Money Diaries

A Week In Townsville, Queensland On A $72,000 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.
Occupation: Journalist
Industry: Media
Age: 26
Location: Regional Queensland
Salary: $72,000
Net Worth: $11,500 (savings $4,000 + car worth $5,000 + superannuation worth $22,000, minus HECs debt $18,000 and credit card debt $1,500)
Debt: $19,500
Paycheque Amount (Biweekly): $2,173
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses

Monthly Housing Costs: $1,360 for a 2 bed, 1 bathroom pet-friendly rental. I currently have a friend crashing in my spare room — she gives me $150 a week. As soon as she finds somewhere on her own, she'll leave.
Monthly Loan Payments: Around $500 is taken from my paycheques automatically towards my student loan.
Gym membership: $220 (A boutique reformer pilates/yoga studio and worth every penny)
Spotify: $12 (I mooch off other people's Netflix, Stan and Disney Plus in exchange for love)
Car insurance: $78 (I have comprehensive and roadside assistance)
Health insurance: $53.50
Pet insurance: $98 (An arm and a leg, but if I didn't have it, I'm sure something would come up)
Phone and internet: $220 (Including repayments, unlimited internet and insurance — 12 months to go)
Cleaner: $110 (A deep clean once a month saves my sanity)
Savings: $500 each month, minimum

Was there an expectation for you to attend higher education? Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?

I was always 'academically talented' as a kid so it was expected in some form. I got an academic scholarship to a private school for high school, and it was expected that I'd go straight to university. I toyed between becoming a lawyer or a teacher but ultimately decided on journalism. I'm thankful that university in Australia goes through a HECs or HELP system, where you pay it back depending on your income level — there's no interest rates, it just goes up based on the cost of living (indexation).

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

It was always mixed. My mother didn't work and spent all the money — she had hidden credit cards that dad didn't know about, which made things difficult. My dad worked a blue-collar job and was always a bit worried about money, but we rarely went without and he sacrificed a lot for my education. Conversations were only really about how much groceries and clothing cost — as I got older I slowly learnt more about bills and things, but it certainly wasn't in depth.

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

I worked at KFC when I was 15 — I was living out of home at the time due to family circumstances and didn't want my dad to have to pay for things like clothes and snacks.

Did you worry about money growing up?

A bit. Mainly because I knew about mum's hidden cards and dad didn't (at least, I don't think he did) and whenever my mother talked about money it was that she couldn't get what she wanted (new clothes all the time etc). I knew my dad worked hard to get me my education, so I'd rarely ask for money for excursions, extra school camps and things so I wouldn't worry them.

Do you worry about money now?

Definitely. I got a new job recently which made the cost of living less stressful, but I'm always nervous that I don't have enough. I left a financially controlling relationship three years ago with nothing and have built myself up, but I feel like I'm behind everyone else and will never get ahead. I also worry that I emotionally purchase at times and that's what my mother used to do — I'm working through understanding that more with my psych.

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

I'd say probably 24 when I moved back out from living with my dad — when I was with him I was independent, but only contributed to household expenses. I pay everything myself, but I have in the past asked him for help when vet bills have popped up unexpectedly.

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

I wish!

Day One

4:25am — I really, really hate when my first alarm goes off on a Monday morning. There's nothing worse. Turn the light on (getting a Google Home Mini was the best decision so I don't have to get out of bed) and roll over until my second alarm goes off at 4.35am. Get up, get into work clothes, go to the bathroom and do my skincare and drive to work, arriving at around 5am.
8:30am— My vice — coffee! I tried bringing my own in a thermos that I made at home, but it tastes awful after it's sat there for two hours before I get to drinking it, so I head to the coffee shop opposite the office and get my usual regular latte and catch up on weekend gossip with the owners. $5.00
11:45am — I've been in court all morning (for work, I'm a good girl!) and it's finally time to head home, after I file a couple of reports back to the office. Walk to my car (starting at 5am has its perks, including free all-day street spots being available) and drive home. Absolutely starving and can't decide whether to have scrambled eggs on toast or an omelette — so I make peanut butter toast to eat while making the omelette — #bestofbothworlds. Washed it down with an iced latte because I won't have time to nap #grandma
2:45pm — Appointment with my psychologist finished. I see her every few weeks after being diagnosed with severe PTSD earlier this year after witnessing a traumatic incident at work. I've struggled with anxiety and depression since I was young, but this diagnosis rocked the boat, and months down the track I'm still learning to live with it and manage it at times — but seeing her really helps. (Costs $143.73, but I get a rebate of $77.80 back so the total is $65.95 and it's beyond worth it.) Go to the local McDonalds and get a large Frozen Coke ($1) because I'm fading, and drive about half an hour away to see my friend A., who's closer to me than normal because of a funeral she had to attend. $66.95
4:30pm — Back from hanging out with A. very briefly — she had to drive back to babysit. She handed over a friend's Marketplace purchase (A. lives 1.5 hours from home and a friend wanted something near her so she kindly picked it up) and a click and collect order I'd made for a Halloween-themed pet bed from Kmart — no regrets because it's adorable, even if my cat ignores it. Curl up on the couch with said cat and watch a couple of YouTube videos.
5:45pm — My temporary housemate, O., comes home from work and we chat about our days. O. moved to where I am a couple of weeks ago and wasn't able to find anywhere to live quick enough, so is crashing in my spare room temporarily — she's a friend of a friend from back home, and we get along well so it's working! She transfers me $170 — half my rent, which she offered to pay me each week she's here. Because I've paid my rent here for over a year just fine, I consider this "extra" money and transfer it to pay down my credit card — which got high when, due to swapping jobs, my pay cycles got out of whack and I didn't have a payday for over a month. We watch the news (journo life never stops) so I can see what's happened for the rest of the day as a head start for the next day, and I heat up some chicken soup and put some garlic bread in the air fryer (game changer!) for dinner.
7:30pm — It's raining, and I'm still sore from my workout on Saturday — so what better to do than run a nice warm bubble bath with magnesium salts, light some candles and watch an episode of Sex Education. Once the bath goes cold it's time for bed in my pyjamas — I fall asleep around 8.45pm.
Daily Total: $71.93

Day Two

4:35am — Early wake ups get easier, but the actually getting-out-of-bed part is always rough. Get dressed and do my skincare (Bioderma micellar water, La Roche Posay toner, Mario Badescu eye cream, Makeup Revolution serum and moisturiser and Ultra Violette sunscreen which is my ultimate holy grail) and leave home at 4.47am. Arrive at the office at 5.01 — not too shabby with a 5am start time!
8:20am— The most consistent part of my life is getting coffee from my local, and I both love/hate it. Chat with some of the regulars while it's made, and head back to write a couple more stories to help the person covering the later half of my morning, and record my 9am news — while eating a bowl of muesli and soy milk so my stomach doesn't growl later. $5.00
9:40am — Walk to the courthouse. This isn't usual, but there's a lot going through the local courts so I've been able to get coverage from another newsroom for my last few bulletins, as long as I regularly file different audio stories to play. I'm really thankful, because getting out of the office (even if it's just to go sit in a courtroom) breaks up the day and I quite enjoy it.
11:45am — Decide to take advantage of the morning break and head home early again — oops? File my story from the car before driving back home. Make scrambled eggs on toast for lunch with a hash brown in the air fryer (topped with chicken salt and tomato sauce, elite) for a mildly balanced lunch before driving out to the local TAFE at around 12.40pm.
2:00pm— I feel like a hairless cat. My friend S. is finishing up her Diploma and needs models on a Tuesday afternoon — and lucky her that I finish work at around midday! She waxes my leg, chin and moustache (I'm blonde so have very few facial hairs...why did it hurt so much?) for her assessment, which she passes. We catch up, and she ropes me in to being her nail model next Tuesday and a cocktail afterwards. Head home and immediately crawl into bed, my social battery exhausted. $14.00
4:00pm — I stayed in bed for a solid hour, and slept for around 40 minutes so I'm calling that a win! Get up, wash my hair and crawl to the couch with a bowl of chips and a lemonade (I am health) because I still feel so snoozy and watch some YouTube. I did want to go for a walk today, but I'm listening to my body which says rest — as does my mind, which is still drained after the psych yesterday and court.
7:30pm — Spent the early evening hanging out with O. after she got back from work and watching the news. Decide to peel myself off the couch and make dinner — I just mix together a salad pack I got from the supermarket on the weekend, add some chicken and cheese and steal one of O.'s wraps to put it all in. And, shock horror — back to the couch for a bit, after I get my clothes for work and after work ready for tomorrow.
10:30pm — My friend J. comes over. We've been good friends for a couple of years, and have the occasional 'benefit' arrangement. We catch up after what's been a hectic few weeks for both of us, and head to bed. We fall asleep shortly after midnight as we were...otherwise preoccupied. (I'm thankful for my leg wax earlier!)
Daily Total: $19.00

Day Three

4:25am — Jump physically off the mattress when my alarm goes off this morning. It's always SO much harder to get out of bed when someone else is in there... especially when it's J. because we're just so comfortable together. Eventually I get moving, but am naturally running late so I rush my routine, skip my morning shower and get into work around 5.10, oops.
8:15am — It's coffee time, and I need a large, since I'm running off four hours' sleep. The guy at the coffee shop clearly takes pity on me because I get back to the office and discover he only charged me for my usual size! Glad I didn't mention why I hadn't fallen asleep until midnight! $5.00
11:00am— Court is finished early, so I head home to file from there rather than go back to the office, because I've never had the opportunity to leave this early and take the small win — thanks boss!
12:15pm — Drive into the city to go to my 12.30 workout class — normally I'd go straight from work. Parking at the studio is a ridiculous $7.70 for just over an hour because I get there early and it won't allow me to part pay for an hour. Contemplate not paying at all, but know I'd get caught and reluctantly do it. $7.70
1:30pm — Absolutely destroyed after that workout, in the best possible way! I've just started at a new fitness studio doing reformer pilates classes, which I haven't done in forever and absolutely love but it definitely gets your muscles firing! Get myself a large post-mix Coke from McDonald's (my weakness, and I'm fading) on the drive to my friend H.'s house to hang out with her and her baby. $4.40
4:00pm — Post office trip to send something to my friend J., who lives two hours away and purchased something cheaply from Facebook Marketplace near me (same friend as the chair from Monday!). It costs $13.75 to have it express posted, but she transfers it right away. Head back home and curl up on the couch. $13.75 (Reimbursed)
5:40pm — Get a notification and my Raiz roundups have been transferred out of my account, which happens roughly every two weeks. Use this as a sign to get up, have a quick shower and get changed before heading to a catch-up dinner with a friend I used to work with. $20.62
8:15pm— Back home after a delightful dinner with D. I moved jobs about three months ago, and she's one of the coworkers and friends I really miss, so I try and make a conscious effort to catch up with her every couple of weeks. We go to a local Mexican joint where it's $5 tacos and $5 Coronas, so I get three tacos and a beer along with a side to share. We catch up on a hectic few weeks for the both of us and it's just so nice and easy. As soon as I'm home I catch up with O. who's watching TV with the cat, do my skincare and crawl into bed exhausted, and fall asleep before 9pm. $28.00
Daily Total: $79.47

Day Four

4:25am — I've been at my job for three months, and there's never been a morning where I'm more tempted to text my boss that I'm not going in and roll back to sleep... why am I so shattered after a decent night's sleep? Slowly get myself together, definitely get to work at 5.08am.
6:30am — Instant coffee time. My bulletins make me sound even more exhausted than I feel. One of the breakfast hosts pops their head into my studio and asks if I can find the time to come in for a talk segment later in the morning, so I also need to work ahead to make sure it fits in with my recording schedule... coffeeee it is!
8:40am — The usual. And it tastes GOOD. $5.00
12:00pm — Leave work for the day and head to my workout class, which kicks my butt! I only just started here but love it so much, even if my body is in agony. Head back to the car via the bank to deposit $200 — I did some cash-in-hand work over the weekend so this money goes directly to my holiday fund. My savings account is split into different categories (emergency fund, bills, hair, treats, clothes, holiday and investment) and my holiday account is very empty looking considering I'll be going away in two months if borders work out!
3:15pm — After work I picked up my friend D. and we went and hung out — we were meant to get lunch and go for a walk, but we both weren't feeling a walk. Get a burger and a coke ($18) and D. gets the same + fries for us to share as a thank you for getting her. Parking is $3.50, and I drop her home after. Get home around 4pm, have a shower and immediately fall asleep on the couch. $21.50
5:30pm — One of the girls from work comes over to try on some of my clothes for an event this weekend — and takes a few bits! O. comes home and I introduce them before she leaves. O. and I make our separate dinners (leftover chicken and salad for me, steak for her) and I head to bed around 8 to read for a while — I'm sore and sooo sleepy. Asleep before 9, again.
Daily Total: $26.50

Day Five

4:25am — I. Feel. Rough. Absolutely exhausted. Cancel my workout class, barely crawl out of bed — for the first time in years I don't even make it. Thank past me for getting my clothes ready, and drive to work. Get there at 5.03 and I don't even know how.
6:20am — Coffeeeeeeeeeee.
7:30am — One of the breakfast hosts pops their head in, and I join them in the studio for a food-related segment. End up with some pumpkin soup for breakfast, which is a surprising delight!
9:00am — No court today, so coffee at my normal time! Run into a bunch of people from the office getting theirs as well, so catch up considering it feels like I haven't seen anyone this week because I've been in court so much! That definitely isn't normal, and it's lovely. $5.00
10:30am — Finish up with the work experience girl, sharing what I do and how I do it. Teach her how I find, write and record stories and put them to air — she wants to go into radio so it's a great feeling to be able to share an insight into what I do — I find it so hard to describe, I constantly feel so blessed to have a job that is useful to others, and that I enjoy and have fun with. It's someone's birthday in the office, so we head to the kitchen for caaaaake!
12:10pm — It's the weekend! Pick up some bread from the promo team (commercial radio perks!) as I head out the door. Stop by the supermarket on the way home and pick up butter, sliced cheese and ham... no guesses needed as to my lunch today! $11.45
2:30pm — I've been lazing on the couch since I got home (a noise outside always happens right as I'm about to fall asleep ugh) when a call comes through, and it's bad news for the health of my grandmother, which breaks my heart and I immediately burst into tears and hide under my blanket with the cat for a while.
4:40pm — Have been messaging with a couple of friends after the call, including my friend W. He calls me and says he's ten minutes away and we're going for a walk. We always have fun, so I get changed and meet him outside. O. texts while I'm out and reminds me she's heading home for the weekend — so it'll be just me and the cat!
8:00pm — Time flies when you're having fun... and I always do with W. It's when we're sitting outside my house in the car on the way back that it hits me — I have feelings for him. Hits me like a truck. We've been hanging out more frequently (like once a week) lately and I've finally realised how happy he makes me and how much he makes me smile. Go inside and sit on the couch and ponder what the heck to do, because he's important to me and I don't want to ruin our friendship... and I just don't know what to do. Eventually overthink enough to get to sleep around 10pm — later nights on weekends are my usual go-to.
Daily Total: $16.45

Day Six

7:30am — Alarm goes off... I've been awake for about an hour because I can't sleep in anymore, but I still hate alarms of a Saturday. Get up, get into activewear and head to my 8am workout class. Sit in the car because I'm early, and discover my car wash membership ($49) came out overnight. I love this purchase, because I hate washing my car and this means I can get it done daily if I want. $49.00
10:00am — It was the studio's open day — which I discovered meant longer classes, and free breakfast after! Grab myself a bircher muesli and a juice — which calms the urge to go to the nearby farmer's market for a cold-pressed juice after class. Head home via the supermarket for milk ($4.45). The girl who serves me at the supermarket compliments my gym tights, and it's just the best mood booster! Drive home via the carwash because that was a good reminder. When home, I run a magnesium salt bath because my body is aching, and make a coffee for a delightful start to my lazy Saturday morning. $5.06
11:30am — I have definitely been napping on the couch. I think I tried to pack too much into my week last week, and my social and mental batteries are quite low, so I'm giving myself the weekend to just listen to my body and do what I need to do. Snack on some salted roasted peanuts (my weakness) and watch some YouTube videos.
12:30pm — I'm at the kitchen stove making scrambled eggs and hear a car horn beep — my dad is here! I haven't seen him for a few weeks, and he's come up to stay while O. is gone and help me with some house things. After hanging out and chatting for a bit, he heads outside to mow my lawn (love him) while I nap on the couch because I'm exhausted.
2:45pm — It's my time to shine! I head outside, and help dig up and replant the veggie patch getting ready for summer. Then after showers because we're covered in mud, we head to Bunnings. I need a new heat lamp for my bathroom ($12.99 for two) and he needs bathroom taps ($12) — he jokingly asks if I'm going to pay for his too, which I'd already planned to do anyway! $24.99
6:00pm— Dad brings up dinner — which I definitely hadn't planned ahead. He suggests a pub meal, something I haven't done in a long time. He gets a steak and I get a chicken parmi — his shout, bless his soul!
8:00pm — Sitting around talking about his 60th, which is coming up in a couple of months. I'm an only child of divorced parents, so there won't be a big party or anything but I want to take him away somewhere close to the beach for a night on the weekend prior and do a nice dinner — he doesn't want me spending that much money (around $600 for the weekend) on him, whereas for me that's money well spent in line with my values — and my love languages of gift-giving and spending time. We finish the movie that's on TV and go to bed around 9pm — whaddya know, it's almost like I'm the one turning 60!
Daily Total: $79.05

Day Seven

8:00am — A very lazy start to the morning. Eventually hear Dad up and about, so get up myself. We're both keen to go somewhere new for breakfast that's a little drive away, so hop in the car.
10:30am — A delightful start to the day. We both get two coffees, plus Dad gets a big breakfast and I get eggs benedict. Balk at what it costs when I get to the counter — but I did insist on paying, and it's not all bad considering I'm so full I probably won't eat until dinner. $72.95
11:30am — Dad leaves, which always sucks because I don't get enough family time — but that means it's time to do my reset routine for the week ahead. First step is stripping all my bed linen and throwing that in the wash. Clean the bathroom and vacuum, and put a load of towels on. Once they're both done I take them to the laundromat because I don't own a clothes dryer and even though it's warmer it'll take days on the line to dry because it tends to rain overnight. $6.50
12:45pm — After writing out my schedule of appointments/workouts/social activities for the week (something I started doing when I started this job to feel more balanced and realise I do have quite a few things going on, even with a schedule different to normal people who I now can't see as often) it's supermarket time. Am I the only one that freaks out when the supermarket has a different layout?! I haven't been to this one for a month or two and it's completely different and I am stressed. Pick up some bacon bits, bottled water, cat food, rice, protein powder (why is it so expensive to be 'healthy'?!), almond milk, bananas, frozen veg and curry ingredients. I've got enough food at work to cover my breakfast and snacks, lunches for the week will either be leftovers, eggs or omelettes (I am a big brunch gal) and then there's dinners sorted with things I have left over. Also drop off some of the veggies I took out of the garden yesterday to a neighbour for their bunnies. $52.93
4:30pm — Realise that apart from breakfast, doing the groceries, washing and making my bed again I've done nothing productive all day. Good. I'm suddenly mad I haven't done less. Message a couple of friends to tie up loose plans for the week (a drink with a friend after work one day, and a couple of girls I'm seeing a production with Wednesday night) and message W. because we also made loose plans to hang out while he's on leave... I feel like I'm reading a bit into things, because he truly is just a genuinely kind, beautiful human (and the exact opposite of my usual 'type' which is emotionally unstable without their head screwed on) who is nice to everyone... call A., who's met him and she says I should tell him... I just don't want to ruin the friendship I have. Why did I have to discover feelings?!
6:30pm — O. is back! I feel so needy because I've definitely noticed her absence, even though I absolutely loved having my dad here. We catch up on our respective weekends, and I make curry for the both of us.
8:40pm — I am so, so sleepy. Get my clothes ready for work tomorrow, pack my workout gear and head to bed — asleep before 9pm.
Daily Total: $132.38
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