A Week In Sydney, Australia On A $47,000 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennial women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar. (Thanks, New York Mag, for the inspiration.)

Today, we follow a music journalist in Sydney, Australia, eating a lot of Mexican food. (All dollar amounts were converted from AUD to USD).
Industry: Music/Media
Age: 26
Location: Sydney, Australia
Salary: $47,625, plus about $2k-$4k as a freelancer
Biweekly Paycheck Amount: $1,568 (after tax)
# of Roommates: 2
Monthly Expenses:
Rent: $777
Student Loan Repayments: $144
Utilities: Paid quarterly, but works out to ~$23 a month
Phone Bill: $91.44 (but work covers a third of it)
Gym Membership: $86.87
Dental Repayments: $76.20 (I am paying off a $1,524 dentist bill in monthly installments)
Netflix: $6.86

Day One

9 a.m. — We get free breakfast at work on Mondays, so I help myself and then buy a coffee. $3.05

1 p.m. — I refuse to buy lunch at work on any day that isn’t a Friday, so I usually grocery shop on the weekend and get stuff to make salad with during the week. I didn’t have time to go to the supermarket yesterday, but miraculously, my leftover ingredients from last week haven’t gone off. I assemble a salad from those ingredients, plus some kale from a coworker.

3 p.m. — Time for another coffee. $3.05

4:45 p.m. — I leave work early to meet some label reps over drinks at a nearby bar; they pick up the bill.

6:00 p.m. — I walk home and go an extra 20 minutes out of my way to go past a supermarket that’s cheaper than any of the ones near my house. I’ve already got cheese and jalapeños in the fridge, so I buy a chicken breast, beans, spice mix, and fresh veggies to make Mexi-bowls with, plus some bread and jam. $22.10

7:00 p.m. — I cook dinner, watch Girls, and do some freelance work.

Total: $28.20

Day Two

8:40 a.m. — I put credit on my pre-paid train pass, which is enough to get me to work all week. $15.24.

9:00 a.m. — I keep a big packet of quick oats on my desk to make breakfast with every morning; there’s free milk and honey in the office kitchen. I go grab a coffee. $3.05

1:00 p.m. — Leftovers are still going strong, so I make another salad.

1:30 p.m. — I walk to the chemist (I think this is called a drugstore in the U.S.?) on my lunch break to buy shampoo because it’s on special, but I come back with face wash, mascara, and deodorant, too. Oops. $29.72

2:00 p.m. — It’s cold, and I’m grumpy, so I buy a hot cross bun and a coffee to cheer up. $6.10

4:30 p.m. — One of the girls at my work finds a Groupon that gives you a one month F45 pass for 19 AUD, which is incredible given they usually charge 65 AUD ($49.53) a week. We all buy one. I also figure this might help me get back into an exercise routine, because as you may have noticed I haven’t been using that gym membership. $14.48

6:15 p.m. — I leave work. I’ve got into the habit of purging my wardrobe every few months and putting the discards for sale on eBay (Kondo method — it works), so I invited a friend over to be my clothes model for the night in exchange for dinner and wine. But it’s raining, and we needed to take the photos outside, so we have to postpone.

7:00 p.m. — I make another Mexi-bowl for dinner. Whenever I cook, I buy enough to make two serves, because it’s cheaper that way.

Total: $68.59

Day Three

9:00 a.m. — Oats at my desk for breakfast again, and a colleague shouts me a coffee.

12:30 p.m. — Me and my boyfriend of 18 months split up last week, and I guess one of my colleagues heard about it, because he brings me some consolatory jalapeño poppers. I guess that’s what they call a silver lining?

1:00 p.m. — I’m still hungry, so I go to the supermarket and buy a yogurt. I also get a curry to eat for dinner tonight; it’s on special because it’s about expire. But literally two minutes later my friend texts me to see if we can reschedule our dinner date from tomorrow to today. The curry goes in the bin. $4.53

2:30 p.m. — Coffee. I can’t function without two a day. $3.05

7:30 p.m. — I stay back at work late to finish off some freelance work; then I meet my friend for dinner at our favorite cheap and cheerful Chinese place. The food is $11.43 each, but I pick up more of the bill more because she brought the wine. $15.24

9:30 p.m. — I try to get an Uber home, but the driver cancels on me (ugh). I get the train instead, even though I don’t like walking home from the station at night because my neighborhood’s a bit sketchy.

Total: $22.82

Day Four

9:30 a.m. — Running late for work and definitely feeling that wine. I get a coffee on the way in and eat oats at my desk. $3.05

1:00 p.m. — Tomorrow’s a public holiday, which means this is a fake Friday. Thank you, Easter. I and the work crew go to a Mexican place up the road (I swear this is not the only cuisine I eat) for lunch. $10.29

2:00 p.m. — I get a coffee on the way back to the office. $3.05

5:30 p.m. — Train home from work. I was meant to see my ex tonight, but I’m tired and a bit hungover, so I cancel, get Thai takeaway, and watch Sex and the City reruns instead. The Thai place is cash only, so I get money out at an ATM, which means paying a $1.52 fee. $7.62

Total: $24.01

Day Five

10:30 a.m. — It’s a public holiday, and you know I’m sleeping in. My friends and I are going to a small coastal town an hour out of the city for the weekend to visit a friend who’s house-sitting, which means accommodation is free.

12:30 p.m. — The bad news is that major supermarkets and all bottle shops legally have to close on Good Friday in Australia — and we have nothing to eat or drink tonight. I bring a bottle of gin from home, and eventually we find a small food shop that’s open. So I grab some olives, salami, and crackers to bring — and I get a coffee. $14.48

4:00 p.m. — We drive to the beach house. Our host makes us sandwiches for a late lunch, and eventually we all head to the beach. Parking is $6.10, but we figure there won’t be any inspectors around today, so we don’t buy tickets.

7:00 p.m. — Turns out restaurants on the coast are still open, so we get fish and chips for dinner. I shout the friend who drove me here in lieu of chipping in for petrol. $22.10

9:00 p.m. — We go back to the house, drink all of the alcohol we could find in our respective homes, play Kings, and talk shit until 2:00 a.m.

Total: $36.58

Day Six

12:00 p.m. — My friends and I drive to a nearby town for a recovery breakfast. I get a juice, coffee, and some eggs — and, as with everything in regional Australia, it’s overpriced and underwhelming. $23.62

1:30 p.m. — We head back to the beach and decide to pay for parking this time. I go halves with my friend. $3.05

5:30 p.m. — I could keep sleeping on the sand for another couple of hours, but my friends are over it, so we decide to head back. One carload goes to the supermarket to get cheese, dip, pickles, crackers, and more olives for “dinner." I chip in some cash. $7.62

7:30 p.m. — We all have naps and then play Scattergories, talk more shit, and fall asleep watching a movie. Wholesome, right?

Total: $34.29

Day Seven

11:00 a.m. — My friends are all staying another night, but I have life admin to do, so I get the train back to Sydney. I still have credit on my train pass, so the trip is free.

1:00 p.m. — I indulge in my weekend ritual: reading the paper over brunch at my favorite cafe. I end up paying $3.81 for the paper so I can hit the Eftpos minimum (which is a total scam, and I hate it). The food and coffee is $16. $19.81

7:00 p.m. — I don’t feel like cooking, so I get sushi for dinner ($12.95) and buy a beer ($3.43). And a packet of my favorite biscuits ($3.81). Yolo. $20.19

Total: $40
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