Money Diaries

A Week In Erskineville, Sydney, On A $190,500 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we tackle the ever-present taboo that is money. We ask real people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we track every last dollar.
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Today: a growth marketing lead who makes $190,520 a year and spends some of her money this week on iron supplements.
Occupation: Growth Marketing Lead
Industry: Tech
Age: 36
Location: Erskineville, Sydney
Salary: $190,520
Net Worth: $303,960 (I own a small unit with my partner worth $645,000 — we've paid off $130,000 of this so far. The rent we get from this unit covers our repayments at the moment. We also have $112,000 in a mortgage offset account — my share of this is $50,000. I also have $62,960 in super — this is lower than it should be as I only moved to Australia six years ago.)
Debt: $516,000 remaining on our mortgage. I split this 50/50 with my partner of eight years.
Paycheque Amount (Monthly): $10,048.33
Pronouns: She/Her
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Monthly Expenses

Rent: $820. We rent a three-bedroom apartment in Erskineville, Sydney. It's a very large split level unit and we use the top level for work. One bedroom is for us, the other is for my 10-month-old baby.
Mortgage: $1,042, but this is covered by our rental income.
Health Insurance: $440. Everyone is covered on our plan and it includes any hospital stay, as well as maternity cover (we made full use of this as I gave birth in the private system).
Childcare: $2,280. We pay $570 a week for five days of childcare. We also get a subsidy which we're extremely thankful for as the full price is around $710 each week.
Therapy: $370
Other Expenses: My partner and I both contribute $850 towards expenses, including groceries, eating out, streaming services, Spotify, etc. We occasionally need to top this up if a large unexpected bill comes through.
Savings Contributions: Prior to my current job, my savings contributions were about $3,500 each month. Now that I'm earning more, I'm considering increasing this to $4,000 a month, plus salary sacrificing an extra $500.
My partner and I share all of our bills 50/50, however as I just got a new role that pays a little more than him, I might contribute more, especially for holidays and eating out.

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

I studied in France where education was somewhat free. I studied a Bachelor in Communication and received a scholarship, so I didn't have to pay to study.
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Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?

I was really only told one thing — to not spend money that I didn't have. As a result, I've never had a credit card or Afterpay. Even when I was only on a $30,000 salary a few years ago.

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

I got my first job when I was 18, working in a factory over the summer. I got it as I needed to save money for living expenses for university.

Did you worry about money growing up?

All the time. We never had any money. All I knew was that money was always tight. Buying stuff was always a zero-sum situation — getting something meant that something else had to be sacrificed. It was tough. So I could do school trips, but with no pocket money. I could get new shoes, but the rest of my clothes were hand-me-downs.

Do you worry about money now?

Yes. I weirdly worry about small purchases more than the big stuff. I'm not sure why. I feel guilty, so I always wait for ages before buying anything substantial (for me, this is anything over $200). I never worry about funding a holiday or spending money on my mental health, but I'll stress over treating myself to material things that go out of style or depreciate.

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

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I started to become financially responsible for myself as soon as I got a paycheque. My main safety net is my savings. With $50,000 aside (and counting), I know I'm safe if I have to stop working for a few months.

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

I make $2,064 a month in rent on my investment property.

Day 1

6:30am —  I wake up around 6am, give or take half an hour. My partner and I take turns at who is going to pick up the baby and feed her first thing in the morning. At 10-months-old, she's effectively our alarm clock. Today, it's my turn, so we chill for an hour babbling and playing until her dad walks in to start making coffees. Tomorrow will be my turn to chill in bed — I'm quite looking forward to it. I pick her up from daycare in the evening and my partner takes the morning shift. They head off, so I take the time to do my skincare (I have to do it every single day, no joke), put some clothes on, and walk up to my office. I've put a sports bra on today so I have no excuse not to work out — it almost always works!
11:50am — Because I woke up early and haven't had a proper breakfast, I'm starving. We usually have salads or leftovers at home, but once a week we order sandwiches from the cafe across the street. Since I've bought my own coffee machine and saved $4.70 a day on coffee, I'm fine with this little treat. I buy two sandwiches ($14). $14
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5:30pm — My partner pops by our local Woolies to buy some veggies and fruit. We try to avoid waste and since I'm not a huge fan of eating the same thing over and over (sorry, food prep lovers), we go to the shop every other day for produce. He pays on our joint card — $38.
6:45pm — It's an early bedtime for my daughter who's literally crashed after dinner. Once she's in bed, my partner clears the table and fills the dishwasher because I cooked. I take a shower and we settle in to watch Love Is Blind: Japan. I try not to hit pause every five minutes to scream a hot take, but it's hard (I can't help myself!).
Daily Total: $52

Day 2

6:00am— I hear my partner pick up the baby which means that I can chill in bed for the next hour. I have a Wordle group chat where we post our daily wordles every morning. I post mine and do it, relaxing until 7am when I'll be summoned to make coffees.
9:30am — Today I'm going to my new office for the first time! I work 100% remote but can use the office as needed. I'll catch the train in at 10am and head back at 3pm. I tap on using my credit card (once this became an option, I never looked back). $4.65
10:30am — We have an onsite barista in our office. I grab a coffee for $2 (a bargain!). My lunch is covered by work, woo! $2
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3:00pm — I head home, tapping on at the train station. $4.65
3:45pm — On my way back home, I stop at the pharmacy to get the only brand of iron supplement I can tolerate (and have to take). It's $29 for 30 pills, which is outrageous. I'd like to speak to the manager, please! $29
6:15pm —  I eat dinner super early, as always. I just like to have my full evening for resting, stretching and doom scrolling. Tonight, we're having a version of the dinners we always make on weekdays — a carb (brown rice), veggies (sauteed broccoli), and a protein (tonight, it's salmon).
10:00pm —  I listen to the new episode of the You're Wrong About podcast in bed. My partner snores, so I'm on our daybed in the office tonight (for peacekeeping purposes).
Daily Total: $40.30

Day 3

6:45am— I pick up the baby from her bed and hand her the bottle. I rest next to her and use this time to chill and play with her. I realise she needs a clean change in her daycare bag, so I go through and clean out her bottles and sippy cup, and change out her clothes, sleeping bag, and cardigan. That way, my partner doesn't have to.
10:30am — I have therapy online today. I've seen the same therapist for a while now... almost a year. We talk twice a month with each session costing $185 out of pocket. It's not always ideal to have these on weekdays as I need to switch gears after each session to jump into a work call. But that being said, it's always worth it. I get my invoice after my session and book an appointment for a month ahead.
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1:30pm — I go for a quick walk after lunch in the park near us. It's been life-changing to be so close to a big park, especially during Covid.
4:30pm — I pick up my daughter from daycare. When we get home, we read a book, have a bit of a play, take silly photos, and get cleaned up. It's mid-week, so both my partner and I are really tired and low in energy. I've found that the best way to survive with a kid at home is to let go of certain expectations. On nights like these, we forget about tidying up the lounge or chores that need to be done.
6:00pm — We get sushi from the closest Japanese place to us ($42) and buy a small pack of craft beers — Balter XPA's ($19). $61
6:45pm — We head home and play music on our Google Mini from our joint Spotify account. We eat our Japanese and feed the baby. It's always a playful battle of who gets to play the next track. My daughter loves music and she's bouncing to anything we play — 90s hip hop, indie rock, techno... you name it!
8:00pm — I'm an evening shower type of person — the thought of going to bed without being squeaky clean doesn't sit well with me. My daughter has already been asleep for 30 minutes, so I can treat myself to a really long shower. After, I carve out 15 minutes to do my skincare. I recently bought a microcurrent facial device — it was a bit of an investment, but it's been keeping my face in good shape. I realise I'm running out of the primer gel that I need to use the device, so I jump online and upgrade to a large bottle of primer. It costs $72 and there's less than 300mL in it, but I don't smoke, don't drink too often, and don't get new clothes every month — skincare is my main indulgence at this stage of my life. $72
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9:00pm— After too much Twitter, Netflix and YouTube, I finally close my laptop. Like most nights, I fall asleep listening to a podcast. Tonight, it's The Daily — The New York Times. The episode is about the war in Ukraine.
Daily Total: $133

Day 4

8:20 am — I'm dropping my daughter off at daycare today. My new work is quite flexible, so on days like these, I usually do it as late as I can. I pop on some leggings and a sports bra because I know I want to get a workout done at some point. So far, I've only had time for one workout this week. I want to get back to four days a week as that's where I was at before getting pregnant.
10:30am — I realise I haven't paid my phone bill yet. I'm still on a postpaid plan for no other reason than the fact that I have zero interest in phones and hate looking at phone plans. I have an old, cracked phone that I plan to upgrade sometime soon. I would keep it until it dies, but now I have thousands of photos of my kid on it and I can't risk losing them all. I finally stop procrastinating and pay the bill of $35.12 on the Optus app. $35.12
1:15pm —  I have a break in meetings so I get a full workout done. It takes 45 minutes, and I squeeze in a warmup and short cooldown. Years ago, we invested in stackable dumbbells. We've never looked back. I'm not a gym person, so I prefer to spend the money on an online weight training program that only costs $20 a month.
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3:45pm —  I have some face-to-face work functions coming up, which is pretty daunting in this Covid world. As a result, I need to start thinking about clothing for the office. I'm having a fashion identity crisis postpartum where I feel like I've completely lost my fashion go-go juice. My weight is the same, but nothing fits like it used to. It doesn't help that I've spent most of the last year at home so I don't know how to dress anymore. I head to the shops and buy a really basic knit tank top ($59.99). I'm hoping that I can dress it up and down really easily when I go out with my new colleagues. I don't feel insanely excited about it, but its purpose is purely to make me look presentable. I think it's going to take me a few months before I feel like myself again. $59.99
5:50pm — My kid has no chill tonight and won't eat her food. We scrap the solids and resort to a bottle for dinner. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow. As she sits in front of me, I can see that her pyjamas are (already) too small and that we'll have to get some new ones. A lot of parents I know use Marketplace for secondhand baby clothes. I haven't made use of it yet, but I'll check it out later tonight.
7:45 pm— My partner catches up on some work. I head upstairs and book flights for my work trip that's coming up. I pay $200, but I know that work will expense these in the future. $200
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9:30pm— Suddenly, I'm hungry. I call out to my partner from downstairs, and he tells me I should eat a yoghurt. I end up making a sandwich. Thanks for the suggestion, I guess?
10:00pm— Sleep time. Tonight, I'm replaying an old episode of the Maintenance Phase podcast.
Daily Total: $295.11

Day 5

11:00am —  The day starts the same as all other days. I'm working, but in my mind, I'm thinking about what we're going to do this weekend! If the weather stays as dreadful as it is, we might go to a cafe. If it's nicer, we're thinking about checking out The Biennale.
12:45pm —  Lunch is leftovers mixed with miscellaneous greens from the fridge. My partner has been the designated grocery person since the pandemic started — today, he's come back from the shops with our beloved Lindt chocolate. It's gone through a crazy price hike ($5.25 for a block — what the...), but he's excited to tell me that it was on special for $3.20. I have a piece with a coffee. We've got a new bag of beans from our favourite coffee roaster — Shenkin. They cost $50 and last us for a month! $3.20
5:00pm — We chat through our plans for the weekend. Like most new parents, we're super tired. My partner's heading out for drinks with a friend later, and I'll get to do the same next week. We're taking turns as much as possible until we feel comfortable having our little girl looked after by someone. 
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7:45pm — He's away, so I treat myself to all my favourite food — olives, toasted bread with spreads, and smoked salmon. I watch a movie and do some fake online shopping. You know when you put 15 items in your cart but never hit checkout? Yeah, that one. I need to think over any clothes buying decision, so it takes a while for me to actually make a purchase. I'm trying to buy less, but right now, I have my eye on a very expensive handbag (like, $1,300). It's definitely going to stay in my basket for a few months before I can be 100% sure this is a good investment. 
10:00pm —  Time to sleep.
Daily Total: $3.20

Day 6

5:40am — Baby is up a bit earlier than usual, and so the standard morning routine begins.
9:00am — Baby's had a nap already, so we head to one of our favourite cafes in Marrickville and treat ourselves to coffee number two, breakfast burgers and a croissant for my daughter ($48.85). She inhales her food and we have to be extra vigilant to make sure she doesn't choke! But overall, it goes great — giggles, food and a mess at the table. We pay and head back home. It's raining nonstop and we can't do much outdoors with a baby. $48.85
12:00pm — We're deep into chores. It's the one time we can actually clean up the apartment. We take turns — someone plays with the baby while the other one cleans. Like most parents, we feel like the place is a mess after an hour, but that's the life we chose!
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2:00pm— After a morning of rain, the sky finally clears up. We celebrate with a long walk in the park. We try to take a different route when we can. I just love seeing my daughter notice new things — one day she'll be screaming at the dogs, another she'll point at birds. It's the best. 
5:00pm— We've run out of nappies and other baby essentials, so my partner takes a quick trip to Baby Kingdom, leaving with a bill of $74.99.
7:00pm —  Baby's in bed early. She's teething and it's no fun, so we try not to subject her to too many routine changes, even though it's the weekend. We head out and get supplies to make Aperol spritzes ($46.90) and order some Thai food ($38). It's been raining all day and we're exhausted, so we're having an easy one. $84.90
9:45pm— Everyone is in bed.
Daily Total: $208.74

Day 7

10:30 am — The day is clear! There's no rain, so we wait for our daughter's first nap to be over and head out to see The Biennale. We spend two hours exploring visual installations, paintings, and sculptures, soaking it all in. I was worried my daughter might get bored, but she ends up loving it. She even sits still through a 30-minute interactive piece on field recordings! The music makes her dance in her pram, which is funny to watch.
12:45pm — We contemplate grabbing some food onsite, but the vibe is a little meh and there's no staff anywhere to be found! My partner heads home with the baby, and I stay in the city for a few more hours. I have nothing specific in mind, but I want to look for clothes that will fit me better. I'm still a size 6, but everything feels off. I wander through a few shops and despair a little. I hate shopping in person, but I feel like I need to see clothes IRL to get a feel for what works best for me.
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1:15pm — The first shop I go to is my favourite high street brand — COS. Unfortunately, I have no luck finding anything. I head to Uniqlo and almost buy a shirt from the men's section (pro tip: always check out the men's section, especially for knits!), but nothing feels right. I start getting hungry, so I get a bite from Joe and the Juice ($15). Before I head home, I get some socks from Uniqlo for my baby girl — three pairs for $19.95. $34.95
2:50pm — On the way back, I get coffees. It's almost 3pm which is late for coffee, but it just feels right. I grab two soy lattes ($9.10) from a place I never go to. Unfortunately, I probably won't go back. $9.10
4:15pm —  I get a workout done. I still have some ab separation to work on, but I'm feeling so much better overall and can see that I'm getting stronger. I'm starving, so I eat a peanut butter sandwich as I think about what to make for dinner.
6:30pm — I make a quiche with a side salad. Everyone is very chilled tonight. After a bath and a book, we put the baby down for the night.
9:45pm — I'm done for the day. I contemplate opening my work laptop to get ahead of my workday, but I resist. I don't regret it. I read about the upcoming elections in France. I have no clue who to vote for in our upcoming election, so I'm trying to figure out what I'll do when it's time to cast my ballot.
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10:30pm —  Bedtime. Night, night!
Daily Total: $44.05
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.
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