Money Diaries

A Week In New Farm, Brisbane, On A $95,000 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we tackle the ever-present taboo that is money. We ask real people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we track every last dollar.

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Today: a nurse advisor who makes $95,000 a year and spends some of her money this week on a cocktail after a Hinge-date-gone-wrong.
Occupation: Nurse Advisor
Industry: Pharmaceutical
Age: 29
Location: New Farm, Brisbane
Salary: $95,000 (+ super. I also get reimbursed for expenses and mileage monthly, which averages out to an extra $600 a month)
Net Worth: $114,000 ($97,000 in super, $5,000 in various savings accounts, and a car I paid off in full that is valued at roughly $12,000 in the current market.)
Debt: $5,000 on a credit card.
Paycheque Amount (Monthly): $6,000
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses

Rent: $1,560/month. I live alone in a modern one-bedroom apartment. My building comes with facilities like a gym and a pool, so I save on memberships. Truthfully, I just love living alone! It's well and truly worth the extra cost to me. I have spent some time this year furnishing and decorating it so it feels like my own little space.
Credit Card Debt Contributions: $600
Internet: $70
Phone Bill: $65
Car and Health Insurance: $215
Electricity and Gas: $110
Streaming: $45
Savings Contributions: $2,000 (I've recently started transferring this amount monthly into my life savings. I'm hoping to make a move overseas in the new year, and have made it a goal to have saved $15,000 before I go.)
Holiday Fund: $400 (I set this amount aside monthly for any weekends away with my friends and trips home to see my parents.)
Emergency Fund: $200 (You never know when you'll need cash in a hurry!)

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

I completed my Bachelor of Nursing on a student loan, paying off my HECS after five years of full-time shift work. I studied for a Graduate Certificate in Public Health last year, and paid off my HECS early with extra payments. I'm in the middle of finishing an immunisation course right now, but my company reimbursed the expense to me ($700).

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

My parents really drove home the importance of saving and working for your money. They encouraged me to save as soon as I started working. I was raised knowing that I would have to work to provide for myself if I wanted to live comfortably when I was a grown up.

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

I worked a little in my uncle's mechanic business, folding tax invoices and licking envelopes. I was 14 or 15 and made $10 an hour. After, I got a job at Woolies. I was saving for a car, and I ended up buying a little second hand Holden Barina with my savings when I turned 17.

Did you worry about money growing up?

My parents didn't discuss their finances with us at all. We had a nice house on a big piece of land with lots of fruit trees. Whenever I needed money for school trips or new clothes, I knew I could ask my parents. We'd go on family holidays every year, and dad would take me to the newsagent most weekends and let me choose a new comic book as a treat (Betty and Veronica or The Phantom, usually).
It wasn't until this year that my parents mentioned how tight their finances really were and how strictly they had to budget for us to go on those holidays. In hindsight, this must have been hell — cross country road trips with two bratty girls fighting over cassettes in the back of a Nissan Patrol with no air-con. I don't know how my parents did it!
I'm very appreciative of the lengths they went to in order to provide for us. They struggled, but we never felt it.

Do you worry about money now?

I wouldn't say I worry. I'm lucky enough that I make a good salary and have minimal expenses. I have spent the last few years being pretty financially reckless, but I have made some goals and some lifestyle changes this year and I feel quite optimistic about my financial future. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to afford a mortgage, but coming to terms with that fact has really helped to relieve the pressure. So I save what I can, and I'll just see where I end up.

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

I moved out of home and interstate once I finished university at 21. I have my little savings account as peace of mind, and I know that if for some reason I ever had to move back in with my parents (godspeed), they would have me.

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


Day 1

8:30am — I wake up and make my way to the bathroom sink for my morning routine. I wash my face, brush my teeth, brush my hair out of my face and pull some clothes out of the dryer. I work from home, and I like to start my day gently. 
9:00am — I start making some calls and organising my day. I work mostly in patient education and support, so line up a few home visits with some clients for later in the week. I love the flexibility and autonomy that comes with this role and I feel really lucky to have escaped the public hospital system, at least for a while.
10:15am — I duck across the road to pick up my parcel from the post office. I love parcel day, it's such a gift from my past self! Last week, I ordered a cute sundress for the weekend, and it's finally arrived. I come home and make some avocado toast for breakfast.
1:00pm — I do a little more work and then get distracted by the news. The election is coming up! I spend the next hour or so googling party platforms and trying to figure out which candidate is going to behave most like Lesley Knope.
2:30pm — I reheat some leftover chicken soup for lunch. I always try to keep a few serves of homemade soup in the freezer for a healthy, cheap meal option. This one is super tasty — I used a roasted BBQ chicken with corn, mushrooms, leeks, zucchini and carrot. I threw in a handful of spiral pasta too. It's the absolute bomb.
3:50pm — I head to the gym downstairs before it gets busy. I sneak in a quick workout and dip in the pool before heading back home.
5:30pm — I finish work and catch up on some chores. I go out for a little afternoon walk and call my friend to goss. My friends and I live in different states mostly, and we have a wedding at the end of the year that we're very excited about. As soon as I get home, I book accommodation for us. The wedding is in South Australia, and six of us are going to share an Airbnb (well, five. But I'll find a plus one for appearance's sake). My share comes to $215.
6:30pm — I have a shower (my favourite time of day!) and think about dinner. I feel a bit sick and I’m not sure if it’s hunger or nausea, so I decide to err on the side of caution and have ice cream for dinner. I drive to Messina and get a take-home pack — $16.
8:30pm — I watch a little TV on my laptop (Will and Grace is my current binge pick) and use my little Dr Dennis Gross LED face mask (Thankfully I bought it before starting this diary! Don’t look up the price! It doesn’t matter! Mind your own business!). I am calm and zen and fall asleep pretty early.
Daily Total: $231

Day 2

8:00am — I wake up. Today is bright and sunny and it’s shining right in my eyes. I get dressed and ready, and start my day by cleaning the house. Yawn. Dishes done, vacuuming finished, laundry in the wash. 
9:00am — I start work and get moving with some more chores in the background. I list a few things on Facebook Marketplace for sale — boots (always cautious of freaks when listing shoes on the internet), workout tights, and a winter coat. My sister messages me about the coat and offers to buy it. I don’t have to talk to a stranger. Perfect, sold. 
10:15am — I make some avocado toast for breakfast. I eat it in front of my laptop, getting through some emails. 
11:10am — I take a little break to practice my sewing. I have a long pair of tights that are old and stretchy. I cut and hem them, managing to stuff it up. I’m too impatient to undo the stitching and I'm feeling defensive, so I just throw them away and pretend I didn’t even try.
12:35pm — I have a pre-prepared meal from Soulara — a tofu miso soup with udon. Honestly, it's delicious. $9
1:45pm — My property manager stops by for a house inspection. I awkwardly stand around while she takes photos of my apartment. I mention that I’ve been waiting six months for a broken cupboard door to be replaced. She says “Oh my god, I know right! It’s taking forever” and then leaves. Okay.
2:00pm — I do some more work and distract myself with snacks from the fridge. Cheese, crackers and some plums. I get a text from someone I have been casually seeing, T. He wants to hang out tonight. I say maybe, but I’m being nonchalant on purpose. It’s a strategy.
3:35pm — I go grocery shopping. I buy potatoes, spinach, mushrooms, broccoli, berries, pre-made cheesy cauliflower (I am lazy and it is delicious), bread and chicken thighs. $47
4:30pm — I get home and call a friend. I go for an afternoon walk while we chat. I'm trying actively to get my steps up. This job is wonderful but sedentary. 
6:00pm — I get home and shower. I make dinner with my groceries. Honey mustard chicken with cheesy cauliflower, broccoli and mushrooms. I would die for this cauliflower. 
7:30pm — I start my LED mask and skin routine, and try to relax. I’m pretty wound up for some reason and can’t get in the headspace. I call my mum to chat, and watch a rom-com (Sleepless in Seattle). I forget to message T. Oops.
9:30pm — I go to bed, turn out the lights, shut off my phone and lie there quietly for two hours until I fall asleep.
Daily Total: $56

Day 3

8:30am — I wake up and am grateful I closed the blinds last night. I head to the bathroom and take a shower. I’m trying to start the day fresh. 
9:00am — I start work. I spend the next few hours on home visits, driving around Brisbane to chat to clients. They are all lovely today, and I get through my work much quicker than I anticipated.
10:15am — I make a quick breakfast of Greek yoghurt with berries. I mix in some peanut butter powder for some extra flavour.
11:35am — I get my eyebrows threaded at a little place by the river. It's cheap and quick and I don’t need to make a booking, but oh my GOD, it hurts. I'm such a baby. I pay $18 and feel a bit grumbly because the price has gone up $2 since last time. Is this inflation? $18
1:30pm — Mum calls and says to check my bank account. She has sent me $20 for early Easter eggs as she can’t be here on the day. Absolute score. I immediately head to the shops and buy Kit-Kat easter eggs, a bag of mini Reece’s Cups, a mini Kinder bunny and some coconut ice. Thanks, Mum. I will finish these before Easter hits, I know it.
2:10pm — Since I’m out, I stop at Priceline and buy a lipstick that I don't need ($15). It’s a plum colour. As soon as I’m home, I realise I've made a weird choice. I put on the weird lipstick and finish my work off. $15
2:30pm — I have lunch — a chicken and spinach sandwich. It’s nothing to write home about, but I’m trying to eat at home lately rather than hit the cafe. 
5:40pm — I head out to meet a friend for a long walk around the river. We goss and catch up, and end up at a bar ordering an icy cold kombucha ($9). We're in activewear — we didn’t have a choice! I choose the lemon myrtle flavour and I am pleasantly surprised. $9
6:30pm — I drop my friend home and we have a good chat on the way. I'm recently single and trying to heal my bruised little ego, but have considered dating again. We download Hinge on my phone, have a peek, and immediately delete it. At least I tried.
7:30pm — I come home and have a long shower. I wash my hair, do a coffee scrub and take the time to dry and style my hair afterwards. I feel like an attractive, somewhat dateable woman again — it's a wild feeling! I message T. because I need a pick-me-up.
8:00pm — I have leftovers from last night for dinner —  honey mustard chicken with cauliflower, broccoli and mushrooms. I would still die for this cauliflower. 
9:30pm — I slip into bed and head to sleep with Netflix buzzing in the background.
Daily Total: $42

Day 4

7:30am — I wake up earlier than usual (my shift-working past self is somewhere rolling her eyes) and drag myself to a morning Pilates class ($26). I love reformer Pilates because it's so fun. But it's expensive, so I don't go very often. $26
9:00am — I'm home, showered and ready to work. I hit the desk and smash out as much as I can. I organise to meet a new client next week, and chat to a few specialists about the program. I eat some Vegemite toast at my desk.
11:00am — I download Hinge again and have a little stalk. A man messages me to tell me how cute I am and that we should get a coffee. I think he's forgotten that we have already met (multiple times!) on double dates as I used to date his friend. I gently remind him of this fact. I take a breather. Online dating is bleak. 
12:30pm — I call my friends who have lots of time to chat as they are both isolating with Covid. We talk about money and dating and their new dog (a Weimaraner!). My friend reminds me that we're heading north for his birthday in a few weeks, telling me to book flights. It’s going to be a little sunset cruise on a charter boat and a weekend of sun and swim up bars. I'm more than excited. I hang up and search for the cheapest flights I can find — $280 return. $280
1:30pm — I reheat some chicken soup for lunch. Thank God for freezer food. While it’s reheating, I sneak a few Easter eggs in. 
2:30pm — I field calls from clients and get some reports in. Sometimes I really miss being clinical. Other times, I think about bed changes, being spat on and late night call-ins and I think… ahh. Serenity, now!
3:10pm — I head out for a jog on my break. I am trying to get back into running regularly, so I download the Apple Watch Couch25k app ($6). It helps! $6
4:30pm — I come home and do some stretching. I read some of my book (The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) and get a few chapters in. I call my friends and we chat about our day. I don’t have a lot to contribute. I eat some snacks (berries and crackers with cheese).
6:00pm — I have a shower and do my laundry. I kinda wish I had a roommate to chat to at this time of day, but I think it’s just a social withdrawal that I’m feeling. I start Googling social fitness classes — two birds, one stone.
7:30pm — I make dinner — Greek chicken, lemon potato and spinach. I've now used all my groceries so make a list for tomorrow. I spend the rest of the night watching bad TV and online window shopping for dresses I can’t afford.
Daily Total: $312

Day 5

8:00am — I wake up. It's grey and cloudy. Honestly, I’m pleased. I have a date tonight and I lowkey don’t want to go. Maybe he’ll cancel? I drag myself out of bed, only to realise that I have the day off! I go back to bed as I’m trying to be a budget girl, and being in bed is free. 
9:30am — I get out of bed and get dressed for the gym. I do a 45-minute workout and go for a walk afterwards. I feel better. 
10:15am — When I get home, I make a smoothie with protein powder, raspberries, peanut butter and oat milk, and a piece of Vegemite toast. I make a rough meal plan for the week (it’s so much easier for me to eat healthy when I plan! I am such a planner) and do some cleaning. 
11:00am — Grocery shopping time. I pick up some spinach, green beans, zucchini, satay tofu and lamb steaks (they're on special). I also buy some rice and a carton of eggs. $38 
11:45am — I come home and put my groceries away. This always makes me feel like an adult.
12:30pm — The weather clears up and I head to the pool for a dip and a suntan. I message my date for tonight and try to make plans. He suggests a drink on the river, which seems fine to me except I never know whether to eat dinner prior or not. It’s just drinks — do I eat there? Do we snack? Do I not eat at all? I'm not someone who forgets to eat and it stresses me out not having a plan. I don’t tell him this, because I want to seem cool and laidback. "Okay sounds good :)", I say.
2:00pm — I head upstairs and shower. I pick an outfit for tonight. I haven’t been on a date in a long time and I always forget how anxious they make me. I call my friends for a distraction. They don’t answer — rude! 
3:40pm — I try to practice sewing a little more. I sew a tote bag and stuff it up again. I'm too frazzled to continue. I put the machine away. Maybe some people just aren’t meant to develop new skills?
5:00pm — I head to the bar. I have straightened my hair and picked a nice outfit and elected not to eat dinner. I get there and he's an absolute disappointment. He looks nothing like his pictures. I thought this only happened on TV. I notice that he's worn a backpack and has since stashed it underneath the table. I am distraught. 
5:05pm — I think I'm playing it off well. He makes a joke that isn’t funny and it occurs to me that I don’t actually have to laugh. 
5:25pm — I think it’s clear to both of us that he's not funny and we have failed to click. He orders us both another drink, which I think is a strange choice. 
6:00pm — He says he should get home, and I agree. He hugs me goodbye and offers to walk me to my car. I say it’s okay and that I’ll just head to the bathroom first. He leaves. I double back to my seat and order a fish burger with fries and another cocktail ($32). This afternoon has turned itself around, and I have a lovely dinner alone. $32
6:30pm — I get home and shower, message my group chat and laugh about my sad little state of affairs. I promise them I’m done with dating again, then text T. without telling them. 
8:00pm — He comes over and we kiss and talk and eat some fruit and have a good night. I feel much better. 
10:00pm — Early night to bed for me. I squeeze in an LED mask and nod off. 
Daily Total: $70

Day 6

7:30am — I wake up to a sunny weekend and an empty schedule. I brush my teeth and go for an early morning walk. 
9:00am — I stop by a cafe for a takeaway iced latte with oat milk — $7.50.
9:30am — I come home and clean the house, thinking about what I should do today. I decide to drive to the coast to see an old work friend. I fuel up ($45) and head north. $45
11:30am — I arrive on the Sunshine Coast and go straight to the beach. I have a swim in the ocean as it always makes me feel refreshed. I message my friend to see if she’s around, and head over with some fresh bread, avocado and tomatoes — $14.
12:00pm — We make bruschetta for lunch and catch up on old times. I tell her about my ex and she calls him a dog, which I love. We hang out with her kids and she pours me a glass of bubbly (free!).
3:30pm — I drive back to Brisbane and stop at a nursery on the way. I don’t buy anything, but it’s nice just to look sometimes. 
5:00pm — I'm home and about to slip into a sun coma. I eat an early dinner — satay tofu with zucchini, spinach and a fried egg. After, I have a long, cold shower. I book a spray tan for next week and pay a deposit of $13.50.
6:00pm — I do a clay face mask and watch How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days on my projector. A girlfriend stops by for a debrief and a cheer up, and we yell at Kate Hudson's character every time she says something 'off'. We eat leftover Easter eggs and hibernate.
9:30pm — My girlfriend leaves and I curl up in bed with my book. I read a little and get sucked in. I have been actively trying to avoid social media, so I haven’t checked Instagram or Facebook this week. It's been kind of nice to find new ways to pass the time.
Daily Total: $80

Day 7

9:00am — Today is Sunday so I sleep in. When I wake up, I remember my friends have a market stall today.
9:30am — I get dressed and drive to the markets. I struggle to find parking (an absolute nightmare) and pay $2 for the multi-level carpark next door. I hustle in to find my friends and quickly spot them in the crowd. $2
10:45am — We spend time catching up and talking to customers, and I help out with the sales (or do I hinder?!). My friend’s partner and I go for a walk and he buys me a pineapple juice, while I get us a potato rosti to share ($14). It comes with German sausage, sauerkraut and mustard. Delightful. We spend the next few hours taking turns to man the stall and drift around the markets until close. I think about buying some earrings, but I resist. I remind myself that I'm saving money. I'm given some free olives to sample. I love it here. $14
12:30pm — I get home and do some cleaning. I change my bed sheets and sit down and make a rough plan for the upcoming week. I feel like doing some baking, and have ingredients here for a lemon loaf, so I get to it. I bake, I eat some and then I freeze it for later as I can’t be trusted with portion control. 
2:00pm — It’s Sunday. I nap. Sue me. Napping is free.
4:30pm — T. messages me. He wants to hang out this coming week sometime, and suggests "we can get dinner or something". I’m not sure what he’s playing at as that’s a little out of our routine, but I say yes anyway. 
6:10pm — I eat an early dinner. It’s a snack plate because it’s hot tonight — grapes, cheese, crackers and a tin of tuna. I have a long shower, call my parents and retire for the night. I check my budget before I settle in with Netflix, and I think I am doing okay.
Daily Total: $16

Anything else you'd like to add or flag?

I'm trying to make better choices in food and finance this year, so I'm specifically ordering less takeaway and trying to cook at home. I'm also super conscious of my plan to move overseas next year, so I try to squirrel away large amounts of savings and live on the remainder. Having said that, this year all my friends and I turn 30, so I'm prepared to spend a little more on weekends and holidays to see them all and celebrate. I'm trying to restore balance to my life this year — taking care of myself and making time for the people I love and finding that nice middle ground between saving and living. 
The cost of living is rising for all of us at the moment, and I've had to make some sacrifices mentally — maybe I won't ever save enough for a house? Maybe I'll have to rent forever? Maybe I won't be able to afford kids, or live somewhere with a yard big enough for a dog? Verbalising these possibilities is scary because it has meant the life I pictured for myself has changed, but it's brought some peace as well. I can't control everything. Maybe I just do the best I can and save my extra money and whatever happens later, happens.
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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