Tessa beams with pride as she explains that everything in her house was either discarded or found on Facebook Marketplace.
She’s even more bragging about her fashion bargains – all of her clothes are sourced from local op shops.
To top it off, she says all of her food for the week is made from scratch using mostly discounted ingredients.
It’s all part of their motto to “make it happen” to stay “a step ahead” of rising interest rates.
“I don’t want to live check to check,” she says at 7:30 a.m.
“It’s a struggle. It’s stressful when you don’t have money set aside for a rainy day.
“You have to make it, you have to be realistic with your spending if you want to get things done across the board.”
In addition to her steadfast frugality, Tessa — who is a single mom — has two jobs that she calls side jobs.
During the lunch break of her day job, she often rushes off to clean an Airbnb, and on the weekends she works as a volleyball coach.
“As a single parent, I realized I didn’t have enough money for a house deposit, so I needed extra money. I needed a part-time job,” she says.
“[The day job] would do, but I’d pay off my mortgage in 30 years, and I don’t want that.
“I want to live better than the bare minimum.”
A rising trend
Economist Angela Jackson says Tessa is part of a growing trend of workers finding extra work on top of their full-time salary.
“The people who do these odd jobs are changing, so we’re seeing it move from something that younger people are doing to people who are doing it to make ends meet,” she says.
The latest work accounts from the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that 900,000 people now have a second job – about 6.5 per cent of Australia’s labor force.
Ms Jackson says the increasing demand for labor has provided people with an opportunity to rack up extra hours in odd jobs and earn some much-needed extra cash.
But she says the data also shows that people’s full-time jobs often don’t provide adequate salaries as the cost of living rises.
“People don’t have a full-time job to make ends meet, they work two, sometimes three jobs combined to make ends meet,” says Ms. Jackson.
“We need to be paid better”
While jobs are plentiful and it’s relatively easy to earn extra money, Grace Gbala, a geriatric nurse in Adelaide, says “it’s a slap in the face” that she has to work two jobs to pay her rent and living expenses.
Ms Gbala says she is so poorly paid in elder care that she has only been able to sustain herself financially with a job in retail.
“It’s a slap in the face, it’s just a constant reminder that we need better pay,” she says at 7.30am.
“Why would I come into aged care when we can do retail? [and] be paid more there?
“I’m a very compassionate supporter, I want to give further but I can’t give further if I have to keep doing another job to support myself.”
Aged care workers are among the highest proportions of Australian workers who have found part-time employment.
Tessa says multiple jobs aren’t for everyone and agrees it’s unfair that many jobs don’t pay enough – but she says she’s more than willing to do so.
“I have a lot of energy that I can use for a second or third job,” she says.
“I was willing to do extra work. Not everyone wants to do that, so you have to find what works for you.”
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