Money Diaries

A Week In North Melbourne As A Doctor On $118,000

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Today: a doctor who makes $118,000 a year and spends some of her money this week on Arnott's Family Favourites Biscuits.
Occupation: Doctor
Industry: Healthcare
Age: 28
Location: North Melbourne, Victoria
Salary: $118,820
Net Worth: $708,000 ($655,000 of equity in a house worth approximately $780,000, $71,000 in a high-interest savings account, $35,000 in super, and a car worth approximately $17,000)
Debt: $205,000 ($125,000 owing on my mortgage and a $70,000 interest-free loan from my parents)
Paycheque Amount (Fortnightly): $3,358
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses

Rent: $1,608 per month. I am renting a one-bedroom apartment by myself on the edge of the CBD.
Mortgage: $556. My mortgage is currently on a 2.04% p.a. fixed rate which ends in March 2024.
Rental Utility Bills: ~$150 (electricity + water + internet)
Investment Property Mortgage Repayments: $556. As a rent-vester, my investment property is a four-bedroom house in a suburb located 25 kilometres out from the city. I took out a $544,000 mortgage for this $680,000 property in early 2021. I split the mortgage into variable and fixed portions, have completely paid off the variable portion and now have $125,000 owing on the $150,000 fixed loan. I am very fortunate to have a fixed loan rate of 2.04% locked in until March 2024. This property is currently rented for $2,085 per month, with my real estate agent taking a 5% property management fee.
Council & Water Rates For Investment Property: $229 ($2,110/year + $636/year)
Home & Landlord Insurance: $103 ($1,232.15/year)
Private Health Insurance: $157 ($36.25/week for Hospital Bronze Plus with Mid Extras)
Car & Driving Costs: $239 ($864/year registration + $1,267/year comprehensive car insurance with roadside assist + approximately $60/month in petrol + $67/three years for my drivers licence)
Groceries & Eating Out: $600
The Age Subscription: $14.49
Savings Contributions: Whatever is left of my paycheque goes into my high-interest savings account.

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

Yes, I completed a three-year Bachelor's degree, followed by a four-year graduate medical degree. I got a full scholarship for my undergraduate degree, which covered my tuition and came with a $5,000 per year tax-free allowance. I used the $15,000 total allowance to pay for part of my medical degree, the rest of which I paid upfront from working various administrative jobs throughout my university days. I completed two university degrees without taking out a HECS loan.

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

Money wasn’t a topic we intentionally discussed but I could see the importance of saving money from my parents' frugal habits. From a young age, I mirrored their habits and tried to save wherever I could. As I’ve gotten older, my parents, who were first-generation migrants, often remind me that I have a relatively stable career and income and don’t need to be so frugal. However, I’m naturally risk averse and tend to keep my spending habits as conservative as possible.

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

My first job was in Year 10 when I worked for two weeks stacking shelves at a local grocery store. I was bored during the school holidays and wanted to earn some pocket money. After that stint, I focused on my studies in the final two years of high school and resumed working various casual and seasonal jobs while at university.

Did you worry about money growing up?

I did worry! Looking back, I had a comfortable childhood but at the time, I worried about the family finances as my parents were the type to not spend a cent on themselves so they could spend more money on my sister and me. We were fortunate enough to attend private school, partake in extracurricular activities (piano/art/dance lessons) and go on a family road trips or interstate trips most school holidays. My parents worked very hard to provide for the family.

Do you worry about money now?

I still worry now because day-to-day expenses are constantly rising due to inflation. I want to save enough to pay off my current mortgage when the fixed-rate rolls over in six months’ time, but also have enough of an emergency buffer for a rainy day.

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

It happened in three stages. When I started university at 17, I was able to work while I studied which kickstarted my personal savings. When I began working full time at 25, the steady income and lack of time to spend money due to working long hours in the middle of the pandemic gave my savings a good boost and positioned me nicely to purchase my investment property. The final step where I became fully financially responsible for myself was when I moved out of home at the start of this year. I'm very grateful to my parents for letting me live at home rent-free for so long (I had intended to move out when I started full-time work but the pandemic put a spanner in the works). My parents remain my financial safety net as they would let me move back home if I ever needed to in the future.

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

I get rental income from my investment property ($2,085/month) which covers the expenses of maintaining the property, with around $1,000 to spare each month.

Day 1

6:00am – I wake up to my alarm and reluctantly get out of bed to go for a run. I’ve signed up to run a marathon later this year and am training in the mornings before work three to four times per week. The best thing about running is that it is free exercise – no gym membership fees are required to run outdoors.
7:15am – I get back from my slow 10km run, take a shower, wash my sweaty running clothes, rehydrate and then wake my partner up. He is staying with me temporarily while renovating his apartment. We both get ready for work and opt to have breakfast there.
8:10am – I walk to work while my partner takes the tram back to his apartment. He’s working from home today and needs to supervise the plasterer who is resurfacing the floor and walls of his bathroom.
8:30am – After arriving at the hospital, I make an instant coffee with oat milk from the staff tearoom before settling into my clinic room and starting my patient reviews.
12:00pm – For lunch, I have leftover homemade pasta from dinner last night and scoff it down before my afternoon clinic list gets underway.
5:00pm – I leave work on time to find it’s raining outside. Luckily I packed an umbrella but my heeled boots still cop a bit of water damage from walking back to my apartment in the rain.
6:30pm – I meet my partner at the NGV for a university alumni volunteer reception. We explore the NGV’s Winter Masterpiece exhibition — Pierre Bonnard designed by India Mahdavi — for free (adult tickets are usually $33) and enjoy canapes and free-flowing drinks.
8:30pm – After the event, we go grab a more substantial dinner to soak up some of the alcohol. My partner gets a special deal on an app that gives us half-price Asian pulled noodles. Our meal costs around $20 with the deal. We loosely alternate paying for each other when eating out and he pays for us both tonight.
9:30pm – My partner skips dessert but I give into my cravings and grab a soft serve ice-cream on the way home. $2.03
Daily Total: $2.03

Day 2

6:30am – My alarm wakes me up after too short of a sleep. My Garmin watch agrees and tells me my sleep was shorter than ideal and my body did not recharge. Nonetheless, I put my activewear on and hit the pavement for a 6km tempo run.
7:15am – I feel fresh after my run, but my partner is not a morning person and protests at having to get out of bed. I pack myself raisin toast for breakfast and a sandwich for lunch because the food options in the hospital cafeteria get boring after a while and I don’t have time to leave the hospital grounds at lunchtime to search for food. My partner works in the city and can leave his office to buy lunch outside most days.
8:10am – The perk of living so close to the city and to my workplace is that I can walk to work. It’s 20 minutes to my hospital and a further 15 minutes for my partner to walk to his office.
8:30am – I arrive at the hospital and eat my raisin toast with a cup of instant coffee before I start seeing patients.
12:00pm – I eat my homemade tuna sandwich in between morning and afternoon clinics.
5:00pm – I leave work to blue skies and a setting sun but am grateful for the nice weather on the short walk back home.
6:00pm – My partner is seeing some old colleagues for dinner in the city tonight. I make dinner for myself, eat, wash up and then climb into bed super early to catch up on sleep. I’m grateful to have a quiet evening tonight because my sleep debt accumulates with consecutive days of waking up so early to run.
9:00pm – My partner gets back to my apartment after I’ve had a solid nap. We catch each other up on our respective days before falling asleep.
Daily Total: $0

Day 3

6:30am – My alarm sounds but I can happily ignore it this morning because my partner and I plan to run together after work today.
7:15am – I sleep for another 45 minutes and then get out of bed to get ready for the day. My partner reluctantly does so too.
8:30am – Work is much the same today as every other day. I review patients, order investigations, write scripts, attend meetings and do miscellaneous paperwork.
12:00pm – I eat another packed sandwich for lunch — this time with ham and cheese.
3:00pm – I treat myself to some biscuits from the tearoom.
5:00pm – I walk home from work and get changed into my activewear gear while waiting for my partner to get home.
6:00pm – We head out on our run. It’s interval training for me today while my partner runs a comfortable 8km.
7:00pm – We rehydrate, shower and then head out for dinner at a local Mexican eatery. I pay for our food tonight and we share authentic chilaquiles, tacos and a quesadilla. $48
8:00pm – On the walk back to my apartment, we grab two bottles of zero-sugar soft drinks and a tin of hot chocolate powder to restock my pantry. $7.90
Daily Total: $55.90

Day 4

7:30am – I indulge in having a later alarm today because I don’t have to get up early to run. My partner continues to sleep peacefully beside me.
8:00am – For breakfast, we split a ripe avocado on a wholemeal bagel and season it with salt and pepper. This was part of our grocery haul earlier in the week.
8:30am – I get to work after a hurried walk on a surprisingly warm winter morning. The forecast tips a top of 20 degrees today.
8:45am – I make an instant coffee with oat milk in the staff tearoom and sip on it as I catch up on some paperwork and emails before the first patient checks in.
1:00pm – We have our weekly education session with a free catered lunch. I enjoy a delicious chicken and avocado baguette while listening to an engaging talk on high-risk medications.
5:00pm – I finish work for the week and bask in the afternoon sunlight as I stroll home, ready to settle into the weekend.
7:00pm – My partner and I are planning to run 35km tomorrow as part of my marathon training plan, so we need to carb load tonight. We head to our favourite Middle Eastern eatery where I indulge in loaded fries topped with chicken kebab, mozzarella and tabouli, and my partner has the massively filling mixed grill plate consisting of two skewer kebabs served with rice and veggies. The portions at this restaurant are huge and the price is super affordable. My partner pays for dinner which comes to a total of $43.
Daily Total: $0

Day 5

9:00am – We enjoy a nice sleep-in this morning and contemplate having a lazy weekend, but then we remind ourselves of all the carbs we ate the night before, which guilt trips us into getting out of bed and committing to our running plans today.
10:00am – Breakfast is a repeat of yesterday’s avocado bagel.
11:30am – We set out on our long run, following the Yarra River from Southbank to Glen Iris and then returning on the same path.
3:15pm – We finish our 35km run back at my apartment and feel exhausted but riding high on the post-run endorphins. We do a quick cool-down stretch and then take turns showering and cleaning up.
4:00pm – Our legs don’t think they can walk another step, so we plop down on the couch to watch Saturday afternoon footy. It's too early for dinner but my partner nibbles on a bag of chips while we lounge around. I don’t find myself too hungry just yet, despite the amount of energy we burned on the run.
6:00pm – We're both finally hungry so we drive to a nearby popular Malaysian joint for mie goreng and laksa. My partner pays $48 for both of us.
7:00pm – We call it an early night and haul our tired bodies to bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day 6

9:00am – Despite having an early night, we stay in bed a bit longer this morning to let our sore bodies recover from our long run.
10:00am – We drive out to visit our respective families today. I visit my parents out in the western suburbs, have breakfast together at their house (my mum bought a delicious artisan olive sourdough loaf) and then drive them into the city. My parents still work Monday to Friday and use the weekend to go on small outings. Last week, they went to Bendigo. This week, they want to walk around the city.
3:00pm – I pop by the supermarket to pick up some household necessities (laundry powder, dishwashing liquid, toilet cleaner, paper towels) along with a bag of choc chip cookies that I see are on special. $16.90
6:00pm – My partner returns from visiting his parents and joins my parents, sister and me for dinner at a popular Asian noodle chain in the city. My partner and I usually go out for dinner with each other’s families at least once every two months. I sign up for an app that gives me $20 off the bill when I spend more than $50 and pay for our five piping hot bowls of noodle soup. $80.82
Daily Total: $97.72

Day 7

5:45am – The weekend went by too quickly. My alarm jolts me awake and I’m dressed in my activewear and out the door by 6am for my morning run. My legs feel strong after having a rest day yesterday.
7:00am – I get back from a tempo 12km run and get ready for work.
7:45am – My partner’s apartment renovation enters its second week, so he remains at my apartment in the meantime. Much to his displeasure, I wake him up to get ready for work.
8:30am – My partner drops me off at work before walking down the road to his office. Mondays are always busy.
1:00pm – I gulp down my packed tuna sandwich in between clinics.
5:00pm – The day has gone by so quickly. On the way home, I check my bank app to make sure my weekly direct debit for my health insurance has gone through. $36.25
5:30pm – On the way home, I stop by the supermarket to pick up some dried pasta, a jar of pasta sauce, 500g of extra lean beef mince, a loaf of white sandwich bread, three tins of tuna and a packet of Arnott’s family favourites. $25.30
6:30pm – We cook pasta for dinner, clean up and then settle on the couch for the rest of the evening.
Daily Total: $61.55
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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