A Good Week & A Bad Week In Australia On $169,000 Per Year

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. (Thanks, New York mag, for the inspiration.)

Today, a good week and a bad week from a woman working full-time in transport while studying full-time.
Industry: State Government (Transport)
Age: 35
Location: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Salary: $70,145 + train fare $2,776 per year
Husband's Salary: $99,145 approx. My husband and I share money and all expenses. Each week, approx. $800 goes into our shared account to cover all of our bills and food. We each get $114 a week to do whatever we want with, which stays in our personal spending accounts, along with money for petrol and parking.
Paycheck (every 2 weeks): $1,761 (after tax and extra superannuation)
# of Roommates: Husband and 1 dog

Monthly Expenses (Total Amounts)

Mortgage: $1,982 (we pay an extra $457 per month on top of what we have to pay)
Car Payment (2 cars): $457
Utilities: $610 (rates, gas, electricity, internet, 2 mobiles)
Insurance: $344 (house, contents, 2 cars, pet, health)
Uni Payments: Approx. $305/month (this is calculated based on how much I earn and taken out with my tax each pay). I am studying for a Bachelor of Counseling full-time (one class a week plus two subjects online).
Savings: $1,144 + extra. My husband is a carpenter and does overtime each week, so once our bill and pocket money are calculated, anything extra from his paycheck goes into savings. Some weeks it's $190, but when he works on a Saturday, it can be up to $610 extra. Every two weeks, $572 automatically comes out of my pay and goes into the savings account, too. We are also saving up for a trip to Hawaii, and our annual holiday with friends, so we are putting $190/month away.
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Current Savings: We have several savings accounts: one for our home renovation money, since we have a four-bedroom, two-bathroom "renovator's delight" that we have been fixing up for the past five years. All of our savings money — about $42,000 — is going here at the moment. We also have another savings account that has $7,626 of emergency savings in it (enough to cover the mortgage for 20 weeks).
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Week 1, Day 1

5:30 a.m. — Wake up and get ready for work. Grab my breakfast, snacks, and lunch and head to the train station 45 minutes later. I work for the State Government so my train fare is covered as part of my salary. This saves me $70 per week.

7:30 a.m. — Arrive at work and eat breakfast — muesli and green tea.

10 a.m. — One of the teams on our floor is doing a charity cupcake sale. I buy two cupcakes (cookies and cream and double chocolate), all in the name of charity of course! Have one with a mini can of Coke, brought from home. I take the other home for my husband. $4.60

12:30 p.m. — Lunch at my desk while I study. Lunch is roasted pumpkin quinoa salad with mushrooms, spinach, feta and avocado, made the night before.

4 p.m. — Train home from work.

5 p.m. — Walk with the husband and the dog around the neighborhood.

6:30 p.m. — Leftovers from last night’s dinner. We have corned beef, mashed potatoes, vegetables, and white sauce — delicious!

7:30 p.m. — Drinking green tea and re-watching Chicago PD/Chicago Fire until bed. I try and get to sleep by 10 p.m. so I can actually get out of bed when the alarm goes off. Pack my breakfast, snacks, and lunch for tomorrow. It makes it easier in the morning to just grab and go.

Daily Total: $4.60
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Week 1, Day 2

7:30 a.m. — Arrive at work — same breakfast as yesterday.

10 a.m. — Popcorn. I'm obsessed with it at the moment. It's sea salt Poshcorn; it has no additives, so I think I am being really healthy! More green tea.

12:30 p.m. — Lunch. Another desk lunch while I do an assignment. same lunch as yesterday with a mini can of Coke.

4 p.m. — Leave work and take advantage of the 50-minute train ride home to watch more Chicago PD on the iPad.

5 p.m. — Another walk. This time, it’s just me and the dog around the neighborhood.

6:30 p.m. — Husband had a late snack, so he doesn’t want dinner. I have one of my roast-veggie quinoa salads.

7:30 p.m. — More green tea and doing some housework (washing and general tidying up) and Pinterest scrolling until bedtime.

Daily Total: $0
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Week 1, Day 3

7:30 a.m. — Arrive at work. Same breakfast as yesterday — getting a bit over the muesli.

12 p.m. — Lunch: A random meal I made a few weeks ago that I froze –— chicken pesto with cauliflower mash and spinach leaves. Pretty good!

12:30 p.m. — Head to uni (conveniently two blocks away from work). Can of Coke to keep me awake through the lecture.

4:30 p.m. — Later train home. I listen to music and panic about my upcoming assignments that are due this weekend.

5:30 p.m. — No walk since it's starting to get dark by the time I get home. I do a quick 30 minutes on the Xtrainer at home.

7:15 p.m. — Lazy dinner. Smoked salmon, salad, and tzatziki on rye wraps.

7:30 p.m. — More TV and chats with the husband until bed.

Daily Total: $0
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Week 1, Day 4

7:30 a.m. — Arrive at work. Green tea and a banana.

10 a.m. — Massive headache/backache occurring, and my stash of Panadol is empty, so I head to the chemist to get some. $3.75

12 p.m. — Lunch. Another frozen meal I made when I was going through my bulk-cooking phase — chicken and mushroom casserole with cauliflower mash.

2 p.m. — Popcorn and mini can of Coke.

5 p.m. — Stop at the shops to get a packet of cigarettes. $19.85

6 p.m. — No workout tonight, since I feel like crap. Chill on the couch and make another smoked salmon salad and tzatziki wrap. Pop some more Panadol, go to bed early, and hope that this headache goes away.

Daily Total: $23.60
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Week 1, Day 5

7:15 a.m. — Arrive at work. Green tea and a banana. It's Friday today, so the office seems livelier.

10 a.m. — Popcorn and mini Coke can.

1 p.m. — Lunch — another frozen meal. Chicken pesto with cauliflower mash and spinach. Spend lunch planning out my uni assignments for tomorrow.

3:45 p.m. — Leave work a little earlier and head home on the train (Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest scrolling).

5 p.m. — Go for a walk and do some squats, push ups, and lunges when I get home.

6 p.m. — My husband and I are both feeling exhausted after a long week of work and can’t be bothered with cooking. Order pizza and garlic bread (extras will be eaten over the weekend). $23.65

7 p.m. — Spend some time doing the housework. Washing, cleaning, etc. and then off to bed.

Daily Total: $23.65
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Week 1, Day 6

7 a.m. — Get up later and have green tea while I am packing my uni books for an epic assignment session.

8 a.m. — Drive into work and park nearby ($3.80 all day). I usually do my assignments at work (weekends and after hours) because I can concentrate better and don’t procrastinate. $3.80

8:15 a.m. — Eat breakfast (banana and another cup of green tea) and get started on my first assignment of the day.

9 a.m. — A work friend arrives to do her assignments as well — we separate our day into working hard for an hour and then a quick break.

12:30 p.m. — Finished one assignment! I take a lunch break and have another freezer meal — bolognese with zoodle spaghetti.

4 p.m. — My friend leaves, so I am here by myself. Continue to work and finish another assignment, drinking green tea and snacking on popcorn and a Laughing Cow cheese wedge.

6:30 p.m. — I am finally finished with my assignment and am completely brain-dead. Cancel tentative plans I had to catch up with friends and head home.

7:30 p.m. — Collapse on the couch with another freezer meal and watch a movie.

Daily Total: $3.80
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Week 1, Day 7

8 a.m. — Wake up feeling shattered from yesterday’s epic assignment session. Green tea.

8:30 a.m. — Head off to some local food markets with my husband. $1.55

9 a.m. — This market isn’t the best, but I find a few things — coffee (for him), strawberries, leeks, and pumpkin. $10.70

9:30 a.m. — Head to another market to see if it has better options. $3.05

10 a.m. — Jackpot! This is clearly where to go from now on. Get some breakfast – a bacon and egg on a roll for me and a German sausage on a roll for my husband. $9.15

11 a.m. — Leave the market with roses, sweet potatoes, potatoes, avocado, mushrooms, spinach leaves, snow peas, passionfruit, Black Angus rump steak, eggs, and Italian smoked pork loin. $38.15

12 p.m. — Head to the supermarket to get some other groceries for the upcoming week that I didn’t get at the markets. $91.50

2 p.m. — Spend the rest of the day cleaning out the fridge, putting away new food, prepping for lunches, getting clothes organized for the week, and packing up my uni books since the semester is over and I have handed in all my assignments!

6:30 p.m. — My husband makes dinner tonight; we have the Black Angus rump steak with roast potato and sweet potato with homemade mushroom gravy (he is an awesome cook!) and watch a movie.

Daily Total: $154.10
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Week 2, Day 1

6 a.m. — Wake up late. Get ready, grab pre-prepped food for the day, and run out the door.

6:30 a.m. — Drive to work and pay for parking near work. $13.75

7:30 a.m. — Breakfast. Banana and green tea.

10 a.m. — Snack on popcorn and mineral water.

12 p.m. — Lunch at my desk, chatting with my pod buddy. Chicken pesto and cauliflower mash — really good. Mini can of Coke.

4 p.m. — Leave work. I get stuck in traffic, but listening to a really good playlist so not too bad.

5 p.m. — Home. I do a workout — Xtrainer and squats, lunges, push-ups, etc. in front of the TV.

6:30 p.m. — Chicken and mushroom casserole with cauliflower mash.

7:30 p.m. — TV and study (not the best combination, but every little bit helps).

Daily Total: $13.75
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Week 2, Day 2

5:30 a.m. — Wake up (on time today) get ready, grab pre-prepped food for the day and run out the door.

7:30 a.m. — Breakfast. Banana and green tea.

9:45 a.m. — Still hungry. I go get an apple and cinnamon muffin from the local café. $3.15

12 p.m. — Lunch — chicken and mushroom casserole with cauliflower mash.

2 p.m. — Jumper that I bought online over the weekend arrives! A beautiful light-gray soft knit that will be perfect for work or the weekend. Score. $45.75

2:30 p.m. — Mini can of Coke to get through an afternoon of meetings.

4 p.m. — Leave work and drive home. Parking is $13.75

5 p.m. — Fill up my car. $70.50

5:30 p.m. — Workout in front of the TV again.

6:30 p.m. — Chicken pesto and cauliflower mash for dinner.

7:30 p.m. — Do some work on my assignment for uni, sipping lots of green tea, plus some random internet scrolling.

Daily Total: $133.15
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Week 2, Day 3

6 a.m. — Wake up late – get ready, grab pre-prepped food for the day and run out the door. $0

7 a.m. — Drive to work and get stuck in horrendous traffic. $13.75

8 a.m. — Breakfast — banana and green tea.

10 a.m. — Daily snack on popcorn and a mini Coke.

12 p.m. — Lunch – chicken pesto and cauliflower mash.

12:30 p.m. — Leave work for uni — can of Coke to get me through. This is a really long class and the lecturer is really living up to his title...

4:30 p.m. — Leave uni and head back to work for a little bit.

6 p.m. — Leave work and get stuck in traffic again (another lesson in why I should catch the train).

7 p.m. — Dinner — grilled chicken, salad, and sweet potato fries.

8 p.m. — Lounge around, watching TV and chilling with the husband.

Daily Total: $13.75
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Week 2, Day 4

7 a.m. — Working from home today so I get to sleep in. Breakfast is banana and green tea.

10 a.m. — Sweet potato chips I got from the petrol station the other day.

12 p.m. — Lunch break is spent going and getting a manicure and pedicure. It makes me feel fancy and polished (pun intended). $80

1 p.m. — Lunch — McDonald's on the way home. Burger, chips, and a drink. $8

5 p.m. — Some uni reading.

6 p.m. — Dinner is a lasagna from a fancy deli near my husband’s worksite; it is absolutely massive and will last us for a few meals. $16.45

7 p.m. — Scroll through iTunes and purchase a couple of books to read once I have finished the semester. $9.15

8 p.m. — Watch a couple of episodes of Law and Order: SVU.

Daily Total: $113.60
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Week 2, Day 5

4:30 a.m. — Up extra early since I am heading out after work for birthday drinks for a friend. I am getting a lift into work with the husband so I don’t have to leave my car at the train station overnight.

6 a.m. — Breakfast. Banana and green tea.

9:30 a.m. — Starving since I ate breakfast so damn early. Carrot and banana muffin from café near work. $3.15

10 a.m. — Shopping mission for the birthday girl. I buy a couple of birthdays cards ($7.60) — one to use today and the rest for my stock of cards and pop into Chanel to buy the combined birthday gift of perfume. $106.75 total, but we each put in $15.25. Total $22.85

12 p.m. — Lunch. I didn’t bring in any lunch today so off to the healthy salad shop where I get a grilled chicken, sweet potato mash, pesto and avocado bowl. Expensive but delicious. $11.05

12:30 p.m. — Drop into the chemist shop to pick up a couple of things. $19.05

12:40 p.m. — Cigarettes. $21.75

2:30 p.m. — Sign up to Uber for tonight’s trip home. My friend sends me her code and they are having a promotion so I will get money off my first trip.

4:15 p.m. — Head over to the 1st bar of the night and have several (lots of) drinks and buy a couple of drinks for the birthday girl. (This all goes on the credit card – not a good decision). $68.65

9 p.m. (ish) — Head to the 2nd bar as there is a local band playing. Grab a cab ($9.15) for the group. A lot more whiskey and cokes are had while dancing and chatting with friends. (Credit card again – whoops). $68.65

1 a.m. — Decide to go home since I am quite drunk and tomorrow is already going to be a write-off. Figure out how to use the Uber app and get one home. $17.55 ($32.15 but got $14.95 off)

Daily Total: $241.85
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Week 2, Day 6

11 a.m. — So hungover… Husband brings me home a Southern-style fried chicken roll and beer battered chips (I had pre-organized this as I knew I'd be hungover and want greasy food). Nap the rest of the day and watch the Real Housewives of Orange County (trashy but entertaining and perfect hungover viewing). Drink a lot of mineral water to rehydrate. $10

3 p.m. — Late lunch of leftover lasagne from the other night and some green tea.

7:30 p.m. — Steak and sweet potato fries for dinner.

9 p.m. — Go back to bed and watch more Housewives.

Daily Total: $10
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Week 2, Day 7

8:30 a.m. — Wake up feeling more refreshed than yesterday but still tired — a sign that I am old and really can’t go out drinking like I used to. Breakfast is scrambled eggs, toast, and green tea.

9 a.m. — Spend the morning doing housework and washing. $0

12 p.m. — Head to the shops and do some grocery shopping for the upcoming week. I get salad stuff, various meats to grill, cheese, drinks, milk, bread, dog food, and cigarettes. Spend the rest of the day getting organized for the upcoming week and go for an afternoon walk with the dog. $154.05

6 p.m. — Really craving Chinese food, so go and get wonton soup, fried rice, beef and vegetables, and a combination omelet for us, which will mean lots of leftovers for tomorrow's lunches. $23.05

Daily Total: $177.10
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Editors’ Note: All amounts have been converted to USD

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