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Follow Up Diary: A Week In Hawthorn, Melbourne As A Digital Data Analyst On $120,000

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Today: a digital data analyst who makes $120,000 a year and spends some of her money this week on coloured contact lenses.
Editor's Note: This is a follow-up diary. Before reading this diary, we recommend you read this popular Money Diary from last year.
Occupation: Digital Data Analyst
Industry: Retail/eCommerce
Age: 29
Location: Hawthorn, Melbourne
Salary: $120,000
Net Worth: $267,088‬ ($36,600 in savings, $34,788 in my share portfolio, $56,700 in my superannuation fund, and approximately $139,000 equity on my apartment.)
Debt: $245,300 (Approximately $236,000 left on my mortgage and $9,300 in HELP debt. I also have a credit card but I pay it off at the end of each month.)
Paycheque Amount (Monthly): $6,184
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses

Rent: $257. I live on my own in a 1-bedroom apartment. The rental income from my investment property pays the rest of my rent.
Mortgage Repayments: $1,400
Gym: $59.80
Phone: $15
Internet: $65
Spotify: $12.64 (I split with my siblings and cover my sister’s share as she pays for Netflix)
Woolworths Subscription: $15
Streaming Services: $19
Contact Lens Subscription: $15.30
Savings Contributions: $2,817

What have you been up to since we last spoke?

The biggest change in my life since my first Money Diary was getting into a relationship with someone who lives 1.5 hours away. Not only does dating someone mean spending more money on going out (activities and eating), but it also means thaht my desire for a car has suddenly gone from a want to a need. Even though I’ve been saving up since last November, I’m not looking forward to start paying all the other things that come with car ownership (rego, insurance, parking, petrol etc). I haven’t done the math yet, but I’m fairly certain it’s been more cost effective for me to take public transport and rideshares everywhere. So I guess you could say I’m willing to sacrifice the monetary savings by saving on time and convenience. This will also allow me to visit friends who live in the suburbs, which will be nice!
Work has also been pretty stable and despite all the tech layoffs, I feel pretty secure in my current job. Even though there are days where I want to quit, I try to remind myself how good I have it, and the stress of having to apply for jobs and deal with rejections is enough to keep me where I am. I’m currently working on getting a promotion, so hopefully that will help in the long term to ease the financial pressure.

How have your finances changed in the last year?

This year, like for so many people, my rent increased, but luckily only by $10 a week. I was also able to increase the rent I charge for my investment property. This also helps to pay my mortgage repayments, which have gone up a lot very quickly as the cash rate has increased throughout the year. I’m grateful that I’m not feeling the strain too much yet, but it’s only a matter of time before I do. I’ve always been pretty good at not living beyond my means and save pretty aggressively compared to my peers, which means I will always have money to fall back on if things get rough.
My approach to savings hasn’t changed much at all. I still keep a spreadsheet of all my expenses, compared to my income, so that I’m able to allocate buckets of money to each category. I’ve also automated a lot of it so as soon as my pay hits my bank account, the money is sent into my various buckets (savings, rent, bills, and ‘fun’ money) so that I always know how much I have to spend each fortnight. 

Last time you voiced concerns about affording to live in Melbourne as a single woman and without the help of a partner. How has your perspective changed since you started dating E?

My perspective has remained more or less the same, since I don’t think E and I will be moving in together anytime soon. I’m still very conscious of wanting to be independent and reach my financial goals on my own, which haven’t changed since meeting him. We have talked about the future vaguely, as we both feel it’s too early to be making life plans together. As he lives so far away, we’re still unsure how and when we’ll close that gap as his own career aspirations don’t involve moving back to Melbourne and I have no plans to move regionally. As a result, it looks like I’m going to continue living on my own for a while.
However, when we do end up living together, it will definitely ease the burden of paying for everything on my own. It will also be nice to start aligning our goals together and to have a partner to work towards these with since we both have very similar goals in travel and home ownership. 

Day 1

9:00AM: I wake up far away from home this morning because I’ve recently found myself in a mid-distance relationship with E. We spend some extra time snoozing before we get up and get ready to make our way to Torquay.
11:45AM: E and I arrive at the Torquay Esplanade, where there’s a market on. I instantly spot a coffee cart before we get too distracted by anything else. I order two coffees for us. $9.66
12:00PM: We have a look around and stop at a few stalls and even though there are things I want to buy, I do my best to stop myself because I’m trying to spend less money this month. Over my break, it was a free for all and I spent a lot more in those two weeks than I thought I would. It’s great that E is also in the same boat so we make sure that we’re both not making unnecessary purchases.
12:20PM: Food is the one thing we’ve agreed to not compromise spending on. We hit up a couple of stalls and E pays for both of them even though I try. Unfortunately, the reader doesn’t pick up my phone so I couldn’t pay for one of them.
3:30PM: Time to head off home to Melbourne. On the way, I message my friend who I’m meeting for dinner to see if we can meet a bit later because it’s going to take me a while to get home. E is kind enough to drop me off at a train station closer to the city, so that I don’t have to pay so much for the V/Line.
5:26PM: My train finally arrives and I hop on to get back to Southern Cross. I make it home with a few minutes to spare to drop all my stuff off before I have to head out again to make it on time for dinner. I have a moment of frustration at not owning a car because it always takes me double the time to get anywhere. At the end of last year, I decided to start saving for a car and hopefully I’ll be able to buy something in 6 months.
7:15PM: I arrive in St Kilda a bit early, so I walk down to the beach and sit for a bit before walking back to meet my friend. She’s moving to Sydney in a few weeks and we haven’t been able to see each other for months because we keep getting sick but it was lovely to catch up with her. We split the cost of dinner. $54
9:27PM: Instead of taking both a tram and train home, my friend offers to drive me to Flinders so that I can cut down on some time, which I’m very appreciative of. Unfortunately, public transport has made my life difficult again by cutting a bunch of trains and I have to wait half an hour for the next one and it would take me an hour to get home. I decide my time is worth more, so I call an Uber. Another stroke of bad luck is that the Burnley Tunnel has closed all but one lane so it takes me about the same amount of time to get home. I even see the train I was meant to be on speeding past me. $24.21
10:39PM: I make it home again and immediately video call my family who live across the country since they’re all having dinner together and I haven’t seen my parents in a while. Due to the time difference, they’ve only just started eating and can't talk for long and I'm exhausted so I don’t want to stay awake any longer. 
11:30PM: I wash my face and have a shower, then crash in bed.
TOTAL: $87.87

Day 2

7:30AM: Rise and shine! Not really. It’s always a struggle to get up on a Monday morning and even more so when I have to go into the office.
8:00AM: I always convince myself that half an hour is enough time for me to get ready for work, but that’s never the case because I forget how long it takes me to do my skincare in the morning. This involves 3 minutes using my DDG Spectralite, vitamin C serum, hyaluronic acid, another face serum and sunscreen. Can someone tell me how important it actually is to wait between layers?
9:06AM: My coworkers message me asking what my ETA is and I tell them I’m all ready to go but give me two minutes to sit on my bed for a bit longer. I finally head out and make it to the office at 9:30AM.
9:40AM: I’m trying to cut down on the number of coffees I buy each week, which always includes the little treats I buy while I’m out walking for the sole purpose of having something to hold. I go to the kitchen to fill up my water bottle (because I’m also trying to drink more water) and use the Nespresso machine to make myself a mediocre coffee. Work also provides us with yoghurt cups, so I take one out of the fridge as my breakfast.
11:00AM: There’s a new starter on the team and when they come around announcing that they need a coffee, I decide to go with them so that we can chat and get to know each other. Knowing that I wasn’t meant to buy a coffee today, I opt for a small one. $4.50
12:00PM: Lunchtime plans start to be made, but I can’t decide what I want to eat. We head off a little earlier than usual and try out a new place that’s just opened up and they’re having a grand opening special of $10 salads. What a steal! I get a huge kale salad for only $10.15 (can’t forget that credit card surcharge).
5:00PM: I head home from work and have a video call with a friend back home.
9:00PM: We end up talking for hours and I only end the call because I need to eat dinner. I eat some leftovers but realise that after I finish, I won’t have any more food and will need to buy groceries soon. While I have dinner I watch a TikTok of someone trying on coloured contacts and get FOMO because I haven’t worn coloured contacts in years and kind of miss it. Naturally, I’m influenced and place an order for a couple of pairs. $73.77
TOTAL: $88.42‬

Day 3

6:00AM: I wake up and realise that I must’ve turned my 5:30AM alarm off in my sleep. I go back to sleep even though I wanted to try to get into the habit of going to the gym in the morning.
8:30AM: Time to get up — I’ll go to the gym during my lunch break.
12:32PM: I get dressed and head off to the gym. It’s really hot today and I’m already sweating by the time I get there. I lift weights for the first time in months and already know I’m going to be sore in a couple of days.
6:12PM: I’m meeting E for dinner at 7PM, but I head out a little earlier because I want to make a stop at the shops to buy bleach and toner. During these hard economic times, I can’t afford to get my hair done regularly anymore, so I’m going to try to bleach my roots at home. Wish me luck!
6:32PM: E calls me when I enter the store and says his ETA is 8 minutes, which is much earlier than expected. I backtrack and start rushing over to where we’re meeting for dinner. I run into him on the way so that means I’m on time! I hate making people wait. He also surprises me with a sheet of stickers of a TV show I’ve been really enjoying, which is very sweet.
8:00PM: We’re done with dinner and now trying to decide what to do. Finding something to do at night is hard when you don’t feel like going to a bar. We settle on going to the arcade since it’s raining, and a rooftop bar doesn’t sound like a good idea. I pay for dinner and lament that being in a relationship means paying way more for dinner from now on. $88.84
8:30PM: We get to the arcade and E pays to load the card. We end up playing for two hours but only accumulate 412 tickets, which unsurprisingly doesn’t go very far in the prize shop. We get two mini versions of the Connect 4 game: one to keep at mine and one to keep at his for when we’re bored.
11:28PM: We get home and remember that E likes to have breakfast in the morning, so we make overnight oats to set in the fridge for tomorrow. This means we don’t have to wake up earlier to buy food tomorrow morning. This is also because I literally have no food in my fridge to make anything to eat.
TOTAL: $88.84

Day 4

7:30AM: I’m good today and actually get up when my alarm goes off because I have a 9AM meeting in the office that I can’t be late for. I get ready for work but I'm in a bad mood because who the heck schedules an in-person meeting first thing in the morning? E relaxes and eats his breakfast while I try to shovel it down between getting ready.
9:02AM: E drives me to work and I rush in and head up to the meeting room. I’m extra annoyed because the person who scheduled the meeting is running 10 minutes late. 
9:46AM: After the meeting, my coworker and I go out to grab a coffee, which I allow myself since I brought lunch today! We also take this opportunity to vent a little about the meeting. $5
12:00PM: We head out for lunch a little earlier since we have a meeting at 1PM, and I go with my coworker while she buys lunch. I’m feeling a little smug because I’m proud of myself for not having to buy lunch too. During the walk, my credit card is charged with my annual health insurance. At the moment, I only have extras even though I know that I should have hospital cover. I just haven’t been bothered with figuring out which company is the best to go with. $246.75
1:00PM: We head over to our meeting, which goes for the rest of the day. I’m meant to go to Pilates afterwards but since I’m unsure if I’ll make it home in time to get ready, I decide it’s best to cancel my class.
4:46PM: The meeting ends early and I start to regret cancelling my class — I totally would’ve made it on time! Oh well. I go home and chill out for the rest of the day until I realise that I have no food to cook with. I open the Woolworths app and place an order ($81.59) to be delivered tomorrow, and also open Doordash to get some Korean food delivered. I justify the cost by knowing that I’ll have leftovers to eat for lunch tomorrow ($42.01). It’s safe to say that my plan to save more this month is not going well. $123.6‬0
TOTAL: $375.35

Day 5

9:02AM: I really wanted to go to the gym today but it’s two days post my gym session on Tuesday and the DOMS are real. I can barely get out of bed and sit at my desk. The morning passes uneventfully with a couple of meetings scheduled up until lunch time.
10:48AM: I’m pretty hungry but it’s that weird time of the day where it’s past breakfast but lunch is really soon. I battle with the age-old question: should I eat now or wait for lunch? I decide to compromise and eat half of the leftovers and leave some for later.
12:34PM: I break for lunch, but not before popping in some time to chat to a coworker of mine who went speed dating last night — I need to hear all about it! I eat the rest of my leftovers. An afternoon meeting gets moved to 5PM, which I find outrageous but also stresses me a little because I’m meant to leave at 5:30PM to meet a friend for dinner in Fitzroy.
3:30PM: I hop on a call with my coworker and get all the gossip from her. We end up talking for an hour and I only leave because my groceries are getting delivered (woohoo!). I’ve been getting my groceries delivered for the last year and never realised that I had the option to have them deliver straight to my door instead of going down and meeting them in the lobby. I put all my groceries away and think about when I will be bothered to cook with all those ingredients.
4:40PM: My 5PM meeting got moved to tomorrow! Rejoice! I start getting ready to head out to dinner. While waiting for my setting spray to dry, I hop on Amazon and order a new screen protector and clear case for my phone so that I can decorate it with the stickers that E got for me. $24.64
5:58PM: I get to Flinders early because I realise I told my friend to meet me there at 6:15 and not 6:00PM. While I kill time, I call E to chat while he’s on the way home from work. 
6:08PM: My friend is also early and I meet up with her and we take the tram to Fitzroy. Tonight we’re eating at Bonny Bar, and it’s such a good date place in Melbourne. I tell her that she should schedule some of her future dates here because it’s such a nice vibe. The downside is that there isn’t a huge selection of dishes on the menu, so we end up getting the set menu and a cocktail each. It's all really delicious but ends up being $84 each, which is pretty expensive and definitely wasn’t as much as I expected to spend tonight. I should stop ordering cocktails when I go out. I also tell her I’m trying to save money so we opt to not get dessert afterwards. $84
9:44PM: I get home and wash up. I also eat a Golden Gaytime I’ve got stashed in my freezer.
TOTAL: $108.64‬

Day 6

8:30AM: I get up earlier than usual to get ready for work since I have a 9:30AM meeting that I need to prep for. The rest of the morning passes without much drama, which is great for a Friday.
12:00PM: For the past week, I’ve been talking to two friends about going to the Australian Open and to see The Phantom of the Opera before it closes. I finally buy tickets for us today but luckily I’m able to find cheap tickets for nosebleed seats for The Phantom of the Opera ($64), which I’m thankful that my friend also doesn’t mind. I’m also grateful that my other friend is also happy to buy a ground pass to the AO ($34). $98
5:00PM: I finish up with work and get an email notification that my Myki [public transport pass] has auto-loaded ($50). Now that I’m finding myself going to Geelong consistently, I’m also spending way more on public transport. I call a friend from home who I haven’t spoken to in a while because we’re both horrible at texting. $50
6:32PM: After finishing up with my call, I check my messages and my friends are asking if anyone wants to go out tonight. I, being the introvert that I am, need at least 24 hours to mentally prepare myself for a night out. I pretend I’m busy and ask if they’d be keen to go out tomorrow night instead. It’s a deal.
7:00PM: Even though I have groceries now, I can’t be bothered cooking anything and instead make two-minute noodles for dinner and heat up some leftover roasted cauliflower. My friend messages me and mentions that he’s checking out an apartment for rent near me and asks if I want to check it out with him tomorrow.
8:00PM: I spent the rest of the night being a potato on the couch.
TOTAL: $148

Day 7

9:00AM: I wake up with the intent to go to the gym before meeting my friend at the apartment inspection. I stay in bed for a while before getting up to get dressed. I have a moment of horror as I realise I’m halfway through my morning skincare routine and it’s a waste because I’m going to wash it off after I’m done with the gym.
9:50AM: I head off to the gym and smash out a good hour session. Surprisingly, it’s pretty quiet. Either people don’t enjoy working out on weekend mornings or the New Year Resolutioners have petered off. Either way, I’m happy to not have to wait for any equipment or work my way around too many people. I’m at that point where it’s been so long since I’ve weight-lifted that I feel self conscious now. I’m also brutally reminded of how much I hate Bulgarian split squats.
11:00AM: After I get home, I shower and get ready to meet my friend. I text him to ask if he wants to meet me there or if he has time to come pick me up. Unfortunately, he’s running late so he asks if I can meet him there. Dang!
12:13PM: I walk over to the apartment to arrive by 12:30. There’s a huge line of people who want to inspect the apartment! Odds are not looking good for him right now. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to sign another year with my current apartment because looking for housing right now sounds like hell.
12:40PM: The apartment is small enough that we can do a quick glance over and head over to a nearby cafe for lunch. I order an iced coffee and a Rueben sandwich. $24.50
2:00PM: I get home and try to tidy up a bit before sitting in bed and finally finish reading Anxious People by Fredrick Backman. This is the second book I’ve read by him (A Man Called Ove is one of my favourite books right now), and I really liked it! I’m excited to read Beartown soon. The friend who I just saw messages me and asks if I want to meet him and some of his friends for drinks before heading out for the night and I agree since I’m trying to say yes to more things this year (not exactly conducive with my goal to not spend so much).
4:30PM: I start getting ready because I’m not sure what time he wants to meet and I also really enjoy taking my time putting on makeup and making sure my outfit is just right. It seems like as I get older, the quicker it is for me to get ready and I’m done in an hour. My friend doesn’t want to meet until 8PM, so now I’ve got all this time to kill. I video call E and we chat until it’s time for me to leave.
7:34PM: I miss the train — oops, so I have to wait another 17 minutes for the next one and try to decide whether it’s worth going home and coming back. Nah, just in case I miss the next train I decide to just wait at the station.
8:22PM: I meet my friend at the bar and order a cocktail ($25) but pretty soon we’re discussing what to eat since this bar doesn’t sell food for some odd reason. We head to Sal’s and get a slice of pizza each ($6), and then walk to Gin Palace as our next stop. Even though I don’t want to get another drink, I feel peer pressure to get one ($23). $54
10:17PM: It’s time to meet my friends at the club so I walk over. Lucky for me, my friends and I are able to get free entry and join some guys at a table where they’ve gotten bottle service. We mingle a bit, dance a bit, but the club is pretty dead tonight. The only upside is that these guys insist on getting all our drinks tonight.
1:30AM: I want to leave.
3:00AM: Why am I still here? Finally, the club closes and we can go home. My friend orders an Uber and that turns out to be our only expense for the night. $15
3:30AM: I get home, take off my makeup and have a quick shower before falling into bed and promptly falling asleep. What a week!
TOTAL: $93.50
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