Money Diaries

A Week In Marrickville, Sydney, As A DJ & Media Specialist On $82,500

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.
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Today: a media specialist & DJ who makes $82,500 a year gets a 3am 'early mark' from her DJ gig after everyone at the venue suddenly goes home (classic Sydney).
Editor's Note: This diary was written in January 2023.
Occupation: Media and Communications Specialist / DJ
Industry: Arts
Age: 26
Location: Marrickville, Sydney (Gadigal Country, Eora nation)
Salary: $82,500
Net Worth: $10,069 (I have $9,000 in my personal savings account at the moment and $31,000 in my superannuation. I’ve also recently started using Raiz to invest in ETFs, so I have about $700 invested there. I also moonlight as a DJ with my bestie, so we have a business account which we both take 50% of — we currently have about $4,000 each in there.)
Debt: $34,631 in HECS debt. I never check it so it feels fake to me. Otherwise, nothing — I paid off my car loan last year (yay!).
Paycheque Amount (Weekly): $1,144.20
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses

Rent: $1,484.17. I rent a two-bedroom house with my partner and we split rent 50/50 because our incomes are basically the same.
Streaming: $37.99. I pay for Spotify, Stan and Binge, and my partner pays for Netflix, Amazon Prime and his own Spotify (remind me to sort out a family account for us). We love consuming media! 
Coles Plus: $19. I pay a monthly fee to get our groceries delivered right to our door. It’s a luxury, but we both loathe in-person grocery shopping with every fibre of our being (if you know Marrickville Metro, you know). It works out to just a few extra dollars per weekly shop, so it's worth every penny. 
Private Health Insurance: $54.73
Gym: $69.12 usually. During this particular week, it turned into $125.45 per month (you’ll see).
Mobile Phone: $80
Internet: $70 (split 50/50 with my partner, so $35 each) 
Utilities: Usually around $200 per quarter (~$67 per month).
FBi Radio Supporter Membership: $10
Savings Contributions: I’m pretty rigid with trying to save at least $250 per week, but sometimes this comes down to $150 or $200 if I have extra expenses pop up. I also have an automatic weekly contribution to Raiz set up ($22.75) and have ‘round ups’ turned on, which means that all my purchases are rounded up to the nearest dollar and the difference is invested into my Raiz account once per month. This usually comes out to around $45 to $50. I also salary sacrifice $10 per week into my superannuation.

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

I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Media, which I paid for through HECS/HELP. I started with another degree and messed around for a while, so my debt is certainly higher than it should be. I also lived in a residential college for the first three years of my degree (yeah, ew, I know) which was mostly funded by a scholarship. The rest of the fees came from Centrelink Youth Allowance and my dad. I worked as a dance teacher and a few other odd jobs throughout uni to fund my lifestyle.

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

I don’t remember discussing finances much with my parents until I started working. My mum’s main campaign is the importance of superannuation for young women — she made sure that I got into a good super fund and that I make voluntary contributions regularly, even if they are small. As an adult, I regularly turn to both of my parents for financial guidance. My dad believes in serviceable loans to build up a good credit score, and thanks to my now paid-off car loan, I have an excellent credit score.

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

I worked at a bakery when I was 17 as soon as I finished high school. I got it because my mum was always really clear that she’d stop bankrolling everything (except my car insurance and my health insurance) the moment I finished my last exam. It was deadly boring, but I could eat as many croissants as I wanted.

Did you worry about money growing up?

I grew up pretty comfortably middle class and I don’t remember wanting for much as a child. I always knew that I wouldn’t have received my private education without the scholarship I was awarded. As I’ve gotten older, my mum has shared more with me about just how tight things were for her during my teenage years after my parents separated. My mum is excellent with managing money though, so she hid all of that from us at the time.

Do you worry about money now?

Nowhere near as much as I used to. My previous full-time job, which I only left at the end of 2021, BARELY paid me minimum wage, so I’m extremely grateful to be earning what I do now. This last year is the first time I’ve felt financially stable in my adult life, so it’s been a learning curve. Earning very little, I had to learn how to prioritise what I was and wasn’t interested in spending money on, and those values are pretty immovable to this day, sometimes to my own detriment (experiences > things, every time). I don’t have a hard time saving for a holiday or blowing cash on drinks with friends, but will deliberate for weeks over new gym shoes.
I know I could be sacrificing more to achieve financial freedom, but for now, I’m pretty happy with the balance I’ve struck between prioritising my finances and my enjoyment (we’re literally all going to die so let me have my daily iced long black!).

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

I’ve gradually become more financially responsible since graduating high school, and I'm super lucky that my parents continued making contributions to things like my car insurance and my health insurance as I found my feet.
As of 2020, I became completely financially independent. Aside from what’s in my savings, I don’t have much of a safety net, but I know that if everything well and truly hits the fan, I’d have the support of my partner and my family. I don’t want to have to touch my super unless I absolutely have no other option.

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

I have inherited about $20,000 total over the last few years from deceased grandparents. $10,000 went straight into my superannuation, and I used the rest to stay alive during uni/periods of underemployment, so it’s all gone now!

Day 1

5:15am — Alarm goes off. Sucks momentarily, but I’ve battled with building an exercise routine for so long and unfortunately, what they say about endorphins is correct.  
6:00am — Reformer Pilates class. I’m a bit over my usual gym routine so I went looking for something different and have now gone full Pilates princess mode. I'm doing a two-week trial at a new studio, so it’s free!
6:55am — Cop an iced long black from the Greek cafe next to the Pilates studio. My bestie is Greek and I’m therefore Greek-adjacent, so I feel very much at home here. Plus, the coffee slaps. $6
7:10am — Home, shower, get ready for work, avocado and tomato on toast for brekkie.
7:45am — Drive to work and I see that pesky fuel light. I’m one of those people that sees the fuel light merely as a suggestion, especially since petrol is such a rort right now. 
8:30am — Working my life away! Wish I could just stop and go on a cruise.
11:00am — Banana bread break. My bestie made it and gave some to me. Love Greek hospitality.
12:15pm — Lunch! I don’t face temptation from a wealth of lunch options near my office, so I’m pretty good about bringing my lunch with me to work. Today it’s a leftover chicken and soba noodle salad with edamame, cucumber, celery, nuts and a mint-lime-miso dressing situation that we made a couple of nights ago.
1:30pm — See that Stan has deducted the monthly fee from my account. I’m legitimately paying $16 per month (covered in my monthly expenses) just to watch RuPaul’s Drag Race.
3:30pm — I have an external meeting that I have to drive to, so I can't get away without petrol any longer. Not splurging on a full tank today, though. $50.37
4:30pm — Home time! Speeding (not literally) home to get to the library to pick up all my reserves before it closes. I love reading and can’t justify buying books at the rate I finish them, so the library near my house is a gift.
5:30pm — I give the house a quick tidy and get ready because I’m having some girlies over for pres before we go see Kehlani tonight. 
7:05pm — My pay comes through so I do some quick admin. I transfer my rent for the week ($342.50, covered in my monthly expenses) into another account which will be direct debited later in the week. Then I put $280 in my savings and pay an outstanding toll notice ($28.84). $28.84
7:30pm — Friends arrive. I make a few vodka lime sodas using ingredients I already have. We’re all ravenous, so we Uber Eats some Guzman burrito bowls. $19
8:45pm — We take an Uber to the show and split it three ways. $7.30
9:10pm — One vodka Red Bull at ludicrous gig venue prices. $14
10:30pm — Show’s over. This is my second time seeing Kehlani and she’s insanely good live. Her stage presence and vocals are unreal! We take another Uber home (split three ways) at surge prices (fml). $19.70
11:30pm — In bed, scroll TikTok, fall asleep.
Daily Total: $145.21

Day 2

8:00am — Bit of a sleep-in this morning before I head off to the rally for Invasion Day. I have a protein bar for a quick breakfast.
9:20am — Train into the city — the pre-authorisation is $1 but the actual amount will be taken out of my account later in the week. $1
9:45am — Arrive at Belmore Park and meet up with a few friends. The speeches we hear about Indigenous deaths in custody, the destruction of sacred lands and false promises from the government are as enraging as ever. I can’t understate the value of people showing up and demanding justice. 
12:00pm — My bestie and I get the light rail ($1) to go grab some coffee and lunch at a café nearby. We meet up with a new friend of ours who works in music and we discuss some exciting future plans for our DJ duo. I have an iced long black and an insanely good vegetarian sandwich ($25.62). $25.62
1:30pm — It’s 35 degrees so my bestie and I stop in for fro-yo on our way back to the train station. After going buck wild with adding cookie dough, I’m reminded of how expensive frozen yoghurt is. $12.04
2:00pm — Train back home. $1
3:00pm — My only other Invasion Day plans are soaking up my aircon, watching Netflix, reflecting and keeping to myself.
3:30pm — I receive a surprise $100 refund from switching health insurance policies last week. I donate it to Pay The Rent, a Naarm-based grassroots organisation that distributes mutual aid to various First Nations organisations and communities. My friend and I also donate $200 from our DJing business account (split two ways) to Black Rainbow, an organisation that works for positive health and wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTIA+SB (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, Asexual, Sistergirl and Brotherboy) people. $200
5:30pm — I'm getting a bit peckish, but I'm not quite ready to commit to a whole meal, so I settle for a slice of buttered toast.
7:15pm — Throw together one of my go-to lazy meals — frozen dumplings and steamed pak choi with oyster sauce.
9:30pm — After bingeing Keep Sweet, Pray and Obey on Netflix (big yikes), I do the dishes, do a couple of loads of laundry, and wind down with a quick Yoga with Adriene practice. Then it’s straight to bed to read, watch a few TikToks, then lights out by 11pm.
Daily Total: $240.66

Day 3

5:15am — Ugh, I should have gone to sleep earlier. I'm on the struggle bus to get up for Pilates this morning but I know I’ll feel heaps better for it. 
6:00am — Pilates time. I'm still on my free trial so I don't pay anything.
6:50am — I hit a post-Pilates iced long black from the Greek cafe. $6
7:45am — Get ready for work. I take a bit too leisurely of a pace when I'm doing my hair this morning, so I have to skip breakfast. I’ll have to get something from the cafe at work. 
8:30am — Ease into a (hopefully) quiet Friday at work. 
9:30am — Yeah, it’s not that quiet. I can also feel my PMDD symptoms rearing their ugly head, so I’m feeling quite irritable and overwhelmed. I take a break and dash down to the cafe for a piece of banana bread (I'm eating an abnormal amount of banana bread this week). $5
12:30pm — Lunch. Today it’s leftover pasta with homemade pesto sauce and sundried tomatoes that I’m absolutely pushing the limit on in terms of ‘still safe to eat’-ness. I’m quite rigid about my work boundaries so I always take my whole lunch break, and sit and read at my desk for an hour with my AirPods in. I finish my book — it sucked, actually!
3:00pm — I need to head out to pick up some printing and realise I haven’t eaten enough food today, so I quickly buy a protein bar from 7/11 ($5.70). I need to make a conscious effort to eat more plants this weekend. $5.70
4:00pm — Slog away for the afternoon and feel my PMDD rage rising. PMDD sucks absolute ass and my heart goes out to anyone else who is at war with their menstrual cycle.
4:30pm — Home time. I am the world’s biggest extrovert so the best thing I can do for myself when I’m feeling off is to get out of the house and find my friends. I drive home, drop off my stuff, quickly freshen up, and then head back out the door to get on the train. $1
5:30pm — One of my friends at my old workplace is finishing up today after six years! A bunch of us are meeting up at The Alex in Alexandria. I’m really lucky that these relationships are still so strong because I really cherish all of these people. 
8:00pm — We’re eating burgers, ordering jugs and being merry! I end up buying a haloumi burger for myself and two jugs to share ($49.10). These people are absolute icons. $49.10 
12:30am — Proud of myself because even though it's absolutely bucketing outside and I didn’t bring an umbrella, I resist the urge to get an Uber home. I walk up to Redfern and get on the train. $1 
1:00am — I’m hungry so I get a packet of Grain Waves from the servo near my house ($6) and pat myself on the back for not ordering a whole Oporto meal on Uber Eats. Feeling very chuffed with myself tonight. $6
1:30am — Flop into bed.
Daily Total: $73.80

Day 4

10:30am — After struggling to get my eyes open for a couple of hours, I get up. Guess I needed a big old sleep-in. I didn’t drink enough to be hungover this morning which is a big win.
11:30am — I meet my dad for brunch at a cafe near both of our places. We meet up for meals and drinks pretty regularly, which is a nice perk of living so close to each other. He always pays too — what a king! I have smashed avo on toast with heirloom tomatoes, beetroot hummus and feta (delish) and an iced long black.
12:30pm — My dad is also an excellent cook and often makes meals to share with us. He gifts me a tray of vegetarian chilli which I'll probably make into nachos. Stoked to not have to cook this weekend.
12:50pm — I return home and check my bank statements. I see that my gym fees were debited yesterday for the fortnight ($31.90, covered in my monthly expenses). My Raiz weekly contribution and monthly round-ups also come out — $64.90. I’m not great at accounting for fortnightly and monthly costs because I get paid weekly, so it means I’m down on a bit of fun money for the rest of the weekend. I half-heartedly resolve to go to the gym this weekend so that I feel like it’s worth paying for.
1:00pm — It’s Hottest 100 day and I'd vaguely committed to going to an event with a friend this afternoon, but it’s insanely hot and I’m on the fence. I plan on sitting on my couch, reading and watching TV until she messages me. Sometimes I need to put my spendy extrovert ass on house arrest for a few hours. 
1:15pm — Scratch that, bestie just invited me to go to the beach with her and her sister. At least it’s a free activity.
3:30pm — Bestie and her sister come pick me up with their dog in tow. We snag an amazing park at Clovelly, have a gorgeous swim, scorch on the concrete and hear glimpses of the Hottest 100 on other people’s speakers. I also start one of my library books (1000 Coils of Fear by Olivia Wenzel) and it’s so good.
5:30pm — We have to DJ tonight so we make tracks via Dan Murphy’s and Woolies. We split the cost of some snacks and some drinks, including El Toro Palomas (they're our latest discovery and they're phenomenal). $34 
6:00pm — Bestie and her sis drop me off at home. I have a cold shower, eat some blueberries and hummus with crackers, then lay down to try and nap as our set tonight won't finish till 4am.
8:30pm — I accept that I won’t be able to nap, but lying down for a couple of hours still helps. I get up, do my hair and makeup, and use some of my dad’s chilli to make nachos for dinner while I watch RuPaul’s Drag Race (team Sasha Colby, duh).
10:00pm — Bestie comes back over. We have some of the snacks and drinks we bought earlier. We do our duty as white women in our mid-twenties and continue with our re-watch of Girls. We're on the episode where Marnie sings the Kanye West song and it makes us want to crawl into a hole and die.
12:30am — FINALLY time to leave for our gig. We split an Uber two ways. $7.17
12:45am — Run into some cute pals at the gig and grab myself a vodka lime soda ($13). When I see how much it costs, my jaw almost hits the floor. $13
1:30am — We hit the decks. It’s unusually quiet at the venue but people are into it. The event manager gives us a couple of drink tokens, which I use to get two more drinks for us.
2:30am — Literally every man and his dog decides to leave the party within about a 15-minute period. We’ve learned over the years not to take this personally, especially in Sydney where nightlife can be so unpredictable. Plus the event manager says he’s stoked with our set. We mess around on the decks until the staff tell us we can go home. I use our last drink tokens to grab another two drinks and we head to the other (busier) room in the venue.
2:50am — After we finish our drinks and have a quick dance to burn off some of our energy, we graciously accept our early mark and split an Uber home. $9.74
3:10am — I have another quick cold shower because it’s still rancid outside, and crawl straight into bed to pass out by 3:30am.
Daily Total: $63.91

Day 5

10:00am — I thank myself for deliberately setting an alarm for a semi-reasonable time last night. I haven't completely cooked my sleep schedule.
11:30am — After scrolling aimlessly for a while, I finally get up. This always makes me feel guilty momentarily but then I slap that ~#girlboss hustle culture productivity~ rhetoric right outta my brain. I make myself avocado and tomato on toast as a late breakfast.
12:30pm — Hell-bent on keeping the Sunday scaries at bay today, so I take my book and my journal to the cute cafe near my house for some chill time. I like to be around people even if I’m not with people, ya know?
12:35pm — I order an iced long black and sit to journal and read for about 45 minutes. It's one of my favourite things to do. $7.17
1:30pm — I return home and continue reading on the couch. I eat more of the hummus and crackers we bought yesterday and see that Spotify has deducted my monthly fee from my account ($11.99, covered in my monthly expenses).
3:30pm — Bestie comes over again. I swear we’re not completely co-dependent and/or in love. Her house is just really hot and I have air-con.
4:00pm — We snack on some fruit we bought yesterday, watch more Girls and put in a shared ASOS order. We have a lot of DJ gigs coming up for Sydney World Pride so we need some cute outfits. I deliberately choose pieces that will work for DJing and normal life to maximise the cost per wear ($205.23). I genuinely cannot remember the last time I bought clothes, so I’m sweating about it a bit for no real reason. The good thing is that we use money from our business account, then we'll try and claim it on tax (can you tell I know nothing about how tax works?!). $205.23
7:00pm — Bestie goes home and I drive over to another mate’s house to watch the Australian Open men’s final. I’m not a sports girlie but I don’t mind watching sports with friends occasionally (I’ll take any excuse to socialise). Plus Tsitsipas is an Adonis! My friends kindly provide a couple of beers and some Lebanese takeaway for dinner — falafels, lady fingers, roast cauliflower, eggplant, garlic sauce and hummus. Heavenly.
9:45pm — Things aren’t looking great for Tsitsipas and I have Pilates in the morning, so I head home. I potter around for a bit, pack my bags for the morning and I’m tucked in bed by 11pm.
Daily Total: $212.40

Day 6

6:00am — Good morning! I'm able to do a slightly later Pilates class on Mondays as I work from home. I can feel an immediate wash of PMDD frustration come over me (not aided by the news of Djokovic’s victory), so I know I’m going to have to be kind to myself today. 
7:00am — Last Pilates class on my free trial. I feel really strong today and my mood improves almost immediately. Pilates has changed my whole fricken life these past few weeks, so I need to figure out the smartest way to do it long-term without breaking the bank.
8:00am — I drive to one of my favourite cafes, Roastville in Marrickville. A real hidden gem. Changing up my work environment really helps me focus, and we know I need the help today.  
8:30am — I order an iced long black and some sourdough crumpets with nut butter and get stuck into my work. $14
9:00am — I check my bank statements to see that Binge has deducted my monthly fee ($10, covered in my monthly expenses). I long for the days when I was a streaming service freeloader.
10:15am — I work at the cafe until my laptop battery starts to die. This has been the right decision because I got like, four big tasks done. I know it would have been a hard zero at home. 
10:30am — I jet home to keep working. I get an unnerving text from my GP asking me to come in and discuss some results of a recent test. Even though they reiterated that it was not urgent, naturally my first thought is that I’m going to die. I have to be really gentle with my hormone-riddled brain today! 
11:15am — Getting distracted so I take a quick break to bring my laundry inside (my least favourite chore — you might recall it’s been out there for three days). 
12:30pm — Not all that hungry but desperate for my lunch break, so I watch Girls and eat blueberries and Kettle chips.
2:00pm — The day takes an unexpected turn. Bestie, who I’ve clearly spent an inordinate amount of time with this week, has tested positive for Covid. She’s okay thankfully — sick, but not in dire straits. I dash to the chemist and cop a five-pack of RATs. $25
2:15pm — By some miracle, I’m in the clear! For now, anyway. I’ll have to keep an eye on it over the next few days, obvi.
3:30pm — I keep chipping away at my work at home. I'm having an unexpectedly productive day! I do a late lunch moment of a bagel I prepped last week — I used baked eggs with herbs and sundried tomatoes, cheese and homemade pesto. I froze a few of them for when I need an easy meal — I can just whack them in the oven, and add some leafy greens and a condiment of my choosing for a genuinely delicious quick meal.
4:00pm — I was supposed to go to a friend’s place for dinner but they’re down with Covid now too! I was with them on Friday night, so I’m starting to feel like my days are numbered. 
4:30pm — I log off from work and settle in to finish my book. Five stars — so freaking good. I get started on my next one — The Long Answer by Anna Hogeland.
6:30pm — My partner returns home from his big holiday and we spend an hour or so on the couch catching each other up on our weeks. Missed him (ew!). 
7:20pm — We walk to the convenience store at the end of the street to pick up more corn chips to finish the rest of my dad’s nacho chilli for dinner. My partner is kindly paying, so I also sneak in a Freddo Frog.
8:30pm — We eat our nachos while watching an episode of The Last of Us. My partner loves video games and I love apocalypse media, so it’s great to have our interests collide. But this episode (the Bill/Frank episode) shatters our hearts into a million pieces.
9:30pm — I brush my teeth and retreat to bed to keep reading my book. I also do some research on a gym near my house that has a reformer Pilates studio. I’m a stickler for value, and it looks like I can get unlimited classes and gym access for $28.95 per week. That's less than the typical cost of one Pilates class! I submit an enquiry. I watch a few TikToks and I’m asleep by 11pm. 
Daily Total: $39

Day 7

6:30am — I get up, get ready for work and take another precautionary RAT test. I’m still in the clear, which truly is miraculous.
7:30am — I leave early because we’re down to the wire on groceries and I need to drop into a grocery store to sort out lunch. 
8:10am — Whenever I don’t have lunch organised, I buy the $7 ready-made meals from the Woolies near my work. I promise they’re much more appetising than they sound. I have to come into the office an extra day this week for a team-building exercise (blegh) and I know I’m gonna be lazy AF once my period hits, so I stock TF up with three meals, three protein bars, a punnet of strawberries and a punnet of raspberries ($29.50). I also grab an iced long black ($6) from the cafe nearby. $35.50
8:30am — I eat one of my protein bars and get stuck into work.
9:30am — My health insurance payment has come out. I suggest to all my young counterparts to do their research on private health insurance so you don’t end up paying out the ass for something you don’t use, like I was. I just got a new policy so I pay a small admin fee this week — $18.04, covered in my monthly expenses.
1:00pm — I eat my chicken tikka masala and rice from Woolies for lunch. Then I sit and read at my desk, as per usual.
1:30pm — I get a call from the gym that I was researching last night and hear that they’re doing a promotion where the first month is free, but I have to decide today. I make a somewhat rash decision to join. I trust my gut on this — my Pilates obsession is the most I’ve enjoyed movement since I stopped dancing competitively, and I don’t put a price on my health. I suspend my current gym membership and go all in. There are no upfront fees which is fabulous.
4:30pm — Finish up my work and drive home, snacking on my raspberries. Towards the end of the punnet, I spot tiny specks of mould in one raspberry. I wonder how much more mould I just consumed and decide that what I don’t know can’t hurt me.
5:15pm — Come home and get ready for my last netball game of the season. I got roped into this social league back in October. I’ve had fun but I’m keenly aware that all I bring to the table is the occasional gag. 
6:00pm — My partner and I make an early dinner of crumbed chicken, frozen chips and a massive rainbow salad. A successful fridge clean-out meal. We eat it while I make him watch Married at First Sight, which is the best show on TV, unfortunately.
7:15pm — Arrive at my netball game and pay for parking. $3.50
7:30pm — After 15 minutes of waiting, we accept our fate — the other team is a no-show! This is not the high note I wanted to end my netball career on. 
7:45pm — Arrive home and put my pyjamas on straight away. I really lean into the no-netball thing and crawl straight into bed to read and watch TikToks. 
11:30pm — I’m battling with some pre-period period pain so I’m struggling a bit, but finally manage to pass out around 11:45pm. 
Daily Total: $39
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