Money Diaries

A Week In Carlton, Melbourne On A $60,000 Income

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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Occupation: Producer and Freelance Writer
Industry: Media
Age: 23
Location: Carlton, Naarm (Melbourne)
Salary: $60,000
Net Worth: $40,000 ($20,000 in savings, a car worth $5,000, $15,000 in super).
Debt: $21,000 in HECS
Paycheque Amount (Monthly): It's always different as I do a variety of freelance roles, but my most consistent paycheque is $3,000 a month from one job. With other jobs included, my pay usually comes in at a total of $4,500 — $5,000 before tax each month.
Pronouns: She/Her
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Monthly Expenses

Rent: $977.68. I rent a 2-bedroom apartment in Melbourne that I share with a high school friend.
Utilities: We split all bills straight down the middle, which includes $35 each for WiFi and around $50 each for electricity. Water is included in our rent.
Loans: When I'm earning enough, I pay about $200 a month towards my student loans.
Gym membership: $40
Amazon Prime: $6.99
Stan: $10
Phone credit: $40
Car rego and insurance: Around $1,400 a year, so $116 a month.
Savings: I try to save at least $500 a month, but this is sometimes more, sometimes less.

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

Yes! I completed a Certificate IV in Fashion Design in year 11 that my parents and high school both paid for, luckily, which was about $1,500 out of pocket. More recently, I completed my Bachelor in Communications and paid for it through the HECS system. I'm still working to pay it off.

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

I grew up in a regional city and was quite comfortable. I was lucky enough to never have to worry about money. While I was privileged enough to have everything I needed, I don't think my parents spoiled me. From a young age, they taught us about budgeting, saving and reconsidering big purchases rather than spending without thought. They always encouraged us to work and have our own money as soon as we could. After I started my first part-time job (at the ripe age of 14 and 9 months — on the dot!), my parents hardly ever gave me spending money. It was up to me to fund any extra activities that I wanted to do or buy any new clothes or things I wanted.
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What was your first job and why did you get it?

My first job was at a local restaurant and I got it as soon as I legally could. I ended up working there for over five years, making coffee, taking orders and serving customers. For the most part, I didn't love it, but it was a way to make some money.

Did you worry about money growing up?

In the grand scheme of things, no. I never felt like my family wasn't going to get by or that we were struggling substantially. Of course, there were moments where money was a little tight, but it was never devastating, thankfully! However, I was always very worried and precious about my own personal money. I was scared that my small paycheque wasn't enough to cover all the things I wanted to spend it on.

Do you worry about money now?

Honestly, I probably don't worry as much as I should. As a freelancer, I'm in charge of paying my own taxes, super and HECS, but I don't think I've been doing a great job with it due to my laissez-faire approach to spending. I'm expecting a big bill at the end of the tax year! After the pandemic, my relationship with money has completely shifted and I feel — whether it's for better or worse — far less attached to money than ever before.

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

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Although my parents pushed me to be financially responsible since I became a teenager, I became pretty much fully responsible for myself financially after I graduated university and started working full-time hours. Although I never ask my parents for money, they are the guarantors on my apartment rental lease and are technically there as a financial safety net if I ever needed it.

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

I've only just recently learnt what passive income is! It's something I would love to set up in the future, whether that's through investing or another avenue. I've never received any inheritance.

Day 1

10:25am — It's Monday morning, the first day back at work in 2022, and I'm still stuck in Covid isolation. Ugh! I wake up the opposite of bright and early and roll over grumpy and late. I'm still feeling the lethargic effects of having Covid (I think I contracted it over New Year's), so it's going to be a struggle day. Slowly, I ease myself out of bed and onto my laptop to kickstart a new year of freelancing — or I at least try to.
10:45am — My housemate's boyfriend Uber Eats-ed us coffees this morning because we're in isolation and can't walk to our local down the road — what a gem! I start on some work while sipping away at my large almond latte with honey, my usual order.
11:50am — I start to get a bit hungry and decide to make myself some late breakfast. I cook up smashed avo on toast with a fried egg out of spare ingredients from our fridge and pantry.
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2:40pm — Lunchtime! I close my laptop for half an hour and sit down with my housemate, E., and her boyfriend, J. (we're all isolating together in our apartment) and eat some leftover cauliflower soup my housemate made yesterday — yum! We're all still slightly sick so soup is just the thing.
3:10pm — Back to work... reluctantly. I'm coming up with story ideas, editing pieces I’ve been working on and corresponding with some of my clients. When I explain it like that, it actually doesn’t sound bad, but I’m just not in the mood today.
4:15pm — I top up my water bottle and have a little piece of chocolate for a snack.
5:45pm — Wrapping up my work for the day, I pop my workout gear on and head to the backyard for an at-home workout. I've been loving the online classes on ANNAMO. They've been getting me through this iso period while I can't go to the gym. 
6:40pm — After showering, I make myself, E. and J. dinner — pea pasta with garlic bread. We sit outside in the backyard and eat it together. It's the only outdoor exposure we're getting at the moment. We’re all isolating together at our apartment even though he doesn’t officially live here with us.
8:15pm — After washing up and reading a couple of chapters of my new book, Trent Dalton's Love Stories, I keep working from bed while snacking on some Maltesers that I found in the cupboard. 
10:30pm — Finally, time for bed — or more accurately, scrolling on TikTok for an hour before I pass out. Only one more full day before we can leave isolation — yay! After being quite sick with Covid — sweats, fever, brain fog, sore muscles and of course the dreaded spicy cough — it’s nice to be feeling almost back to 100% and excited to be out the other end. Like any other iso period, I’m just so excited to get out and back into society — grabbing a coffee, seeing family and friends, but especially (but weirdly) going for a run.
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Daily Total: $0

Day 2

8:30am — I wake up bright and early this morning and get ready for my 9am meeting. I make myself coffee with oat milk, then jump right in.
9:40am — The meeting went well! It was for one of my positions at an e-commerce start up where I manage blog content for the website. I’ve been here for around two years and love it (most of the time). I met some new students that are interning at our company, it's very exciting stuff. I make myself another smashed avo and fried egg toast to start the day using yesterday's leftovers. Aaand it's back to work.
10:20am — Check my online banking to see if I have been paid yet, but no. Instead, I notice $9.99 being taken out for my gym membership. Sigh.
10:30am — I have an appointment with my psych via Telehealth ($200). It's a lot, but I should get my $80ish rebate back in a day or so, fingers crossed! $200
11:30am — Back to work. Today, I'm writing some website copy for my main job, editing the interns' work and writing a couple of blog articles for a client about work behaviour in 2022. Super fun.
1:00pm — My housemate's boyfriend buys us coffee and bagels for lunch. I sip on my large almond latte with honey and chomp down on a blueberry bagel with cream cheese. I transfer him $10 for my share. I'm still waiting on my pay, which is proving to be a slow mover this month. Ugh. $10
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5:00pm — It's such a nice day, so E. and I move our laptops outside for our final hour of work. We each have a can of vodka soda that she bought a few days ago as a bit of a knockoff, and to celebrate getting out of iso tomorrow. Thank god!
7:00pm — After having a shower and winding down from the workday, E., J., and I order Fonda (fancy Mexican) for dinner on UberEats. We spend around $70 as a group, with my share coming in at $25, which I send through to my housemate's boyfriend. We share huge nachos, some tacos, charred corn and a quesadilla. We sit, eat and chat in the backyard because it's still such lovely weather. After dinner, we open up a bottle of wine we had in the fridge and polish that off. We end up all crashing and having a food coma nap on E.'s bed for around half an hour. Covid fatigue is a real thing! $25
11:00pm — After scrolling on TikTok for an hour or so, I call it a night and try to get to sleep. 
Daily Total: $235

Day 3

9:05am — It's freedom day! I wake up to my friend C. dropping us all coffees for our first day out of iso — she's so sweet! I eventually get out of bed and make myself a fried egg (I have no avo left, saaaad!) on what toast we have left in the house, before sitting down outside to start my day of work. 
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10:00am — Today's a busy one and I prep some articles, upload some content to my work's website and plan the day ahead in preparation for my company meeting at 11am.
11:00am — I jump onto the Zoom meeting and chat with my colleagues and boss for around an hour and a half about life and work things. Lots to catch up on in both senses. 
12.50pm - E., J., and I walk to a nearby cafe for lunch and coffee. I order a fancy salad sandwich and an iced almond latte (in my Keep Cup of course!), coming to a total of $17.50. I check my banking and notice I've been paid $3,750 from one job and my Medicare rebate of $88.25 has come through — win! I transfer most of this cash into my account for paying tax as I've been pulling money out of it over the past month. I also notice $4.49 coming out of my account for my iCloud membership and end up recharging my phone with credit ($40) too as it's almost expired (both covered under my monthly expenses). $17.50
1:45pm — I'm back to work, but sitting inside because the outside table started getting a little too warm. 
4:00pm — I have a little break from work and go and pick up some Keith Haring prints my housemate and I liked on Facebook Marketplace. I pop into the petrol station for the ATM and get $100 out for the prints, and E. transfers me $50 in return. I also get an Icy Pole when I'm there because it's a scorcher of a day ($3). $53
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5:30pm — After finishing off the rest of my work for the day, I have a quick shower, throw on some makeup and my favourite LBD dress, and head off to the movies. I received free tickets to the premiere of the new Scream, so I've decided to take E., J. and our other friend, T. J. pays for our Uber there to say thanks for the free tickets. He also gets us some popcorn and a drink of our choice, making it a very cheap movie night out! The movie was sooo good — I'm such a huge horror fan and it was the perfect mixture of funny and scary. After the film, we walk down Chapel Street and end up at a Tiki bar for some drinks and nibbles. I sip on some gin martinis and nibble on a kimchi toastie— both are delish! We split the bill between us all, with my share coming to $50. We leave, and I shout us an Uber XL home ($24.91). $74.91
11:30pm — We get home and stay up too late for a weeknight — talking, drinking gin and tonics, and playing Switch.
2:00am — Bedtime. Finally.
Daily Total: $144.91

Day 4

10:00am — I have a bit of a sleep-in this morning after such a late night last night. My head is a little sore from all the gin, so I have to tear myself away from the comfort of my bed. I get into work as soon as I can, but have a feeling it's not going to be a hugely productive day. 
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12:30am — My housemate's boyfriend J. and I walk to our favourite cafe to get coffee and lunch supplies. I end up covering everyone because I feel like I owe them some coffee money, and end up buying three iced lattes (it's another extremely hot day), a loaf of fresh sourdough, two plain bagels and two ripe avocados ($39.30). $39.30
1:00pm — I cook up a smashed avo and fried egg bagel for brunch, pray that I start to feel a little less dusty and settle back into work, sipping away at my coffee. 
5:30pm — I end up cancelling my drinks with a friend because I'm feeling absolutely exhausted. Socialising has already taken it out of me. I'm also hoping I can get some more work done tonight as I've had a painfully unproductive day. 
6:45pm — My neighbour drops off her dog, Frankie, for me to look after while she's on night shift at the hospital. One of the best parts of my living arrangements would have to be my fantastic neighbour and her dog. We often look after Frankie when we can and have afternoon wines and chats with my neighbour as she’s a nurse and often needs to debrief after work. We have a cuddle on the couch while I finish off some work and order some ramen off UberEats for dinner — $22.88.
9:15pm — I start to get a little peckish again and stroll down to the IGA and pick up a dairy-free ice cream sandwich ($5.50). Delish! $5.50
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11:00pm — E. and her boyfriend come home after being out for a friend's birthday and we have a bit of a chat. Then, Frankie and I head to my room for bed. I read another chapter of Love Stories (I'm loving it so far!) and doze off pretty much straight away.
Daily Total: $67.68

Day 5

8:30am — Wake up to the sound of Frankie barking — the poor thing is probably confused. I let him out and he ducks under the fence and back home where his mum is waiting for him. I jump back into bed and doze off for another half hour.
9:00am — I finally get up and get ready for a Zoom meeting with my boss, making myself a coffee from home before I jump in. After the meeting (which went surprisingly well), I chat with my mum and we catch up on the phone for around half an hour. She lives an hour away and we haven't had a chance to hang out since before New Year, so it's lovely having a chat with her. 
10:20am — After I shower, I immediately get a call from one of my clients, who informs me that they will have more work for me over the coming month. Yes! Thank god. With freelance client work, it's always hard to be sure that work will keep coming in so when I get a confirmation like this, it's great. After the call, I make myself some scrambled eggs on sourdough from the stuff we bought yesterday.
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11:45am — After getting changed, I sit down at my desk, ready to smash out my to-do list. On today's list is writing some website copy, writing briefs for writers, finishing off three articles and sending them to my clients, and if I have time, doing a massive load of washing. J. brings E. and me a coffee while we're both working.
2:30pm — After smashing out some work, I get a burst of energy and decide to do some errands. First up, I do a huge load of washing (clothes, sheets, towels — you name it!) at the laundromat because we don't have a machine in our apartment ($22 — pricey, I know!). Then I get some blood tests done and do a bit of a supermarket shop ($61.27) for some food that should last the next couple of days. We've run out of toilet paper (TMI) but it's all completely sold out at the supermarket (gotta love Covid), so I opt for a box of tissues and will have to come back in a couple of days to get some. $83.27
4:00pm — I put all the washing away and finish off some work for the rest of the day. Then I cook up some veggies and boil a couple of eggs for dinner from the groceries I bought earlier. I drive J. home and spend some time singing in my car on the way home because it's such a glorious day. 
7:00pm — I play with my neighbour's dog for a bit and FaceTime my brother and his girlfriend. They're holidaying in Tasmania and it sounds like they're having the best time, although I'm missing them very much. I decide to go for drinks with J. and some of his friends, so I get dressed and ready to go.
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8:30pm — I leave the apartment and stroll down to a rooftop bar to meet J. and his friends. We spend time catching up, laughing and drinking many a gin and soda. I end up spending $28 on drinks here, apparently. After so many lockdowns, I've been finding it really difficult to turn a good night down -— hence me deciding to go out tonight even though I've been tired. $28
1:20am -— I jump into the first taxi I can find, and head home after such a fun night ($15.77). I'm absolutely ruined and pass out basically as soon as I get home. Makeup and clothes still on, tragic. $15.77
Daily Total: $127.04

Day 6

9:30am — Even though my head is still sore from last night, I wake up at a pretty reasonable time and go meet a friend for coffee. Before I leave, I make some scrambled eggs on toast to line my stomach.
10:10am — We walk to my favourite coffee spot. I order myself an almond latte with honey ($5.50) and we sit in the gardens to drink coffee and catch up. $5.50
11:30am — Back home and I do a little bit of cleaning around the house, have a shower and wash and dry my hair. I FaceTime my friend T. and invite her to come over this afternoon. She lives an hour away though so she has to organise the train first.
12:30pm — While I wait for T., I go for a bike ride and get my nails done. I decide on a cute sparkly blue set ($70). Then I pop to a wine shop on the way home and get T. and myself a bottle of pet nat ($28) for tonight. $98
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3.30pm - I'm feeling a little peckish, so I make myself a bowl of Mi Goreng — the picture of health. T. turns up and we sit in my backyard drinking wine and catching up for hours.
5:30pm — T. and I stroll down to the IGA and grab some seltzers ($29.29) and sit in our garden because it's such a beautiful afternoon. My other friend M. and my housemate E. end up meeting us for a few more. I go and restock our drink supply from the IGA again — some more seltzers and a bottle of rosé ($48.98). My neighbour also ends up joining us for a drink which is super nice. $78.27
8:20pm — We say goodbye to my neighbour and the four of us decide to meet our friend at the pub she works at. We stroll there and E. shouts us all a drink — I have a schooner of sour. T. starts getting a little hangry so we stroll down to a nearby pasta place and order a huge Italian feast with cocktails. It comes to around $50 each, and I transfer E. when we leave. $50
10:00pm — After the food, we decide to walk into the city and keep the party going. We head to a rooftop bar and do a few rounds — I spend $32 for my round for the four of us. We decide the rooftop bar isn't the vibe for the night and jump in an Uber to head to Smith Street (E. pays!). We try the first club and only end up having one drink (M. pays!) before the venue closes. We end up going to two more clubs, and at the second I buy a $24 round for the three of us that are left. It's not the greatest crowd out tonight but we try to make it fun. $56
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2:30am — My friend, K., isn't feeling great so I pop into a kebab shop and buy her a lemonade ($3). K., E. and I all walk back to my place. $3
3:10am — Sleep time. I'm not sure how I stayed up this late considering how ruined I was last night.
Daily Total: $290.77

Day 7

11:00am — I wake up incredibly late this morning — there's still so much sleep for me to catch up on. I end up chilling in bed on my phone until around 12.30pm.
1:00pm — E. and I get up, get ready and stroll down to a brunch spot for some very late breaky. We get a Bloody Mary each, and I also get a cold brew. We share a smashed avo and this really yummy potato and egg dish. We end up sitting there for hours chatting about the last couple of nights and thinking about a trip we are planning. I pay $84.96 once we finish up and E sends me $42.50 back. $42.46
3:30pm — We had planned to visit Bunnings today, but we're both feeling super low energy so we try to do a little bit of work before settling down in front of the TV for the night. We eat an entire packet of Twisties we have lying around at home and end up watching the entire season of Love Me, crying the entire way through it.
9:00pm — I make us a quick Panzanella salad for a very late dinner, using the groceries I bought on Friday. I make heaps and keep the rest aside for the next couple of days. 
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11:30pm — After finishing off the show, we both head to bed, ready for a hopefully rejuvenating sleep before another crazy week.
Daily Total: $42.46
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