Money Diaries

A Week In Nedlands, Perth, On A $82,000 Income

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.

We're on the search for new Money Diaries! Submit yours here.
Today: a content manager who makes $82,000 a year and spends some of her money this week on a life drawing class.
Occupation: Copywriter & Content Manager
Industry: Marketing
Age: 27
Location: Nedlands, Perth
My Salary: Around $82,000 (I can't be exact due to spontaneous freelance jobs)
Net Worth: $37,685 ($2,847 in shares, $24,669 in savings, and $26,169 in superannuation). My main financial goal for 2022 is to find a way to make my savings go further — whether that’s shares, property, or something else.
Debt: About $16,000 left on my HECS
My Paycheque Amount (Monthly): $5,204 ($4,484 from one job and $720 from another)
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses

Rent: $720. I rent a huge four-bedroom sharehouse with three other young professionals in a central Perth suburb. My room is the largest, so I pay the most. We got a great deal on this place and it’s incredibly cheap when you factor in our location — we’re close to the beach, city, and a university. I found the room through and didn’t know any of the other girls before I moved in. Thankfully, I’ve become great friends with all of them and we regularly hang out. I’ve lived here for about a year — previously, I had moved into a sharehouse with a group of friends (it ended horribly!). Before that, I was in London.
Utilities: $80. Bills are split between the four of us.
Student Loans: $238
Spotify: $11.99
Times UK app: $18.15. It's the only news app that I check every day.
Audible: $16.45
Phone and Internet: $0. These are paid for by one of my employers.
ClassPass: $15
Google Storage: $2.49
Squarespace: $244.55 for my website, which I opted to pay annually. 
Medications: $90 for a three-month supply of the pill. 
Savings Contributions: When I receive my paycheck from my main job, I automatically put $1,500 away in various savings accounts (I have one for a future mortgage, one for travel, and another for emergencies).

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

Yes, I hold a Bachelor of Commerce — Advertising and Marketing, which I completed at the end of 2016, paid for by HECS. Both of my parents went to university, and I was expected to work hard in high school to get into a good course. Originally, I wanted to study dentistry because I knew they made a good salary but, after six months of a biomedical degree, I realised I hated it and moved into a more creative field. I love what I do and am glad I trusted my instincts way back when I was 18.

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

We never spoke openly about money in our house, but my siblings and I were aware of our family’s lack of it. My parents had a messy split when I was about 12 and my dad basically told my mum that if she wanted to leave him, she’d have to bankroll it herself. This included rent, groceries, bills, and supporting four kids. We went from living in a fairly comfortable middle-class home to a rundown 1950s monstrosity. The whole concept of money as a teenager made me feel very anxious and I was terrified I’d be poor for my whole life.

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

I worked as a lab assistant for my father in the holidays between Year 11 and 12 to save up for a laptop. The job was to bag wheat samples for six weeks straight. Really monotonous stuff, but it paid well. At least, I thought it paid well as a 16-year-old — $15 an hour.

Did you worry about money growing up?

Constantly. I grew up in a small country town without a high school, so for grades 10 — 12, I was sent to boarding school. My dad paid the fees which were also subsidised by the government due to where we lived. Mum would supply spending money, which wasn't much. I couldn’t do many extra-curricular activities or buy the latest gadgets or clothes like my boarding school friends, which just exacerbated my worry about money. It also made me resentful of those who did have money to spend — something which would take me years to overcome.

Do you worry about money now?

I definitely worry less than I did before — thank goodness! I’ve become more confident in myself and my ability to earn through a few years of therapy. I’d say I spend firmly within my means — I don’t have a credit card, Afterpay or any personal loans (except for HECS), and I paid for my car outright a few years ago (it’s a little beat-up 2009 Hyundai). I tend to sit on big purchases for a few weeks until I really know I need them or wait for a good deal to pop up. 

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

When I moved out of home at 21. Mum let me live at home rent-free through university. Her consulting business has grown in the last 10 years, so she's in an okay spot financially and has a mortgage on a nice house in a leafy outer suburb. I’d only ever ask to borrow money from her or my dad if I was desperate, and even then, it would only be a few grand. I'm proud of how financially independent I am and hope that continues.

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

My maternal grandmother passed away a few years ago, so my mum gave my siblings and I $1,000 each from that inheritance. I originally refused to take the amount as I thought it would be better to go towards her business and mortgage, but she insisted. While it was a small amount, it meant a lot to me.

Day 1

5:30am — Desperate to hit the snooze button. I have a freelance writing job that I need to submit before my actual 9-to-5 begins, so I reluctantly rise and munch down two slices of fruit toast. I google synonyms for ‘good’ because my mind is yet to fully wake up. I have two jobs — copywriter for an advertising agency (Wednesday) and content manager for a national brand (for the remaining four days). Occasionally, I’ll pick up a freelance project out-of-hours for a bit of extra cash. 
7:30am — The article is done! I stretch, put on a load of washing, and change into something a little more respectable. Proud as punch when I realise the outfit I’ve pulled together — a black slip dress with a '& Other Stories' tee layered underneath — is 100% op-shop finds. Before Covid, I was working in London on a measly wage of $36,000 AUD. I found I could save a good chunk of money if I tried to find what I needed secondhand before trying the high street. It's one of the best money-saving habits I’ve picked up over the years. 
8:05am — I run down to my local coffee shop and the baristas remember my order — small oat milk latte ($4.20). After living in this suburb for a year, I'm finally a local! I smugly walk home and boot up my computer (again) for another day working from home. $4.20
12:15pm — Leftovers for lunch — an unappealing salad with tofu. Grit my teeth and get through it, thinking about that takeaway I'm going to order later tonight.
2:59pm — Make it to the dentist with a minute to spare. My main workplace is generally pretty flexible about us taking time out during the day for appointments. After a scale and clean ($238), my dentist delivers the bad news — my wisdom teeth have got to come out. They write up the quote and, to my surprise, it’s less than I thought it would be. Two teeth under IV anaesthetic (not having any of this ‘we could do it with you awake in the chair’ business) comes in at around $1,800 without health cover. I sign up for HBF health insurance in the car park (no upfront costs). There’s no pain at the moment, so I’m going to wait until the two-month waiting period is up before I book the procedure. $238
4:15pm — Log back in for another 45 minutes of work to tidy up a few loose ends. Hate starting my day with an admin mess. 
5:00pm — It's been a long day! I jump in my car and head to the beach for a swim with my partner, D., who is renting a place close by. After a salty dip, we divide and conquer for dinner. He leaves to grab a pizza and I stop by the fancy bottle-o for some drinks. I recently discovered Bizzarro Spritz cans and I’ve become obsessed. I buy a four-pack ($20) and a bottle of wine ($21) because I keep drinking all of D’s. $41
9:00pm — After dinner, D. and I sit down for the final episode of season one of Succession. A small argument arises over whether the Roy family are deserving of sympathy. I say yay, he says nay. We agree to disagree and go to bed.
Daily Total: $283.20

Day 2

6:45am — Saturday! Usually, it’s a lie-in, but D. is chaperoning his daughter’s pool party and has to jet off early. I take the opportunity to head back down to the beach. There are a couple of long reads I want to catch up on and I'm secretly relishing this alone time. 
8:50am — My friend, J., joins me and we head to a cafe. I think I owe him for something, so I shout him a coffee. Two oat lattes and a savoury muffin comes in at $19. He introduces me to Wordle, which I already sense will derail my future productivity. $19
11:00am — Make my way back to my sharehouse for my favourite part of the week — chores. Plug in a podcast (The High Low archives... oh, how I miss that show!) and proceed to do a load of washing, organise my clothes drawers, deep clean the kitchen, and vacuum.  Even manage a sneaky 20-minutes of Sex and the City.
3:00pm — D. picks me up and we head to Karrinyup shopping centre. I decided a few weeks back that I wanted to buy my first set of proper lingerie and thought we could make an afternoon of it. It takes a surprisingly short amount of time to find a design I like in Honey Birdette (D. also approves) and we head to a bar outside to celebrate. I buy the lingerie ($219), so he buys the drinks and food (sauteed calamari and two small fish tacos), which is about $60. $219
5:00pm — D. has his parent’s 50th wedding anniversary sundowner and, while he invites me, I decline. We’ve only been seeing each other for a few months and it seems too soon to be crashing a family event of this magnitude. I stay back and wash my car in an old-school way — buckets of soapy water and elbow grease.  
7:00pm — Make a detour to the bottle shop as I go to pick up D. We’re going to his friend’s house for dinner and I don’t want to show up empty-handed. Find a bottle of Pet Nat which looks expensive but only sets me back about $20. I call that a win. $20
10:00pm — Back home — drunk, merry, and well-fed. We both pass out before we even think about the lingerie.
Daily Total: $258

Day 3

8:00am —  Feeling groggy. Really want to go back to bed but I have to meet my friend, L., for a morning of op-shopping. Jealous of D. who will get a few more hours sleep. 
9:00am — Grab an oat latte and mushroom toastie for me and a long black for L. ($18.30). The first stop in our op-shopping adventure is actually a local bookstore. I find a novel that I’ve heard good reviews for — We’re All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Jay Fowler ($20). $38.30
11:00am — Op-shopping is a hit-and-miss exercise. Sometimes you find a slew of secondhand wonders, other times it’s just old, stained Anko tees. Thankfully, today is the former. I pick up a vintage tartan skirt made in Scotland from 100% wool for just $40, plus two tops for $7 each and a pair of sunnies for $2. That’s $56 for two great new outfits! $56
12:00pm — I find a retro lamp that I love for $150. I um-and-ah about it for a while before I step away. I want to move away in the next year or two and a lamp feels like a ‘settle down’ sort of purchase.  
1:00pm — Farewell L. and grab a kombucha ($4) on my way back to D.’s. I make a small salad from the food in his fridge (I like to think of myself as a friendly parasite) and we sit on the balcony to read the papers. So domestic. $4
2:30pm — I’m on the move once again. This time, I'm heading to Perth Writers Festival. There’s a talk I want to see called ‘How it Begins’. Tickets are pay-what-you-can, with the suggested amount at $19. I pay the $19 and also buy an expensive can of water ($4) before I take a seat and enjoy the discussions. $23
4:40pm — Swing by the beach on my way back from the festival for my final swim of the weekend. Consider buying a cheeky fish and chips for dinner, but decide to be a fiscally responsible adult. The workweek begins again tomorrow and I have to do some meal prep.
6:15pm — Pull into IGA for a shop on the way home. Buy ingredients for spaghetti bolognese (I hate buying meat as it’s so pricey, but my doctor warned me last month that my iron was on the low side), deodorant, tampons (because the fun is about to begin), plus some veggies and other pantry essentials. $79.81
Daily Total: $201.11

Day 4

7:32am — I succumb to the snooze button and wake up late. My daily beauty routine is so basic I hesitate to even call it that — Phisophex acne face wash, moisturiser, and sunscreen. I had a few years of bad skin in my early twenties and made the decision to go on the pill to keep it at bay. That, plus the Phisophex, seems to tame it. 
8:29am — I make myself a quick Aeropress coffee and skim a few articles in my Times UK news app before I settle into the Monday workday. My schedule looks painful with back-to-back meetings until 12pm. I decide that calls for another coffee. 
12:30pm — I don’t have much of a lunch break today due to a hectic schedule. My midday meal is leftover spaghetti bolognese, eaten as I pour over a long read about Ukraine. Head to the Red Cross page and quickly donate $20 for the crisis fund before I’m due on another call. $20
2:38pm — Open a family-sized bag of chips and eat it all. Not sure if it was brought on by the stress from my workday, the horror in Ukraine, or my period — which coincidentally begins half an hour after the last chip is crunched. 
5:32pm — Log out and lace up my shoes to take a break from all the bad news. A few years back, when I was recovering from anorexia, I was finding the gym environment really triggering and my therapist suggested getting outside to exercise. In the time since, running has become my method of stress release and I enjoy feeling the power and strength of my body every time my feet hit the pavement. 
6:17pm — Straight to the shower. Tonight I’m taking it easy — a big hearty salad, some life admin, and planning for a short story competition I’d like to enter. I get a notification from my bank that my monthly ClassPass charge has come out ($15) and a subscription to Amazon Prime. Realise I haven’t used the streaming service for two months, so cancel and refund the $6.99. $15
9:00pm — In bed after what feels like the longest day ever. Tonight’s book is The Priory of the Orange Tree, which is the first fantasy novel I’ve read that is written by a woman. Finally, a book in my favourite genre with kick-ass female protagonists. Before I go to bed, I ask my early-rising housemate (B) if I can come on a walk with her tomorrow morning. She says yes — so long as I actually wake up. This has happened before. 
Daily Total: $35

Day 5

5:30am —  Surprise everyone (including myself) by getting out of bed before sunrise. B. and I go for a walk around Kings Park as she tells me about her workload for medical school. I’m in awe of the amount of knowledge she is expected to memorise each semester. Occasionally, she’ll say a word that I remember from Year 12 human biology, which makes me feel slightly better about having to Google synonyms for ‘good’ four days ago. We consider grabbing a coffee at the cafe, before deciding to save our pennies and make an AeroPress for free at home.  
8:35am — I’m working from home again and quickly transfer B. for two weeks' rent — $360. We live in an area known to Perth residents as The Golden Triangle — a collection of upper-class suburbs sandwiched between the river and the ocean. Our four dented early noughties Hyundai’s in the driveway really brings down the street’s luxury European car average.
11:00am — Whip up a late breakfast of muesli and coconut yoghurt, accompanied by another AeroPress coffee. Wonder if my barista besties down the road are missing me.  
12:00pm — My friend, F., calls on my lunch break. I spontaneously floated the idea of a girl's camping trip for the upcoming weekend and she is miraculously free! We quickly realise that because it’s a public holiday next Monday, most of the camping spots down south are booked up. In a stroke of genius, she messages an old client who runs a camping ground adjacent to a national park and we hit the jackpot — a cabin free of charge for the weekend!
2:00pm — Our cleaner, C., arrives to give our home a spruce before our rent inspection on Friday. We’re generally a pretty tidy household but in between studying, full-time work, hobbies, and the occasional party, it’s good to get a proper deep-clean done for us every few months. C. does two and a half hours for us — $141.25, split four ways. $35
7:00pm — D., my knight in shining Ford Ranger, comes over to help me collect a TV cabinet I wrangled for free from the local Buy Nothing Facebook page. I’ve found some amazing things on the page over the last year, including a beautiful glass coffee table, a bedside table, a heater, an office chair, and a stack of old Vogue magazines. After we manoeuvre the TV cabinet into the right position in the living room, we go to celebrate our first successful furniture move with takeaway sushi (my shout). $30
9:00pm —  End up staying at D.’s even though I told myself I would go home and work through my finances. The pull of another episode of Succession and a bowl of cookies n cream is too good to pass up. 
Daily Total: $65

Day 6

7:25am — D. has an early morning meeting, so I head down to the shops and pick up a litre of milk ($2.50), plus two coffees (a long macc for him and a small oat latte for me — $9). He’s already in the meeting when I get back, so I leave the coffee on his desk, put the milk in the fridge, and make us both a slice of avocado toast before I vamoose to my second job as a copywriter. It’s one day a week and is pure creative copywriting — not like my main job, which is a mix of copywriting and project management. I’ll probably have to make a decision soon as to which I want to pursue but, at the moment, I am happy with my mix of employment. It’s a nice balance. $11.50
9:40am — A promotional email comes through to my personal email — a pair of boots I’ve been eyeing from Free People go on sale. $105 down from $280. Add to cart and place the order. $105
10:40am — Make myself another coffee. The studio I’m working at has a proper coffee machine, so I put my old barista skills to the test. Making coffee supported me through uni and it’s nice to know I’ve still got my latte art skills.  
12:17pm — I was thinking about getting UberEats for lunch today but, after the bargain boot purchase from this morning, I opt for a Woolies avocado and a chicken sandwich with a pot of two boiled eggs — $10.
3:00pm — Struggling to nail this brief. I’m on a deadline for 5pm and deadlines make me hungry. I raid the communal cookie jar. 
5:00pm — Submit my work with a flourish and wave goodbye to the studio. Drive home and scoff down a dinner of leftover spaghetti bolognese before I leave for my weekly life drawing class. I keep my art supplies in my car so I never forget them (clever/lazy). 
6:00pm — Find a great spot and save a seat next to me for my friend L., who is running late. Grab a glass of Pet Nat ($13) and scroll through my phone before the session begins. L. makes it just in time and we settle in for two hours of sketching. The class costs $20, which I think is a steal. The atmosphere is amazing — a group of experienced artists and new creatives together in one room. I’ve been coming here every Wednesday for the last six months and have even modelled twice. It’s great for when I am a little low on cash because it pays $80 for a session, and you get to keep some of the artists’ drawings of you. Is it narcissistic to have charcoal drawings of your own butt hanging on your wall? $33
9:00pm — Say goodbye to L. and head home for an early night. A cup of tea, ten minutes of book reading, and I am fast asleep. 
Daily Total: $159.50

Day 7

7:45am — I am LATE. I spring out of bed and get ready in record time. I told my work-wife, H., I would actually go into the office today, so I sprint down the street to catch the 8.15am bus. It’s a short journey and much cheaper than parking. Tap my Smartrider ($2.20) and settle in to read the news on my app. $2.20
8:39am — It’s been weeks since I’ve last been in the office. On my way in, I stop to grab my usual oat latte ($3.80) and a ham and cheese toastie ($5) from the cafe downstairs. These toasties have seen me through many, many hangovers and it feels like I am greeting an old friend. $8.80
11:47am — H. and I are absolutely starving. We’re the only ones in the office, so we sneak off for an early lunch, grabbing a bowl of noodles from the hole-in-the-wall spot down the road. $10.40 
3:00pm — Fading and consider buying myself another coffee but instead convince myself to make a Nescafe blend 37 in the work kitchen. Inferior, yes, but free. 
5:15pm — Head back home on the bus (another $2.20). On my walk home, I pass a store I’ve seen a few times before but have never been inside. As it turns out, they are having a sample sale and I find a Scotch & Soda denim shirt. Originally $295 but down to $25! Insane price, so I snap it up. There’s more things I want, but tell myself to wait until my next pay. I find it hilarious that I’ve gone months without buying any new clothes and — in a week — I splash out a few hundred. $27.20
6:00pm — Quick home workout from Chris Hemsworth’s Centr fit platform and get ready to meet D. for date night. We’re going to the outdoor movies to see The Eyes of Tammy Faye. I’ve been dying to see this film so I’m more than a bit excited. 
9.30pm — Back at D.’s house after the movie. He bought the tickets, wine, and dinner even though I protested. I prefer to go 50/50 but he likes to pay. I make a mental note to get dinner next time. We hit the hay early — it’s a work night, after all. 
Daily Total: $48.60

Anything else you'd like to add or flag?

D. makes substantially more than me. It made me really nervous at the beginning of our relationship when he would insist on buying everything as I hate 'owing' people. I've calmed down a lot in the last few months. Little steps!
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.
For many of us, money can be a major source of stress. But it doesn’t have to be. Become more confident with our beginner's guide to managing your money.

Do you have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Submit it here.

More from Work & Money