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A Week In Melbourne, Victoria, As A Program Officer On $86,000

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Today we meet a Program Officer from Melbourne who takes a week off work to recover from burnout, and stocks up on some skincare. 
Occupation: Program Officer 
Industry: Education 
Age: 34
Location: Melbourne, Victoria 
Salary: $86,000
Net Worth: $143,000, including a high-interest savings account with $48,000 and a superannuation balance of $95,000.
Debt: $0
Paycheque Amount (Monthly): $5,074.52 
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses 

Rent: $2000 – my partner and I rent together and we share the cost.
Internet: $80
Water + Electricity: $50
Gym: $77.80
Car Insurance: $61
Myki [public transport card]: $30
Groceries: $300
Phone: $133 (I always give my old phone to my partner, so we only have to pay off one phone at a time).
Investment Portfolio: $900
Savings: $700 – an emergency account with $300 and savings for parents, $400. 

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

Yes. I have a Bachelor of Arts. I didn’t have access to HECS because I was an international student. 

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

When I was growing up, my parents never talked about money. Now that I’m an adult, I understand the importance of financial security, so I’m reading articles and books about finances, and I’ve just started to grow my investment portfolio.

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

My first job was as a barista! When I first came to Australia on a working holiday visa, I decided to do a one-day course to get a coffee-making certificate so I could become a barista. 

Did you worry about money growing up?

Yes and no. In hindsight, my parents had very little money when I was young. My mum managed their finances and didn’t talk about money much. So, in a way, I was protected from worrying about money but also, I kind of sensed it. I was really careful not to put too much pressure on my parents by asking for too much. But they were kind and generous and gave me as much as they could. 

Do you worry about money now?

I worry about money now, but in a productive way. I’m not too worried about saving up for a home deposit and a mortgage as that seems really out of reach for my generation. Instead, I’m focussing on finding ways to make the most of the money we do have, such as building a full investment portfolio, and maybe buying an investment property one day, or exploring other options. 

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

When I moved to Australia in my early 20s, my parents appointed themselves as my safety net, even though they were not living comfortably at the time. I can’t thank them enough for supporting me as I started my new life in Australia. I worked part-time during this period and tried not to ask for help as much as I could. 

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


Day 1 

6am – I wake up to give my cats their breakfast – I hope they know how lucky they are to have me! 
8am – I’m on leave this week. I've been feeling a bit burnt out from work, so I’ve taken a week off to rest. I start my day with warm water and some black coffee. Once I’m finished, I start cleaning the house. 
11am – I'm kind of hungry and I’m craving a croissant, so I go to a local bakery and buy one. $7.34.
1pm – I’m a Virgo and realised recently that like a true Virgo, I love cleaning and organising things. Today, I feel like tidying up and organising all my drawers and my wardrobe. Organising and decluttering always boosts my mood and helps me feel more in control of my life. Plus, it looks nice! 
2pm – I'm hungry but not too hungry, so I have some yoghurt and muesli and a blueberry tea. 
5pm – I'm cooking something new today! I already bought some meat and some bok choy the other day to make these stir-fried noodles. They’re so yummy! 
7pm – I’ve taken this week off to take care of myself, so every night I want to read some articles or a book and follow a proper skincare routine. Tonight, I read a few articles with a face mask on. I love it! 
10pm – To end the day, I write in my journal for a bit. Today was simple but fun! I’ve grown to enjoy the simple things in life. 
Daily Total: $7.34

Day 2 

6am – I get up to feed my cats and then go back to bed for a while. 
8am – I start my day with warm water and coffee again. Today I have a Pilates class that I booked last week, but I also feel like going for a long walk. My first day was all about organisation; my second day is all about nature. There's a big park that I always go to when I feel like taking a seriously long walk, so I clean up around the house before I head off.
11am – I start my walk around the park – it’s such a lovely day! I wonder why the other people in the park are here at this time – are they also on leave? Are they retirees? Or are they millionaires who don’t need to work? 
2:30pm – I arrive back home and make some curry for lunch. Then I watch a few videos on YouTube and check out what's new on Netflix. I don’t spend a lot of time watching TV but thought I might be able to find something to binge-watch while I’m on leave. I can’t find anything interesting, so I put You’ve Got Mail on in the background while I do some online shopping on my laptop. First, I buy two cat litter bags, which comes to $57 with free delivery. Then I stock up on some skincare products, which comes to a total of $204. $261
5pm – I have an early dinner of fried rice with some leftovers before my Pilates class. 
8pm – I get home from the class and take a shower. Now that it's getting colder, it's nice to have a hot shower every day.
9pm – I’m enjoying my new night routine. Tonight, I play some lo-fi music in the background and do my journaling and reading. It's surprising how easy journaling has become. When I work, it feels like another task, but now I want to record how I spend my days during my leave, so it's an important nightly ritual for me.
10pm - I’m tired now, so it’s time for bed!
Daily Total: $261

Day 3 

6am – You know the drill – my cats, breakfast and me.
8am – Today I'm going to one of my favourite restaurants! It’s a bit of a drive and it’s hard to find parking nearby, so I tend to avoid it on weekends. I start my day with warm water and coffee again. 
9am – I clean the house and think about what to wear.
10am – I leave a bit early for lunch, allowing for some extra traffic time just in case. Oh, I'm so excited and hungry! 
11am – It usually takes around 40 minutes, but I drove slowly and it took some time to find a park . But finally I’m here! I always order the same thing, so don’t bother looking at the menu. I take my phone out and order a Mee Goreng through the QR code. $25.36.
12pm – I eat my meal slowly because I don’t need to hurry anywhere. It was delicious – I think I ate everything on the plate! 
1pm – I'm really full but want to buy croissants for a snack later or even breakfast tomorrow. I also get a coffee to see what it’s like. $29.09.
2pm – On the way home, I stop by Kmart to buy a mesh shelf for my wardrobe. $9.
3pm – I arrive home and fit the shelf into my wardrobe. It fits perfectly and looks so nice! 
4pm – I take an early shower and get ready for my night routine. I start my early evening with an English Breakfast tea and one of the croissants I bought earlier. It's so delicious and I'm so happy! 
7pm – Tonight I play some jazz music in the background while I do my journaling. I search through the self-help podcasts and YouTube channels to see whether there’s anything I want to subscribe to. Nothing really catches my eye so I do some reading instead. 
Daily Total: $63.45

Day 4 

6am – My partner feeds the cats their breakfast, so I get to have a bit of a sleep-in!
8am – I start my day with warm water and coffee. I'm thinking of going to Ikea today. My partner and I just bought cheap furniture when we moved in together nine years ago and we’ve been slowly replacing the cheap furniture with some better-quality pieces. We recently replaced our cheap coffee table that was peeling with a sturdy wood coffee table. 
I also saw that Ikea has some good glass containers that we could use for food storage. I want to start cooking more at home, so this could get me motivated. I’m excited for my Ikea trip now, so I quickly clean the house before I leave. 
10am – I realise I don’t really want to buy any cheap Ikea furniture so I skip through most of the store and head straight to the kitchen section to pick up some of the glass containers. $179.90.
3pm – I arrive home and start unpacking everything. I should have taken a cart into Ikea with me, carrying around the glass containers in the yellow Ikea bag has worn me out. I decide to make a cup of tea and scroll through TikTok for a while. 
6pm – My partner arrives home from work and starts cooking omelettes for dinner while I feed the cats. 
8pm – I have a shower and decide to just watch some TV with my partner, as I’m still tired from my trip to Ikea. 
Daily Total: $179.90

Day 5 

6am – Cats, breakfast, and moi. 
8am – I have a hair appointment today! When I came to Australia, I realised I needed to go to a salon with Asian hairdressers because my hair is so thick and straight. I start cleaning and getting ready for my appointment. 
11.45am – It's my hair appointment time. Wish me luck!
1pm – Now that I have fresh hair, I don’t want to go home straight away so I decide to have lunch out. I look around for a restaurant that I really like but I can’t find it. Eventually, I decide to go to another restaurant. Haircut: $80, Lunch: $14.73. $94.73
6pm – I make ramen for dinner – it’s so delicious and perfect for a cold, wintery day like today. 
8pm – I make myself a cup of green tea and start journaling. I missed yesterday's entry, so I write a bit about what I did yesterday and today.
Daily Total: $94.73

Day 6 

6am – I wonder how the cats know it's their mealtime. My partner feeds them again and I stay in the warm bed. 
8am – I start my day with warm water and coffee. I always drink long blacks at home but if I order coffee when I’m out, it’s always a mocha. 
10am – My partner cooks omelettes for brunch. We try to have two meals most days.
12pm – We head out to the gym and then to get groceries. Normally, we spend slightly less than $200 each week, but we also randomly buy groceries for fresh food throughout the week. This time, we spent $161.86.
3pm – We’re exhausted from shopping, so we unpack everything and make some tea. 
4:30pm – We’re starting to feel hungry, so we make bibimbap (Korean-style fried rice) for an early dinner.
6pm – I feel like going for a late walk. During summer, we love going for late night walks and talking. In winter we have to head out a little earlier. We feed the cats and then enjoy our ‘romantic’ walk around the neighbourhood. 
8pm – I take a shower and start journaling. It’s interesting that this week my journal entries have always started with ‘today was a good day’. I’m so glad I’ve been enjoying this week of rest and simple pleasures. 
9pm – My partner wants to watch something, so I join him and do ‘bits and pieces’ while we watch. 
10pm – We’re tired so we head to bed! 
Daily Total: $161.86

Day 7 

6:10am – I quickly feed the cats before they murder me for feeding them ten minutes late. 
10am – It's kind of cloudy and it might rain today, so we decide to stay home. 
11am – I have some leftover omelette for brunch while my partner tries the new bread we bought yesterday. He has a green tea while I have my warm water and coffee. 
12pm – It's the cats' lunchtime and we can't forget that.
1pm – My partner goes outside to do some gardening and spend some time with the cats and this ‘cat mom’ enjoys a bit of quiet time. I open my laptop to do some window shopping and watch some videos. I’m trying to figure out why the focaccia I made last time was unsuccessful and whether it’s hard to make sourdough bread as a ‘beginner’. I watch a few videos but it all feels a bit too much so I give up. 
4pm – I do a few things around the house and then call my mum. Since I live in a different country, I try to call my family once a week.
5pm – My partner is making us some soup for dinner. I told him the other day about a health documentary I watched about how adding a variety of vegetables and other types of food to your diet can improve your gut microbiome, so he’s adding some celery to the soup for me. 
6pm – It's the cats' dinnertime, which they’ve been reminding us about for a while now. I take a shower and do my skincare routine.
7pm – My partner doesn't like to set up any automatic payments, so he manually adds money to his Myki weekly. He makes a few more payments online and then we chat about lots of things – like our week, my time off and how we feel about everything. I feel like I had so much fun this week, especially journaling and reading at night and cooking a few different things. I know my week may have looked simple to some people but it’s exactly what I needed. 
9:30pm – I do my journaling and then I show my partner some funny TikToks (mostly about cats) while we brush our teeth. We have a good laugh and then head to bed a bit early. 
Daily total: $80 

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

I thought it would be interesting to share a money diary of a full-time worker's annual leave at home, especially from the perspective of an adult without a mortgage, and as an immigrant. Despite a few struggles, I feel like I live a rich and full life and I’m enjoying the simple pleasures in life. 
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