Money Diaries

A Week In Mount Lawley, Western Australia, In The Police Force On A $60,000 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we tackle the ever-present taboo that is money. We ask real people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we track every last dollar.

Anyone can write a Money Diary! Want to see yours here and earn a crisp $200? Then submit your Money Diary.
Today: an administration officer in the police force who earns $60,000 a year and spends over $700 on X-rays for her sick cat, who gets diagnosed with cancer.
Occupation: Administration Officer
Industry: Police Force
Age: 30
Location: Mount Lawley, Western Australia
Salary: $60,172
Net Worth: -$36,525. In terms of money in the bank, I've got $11,222 all up. I'm still paying off my car, and I rent, so there's no property or large assets. My partner and I don't live together yet, so we don't share finances or bills.
Debt: $47,747.08. Oh boy, there's a lot. My car loan still has $1,385 remaining, I have $6,430 in credit card debt, and a HECS debt of $39,881. Oh, and I owe $51.08 to Afterpay.
Paycheque Amount (Fortnightly): $1929.26
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses

Rent: $1,200. I currently rent an apartment on my own for $300 a week. I adore my little place — it's a two-bedroom, one-bathroom and I've been here two years. However, my partner and I are planning on moving in together, so I'll be leaving it soon, unfortunately.
Bills: Electricity ranges from $150 — $200 every two months, and water is about $70 every four months.
Car Loan: $176
Credit Card Payments: $200
HECS: Gets deducted from my paycheque automatically.
Subscriptions: $34.98 (Despite the fact that I watch like... the same two comfort television shows on repeat, I pay for Netflix ($10.99), Stan ($13.99) and Binge ($10). Luckily, I get Disney for free from a friend!)
Spotify Premium: $11.99
Microsoft (for Word): $13
Internet: $80
Phone Bill: $139.18
Car Insurance: $9.57 (Because my old Hyundai is not worth much more protection than that)
Health Insurance: $63.80
Pet Insurance: $51.21
Savings Contributions: I also usually pop $400 — $500 in my savings each pay. My savings contributions are a bit inconsistent in their amounts and tend to be based on how wealthy I'm feeling that fortnight.

Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?

I have a Bachelor's degree in English Literature and Creative Writing, with a minor in History that I put on HECS. Butttt in my early, fresh-out-of-high-school days, I also did part of a Performing Arts degree, half a Journalism degree and one year of Marketing, which I also put on HECS. Plus a year and a half of an Education Master's that I abandoned when I remembered, oh yeah, I don't like kids. I also just got accepted to do a Master's in Writing, so that'll go on HECS too.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?

Growing up, we didn't have many conversations about money, but I was aware that we weren't as well-off as other families. Not that we were broke, but we were a family of four kids and my mum was a stay-at-home mum. We lived off a single income, and little things like not being able to afford the movies, or canteen days being a treat every four months, hinted to me that we didn't have as much as other families. My mum has always been of the "If you have it, spend it" mentality, with a predilection for nice things, which I have unfortunately inherited. My dad, on the other hand, is big on saving and rarely buys things for himself. They're basically completely opposite ends of the money-attitude spectrum, which means personally I tend to bounce from one extreme (spend!) to the other (never spend!) and never quite find my happy middle ground.

What was your first job and why did you get it?

My first job was at the library, which my book-loving nerdy self absolutely loved. I got it so that I could afford to buy things I wanted in high school. My first big purchase was a pair of Dr Martens that I still have and wear to this day. It gave me a little bit of freedom to buy my own clothes, books and little indulgences that my parents couldn't afford to get me.

Did you worry about money growing up?

I don't think I worried about money growing up, but I do remember feeling frustrated at our lack of it. I remember visiting much richer friends' houses and just wanting to raid their cupboards for all the fancy snacks, which were so much better than our home brand version or homemade healthy alternatives. But I was never worried in the sense of being concerned about a lack of food or being homeless, something which I am grateful for now.

Do you worry about money now?

CONSTANTLY. Well, to be honest, lately I've felt a lot more financially stable than I have for a while. It's probably because I've finally managed to wrap my head around finances a little bit and I've also begun to pick up paid freelance writing work. But about three years ago, I was living beyond paycheque-to-paycheque (I kept dipping into my overdraft) and never felt like I was going to be okay money-wise. It was pretty soul-crushing. Now, my money concerns are more about never having enough for a house deposit, as it seems like whenever my savings start to rise, a big old cost will come up and take a chunk of it again.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?

I think I became financially responsible for myself at 18 when I moved out of home for the first time. Even though I've had casual jobs since 16, the money I made was more for fun things while my parents supported me. I have a savings account with $11,000 in it that's supposed to be for my house deposit and that I regularly contribute to, which also serves as a financial safety net. I probably should have two savings accounts but your girl only just dug herself out of a pit of money-related despair, so small steps, okay?

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.


Day 1

7:30am — My boyfriend and I wake up early, even though it’s a public holiday in Perth so we definitely could have slept in. To make up for it, we lie in bed and scroll on our phones for a solid amount of time. I realise that a jumper I ordered online was delivered to my boyfriend’s house last week while we were in Tasmania on holiday, but neither of us has seen it. He says he’ll check with his neighbours and I internally berate myself for not selecting buyer protection on the purchase.
8:01am — Boyfriend confirms no neighbour has seen the package. It’s been lost to the ages, I suppose (or stolen, much more likely). So there’s $51 not well spent.
9:30am — Even though we got back from Tasmania three days ago, I still haven’t been shopping for groceries. I use that as an excuse to treat myself to a coffee and a yoghurt and muesli mix from the cafe across the street ($13.50). Honestly, living within walking distance to a cafe does not help with my laziness towards grocery shopping (I was already the girl who’d Uber Eats milk to her house instead of going to the shops…). $13.50
12:00pm — I spend the morning catching up on some emails and writing (I’ve been trying to crack into the freelance writing world this year which has been a fun exercise in discovering how many rejections I can get before I cry. Answer: I cried after the first one, of course). I’m due at my friend’s place for a post-holiday debrief though, and I’ve promised her afternoon snacks. I pack up my things and go to the shops (because I’ll go to the shops for sugary snacks, but not basics like milk and coffee. Naturally).
12:15pm —  Banana bread and Skittles purchased ($11.20). My friend has agreed to provide the chai tea, so the banana bread makes sense. Why I also spontaneously grabbed Skittles is beyond me. $11.20
1:00pm — I arrive at my friend's and we proceed to sit on her patio under the heater and catch up on all the things for a few hours. I torture her with endless photos from my trip. She indulges me. It’s perfect.
5:30pm — I go to my boyfriend’s to stay the night. Dinner’s on him and he’s got frozen, leftover spaghetti bolognese and pasta for us. One of my favourite podcasts has a pre-order option for some jumpers with funds going to charity. I quickly go online to grab one — $79.
6.30pm —  We watch three episodes of Season 4 of Stranger Things before it’s time for bed.
Daily Total: $103.70

Day 2

7:00am — My boyfriend is back at work today, but I still have the week off, so it’s his alarm that wakes me up, and my laziness that keeps me curled up for a good half an hour before I emerge from the blanket cocoon. I chuck on my exercise gear and head to the nearby park to run laps. My boyfriend is keen for me to join the gym with him so we can be adorably couple-y and exercise together, but I don’t want to give up my long-distance runs. I’ve gone from 5kms to 12km each morning in six months and it feels so good to get better and better.
8:00am — My cat has been a bit sick since I’ve been away, coughing and losing weight, so I call the vet to book him in for a check-up in the afternoon. I have a sick feeling in my stomach. I’ve only had him three years, but he’s an older boy and turned nine this year, so I’m super worried.
10:00am — To distract myself, I decide to drive to my sister-in-law's. She just had her second baby, and she and my brother are at home. I got her little ones some gifts in Tasmania so I’m excited to give them to her.
10:05am — I stop for a coffee before I go ($5) — sue me, I still haven’t got that damn milk and coffee for my house yet. I also get notified that my Microsoft subscription money has come out ($13, covered in my monthly expenses). $5
11:00am — I arrive at my sister-in-law's, and my brother is just pulling a fresh batch of brownies from the oven. No, I am not joking. My brother was a dessert chef in his early twenties and he still loves to whip up sugary treats. My family and I don't complain.
1:20pm — I take my cat to the vet. My vet is worried about what I’ve told her which does little to assure me. She orders some blood tests ($300.40) and my beautifully-natured boy is very well behaved throughout. She tells me the results should be back tomorrow night and further scans and X-rays may be needed afterwards. I take my cat home and have a little cry. $300.40
4:00pm — Even though I don’t feel like leaving my cat, I have an appointment to get my eyebrows done that I booked ages ago. They charge full price for no-shows and cancellations, so I head over to the clinic, pay for parking ($2.04) and get my brows done ($55). I actually feel lots better afterwards (I’ll be honest, they've been looking messy for a while). Amazing what a little self-care can do for you! $57.04
4:30pm — I stop at the shops on the way home. I finally get some groceries: fruit, yoghurt, vegetables, hummus, coffee, milk, chicken and bread. $63.20
6:30pm — I make myself brown rice and frozen vegetables for dinner and watch the latest episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars 7 — hands down the best season of RuPaul I’ve seen in a while. Because I’m feeling sad, I also rent Drop Dead Fred ($4.99) from PrimeVideo for some childhood nostalgia. $4.99
9:00pm — Wake up on the couch with the television still playing and decide immediately I need to get myself to bed.
Daily Total: $438.93

Day 3

9:00am — She sleeps in today! Who knows why, when normally my body clock is blaring me awake at 7am or earlier, but this morning I sleep super solidly right through to 9am. I’ve already decided today is the day for writing and life admin, which means little to no leaving the house. Hermit mode has been activated.
10:30am — After I go for a run, I get home, shower and make myself a coffee (I think briefly and longingly about the cafe across the street, but decide to be good). I chop up an apple and have a bowl of cereal alongside it, then get stuck into some writing.
12:30am — After literally writing solidly for two hours, it’s break time! Still trying to be good, I chop some carrots to have with the hummus for lunch and a slice of the leftover banana bread for a sweet snack after.
1:30pm —  Unfortunately, it appears my intense burst of writing and creativity triggered a headache, which is frustratingly the fourth I’ve had in, well, four days. I went to the doctors before my holiday about the alarming regularity of my headaches and after blood tests and appointments they basically said *shrug emoji*. So that’s helpful. I down some Voltaran and cuddle up with my cat for a nap to sleep it off.
3:50pm — My partner and I are planning on moving in together when my lease is up next month, so we’re starting to look at properties now to get in early. We organise to meet for a 4:20pm showing at a house nearby so I jump in my car to head over.
4:30pm —  The house is amazing but so many people have shown up for the viewing, which reminds me how goddamn competitive the rental market is at the moment. I’m trying not to stress prematurely, however, and remind myself we still have a month to get it all sorted. My partner says he will come to mine tonight to stay over and I tell him my headache means zero cooking is on the table. Takeaway it is!
5:00pm — Before I get home, I stop at the shops to get some more essentials — cat food, paper towels, dishwashing liquid and pads… plus I treat myself to the latest Frankie magazine while I’m there. $31.75
6:00pm — We order sushi from our favourite local place, my shout ($50.99). While we’re waiting, the vet rings and asks me to come back in tomorrow morning for my cat to have some X-rays and scans. Here comes the worry again. $50.99
7:00pm — We watch the final episode of Stranger Things and then a little bit of UKTV afterwards. I’m still pretty worried, so it’s hard for me to enjoy either of them.
9:30pm — Eventually it's bedtime, with my boyfriend assuring me everything is going to be okay about my cat. I don’t sleep particularly well.
Daily Total: $82.74

Day 4

6:45am — I’m up early and I go for a long run to get rid of some of my anxiety. I only get to about 7kms before the rain comes down, heavy and hard, and I have to make a mad dash for my car to escape it. I head home and do some weights in my study using kettlebells because I’m still feeling jittery.
8:00am — I remember suddenly that I haven’t paid my car rego (I’d been meaning to do it before Tasmania but got caught up with pre-holiday errands). I quickly hop onto DotDirect and pay it ($207). When I do this, I see that two of my Afterpay repayments have gone through overnight as well; how terrible I can’t even remember what they were for ($51.09 and $36.91). $295
9:00am — I drop my cat at the vet for X-rays. I have to sign a consent form authorising them to perform the X-rays and confirming I’ve been told of the costs. They tell me to head home and they’ll call me when I need to pick him up again.
10:05am — They call back. I go to pick up my cat and get told it’s not good news. Not good news at all. It’s cancer and there’s nothing they can do — all we can do is make him comfortable. My world shatters. I pay for the X-rays ($429.35) and take him home. $429.35
11:00am — Cry.
12:00pm — Cry some more.
3:00pm — I finally stop crying enough to rehydrate myself with water and have some coffee and leftover banana bread, because it's exactly what I need when everything is awful and my heart is broken. My boyfriend calls to check in on me and says he’ll come to mine tonight and bring dinner.
6:00pm —  My boyfriend brings pizzas, two big ones, with enough for me to eat some slices tomorrow so it’s “one less thing to worry about.” Bless him. We watch mindless television shows like The Simpsons on the couch and cuddle my cat between us.
Daily Total: $724.35

Day 5

10:30am — It’s really hard to get out of bed this morning. I’m feeling sad and overwhelmed, plus my cat has come to cuddle and I know I need to enjoy this while I can. I tell myself it’s not lazy to have a lie-in once in a while, especially when you’re dealing with grief.
11:00pm — Eventually, I get up, go for a run and then I get stuck into deep cleaning the house. My stress response is usually to be completely inert for a while and then become super productive in an attempt to distract myself. The silver lining of grief? My house will probably be super clean over the next few weeks.
12:30pm — I work on some freelance writing work for the afternoon on the couch and try to keep myself busy. I walk to my vet to stretch my legs and pick up some extra things for my cat’s medication.
4:00pm —  My friend reminds me I’ve agreed to go to a “Simpsons sing-a-long” event (we both grew up on the show and quote it endlessly) and I debate not going before I decide it’ll be good to get out of the house. I haven’t paid her for the ticket yet so I transfer the money — $24.
6:00pm — I eat leftover pizza for dinner (thanks, boyfriend!) and watch the Jimmy Savile documentary as I get ready to go out. What? You don’t watch true crime documentaries as a pregame activity?
7:00pm —  I drive to the event and pay for parking ($6). I don’t drink anymore so I just get a Diet Coke ($6), mostly for the sake of holding something in my hand. The event is actually amazing and hilarious; a full-blown evening of nostalgia. The guy performing the songs has us all singing at the top of our lungs. It’s exactly what I need after this week. $12
10:15pm —  The event ends pretty late (who knew there were so many songs in The Simpsons???) and I pour myself into bed as soon as I get home. I doomscroll for a good half an hour before I fall asleep.
Daily Total: $36

Day 6

7:30am — I get up and go for a run and then get myself ready. My boyfriend and I are going to see The Bob’s Burgers Movie and the only session is at 10am which is like, super early for a movie, but oh well.
9:50am — I get a McDonald’s coffee on the way there ($4.80). My boyfriend gets the tickets ($22 each, $44 all up). I am incapable of going to the movies without getting snacks, but it’s too early for popcorn so I get some nut-based snacks that I trick myself into thinking are healthy… and also some Skittles ($11.40). $38.20
12:00pm —  The movie was absolutely delightful, and we leave feeling pretty buzzed with happiness… but also my boyfriend is now desperate for a burger. We stop at the shops near my place and he goes to get a burger while I duck into the IGA for roast chickens (plural; one for us and one for my cat), ice cream, brown rice and also grab a juice as well. $40.45
12:30pm —  I get tempted into the bookstore nearby because my boyfriend is still waiting for his burger. I’m thiiiiiissssss close to buying a book when he calls to say he’s waiting at the car and I take that as a sign I shouldn’t be buying one. Somewhere, my bank account sighs with relief.
2:00pm — I work on some freelancing stuff and general scrolling of the internet, before my cat and I cuddle on the couch while I read and he sleeps. This is the stuff I’ll miss the most.
3:15pm — My friend swings by to drop off a self-care package for me as a reminder to look after myself during this time — there's chocolate, Pringles, face masks, nice-smelling soaps and lollies. It's wonderful but like, thanks friend, now I'm crying again.
4:30pm — I go for a walk to clear my head and stretch my legs. I started doing "silly little walks" during lockdown and three years on, I'm still doing them because, my god, do they help with my mental health. 
6:30pm — My boyfriend comes round and we eat roast chicken, rice and vegetables for dinner using the supplies I bought today. I read on the couch and he watches YouTube videos about the latest release of a video game.
9:50pm — Bedtime! My cat cuddles on my boyfriend's side tonight and I feel a little bit betrayed, but like, we'll cut him some slack because he's sick. 
Daily Total: $78.65

Day 7

7:30am — Run time! I drive to the nearby park and stretch my legs into a 12km run, which almost kills me. A little reminder that I've been slacking the last few days (for obvious reasons though, so it's okay).
8:45am — My car has been running on literal fumes the past few days but I've been putting off filling it up until the last moment because fuel prices are trash-fire at the moment. I finally relent and fill her up — I actually manage to stop the fuel gauge on $50.00 exactly and I decide to call it a win for the week. $50
10:30am — Gosh, my life seems boring — but, same as the days before, I plug into my laptop to work on some freelance stuff and generally scroll the internet for ideas. 
12:00pm — I check my account and $300 for rent has already been transferred out. I have it set up on automatic transfer because I'm the type of person who gets midway through a day and remembers she hasn't taken her (very important) anti-depressant and contraceptive medication... for like, three days. I cannot be relied on to remember things by myself.
2:45pm — I need a little retail therapy after the past week, so I find myself on Depop scrolling through jumpers (because after all, the one I just bought never made it to me so I need a replacement!). I find a vintage Ripcurl jumper for $20, with $10 shipping and hit that purchase button. Now to wait patiently for it to ship because I swear Depop sellers take forever to send things. $30
5:30pm — Another day, another afternoon walk with a podcast for company. Tomorrow I go back to work for the first time in three weeks and I am dreading a) leaving my cat alone given the recent news, and b) just returning to that place in general. But at least it'll be busy and my mind will be preoccupied.
6:30pm — I have chicken, rice and vegetables for dinner and start the documentary on Warren Jeffes and the FLDS cult. You know, to go with my favourite theme of crime docos.
9:30pm — My cat and I head to bed. I have to be up at 5am to squeeze in my run before a 7am start at work. It's been an emotional rollercoaster of a week and I'm ready to put it behind me. I fall asleep pretty quickly. 
Daily Total: $80

Anything else you'd like to add or flag?

I started this Money Diary not realising how awful the week would turn out, but I continued because it helped as a distraction. Plus, it was a lesson in the unexpected things that life might spring on you. Some of them are wonderful, yes, but some of them knock you down, hard. I’m lucky that I have savings so forking out for the X-rays and blood tests didn’t add to an already stressful and emotional period.
Money Diaries are meant to reflect an individual's experience and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behaviour.
For many of us, money can be a major source of stress. But it doesn’t have to be. Become more confident with our beginner's guide to managing your money.

Do you have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Submit it here.

More from Work & Money