Money Diaries

A Week In The Sunshine Coast, Queensland, On A $51,000 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we tackle the ever-present taboo that is money. We ask real people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we track every last dollar.

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Today: a content distribution coordinator who makes $51,315 a year and spends some of her money this week on a Bridgerton book.
Occupation: Content Distribution Coordinator
Industry: Not For Profit
Age: 25
Location: Sunshine Coast, Queensland
Salary: $51,315
Net Worth: $31,739 ($37,399 in savings, $1,481 in a joint bills account with my partner, and $20,000 in superannuation.)
Debt: $26,400 in HECS
Paycheck Amount (Fortnightly): $1,639
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses

Rent: $2,200, split with my partner. My partner and I recently moved to the coast and live in a three-bedroom townhouse with our dog. It's an older property, but considering how hard it is to find a rental (let alone somewhere that allows dogs!), we're pretty lucky.
Adobe Premiere Pro: $30 (I need to cancel this!)
Phone: $50
Internet: $80 (Split with my partner)
Electricity: $60 (Split with my partner)
Water: $25 (Split with my partner)
Stan: $10
Netflix: $17 (Just cancelled)
Anti-Depressants: $8
Savings Contributions: I'm currently not saving anything as I took a pay cut when I changed jobs. I haven't been able to knuckle down and save yet.

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

Yes — a Bachelor of Arts and Communications. I got a student loan and only paid the smaller fees upfront during my course.

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

We didn't have a lot of education about money growing up, but I always got the impression that we didn't have much of it. Looking back now, I think we were doing relatively well. My parents were very cautious with money and it definitely placed a level of anxiety on how I view money. We tended to buy home-brand items and cheaper clothes, but then they would go and splurge on something random.

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

I worked at Target when I was 15. It definitely gave me a huge confidence boost in interacting with people.

Did you worry about money growing up?

Definitely. I feel like it was always a little niggle — we were never allowed gaming consoles (for multiple reasons, but partially money), we never got clothes that cost more than $20, and we were always looking for sale items. I don't think there's anything wrong with being careful with money, but I think we sometimes gave up quality in favour of price, which would always backfire.

Do you worry about money now?

Yeah. But when I take a step back and look at my situation objectively, I know that I'm extremely lucky to have my savings as a safety net. I still have a bit of anxiety though. It doesn't help that I'll splurge randomly and then panic (thanks, Mum and Dad). I'm working on it!

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

I became financially responsible when I moved out at 22. My parents still paid for my car insurance for a while, but that was more because we were procrastinating about transferring it over. I definitely feel like if I were to lose everything, my parents would be my financial safety net. I don't want to have to rely on them though, especially considering how much they've done for me.

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

Yes. My parents were in a program where they put money aside for my brother and I as soon as we were born. This money gradually gained a substantial amount of interest which gave us an 'allowance' throughout university. It ended up being about $3,000 a year for three years — so $9,000 each. It was a lifesaver when I had shitty casual jobs — I'm very grateful for it.

Day 1

6:15am — I blearily wake up to my boyfriend making his breakfast and getting dressed for work at around 5am. He turns the light on and off so many times that my half-asleep brain thinks I'm at a disco. My first alarm eventually goes off at 6am and I snooze for 15 minutes. 
6:30am — Time to take my rescue pup for a walk! Today is day seven of Covid isolation, so I'm desperate for some fresh air and exercise. I was hoping to do a longer walk this morning, but it starts raining at around the 2km mark. My dog is just as desperate to escape the rain as I am, so we head home with a total of 3km walked.
7:15am — When I get home I feed my dog, play with him, hop in the shower and get ready for work. I pull on my current favourite corduroy overalls which I snagged from Depop a few weeks ago. Depop is an awesome app that is literally online thrifting — my dream! 
7:45am — I make myself an iced coffee with oat milk, set up my desk and settle into work for the day. I work from home full-time. If you ask pretty much any fellow WFH workers, it's both an absolute treat and a recipe to evolving into a fully-fledged hermit. 
8:45am — I make myself some breakfast — toast with avocado, salt and pepper, and vegan cheese. I know a lot of people talk shit about vegan cheese, but apparently, my taste is pretty terrible because I love the stuff. 
11:55am — A door knocker comes to the door. I struggle to restrain my dog while trying to listen to what she’s saying. Classic me, I end up agreeing to a monthly donation of $33. It's annoying because I really want to be more conscious about the charities I support and how I spend my money. Chances are that I'll probably panic and cancel it after a couple of months.
2:10pm — I emerge from a long meeting and make myself a burrito with leftover Mexican mix (black beans, corn, tinned tomato and taco seasoning), cucumber, spinach and you guessed it, vegan cheese. This diary really is going to reveal my addiction to vegan cheese!
2:13pm — Oops, I forgot I have another meeting! I run back to my computer for a Zoom call which includes half talking and half stuffing my face. I love working for a company that isn’t concerned about being that ‘professional’. 
4:00pm — I sign off for the day, pull on some bike shorts, lace up my joggers and head out the door with my dog for walk number two of the day. Usually, my boyfriend takes our dog for an adventure when he gets home, but he’s working overtime this week to make up for us isolating last week. 
5:20pm — We get back from our walk. I'm pretty happy because we were able to venture a bit further — almost 5km. My dog is a working breed so I want to make sure he gets heaps of exercise and stimulation. I feed him, jump in the shower, and wash my hair. I’m running low on pretty much everything — cleanser, shampoo and conditioner. I’m really trying to be more eco-friendly with my skincare because it’s something I feel I don’t research enough. There are so many brands that jump on the bandwagon of ‘organic’, splashing pretty font and green labels on everything to make it look eco without doing any of the work. Ugh. 
6:30pm — My partner arrives home with the best gift ever — garlic bread! I chuck the oven onto pre-heat and we talk about our days. Being in isolation was a little rough on us personally, but it's good to feel connected.
7:00pm — I warm up leftover vegan spaghetti bolognese for dinner and we curl up on the couch to enjoy it with a side of crunchy garlic bread. Accidentally discovering that most garlic bread brands are actually vegan has been the best realisation of the last few years! We attempt to watch Moon Knight but both get a bit distracted and bored, scrolling on our phones and cuddling our dog, who has claimed the best spot on the couch as his own. 
8:45pm — We’re both literal grandmas so we head to bed at 8:45pm. I’d like to say this is unusual, but it really isn’t. 
Daily Total: $0 

Day 2

6:00am — I sleep like a log and wake up to my alarm blaring in my ear. I snooze it for 15 minutes and then climb out of bed, ready to take my dog for his morning walk. 
6:30am — We get literally 500m down the road and he puts on the breaks, refusing to go any further. It’s been raining overnight, so I think he may be getting upset about the wet grass and road. He’s also been very itchy lately so I think he may have sensitive little paws. We head home where he demands breakfast and attention.
7:00am — I’m a bit thrown by our unsuccessful walk so I get ready for work early. My outfit today is entirely second-hand from Depop — long black denim overalls and a long-sleeved green top. I make myself a hot oat latte. My partner and I bought a Breville coffee maker last year and it has been a dream. I’ve almost completely stopped buying coffee out, which is awesome. 
9:00am — I call the vet to book my dog in for a check-up. We only got him about a month ago, so I want to make sure he’s all checked over and healthy. Appointment booked for next Thursday. 
9:30am — Late brekky time. I make myself some spinach and eggs on toast. Eggs are my non-vegan exception. I know that it’s more sustainable for me to be 99% plant-based forever rather than 100% plant-based and riddled with guilt when I slip up. I also take this time to call my family and invite them to come up on the long weekend. I haven’t seen my grandparents in weeks and I’m a bit worried about their mental health.
10:30am — I remember that I have an electricity bill to pay from my previous unit which I moved out of in January. I wince and pay it. $131.11 
11:30pm — I uncurl my legs from where they’ve been wedged under me for the past couple of hours, get up, and make myself an iced oat latte.
1:00pm — Lunchtime. I raid the cupboards and come up empty. Somehow, I never take lunch into consideration when grocery shopping. My priorities go like this — dinner, snacks, breakfast, and more snacks. I end up with toast and a packet of vegetable and brown rice soup. It’s okay, but nothing groundbreaking.
3:00pm — I’ve been pretty restless all arvo and end up getting distracted by Depop briefly. Clearly, that second coffee wasn’t a good idea. I buy myself a pair of jeans I don’t need (A-brand!) and a cute dress that I want to layer for winter ($31.50). I’m really in the mood to clean out my wardrobe and refresh it. This happens every couple of months and the urge to aggressively cull overcomes me. $31.50
4:45pm — I spend the last little while scrolling my phone and cuddling my dog until my boyfriend arrives home from work. We catch up briefly before parting ways — he takes our dog to the dog park and I head out to do some grocery shopping.
5:00pm — The shops are crazy busy in the lead up to the long weekend. I walk through the aisles trying not to get in anyone's way, searching for everything on my list. I get a whole bunch of things for the weekend — potatoes, sweet potato, spinach, oat milk, BBQ corn chips, pizza sauce, pizza bases, mozzarella (for my boyfriend), vegan cheddar (duh), chocolate, the newest edition of Frankie, and some pads and tampons. It comes to $110 which I will split in half with my boyfriend. $55
6:30pm — We both shower and then I flick through my new Frankie magazine while my boyfriend makes his pizza. Once his pizza is in the oven, I pop up and make mine — pizza sauce, mushroom, sweet potato, oregano & basil, spinach and vegan cheddar. 
7:45pm — We eat our delicious pizzas while watching the season finale of Alone. I find this show so intriguing — the people on it are incredible and are able to survive with hardly any tools or technology. 
9:00pm — Time for bed. We try to keep our dog off the bed because he likes to snuggle up right between us which can make it hard to sleep. He inevitably ends up back on the bed sometime during the night!
Daily Total: $217.61

Day 3

5:00am — My boyfriend’s alarm goes off and he gets up and ready to go for a surf. I’m in a half-asleep doze, mumbling half conversations to him, snuggling my dog and briefly getting up to gaze at the sky because it’s a beautiful peach colour.
6:00am — My boyfriend heads off and I slowly pull myself out of bed. I make two coffees in my KeepCups — one for myself and one for my best mate, A. We usually go for a walk together most days before work and I’m dying to see her after a whole week apart!
7:15am — I meet A. at the beach. We’re both half-awake but in a great mood. The day is stunning — bright warm sun, cool breeze and beautiful ocean. We take turns walking my dog and sipping our coffee, catching up on a big week and cackling at ridiculous things. 
8:45am — My boyfriend swings by to meet us after his surf, picks up our dog and heads home. A. and I grab our beach bags and head down for an ocean dip. The water is pleasant but the waves are a bit rough. It’s a bit like being inside a washing machine. It’s sooo refreshing to be in saltwater again and I soak it up. Afterwards, we head up to a grassy patch and lie in the sun, chatting and soaking up the warmth. 
10:00am — I get home and I’m absolutely famished! I chat to my boyfriend about his morning surf and make myself some peanut butter and jam on toast.
10:45am — I hop in the shower, washing the sand and salt off me. My craving to cull my wardrobe is still there, so I pop on a podcast and start working. I’m listening to The Far Post podcast which covers women’s soccer in Australia. The Matildas (the Aussie women's team) just played a two-game series against New Zealand, so I’m keen to hear their wrap-up. I end up culling two big bags full of clothes — half to sell on Depop and half just to donate/throw as they're pretty worn out. 
11:30am — I read and laze for the next few hours with my partner. We’re both sleepy from our morning in the sun and end up cuddling in bed with our dog (we're a triple spoon!). It’s really nice because we have a bit of a vulnerable chat and touch base about the distance that has been between us. It’s a nice little reconnection. 
3:00pm — I make myself a late lunch  — sourdough English muffins with Nuttelex, baby spinach and melted vegan cheese. I also make myself an iced oat latte because my eyelids are feeling heavy and I want to fit in a run this afternoon. I’m playing AFL this year and I want to get my fitness up again, especially after not leaving the house this past week. 
4:30pm — Time for a run! My boyfriend takes my dog to the dog park and I lace up my runners and head out the door. I end up jogging about 4km, exploring a new route along the main roads near our place. I’ve definitely lost some fitness but I feel pretty good nonetheless. It’s also really lovely to have some time like this to myself. 
6:00pm — I'm starving after my run so I chuck the oven on and wait impatiently for it to preheat. We’re having leftover pizza from last night and a fresh loaf of garlic bread — I am ravenous! I end up picking the movie The Devil All the Time to watch because it has so many familiar actors in it — Tom Holland, Riley Keough, Robert Pattinson, Bill Skarsgard (from IT), Harry Melling (Dudley from Harry Potter), Sebastian Stan and Mia Wasikowska. It ends up being incredibly violent and weird AF. It’s entertaining, but also pretty graphic and confronting. 
9:00pm — After the movie finishes we head to bed. We're both pretty wrecked from the day. 
Daily Total: $0

Day 4

6:00am — I wake up at 6am, load my dog into the car and head to our local beach for a morning walk. We walk until he gets scared by a garbage truck so I give him some treats and we head back. We ‘accidentally’ (pre-arranged) run into my friend A. and her family who are visiting. We catch up briefly before heading on our way. 
7:45am — I get home, have a shower, pop on yet another pair of overalls — denim this time. I have four pairs in total, but I'm eyeing off another couple of pairs to buy soon. I make myself an iced oat latte and peanut butter and toast for brekky. 
8:30am — My partner’s mum and step-dad arrive while I’m sipping my coffee and finishing the remnants of my toast. 
9:30am — We head off to run some errands which they’re happy to tag along for. First, we head to Petbarn. We're keen to give our dog his first bath (with us) and we end up grabbing him some treats and other bits and pieces too. I buy some shampoo, conditioner, and a bag of treats ($63.97). My dog happily accepts a treat from the cashier and then we head home to chill for a bit. $63.97
11:45am — We pack a cooler bag with some drinks, a loaf of bread and some tomato sauce, before all piling into the car. My dog is having the best day of his life! We swing by our local fish and chip shop where my partner grabs us hot chips and potato scallops (and calamari for him) and we head to another one of our local beaches. This one is a bit quieter and we manage to snag a table in the sun where we make our chip butties and sip our beverages. We give our dog a pig’s ear to chew on while we’re eating. 
1:30pm — After we finish lunch, we’re all a little wounded from the super oily chips (definitely not the best!). We head down to walk along the beach. The tide is out so it’s all rocky with heaps of little rock pools and puddles. We soak up the sun and I encourage my dog to walk into some puddles which he's getting better at — water isn’t his favourite!
2:30pm — On our way back to the car, he gets a little too brave and slips into one of the rock pools, up to his chest in water. He struggles to get out and accidentally fully submerges himself. Poor thing. It's very funny though, and he shakes himself off, his tail as waggly as ever.
3:30pm — Our guests head home and we spend a bit of time chilling before my partner heads off to the dog park. I head to the shops to grab a few ingredients for dinner tonight and some vegan sausage rolls for tomorrow ($28.30).

When I invited my whole family over, I didn’t consider the logistics of things like plates, so I make a trip to Kmart. I was just going to get a couple of plates but decide to purchase a set of plates and bowls. I also grab a book because I’m in a huge reading slump at the moment and need something fluffy to immerse myself in. I grab one of the Bridgerton books ($49). I’ve watched the show but this book is focused on one of my favourite characters, Eloise. $77.30
5:00pm — I’m so tired when I get home. I can definitely feel my period coming and I think the combination of recovering from Covid and the hormonal drop prior to my period is sucking the life out of me. I eat some Pana vegan chocolate (so good!) and settle in to read my book for a bit. 
6:00pm — My partner gets home. We chill for a bit and then I chuck the oven on and pop our vegan sweet chill chicken tenders in to cook. While they’re cooking, I build the rest of my wrap — avocado, mayonnaise (some mayos are accidentally vegan — win!), cucumber, baby spinach and vegan cheese. Making wraps like these are super simple and a great option for myself and my non-vegan boyfriend. And what do you know, my period is here! Right on schedule.
7:00pm — My boyfriend has been watching Yellowstone while I potter away and have a shower. I've started catching snippets and asking questions as it looks pretty interesting. The trailer didn’t grab me at first, but now that I’m seeing little scenes, I’m pretty interested. My boyfriend — clearly not wanting to have to describe an entire season for me — goes back to the first episode and is happy to watch along with me for a bit. 
9:00pm — Bedtime! 
Daily Total: $141.27

Day 5

6:00am — We’re up early again because my boyfriend is keen on hitting the surf. I haul myself out of bed, thankful that my period is only light at the moment, pull on my exercise gear and jump into the car. 
6:30am — We park at the beach and I head off on a walk with my dog. We do the same walk we did the other morning. It’s really pretty and weaves through really green shaded pathways, wooden walkways and you can even see glimpses of the beach along the way. 
7:45am — We arrive back at the parking lot. Today’s walk clocks in at around 4.5km. I'm desperate for a coffee and my dog is desperate for breakfast. 
8:15am — We get home and I make myself a hot oat latte and an English muffin with peanut butter and jam. I'm feeling a bit chilly after my walk so it’s nice to sip my coffee slowly and chill on the couch for a bit. 
9:30am — My boyfriend ducks off to the shops to grab some eggs for the potato salad I’m making and some chocolate because I forgot to grab Easter gifts for everyone. I potter around the house, tidying up the kitchen, and trying to decide what to wear for the day. I’m very indecisive today because my period is well and truly here and I get a bit uncomfortable in my skin during this time. I feel bloated and sore and don’t want anything that makes me even slightly uncomfortable. I end up in a thrifted pair of black wrangler jeans and an olive-green Zorali (an awesome Aussie brand!) top.
11:00am — I get cracking on making my favourite vegan (aside from the eggs) potato salad. I peel four huge potatoes and chuck them in a pot on the stove to boil. While they’re cooking, I soak some cashews for the sauce. 
11:45am — My grandparents and brother arrive! They're pretty exhausted as they hit some traffic so the drive ended up taking them two hours. I introduce them to my dog and show them around a little. My parents eventually arrive after getting through the same traffic. They come inside and shower my dog in love — he’s a big hit with them, especially my mum. Everyone settles in, exchanges chocolates and catches up. I’m on coffee duty so I pop the coffee maker on and make everyone coffees. 
1:00pm — I make the sauce for my potato salad, warm up the sausage rolls that my grandma made, and set everything out on the benchtop. It’s a feast! It’s so nice to have everyone together in one place and there’s something so lovely about hosting and being able to look after people.
3:30pm — After catching up, having a couple of drinks and just spending time together, my grandparents and brother hit the road. My grandparents want to get home so they can head out to dinner with their friends. I’m a bit concerned about them — it’s a huge drive, but they’re determined and stubborn. My parents decide to stay for a bit which makes me happy. My partner’s footy team is playing so we’re all going to watch it together — it’s nice and feels very comfortable and chill to have them just hanging out. 
6:00pm — My parents stay and watch the whole game, so I make them another coffee before they hit the road. I tell them to please call me when they get home safely. 
7:00pm — My boyfriend is having a huge craving for a Big Mac. I pretty much hate everything Mcdonald's stands for, but I’m not stressed about the fact that my partner eats it from time to time. He’s changed his diet so much for me and I don’t have an issue with it being a sometimes food. He’s had a few beers so I offer to drive him, which he happily accepts. We decide we'll trial leaving our dog at home for the first time since it’s such a short trip. We Facetime my phone and set it up in the living room and spy on him while we’re gone — he’s being a good boy!
7:30pm — When we get home, we put on Yellowstone and eat. I munch on a leftover vegan sausage roll and some chocolate since I’m not that hungry. 
9:30pm — Bedtime!
Daily Total: $0

Day 6

6:45am — We have a bit of a sleep in this morning. My cramps are really bad today so I have a hot shower to try and ease the tension in my body. Today will definitely be a bit of a slow day for me. 
8:00am — My partner heads out to take our dog for a walk and I stay home. It’s nice to have the morning to myself. I pop a wash on, clean up the kitchen a bit, and make some toast with PB&J and an iced oat latte. I scroll TikTok, read and chill. 
1:00pm — I spend the whole morning curled up on my papasan chair, alternating between reading my new Bridgerton book and scrolling social media. The morning passes quite quickly and I feel pretty lethargic and yuck. I decide that I need to get out of the house for a bit and head off to see if there are any op shops open. Unfortunately, they’re all closed, so I keep driving to Woolworths to grab some groceries for the week. 
1:30pm — I buy some potatoes, sweet potato, broccoli, baby spinach, green beans, bananas (for my partner, I’m sadly allergic), deli meat (for my partner), wraps, vegan cheese, oat milk, curry paste, coconut milk, vegan kievs and a few other bits and pieces. It comes to $80 but my partner will transfer me half. $40 
3:30pm — I get home and laze for a bit, cuddling my partner and my best friend for the next few days — a hot pack. My partner is considering going for a surf but ultimately decides against it. We decide to just head to the dog park to give our dog a bit of a play. 
4:00pm — The dog park is pretty busy and gets busier with so many different dogs! It’s actually so entertaining because there are so many varieties and personalities. I just love it. My dog gets a little barky and can get a little nippy while playing — he’s not aggressive at all but can get a bit ‘intense’ while playing. Otherwise, he’s very good and loves sniffing butts and stealing sticks. 
5:30pm — We get home, have a shower and then I give A. a call to catch up about our weekends. 
6:30pm — I head into the kitchen to start cooking dinner. I enjoy cooking a lot more than my partner does, and sometimes it’s just easier to do it all myself. I ask him to empty the dishwasher while I’m cooking. I’m trying a new recipe that my partner’s mum recommended — a red curry with peanut butter! Completely up my alley. I swap out the meat for a whole bunch of veggies — potato, sweet potato, broccoli and green beans. 
7:15pm — We eat dinner (it’s DELICIOUS!) and watch Yellowstone
9:00pm — Time for bed!
Daily Total: $40

Day 7

5:50am — My alarm goes off and I reluctantly climb out of bed. I’m already half-awake because I always wake up when my partner is getting ready for work. I’m feeling pretty drained and my period is now very heavy. I pull on my exercise gear, load my dog in the car and head off. 
6:20am — I meet A. at the beach and we head off on our walk. It’s so nice to walk with her and I’m always so much more motivated because we just chat about anything and everything the whole way. 
7:40am — I get home, feed my dog and jump into the shower. Today is all about comfort. I pull on a pair of mom jeans and an oversized black t-shirt from the brand Lazy Oaf. It’s from Depop and I love it. I make myself an iced oat latte and get to work. 
8:30am — I make myself some oats with mixed berries and peanut butter for brekky, check my emails and prep for my 9am meeting. I’m feeling motivated but also pretty sleepy today. 
12:30pm — After a few hours of work, I get up and take my dog up to the end of the driveway to stretch his legs and have a wee. When we get back, I make some scrambled tofu for lunch. I’ve been a bit slack with lunch lately, so it’s nice to prep something delicious. Once it’s ready, I make my wrap, featuring tofu scramble, baby spinach, vegan cheese and tomato sauce. So easy and so good!
3:00pm — I pop the coffee maker on. I have AFL training tonight, so I definitely need some added caffeine! While the coffee maker is warming up, I have a bit of a play with my dog, cuddling him and giving him attention. 
4:00pm — I sign off for the day, read some of my book, and scroll TikTok. My dog is lounging on me and chewing my fingers, thanks mate. I eat half a bag of pea snaps which are delicious. I end up on Depop where I bite the bullet and buy the gorgeous Lucy & Yak corduroy overalls I’ve been eyeing. They’re super expensive brand new because they’re a UK brand and shipping is insane, so paying $70 plus $15 shipping for a like-new pair is a steal. $85
5:50pm — Time for AFL training! I’ve been a soccer player all my life and I joined an AFL team for the first time this year. I am absolutely obsessed. The atmosphere is incredible and it’s the first women’s team for this club so the camaraderie is awesome.
7:40pm — I get back from AFL training. It was a big session tonight and I ended up running 5km, which means I’m pretty wrecked. I also jarred my finger so it’s feeling very tender. I have a shower, grab a bag of frozen peas for my finger and settle down to eat dinner with my partner. We’re having vegan kievs and leftover potato salad — exactly the kind of dinner I need after a lot of exercise. We watch Yellowstone and I eat half a block of vegan salted caramel dark chocolate, which is so bloody good. 
9:00pm — Time for bed! I read for a little bit before heading off to get some sleep. 
Daily Total: $85
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