Money Diaries

A Week In Perth, Western Australia, On A $150,000 Salary

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Today: a compliance manager who makes $150,000 a year and spends some of her money this week at the hairdressers.
Occupation: Compliance Manager
Industry: Engineering and Construction
Age: 35
Location: Perth, Western Australia
Salary: $150,000
Net Worth: $311,000 ($66,000 in savings, $140,000 in super, $80,000 in home equity, $20,000 in a joint emergency fund with my partner, and $5,000 in shares).
Debt: $315,000 on my mortgage. I bought my home just before meeting my partner and pay the mortgage, repairs and rates on my own.
Paycheque Amount (Monthly): $8,500 which also accounts for $500 pre-tax salary sacrifice into my super
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses

Mortgage: $1,500. I have a mortgage on a townhouse that I live in with my partner. We also have our two children (one each) live with us part-time as we both have shared custody.
Utilities: I set aside about $500 each month for bills. Water is usually $200 every two months, electricity is $250, and gas is $100. I use the leftovers to create a buffer for when bigger bills arrive, such as home and contents insurance which is $1,000 a year.
Gym Membership: $70
Phone: $70
Internet: $80
Private Health Insurance: $120
Donations To Charity: $50
Savings Contributions: After a big pay rise last year, I save about half of my paycheque.

Anything else to share?

My partner and I live together, but as I earn more than double what he earns and have fewer financial obligations (such as child support, school fees, and yes, even a mortgage with his ex!), I tend to look after the household bills. He picks up grocery shopping and eating out every now and then, and he's in charge of making sure we have at least one streaming service available (Netflix, currently). I suggested that we keep separate finances and I take more of the load as I am earning more, plus I like my independence.

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

I went to Tafe and got a Certificate IV in Engineering, paying for it upfront using savings. I was only able to do this as I had a health care card at the time, so it was quite cheap — only about $500 from memory. I put aside some of my parenting payment for a few fortnights to cover it. I've also completed some shorter modules on specific skills at night school over the years.

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

We were poor. Neither of my parents finished high school. Dad had unskilled labouring jobs which would probably be called 'debt bondage' these days. Mum didn't work but would make our clothes with cheap offcuts. Every penny was counted and as the eldest child, I was very aware of what was going on with our household finances. There was always an underlying tone of stress in the house. We had no savings, mainly because there was nothing to save, and we always went without luxuries. That being said, we did have a home. With my parent's lack of education, they made some poor financial choices and the repercussions were felt for decades. When I started high school, my parents gave me $20 a week in pocket money. You'd think that was generous in the 90s, but I needed to use that to buy everything, including my toiletries like pads, stationery, and school excursions. I made a little go a long way.

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

When I was 14, I picked up some shifts at a local fish and chip shop. It gave me some money for fun, which I generally blew on shopping and lunches with friends. Saving was unheard of.

Did you worry about money growing up?

Absolutely. We would make do with Weetbix if we ran out of food before payday. I remember seeing my grandparents slip a $20 note to my parents to tide us over. I know my parents locked in their mortgage at about 17% and went down to the bank with Dad's paycheque to deposit it, leaving Mum with only a little bit of cash because that was all that was left over after the mortgage.
I hated everything about being poor. I wanted clothes bought in shops. I wanted nice shampoo. I wanted to have wind up crayons at school. I wanted everything other people had, but I couldn't have. It really motivated me to teach our kids to save and provide a better life for them.

Do you worry about money now?

Regularly. I've only been earning 'good money' for a couple of months after recently changing jobs. Before that, I was earning a little over average, but before that, it was far below average as I was unskilled. As a result, this has been a huge pay jump. I know how fortunate I am. The odds of me breaking the cycle were against me, and I constantly worry about losing everything I've worked hard for or having it slip away from me. It feels like everything is sheer luck and eventually the luck will run out.

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

I moved out when I had a child at age 20. For the first year, I relied on my parenting payment and my ex, which covered basic expenses. After we split up, I had to work full time. The government-subsidised my childcare when I was working, which made life a bit more comfortable. I now have over $60,000 in my personal savings and $20,000 in a joint emergency fund with my current partner, which acts as my financial safety net. I don't have anyone I can ask for help from.

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


Day 1

4:30am — I wake up, feeling absolutely terrible. I'm in the middle of my worst period in a long time. I took yesterday off as sick leave, but as terrible as I feel today, it's twice as good as I felt yesterday. As my partner heads off to work, I take the dog for a gentle walk and make a coffee when I get home.
6:00am — I log in for work at 6am because I'm worried I've missed something important from yesterday. I mostly work from home these days, which is both a blessing and a curse. 
9:25am — I stop for a quick snack of muesli and yoghurt.
12:00pm — Midday rolls around, and I'm overwhelmed with cramping and nausea. I take some painkillers and head to bed to rest, falling asleep for the afternoon.
5:00pm — My partner gets home at 5pm and wakes me. I can see that he's a little worried because I don't normally feel unwell or complain. He goes down to the shop to grab a few things for dinner — a roast and fresh lettuce — and also comes home with an attempt to meet my hormonal list of demands. I want choc chip cookies, so he comes home with three types of chocolate (Toblerone and two Cadbury blocks) and some Italian wafers. His over-generosity is a curse because he's gone and spoilt me, but all I want is chocolate chip cookies. I have a token nibble after dinner to see if they hit the spot. They don't.
9:00pm — We watch the last episode of Inventing Anna. I'm so exhausted that I fall into bed straight after.
Daily Total: $0

Day 2

4:30am — The cat wakes me up. I see a glimmer of sunrise outside (no daylight savings here in Western Australia!), so I get up, top up her bowl, and drop a little milk in a saucer for her. I make myself a flat white with our Nespresso machine in an attempt to wake myself up. I feel a twang of guilt as I use two pods and remind myself to buy reusable pods. The house is pretty tidy, but I give the kitchen counter a wipe down anyway. My friend recommended I watch Love is Blind, so I wander to the lounge room and put it on. I remember the first season and enjoy the premise, despite the drama. Who am I kidding? I love the drama.
7:00am — I'm feeling better than yesterday, so I decide to try and do a workout. I take the dog for a 15-minute walk before driving to the gym. I only make it through half of my workout before I feel unwell again. 
7:30am — I top up the car ($76.70) on my way home. Gosh, petrol is so expensive at the moment. I'm thankful for having public transport nearby so I only go through a full tank about once a month. $76.70
7:45am — At home, my partner is awake and has started looking after the chores. He's always proactive when it comes to tidying up. I make a smoothie with a frozen banana and chocolate protein powder before doing a few chores. I try to keep on top of housework throughout the week, but weekends are definitely better for a deep clean, especially when I'm trying to keep the dog and cat fur at bay. This is our week without the children too, so it's the best time to wash their bedsheets and tidy their rooms, ready for when they come back. We share custody with our exes and the kids are about the same age and get along really well. 
9:00am — My group chat starts pinging about the WA border reopening. My friends are nervous. Some of them work in healthcare and have young children who can't be vaccinated yet, so I understand their concerns. But it's time for us to rip off the bandaid. We can't live in isolation forever. It looks like we'll see capacity restrictions in place again in the next couple of days. We're catching up for a barbecue tonight, so I'm looking forward to seeing them before things get hectic. 
10:45am — I head to the supermarket mid-morning. There's not much to choose from with the Nullarbor flooded and the shops are already packed. I get salad and meat for the barbecue tonight, plus bacon, bocconcini, eggs, brioche buns, kombucha, fresh fruit, mince, spaghetti, passata, tinned tomatoes, toilet paper, chocolate chips, peanut butter and some snacks for hubby. It comes to almost $80. I miss shopping the specials. $80
11:30am — After unpacking the shopping, I make those choc chip cookies I was craving yesterday, using the dark chocolate chips and natural peanut butter from this morning's shop. I don't get to try them until 2pm when they've cooled, but boy, they're good!
12:00pm — We veg out in front of the TV for the rest of the day, snacking on veg, bocconcini and some hard-boiled eggs during.

5:00pm — We head to our barbeque, bringing the meat and salad that we purchased earlier, plus a bottle of wine from the cupboard as a gift for the host — a Margaret River Semillon sauvignon blanc. Saves me from unnecessary spending at the bottle shop. Most of the time, we tend to all bring something to contribute, but every now and then, we go full hostess with the mostest and indulge everyone with a beautiful banquet. It's a laid back evening tonight and we watch the sunset as we're eating.

9:30pm — We head home. I wash my face, brush my teeth and head straight to bed.

Daily Total: $156.70

Day 3

3:00am — The dog wakes me, begging to go out for a wee. I assumed my partner had let him out before bed last night, but maybe not. Or maybe he did and it's all that water he drank yesterday. It has been hot, after all. I go back to bed and try to get back to sleep, but I just lie there thinking for an hour or so before I decide to get up for the day. A coffee helps. 
5:50am — I hit the gym. It's nice and quiet at this hour, and there are a few regulars I've become friendly with so I chat with them between sets. I try to go to the gym most days, so I've set myself a goal to talk to the other regulars. I don't like approaching people so it was really challenging at first, but turns out they're super friendly and obviously we already have something in common! 
7:15am — When I get home, I make a chocolate banana smoothie. I usually mix it with water, but I give plant-based milk a go every so often. I make a mental note to pick up the oat milk I've been wanting to try. 
8:10am — I'm still hungry, so I make a fruit salad and top it with yoghurt. At the same time, I prepare yoghurt with chia seeds and pop it in the fridge for tomorrow. My partner has gotten up out of bed and we discuss our plans for the day as he takes his time waking up, with me making him a coffee. We're both keen to enjoy the sunshine, so we put on some sunscreen, grab our hats and drive closer to the river to take the dog for a walk. It's always a nice opportunity to talk and catch up without the kids. 
10:00am — The heat has gotten to us, so we take a slight detour to stop at a cafe for brunch. I get some zucchini fritters with an egg and a coffee, my partner gets a fancy toasted sanga and OJ — my treat! It comes out and his sandwich only has one slice of bread, and my fritter is not pluralised and is the size of a golf ball. It's tasty, but I'm a little disappointed that I spent $50.80 on this. We hadn't tried this cafe before. We walk back to the car and head home. $50.80
12:00pm — My sister texts asking to borrow $50 'til payday. I transfer her $50 and tell her not to worry about paying me back. She's in her late 20s and out on her own for the first time, really trying to adult. But I'm in a position to help, so I do. She definitely doesn't take me for granted, plus it's not like she's able to ask our parents. I used to pay for her to babysit but the children don't need it anymore. She also loves dog sitting, so it's almost like paying in advance for when I need a hand. $50
12:30pm — I'm still a little annoyed at myself for spending so much on brunch. I tend to beat myself up a bit over silly things like this. It wasn't a need, but it was still nice to not cook or clean up and to be able to sit down and catch up with my partner. I'm not used to having this kind of disposable income. I scrounge around for some coins and take the dog to a dog washing station. He loves baths and I love not having mess at home. $10 
1:30pm — I finally shower off my gym, walk and dog wash smells. My products are all very save-y. I'm currently using an Essano cleanser and Thank You body wash from the supermarket. My current splurge is the Nak shampoo I bought from Adore Beauty. I like that it's a no nasties kind of product — I try to stick with those. My hair isn't too dirty, but I have an appointment in a couple of days so I want to make sure it's not too dirty for that. After my shower, I use some Organik Botanik Vitamin C serum I picked up at Myer during the Boxing Day sales. 
4:00pm — My hair seems to have dried, so I lie down on the bed to meditate. I don't do this as often as I like, but I also find comfort in the quiet time I get.
5:30pm — I wake to the sounds of my partner making chilli con carne for dinner. Oops, I didn't mean to fall asleep! I give him a kiss and go to binge-watch Search Party on Stan while he cooks. It's a big batch so I know he's meal prepping for the next couple of days at work. We chat as I'm not really into this latest season so much, and I snack on one of those cookies I made yesterday, mindfully, so I don't spoil my dinner.

7:00pm — I feed the pets and we get munching on our dinner. We put on the new season of Ozark before packing up leftovers and heading to bed.

Daily Total: $110.80

Day 4

5:30am — Up nice and early to hit the gym. I'm using the Kayla Itsines Sweat app — I think it was about $70 for the year. I'm confident at the gym to try different exercises, but it's nice to have the variety without having to think. The app has instructional videos as well. Most workouts take about 45 min, so I'm there and back in an hour.  
6:30am — At home, I shower and prepare myself for working from home today. I have yoghurt and chia seeds ready to eat for breakfast that we prepared yesterday, and top it with some leftover fruit salad. I scoff this down in a rush as I realise I need to dial in for a meeting at 7:30am. Can't be late! 
7:30am — Work and meetings, zzz. I stop for a quick lunch at midday. I was planning on finishing work by 4, but an urgent issue comes up that I need to deal with, which requires me to respond to some changes in legislation. I need to submit a report that summarises our position, as well as an action plan by 5pm so the executives can read it overnight. I spend an extra hour catching up so I'm not overwhelmed first thing tomorrow morning. 
6:00pm — My partner prepares dinner as I finish my report. He's a wonderful cook. He stopped by the fishmonger to get some fresh spangled emperor, paying for it from his account. It's so fresh that it needs nothing done to it, just a fresh squeeze of lemon. He prepares a side salad to go with it — delish. It's been a long day, so we eat in front of the TV watching Parks and Recreation, followed by PharmaBro, a documentary about raising the cost of prescriptions. I'm appalled at the unethical conduct and feel for the people impacted by the wrongdoings of some Wall Street jerk in pharmaceuticals. Medication should be accessible to everyone! Chocolate is my drug and I'd be very sad if it was suddenly unaffordable. I get the chocolate my partner bought the other day and whoops... half a block disappears. I could be a magician. 
8:30pm — I let the dog out to do his business, have a shower and go to bed. I fall asleep immediately. 
Daily Total: $0

Day 5

5:00am — I wake up and take the dog for a really long walk. He's very tired towards the end. He's getting old but does his best to keep up. I love having this quality time with him and will miss it when he eventually passes. 
6:15am — Home and time for my usual flat white in my favourite mug. 
7:00am — I log in to work. It's a quiet day today and I hear nothing back about my 'urgent' report from yesterday. I wonder if my report was wrong, or if it was urgent at all. I eat whenever I'm hungry today, munching on muesli and yoghurt, banana and peanut butter, and leftovers. 
2:50pm — I get a notification that says my sister has returned the $50 I loaned. I told her not to pay me back, so I send it back to her account with a lewd message. The bank picks up on a dirty word, so I have to get creative and change it — "don't pay me back b!tch!". It goes through.
3:00pm — I take a belated lunch break, letting the dog out for his wee break before I head to the hairdresser. My normal hairdresser is on maternity leave, so I've been hunting around for a new one to replace her for the next year. This hairdresser is young (like, probably just finished her apprenticeship kind of young), but I think she understands what I'm after. We met briefly for a consultation a month ago and I put down a $50 deposit to book in. She does a full head of foils, highlights and lowlights, a toner, treatment and cut. This place is fancy and they have a full drinks menu. They make me some delicious cocktails and it feels like a treat. The damage is $330, not including the deposit from last month. That's twice what I was spending, but I'm so happy with what she's done that I might break up with my old hairdresser. "It's not you, it's me." "There's someone else." It's been so long since I've broken up with someone that I don't know what to do or say. $330
7:00pm — Hubby compliments my hair as I walk in the door. He always pays attention. He's already prepared a salad for dinner and starts cooking some chicken tenderloins with Peri-Peri seasoning. We eat at the table, the dog resting on my feet, and he shares some good news — he got a job interview! He's not actively looking for a new job, but this opportunity came up and there's no harm in applying. My interview wasn't too long ago, so I share some of the tricky questions they asked me on the spot, like "How do you deal with difficult people?". He appreciates it and gives himself time to prepare for the interview tomorrow as I let the dog out, shower and head to bed. 
Daily Total: $330

Day 6

5:20am — I wake up, grab a coffee and surf the internet in bed. I take the dog for a walk just before 6am which leaves me just enough time to shower and put on my makeup and pack up my laptop before leaving. 
7:00am — I head into the office today and make it in just past 8am after using public transport and walking. I don't pay attention to the times as buses pass regularly. I can hop on just about any of them and end up near the office which is in the central CBD. As I wait for the bus, I take the opportunity to stretch as I'm still experiencing muscle soreness from the gym the other day. 
10:00am — I'm glad I did go to the office because I've already had four compliments about how I'm glowing before 10am! It must be my new hair, because half of my face is covered with a mask! It reaffirms my decision to stick with the new hairdresser. I drop her a text to let her know I'm really happy. 
10:30am — The office has a decent coffee machine, but it's a really nice day so I join my colleagues for a quick coffee at the shop downstairs. My colleague shouts mine because I bought their's last time. I keep my KeepCup in my work backpack for this type of emergency!
12:30pm — I walk to the supermarket and buy a premade Japanese salad with noodles and a discounted packet of smoked salmon for lunch ($10.34). The salmon doesn't expire until tomorrow so it should be okay. I take it back to the office to eat. $10.34
1:00pm — I spend the afternoon in meetings and find some time to focus on a special project that I enjoy, which helps the afternoon fly by.
5:00pm: I pack my things and walk through the city. It's a bit of a ghost town.
5:40pm — I tap off on the way home and my SmartRider autoloads with $20. I don't check the actual fare. Before Covid, I had the autoload set for $50 which would get me through the week for both work and personal trips, but I've reduced it to $20 now which generally covers 2 to 4 days, depending on how far and often I travel. The government recently reduced the day fares to $9.60 so you can travel far and wide and that's all it'll cost. Zones within the CBD are free anyway, but I prefer to walk and enjoy the fresh air. It's often faster than buses, too! $20
5:50pm — I shower as soon as I get home and slip into my pyjamas. The dog missed me, so I feed him food from a tin. We usually buy fresh mince for him, but I haven't seen any on the shelves for a couple of weeks now due to the supply chain issues in getting food across from over east, so I'm glad I keep a couple of tins in the pantry. He doesn't seem to mind the change and there have been no tummy upsets. 
7:00pm — My partner feels good about his interview. He's feeling adventurous and decides to make a laksa for dinner after doing a little shop on his way home. There might even be leftovers — here's hoping! With all these food shortages, we're so lucky to have access to fresh fruit and veg. 
9:00pm — Normal bedtime routine — I let the dog out, and hit the hay.
Daily Total: $30.34

Day 7

6:00am — I take the dog for a walk before hitting the gym. We get back at 6:30am, leaving me 30 minutes to shower and get ready. I munch on a little tub of yoghurt from the fridge and top it with muesli, taking it to my office with me, along with a coffee. I'm not hungry yet, so I'll eat it when I'm ready. 
11:00am — My counsellor's office calls. They've had a cancellation this afternoon, but I can't squeeze it in at short notice with the work I have due today without adding undue stress. Plus, I haven't had a chance to renew my mental health care plan yet. It's great to talk through my issues, but it's better when Medicare covers half of it! I'm glad they called to offer it through, as my next appointment isn't for another month. I go online and book an appointment with my GP for a mental health care plan. At this point, I also realise that I've run out of antidepressants almost two weeks ago and haven't refilled my script. The script is sitting in my purse so I have no excuse other than being lazy. I'm feeling okay, but it's only a matter of days before I might not feel so good. I try to keep on top of my mental health. 
1250pm — I top some rice cakes with cottage cheese. It's unfulfilling. I eat two of the three, and stare at the last one for 15 minutes before binning it. I find some normal cheese in the fridge and eat that to get rid of the taste of cottage cheese. I try to be healthy and some days I can tolerate it, but today is not one of those days. 
4:30pm — I finish work, brace for the afternoon heat and walk to the pharmacy to pick up my script ($18.70). I usually go to another pharmacy that charges about $7.60 for the same script, but they also tempt me with skincare, makeup and protein shakes, so whilst it's more expensive today, at least I didn't spend unnecessarily. $18.70
6:00pm — Neither of us can be bothered going to the shops to buy groceries for dinner, let alone cooking. My partner suggests Chinese and I'm in! He gets Char Kway Teow and I feel like garlic prawns, rice and spring rolls. He goes to pick it up and foots the bill this time, while I set the table at home. I think it's normally about $40 for the two of us, but we tend to take turns paying. After 30 minutes, it's ready and we go to pick it up. We don't like to use the delivery services because of the incidents with some drivers getting injured and dying last year. We want to support people who need to work, but not if it costs them their lives. Plus, there's no insurance or workers' compensation for them. 
6:40pm — We share our order and are happy because we'll each have leftovers for lunch tomorrow. After dinner, I'm peckish for sweets, so I nibble on the chocolate my partner bought earlier in the week. I knew it would come in handy!
Daily Total: $18.70
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