In our last newsletter, Pete said it takes him three days to earn enough to pay $80 for pizza. To this you may have thought the same thing as James; "Three days!?!" How can it possibly take an average wage earner so long to get ahead? Here’s how:

Three Days to Earn $80

If you are an average person working with a single income, average expenses and a mortgage it can take you a very long time to earn a small amount of spending money.

To show you how long it can take, we pulled together some numbers from various government websites such as the average spend per household from MoneySmart.gov.au, average mortgage repayments from yourmortgage.com.au, average pay according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics and how much tax you would pay on that amount from the Australian Tax Department.

Average Wage - $41 per hour income

Essential Spending - (per hour spend)

  • $10 on tax
  • $13 on mortgage
  • $1 on fuel and power
  • $5 on food and drink
  • $1 on clothing and footwear
  • $6 on transit
  • $2 on medical

Sub total - $38

Left Over - $3

So $38 of the $41 average earned per hour is gone on necessary living expenses. This leaves you earning only $3 disposable income for every hour worked.

This in turn means the average person working with an average family/couple with single income, average expenses and a mortgage will have to work 27 hours or three and a half days to earn $80 of disposable income.

Of course, this number changes for each individual depending on a range of factors, but you get the idea. That is how Pete and many others have to work three days in order to free up $80 for pizza. They just don’t realise it.

(Numbers used came from average mortage statistics and the Weekly Spend by Life Stage table at moneysmart.gov.au)

Let's look at the average pay rates around Australia and New Zealand.

Average hourly pay rates in Australia and New Zealand


Per hour

Per year


$35 AUD

$ 69,477 AUD

South Australia

$37 AUD

$ 73,757 AUD


$38 AUD

$ 75,634 AUD


$38 AUD

$ 75,936 AUD

New South Wales

$40 AUD

$ 80,132 AUD

Northern Territory

$41 AUD

$ 81,624 AUD

Western Australia

$45 AUD

$ 88,327 AUD

Capital Territory

$46 AUD

$ 89,846 AUD

New Zealand

$29 NZD

$57,710 NZD

If you would like to calculate how much "spending money" your household earns each hour, we will show you how in the next newsletter.

Great Tip: Our Profitable Pact

My husband and I made a pact to reduce our spending and cut up our credit cards this year. We now have to pre-arrange all purchases with each other, either before we leave for work in the morning or by phone during the day. This works for many reasons:

  1. I rarely take my mobile phone with me so, more often than not, my husband can't reach me to ask if he can buy something. In the time it takes for me to listen to his message and get back to him, he has usually changed his mind about the purchase anyway!
  2. If I have to call my husband before buying something frivolous, I choose not to simply because I don't want to justify buying a trashy magazine, a custard tart or an eBay bargain. I just do without, and I don't give it a second thought once I leave the shops or go offline.
  3. We can give each other a second opinion on whether or not we really need to buy that item. One of us might know of a cheaper alternative, of someone who can lend us the item or even remember that we already have the item at home.

Our strict pact certainly works for us - we have paid $1,500 off our credit cards in the last three weeks!

Contributed by: Science Nerd

From the Forum: Preparing for Income Cut but not Lifestyle Cut

Forum member 'Price of a loaf of bread' knows just what she wants from life - and isn’t scared to make sacrifices to get it! This thread will have you thinking outside the square.

Preparing for income cut but not lifestyle cut

Bye for now

That’s all for this newsletter. If you have any questions, pop into our Forum where there are always tons of great people to lend an ear and help you out of a tight spot.

I look forward to catching up with you again in a few days.

All the best,

P.S. Renewing Vault Memberships only costs $21 per year. Start the New Year off on the right foot!