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A Week As A Photojournalist In Nairobi, Kenya, On A $60,000 Salary

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Today: a photojournalist who makes AUD $60,394 per year and spends some of her money this week on houseplants.
Editor's note: This is a follow-up Money Diary. You can read the original diary here. All currency has been converted to AUD.
Occupation: Photojournalist
Industry: Media
Age: 27
Location: Nairobi, Kenya
Salary: $60,394
Net Worth: ~$68,000 ($1,500 in my transaction account, $23,000 in various ETFs, $2,500 in a savings account (I loaned my brother $4,500 from here, he has yet to return), $38,000 in my retirement account and ~$3,000 in crypto, no debt).
Debt: $0
Paycheque Amount (varies): $750-$4,000+ (I am freelance so I am paid per project).
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: ~$390 for my share of a four-person apartment (disclaimer: this does NOT paint an accurate picture of the Nairobi housing market. Many expats/foreigners live in houses that cost $2,800-3,000 a month, depending on the neighbourhood).
Cell Phone: $45
Website: $19

Annual Expenses
Lightroom Subscription: $35
Press Membership: $50
New Yorker: $45
Harper's Bazaar: $55
VPN: $90
Contacts Subscription: $185
Amazon: I use my brother's account.

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?

Yes, for sure. I'm first generation and my parents very much value higher education. I always did relatively well in school and I got a bachelor's degree. In retrospect, I wish I had taken a year off to work or travel after high school, just for some more life experience. I got a bunch of financial aid based on how much my parents made, and have always held at least one job (tutoring, helping out at the theatre, working as a Teaching Assistant, serving at restaurants) since high school. My parents very generously paid off the remainder of my college loans ($15,500) within two years of my graduation and I paid them back in monthly instalments, which I prioritised and finished last year. This was to help me save on the interest rates.

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

Not much, strangely, despite how much the topic occupied my parents' minds. They would say general things like treat your credit card like a debit card, but not much more than that. I'm still figuring out how to save and do taxes, and I know I can always ask my dad for more specific advice. Right now, I'm trying to build up a more substantial savings account, but still save the majority of my money in ETFs.

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

Cat-sitting in the neighbourhood, which I did for spending money.

Did you worry about money growing up?

Yes and no. My parents were very open about being frugal, especially because they take care of family overseas. We rarely ate out and practically took no vacations. They did pay for music lessons but that was pretty much it.

Do you worry about money now?

All the time. Being freelance can be incredibly stressful because the consistent work could disappear at any time.

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

I started paying for myself at 22, after college. My parents are there as a fallback if anything goes terribly wrong, for which I'm very grateful.

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

No, in the traditional sense, yet my parents helping me out with college loans was a huge help.

Day One

8:40 a.m. — I'm subletting my apartment for two weeks to help an acquaintance so I wake up at my boyfriend's place. I make a cappuccino with his fancy espresso machine, then do emails and life admin. I like working from home 90% of the time but I try to go to a coffee shop and co-work with a friend at least once a week.
2 p.m. — I make fried eggs on toast with homemade cashew cheese, everything bagel seasoning and sesame oil. I also make a banana/zucchini/avocado smoothie. I do some stretching on the yoga mat (more just lying down, tbh) and then get back to typing away. I do final edits on a feature, add some captions for a photo essay and then write up two pitches for stories for the coming weeks. The majority of my editors are in a different timezone so the afternoon onwards is when interesting things start coming into my inbox.
4 p.m. — We head to the climbing gym on my boyfriend's motorbike. I have a six-month membership, which comes out to about $75 a month (prepaid).
8:30 p.m. — We get some great Indian food: lamb curry, butter masala paneer, a mango lassi, a fresh lime soda, parathas and naan. I pay. We even out expenses at the end of the month but we usually take turns paying for things. We go home, I brush my teeth, read my book and then go to sleep. $40
Daily Total: $40

Day Two

9 a.m. — I wake up, brush my teeth and put on some niacinamide toner and Kiehl's eye cream. I make a cappuccino and pour myself a sparkling water before getting started on my emails.
1 p.m. — I take a break to do a yoga video and an ab workout video. I eat some fruit with homemade cashew nut milk and almond-coconut-maple granola for lunch.
3 p.m. — I have an interview today at a community garden for a story and my boyfriend drives me to the garden. On the way, we stop by a plant shop to buy pots and all kinds of houseplants. We get six different plants and a bunch of pots. $74
6 p.m. — We go for a walk during the interview and end up getting caught in the rain. I say goodbye to my subject and then my boyfriend and I head to a friend's house nearby for a simple dinner of halloumi, cabbage and chapati. We have dinner and drinks while we dry out by the fireplace and chat.
8:50 p.m. — I head to watch a documentary with some friends at a local theatre. The movie is great and I love to be with my friends. My boyfriend drives us home after the movie. I send my friend money to thank him for renting and organising. Unload the plants at home, then sleepy time. $11.77
Daily Total: $85.77

Day Three

9:20 a.m. — Wake up, coffee, laptop, the normal nonsense. I call a source at 11 to get some information about an upcoming story about drought and livestock encroachment in the central part of the country. I'm hoping to get the story commissioned so I can head over in about two weeks, depending on the weather (it's currently rainy season — good for the country, inconvenient in other ways).
12:30 p.m. — I take an Uber Bike to a coffee shop ($4) to co-work with a friend. I get an iced latte ($4.10). $9.16
5 p.m. — I take an Uber Bike to the climbing gym ($4), boulder around a bit, then head to the grocery store. I'm having friends over for a Korean night tonight so I pick up chicken drumsticks, scallions and black sesame seeds ($19). We make bun bo xao, Korean fried chicken, budae jigae and kimbap. My boyfriend makes cocktails with a green tea simple syrup and soju. The food turns out great! After they leave, I do some reading and then it's lights out. $23
Daily Total: $32.16

Day Four

9:40 a.m. — I didn't sleep well last night but I get up before the day slips away. Coffee, work, emails.
12:30 p.m. — After a quick HIIT workout, I get an Uber Bike ($7) and meet a friend at a coffee shop. I get a Vietnamese iced coffee ($5) and do some work for a while. My friend pays for our ride back home since we live close to each other. $12
7 p.m. — I do another small workout at home and then heat up some budae jigae leftovers for dinner. My boyfriend and I watch a movie and then go to sleep.
Daily Total: $12

Day Five

8 a.m. — I wake up and see that my boyfriend is already up and out of the house for some reporting (he's also a journalist). I make a coffee. I finally click submit (and pay the entrance fee) on an application for a photo contest, then I go through my emails and do some editing. I make pizza dough for later. $46.50
2 p.m. — I Uber to a private school on the other side of town ($6.20), where my friend is a teacher. I'm presenting at a career fair today for high schoolers on what it's like to be a journalist. After I give my presentation, I go for a run and then get an Uber Bike back home ($6.20). $12.40
6 p.m. — I make salad and anchovy pizza for dinner then head out to meet a friend for drinks. I take an Uber Bike to the brewery ($3) and order two beers ($12.40). I take an Uber Bike back home as well ($3). I fall asleep as soon as I get home. $18.40
Daily Total: $77.30

Day Six

9 a.m. — I wake up, make some coffee, then head to a nearby park for a walk ($9.30 on Uber Bike, round trip). After my walk, I make a lunch of a banana smoothie and fried eggs.
2 p.m. — I do some reading on the couch. I get a notification that a shoot I did for a German magazine finally went live. I look at the photos and am really proud of how the work came out!
8 p.m. — I head to a friend's place for a housewarming party ($4.70 there, $4.70 back on Uber Bike). I bring a bunch of beers from our pantry. We party all night and have the best time. I finally get home around 1 a.m. and immediately pass out. $9.40
Daily Total: $9.40

Day Seven

8 a.m. — My boyfriend and I get up and make the 45-minute drive to our local crag for a day of outdoor rock climbing ($20 for my share of the fuel). We climb for a few hours and it's absolutely gorgeous. I bring some hummus, carrots and mangoes for a snack. Somewhere along the line, I check my phone and see that a large payment ($3,278) has finally been deposited in my account, for a story that I had to front travel expenses for six weeks ago. I'm so relieved to have those funds back. $20
4:30 p.m. — We drive home, I hop in the shower and then I wrangle up some groceries to bring to a friend's house to cook dinner. I bring some wine and pasta and we head over on my boyfriend's motorbike. She ends up making a beautiful shrimp pasta and we have a lovely night.
9 p.m. — After a nice evening, my boyfriend bikes us back home. I get in bed and do some online shopping. I buy a pair of secondhand orangey-striped Ace & Jig pants from a little indie clothing website that I've been eyeing for a long time. I ship the pants to my parents' house in the US. I've been using online shopping as a coping mechanism for stress and I know that's something I need to work on. $124
11 p.m. — Brush my teeth, snuggle with my boyfriend and eventually fall asleep. Goodnight!
Daily Total: $144

Weekly total: 400.63

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