Money Diaries

A Week In Perth, Western Australia, As A Comms Advisor On $95,000

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 communications advisor who makes $95,000 a year and spends some of her money this week on a Red Bull to give her a boost of energy before a rugby game.
Occupation: Communications Advisor
Industry: Sports Entertainment
Age: 34
Location: Perth, Western Australia
Salary: $95,000
Net Worth: $127,000 ($30,000 in shares, $8,000 in savings, an apartment that was recently revalued at $360,000, $84,000 in super, and $12,000 in equity in my mortgage.)
Debt: $227,000 (a $220,000 mortgage and a $7,000 HECS debt which should be paid off by the end of the year.)
Paycheque Amount (Fortnightly): $2,603
Pronouns: She/Her
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Monthly Expenses

Mortgage: $1,066. I live by myself so everything is down to me. This year, I renovated my little apartment so I had to up the amount it was insured for. I pay my mortgage fortnightly to decrease my interest but I also top up my equity. I have always been told to pay a little extra into these accounts for the moment things go sideways. With the interest rate rises coming thick and fast, I’m glad I made this choice early.
Home Insurance: $357 (yearly)
Strata: $610 per quarter
Gym: $95. This is for a boutique gym and a private running coach.
Binge: $16
Netflix: $16
Health Insurance: $105
Phone: $49

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

I have a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications. By the end of this year, I will officially be HECS-free! Woohoo!

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

Yup. My biggest lesson was that if you can't afford to pay for it up front, you can't get it. My parents also went through a lot of hard times and taught me to budget for when things go wrong, as this can save you a lot of stress. I learned this during Covid and I'm forever grateful that I took their advice.

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

At a very dodgy cafe when I was 16. They paid me cash in hand in a little yellow envelope at the end of each week. I was never quite sure that I was being paid correctly. I used this money to pay for my own clothes and movie tickets.
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Did you worry about money growing up?

A little bit. I grew up in a family with three younger siblings. We were always comfortable, but when I was in high school, my dad was between jobs for a while. It was super stressful for all of us as Mum had to go back to work, so our family dynamic changed. It all worked out for the best though — my parents are now happily retired and mortgage free. But it taught me valuable lessons and reinforced the value of a dollar.

Do you worry about money now?

Yeah. I have money anxiety and I think it has been caused by the fact that I have debt myself now. I hate owing people money in general, so the idea of owing a big institution money really stresses me out. I am managing it through — I pay things off early and often never have any outstanding bills.

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

I have been financially responsible for myself since I was 19, when I started paying my own board/rent, insurance and car payments. I have always been told that I should always have enough money in my account to get myself out of dumb situations (personal or financial), and this is something that I have always stuck by.

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

By the time I was 13, my grandma stopped sending me money in cards and brought me shares instead. She always said that the money was meant to go towards something substantial, so I used that portfolio (roughly $30,000) as my apartment deposit when I turned 29. I think she would have been super proud of that.
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Day 1

8:00am — I am trying to be super good this week. My goal? DO NOT BUY LUNCH. Mission accepted. I buy a work-subsidised coffee for $2.
10:30am — My regular 'walk the floor' time. A lot of my work is in internal communications, so relationship building is something that's really important. People don’t tend to trust someone they only know through emails, so I generally take about an hour out of my day on a Monday and a Wednesday to get to know the teams around our two buildings. I have only been in this job for about six months so people are slowly starting to recognise me, and sharing information about different projects without me needing to hunt it down. It makes my life so much easier.
1:30pm — I look at my lunch and I'm not pleased about it. I walk to the cafe around the corner and look in their window. I've left buying lunch too late in the day and nothing is looking too great. I decide that my lunch in the office is better than anything on offer here.
5:30pm — My running coach (aka, the superhero who is getting me across the line for the Melbourne Half Marathon) has been telling me that I need to make sure that I am walking more. Ironic, I know. I decide that it's a great idea to walk 3km to my local IGA. I pick up a bag of raisins ($3.99) for dessert later in the week. I also cave at the register and buy two chocolate bars (a Violet Crumble and a Cherry Ripe) and some sparkling water. $8.96
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6:00pm — I make the ultimate mistake and open my work laptop. This is probably what I've struggled with most post-pandemic — balancing my home life and my work life. Working in communications means that if I open my emails, I end up doing work. I don’t like being inefficient and I pride myself on getting comms out as quickly, efficiently and perfectly as possible. My workplace is going through some major changes at the moment and my HR exec has emailed me about some people-movement. I decide to get a head start on the email now.
7:30pm — My phone is pinging at me. I see some notifications that all my group certificates have been submitted by my employers. Getting a tax return is always super exciting, so I start browsing NET-A-PORTER to see where I can spend my cash. I'm trying not to buy into the hype, but TikTok really has me lusting over a Skims bodysuit. I also see a Marc Jacobs tote and a stupid number of hoodies and sports gear that I eye off. The brand Sporty & Rich has so much fun (and kind of ridiculous) stuff. Everything goes into my cart, but I'm not sure if my tax return will cover it all. I'll rethink it later. I close my laptop and head to bed at 10pm.
Daily Total: $10.96

Day 2

8:10am — $2 coffee, again. My work pays for the coffee van to park out front of our office, then they charge us $2 for a regular coffee. My work pays the difference at the end of the day. It's great, but my work has just announced that as of next week, they'll no longer be subsidising coffee. Instead, they're installing industrial coffee machines. This isn't great for me as they don't accommodate for non-milk drinkers. If I want a coffee, it looks like it's going to be $6 a pop from the cafe around the corner from now on. $2
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12:00pm — I discovered this fantastic Aussie lady on TikTok that makes homemade ramen/instant noodle bowls for work. I was organised this morning and made one up for myself, and it's an ABSOLUTE WINNER. It's a quick mix of rice noodles, miso paste, chilli oil, a chicken stock cube, and whatever veggies are in the fridge — today, it's carrot, mushroom and snow peas — and some leftover chicken. It has all the healthy stuff in it that I love, is really filling, and only takes three minutes to heat up with some boiling water from the tap. I'm loving life.
4:15pm — It's my sister's birthday today, so my other sisters and I have gone thirds in a boujie day spa voucher. I stupidly said that I'll pick it up which also means I'll be footing the bill ($150). I've been promised reimbursement, but it may take some time and reminding to get the cash back. $150
4:50pm — The birthday girl is also the baking queen in our family. I don't want her to miss out, so I've volunteered to make a cake. A few weeks ago, we were reminiscing about childhood desserts, so I've decided to recreate The Cheesecake Factory apple strudel that we loved as kids. A quick trip to the shops is in order as I need to pick up the last of the ingredients. I get eight apples (a mix of Granny Smith and Pink Lady), some filo pastry and a few bits and pieces for the house (a protein bar and oat milk). $28.50
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5:15pm — Baking time! I arrive at my childhood home and Dad's cleaned the kitchen for me. He knows that I'm the type of baker that uses every plate, bowl, utensil and mixer in the house, so he's prepared for the inevitable mess that I'll make. I'm trying to do six things at once and my family is impressed that I'm getting through it all. There's so much mixture. I successfully roll my strudel and pop it in the oven. I want my dad to celebrate with me, but he point blank refuses to dance around the kitchen. I'm not letting him kill my vibe though, so I dance away while my brother-in-law laughs at me.
6:00pm — We sit down at the table for my sister's birthday celebrations. Dad's made an incredible dinner of ravioli from a great pasta shop in Perth called Sal's. Honestly, you can never go wrong with ravioli. My sister talks about how much she's been spoilt already and all the plans she has for her weekend. She's incredibly busy and successful, so I always enjoy the time we get to spend together. She's really touched by the apple strudel — I think she thought that I'd just buy a cake, so she's impressed that I've made the effort to bake one myself. I enjoy a small ego boost.
9:45pm — I check the Fuel Watch app and see that the price of fuel is going to go up tomorrow. This is a government-run app that shows you petrol stations and their fuel prices. It helps you make an informed decision about when to fill up. I fill half a tank ($52.10). I drive to work every day, and while my car is relatively fuel efficient, I'll always try to buy fuel when it's cheaper. $52.10
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Daily Total: $230.60

Day 3

8:00am — A colleague buys me coffee this morning. We are mourning the departure of the coffee van and are giving them our support while we can.
12:30pm — Lunch is fancy ravioli leftovers from last night's birthday dinner (thank you, Dad). I also managed to steal a little bit of apple strudel as a sweet treat. I'm definitely on track with my no-lunch spend. It's just a small saving, but $15 here and there can add up quickly when you buy lunch regularly.
2:00pm — I have a very challenging meeting with the project team. I'm developing an intranet and we need to decide on a developer. I understand that working for a government department means that there are processes to be followed, but it's days like these where I wish I worked in the private sector again.
4:45pm — Just a quick run (10km) after work today. I'm taking training seriously for two reasons. A) I am paying someone a fair bit of money to get me to my goal and if someone is taking my money, I want to get the most out of it, and B) I am a competitive person, especially with myself. I've run this half marathon twice and I'm aiming for a PB.
6:00pm — It's State of Origin night (go the mighty Blues!). I play a modified version of rugby league on the weekends, so I'm off to a teammate's house for dinner and wine. S. is one of my dearest friends. We've always ran in the same circles as we played a lot of sports together, but four years ago, I started playing rugby with her. We've been great mates ever since. She had a baby a year ago, so it's been harder to just head to the pub and watch sport like we used to. Heading to her place is a nice alternative, even more as I can just go wearing track pants and slippers. I'm running a bit late so I have to listen to the start of the game on the radio in the car. When I arrive, her fiancé answers the door. I give him a quick hug and race into the lounge room. He's a Queensland supporter, so anything said tonight is fair game. Highly inappropriate banter ensues, including a lot of yelling and moaning when the Blues lose. We're lucky their daughter sleeps like a champion!
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10:30pm — I head home and consider buying a McDonald's McFlurry to make me feel better about the loss tonight. Unfortunately, I don't pass a Maccas on the way home.
Daily Total: $0

Day 4

8:30am — I get coffee with the work girls and shout my colleague to pay her back from yesterday. $4
12:45pm — I have an extremely busy morning. I don't have time to think about lunch or eating. I'm currently running on a protein shake and good vibes, but this will only work for so long. I will need to eat something soon.   
2:30pm — We are planning a big all-staff event at work so I'm called into a meeting with the head of marketing to talk through my ideas for additional engagement pieces. I always look forward to these kinds of meetings because with the head of marketing, nothing is a stupid idea! I have come prepared though, and pitch a number of two-way communications tools for engaging our workforce. Our business has always been very traditional with one-way communication. Breaking this trend has become something of a personal challenge for me. It helps that I have very supportive managers who will back up my somewhat out-of-the-box ideas. 
4:30pm — Manage another day without buying lunch and I'm feeling very smug about life. I even manage to squeeze in a cheeky 7km run! When I get home, I pop on an episode of Love Island UK. I know it's silly, but I got addicted to this show a few years ago and haven't found another reality show like it. It also helps that most of the couples seem to last!
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7:00pm — My sister, niece and nephew are up visiting, so dinner is at my parents' place tonight. As soon as I walk into the house, I'm greeted by two mini tornados. Aunty mode has been activated. I've been collecting the Coles Harry Potter figurines and they're an instant hit. It also buys everyone 20 minutes of quiet time as I put all the figurines together. These things are so fiddly and I struggle with piecing everything together. I want to have words with whoever created them because they're clearly not thinking about their target audience — how can little kids put these together if a grown adult can't?!
Dinner is a pretty simple affair as we need to feed the little monsters before we can feed the big ones. My mum cooks tacos which is excellent as we can make them fun for the kids, then just eat the leftovers. By the time Mum suggests putting the kettle on for a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit, I'm exhausted. But it's a chance to debrief about our days without little ears hearing us, so I happily settle onto the couch.
11:30pm — I stumble home and remember why I'm so in awe of my sister (and parents in general!). My niece and nephew are exhausting — and I only spent a few hours with them! God bless all of you parents.
Daily Total: $4

Day 5

7:30am — I'm working from home today. It's the best day of the week because I get to wear track pants! I fix myself some coffee and eggs and toast for breakfast. I'm really enjoying the savings I've made this week.
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9:00am — Today is a big run day as I have another 11kms to do. I'm still surprised that my legs are holding up so well. I thank the running gods (and my coach) and up my magnesium intake to four tablets a day instead of two. I'll literally try anything to prevent muscle ache and cramping. I decide that I won't take my lunch break today and will just sign off half an hour early as I want to make sure it's still light out for my run. I need to eat more today to fuel myself, so I snack on popcorn while I write a script for a business presentation.
12:30pm — I still haven’t eaten or drunk enough today. It's a bad habit I picked up during the pandemic as I wasn't moving around much at home so I was never hungry. Now I think my body assumes that as soon as I'm at home, I don't have to eat. This is super problematic with the amount of exercise that I am currently doing. I get up to grab some toast and a banana — I need carbs and potassium! I also find my water bottle and fill that up, hoping that if I keep it next to me, then I'll be reminded to drink it.
3:30pm — After a couple of really frustrating meetings, I have had enough of work. Too many people have dropped things on me on too short notice. People just assume that communications professionals can write things really quickly. I can, but it's definitely not up to the calibre that I prefer. I'm frustrated and go in the complete other direction, eating all the snacks I have in my house. I need to stop, so I pull my workout gear on and get running. I realise that I have run a lot this week, but I'm thankful to have gotten back into it. I have seen a significant change in my sleep and mood since starting. 
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6:30pm — Dinner with my parents again because I want to spend as much time with the family as possible. After a few big weeks, I love being able to just chill out with them.
Daily Total: $0

Day 6

8:30am — Breakfast this morning is out with the family. I arrive on time, but they haven't arrived yet, so I kill time and order myself a large coffee with oat milk. $6.50
8:45am — Family finally arrives at the cafe and we order breakfast. We are all older now so we buy our own brekkie. I order the special, the shakshuka. I have a game of rugby later today and I need as much energy as possible, so I also order a side of potato rosti. If it seems like I spend a lot of time with my family, it's because of two reasons. 1) We are super close, all get along really well, and enjoy each other's company, and 2) This just happens to randomly be a week where we're all around more frequently. Our family has always worked on the premise that we're stronger as a team, so spending good times together makes it easier when there are bad times. $28.50
9:50am — I finish breakfast (with the help of my nephew who is a toast fiend). I decide to get a round of coffee for the family so we can sit and chat a little longer — $18.
10:30am — I have some time to kill before my game, so I head to the shops and pick up a bottle of water, a pack of gum, and a Red Bull. I only drink the Red Bull — it's so sweet and I can't remember why I actually used to like these. $8.99
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3:00pm — We lose our rugby game, so I'm not in a great mood. The team suggests going to get drinks, but because I am training at the moment, I decide that it's not something my body needs. I head home and chill out for a while, then decide to go for a run. I feel so much better.
5:30pm — Mum calls and offers to cook dinner. She is my biggest cheerleader and worries I am not eating enough while I am training. So I head off to my childhood home (for the third time this week!). I am so lucky to have the relationship that I do with my Mum, but I must admit it hasn’t always been this good. We have very different opinions on things and express our emotions quite differently. When I was growing up, I didn't understand this. As an adult, these fundamental differences and open communication mean that we push each other a little bit, but I think it makes us better people.
Daily Total: $61.99

Day 7

8:00am — Stretch class this morning. My muscles really needed it. This 45-minute class is covered by my gym membership, so it technically doesn't cost me anything today.
11:00am — I have lunch with a couple of friends that I haven't seen in ages. We have a great time catching up, but there is an essential additive in the mix — a bottle of red wine. One of my favourites, Risky Business Malbec, is on special for $21.99, so I cop it. B.'s made burgers which I have been craving for about a week. I swear he can read my mind! I chat with his wife about how much we're eating now that we're both running again. The discussion turns into how scary it is to run in the evenings as a woman. B. gives us a lecture about safety, and we fire back that we shouldn't be scared to run. Tech needs to upgrade its safety features so we can make emergency calls without our phones! Garmin, get in touch if you want some customer feedback. $21.99
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12:00pm — After our debate, I get schooled in the card game Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza by their six-year-old daughter, who takes great pleasure in beating me. Who comes up with these games?! I want to make a complaint!
2:00pm — Finish up our amazing lunch and remember that my friend grabbed me one of the running shirts from our club last week. I transfer her $50. It's such a cool idea from our club and I have decided this will be the shirt I run in for my half marathon. The club has become such a big part of my running journey, teaching me that running doesn't have to be a solo sport. I'm happy to give them the love they deserve come race day! $50
4:00pm — I am meant to go for a run tonight but cannot be bothered, so I go and pick up a soup for dinner with a bread roll ($10.50). One thing I've learned from running is that it's best to listen to my body. If it's telling me it's had enough, it's probably because I've done enough for the week. I'm the queen of getting really sick at inconvenient moments, so I'm trying to be more respectful of my body's requirements. As I sit on the couch, I think that I should probably clean the house, but Love Island wins. I'm three episodes behind, so a binge-watch after a hot shower is exactly what I need. Cup of tea in hand and wrapped in my amazing weighted blanket, I watch the drama unfold — bring it on, Tash and Andrew! $10.50
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Daily Total: $82.49
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