It’s not all about the money!

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Sarah Long arrived in Australia from the UK in early 2010 and met her Mr Miner soon after. They're based in Sydney and he does drive-in, drive-out (DIDO) to Orange in country NSW. Sarah came out to Oz as part of a six-month backpacking trip around the world, and never went home!

On holiday last week I spent $200 on sunglasses. I went two and fro, trying them on, putting them back and generally umm-ing and ahh-ing, because if I’m honest, I think it’s the most money I’ve spent on a possession that isn’t my house or car.

Mr Miner was obviously less than thrilled by my shopping indecision, and his frustration combined with airport delirium may have been the catalyst for this splurge.

I say splurge because I am a naturally quite frugal, which I think is predominantly due to the way I was brought up. I am one of four children and so is Mr Miner, and op shops and hand-me-downs were the norm. No stopping at Maccas on road trips for us, just warm vegemite sandwiches and tap water (poor souls!).

But for those involved in mining, money is what makes us the pantomime villains. We are the Montgomery Burns of Australia, sitting out of town, counting all our money.

According to the media, we’re all cashed-up bogans, spending all our money on smokes, alcohol, V8 cars and motorbikes (which definitely sums me up well!).

When you tell people your partner works in mining, it’s usually the second thing they comment on, straight after they make assumptions about your relationship.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard phrases like, 'Oh he must earn a lot though', or 'At least the money’s worth it'. And my personal favourite: 'You can’t take it with you, you know?' usually deployed in order to make you feel bad about your long-distance relationship.

Of course there are some people working in the mines for a set time to achieve a very specific financial goal and of course it’s silly to say Mr Miner’s not interested in the money at all.

He is a fitter by trade and could choose to work on buses or trucks in the city, for fewer hours and for less money. But I certainly don’t know many people who would want to do exactly the same job and be paid half as much.

For us the perks of the mining lifestyle are also about the other things it affords us. For example, if Mr Miner takes two weeks' leave, he can then take five weeks' holiday, which allowed us to go back to Europe to visit my friends and family.

We can also make plans for the future, whether that’s planning to travel, planning to start a business or planning to buy a house. These plans can be realized sooner because of the extra money.

However, when it comes down to it, we are still a double income couple in our early 30s, who (like many others) can’t afford a house in Sydney. The money is good, but it’s not ridiculous!

In my opinion, the stories of big spending and living to excess are generally from the younger guys. They’re in their 20s, working in the mines and living in the sticks with nothing to spend their money on but big nights out and big boy’s toys. And as I see it, that’s similar to how many people will spend their early twenties, no matter the income.

When I was a student in the UK, I was always on my last ten quid and I still managed to afford bottles of vodka and nights out that my mother wouldn’t approve of. Yes, it’s due in part to the money, but also due to fact they have no responsibilities. And let’s be honest, who would begrudge a young bloke a bit of fun?

So, yes, Mr Miner does work in part for the money. And although he doesn’t like the cashed-up bogan connotations, they are easily laughed off as jealousy.

The thing I hate most is the insinuation that I am in it for the money too.

It’s one of his best friend’s favourite jokes: I can’t be with him with for his personality, so I must be with him for his money and his sexual prowess. (He's half right, but I will give you a clue and say that his money is not my money.)

We pay rent and bills together, split equally 50/50, and although he will treat me to the occasional dinner, I like to think that romance rather than charity is behind the gesture.

I am very independent and I like to think successful in my own right. I have my own career and my own business and I like to pay my own way. Plus, as a friend’s grandmother once said, it’s always good to have a runaway fund!

When it comes down to it, we’re in this for the long haul, and it’s definitely not money that will get us through that.

As people always say, you can’t take it with you… which is a funny saying, because from what I’ve heard, you can’t take him with you either!

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