A Week In Melbourne, Australia, On A $15,300 Salary

Photo: StockFood.
Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
Last month, we looked at several Money Diaries from moms leading up to the beginning of the back-to-school season: One mother had older children who were increasingly independent; another mom was a graduate student on active duty in the military; and another diary featured a stay-at-home mom with twins starting preschool.
This week, we're taking another look at scholastic Money Diaries — from college and graduate students. Today: an MBA candidate and bridal stylist who makes $15,300 per year. She spends some of her money this week on a Nutella muffin and a new, single-speed cruiser bike.
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Editor's Note: All prices have been converted to the U.S. dollar.
Occupation: MBA Candidate & Bridal Stylist
Industry: Bridal
Age: 24
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Salary: $15,300
Paycheck (2x/month): $820
Monthly Expenses
Housing Costs: $715. I have two flatmates.
Loan Payments: $116
All Other Monthly Expenses
Internet: $25, split three ways
Gas & Electric: $70. This varies; it's winter at the moment so it's higher than normal.
Water: $200 quarterly
Phone: $27 for 6 GB of data and 300 international minutes
Transport: About $45/week on the train
Gym: $47/month
Netflix: $0. I use my parents' account.
Hulu: $0. I use my best friend's. (Thanks, J!)
Spotify Premium: $0. I just signed up so I'm still on the free trial.
Adobe: $10/month. This comes out of my American bank accounts.
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8:30 a.m. — Out of bed, face washed, contacts in, teeth brushed. I prep my food for lunch as well as some snacks for the rest of the weekend. I have an intensive course for my MBA this weekend, so I'm staying with my uncle in the city. I pack all the fruit and nut mix I have left, two bananas, an apple, a salad with avocado and cucumber, tuna, and my probiotics. While prepping my food, I also make breakfast: avocado and bacon on sourdough toast and a smoothie (banana, coconut milk, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and almond butter). I head out ASAP because today is bike day!

11:30 a.m. — I put a deposit down on a cruiser about a month ago, but today is the day I get to pick it up. It takes ages to get across the city to the bike shop, but it's worth it when I hit the road on wheels! $149

12:30 p.m. — It takes me a while to get to school, but I finally make it to my group meeting (half an hour late) where we quickly decide how to divide up the assignment. I eat an apple and drink some water. I'm so sweaty from my bike ride!

3 p.m. — During a break from class, I go check on my bike (separation anxiety clearly) and eat my salad with tuna for lunch. I'm not sure what I'm doing for dinner since I'm staying in the city, and I want to make sure I get greens in somewhere. I snack on nuts before going to class.

6 p.m. — After class, I have an MBA student association meeting. It's an hour of discussing a future event I'm helping to coordinate called "Women in Innovation" and I'm psyched for it. I've secured a guest speaker who is the creative director of one of my favorite bridal brands!

7 p.m. — A new friend texts me and we go out for dumplings in Chinatown. (All my friends are new since I've only lived here for six months.) She generously pays and I tell her I'll get her back because we have dinner plans next week. I bike from the city to my uncle's house and get to bed around 10:30.

Daily Total: $149
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7 a.m. — Wake up groggy and get ready in a rush for the intensive course. Hop on my bike at 8 a.m. and just make it in time. No time for breakfast unfortunately.

10:30 a.m. — After a few group activities and a lecture, they give us a morning tea break! I'm desperate for coffee; I have two cups with two little cakes and grab a banana for later, while chatting with my cohort. Resist checking on the bike. Remember I need to pay rent, and transfer online to my flatmate quickly.

12:30 p.m. — They release us for lunch and I head to a burger place a few blocks over with a group of new friends. Of course, I stop to check on the bike and introduce it to everyone. I get a burger with a lettuce bun and fries with honey mustard. $17

5 p.m. — Done with day one! We're all keen for drinks so we head to the Asian Beer Café, and a new friend treats me to a cider. The president of the MBA student association I joined is also there, and gets a jug of cider later. I ride my bike back to my uncle's.

8 p.m. — Have some of the delicious pasta my uncle made and push through the reading for tomorrow. I crawl into bed around 10:30 and text with a new friend until I fall asleep.

Daily Total: $17
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6:45 a.m. — I kept waking up last night, probably a combo of being riled up all day and sleeping in a bed that's not mine. I get out of the house around 7:45 and ride to campus. I get to class early and have time to de-sweat before we start.

9 a.m. — I'm feeling shaky after the bike ride, so I have a banana and chug some water. Slowly even out.

10:30 a.m. — Finally morning tea break! I'm fading fast without a coffee. I grab a muffin as well and a banana for later. I hang out and talk to my new friends. We're all exhausted.

12 p.m. — Early lunch break today. My new friend C. and I grab sushi from a nearby food court and sit with another girl from our program. She and I both have a background in fashion! I get sushi and a coffee for C. and myself to pay him back for the cider yesterday. $15

3 p.m. — Another afternoon tea break with cakes. I might need a sugar detox after this weekend.

5 p.m. — Finished for the weekend! We don't have to gather again for a month. A group of us heads to a bar down the street and C. treats my cider again. We hang with the other members of our cohort for a bit before I hop on my bike and go to the train. I top up my myki card for the week. $20

7:30 p.m. — Home! I make a veggie burger on toast with a fried egg on top, roasted Brussels sprouts, and carrots with a little sauerkraut. I watch Gilmore Girls while planning my week ahead. Head to bed around 10:30.

Daily Total: $35
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6:45 a.m. — My internal clock wakes me up way too early for my day off. I text some of my friends back home in the U.S. for a while, and then go back to sleep.

8:30 a.m. — I wake up again, scroll through Instagram for a bit and try to FaceTime with my long-distance boyfriend, J., who lives in New Zealand. The connection is really bad today, so we agree to try again at the end of the day. I stay in bed and do some readings for class.

10 a.m. — Get out of bed finally and take my flatmate's dog for a walk. She works full-time and I like to give the pup a little extra attention and exercise whenever I can.

11:30 a.m. — I make breakfast and lunch: bacon on avocado toast with eggs on the side. My fridge is looking scarce but good thing it's grocery day!

1 p.m. — I hop on my bike and ride out to the shops to sit in my favorite café and work on school stuff. My favorite barista isn't working today, unfortunately, but I do have a free coffee on my frequency card!

2:15 p.m. — Nutella muffin! $5

4 p.m. — I finish studying and head to the grocery store, one of my favorite weekly activities. I spend about $180 a month on groceries, but I challenge myself to stay under $50 a week — and use all the produce. I grab chicken thigh that are on sale, as well as peanut butter, granola, zucchini, apples, cauliflower, fruit and nut mix, salad mix, beetroot, cucumber, spinach, tuna, and bananas. $44

7:30 p.m. — A friend drops me off at home from the gym and I take a shower and wash my hair for the first time in four days. I am a goddess.

8 p.m. — I make dinner: a veggie burger on toast with roasted Brussels sprouts and carrots. I munch on fruit and nut mix afterwards while I work on a blog post.

Daily Total: $49
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7 a.m. — Up early for work because it's the first day I'm riding my bike in! I pack lunch and work clothes to change into.

9 a.m. — I get to work right on time, despite making a wrong turn and going through a few very scary roundabouts. I eat a banana to up my blood sugar.

1 p.m. — It's a slow day since we're in the off-peak season. My salad isn't very satisfying today, so after I finish eating it I make a coffee run for my manager and myself. I get an almond latte and a tea for her. She gives me $5 for her drink. $4.50

4:30 p.m. — At the end of the day, I strike up enough courage to ask my boss for a performance review in the coming weeks. I'm approaching my six-month mark at the job and even though it's part-time, I'd like to grow and learn in my role.

6:30 p.m. — Upper-body/core class at the gym. I don't wash my hair afterwards because who has time for that?

7:30 p.m. — I make a batch of turkey meatballs to last me the rest of the week, with baked sweet potato and sautéed zucchini for sides. Later, I eat some strawberries while I send emails and do another draft of a blog post for this week. I listen to my Spotify “Sleep” playlist and fall asleep.

Daily Total: $4.50
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7:45 p.m. — Get out of bed. Flatmate is in the shower so I pack my lunch and fold laundry while I wait. I make breakfast: a smoothie bowl topped with toasted granola, strawberries, and peanut butter with two fried eggs on the side.

10:30 a.m. — Get to school and go to pick up a free coffee voucher I won from doing a survey. It's not there, so I leave my email for them to contact me when it's ready. I load my Starbucks app for the first time in ages and use my credit card since I can earn points on purchases. $5.60

3:30 p.m. — I love my leadership class, but hate how that it goes right through lunch. In the middle of class, I ate an apple and peanut butter. After class, I usually park myself in a comfy spot on campus and eat a packed lunch while saving readings to print later, and watching YouTube videos. Today, I run to the nearby Aldi to get a bar of dark chocolate that's on sale. I know I won't be able to make it through my finance class without it. $2

9 a.m. — I run into my gym friend outside Flinders Station. We ride the train home together and make plans to do dinner and a movie this weekend! I love having good friends and a social life again.

9 p.m. — I get home and have a late dinner of a veggie burger on toast, roasted cauliflower and carrots, beetroot and sauerkraut. Eat some more of my dark chocolate and get into bed around 11.

Daily Total: $7.60
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9 a.m. — Actually get out of bed after FaceTiming my best friend back in Chicago, texting my mom, and scrolling through Instagram.

10 a.m. — Take the puppy for a walk and it's a STUNNING day. I'm so psyched that spring is on the way. I put my headphones in and basically dance my way to the beach with the pup.

11 a.m. — Make brunch: another smoothie bowl topped with granola and avocado, with bacon and tomato on toast. I FaceTime my boyfriend while I cooking and he's at school studying. Best way to start the day! Afterwards, I get to work on my marketing assignment.

3 p.m. — I'm sleepy and decide to bike to the café to work and get a coffee. My barista friend decides gives me the coffee for free! Word to the wise: Frequent the same café and befriend your barista if you want free almond lattes. I also buy a raspberry white chocolate muffin.

6:30 p.m. — Gym with my friend. When she drops me off, we sit in the car for an extra 10 minutes and chat about our bodies, health, and confidence. I love her.

7:30 p.m. — I'm feeling emotional and a little homesick, so I dive into my sister-in-law's Instagram and go through pictures of my nieces for 20 minutes.

8 p.m. — I make an easy dinner with the meatballs I prepped a few nights ago, plus roasted cauliflower and carrots, beetroot, and sauerkraut. Sometimes I'm good at adulting! For dessert, I have half a block of dark chocolate and watch Law & Order: SVU for the rest of the night.

Daily Total: $0
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Editor's Note: All prices have been converted to the U.S. dollar.

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