of travel. I guess I’d need quite a lot for all of that!

When did you make your first significant behavioural shift towards wealth building?

My parents opened a bank account for me when I was young, so when I was given money from my grandparents it went straight into there. I couldn’t access it til I was 16. It was always exciting for me to get birthday money and go to the bank and deposit it.

At the moment I’m reading The Barefoot Investor, and my mum told me to read Rich Dad Poor Dad but I haven’t (yet).

If you could start again, what would you do differently? (Advice for younger self)

Save a little better, buy less stupid things when I was young. (How many lip balms did I need? For real.)

Do you have any worries about retirement? If so, how are you planning to address them?

Yes, I’m worrying about not having enough for the lifestyle I want. Australia is expensive. Right now I can work a lot and be frugal. When I’m old I can't do random babysitting or bartend on the side. I want to be comfortable and safe. I am going to invest so I have income that is constant, and not only from my work. I hope to eventually have money coming in from property too.

How are you learning about building wealth? Is it from family, books, forced to learn as wealth grew, etc.?

Talking to my family, learning day by day, a couple books, and reading on the internet.

Do you give to charity? If you do, what per cent of time/money do you give?

Yes, I try to give 10% but it doesn’t always happen.

Words by
Jessica Sier Right Chevron

Jessica Sier is a financial journalist. Prior to that she led content at Spaceship and was a reporter at the AFR where she discovered that breaking down financial jargon was a public good.

Real money talk: Amy