Money Diaries

A Week In Brunswick, Melbourne, As A Journalist On $70,000

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 journalist who makes $70,000 a year and spends some of her money this week on Mecca's 'To Save Face' sunscreen in preparation for a trip to Fiji.
Occupation: Journalist
Industry: Digital Media
Age: 31
Location: Brunswick, Melbourne
Salary: $70,000
Net Worth: $110,000 ($100,000 in various savings accounts and car ownership and $55,000 in super).
Debt: $45,000 in HECS debt that I only perceive once a year at tax time. No other debt (yay!).
Paycheque Amount (Monthly): $4,100. I 'pay' myself $1,000 each week so I don't spend it all at once.
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses

Rent: $1,108. I live with two housemates in a rental in Melbourne’s inner north. It’s a gorgeous worker’s cottage with lots of charm and a fantastic bathtub.
Internet: $33
Electricity: $30ish
Gas: $15
Phone: $65
Veggie Box (2 each month) $30
ACF Donation: $26
Various Subscriptions (Netflix, Paramount+, Spotify, Apple Fitness (lol), iCloud Storage and Disney+): $80
Union Fees: $60
Pay The Rent: $20
Private Health Insurance: $115
Savings Contributions: I put away $200 each week into savings — half into my untouchable big savings and the other half into my treat/rainy day savings.

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

Yep! I did a Bachelor of Media and Communications and a Master's in Journalism and paid for it using the aforementioned not-to-be-perceived HECS/HELP debt.

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

My parents worked in the local bank and post office, so money literacy was a normal conversation while I was growing up. In saying that, it wasn't really a huge focus beyond learning about savings accounts and being (somewhat) responsible with money. As kids, we were given pocket money for doing chores and simple household tasks. I was also given a credit card (with a $2,000 limit!) when I first moved out, which was a hell of a mistake to give a 19-year-old.

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

My first job was at Macca's when it opened in my hometown. I kept the job for about a year, even though I was in my teenage rebellious vegetarian era. I once made a valiant attempt at doing the junk mail pamphlet route around my neighbourhood, but it was short-lived (I may have given up on it and my parents ended up doing it until someone else picked up the route).

Did you worry about money growing up?

Not often. My parents — although they didn't work in super high-paying jobs — always managed to provide for us. Sure, there were times when we didn't get what we wanted (like the time I asked for a Razor scooter and was gifted a monster thing with offroad wheels), but we were largely very lucky to be provided with what we needed, especially when I knew some of my friends weren't in the same position.

Do you worry about money now?

Often! Moving out of home twelve years ago really put the cost of living into perspective for me and I think I've gotten more conscious and worried about it in the last few years, with prices rising so sharply. I'm much more mindful of money and how I'm managing it now. I also turned into a good saver when I moved out, after always being the kid who would immediately spend all their pocket money!

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

My parents gave me about $10,000 when I first moved out of home in 2010 — Dad had been putting money into a bank account for me each week over the years, bless! That was a good buffer to help me transition into living out of home, and I've been financially responsible for myself since then (aside from the odd $100 after a teary phone call when I didn't know how I was going to afford groceries). I now have a pretty decent safety net and larger savings that I'm working on building up as a bit of a nest egg for major expenses.

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

I inherited $80,000 after my grandparents passed away just before the pandemic.

Day 1

6:05am — My alarm goes off and I roll around in bed. It's my first week back at work after the Christmas break and I've just finished having five days of annual leave after pulling a couple of news shifts after New Year's. I've challenged myself to do a 30-day yoga journey with Adriene Mishler (aka Yoga with Adriene — she's my fave yoga YouTuber) so I'm planning to get up at 6am every workday to complete the day's session. 
6:48am — I head out for a quick morning walk around the nearby footy oval — it's prime time to watch the local dogs getting out for a trot while I listen to a podcast and get my body moving before work. I've found that my mental health really benefits from a morning walk because I'm at my desk for most of the day, so I try to get one in every morning.
7:14am — Back home. I make a coffee and some muesli with fresh berries for breakfast. A friend and I went for a drive on the weekend and we grabbed some locally grown strawberries on the side of the road — their flavour is absolutely unreal.
10:00am — I'm working from home from 10am till 6:30pm, so I settle in and get to work on the day's news. I comb through all the emails that have built up in my inbox over the break.
1:30pm — Lunch time! I made a delicious turmeric fish salad on the weekend, so lunch is leftovers made into a new fresh salad. I use a bunch of stuff my housemates and I got in our fortnightly veggie box — these are seriously the way to go, especially considering how expensive everything is getting at the shops!
6:30pm — I clock off work for the day and throw together a quick dinner — frozen dumplings and sautéed Pak Choy with oyster sauce. I've recently gotten into watching Yellowstone, which is sparking a long-dormant love for horses and farms — you can't take the country out of the girl, I guess!
8:30pm — I've been eyeing off a Frank Green water bottle for a while now and decide to pull the trigger on finally buying one. I decide on a neon green 1L bottle with my initials and a little flower engraved on it. I use a $50 gift card and pay the difference. $27.90
10:30pm — I hop into bed and play a level of Lego Harry Potter (I impulse bought it from eBay after playing it at my parents' place over Christmas, lol), and eventually doze off around 11pm.
Daily Total: $27.90

Day 2

6:00am — I'm up and about a little earlier today. It seems that I'm staying true to this yoga commitment — Adriene and Benji, her cattle dog, would be so proud. I've just been doing the sessions in my lounge room as soon as I wake up and get out of bed, which is good to stop myself from immediately getting stuck into an Insta/Twitter/Tiktok scroll. It's a habit I'm trying to break this year. I also love getting it done at this time as my housemates aren't up yet and don't have to witness me sweating and panting in downward dog for half an hour.
7:00am — Shoes are on and I'm out the door for my morning walk. This time, I hoof it over to my local Woolies to pick up a few things. I've got a BBQ dinner tonight with my footy coach and our leadership group to do some forward planning for the season ahead, so I need to grab some veggie sausages to chuck on the barbie. While I'm at the shops, I spot some English muffins that are on sale and I decide I want to make myself fancy egg McMuffins at home this week, so I grab a packet. It's $9.50 all up for the snags and the muffins. I get back home and have a quick shower before settling into my work day. $9.50
9:30am — I've made a coffee and logged into the work chat to start my day — I've got a bit of planning to do for an interview later in the week as well as coverage at a music festival next month, which is super exciting. I love getting out to festivals — it always feels like a big reunion seeing industry friends and meeting some incredible musicians.
1:30pm — Lunch time. This time, I make some rice paper rolls with some leftover cold marinated tofu and vermicelli from yesterday's salad. I notice we're low on the cleaning spray that we buy in bulk — again, it's a much better way to do it money-wise because it lasts ages — so I order a new 4L cask and split it with my housemates, which works out to be $15 each. $15
6:00pm — Knock-off time. I drive over to my coach's place for our season-planning dinner. It's really nice to catch up with everyone after the break and get excited about pulling the boots on for another year. I think we were all pretty burnt out at the end of last year, but just spending time with everyone and looking forward to how we want to train and play this year has started to spark excitement in my guts again.
9:30pm — It's a ripper sunset over the houses as I drive home. I catch up with one of my housemates for a bit before turning in for the night (and another level of Lego Harry Potter — it seriously smooths my brain out so nicely).
Daily Total: $24.50

Day 3

6:00am — My early morning wake-ups are getting easier by the day, which feels like a good place to be in. Although I'm working a slightly later shift today, I do enjoy getting up early and pottering around — I'm not the kind of person who rolls out of bed and out the door. 
Today's yoga sesh is gentle and involves a really nice amount of meditation and breathwork, which I've found really helps with my stress and anxiety levels — something that I've struggled with a lot over the last couple of years.
7:00am — No walk today because I'm headed back into the office for the first time this year. I'm keen to see all my workmates and catch up with everyone after being away since mid-December. I actually got COVID during the last week of work (and missed our Xmas party), so I don't think I've seen anyone for about a month now.
I jump in the shower, chuck on some nice clothes (can't get away with lounge shorts today) and do some quick makeup. I don't wear much full coverage makeup anymore, but it's amazing how much a bit of mascara and brushing/filling out my brows can make me look a bit more put together.
8:30am — I'm out the door with a coffee to catch the train. It's not until I'm about halfway to the city that I remember the city loop is closed for the week, so my commute ends up being three trains — I have to jump off at North Melbourne, get a train to Flinders, and THEN get another train over to Richmond. Luckily, I don't start until 10am and my love for being early so I can fluff around and settle in means I'm not going to be late.
1:48pm — A bit of a late lunch today, but I didn't bring anything with me. Normally, I like to pack lunch for my week and then buy myself something on Friday as a treat. But it's my first week back so I can't blame myself for being out of routine a little bit! I wander up to the shops and grab some sushi for lunch ($12.80). It's bloody hot today and I don't feel like anything else. $12.80
6:30pm — Time to head back home. This time I'm smart and jump on a tram home from Flinders instead of running the train gauntlet again. Not making that mistake twice in one day!
7:38pm — I'm home and find that my new water bottle has arrived — I love it! I have a quick chat with my housemate who's out the front doing some gardening, before popping inside because I have to watch an early screening of an upcoming movie in preparation for an interview. I make some rice paper rolls with the last of the turmeric fish and marinated tofu and settle in to watch the film.
10:00pm — I feel grotty and sweaty from the day, so I jump in the shower for a cool rinse-off before hopping into bed. It's late, so I have a bit of a scroll on my phone and read some of my book. I'm currently reading A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan — it's a really good read and I've managed to get a fair way into it, which has been a struggle for me in the last couple of years. I get sleepy and turn the lights off.
Daily Total: $12.80

Day 4

6:12am — Up and stretching on the mat again this morning. I'm quietly proud of myself for maintaining this routine and of how much more settled I feel. It's been lovely to get up and stretch, switching on my brain and body at the same time. I've noticed an old back injury from working in bottle shops has flared up again, so I'm trying to care for that while still working through the morning yoga practice. Maybe I need to go see a physio for a remedial massage again soon...
6:45am — Showered and dressed for the day. I've got the interview I've been prepping for this afternoon, so I'm feeling a bit nervous! It'll be fine, but sometimes I get such a small amount of time with them that it's about finding the perfect one or two things to ask.
8:00am — I walk down to the tram (not making the train mistake again), and top up my Myki [public transport card] for the day's commute ($10). It'll be so good if and when Melbourne public transport lets us touch on and off with our debit cards — I always forget that's the deal in Sydney now so whenever I go back I always think "damn, this just makes so much sense". $10
8:53am — I get into work and get a few things set up for the day. I didn't make a coffee at home this morning, so a couple of my workmates and I head around the corner to one of our fave cafes for a little treat coffee. I get a large flat white on oat milk ($5.30) and they give me a little discount for bringing a KeepCup (which is really just a mug from the office — let's normalise taking a mug down the street!). $5.30
9:30am — I get started with my work for the day. There's some fun news around, which helps to settle the nerves ahead of the interview in a few hours.
12:45pm — The interview is done and I feel quite good about it, even though it was a bit nerve-racking. Honestly, no matter how many people I interview — celebrities, musicians, athletes, experts, whoever — I always get a pang of nervous excitement beforehand.
1:00pm — Time for lunch. I throw together the leftovers from last night's rice paper rolls into a Vietnamese vermicelli salad and drizzle over some tangy, spicy nước chấm. It's fresh and filling, perfect for a summer lunch in the office.
6:00pm — Knock-off time. I lock up the office and head back to the city to get the tram up to Brunswick. My housemates and I have a booking at a local Thai restaurant tonight so we can catch up — they've only just moved in over the last couple of months, so we're grabbing dinner now that we're all settled in. 
6:45pm — I manage to get to Brunswick much quicker than I'd thought I would, so I drop in at a bar for a little wine by myself while I wait. They don't have any chilled reds, so I pick out a Pinot Grigio ($13) and sit outside in the evening sun. A friend of mine is working at the venue and comes over for a quick chat and catch up before he has to go back inside to sound-check the band playing tonight. $13
7:13pm — I wander up to the restaurant, find our table and order myself another wine — this time a rosé — to have with dinner. My housemates trundle in about ten minutes later and we catch up about our days and how we're all going with our first weeks back at work. 
8:30pm — Dinner is so good. We order a few dishes to share and I don't think there are any flops among all of our choices! We split the bill three ways ($35 each) and give each other a knowing look about what we should do next: walk down the street and get ice cream. $35
8:42pm — I choose to get a scoop of macadamia honey ice cream in a waffle cone and it's absolutely delish. I tell my housemate I'll shout her ice cream because I had a wine and she didn't, so it comes for $14 for both of our sweeties. There's a flavour in the cone that I can't put my finger on; maybe cinnamon? I've been struggling with flavours and smells since April, after I developed a distorted sense of smell a couple of months after I first got COVID. It was a bit of a delayed onset post-viral issue with the olfactory nerves in my brain and is slowly changing and (hopefully) correcting itself. $14
9:30pm — Back home and we all get ourselves sorted and settled for bed. I chuck on an episode of Yellowstone (which I've now dubbed "Cowboy Succession") and hit the hay around 10:40pm.
Daily Total: $77.30

Day 5

6:30am — Gave myself a little bit of a sleep-in today before getting up to do my yoga sesh. I'm working from home again today and start at 10am, so I've got a bit of time to fuss around this morning. 
7:50am — I chuck a shirt on over my workout gear, pull my shoes on and head out for a morning walk. It's already starting to get pretty toasty outside with the sun up and we're expecting a hot one tomorrow, so I want to grab a couple of things to try and keep the house as cool as I can.
8:15am — I've got some old curtains in the back shed that I want to put up in the lounge room to try and keep it relatively cool in there, so I duck into Bunnings and grab a couple of lengths of timber dowel to put the curtains up in the corner windows ($6.40). Then I drop into a new cafe that's opened up just down the street. They're doing free coffees this week, so I pick up an oat flat white and head home to shower and log on for the day. $6.40
5:32pm — My housemate gets home from work and immediately asks if I want a gin and tonic as they're making themselves a negroni. It's a summer Friday arvo and I'm nearly done with work, so I take them up on the offer and they deliver it to me at my desk — what a treat!
6:30pm — Work's done for the week! We made it! The first week back is done and dusted. I grab a beer from the fridge and park myself on the couch out the front to read my book while the sun dips.
8:23pm — I haven't been inspired to cook or do any quick groceries today, so I scroll three different delivery apps to try and see what sparks a bit of excitement in my stomach. After having an (extremely classic) bout of menu panic, I wind up ordering a veggie green curry and coconut rice from a local Thai place ($22). I have a small bowl on the couch watching my new obsession (Cowboy Succession, of course) and put the rest in the fridge for later. $22
9:38pm — My housemate picked up some more sticky hooks so we can put the curtains up before the heatwave kicks off tomorrow, so I get the step stool out and get that done. I hope we can try and trap some of the cooler air in the house overnight and that these curtains stop some of that early hot sun from turning the room into a greenhouse, though I'm sure the plants in the lounge would love it.
10:35pm — I turn in for bed and finish off another level on Lego Harry Potter before my Switch runs out of battery. Tomorrow is Saturday, so I don't set an alarm (bliss) and fall asleep with my fan on a two-hour timer and one leg sticking out from under the doona.
Daily Total: $28.40

Day 6

7:32am — Waking up without an alarm is truly one of the best feelings, I reckon. I indulge in a little lie in bed on my phone before getting up to get a few things done before the heat sets in. It's meant to get up to 38º today (yuck!) so I want to get my exercise done early, before it really starts to feel like an oven outside.
8:00am — I'm up and on the mat for today's yoga sesh, which includes a lot of isolating and deep lunges. I'm surprised at how much my body is adapting to these sessions in such a short amount of time — last weekend, the lunges in warrior pose were making my knees and thigh muscles burn, but now it's more bearable.
8:42am — I pop a shirt and some sunscreen on before heading out for a morning walk. It's already bloody hot out, but I'm determined to get a walk in today.
9:05am — My favourite little coffee shop between my house and the footy oval is closed today, so I wander a bit further down to the fancy bakery. I never used to rate their coffee as much as the barista at the other cafe (seriously, she's so good) but the iced oat latte I get is actually pretty decent today ($5.50). I walk around the park and watch all the dogs out for their morning stretch and zoomies as I listen to a comedy podcast. $5.50
11:00am — After a shower and some breakfast, I drive over to a friend's place to pick her up. She's just gotten home from a couple of weeks overseas and is still a bit jetlagged, so we're going to have a gentle wander around the mall in the weapons-grade aircon to beat the heat and run some errands. I gift her a copy of a Cats vinyl I found over Christmas and she loves it.
11:32am — I've been on the hunt for a nic, comfy pair of linen wide-leg pants to take with me on a family holiday to Fiji at the end of the month. I look in all the bougie higher-end stores and wind up finding the exact thing I want for $50 at Target. We love a budget department store find! $50
I also drop into Mecca to restock my Mario Badescu toner. I grab the cucumber and aloe one this time, after finishing my rosewater off one this morning. I'm also running low on my beloved facial sunscreen — Mecca To Save Face (SPF 50+ always!) — so I pick up a new bottle in preparation for the Fiji trip. All up, it costs $60 on the dot. I realise I've dropped down a Beauty Loop level, which is probably both a good and a bad thing. $60
We pop into a few other stores to try and find some travel-sized bottles so I can take some toiletries with me on my trip (there's no way I'm packing a full-sized Evo Co-Wash). After wandering around Sportsgirl and MINISO, my friend finds exactly what I need in The Reject Shop for $4.50. Done. $4.50
1:05pm — It's time for lunch, so we decide to drop into El Jannah for a feed. I'm so glad it's finally made the move to Melbourne. I loved making the pilgrimage to get the hot chook in Granville when I lived in Sydney and I moved states before they opened their Newtown joint, so having it just up the road from me now is such a treat. I wish they still did the falafel though — that was unreal with the toum garlic sauce and pickles. Anyway, I grab the tawouk wrap in a meal with a can of Solo, which costs $21.40.
2:40pm — A friend reminds me we're due to pay the next instalment for an upcoming girls' weekend away, so I send her over my share ($150). I'm so excited to have a weekend out of the city with my friends — it's going to be such a nice chance to catch up as a group. $150
6:23pm — I've genuinely spent the whole afternoon on the couch under the aircon watching TV and eating strawberries with my housemate. The aircon's pumping and I'm thinking about dinner, which might just wind up being that leftover green curry or a pizza at this rate. It's too hot to think, but it's been funny to look at the BeReals of all my Melbourne friends because they're either near a large body of water or lying down in a dark room watching TV.
8:07pm — I end up defrosting some fish fillets, chopping up some veggies and heating them all through the leftover green curry from last night. Onto my third load of washing. I have the house to myself tonight, so I've got the aircon on with fans on up the hallway to try and cool the house down while I watch TV. I may or may not have also looked up some Western boots to buy. I'm thinking about asking a country friend if she can take me out horse riding soon.
Daily Total: $291.40

Day 7

7:32am — I wake up to the sound of rain starting to fall outside. I remember that I'd left some towels on the line in the heat overnight, so I get up and out of bed to bring them in. I make my bed so I don't get tempted to crawl straight back in (though it's very enticing) and get dressed for my morning yoga workout. It's already so much cooler today than it was yesterday, which is such a relief.
8:20am — I'm going to try and make an omelette for breakfast, a dish I always seem to stuff up one way or another. I add in chopped cherry tomatoes, baby spinach, marinated feta and za'atar, cook it on a really low heat and attempt the fold. It works and keeps its shape even when I manage to flip it over. I feel like I've ticked off a big kitchen achievement and serve it with a toasted English muffin and fermented sriracha hot sauce. Delicious victory.
10:43am — My housemate and I decide to pull everything out of our various pantry cupboards to condense it all into one. It feels so good to have everything in one place — the kitchen was getting a bit too chaotic for our liking.
11:27am — After the pantry decluttering and sorting, I decide to make myself a sweet pumpkin spice coffee with my Nespresso machine — a real treat — and settle on the couch to play a bit of Lego Harry Potter. I'm so determined to get 100% completion on this damn game, which I've never really wanted to do with any other game before. I can't stress how much it makes my brain feel nice. Easily the best $40 I've ever spent on eBay.
12:03pm — I've got an appointment to get my brows done with my friend soon, so I jump in the shower and get myself ready to head over to Thornbury.
1:30pm — I've gone for my regular wax and tint and have decided to try out a lash tint as well. I've never had it done before but I'm keen to try it out and see if it's something I like. The tint makes me look like I've put mascara on, which I love — maybe I'll start working a lash tint into my brow regime now. The whole session costs $45 and my mate has done an unreal job. $45
3:00pm — Sunday afternoon is when I usually grab a few groceries and think about what I want to make for the week ahead (or at least dinner that night). It's been a while since I dropped into Cheaper Buy Miles — a wildly cheap food store that seems to stock an assortment of things in bulk that are either unfit for supermarkets or close to best-before dates  — so I nip in to see what they've got at the moment. I end up buying one Minor Figures mocha 1L carton, one Minor Figures latte 1L carton, a snack packet of sliced pickle 'chips', a jar of raspberry jam, and a jar of pesto. All up, the total shop costs me $7. Every time I come here, I'm baffled by how much I can get for under ten bucks. $7
3:28pm — I need to actually get some planned things, so I wander into Coles to grab ingredients for dinner and breakfast this week. I want to make pasta alla vodka tonight and need to get some berries and snacks too. I find everything I need except my favourite yoghurt, which is a little annoying but I'll get over it. All up, I spend $18.35.
4:24pm — A friend of mine from footy is moving away next month, so I swing into her farewell drinks for a little bit to give her a squeeze and say goodbye. She introduces me to a couple of her friends who work and study in publishing and we chat over an afternoon beer. $9
5:17pm — I notice that my car's low on petrol, so I duck into 7/11 on the way home to fill it up a little. I don't want to put too much in considering I'm heading away next weekend, so I chuck in $25 which brings it up to a half tank — not too bad considering how expensive fuel is at the moment. I run into another friend from footy at the servo and we have a quick catch-up and promise to see each other at pre-season training soon. $25
5:38pm — Damn, I just realised I forgot to grab tomato purée for dinner tonight, so I swing into a different Coles on the way home. I grab some yoghurt (still not my fave one) and a six-pack of eggs, which should tide the house over for a couple of days. $12.20
6:03pm — I'm back home and open the house up to get some fresh air in. Time to try my hand at this pasta recipe. I pour myself a wine from the fridge, pop some music on and get to work.
8:12pm — Another first attempt at a new meal has gone down well. The pasta was creamy and spicy and just what I wanted after a gentle weekend. I put the leftovers in the fridge for lunch (or dinner) tomorrow and settle in on the couch to watch some TV and absentmindedly scroll on my phone.
9:57pm — It's time to crawl into bed and read a bit of my book to round out the week. Looking up at the small monstera on the mantle in my room, I notice that the candle I've had burning has scorched a patch right in the middle of one of the leaves that was hanging overhead — I feel awful that I let one of my plants get damaged in such a silly way. I blow out the candle and return to bed. It's nearly time to do it all again next week.
Daily Total: $116.55
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