Money Diaries

A Week In Surry Hills, Sydney, As A Consultant On $67,500

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Today: a consultant who makes $67,500 a year and spends some of her money this week on a Freddo Party Cake for her boyfriend's birthday.
Occupation: Consultant
Industry: Professional Services
Age: 24
Location: Surry Hills, Sydney
Salary: $67,500
Net Worth: $48,000 ($50,000 in a savings account, $28,000 in shares & ETFs, car value of $10,000, $15,000 in superannuation)
Debt: $55,000 in HECS debt
Paycheque Amount (Monthly): $3,974
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses

Rent: $1,300. I live in a townhouse with two roommates. I have the smallest room and pay the least rent. Renting in Sydney is crazy — I feel that we got a great deal considering the area and current market.
Gym: $144. One of my goals for 2023 was to exercise regularly, so I splurge on a gym that includes reformer Pilates classes to keep me motivated. 
Car Rego/Insurance: I pay my car registration and insurance upfront annually, so I put away about $125 a month so that it doesn't creep up.
Health Insurance/Mobile Phone: I am still on my parent's health insurance and phone plan, so I pay $0 for this monthly. My dad has a great deal for our phone plans as four members of my family are bundled together.
Subscriptions: In terms of subscriptions, I use my family's Spotify plan (which my dad pays for), my family's Netflix subscription, my boyfriend's Stan and my roommate's Amazon Prime. I'll pay for Disney+ once the new season of The Kardashians is released and share it with my boyfriend and his family. 
Utilities: $100 
Apple Storage: $4.50. I have had one too many scares with my phone dying and losing everything, so this is a non-negotiable. 
Savings: Prior to moving out of home, I was saving upwards of $2,500 per month, but so far this year, I'm able to save about $1,100 each month. As I near closer to purchasing an investment property, I am putting all my savings into the bank as I plan to pull out my current shares to contribute to a deposit. Once I have purchased a property, I will put about 50% of my savings per month into the stock market in either larger ASX-listed companies or Vanguard ETFs (which is what my current portfolio consists of).

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

Yes, I did four years at University and have a Bachelor of Commerce. I paid for my degree via HECS and am slowly paying this off. I usually pay around $130 each month, which is included in my tax contributions. I have considered paying this down as I am in the process of exploring the idea of purchasing an investment property, but decided not to considering I can get a better return for my money elsewhere. During my degree, I lived at home, commuted to university a few times a week and worked part-time three days per week.

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

I have started having great conversations with my parents about money since I turned 18 and started to really earn my own money. My parents educated me a lot about investing, as well as what's worth spending and saving on. Their main philosophy has been to save as much as I can without compromising my quality of life and the important memories to be made in my young adult years!

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

My first job was as a runner at a cafe when I was 17. In hindsight, I feel I was late to start working as my parents would help pay for things I wanted to do on the weekends with friends, but by this age, I wanted money of my own as I wasn't receiving an explicit allowance.

Did you worry about money growing up?

I didn't worry about money at all growing up. I understand that I have been brought up in a household where my sister and I didn't go without, and I am so grateful for that. I don't think there would have been a reason to worry either — we went to great schools and lived in nice suburbs my whole life, all for which I will be forever indebted to my parents for!

Do you worry about money now?

I worry about money all the time. I am working very hard this year to improve my relationship with money as I am very much a saver and have had strict savings goals that I realise can negatively affect my mental health. Particularly as my friends and I are starting out in our careers, it is hard to not compare myself to others. That said, I feel blessed that I am surrounded by open money conversations between my friends, in my relationship and with my family. It helps educate me more and also gives some perspective on certain money choices that I (and others) make. 

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

I wouldn't say I am totally financially responsible now as I still rely on my parents for private health insurance and my mobile phone plan. I have only recently moved out of home, so I'm now paying my way in terms of rent, utilities, and food. But my parents are willing to keep supporting me in small things like insurance or my phone, especially if it helps me save a bit more per month towards buying a property. I definitely have a financial safety net in them and could move back in or ask them for money if I need it. I don't think I would have a problem doing this as I have worked hard to build my savings and am very money conscious, so if I were to ask, they would know that it really would be an emergency. 

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

No, my parents didn't come from a lot of money and have built up their wealth themselves. The only inherited income I would receive at this point would be some help towards my investment property from my parents later this year, but I am trying to avoid this as it's something I want to do for myself.

Day 1

8:00am —  It's Friday, which means a WFH day! I love having a sleep-in on these days as it's a nice treat to end the week. I need to pop to the post office before I log on, so I walk to the local parcel lockers to pick up a present for my boyfriend's birthday next week. I use parcel lockers all the time as the postie won't leave anything on our doorstep considering it fronts onto the street, and my roommates and I can never get to the post office during the workday. I grab a coffee from a local cafe on the walk back ($5.10). I have a coffee machine at home which I normally use during WFH days, but we have no milk and I won't make it to the grocery store this morning. $5.10
12:00pm — I've sat at the computer all morning doing work and in meetings. I quickly make my favourite lazy lunch, an Aldi Gozleme — it's the best for a very quick lunch during WFH days and one will usually last me two meals. I then decide to pop up to Broadway during my lunch break to pick up another present for my boyfriend, but accidentally find myself in Glassons. I try on a denim maxi skirt and after consulting my best friend over Facetime, I buy it, along with a top ($76, with a student discount). I am still able to utilise student discounts as I'm studying part-time to become a qualified accountant. I also go to Coles and pick up some cockroach baits and Mortein for the house (the ongoing cockroach problem in our house is slowly eating us alive) for $23, which I will split with my housemates via Beem (so $8 for my portion). $84
3:30pm — I message my friends and offer to host some drinks at my house tonight that were meant to be at another friend's house. Everyone agrees it is a more convenient location. I tell them to pick up some chips on the way over and I order a bottle of vodka from Jimmy Brings (my saviour) for $47. I put it in Beem to split the cost between six of us, so it comes to $8 for my share. $8
5:30pm — Everyone arrives at my house after work and we immediately start making cocktails and order some pizza ($10 for my share). My roommates come home and bring friends too, and we end up hosting a bigger pre's for everyone before they go out. These impromptu nights are my favourite part of living in the inner city. Everyone heads out at 12am, but I decide I am not bothered, so my boyfriend and I clean the house and are in bed by 1am. $10
Daily Total: $107.10

Day 2

8:00am — Thank god it's the weekend! We wake up bright and early for a Saturday (I am still yet to get curtains in my bedroom, so the natural light is my new alarm clock). My parents call and say they are in the area and will drop by in a few minutes. They bring coffee and pastries from a great bakery down near the airport (For free! Thanks, Mum and Dad!) and we have a good chat about our weeks and what's on for the weekend. 
10:00am — We take a walk around Prince Alfred Park as it's such a nice morning and my housemate texts me asking if I want to go to Paddington to walk down Oxford Street and do some shopping. My boyfriend drops us off and we eventually find ourselves at a warehouse sale for a fabulous Australian designer. I find a white maxi skirt for $100, which I later Google to find out retails for $600 — score! It was the last day of the sale, so there wasn't a big selection left, but regardless, I try to do most of my clothes shopping at warehouse sales as you get good quality, investment pieces for a lower price. Anyways, it'll probably go to waste if it isn't sold! $100
1:00pm — I jump on the bus down to Randwick ($2.50) to watch my boyfriend play rugby. His mum does a round of coffees (and pays), so I get an iced latte to wake me up. I also buy a sausage roll for lunch ($4). $6.50
5:00pm — They lose the game and he is disappointed — it was a tough game. We get dropped back to my place after the game and walk to Woolies to buy some groceries to make rice paper rolls for dinner. The shopping list includes chicken, carrot, avocado, cucumber, rice noodles, hoisin sauce, lettuce, spring onion and coriander ($30). I want to pay for most things this weekend as it's all part of birthday celebrations for my boyfriend's birthday, plus I will use the leftovers for lunches this week. I have a bottle of wine at home already that we will share with dinner. $30
10:00pm — We watch some Netflix, have a shower and get an early night. 
Daily Total: $136.50

Day 3

9:00am — Somehow, we manage to sleep in again this morning and it's another day of birthday celebrations! We grab a coffee from a local coffee shop ($10, my boyfriend pays) and do our newly habitual walk around the park. The colder mornings when it's sunny are perfect walking weather! I have a slice of Friday's leftover pizza for breakfast and throw the rest out. I hate wasting food, but don't think the pizza will make it much longer. 
1:00pm — We head into Barangaroo for lunch ($3.20 Opal fare). The restaurant sounds great and I'm looking forward to it. Birthdays and anniversaries are always a good excuse to eat out somewhere new and we both love good food, so it's pretty much a non-negotiable part of a birthday. It's a Spanish restaurant and we order lots of tapas — peppers, potatoes, meat skewers, croquettes, burrata, jamon and sourdough, as well as sangria (for me) and beer (for my boyfriend). It was delicious and the bill comes to $166, which I pay. $169.20
3:00pm — My friend texts me asking to come and pick up the things that she has at my place, so I see if she is driving through the city on the way. She is, so she picks us up. Once home, we sit on the couch for an hour chatting about our weekends.
4:00pm — We jump on the train to head back to my boyfriend's house to meet our friends for dinner ($3.20 Opal fare). I make a quick detour before dinner to pick up a Freddo ice cream cake and some candles ($18). $21.20
7:00pm — The vibes are high at dinner and everyone is enjoying a Thai feed. We all have great conversations around the table before we sing happy birthday and have cake! It's $22 for my portion, which I transfer to a friend. $22
10:00pm — We are full and tired from a big day, so we head off to bed early to make the start of the work week a little more bearable.
Daily Total: $209.20

Day 4

7:30am — It's Monday and I am going to work in the office. I normally work Monday and Friday at home but today it makes more sense for me to be in the office. My work is very flexible and I can work where I wish. We are at the train station early this morning, so we have time to grab a coffee on the way. We order a piccolo and a cappuccino for $8 and I pay as it's officially my boyfriend's birthday today! We jump on the train to work ($4 Opal fare). $12
12:00pm — I pick up sandwiches from my favourite sandwich shop near my office. I find it very hard to justify buying lunch at work and I am a religious meal prepper, but considering it's a birthday, I'll find any excuse to eat good food. The sandwiches are $27 and I pay. As I need to be back in the office in an hour, I jump on the light rail down to Town Hall ($2.75 Opal fare) and meet my boyfriend at Hyde Park. These sandwiches are too good! $29.75
3:00pm — Hit my mid-afternoon slump and take a look at my bank account. Far out, I've spent a lot of money in the past week. I put money into savings for things like birthdays so I don't feel bad, and I would rather spend money on my loved ones than anything else, but it can still be disheartening. I definitely won't be buying coffee or lunch out for the rest of the week! I also notice my gym membership has been taken out of my account ($75, covered in my monthly expenses), but they have charged me wrong, so I'll have to give them a call to have it fixed at some point this week. 
5:00pm — Time for the birthday finale! I meet my boyfriend's family for drinks and dinner at Bar Totti's. We order an absolute feast — all the antipasti, pasta, mains, wine and dessert (tiramisu, the best!). His parents foot the bill which we all say a big thank you for! 
9:30pm — We head home and do presents. My boyfriend is very happy with his haul. I jump in the shower, do my skincare and wash my hair before getting into bed.
Daily Total: $41.75

Day 5

7:30am — It's Tuesday, the slowest day of the week. I've got a busy day at work today, so I get on the train with my boyfriend ($4 Opal fare) and head into the city. I've been loving the shorter commutes from my new house, so now the longer commute from my boyfriend's hits a bit harder. I scroll on Instagram and reply to messages during the train ride. $4
9:00am — Time for a coffee. I walk down with my colleagues but end up making a coffee back in the office to save some money. I sit in meetings and do computer work for the rest of the morning. My boss is on leave this week so I am trying to get as much done early in the week to take the pressure off later on. 
1:00pm — I take a walk to my best friend's office for lunch and we eat our lunches outside. We both bought food from home and we normally meet up with our friends when we are all in the city to eat, usually once a week. It's honestly my highlight of the week! During lunch, my mum texts me asking if I can come over this week to help my parents do some jobs around the house as they are preparing to sell our family home and downsize. I reply saying I will come tonight straight from work as I already have my overnight bag with me from staying at my boyfriend's. 
5:30pm — It's 5:30pm and I jump on the train home. My job can, at times, be hectic and I can work long hours, so when it's quieter, I take my 5pm knockoffs very seriously! I text my best friend to see if she wants to commute home with me but she says she left early, so I scroll on my phone during the trip instead ($4 Opal fare). $4
6.00pm — I have a class tonight for my university course. It goes for two hours and is quite a slog after work. But I eat dinner while it's on and it ends up finishing early! At 7:30pm, I start helping my parents with some odd jobs around the house, as well as cleaning out my wardrobe (I left so many clothes here when I moved out, now which I have to sort through). I also pack some leftovers for lunch tomorrow. 
10:00pm — I have a shower, do my skincare (using what I had packed in my overnight bag, not the full routine, unfortunately), cuddle with my family's kitten for a bit, and get into bed.
Daily Total: $8

Day 6

7:30am —  Hump day! I decide to work from my parent's house this morning so that I can run to the shops and return some pants I bought that have been living at my parent's house. I realise it's my mum's day off, so I ask her if she wants to go for a walk before I need to log on. We walk for about an hour and when we get back, I make a coffee and toast for breakfast. 
10:30am — I have a break in my day, so I drive to the closest shopping centre and go to Zara to return the pants. I like them, but would need to get them altered, so I think I can do better. They were $75, so I guess I am up $75 today so far! I'm starting to realise how much I miss the convenience of having a car. I still haven't gotten a parking permit for my car at my house, so my car has been living at my parent's house for a few months. I make a mental note to investigate how to get a permit this week. 
11:00am — I realise I need to get back home by 1:00pm for a lunchtime reformer Pilates class. I don't have any meetings until after lunch, so I jump on the train back into the city and work during my train ride. I have been so out of routine the past week so it will be good to get back to the gym today. The reformer Pilates classes are included in my gym membership, which at $36 a week, is a pretty good deal for inner-city gyms! 
2:00pm — While I work, I whip up a late lunch of a rice noodle salad from ingredients I find in the fridge.
6:30pm — It's a quieter afternoon, so I get some computer work done and work a bit later as I've had a disjointed work day. After work, I take out some meal-prepped pasta out of the freezer and heat it up for dinner. I study for a few hours and eat the last of the Easter chocolate I bought half-price last week before my roommates get home from work. I put on an episode of Friends while we all wind down before bed and do our nighttime routines. Then I head to sleep at about 10pm,
Daily Total: $0

Day 7

7:30am — I wake up for an 8am reformer Pilates class. The gym is walking distance from our house which is super convenient, and I love that I can do a 7am or 8am class and still start work at a reasonable time. The class is great and I stop by Ezymart on the way home to grab milk ($3.50). Once I'm home, I make a coffee and realise I have a 9am meeting — I'll have to shower after. $3.50
12:00pm — I have the rest of the Gozleme I half ate last week for lunch. While I'm eating, I prepare all the documents I need for my parking permit and lodge an application. Once it's approved, the fee is $65 for an annual permit — not as bad as I thought! Now I regret putting it off for months.
3:00pm — It's Thursday so in comes the weekly message in the group chat to see what we are doing this weekend. I also text my boyfriend to confirm our weekend plans. It looks like it will be a quieter weekend for everyone, but things always come up. The girls pencil in a casual dinner on Friday or Saturday night, probably at a local BYO restaurant. My boyfriend and I also plan to visit his cousin on Sunday. I realise I have an assessment due for my course on Monday, so I need to block out some time to study as well. 
7:00pm — My housemates are working late tonight, which is not uncommon for them, but we are all friends so I do love to have them home to make weeknights more exciting! I take it as a sign to have a quiet night in and I don't feel like studying — so Netflix it is! I put a load of washing on and then finish the last few episodes of Daisy Jones and the Six. Just WOW. I loved it. I read the book about a year ago and have been looking forward to the TV rendition. That last episode really got the tears flowing. 
10:00pm — I wash and blow dry my hair for the weekend and scroll on my phone before bed. I deleted TikTok last year as I found myself mindlessly scrolling without actually taking in the content, so now I'm trying to be more intentional with the time I spend on my phone. After 20 minutes, I'm off to sleep.
Daily Total: $3.50

Anything else you'd like to add or flag?

There were definitely some periods of high spending this week, but as I documented, I love spending money on my loved ones, especially for their birthdays. On a regular week, I would say the expenses between my boyfriend and I are generally evenly split. 
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. You should always obtain your own independent advice before making any financial decisions.
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