I make over $700k and this is how I spend it
USHMA Dhanak earns an income most of us can only dream of.
Through her small business, Ush Dhanak Pty Ltd, which specialises in training managers, CEOs and other corporate leaders in emotional intelligence, the 38-year-old earns more than $700,000 a year.
Mrs Dhanak is the first to take part in news.com.au's new money series, Cash Confessions, where we ask Australians how much they earn and track how they spend that money over the period of a month.
Living in Hornsby, a suburb on Sydney's upper north shore, the mother-of-one left her life as a lawyer before breaking out on her own, and channelling her skills in human resources, industrial relations, executive coaching and mediation to create her own business.
Mrs Dhanak, who also owns an investment property in Gosford on the NSW's Central Coast, started her small business just four years ago.
"I wanted to break the 9-5 cycle, and educate people about emotional intelligence (EQ) rather than just intelligence (IQ)," Mrs Dhanak told news.com.au.
"Running a business meant more flexibility … but I work around 8-10 hours a day, and at least five days a week and sometimes on the weekend."
Mrs Dhanak charges her clients $1500 for a 90-minute session, which they typically enrol in once a month for a period of 6-12 months to develop skills in social and emotional intelligence in the workplace.
Mrs Dhanak, who has been married for 13 years and has an eight-year-old daughter, says there is a misconception that high income earners are extravagant when it comes to their spending habits.
So here's her Cash Confessions for each month:
Mrs Dhanak said the key area where she usually spends less is on groceries, while she will often splurge a little more on health and beauty items.
"I'm careful with groceries," she said. "I will do a few shops each week instead of one big shop, and not over buy food so it's wasted.
"We budget. I know we need $10,000 monthly for living expenses. So we don't really go and eat out, we now get Uber Eats which saves money on cabs.
"I don't really spend on luxury items. I do spend a lot on skincare, which gets delivered each month.
"Skincare is over $100 a month, and Isagenix (meal replacements) is around $200 a month. When it comes to that (health and beauty) I look after myself."
Earning more than $700,000 a year, Mrs Dhanak is placed towards the top end of Australian earners. According to McCrindle, the top 20 per cent earn almost as much as the other 80 per cent of households combined. As a ratio, households earning in the top 20 per cent on average earn 11 times the average income for the bottom 20 per cent.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the average weekly wage for an adult working full-time (before tax) was $1567.90. Sending a child to Sydney Grammar would see almost half of this ($673 a week) go to school fees.
If you're a full-time worker and you earn more than $1261 a week (before tax and superannuation) then you are earning more than half of all other workers, aged 15 years and older. This equates to $65,577 a year.
Ms Dhanak pays a combined mortgage of $9000 each month for her properties in Hornsby and Gosford.
Hornsby, located 25km north-west of the CBD, has a median house price of $1.26 million, according to realestate.com.au
Ms Dhanak said the reason her family chose the leafy suburb was because of the good school options, variety of transport to the city and greenery.
"We really wanted to be near the bush land and trees and there are really good schools in the area," she said.
And in terms of investing in Gosford, she said it was "an area that is growing and more people are commuting from there into the city".
Mrs Dhanak says her income often leads to assumptions when it comes to spending habits and affording her family's lifestyle in Sydney.
"There's a misconception because you earn more you'd spend a lot more," she said.
"However, we have expenses to run the business that often gets forgotten, such as accountants, marketing, offices, etc. I don't really spend on luxury items."
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