Money Diaries

A Week In Bondi Beach, Sydney, In Investment Banking On $140,000

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 corporate communications manager who makes $140,000 and spends some of her money this week on a Hello Kitty keyring at Cabramatta’s Lunar New Year festival.
Occupation: Corporate Communications Manager
Industry: Investment Banking
Age: 29
Location: Bondi Beach, Sydney
Salary: $140,000
Net Worth: $280,200 ($85,700 in my current home value minus debt, $2,400 in shares, $3,000 in an employee share plan, $80,100 in superannuation, $70,000 in an offset savings account, $4,000 in everyday savings and roughly $35,000 in assets (including car, jewellery, bags etc.).)
Debt: I have $467,250 owing on my mortgage. I also have two credit cards (one personal and one shared with my boyfriend) which I use for Frequent Flyer points. They usually only have around $800 owing so they don’t bother me too much. 
Paycheque Amount (Monthly): $7,910
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses

Rent: $1,500 for my half. I live in a two-bedroom apartment in North Bondi. with my partner. It’s an art deco building a street back from the beach.
Investment Property Mortgage: $2,000. I renovated and rent out this property for $500 per week, so I break even on my mortgage repayments. It's a top-floor apartment in a standard 1960s redbrick building in Marrickville. It’s no frills, but thankfully has plenty of 60s character. I started renting it out late last year before the rental hikes really hit the market. I’m currently on a low, fixed-rate mortgage, so there’s no need for me to increase the rent on my tenants. However, my fixed rate ends in October and my mortgage repayments are set to double, so I expect to up the rent to account for this. The whole situation is tricky but two things can be true — homeowners are dealing with hiking interest rates and renters are dealing with hiking rental rates. No one wants it to be this way, it’s bad for the broader economy and the homeowners who are capitalising on it are just dicks.
Strata management: $220
Sydney Water: $100
Inner West Council Rates: $100
Private Health Insurance: $91
Car Insurance: $115
Electricity: $50
Gym: $200
SIM-Only Plan: $35
Spotify: $11.99
Hayu: $6.99
Substack Newsletters $5
Fluidform Online: $20
Savings Contribution: $1,500

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

Yes. I went to university and completed a Bachelor's and Master's degree. In total, I think my HECS bill was around $65,000, which I thankfully paid off last year. Prior to that, I completed a Diploma of Business. My mum paid for it as I didn’t qualify for HECS at the time because I wasn’t an Australian citizen.

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

Finance was never really spoken about in my home when I was little, but by my teens, there was an understanding that I would start paying my own way, which gave me a good appreciation for the value of money early on. Now as an adult, my mum really helps me manage my finances as maths is not my strong point — I was diagnosed with dyscalculia when I was a kid and I often get confused dealing with numbers. She’s helped me to break down large payments, like setting up direct debits monthly (like my strata and water bills), rather than quarterly which would trip me up a lot more.

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

I was a Saturday girl at a hair salon and I loved it — it made me feel cool and grown up. My job was to wash hair, make coffee, clean the salon, and give (terrible) blow drys. I was 14, we’d just moved to Australia from the UK, and I really quickly had to learn to communicate with adults all day and get to know my local community. I got paid $60 cash for a Saturday and an extra $60 if I did a few late-night shifts after school. I did it for years. That little yellow $50 note in an envelope really lit me up.

Did you worry about money growing up?

Again, I feel like I was sheltered from money worries which I’m really grateful for as I know they would have been looming in the background. It’s only now that I can see the broader picture. My sister and I were raised in a single-income household, so our budget would have been small, but we managed by living simply.
I did all my schooling in the public system. I used to get Youth Allowance. I worked two or three jobs at once. I took public transport everywhere. Honestly, it all made me a better person. I’m surrounded by privilege now and I don’t get swept away by it.  

Do you worry about money now?

Yes, but I don’t worry as much as I used to. I bought an apartment in 2020 and although it was a huge amount of work and a scary step, I feel that I have a pretty solid financial foundation now.
Due to my job, I’m constantly exposed to conversations around the economy, cash rates, and impending recessions, so I can find myself ruminating on it all at 3am. But this also means that I’ve been exposed to financial planning skills, which has made me feel more confident in my choices and decision-making.
Now that I feel more secure, I worry more about family members, especially as they get older. But sometimes I think that if things get really tough for them, I can sell my handbags and live off $5 a day to make sure they’ll be okay.

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

I dropped out of high school at 17 to work full time and study for a diploma, which came with a steep learning curve about financial responsibility. I was working full-time, studying full-time and often fitting unpaid internships in there too. It was insanely stressful. I lived with my mum during this period, which obviously helped a lot. I paid below-market rent to her until I moved out at 22. I moved back home at 26 to save for my apartment deposit, which was also during Covid.
So yeah, I was relatively independent from a young age, but mum was always my safety net while I found my feet. These days, I can confidently say that I am entirely financially responsible for myself and can rely on my own net worth — if anything happens, I can dip into my savings or sell some assets.

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

No inherited income, but I managed my apartment as an Airbnb for a while. I’d stay at my boyfriend’s house whenever I had guests, and this provided me with a passive income of around $2,000 a month. I saved most of it to go towards a European holiday last year.
My boyfriend has two investment properties, and I financially benefit from him shouting meals or groceries here and there. We now live together in a rental, which we pay for with the passive income from our properties.
I also rent out my investment property and make $2,000 a month, which covers my mortgage repayments.

Day 1

6:00am — This is not my preferred time to wake up on a Wednesday, but I have an early work call that I need to go to the office for. Work requires at least three days in the office, and I’ve already done the last two days from home, so I’ve got little choice. I have to admit though, doing my hair and makeup and wearing actual clothing is pretty good for my mental health — it’s nice to remember that I can be something other than a Lululemon-WFH-warrior who just grazes the fridge, grunts at emails and sits hunched over on the couch!
8:00am — Bus, train ($5), Spotify playlist and I’m in the office for the first meeting of the day with a team in the United States. I sip on an instant coffee until I can run down to the cafe and get a proper one. (I am a proud instant coffee drinker and it’s just so much cheaper — plus it makes the barista-made ones an extra nice treat!). I finish the meeting and run to work’s cafe for an almond cappuccino ($4.50 — my work cafe has subsidised prices for staff) because I need to have some chocolate powder in my body before 9am. $9.50
11:30am — Quick moment between meetings. I grab an apple and some peanut butter from the work kitchen and munch anyway at my desk. I’m a pretty ritualised (read: dull) eater during the week. I can’t stand thinking about what my next meal will be, so I take the guesswork out of it by eating the same breakfast and lunch. Everyone I know thinks this is deranged, but it frees up my thinking space, keeps my spending down and maintains my veggie intake.
1:00pm — Lunch break. I grab my gym bag and head to a reformer class. I really like to work out during my lunch break as I find it gives me more energy for the afternoon. After my silly little exercises, I rush back to work and, once again, eat at my desk. Lunch is usually a paleo-seeded bread situation with avocado, tomato, and dill. I eat this during a meeting where we’re discussing operational risk… not fun.  
3:00pm — I work on a few upcoming projects. It’s pretty quiet at work, but I can tell it’s going to be a busy year — I think that’s the intention behind getting everyone back in the office. I text my boyfriend, J., that the money from our rentals has come into our shared account but the total amount looks wrong. Dyscalculia strikes again and I can’t figure out how to reconcile the amount, so I’ve asked him to look into it.
Navigating being a landlord in your 20s is strange — it can be stressful at times, but I’m glad that I took the risk in purchasing the place during Covid when prices were low. I used the First Home Buyers grant (which meant I only had to have a 5% deposit) and the First Home Super Saver Scheme, which allows you to ‘sacrifice’ a percentage of your pay into your super, which is taxed at a lower rate than your salary. This sacrificed (read: saved!) money can then be pulled from your super as a lump sum house deposit. If you’re considering buying a place, I feel like this could be the best way to do it, in my experience. I essentially got into the property market for less than $50,000 and did it within a year — there are conditions around it to consider but frankly, it got me an apartment in the Inner West, which I’m stoked with.
5:00pm — Bus and train home. I potter around at home until my late-night meetings start. That is until I see a spot of commotion outside my apartment. There are police sirens and a helicopter! After a boring day, I could use this, so I throw on my Tevas and go for a sticky beak. They’re filming Bondi Rescue — it looks like someone has been hurt on the rocks. Yikes. There’s almost always something happening in Bondi, so J. and I are basically on full-time neighbourhood watch. Most nights, we lay on our bed, hanging our heads out the window to watch people on the street and make sweeping statements about their hypothetical lives as we go. 
8:30pm — My last meeting of the day has wrapped and I’m starving. J.’s just gotten home from a swim and we agree to head to the local RSL for steak night. I have a wine and we sit out on the balcony, watch the sunset and chat. The steak is great value at $18 considering the sides, and we stroll home and cuddle up in bed. J. shouts dinner and drinks as I did the food shopping earlier in the week.
Daily Total: $14.50

Day 2

6:00am — I’m up early again, but this time it’s by choice — I’ve got a reformer class booked. Every time I go to a morning class at the gym near work I think, "Wow, I should do this every day I’m in the office," but often I choose to stay in bed for the extra hour. It’s not just for the class — I enjoy getting ready here because they have Dyson hairdryers and Airwraps, a luxury not lost on me. I head into the office with my TikTok-informed blowout via bus and train. $5
9:00am — I head down to the office cafe and answer emails from the queue. I chug some lemon water and grab an almond cap and a YoPro protein yoghurt ($6). J. and I have worked out the issue with the rent — we’ve received six weeks of rent rather than four. We’re not sure how or why we’ve ended up with the extra cash, but we move it into our joint savings account to accrue interest until it’s needed to pay our own rent. I am a big fan of bucketing my money in different accounts. I think I have more than ten accounts across two banks, all dedicated to different things, on average generating 4% interest per annum. I learnt this years ago through that Barefoot Investor book and it stuck. $6
12:00am — My mum also works in the CBD, so I head down the road for a catch-up. She requested I bring her "a fairly easy book to read, please", so I bring a copy of The Dry from Jane Harper, my go-to. I can be a book snob but this book slaps. I’m inspired by the outing and head to Dymock’s on my way back to the office to buy a new book to start over the weekend — Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. I usually try to buy books from Vinnies, but this one’s a new release and I’m keen to read it, so I bite the bullet ($32.99). I eat avo on toast again for lunch back at my desk. $32.99
3:30pm — I am fading. So many meetings that require deep thinking and problem-solving. I’m struggling with the career transition from being the person that ‘does stuff’ to being the person ‘who tells people to do stuff’. I grab an emergency Coke Zero from a vending machine. $1.80
7:00pm — I catch the bus home ($5) and finish my last meeting from the dining room table. This one was actually pretty interesting — we discussed the community impact of our organisation and explained how those measurements are tracked. I walk to the kitchen, exhausted, and shovel a few handfuls of Cheetos into my mouth. My boyfriend is still at work, and I know we’re going to try to out-bargain each other on who’s cooking dinner. It's his turn, and he is undoubtedly the better cook in this relationship, but if I want to eat before 10pm, I’m going to have to step in. On our second date, he invited me to his apartment, cooked me pasta and put his mattress on the living room floor so we could eat in comfort. The first thing I made him was a “white girl salad” — his words, not mine — which consisted of Aldi canned tuna and lettuce. $5
8:00pm — My boyfriend is home and has brought groceries with him, but he’s not hungry yet and heads out for a surf and to grab some beers. As expected, I’m cooking. I make us chicken burrito bowls and we eat them while watching MAFS. I love this trash, everyone has “done some shit in the past that I regret, but I learned from it and now I’m ready to find true love”, before proceeding to act like the biggest gronk in the world for eight weeks on national TV. Delicious.
10:00pm — I take a long shower, do my skincare, take my supplements, and read my new book in bed. J. comes in and says, “Remind me to tell you my aircon story…” but I fall asleep before I can remind him, so sadly, I have no aircon story to share with you. I’m sure it would have been good. 
Daily Total: $50.27

Day 3

7:30am — It’s Friday and I’m meant to go into the office, but nah. I lay in bed for another 30 minutes and then J. and I walk down to the beach. He jumps into the water, and I get us a table at a cafe and read the paper. I order us a coffee and croissant each ($27.95) It's an absolutely stunning morning and it’s rare we get slow mornings like this together, so we sit back and enjoy it. $27.95
10:30am — Working from my dining room and sending a million documents out for approval. During Covid, I started doing Fluidform Pilates online and I loved it. I’m extremely picky about exercise classes and instructors and I just cannot fault theirs. They’ve just opened up a new studio in Bondi, so I take advantage of their opening deal (three classes for under $70) and book myself in for tomorrow morning. $69
1:00pm — Time for a break. I drive to Bondi Junction (a godforsaken place) to do a gym class. It’s a team-based HIIT workout with a good Friday feel about it. I stop by Cotton On afterwards to pick up two new singlets and a pair of lightweight cargo pants ($79). These cotton singlets are honestly all I wear. I work out in them, sleep in them, wear them under shirts, under blazers — you name it. I once splurged on a Toteme one and honestly, the Cotton On ones are better. I eat last night’s leftovers for lunch as I’m having an expensive day, but this is how it usually goes for me — I spend very little Monday to Thursday and then I bleed cash over the weekend. At least I’m conscious of it though, right? $79
3:31pm — Fuck it, I’m getting a Coke Zero. I also pick up some super glue.
4:45pm — I log off, grab my book and a four-pack of beers and head to the beach with J. We run into a couple of friends and collectively decide happy hour is calling, because $10 spicy margaritas are best enjoyed in soaking wet swimwear. I have two ($20). Afterwards, J. and I walk to the surf club for a cheap dinner. We share some fish tacos ($26) and drink two seltzers each ($24) on the club balcony — a perfect sunny Sydney evening. We are passed out by 10pm. $80 
Daily Total: $264.50

Day 4

6:50am — I try not to set alarms on the weekend, but I wake up naturally as the sun blasts into our bedroom. J. is still sleepy, so I leave him in bed while I run to Bronte and back. Another stunning morning — the ocean is clear and there’s a little chill in the air which makes the run bearable. I used to run a lot during lockdown (what the f else was there to do?) and did a half marathon last year. Since then, I’ve tried to maintain the habit, but it’s been very hard. I’ve just never *loved* it. J. comes and meets me once I’m done and we grab a coffee together (my boyfriend pays) and drink it on the sand. He heads out for a surf, and I do the Pilates class I booked myself in for yesterday.
11am — The Pilates class was so fun, and since it was the opening weekend, I got a free tote, baseball cap and protein bar. I walk to the markets to grab some fruit and vegetables for the week and run into a girlfriend on the way. We shop together and catch up on our respective weeks. She shouts me a punnet of organic strawberries and I agree to get her a coffee next week in return. I also get some Japanese sweet potato (my favourite), apples, greens, and bananas. $16
12:30pm — I get home and J. makes us breakfast burritos. I’m starving after a double workout, so I gobble it up. Together we do a quick pow-wow clean of the house, then he grabs us another coffee and a morning bun to share. He does a couple of hours of work, and I walk down to the beach to read my book. J. also works in a corporate role. We technically met at work years ago (this is yuck to me), but then matched on Hinge a year or so later. His work is more creative and senior than mine, so I like hearing about his campaigns and activations, but it often means he has to work long hours and the occasional weekend. 
3:00pm — We regroup at home and get ready to go out — we’re driving to Cabramatta’s Lunar New Year festival. I love this stuff — growing up in Marrickville, I lived off Vietnamese food and it’s good to actually get to celebrate some of the culture. We arrive, withdraw $50 each from an ATM and hunt for obscure snacks and a Hello Kitty keyring for me (my last one from Japan sadly broke). We buy some deep-fried purple sweet potato, fried salted fish, a pearl tea and BBQ pork skewers. We then head to the pub to meet up with a girlfriend and her family. They’re like a second family to me and we all shout a few rounds of drinks each. $50
8:00pm — We head back to the festival, albeit a little tipsy and jig around in the crowd until the dragon dance starts — the show is incredible and the kids in the crowd go absolutely mad for it, which is adorable to watch. The dance concludes with a firework show. I mean, what else could you ask for? We find a spot for dinner and share some spring rolls, chicken and tomato rice, spicy beef and pork noodle soup and a young coconut. We’re absolutely stuffed, use our cash to pay for the meal ($20) and drive home listening to the late-night deep house show on my favourite station, CADA 96.1FM. $20
Daily Total: $86

Day 5

9:05am — God, I love sleeping for over nine hours. I roll out of bed, make a pot of tea and J. and I sit down to some Sunday morning TV — usually, some sort of outdoors/camping/world surf league show, which is like balm for the brain.
10:30am — It’s my grandad’s 84th birthday today so we’re having a big family meal down the coast near Wollongong. I’m certain J.’s favourite thing about visiting my grandparents is getting Macca's on the way down — it’s a rite of passage for him. We pull into the drive-thru, and he grabs a cheeseburger meal, nuggets, and a coke. J. is driving, so it’s my duty to carefully place the chips into his cheeseburger, ensuring each area of the burger has optimal chip coverage, and then pass the burger to him to eat safely at the wheel. I have a couple of chips but don’t want to ruin my appetite before lunch.
12:10pm — We arrive at my grandparents’ house and immediately get put to work. J. needs to move the dining table outside and ensure it’s in the shade, and I have to make two cheese boards. The cheeses are at room temperature by the time everyone else arrives. My family is extremely close, and we all get along really, really well. My uncle cooks a huge paella, and my sister makes a fennel and Caprese salad. I have a Heaps Normal as I’ll be driving home later, and J. gets into the champagne with my nan and auntie.
3:00pm — We bring out the birthday cake which my nan has made (it’s adorable) and all sing happy birthday. My grandad pretends to not have enough strength to blow out the candle and cuts the cake. I serve everyone a generous serving of ice cream on the side. It’s a perfect 29-degree day so everyone dives in before it melts.
5:30pm — J. and I load back into the car for our drive home and we chat about the day. We both agree it was perfect and went really smoothly. As my family is so close, if one person is in an off mood, you can see it influence other members of the family which can result in snappy comments, but there was none of that today. We then talk about our exes and their families and what the vibes were like. My ex’s family was totally dysfunctional but thankfully, J.’s family is exactly the same as mine, and the vibes are very much on. We wonder if it’s because both our families moved to Australia around the same time and as a result, had to huddle together to thrive in a new setting.
8:00pm — J. is on a work call and I eat leftovers in front of MAFS. He logs off, pours himself a glass of wine, eats a gummy and together we assume positions for our neighbourhood watch. People are looking at a box put out for council clean up on the other side of the road, so I grab a torch and shine it on them, like the investigator I am. By this point, we’re crying with laughter and the poor people across the road get confused and embarrassed and walk away. We wipe away our tears, tell each other we love each other and agree to settle down and go to bed. 
10:37pm — I’m woken up by J. eating leftover chicken nuggets from this morning’s Macca's order in bed next to me and laughing at TikToks. I guess the gummy worked. I apply a retinol serum, tell him he’s an idiot and roll over back to sleep.
Daily Total: $0

Day 6

8:20am — I’m late. I woke up at 5:30am to pee and fell back into a deep sleep. J. is already out on a run, which makes me feel worse, but god, Monday mornings are easier when you haven’t partied all weekend. I’m really trying to lay low for the first few months of 2023 as I have a busy year. But the thing about me is… I love a session. I love getting dressed up. I love a blow-dry. I love martinis, a vape, an overpriced meal, talking shit at 4am. I love the bonding that happens between people in the early hours of the morning. But by December last year, I was truly out-sessioned and now I’m recovering. I’ve told myself that around April to May, I’ll treat myself to a Shellac mani and probably some Botox, and then I’m allowed to absolutely turn up again.
11:45am — J. and I are both working from home. He has been in back-to-back calls, so I grab us coffee and a Danish for him because he is a baby and always deserves a little treat. $14.50
12:30pm — Pilates, again. The reformer class is overbooked so instead, I was given a private 1:1 session on the mat. I’ve only done a handful of these before, it always feels extremely luxurious but also makes me nervous that someone can 1) see that I haven’t shaved my legs, 2) smell my coffee breath, and 3) correct every tiny part of my form. I thank my instructor and walk home via Woolies to grab an avocado and some tuna for lunch. $7.60
4:30pm — J. has had to go into the office for the afternoon, so I give myself an early mark and drive to Aldi to do the food shopping for the week. I genuinely enjoy food shopping and I’m far better at sticking to a budget than J. is. I grab the essentials for the week: milk, eggs, goats’ cheese, chicken, and veggies, which come in at exactly $50. I pay as J. paid for the internet this month. $50
5:30pm — I finish my emails and go for an hour walk while listening to one of my favourite podcasts — The Sexy Unique Podcast. They recap episodes of the Real Housewives. I became a housewife head while doing my Master's degree. I was so stressed, and it was the only thing that could turn ‘off’ my brain. It still does the trick all these years later. 
7:00pm — I make dinner while tinting my eyebrows and lashes. I serve up another 'white girl' twist on a burrito bowl to use up the salsa and tortillas from last week and we eat it in silence while watching MAFS. Tonight’s narrative arc seems to be the participants reassuring each other that they have each other’s backs. J. and I give each other a literal slap on the back and say, “I got you, BRO!”
10:30pm — Happy, in bed and fast asleep.
Daily Total: $72.10

Day 7

6:00am — I wanted to go for a swim before work, but I snooze my alarm until 7am, then rush around to get into the office in time. Shower, skincare, supplements and commute into the city ($5). I’m at my desk just past 8 and a co-worker shouts me my morning coffee. $5
12:15pm — I spend the morning reviewing our third-quarter financial performance and then pull together some slides for an investor pitch deck. Once again, I eat my protein yoghurt (bought in from home) and smash a litre or so of water. I text my boyfriend about scheduling a meeting with our accountant/financial advisor. We haven’t caught up with him since ‘officially’ moving in together and I want to check there are no tax implications of us earning more in rent than we’re currently paying. I also want to know what I should do about my fixed-rate mortgage which expires this year. Until a few years ago, I’d literally use HR Block for my accounting or do it myself. If you take anything from this Money Diary… it’s worth paying the price for a good accountant and asking them for a review of your finances. I got back thousands after I did this. We book in a meeting for later in the month and I head to a hot yoga class. 
5:30pm — I leave work after a pretty uneventful afternoon and head to the beach to do that swim I missed out on this morning ($5 for public transport). I get home and have an extended shower, you know the ones where you take your time to dry brush, shave, double cleanse, mask? Heaven. I marinate some chicken and sweet potato for dinner and finish a few emails on the couch. $5
9:25pm — J. is still at work, so I leave him the leftovers in the fridge in case he hasn’t expensed dinner. I do my skincare, take my supplements and do some online shopping. I’m turning 30 this year and want to buy myself something I’ll have forever. I’m thinking a tennis bracelet or a Cartier bracelet that matches my rings. It kills me that luxury items are even more expensive with inflation and it feels irresponsible to buy something like that with my fixed-term mortgage finishing soon, so instead, I look at pre-loved options on The Real Real. It's definitely the sensible way to do it. I turn off the light, hang my head outside the window, stare at a neighbour’s cat and do a running list of the things I’m grateful for — the warm breeze and the health and happiness of my family, friends and boyfriend.
Daily Total: $10
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