Money Diaries

A Week In Malvern, Melbourne As An Advisory Manager On A $102,000 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? Here's how.
Today: an advisory manager who makes $102,000 spends some of her money this week on an SNS manicure.
Occupation: Advisory Manager
Industry: Professional Services
Age: 27
Location: Malvern, Melbourne
My Salary: $102,000
Net Worth: $640,000 (An apartment valued at $515,000, $31,000 in super, $90,000 of savings in my mortgage offset account, and $4,000 in shares). My partner and I have lived together for three years and have a separate joint account together. We contribute a percentage of our salary every pay cycle (mine is $338 per fortnight) and use it to pay for bills, groceries and date nights. The apartment is in my name, so I take full ownership of the mortgage repayments and anything to do with the place. He pays me $150 per week in rent (which is a bargain!).
Debt: $382,000 remaining on my mortgage. I also have two credit cards that I use to get frequent flyer points, but I pay them off every month and have never accrued any interest on repayments.
My Paycheque Amount (Monthly): $6,345
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses

Mortgage: $1,400. I own my apartment and live in it with my partner. It’s a cozy apartment with two bedrooms (we use one as a study), one bathroom and a massive balcony. I can also confirm that I have A LOT of plants, so the place is very green. We also have a car stacker in the car park, which is as scary to use as it sounds. 
Body Corporate: $350. This also covers my home insurance.
Utilities: $100
Car Costs: $140
Netflix: $10.99
Spotify: $9.99
Leftover Money: At the end of the month, my leftover money goes into my offset account.

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

Yes. I went to Monash University and got a Bachelor of Accounting and Finance degree. I wasn’t eligible to get a HECS loan, so I had to pay all my fees upfront. My parents offered to pay, but I wanted to be independent and work full-time to pay for each semester upfront. I worked in hospitality which meant I worked mainly on weekends — which actually allowed me to save more as it limited my spending. I think by paying for my university and seeing all that money come out, I really tried to make the most of my studies and my experience.

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

My parents didn't talk about money when we were younger. We were always told it was ‘adult business’. We never struggled, but I grew up seeing my parents always being conscious of money and their spending. Although they never went into detail about their money, they definitely taught me the importance of saving and ensuring that you had a rainy day fund.

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

My first job was at one of those cafes in Bunnings when I was 16. I got the job so I could have spending money for myself. I ended up saving a lot of the money and used it to buy my first phone (a slide phone!) and to go out with my friends.

Did you worry about money growing up?

No, not really. My parents were always comfortable and as a child, I felt like I had access to everything I needed. My parents let me try multiple hobbies throughout my childhood and we used to go on holidays together. By watching them and their life, I wanted to show them that I could also do that on my own and that they didn't need to worry about me.

Do you worry about money now?

Not as much anymore. I have a higher salary which has given me a bit more disposable income. I have always felt like I had enough income to cover my expenses, but I've also been aware of how much I’ve been saving and if it’s enough. I purchased an apartment a few years back which meant that my savings took a big hit, but I’ve pooled away enough money now to feel comfortable in case anything happens.

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

I started to try paying for more things myself after I got my first job at 16. That increased a lot more as I started paying for my own university fees, although I was still living at home at the time. When I was 22, after my first year of full-time work, I moved out of home. I was entirely responsible for myself from that moment onwards. 
I’ve always tried to have some savings in case anything happened and even though it’s not a formal financial safety net, if anything horrible ever happened, I know my parents would definitely support me.

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


Day 1

6:00am — I wake up to go to my gym class. I’ve just started a free trial week at a gym in my area after a three-year break (I blame Covid). At least I’ve gotten back into it. It’s super close to my house so I jump into my workout gear and walk on over. 
7:00am — Back home. I have physically died. 
7:05am — I’m alive now. Barely. I'm definitely going to feel the effects of this workout tomorrow, but it does feel good to be exercising. I make my go-to daily smoothie of frozen mangos, half a banana, a handful of spinach, some yoghurt and milk with my Nutribullet. This was a lockdown purchase but well worth it as it’s made me have some sort of breakfast every day. I get ready to head off to work. I work in the city so I take the train in with my Myki card — $4.60.
8:30am — Arrive at work and get settled for the day. Mondays are definitely the worst and today is no different. I’ve got back-to-back meetings until 11am, so I head out with some colleagues to get coffee ($5). It's a bit of a mouthful to say "Let’s get a soy chai latte", so I always just say I’m heading out to get coffee. I settle myself into work and wonder what kind of person thinks it’s a good idea to have meetings on a Monday. $5
1:00pm — I come up for air after a full morning. I packed leftovers last night for lunch, so I heat them up in the kitchen and hang out with a couple of people in the office. Our office still has flexible working so people can choose to either work from home or the office. It’s definitely a lot emptier on Mondays, but there are usually a few people here. 
1:30pm — Back to work — more meetings. As part of my job, I manage a bunch of different projects with different clients and teams. I’ve currently got three projects going on, so a lot of my day is catching up with everyone and making sure they’re on track. I also need to be very available in case anyone has questions. I tend to be the first point of contact for my clients, so I get a lot of phone calls throughout the day. Although I love taking calls and chatting to people, sometimes it gets to the point where I have nothing to show for the day because I’m just chatting to everyone!
6:30pm — It's a bit late, but I'm still in the office today as I have an interview. I’ve been trying to get an internal transfer from my firm to the London office and I’m in the final stages now. It’s been a bit of a process, so I’m really nervous about this interview.
7:45pm — Finish the interview and start heading home. Taking the tram back as the train doesn’t come as often now, plus the tram drops me off right outside my place, which I prefer when I'm coming home late at night ($4.60). Not trying to jinx anything, but I feel like the interview went really well. I got along with them and we had a pretty casual conversation about career goals and plans. I definitely like this style of interview more than formal questions. $4.60
8:30pm — Back home now. My partner made some creamy prawn pasta for dinner (my fave) so I grab some, heat up some garlic bread and we watch a movie on Netflix before heading to bed.
Daily Total: $14.20

Day 2

7:00am — I get up and make my morning smoothie. It sounds like such a simple process but I'm in so much pain from yesterday’s gym session. Hopefully my muscles loosen up during the day — I have no idea how people do this on a regular basis. I tend to get really distracted working from home — Netflix, Instagram, the usual suspects, so I try to go into the office as much as I can. I head to work on the train — $4.60.
9:30am — I get my morning ‘coffee’ and decide to treat myself to a muffin as well ($11). I feel like I deserve it. I head back and get stuck into work. I’ve got fewer meetings today so I feel more productive as I have something to show for my time. $11
12:30pm — Grab the pasta I packed from last night's dinner. I try to always pack lunch as I realised a while back how much buying lunch adds up. 
5:00pm — I finish up work and head to the lobby where I’m meeting a few people from work to represent the firm at a function. It’s weird being back in the office and having functions again. We walk to where it's being held — Melbourne Town Hall — and chat about how it seems like things are almost back to normal. We head in and are pleased to see it’s an open bar with canapés floating around. We’re starved, so we find out where the servers are appearing from with the food and perch ourselves by the entrance. It’s an event for a not-for-profit organisation that we engage with. They have some speakers who talk about their experiences. It’s chilling and really makes you think about how unjust the world can really be. It’s not often that I think about and reflect on how lucky I am for my childhood and my experiences. I’m convinced and set up a recurring monthly donation of $50, with the first payment being made today. $50
8:30pm — The formalities have all finished so we head off. Is it just me or is it impossible to get an Uber these days? I flag down a taxi to take me home ($28.50). I never know if the light on or off means that they’re available, so I just wave to every single taxi I see. This is probably a quick Google, but I can’t be bothered checking. $28.50
9:00pm — I get ready for bed and scroll through The Iconic, adding things to my wishlist before eventually falling asleep.
Daily Total: $94.10

Day 3

6:00am — My alarm goes off for the gym. I promptly turn it off and fall back asleep. 
8:15am — I wake up again and realise that I’ve slept in. I rush to get ready for work, managing to get out of the door in half an hour to make the train ($4.60). I really should have a backup alarm if I fall asleep, but I like to live life on the edge. My work’s pretty flexible in getting in whenever, as long as you complete the work you’re meant to do, so I don’t need to tell anyone that I’m running late. $4.60
12:30pm — I didn’t pack anything for lunch because I was out last night, so I head out to grab some sushi ($11.70). I go for a walk after lunch with a few work colleagues and grab a kombucha on the way back ($5). $16.70
1:30pm — Back to work — lots of meetings again. I have some more team catch-ups, followed by a catch-up with one of our global teams to chat about the progress of one of our projects that is being implemented in a few countries. It’s pretty cool to think that the work that I’m doing is going to be rolled out on such a large scale. I take a moment to step back and appreciate the impact of my work. When I was growing up, I don't think I ever dreamed of being an advisory manager, but I've really grown to love my work and what I do.
6:00pm — I head out to grab dinner with my friend. She used to work in the same company as me, but left a couple of months ago. We worked together for over three years so we got pretty close and have managed to keep in touch. We didn’t bother making a booking considering it’s a Wednesday, so we walk around the city until we find something we like, settling on a casual wine bar. We grab some snacks and a bottle of pinot noir, and start chatting away. I’ve been getting into wine recently. It definitely seems like one of those things that you grow to like as you get older. I probably wouldn't have pictured myself sitting here and drinking wine a year ago!
7:30pm — We grab a few G&Ts and carry on chatting. We contemplate moving to another bar, but decide that we're too comfortable here, grabbing a few more nibbles to share.
10:00pm — We split the bill ($103) and head our separate ways. I decide that it’s late and I'm not completely sober, so I get a cab home ($31). $134
10:30pm — I get back home and am an absolute nuisance to my partner (yes, I’m an annoying drunk) while I try to get ready for bed. He gets me a glass of water and makes me scull it before bed. I fall asleep pretty much straight away.
Daily Total: $155.30

Day 4

7:45am — I can already tell that today is going to be hard. My partner set aside a glass of water for me last night, so I drink it in bed and then get moving. I make my breakfast and hope that a healthy smoothie in the morning makes up for the fact that I have only been to the gym once during this trial. I catch the train and get to work — $4.60.
8:30am — I skip on my morning 'coffee' today and get straight into work. Our work gets busy at certain periods of the year and although we’re not quite there yet, I can feel it ramping up. It almost feels like the calm before the storm. 
10:00am — Our work is doing free flu vaccinations in the office. I booked one in last week for today, so I pop over to the makeshift clinic. It’s a pretty quick and painless process. I’m okay with needles as long as I don’t look, so I distract myself by looking out of the window. I scroll through some cheap flights on Jetstar and dream about booking a trip while waiting for the nurse to give me the okay to leave. I end up not buying anything, but make a mental note to look at it again.  
12:15pm — I head out to buy some lunch. I wander around for a bit and end up getting a burrito ($12.40). I take it back to my desk and eat it while I work. $12.40
5:30pm — I take the train back home ($4.60). My arm isn’t as sore as I thought it would be, so I get ready to head to the gym for a 6:30pm class. It’s tough, but I make it out alive! I meet my partner at the supermarket to grab some groceries. I personally LOVE browsing the supermarket, but my partner does not. So we compromise... and browse around the supermarket. We buy some pork, a whole chook, frozen prawns, fruits, vegetables, frozen mangos and some toiletries that were on sale. We pay for it with our joint account ($43 for my half) and walk home. $47.60
8:00pm — It’s a bit late, but my partner and I start making dinner with our groceries. I make some tonkatsu and cabbage salad to go with it. I enjoy cooking but feel like I never have time for it, so I like to try different recipes whenever I get the chance. This is definitely a winner and relatively easy to make, so it gets a thumbs up from both of us. My partner does the dishes and we sit down to watch some Netflix afterwards. Don’t judge me, but I love a good reality TV show. We've just gotten into Too Hot Too Handle. Yes, we’re a bit late to the game. Yes, it is as bad as it sounds. But do we love it? YES! We promise not to watch any more episodes without each other.
10:30pm — We get ready for bed and I lie in bed scrolling through The Iconic again, adding a few more things to my wishlist. I’m one of those people who just keeps adding to their wishlist but never pulls the trigger to buy. Will I buy everything on my wishlist one day? Maybe. Who knows? I put my phone down and fall asleep pretty quickly.
Daily Total: $64.60

Day 5

7:00am — I wake up and make my smoothie with the frozen mangoes we bought yesterday. I immediately jump right back into bed to drink it. It’s starting to finally feel like winter and I’m going to have to find an alternative to my smoothie routine. My partner grunts at me to indicate his displeasure at me moving around in bed, so I get up and get ready for work. I'm feeling a bit lazy today but unfortunately make the choice to wear some cute heels that are definitely not comfortable. As a result, I get the tram that comes right outside my house ($4.60). The train is definitely faster, but it’s a 10-minute walk to the station (and 15 minutes in these heels!). $4.60
9:30am — I grab a 'coffee' with my work colleagues ($5) and get back into my meetings. $5
12:00pm — We always try to head out for lunch on Fridays. We try to leave a little earlier as everyone in the city lunches on a Friday. We end up at Grill'd which is a local favourite. I order a Simon Says chicken burger and add on some snack chips for free with some dipping sauce that I got through their loyalty program. $16.90
1:00pm — I settle back into work and the afternoon rushes by. I feel like Friday afternoons are a hit or miss. Some fly by and sometimes it feels like it never ends. 
5:00pm — We leave work and walk over the road to our usual watering hole for some drinks. It’s the go-to for most people in my building — largely due to the great happy hour they run. I grab a round of drinks ($28) and we sit down and start chatting. I’m not staying for long today as I feel like I've been out and about heaps this week. Plus, my partner and I have made plans to have a taco night! $28
6:30pm — I head home on the tram ($4.60), taking my shoes off as soon as I get in the door. My partner isn't home yet, so I start prepping the tacos. We’re having prawn tacos using the ingredients we bought from the supermarket the other day. My partner rocks up right as I’ve finished all the prep and we make an executive decision to eat it on the couch while watching a bit of Netflix. We put on The Office (the US version, obviously) — a tried and tested favourite — and binge a few episodes. Since I made dinner, my partner cleans up. Then we watch a movie. We put on Molly’s Game which has been on 'the list' for a while. You know the one — the list that you refer to whenever you tell someone you'll watch their movie recommendation (but never do). $4.60
11:00pm — I get woken up. I’ve fallen asleep and managed to miss half the movie! I get ready for bed but feel oddly awake now, so I commence my age-old routine of scrolling through The Iconic. I thought it would put me to sleep, but it doesn't work, so I pop on some mindfulness through an app on my phone which works its magic. 
Daily Total: $59.10

Day 6

9:30am — It’s the weekend so I don’t set an alarm, letting myself wake up naturally. I laze around in bed scrolling through Instagram. I’ve convinced myself I can still make the morning gym class, so I quickly head on out. It’s a Pilates class so I’m hoping it’s a little easier.  
11:30am — I come back home. Can confirm the class was definitely not easier. I wake my partner up to make some breakfast together. It’s an odd combo but hear me out — toasted bread, a layer of cream cheese, eggs sunny side up, and a big dollop of hollandaise sauce. *chefs kiss* We make some tea to go with it and scoff it up. 
12:30am — My nails have grown out, so I head to my local nail salon to get them done. I get SNS nails done every four weeks because it helps keep my nails longer. SNS is hard to get off so they soak it off with acetone. I spend ages trying to choose a colour and settle on a deep red that feels a bit wintery. The whole process usually takes 40 minutes, so I listen to a podcast as my nails are getting done. I feel like nails are a bit of a splurge, but I justify it by thinking that the cost is spread out over the four weeks, so technically I’m only paying $15 a week for this cost. As great as this logic is, it doesn’t change the fact that I pay for this on my credit card. $60
2:00pm — I video call my parents who live interstate and check how they’re going. They’re currently building a house, so they show me all their progress pictures. We chat for a bit and I promise to book a flight to visit when I can take some leave from work.
3:00pm — It’s sunny outside today, so I take all my plants out onto the balcony to water them. I bottom water them, which means I get a massive bucket, fill it with water and then put my plant in the bucket. The roots then suck up the water, only taking in what they need to. It’s a bit of a long process, but it keeps the little gnats away as the top of the soil stays dry. I water all 14 (!) of my plant babies and let them drain outside before bringing them back in. I’ve really gotten into plants during lockdown — I have a few that I’ve propagated and repotted a few times. It’s exciting to see them unfurl their new leaves!
4:30pm — My partner and I go to get some pizza and garlic bread, paying on our joint card ($11.50 for my half). Then, we head over to St Kilda Beach to watch the sunset. The sunset is actually really nice and it’s cute to have these little dates. We walk around the beach and jump back into the car when it gets too cold. $11.50
9:00pm — We grab a couple of Golden Gaytimes out of the freezer and sit down to watch some Netflix. I predict that I’m going to fall asleep, so I let my partner pick what we watch. As expected, it’s a war movie — Danger Close. I’m pretty sure I don’t even get halfway through the movie before I fall asleep. I get ready for bed and relocate to the bedroom while my partner finishes the movie. As I leave, he tells me it’s really good — sure, I'll take his word for it. He enjoys anything with a bit of war and action (and, IMO, minimal storylines), so I take it with a grain of salt.  
Daily Total: $71.50

Day 7

7:00am — I wake up early and relocate to the living room so my partner can have a bit of a sleep-in. I make myself a cup of tea and settle in for some life admin. My fixed rates are expiring soon, so I’ve been doing a bit of research on what I should do. When I first got my home loan, I had a 1-year fixed rate, a 3-year fixed rate and a variable loan that had an offset account. I send off an email to my current bank asking if they can offer anything to retain me. I also have a look at what the other banks are offering. A few people have told me that you can usually get a better deal by moving banks, but it definitely seems like a process.
10:00am — My partner wakes up and we make some breakfast together — avocado on toast with feta and another cup of tea. 
11:00am — Sundays are our cleaning days, so we get started on our chores. We have our allocation of cleaning tasks so we get stuck into our routine. I clean the kitchen and do the vacuuming, and he does the bathroom and mopping. We also just pick up all the random stuff that has just been spread out during the week and do a general dust. It’s a bit rainy outside today, so we decide to put off the washing until tomorrow. 
12:00pm — My partner heads out to watch the UFC with some mates at the pub. I decide to stay in and do a clean-out of my wardrobe. I’ve got too many clothes that I don’t wear and don’t fit into anymore, so I’ve decided to donate some to the op shop. I swear this is always a much more painful process than it needs to be. I try on every piece of clothing before confirming that I want to donate it, inevitably keeping some pieces that will remain in my wardrobe for another six months before I decide to do another cull. I end up with two bags and walk over to the closest op shop to donate them.
4:30pm — I pick my partner up from the pub and we head to the supermarket on the way home to pick up some eggs ($4.50 for my half). We’re also running low on petrol, so I also fuel up on the way home ($28 for my half). We have one car that we share, so we put all the costs for it on our joint account. Petrol prices have gone crazy! Good thing we don’t use the car as much anymore — we mostly use it over the weekend and for any trips that we take. $32.50
6:00pm — We take out a chook to make a roast. I have this recipe I live by, which combines butter, garlic and herbs. You then slather this underneath the skin. I know it sounds gross, but it makes the skin super crispy and delicious. We throw some potatoes, carrots and sweet potatoes with the chicken and wait for it to cook. I can confirm that the skin came out perfectly crispy as expected! We end up having heaps left over, which will go straight to next week's lunches.
8:30pm — I watch some Netflix while my partner catches up with his family who lives overseas. I only pay half attention, instead spending my energy scrolling through The Iconic. 
10:00pm — I try to get to bed earlier on Sundays so I can feel refreshed for the week. I’m in bed pretty early tonight, but I try to stay off my phone and in doing so, I fall asleep pretty quickly. Take that, wishlist.
Daily Total: $32.50
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