Money Diaries

A Week In Newmarket, Brisbane, On A $56,000 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.

We're on the search for new Money Diaries! Submit yours here.
Today: a nurse who makes $56,000 and spends some of her money this week on presents for a religious festival, including a box of chocolates for her grandparents.
Occupation: Nurse
Industry: Health
Age: 34
Location: Newmarket, Brisbane
Salary: $56,000
Net Worth: $14,000 (This is made up of $2,100 rent from property ownership, stock market shares worth $4,000, peer-to-peer lending worth $3,000 and crypto worth $2,000.)
Debt: $296,000 ($73,000 in student loans and $208,798 in property mortgage).
Paycheque Amount (Fortnightly): $1,565. I work part-time.
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses

Rent: $0. I live with my boyfriend and he doesn't charge me or expect me to financially contribute to our living situation.
Monthly Loan Payments: $850. I'm repaying my parents for lending me money a few months ago after I had an injury.
Gym Membership: $100
Streaming Services: Free. My brother pays for these.
Phone: $15
Utilities: I don't pay for electricity or council rates.
Superfund Contributions: I contribute 20% of my gross wage to my retirement fund.

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

I have two health-related Bachelor degrees. I paid for these through HECS student loans.

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

I grew up with a very wealthy family who owned a business and money was never spoken about. My parents simply gave me money whenever I asked for it. I didn't have any idea how people got money or how I was going to earn it. It just seemed that I was always going to end up with lots of money somehow.

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

My first job was babysitting my neighbour's child. I did it because it was a nice thing to do. The money was a bonus.

Did you worry about money growing up?

I never worried about money growing up. I just asked for money and it was there.

Do you worry about money now?

Yes, I worry about it. Some of my investments (property ownership, the stock market, peer-to-peer lending and crypto) have not generated a profit. I started investing at times when the markets continued to drop significantly, so at times, I've lost some value in my investments.

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

I started becoming financially responsible for myself in my early 30s. I saw how other people truly lived — those who grew up in different areas to mine with vastly different money stories to me — and how other people were able to save without the bank of mum and dad.

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

I receive passive income from my shares and property. I haven't received anything from a will or a trust fund.

Day 1

10:00am — On the way to a medical appointment, I pop by 7/11 and buy a $1 coffee ($1). It's the only coffee place between my boyfriend's house and the medical facility. I typically wouldn't go for this type of coffee especially when I get a daily coffee at work, however, I'm thankful that I'm able to buy one. Clearly, I'm addicted. $1
11:00am — My boyfriend sends me a text to see if we can have lunch together as we work at the same hospital. However, I'm not at work today. I spend the day at home, tidying and organising a few things as I need to catch up on study. I'm currently doing my post graduate degree in medical evidence-based practice.
3:00pm — My boyfriend reminds me that he won't finish until 10pm tonight. I organise takeaway for him as a reminder that he's doing a great job, especially when he's working 12+ hour days ($27). I have it sent to the hospital as I'm waiting for a Covid test result and can't leave until I get the results. $27
Daily Total: $28

Day 2

8:00am — I'm Covid free! However, I still have a runny nose. I have the morning to myself. My boyfriend calls to tell me that he left his hearing aide at home and needs me to drop it off for him. I dutifully pick up the hearing aide and pack his lunch. On the way to dropping off his things, I drive by a coffee place and buy a coffee for myself ($4.60). My boyfriend didn't have time to have a coffee before leaving this morning and he doesn't have time for a coffee now, even if I gave him one. Unfortunately, with our changing timetables, we're losing the time to have coffee together. $4.60
3:00pm — I have a religious festival coming up and I need to find some gifts. I look throughout the shopping centre for gifts for my family. I end up buying a mug and grooming kit for my brother ($28). For my dad, it's a mug and a box of chocolates ($28), and for mum, it's a vase ($42). I also buy an assortment of chocolates for my grandparents ($21). Unfortunately, I won't be seeing my extended family this year. My boyfriend doesn't celebrate the event, which is his choice. However, he doesn't understand why I need to go to such lengths to celebrate it. I explain that it's not so much about the formalities of buying presents and catch-ups — it's a chance to celebrate my culture and faith with my family. $119
7:00pm — I look through my work wardrobe. I have a lot of summery dresses and workwear for the warmer months, but nothing for the cooler months. I look online for some winter office wear — nothing too crazy, just tops, pants and jumpers. I come across several pages of 'I could buys', but remind myself that my workplace is a hospital, not a fashion house. The hospital technically still gives me scrubs as I work in two different areas and if worse came to worse, I could wear them. After two hours of browsing, I decide on a cardigan ($17), two button-up tops ($42) and a cute pair of pants ($34). I pop on a face mask, watch some motivational videos on YouTube, and read, much to my boyfriend's confusion. $93
11:00pm — I'm reading the stock market trends and notice that there's a few investments that I've made which are predicted to do well. However, I'm always looking at ways to expand my portfolio. I get stuck on one article for what feels like forever, caught up in the idea of having enough passive income to work part-time without the worry of money. I put my phone down and dream of what could be.
Daily Total: $216.60

Day 3

12:00pm — I meet up with my former neighbour, who has been super supportive since I moved into town. He's like my adopted dad — a bit gruff, but he has a heart of gold. He hasn't been too well and has gotten worse over the last six months. Unfortunately, he's interstate from his immediate family. I remind him that I'm only ever a phone call away over lunch of salad and steak. The meal itself is worth much more than the $31 I pay. I end up paying for his lunch and drink, too ($38). $69
8:00pm — After a few hours of study, I catch up on emails and check my property folder. I realise that I haven't paid my property insurance for my rental yet. I know I can claim insurance back on tax, much like the other things with my investment property, however, the initial shock of cost is there — $525. The strata fees are coming in as well, which is another $558. I resign myself to the idea that they're technically both tax-deductible. But I also have to remind myself that I have to pay tax for any rent coming in. I'm tempted to buy another property and move in, predominantly for the sense of freedom it would bring. At times, I wish I had somewhere else to go because I feel as though my relationship is too consuming and my boyfriend wants every ounce of my energy when we're together. I've tried to get him to have hobbies and do things around the house, but unfortunately, that's met with an eye roll. $1,083
11:00pm — I wake up in a cold sweat, thinking about all the things I need to do over the next week in the lead up to the religious event and how I 'ought' to act when it comes to my family. My family are well-meaning, but they're conservative, especially my grandparents who expect me to be a housewife with kids. I'd rather be the fun aunt who encourages kids to explore the world around them and support them where I can. Additionally, I have endometriosis and PCOS, so I'm not willing to go through years of heartache and time poured into endeavours that may not turn out the way that everyone hoped for. Plus, the costs associated would easily reach $10,000 (at a minimum!). I breathe deep and acknowledge that my family's opinions are not for me, but for themselves. They can waste their breath on matters which are irrelevant.
Daily Total: $1,152

Day 4

10:00am — I meet up with a work friend at the hospital for a quick 'meeting' which soon becomes a general chat. She gives me a beautiful bag for my birthday and some other goodies. I'm so spoilt! I'm so thankful for her — she's great. I buy her coffee ($4.95), as mine is free (thank you, loyalty cards!). I don't buy any food, but I am very tempted by a piece of banana bread. $4.95
1:00pm — My boyfriend texts me to meet up for lunch. I meet him where my friend and I hung out this morning. I always pack my lunch when I go to work as the novelty of buying from the hospital canteen is long gone. There's nothing that I would typically eat there, and it gets expensive after a while! The meals there can range from $9 to $15 for something I know I can make at home for $5. I arrive at the canteen before my boyfriend does, so I end up buying us both coffees ($10.30). My boyfriend has forgotten his lunch but luckily, I've brought extras to give to him. He still buys food from the canteen. He then complains about the cost of the meal. $10.30
7:00pm — I head to the gym to work out and have a swim. I enjoy my gym time, especially when it comes to the end of my workday. Unfortunately, my job is stressful and often I end up working with several other government departments, which can take hours, if not days to complete. So, I always look forward to the end of the day. I have a multi gym pass which allows me to have access to gyms and pools nationwide. It's really good for when I travel. At the gym, I bump into a guy that I went on a date with. He's an interesting guy who wants to chat, however, I'm not willing to chat with him. I finish up early and leave.
8:00pm — I head to the supermarket and have a quick think about what I'm going to cook for dinner. I buy a few things and check out if there are any specials ($32.50). Tonight, I'll be having mince, fettuccine and salad. It feels great to settle into a routine of working out and cooking. My boyfriend is working late again, so I leave the leftovers in the fridge for him. When he gets home, he doesn't eat it but instead scoffs half a block of cheese. More for me! $32.50
Daily Total: $47.75

Day 5

5:00am — I wake up early and double-check my payslip. I always make sure to provide extra money to my retirement fund, and salary sacrifice into my student loan. I'm not working a lot, but the extra money I put away is fairly useful (or at least so I think). I take a swig of instant coffee and read emails from my financial planner. He tells me how much I can borrow and I'm a little shocked — it's a lot more than I thought! I'll need to talk to him further about interest rate rises and how this will impact my investment strategies. My boyfriend is awake so I cook him breakfast. We sit out on the front porch and talk about our plans for the day. Unfortunately, we have very different time schedules today so we take two cars.
9:00am — I sneak off after our morning meeting and buy coffee for everyone in the office ($17). Thankfully, the orders are simple for me to remember. It gets me out of the clinical space and allows me to bump into people from my old department. I'm so thankful to work with great people. $17
1:00pm — I see my boyfriend for lunch and hand him a coffee ($8.50). Unfortunately, he's forgotten his lunch, despite it being dropped off to him directly. He buys lunch and we swap halfway through — two meals are better than one, right? The green curry he has doesn't actually taste like anything. It's well, bland. The pasta goes down well and he finishes it before I have my third bite of the curry. A co-worker joins us for lunch. Thankfully, they're interesting and tell us about their partner's love of horses and horse riding. They tell me about their property on the outskirts of the city. I'm so jealous. I wish I could enjoy the lifestyle that comes with living in the country. $8.50
6:00pm — Gym and swim time. Thankfully, this combination has helped me increase my muscle mass and reduce my fat percentage. Unfortunately, I had treatments last year which made me gain a significant amount of weight. My one-date wonder is also around and asks me to catch up with him at some point. I politely acknowledge it and remind him that I'm not interested in him that way. He looks a little upset, but I remind him that there are lots of people out there who would like him.
9:00pm — My boyfriend has finally finished for the day and we look for a place to go eat. He says that he's over-working and wants to work part-time. We order our meals. When they come, I start to eat and he criticises me for 'eating too much'. We have words and finish eating in silence. He pays for the meals. We head home in silence. Once at home, he falls asleep on the bed. The idea of having another property and leaving the relationship feels wonderful at this point.
Daily Total: $25.50

Day 6

4:00am — I wake up and look over at my boyfriend, who is staring at me. He apologises for last night and blames the event on work. I remind him that we can work on things together and that he's entitled to feel whatever he wishes, however, he's reminded to be polite and if he doesn't like the amount I eat, then that's on him. My dietary habits aren't his problem, they're my problem.
5:00pm — My day is too busy to contemplate. I end up eating my lunch at my desk, much to my boyfriend's frustration. I cool off at the gym and do double the laps I typically do.
8:00pm — I lay down to read the news on the couch. The next thing I know, it's after 11pm and I'm still in my gym clothes. I end up peeling them off and going in for a shower. I collapse in bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day 7

5:00am — I wake up and realise that I'm really sore and that I can't actually walk too well. I limp out to the kitchen, make a coffee and read the news. Stocks are up which is good — I'm waiting for the dividends to come through soon. Then, I make my boyfriend breakfast. He wakes up late, grabs his breakfast and leaves soon after. Unfortunately, he's going to work early.
9:00am — Post-meeting coffee for my team throw a melting moment biscuit in. I cannot tell you how excited I am to have a melting moment biscuit — they're heavenly and just make me happy. $17
11:00am — I scroll online to see what education items I might need for my job, especially when it comes to textbooks or other items like that. I'm always on the hunt for good resources. I spend a good half an hour on it before realising the time.
1:00pm — My boyfriend and I meet for lunch — he pays for my coffee. While I'm on time, he's rung me three times. He's forgotten his lunch again but remembered the coffee, so we split my lunch. We talk about our workdays. It's the humdrum workday — nothing exciting.
2:00pm — My property manager tells me about the new tenant she has put forward. I check the details and the references, sign off on the tenant and agree to a start date. A young lass in finance. I trust that she has a bright future in front of her and I hope that she's able to use the place well.
3:00pm — I buy a grocery order for my folks for next week. It's nothing fancy, just the normal stuff but on a much bigger scale ($203.50). I have it dropped over to their place. I know my family will start cooking for the event in the next day or so. Yes, it's expensive, but I know it's my contribution to the extended family. I'm in a position where I can pay for these things, especially when it comes to some of my cousins who I know are struggling. $203.50
6:00pm — I get a text from a friend who has a two for one movie ticket deal and she wants to see a movie tonight. I agree to go with her. I race home from work, get dressed up, and meet her at the cinema. I split the ticket with her and buy a snack to share ($24). After the movie ends, we head to get dinner, I end up spending far too much by buying a burger ($17) and a few gin and tonics ($35). We walk home and I make sure she gets home safe. I get home and slip into my pyjamas, sending emails while my boyfriend is fast asleep. $76
11:00pm — After a long conversation with my brother, I buy him a fuel card ($28). He lost his bank card and he's down to his last $50. My brother won't get his new card until next week. I send him the fuel card via email. I don't talk with my brother much, however, he knows I'm here if he needs me. $28
Daily Total: $324.50
If you found this article distressing and are in need of support, please call 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732), the National Sexual Assault Domestic Family Violence Service.
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.

For many of us, money can be a major source of stress. But it doesn’t have to be. Become more confident with our beginner's guide to managing your money.

Do you have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Submit it here.

More from Work & Money