Money Diaries

A Week In South Yarra, Melbourne As A Nurse On A $65,000

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Today: a nurse who makes $65,000 a year and spends some of her money this week on breast pumps.
Occupation: Nurse
Industry: Healthcare
Age: 28
Location: Melbourne
Salary: $65,000
Net Worth: $63,000 ($10,000 in savings, $45,000 in superannuation, and $8,000 in shares.)
Debt: $0
Paycheque Amount (Weekly): ~$2,500 (inconsistently as I'm a contract worker)
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses

Monthly Housing Costs: $0. I live with my partner who owns a house in South Yarra.
Spotify: $11
Health Insurance: $50
Gym: $200
Nursing Union: $60

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?

There wasn't an expectation, it just seemed like a natural progression. Unless you wanted to do a trade (like a builder, electrician, or plumber) which are male-dominated industries, you went to university. I was very lucky and had my HECS paid in full at the completion of my course by my parents. Otherwise, with the ever-growing cost of indexation, I would be paying it off forever. 

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

Nothing formal, but we were continually reminded to be smart with our money. We had to work hard for it and were told that it "didn't grow on trees". As we got older, our money advice transformed into "don't piss it up against a wall".

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

When I was 14, I worked in the family restaurant. It was play money and taught me about saving and the value of a dollar when I wanted to buy something significant.

Did you worry about money growing up?

No, we never wanted for anything. Money was never discussed unless what we wanted was outlandish. We went on annual overseas holidays and got clothes and shoes if we needed them, within reason. It wouldn’t have been until around the time I got my first casual job at 14 that I even considered money, which I know is very lucky. We definitely weren't spoilt by any means, but we never went without.

Do you worry about money now?

Yes. With contract work, you never really know if there is work around the corner or not. The money is better, but you lose the stability of permanent work as agency shifts can be cancelled last minute. It is part and parcel of the job. Often, people do agency in conjunction with permanent work for additional money. Thankfully, when I’m sent a long way from home, they can’t cancel me. With a baby on the way, we'll also be down to one income, which is daunting.

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

I am very fortunate that my family are incredibly generous, I see them often throughout the week and there are always groceries or new baby clothes waiting for me. Gift giving is their love language. I will always have my family as a safety net. I also have a family credit card ‘for emergencies’. 

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

I received $10,000 from my parents this year to help get us ready for the baby. My siblings got a little payment too as a token for my parent's selling the house. I was really happy to receive it. My partner gets around $50,000 annually from his family — it is from his grandparents, the interest from their shares, and works as a tax offset for his mum. We don't complain! When the time is ready for us to buy a house, I know a deposit is waiting for us, which we are both incredibly thankful of. 

Day 1

7:00am — I'm currently away on deployment for a couple of weeks, which is roughly three and a half hours from home. The facility has required me to stay on-site (in the nursing home!). In 2020, I decided to leave my permanent nursing role (which was shift work) and started working purely with an agency. In the last three years, there's been a slight benefit in work because more people have been sick. I could work at the local hospitals but the money is in the rural/regional towns where people don't want to go. Last night, I decided to treat myself to a night away in a motel so I could have my own space ($150). I wake up and go to gym. As I am working afternoon shifts, I go for a walk in the park and read my book before having to head back ~40 minutes to the quiet town where I work. $150
11:00am — Quick stop at the supermarket to grab food for work. They provide food but I'm picky and like I know what I'm eating. I get Greek salads, tuna, protein bars, apples, and ricotta cannelloni. That will do me for a day or two! $45.11
2:00pm — Start work, and it's largely uneventful. I've been here for a couple of weeks now, so I know the resident's routine/medication regime. I spend lots of time on my phone and scouring the news.
9:30pm — I finish work head back to the nursing quarters, which I'll stay for the remainder of my deployment. It isn’t glamorous, but it is onsite and free, so no complaints from me.
Daily Total: $195.11

Day 2

6:00am — Today I have a double shift (7am to 10pm), so it is going to be a longggggg day. I get up earlier than usual as I'm sharing the accommodation with other nurses and I don't want to have to wait in line for a shower. It feels like I'm back at school camp. 
8:00am — I buy my first and only pregnancy book ($30). I've been recommended by a podcast I listen to, called Australian Birth Stories. I haven’t listened to many of the podcasts as I find them a touch too confronting, but the book they recommend is fascinating and informative. I'm 28 weeks pregnant with my first baby and it is so exciting and daunting all at the same time. $30
12:00pm — Lunch time. The best time of day at work! As I’ve been scrolling for the majority of the morning, I’m embarrassingly up to date on my socials. I decide whilst having my cheap microwave meal to treat myself and get lost on Net-a-Porter. Fortunately, there's not much I can justify spending the money on, but I get a couple of cute onesies/dress outfits for my six-month-old niece. Buying for girls is so exciting! I’m having a boy so I get my fix for buying cute fits for my niece. $180.43
3:00pm — One shift down, one to go. It is going to be a long arvo. I pace the halls as there's nothing to do. I'm thankful everyone is settled and not running around like headless chickens. I keep thinking of the money I'm making, which helps. Being a casual nurse, the hourly rate is significantly higher. When I go to places like this, I earn about $85/hour, whereas I'll usually only make $45/hour in local hospitals. You can see the appeal! I wouldn't be so far from home if there weren't large incentives. 
10:00pm — Longest day ever, I'm so excited for bed! Shower, skincare, briefly Facetime boyfriend and finally BED!
Daily Total: $210.43

Day 3

7:00am — Starting an early shift after a late finish is cruel, but I get the arvo to myself. Thankfully, the shift flies by. Mornings are much more eventful than afternoon shifts, so it's not all bad.
3:30pm — Finished for the day! Head to the gym, which is about 40 minutes away from the rural town I'm working in. It's so worth the journey for the sake of my well-being and mental health. Today is cardio. It's tough, but great.
4:30pm — After gym, I'm at the supermarket AGAIN. I probably won't be in town for the weekend as I'm working during the day, so I want to stock up on food. I grab a variety of frozen and ready-made meals (if you can't tell, I hate cooking), plus some apples, kiwi fruit, yoghurt, more protein bars (can never have enough snacks) and some Red Bull — my caffeine source. I can't have wine right now, so Red Bull has been my vice. I also help myself to a handful of chocolate pretzels from the pick and mix — I figure I give the big supermarkets enough of my money, so I deserve this. $112.77
6:00pm — Home from shopping and it's dinner time. It's tough to wait until 6pm when it's now dark so early, plus I've been up since sparrows. Nighttimes are very low-key when you're a long way from home and not going to the pub! I do some online shopping and find a baby carrier I have been eyeing off for a while. I ask my sister, who's just given birth, about it and she confirms that it's a good brand, so I bite the bullet ($300.71). She has been my saviour with what to buy as I haven't done this before! I'm in bed by 8pm — today was day eight of ten shifts, and it's been a week! $300.71
Daily Total: $413.48

Day 4

6:00am — Another early start. There isn't much excitement during this shift, which is a good problem in a nursing home! Nursing home work is very easy for a division one nurse (or registered nurse) — we do all the medications and oversee everything, but the carers do all the hygiene and cleaning. I don’t know how they do it all, but they are machines!

12:00pm — Again, lunch is a microwave meal. They sound incredibly grim, but honestly, some of them are really yum! There is a fridge of soft drinks and snacks for the residents, so I help myself too when needed. If someone ever gets upset about this, I have the pregnancy card up my sleeve. I can't starve the baby! Also, having snacks on-site helps my supermarket bill. 
3:30pm — Done for the day. Only one more shift to go! To say I'm excited would be an understatement. I'm exhausted. I think about going for a walk, but I don't have the energy. Also, the walk around town is pretty uneventful anyway. Instead, I scroll Marketplace as I'm in a buying mood. Thankfully, nothing tickles my fancy.
6:00pm — Early dinner and bed again. I hope I can sleep tonight knowing I'm heading home tomorrow. I pack up my bags ready to fill the car as I want to leave tomorrow as soon as my shift is over.
Daily Total: $0.00

Day 5

5:30am — I wake up extra early, shower and finish packing. I have such a spring in my step this morning. It's day ten away from home, and also my tenth day of working straight. Work thankfully flies by without any dramas, which is awesome.
12:00pm — Counting down the minutes until home time! I keep telling the entire staff (twice) that I'm going home after my shift and everyone is very excited for me. One of the managers gets some chocolates and treats for us to celebrate as I've become a part of the team in such a short period. 
4:00pm — My colleague is late to take over, which is so annoying considering how eager I am to get out, but it is out of my control. Finally they arrive and I'm off! I need to get petrol (which is the bain of my existence), but as long as it's on the way home, I don't mind ($105.25). The drive is three and a half hours, so I get my favourite true crime podcast going, Redhanded. Then I'm off! $105.25
7:30pm — I pick up fish and chips on the way home ($22.55). My partner, J., and I have a tradition where we get them after I finish every deployment. Then I finally get home and give J. the biggest squeeze. We eat our fish and chips and hop into bed by 8:30pm. $22.55
Daily Total: $127.80

Day 6

6:30am — My body clock doesn't like me, so I'm up way earlier than anticipated. J. is working from home this week, so we have a snuggle, not rushing to get up.
10:00am — We take advantage of both having the day off and go out for brunch — a real luxury on a Monday. As I’ve been away working and J. is making improvements at home for free, brekkie is my treat. He has the usual bacon and egg roll and I obnoxiously order a meal that is meant for two, with a fruit platter the size of the table, plus muesli and granola. We leave after seeing his ex (lol) and I'm in a food coma — death by fructose. $75.18
6:00pm — Today is largely unproductive for both of us. It's miserable, rainy weather, so we spend a lot of time by the fire and enjoying each other's company. We end up getting nothing accomplished, but I enjoy my first day home. I also squeeze in a gym class and buy a week-long pass for $75.
7:00pm — A combination of pregnancy and laziness has gotten the better of us and we cave and get Macca's for dinner. I'm craving a McFlurry and the pregnant woman gets what she wants! I get an M&M one with hot caramel sauce, while J. gets a double quarter-pounder meal. We can't skip the gym tomorrow! $30.07
Daily Total: $180.25

Day 7

6:30am — Again with an early wake-up, J. and I decide to make the most of it and go to gym. Before class, I quickly have a Red Bull for some energy. After, we grab a coffee and kombucha ($12.03). It is such a treat not needing to rush off to work. Having started the day on a fit note, I opt to make smoothie bowls for brekkie — there is something about being in your own environment with your own ingredients and knowing exactly what’s in your meals (but this only applies for smoothie bowls — I'm not cooking lunch and dinner!). I use a banana base with avocado for thickness, add in some protein powder, and put in allll the toppings, especially some crunchy peanut butter. $12.03
10:00am — J. is actually working today, so I turn my attention to online shopping, I buy some breast pumps from Amazon that I've been recommended, as well as some muslin burp cloths ($225.53). Having a baby is expensive! $225.53
3:00pm — Mum comes over and brings a HUGE bag of baby clothes — everything from burp cloths, newborn trackies, onesies, everything! It is all so small and adorable it's making everything seem so much more real. Then we go and see my grandma who is in care.
5:00pm — I'm in a vicious spending mood. Thankfully, it is focused on the baby and not me (there is a first for everything!). I've been searching for a specific cot for ages and have finally accepted it isn't meant to be as it is sold out globally. I find another cot I love and bite the bullet as I don't want to miss out again. I get the cot, a mattress and linen ($751.78). Slowly but surely, I'm getting the nursery sorted. $751.78
8:00pm — Another early night for us. The big stint of work is catching up on me and I'm craving sleep!
Daily Total: $989.34
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. You should always obtain your own independent advice before making any financial decisions.
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