Money Diaries

A Week In Zetland, Sydney, On A $70,000 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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Occupation: Editor
Industry: Media
Age: 27
Location: Zetland, Sydney
Annual Salary: $70,200
Net Worth: $17,500 ($2,500 in savings, $14,000 in super, and some funds in an account that my grandmother holds for me (less than $1,000)).
Debt: $26,000 ($2,000 on a credit card, $24,000 in HECs debt).
Paycheque Amount (monthly): $4,389.99
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses

Rent: $1,300 (my partner pays the other half).
Loans: I pay off $100 of my credit card debt each month, minimum. My HECS debt is taken out of my paycheque automatically.
Utilities: $140 quarterly
Internet: $40
Gym: $120
Netflix/Stan/Disney Plus/Amazon Prime: $40
Phone: $100
Health insurance: $73 a fortnight

My partner and I split bills, rent and groceries evenly. Outside of this, we are largely independent financially and discuss at length before making any joint purchases. We don't currently own any property, though we've discussed that he may have the means to do so before I can and we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. He owns his car outright and we both use it, so I contribute to fuel and any insurance needed. We don't have any shared accounts, but we have each other's backs and neither of us have ever worried about needing support from the other.
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Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it? 

It was always kind of expected that I'd go to university — not because of any family pressure, but because all the jobs I wanted needed further education to get there. I'd always been very ambitious, and with both of my parents being teachers, I'd always had the value of education instilled in me. When I decided on journalism, I planned out a trajectory that would see me get a Bachelor of Media and Communication, which I paid for using the Australian HECS scheme.

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

My family has always been pretty transparent about finances. My Dad lives by the philosophy of "work to live, not live to work," so he always made sure that if we had the funds to do so, we'd make the most of them rather than saving up just to achieve a certain number on an account. My Mum loves a deal, so she's always searching for sales and taking advantage of those if ever she wants to purchase something. So my sibling and I were taught to get to a position of security, but not to let that dictate the way we live our lives. As such, now that I'm able to pay for food, shelter and live comfortably, I don't feel shame about treating myself occasionally, even if it means I don't save quite as much that week.
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What was your first job and why did you get it? 

I started working as soon as I was legally allowed at my local video store (back before they all shut down) so that I could save up for an upcoming holiday. I wanted to spend money on the trip and it was the easiest way to get it. It was a decent job and it taught me a lot about not only how to save money, but also how to speak to people with respect. It was eye-opening as a 15-year-old to see how rudely people spoke to people in retail and hospitality, and it helped me ensure I never become that sort of person.

Did you worry about money growing up? 

Not really. We were always secure and although there were times my parents made it clear that we needed to be a bit more frugal, it was never serious enough that we had legitimate cause for concern. When I started earning my own money, the only times I ever worried were when I had a particular savings goal in mind — but it was less about worry and more about strategically trying to figure out how to reach that goal in time.

Do you worry about money now? 

Sometimes I do. I get worried that my approach to money means I have far less in savings than my friends might, but it's not something that keeps me up at night. If I have an influx of unexpected bills or fees, I can get a bit tense and anxious, but I've always had backup plans to ensure I'm not going to wind up in trouble. Maybe that month I take on more freelance work, or I sell some of my old clothes. I make it work.
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At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net? 

It's tricky to isolate because although I moved out of home and covered my own food and bills at age 19 (living at the home of my boyfriend at the time), I only started paying rent at age 23 when I left that relationship and moved in with housemates. So it was a drawn-out process, where I gradually extricated myself from those situations and became fully financially independent. My personal safety net — savings — is smaller than I'd like, but if I ever lost my housing or source of income I have no doubt whatsoever that my family and partner would help me without a second thought.

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

My parents occasionally give me $100 here and there, just to go out to dinner and enjoy myself — usually if they know that I've had a lot of bills that month and haven't had the opportunity to go out with my partner and have a nice night. My grandmother also has accounts for both my sibling and I, where she deposits $5 a week and we use it as an emergency. I've used most of mine in unfortunate ex-housemate and end of lease issues, but she would always help if I needed it even if there wasn't money in that account.

Day One

8:15am — I wake up to my partner, A., and say goodbye before he goes into the office for the day. I work from home permanently now, but he goes into his office two days a week, so Monday is one of my solo days. I don’t mind working remotely — the sleep-ins are definitely a bonus and I’ve saved a lot of money on lunches and commuting — but it can be pretty hard to focus when you’re on your own, so I prefer the days where we both work from our home office. I typically sleep in until the very last minute because I’m one of those people who couldn’t fall asleep before midnight if you paid me.
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8:30am — Work starts half an hour early on Mondays. I make myself a quick cup of licorice tea so my voice doesn’t sound like a frog when I write and record the Monday news bites. The company I work for is largely based in the US, but my time zone is way ahead, so I’m in charge of the Monday update while everyone else is enjoying their Sunday night. It’s not a difficult process, but sourcing, writing, recording and editing the audio can be time-consuming — especially if there hasn’t been much viable news over the weekend to include.
9:30am — Now that the news is filed, I can take a minute to get breakfast sorted (Corn Flakes — sans milk because I like the crunch) and transform myself from sleepy pyjama-wearing goblin to functioning professional. I eat at my desk while watching a YouTube video (a life update from fashion influencer, Inthefrow) then quickly do my skincare before getting properly set up.
9:45am — I typically break my day up into two sections: editing and writing. Mornings are almost always full of edit jobs, and I begin working to clear the backlog of waiting articles. 
12:30pm — One of the best things about working remotely is that I can do my chores throughout the day. Instead of taking a single hour-long lunch break, today I split it into three 20 minute breaks. I use the first of these to do a bunch of laundry. Last week, A. and I went on a mini trip to the country and there’s still a big bag of clothes that I’ve been procrastinating dealing with.
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12:50pm — I’ve cleared the backlog of edits for the day, so I set the queue to notify me if anything new comes in, ask Google to play my focus playlist (mostly video game soundtracks, especially The Witcher and Mass Effect — they’re good for productivity) and get started on writing some features. There’s a big one I can’t talk about yet, but I’m also working on some cool psychological stories. I can’t listen to music with lyrics when I’m writing, otherwise stray lyrics find their way into my sentences.
1:50pm — I’ve been trying to offload a lot of my old belongings in a (largely unsuccessful) attempt at living minimally, so I spend my second 20-minute break sorting and uploading clothes on Depop. I’ve only recently started selling on Depop, but so far it’s going well and I’ve earned about $150 from it. I’ve also bought a couple of pieces from other sellers too, though I often mull over pieces for too long and then they get snapped up by some other lucky shopper. When A. is working from home, we generally take it in turns to make lunch, but Monday is my lazy day so I order a bunch of tuna nigiri on UberEats ($14.80) and get back to work. $14.80
3:00pm — I use my last break to have a pre-production meeting for a shoot I’m working on later this week. Once that’s over, my Apple watch starts yelling at me to stand up, so I stomp around my apartment, aggressively tidying until it shuts up. It’s almost as forceful as the Duolingo owl, who I am convinced will one day murder me for not practising my Japanese. Before I get back to work, I download the new Sims 4 kit (it’s all about plants!) so that I can play a bit after work ($7.95). I begrudgingly realise that if I want bubble tea, I’m going to have to fork out an exorbitant amount on delivery — you gotta do what you gotta do, so I get a $9 large green tea with strawberry popping pearls and spend $5.99 on delivery ($15) and sip on it while I game. I’m a big Sims player, so I’ve got all the expansions pack —sometimes I’ll get codes sent to me as part of my job, but generally speaking, I buy them myself. I shudder to think how much that amounts to over the past few years. $22.95
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5:30pm — Work is done for the day, but I’ve still got plenty of personal projects to do, so I spend the next half hour or so organising my freelance work before A. gets home. Once he’s home, we start planning for Christmas. We alternate each year — this year we spend Christmas with his family and New Year's with mine. His family lives interstate so we nail down flights for the holidays. They're $329 each, and I’m a bit nervous about flying, but I’m double vaccinated and feel relatively comfortable. I’m a BIG gifter and I like to “win” Christmas, so I’m already plotting gifts. I generally spend between $30-$50 per person, and there are about ten people I buy for, but I spend a lot more on A. We then rustle up some dinner — dumplings and cabbage — before settling in for the night. I play The Sims (I’m six generations into my first ever legacy challenge, so as a builder it’s a little different to my usual playstyle), he plays Super Mario, then we both watch a couple of episodes of Schitt’s Creek together before brushing our teeth, showering, doing skincare and heading to bed. $329
11:00pm — I watch TikTok for an hour because I am wide awake and can’t sleep. Eventually, I drift off.
Daily Total: $366.75

Day Two

8:30am — I slept like absolute crap, so I ignore the alarm and sleep in for as long as I can. A. is working from home this morning though, so the noise of the coffee machine is harder to ignore. He’s even less of a morning person than I am, but he starts half an hour before I do so he has to get up by default. I start the day with some fruit and my skincare before settling into work. 
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9:00am — My edit queue is under control when I log in, so I can already tell it’s going to be a pretty chill day. I’ve been working on some interesting shorter features lately — largely about TikTok phenomena and how they create real-world trends — so instead of addressing the queue, I start writing early. I don’t drink coffee, so bubble tea is my main vice. Yesterday’s UberEats order was stupidly expensive, so I ditch Chatime and opt for Gong Cha (which is better anyway, it just doesn’t have popping pearls). It’s just down the road from my apartment complex, so I walk down and grab a green tea with lychee pearls ($5.50). I refuse to have ice or sugar with it — it’s strong and when A. takes a sip he makes a bitter face. When I return home, it’s back to work on the features. $5.50
12:00pm — I take an uncharacteristically early lunch so that I can share it with A. before he heads into the office. I’m notorious in my team for routinely taking 3pm lunches because I get distracted. We have a Slack emoji of my face that gets used whenever anyone takes lunch after 2pm, so my lunch announcement in the main channel is met with a lot of surprised exclamation marks. A. is feeling a bit cheeky so we decide to buy hot chips ($4.90) to go along with his falafel wrap and my sandwich. Naturally, I immediately put all my chips onto the sandwich because I swear by the magnificence of a chip butty. $4.90
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1:00pm — Right before getting back to work, I check my phone to realise that a refund from The Iconic has been processed (+$59.99), which was a nice surprise given that I’d completely forgotten about it. A lot of the clothes I buy online end up being too long on me and I’m not game enough to alter them myself. I can sew relatively well, but I’m not prepared to ruin silk and the shirt was just all over too big. I’m editing other articles this afternoon, so my soundtrack can have lyrics. I missed the Red era the first time around because I was busy being “too cool for pop music” at the peak of my emo phase, but now I’m back on the Taylor Swift bandwagon — so naturally, I have the 10-minute All Too Well (Taylor’s Version) blaring at top volume. Look at me pretending I’m done with my emo phase. That’s a damn lie.
3:15pm — In preparation for tomorrow’s shoot, I head to the hairdresser to get it washed, toned and styled nicely ($90). The production team said there’d be hair and makeup on the day, but I have very long frizzy curls so I prefer to give them something at least half done already otherwise we’d be there for ages — plus I wanted to reduce the brassiness. It’s a 15-minute walk to the salon, but I take my laptop and keep working from the hairdresser’s chair. $90
4:00pm — I spend the last couple of office hours answering emails and organising the rest of my week. I’ve got tomorrow off in order to do this shoot, so all my regular work has to be completely finished otherwise the edit queue is way too long for editors in other time zones. I get a reminder email for a journalism awards night I’m supposed to attend in December — my team has racked up eight (!!!) nominations so we’re all excited to go. I’ve been looking for something to wear that night over the past couple of weeks, and I’ve narrowed it down to either a green silk maxi dress from Silk Maison or a red halter maxi dress from Revolve. I’ve got images of both dresses saved to my desktop so after a week or so I’ll know which one I get sick of looking at first.
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5:30pm — I’ve finished work for the day but I’m stressed about the shoot tomorrow, so I start doing some extra research on the panel topics. It’s straightforward stuff but I don’t want to look like an idiot when it’s going to be a live read — I’d tell you what it’s about, but I’m not allowed until it’s live! I’m extra nervous because I haven’t done a full day shoot since before the pandemic and I am definitely out of practice. 
6:30pm — Neither A. nor I are particularly keen on cooking tonight, so we bust out some frozen food from the freezer. My grandmother loves to cook for us, so at any given moment we’ll have at least three containers of sauce, lasagne, assorted vegetables and more. Tonight, it’s two shepherd’s pies in single-serve ramekins. Sometimes she’s particular about whether her ramekins go in the oven and the packaging makes it hard to tell if these are the no-go type, so I give her a call and chat about our days. 
8:00pm — It’s late notice, but I start putting aside clothes for tomorrow. I’m shooting multiple 'episodes', so to speak, so I need to have a decent change of clothes. If there’s one thing that’s deeply annoying for this part of my job though, it’s that a lot of the time I can’t wear green. Can you guess who has a closet almost entirely consisting of green clothes? It’s my favourite colour and there are finally decent green pieces in the shops, yet I have no opportunity to wear them. I settle on five potential outfits — a playsuit, black jeans, a skirt and three shirt options and pack them into a bag along with my shoot day essentials: sunscreen (I use the UltraViolette Clean Screen), antiperspirant (there’s nothing worse than pit stains on TV), my headphones, my keys, a spare few masks (Covid safety regulations are super high, so I’ll be wearing a mask whenever I’m not on camera), my toothbrush and a huge refillable bottle of water.
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10:30pm — I’ve got to get up early so I shower (with a super attractive polka dot shower cap on to keep my freshly styled hair safe, of course), brush my teeth, do my skincare routine, set my alarms and desperately attempt to sleep.
11:30pm — After lying in bed for ages, I suddenly decide, “actually, I shouldn’t have put those clothes in the bag in case they don’t have a steamer or iron on-set, I should hang them back up”. I do this. I probably didn’t have to, but I won’t sleep unless I do it. Back to bed, and eventually, I drift off.
Daily Total: $100.40

Day Three

6:30am — It’s a very early morning for me. I have not been up this early in a year and a half. I do not like being up this early, but the things we do for work. I also have the annoyance of waking up to an infected ear piercing. I got a third piercing in my lobes last Saturday and unfortunately, it seems that my ear is very very cross with me for doing so. Thankfully I have Nurofen to get me through the day until I can get antibiotics.
7:30am — I’m all packed and ready to go, but my call time is at 8am, so I give myself an extra ten minutes to use a warm compress on my ear. The less pain the better, given that I’ll be masked up most of the day. I live about a ten minutes drive from the location, so I’m not too stressed about rushing. Unfortunately, taking those extra ten minutes means my Uber price goes from $18 to $32.52 — and that’s with the 10% Platinum discount (yes, I take a lot of Ubers, mostly just to get to different venues for work). I begrudgingly get the Uber and make my way to the studio. $32.52
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8:00am — Call time! My Uber drops me off a street away and because I wasn’t paying attention, I almost walk into an entirely different building. When I walk up to the studio I sign in and take the offered coffee and breakfast that the team has organised. The other talent is already chilling, so we sit and chat while everything gets set up. These days are typically very long, with a bunch of standing around, so it’s good to become buds with everyone else around. 
10:00am — Time for hair and makeup. This is by far the easiest part of the day, where I simply sit still and let wildly talented people make me look presentable even under studio lights. Makeup artists should really be given more accolades and credit, they’re incredibly skilled and have to work under a whole lot of time pressure, which is hard enough as it is, let alone if they get stuck with a difficult or picky client. I am very flexible with how I look, so my only direction is that I prefer to go bold on my eyes rather than my lips — generally, I say “have at it” and they do whatever they feel is best on the day.
1:00pm — The shoot is officially good to go and we start to film. I can’t say much about what we’ve done, but it was a genuinely fun time, so hopefully, that reflects in the final footage. 
2:30ish — Shoot one is done and we have some food. Catered lunches are excellent, I get a chicken schnitzel slider and some salad — from which I promptly pick out all the bits I don’t like. Picky eater club, party of one. I don’t like tomatoes and cucumbers, so I offload them to whoever does. I’m doing another session after lunch, so as soon as I’ve eaten I head back into wardrobe and makeup for touch-ups. 
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3:30ish — Shoot session two. Again it’s a similar vibe and I’m feeling gooooood. Given that it’s later in the day, I’m starting to get a bit more tired, but I’m still going strong. It’s hard going back to a full day of filming work after being remote for so long.
6:00pm — That’s a wrap! Time to head home and peel off my fake eyelashes. I get a lift home with a friend, and when I get home I am excited to see that dinner is already taken care of. Because he spoils me constantly, A. has gotten me flowers and sorted dinner (a curry) to say “congrats for your first shoot back”.
8:00pm — I do not know how I am still awake. Every bone in my body is telling me I should be asleep. My eyelids are drooping even without the fake eyelashes on them. But I had to stay up to organise a quick telehealth appointment, then get antibiotics and anti-inflammatories for my (now very angry) ear ($20). Sure they don’t work immediately, but they definitely make me feel better now that I’ve got them. $20
9:30pm — I am, by every definition, zonked. Bedtime.
Daily Total: $52.52

Day Four

9:00am — I have overslept. Thankfully work doesn’t really mind what time I clock on, as long as I get all my hours done — it’s one of the benefits of working remotely. Sometimes it feels almost too flexible because I have to really be on top of my own time management, but that’s also a skill I’ve been working hard to develop lately. I grab myself a bowl of Corn Flakes, take my antibiotics and start trying to wake myself up properly. 
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9:30am — Work begins. It’s a slow day, so my aim for the day is to completely clear all of the pending edits that need doing across the website. There’s a fair few (on any given day there could be between 15-30 items pending, of varying length), so I anticipate it will take a while. I get stuck in.
10:00am — I take a quick ten-minute break to chat with one of my best friends. She lives a few hours away, so we don’t often get to catch up. She needs to rant about some work drama, and I am a fiend for the tea. Word is that she has a dodgy coworker who keeps thinking she’s in charge — definitely worth ranting over. 
10:15am — A PR package arrives for me. People always assume this is my favourite perk of the job. Free stuff! What a joy! The thing is though, more often than not I say no to these deliveries because companies don’t often send things out without the promise of something in return and I can’t always guarantee coverage. I hate the idea that I should cover something just because I get something out of it — that’s not why I wanted to be in journalism. My type of writing doesn’t really lend itself to free stuff, anyway. 
12:00pm — I will never have the self-restraint not to eat an entire bag of chips in one sitting. If you can do this, I commend you. It will never be me. I recognise that it’s wildly unhealthy and completely negates all my efforts at the gym, but my lunch today is a packet of sour cream and onion chips. I eat these while working because I’m still making my way through that pending list. Okay, I also spend a few minutes scrolling Twitter. And by a few minutes, I mean about 15. I haven’t checked social media yet today so I’m catching up (all in the name of research, of course — who’s to say the news hasn’t broken there?). After scrolling for a while, I take my next dose of antibiotics and get back into focus mode.
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4:00pm — Turns out focus mode was STRONG today because I completely forgot to actually take a proper break until right now (Twitter break notwithstanding). I’m almost all the way through my pile of work and I take a moment to chill, boot up The Sims and play an hour or so of my legacy family. I’ve recently moved them into a house that I downloaded from the gallery, created by another player, and it makes me feel a little annoyed at how much better they are at interior design. Naturally, this then leads me to Pinterest for a while to get inspiration for my next build. I rarely ever use Pinterest for anything other than Sims inspiration and photos to take to my hairdresser — it’s definitely my most underutilised social media (if it even counts as one).
5:00pm — Back to the grind, one hour to go. I’ve done all the edits I aimed for and managed to reduce the pending queue down to three items that needed clarification before I can proceed with them. Given that I’m done on that front, I turn my attention to some admin tasks I’ve been putting off and my overflowing inbox. I’m a “check twice” kind of emailer — I’ll look when I first log on and when I’m about to log off. If there’s anything important between then, people can call or text. 
6:00pm — I’m all done for the day and A. suggests we head out to the movies tonight. We book tickets online to see No Time To Die, which we’re both pretty keen for — A. has a discount code so he covers tickets and I’ll be grabbing popcorn when we get there. Unfortunately, a few plot points have already been spoiled for me because I had to edit a review, but I’m still excited to see how it goes. While I take a quick shower and get ready, A. cooks up some eggplant parmigiana to eat before we head out. It’s pretty delicious, though more of a starter than a proper main meal as we both know how much popcorn awaits us. I take my third antibiotics dose — maybe I’m just imagining it having a placebo effect but my piercing is already feeling a million times better. 
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8:00pm — We drive out to the cinema, which is only about 10-minutes from our apartment. It’s A.’s turn to drive as I’m still feeling pretty worn out from yesterday. Once we get there, I grab a medium popcorn box, a frozen coke and some Maltesers, knowing that I’ll inevitably get bored of both snacks at varying points in the movie, want some variety and only eat part of each. $17
8:15pm — The movie starts. We’re watching it on Extreme Screen and it’s really nice to be back in a cinema. We were a bit hesitant when things first started opening back up here, but depending on the time of night, it’s rare that there are more than a couple of people in each cinema — plus whenever you’re not eating popcorn, you have to be fully masked, double vaccinated and checked in. It makes the whole experience a lot less stressful, so you can enjoy the film without feeling on edge. 
11:30pm — Very. Long. Film. I won’t spoil anything but I can safely say that while excellent, it could have cut about half an hour easily without losing too much of the plot. We drive home and after brushing our teeth, taking meds and doing skincare, we head straight to bed.
Daily Total: $17

Day Five

9:00am — A. has taken the day off so without his alarm clock blaring, I once again find myself oversleeping. I wake to the sound of the doorbell, which is annoying because the delivery guys won’t just leave the packages at the door if we ask — we’ve got to come down and collect them immediately or they get sent to the post office. I frantically scramble to find pants and a mask, race downstairs to grab the parcel and come back up all while A. is still fast asleep. Turns out it was his package — he ordered a single can of beer from an indie brewing company. My tired brain is grumpy, but he promises to cook breakfast after his sleep-in so I don’t stay grumpy too long. 
9:30am — After getting set up and recording audio news for the weekend, I have a meeting with my mentor. If there’s one thing I will always recommend in any professional context, it’s to get yourself a mentor — every single person who I’ve been lucky enough to get mentoring from has helped shape the journalist and person that I am. We chat about my professional direction and what my roadblocks are. It’s really helpful for me to refine my goals and figure out what the hell I’m doing. Eventually, she needs to head out, but it was cathartic to have someone listen even just for an hour or so. 
10:30am — A. calls out to say that his breakfast extravaganza is now complete. We eat hash browns, bacon, eggs and toasted ciabatta bread out on our balcony — it’s only small but it has a nice view out over the complex so I take a few minutes to enjoy that. I’m very lucky that A. is a good cook, even if I know it wounds him every time I ask him to cook the bacon just a little longer (I like it so crispy it’ll snap). After breakfast, I head back to work. 
2:00pm — It is very hard to concentrate when you can hear video game gunfire coming from the other room, so I decide to take my break and walk to Woolworths to grab some pasta for lunch. A. decides to come along for the walk and together we pick up some household essentials: tissue boxes, some Nurofen, shampoo — not a major shop, just things we’d forgotten last time as well as the pasta ($25). On the walk home, I decide to grab some bubble tea — green tea, no ice, no sugar, lychee pearls ($5.50). At home, I do some life admin while I wait for the pasta to cook, then once it’s done I settle in and keep working. $30.50
5:30pm — It’s definitely not one of those days where I finish all the pending tasks, but it’s under control and ready for the next person to take over, so I finish up. Having made plans for later this evening, I decide to take an hour or so to just relax and watch TV — I’ve been catching up on the recent episodes of Succession and I’m obsessed. Every single person in that show is deplorable and I love them.
6:45pm — A. and I walk down to a local park to meet up with friends. On Friday nights they have live music/DJs and food trucks from 6pm onwards, so we decide to check it out and get some food. It’s only accessible to people who are checked in and double vaccinated, which makes us feel safer. At this time of night there surprisingly aren’t too many people there and the ones that are there are all masked up unless eating. I’m not super hungry because the pasta definitely filled me up for lunch, so instead of having a big dinner (the other options were hot dogs and pulled beef bowls), I treat myself with a waffle stick ($10). Yes, a waffle stick. It’s a waffle on a stick. Does exactly what it says on the tin. I opted for the one dipped in chocolate and sprinkles. It was delicious and I have no regrets. $10
7:45pm — After enjoying the music for a while, A. and I head off to our next destination: the local tennis courts. We’ve been trying to get better for a while so that when we can go see my parents, we’ll hold our own against them. It’s unlikely though, because my parents both play competition level tennis and we… well, we haven’t gotten through a full session without losing tennis balls. But there’s definitely progress! A. has a very strong backhand and my serve is improving. After an hour of this, however, I do begin to have some regrets over the waffle stick. 
9:00pm — We get home and start to settle in for the night. After showering, brushing teeth and doing skincare, I start browsing on my laptop for Christmas gifts (I’m yet to actually buy anything because I have a pathological need to “win” Christmas so the gifts need to be perfect) while A. plays Halo Infinite multiplayer next to me. I’ve got a colour-coded spreadsheet for the gifts, so when I say I take it seriously, I really take it seriously.
11:00pm — We head to bed, I inevitably end up watching TikTok on my headphones for a while and eventually we fall asleep. 
Daily Total: $40.50

Day Six

10:00am — We sleep in, both feeling tuckered out from long weeks. It’s a big day ahead today, so we’re trying to get as much rest as possible in the interim. We’ve got to drive out to Western Sydney this morning to pick up some dining chairs that we ordered a few weeks ago — it was so much cheaper to opt for pick up rather than delivery (at least a $50 difference) so we were happy to do a mini road trip in order to cut costs. Before we make the trip though, we decide to go get brunch. We don’t often do weekend brunches since we’ve been working remotely (and in each other’s company all the time) but A. has never been to The Grounds of Alexandria so we decide to check it out after getting ready for the day.
11:00am — We arrive at The Grounds and are promptly reminded that it’s Beauty and the Beast-themed at present. Neither of us are huge B&TB fans so it’s not something that super enthuses us, but we wander around while we wait for the text message to indicate that our table is ready. Eventually, we get the text and order some brunch. A. orders an omelette with a side of polenta chips, and I order the baked eggs with a side of potato gems. You’ll notice I am a child when it comes to food choices, but I swear normally I eat veggies and regular food. I just love potato gems! Couldn’t resist! The Grounds is expensive but A. seems pretty impressed by it so we call it a success. $53
12:00pm — We head out to get our dining chairs. After a pretty non-eventful hour and a half round trip, they’re in a big box in the back of the car and we barely had to speak to anyone at all. Overall a 10/10 experience, though we realised on the way over that we should have waited for Black Friday sales — we would’ve spent $60 less on the same chairs if we had. You live and you learn.
2:00pm — We’re back at home and not really feeling like doing much, but I push myself to get ready so that I can head into the CBD and return some clothes. A. isn’t super keen to come in with me until he sees an Instagram story that shows that Gram Pancakes is open at the Galleries. Suddenly he’s convinced. We walk down to the train station to find that there’s track work, so we hop on the replacement bus and head into Town Hall. 
2:30pm — I return about $180 worth of clothes to Ally — it’s not a store I normally shop at but I was panicking last week about clothes for the shoot and then never ended up using them. Thankfully they have a good return policy and I’m able to get my money back. A. has been very patient with this process and is now very excited to go get pancakes. We walk up to the restaurant and there’s a big line, so we wait for 20 minutes just to get in. Once inside, A. orders the original pancakes and I order the fancy Galleries pancakes — which are basically the same, only with chocolate/Nutella. They are delicious but very, very rich and I would recommend not eating a lot prior to having some because they’re very filling. A. pays.
3:15pm — After pancakes, we inevitably go have a peek at Kinokuniya Books. I can’t NOT go whenever I’m in the city. We wander around the store for a while and I end up buying two books: Handmade by Anna Ploszajski ($32.98) and The Coffin Confessor by Bill Edgar ($34.99). A. doesn’t buy anything this time around, but he had a good time looking. $67.97
4:00pm — We head out and pop down to World Square so A. can check out some stores. It’s not a huge rush as we haven’t got much else on this evening and it’s nice to be outside. Unfortunately, we realise as we’re walking that there are still remnants of people who had been in the city for an anti-lockdown protest. I will never, ever understand how some people can be so selfish as to protest protection measures. As someone with an autoimmune issue, I find it hard not to take it personally when people think that their choices should come free of consequences when they jeopardise someone else’s safety. It’s selfish and it’s wrong — and we’re not even in lockdown anymore! What are you protesting?!!! What is the point?!
5:00pm — Before we go home, I grab myself a small bowl of black garlic tonkatsu ramen ($12) so that I don’t have to cook later and we head back on the bus. When we get home, it’s time to relax, maybe play some games and browse the internet. $12
8:30pm — I’m feeling like a movie, so I pop on Tick, Tick… Boom! A. kind of hovers nearby until it sucks him in. I’m a big musical theatre fan, so the story of Jonathan Larsen resonates with me, whereas A. hasn’t seen Rent so he doesn’t quite get it at first. What he does get, however, is the plight of the almost 30-year-old creative who feels pressure to make something amazing. With both of us in our late 20s in creative fields, it’s definitely something we’ve felt at different points. 
11:00pm — I am almost tempted to put Rent on now, but A rightly points out that it’s probably too late to do so. We get ready for bed and I don’t even need to watch TikTok to fall asleep because I’m so tired from the big day. 
Daily Total: $132.97

Day Seven

11:00am — Easily the biggest sleep-in of the week, and possibly the most necessary. I’ve been putting off some freelance projects all week and now it’s time to actually get around to completing them. I get up, have some corn flakes and then settle in at my desk to get them all done. 
1:00pm — I’ve been doing copywriting now for almost the entire time I’ve been awake and I am really done with it. One of my clients is very into blockchain and honestly, I don’t get it, so I’ve had to teach myself about it in order to understand their briefings. It’s definitely not my forte but I’m doing my best to make it through. 
1:30pm — Doing my best is apparently not quite good enough as I’ve now hit a colossal brick wall of writer's block, so I decide to take a break and play some Sims to give my mind some respite from NFTs and things I care very little about. Sundays are usually very low key for us, so while I play, A. does a bit of tidying and then plays games himself. 
3:00pm — Back to my projects. I’m on a deadline to submit them by tomorrow afternoon, so I’m a bit stressed, but tracking relatively well on it. I’ve been trying to use the Pomodoro technique, where you do work in blocks of 25 minutes, then take a break. I’m not entirely convinced of its efficacy, but it’s making me feel a bit more productive nonetheless.
4:15pm — I have been incredibly lax about the gym this week, so I walk there in order to make it to my RPM cycle class. Usually, I try to go at least three times a week, but with the shoots and being busy, I didn’t make time. I can definitely feel the effect of it on my mental health, let alone physical. It’s weird because I really never used to be a gym person, but now that I’ve made it a regular thing I really struggle when I don’t do it. I’m fortunate to live within such a close walking distance because it gives me less time to reconsider going — plus when I’m paying so much for it a month I feel obliged even when my body is saying, “nope”.
5:30pm — It is very evident how much one week off can affect you. The class was brutal and the bike seat feels like it has left an indelible imprint on my butt. I walk home after class (after buying a peanut butter protein ball from the gym — $4) and promptly let A. know that after tidying up a bit, I will most likely be of very little use for the rest of the evening. $4
6:00pm — Bit of an anticlimactic end to the week, but honestly we spend the rest of the day relaxing. I start watching season 2 of The Great (which I highly recommend if you like crass satire and Elle Fanning). A. cooks dinner (beef bulgogi and rice) and we both settle in front of the couch to check out an episode or two of The Wheel of Time on Amazon Prime. 
10:00pm — An early night. We shower, brush teeth, do skincare and get ready for bed. It’s been a long week.
Daily Total: $4
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