Money Diaries

A Week In Sydney’s Northern Beaches As A Property Assistant On $66,000

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Today: a shopping centre property assistant who makes $66,000 a year and spends some of her money this week on a ride at a festival.
Occupation: Property Assistant, Centre Management
Industry: Shopping Centres
Age: 22
Location: Northern Beaches, Sydney
Salary: $66,000 (I'm on a temporary contract)
Net Worth: $10,500 ($23,000 in savings, $1,600 in a business account, $600 in my spending account, $2,300 in shares, $12,000 in super, and a car worth about $10,000)
Debt: $39,000 in FEE-HELP (equivalent to HECS for non-government universities)
Paycheque Amount (Weekly): ~$1,000
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses

Rent: I am lucky enough to live with my parents and younger sister rent-free. My time there is limited though as my parents are moving to Queensland in a year, so I plan to move out then.
Debt: $0. This is the first time I will be earning enough in a year to start paying off my uni debt. I think that happens at EOFY though (why does no one teach you how it works?).
Phone Plan: $77. It just recently got increased from $72.
Gym: $88
Streaming Services: $7/month for Netflix, which I split with a friend. And I also have her logins for Disney+ and Stan (thank you!!).
Spotify: $0. I am still on my ex-boyfriend’s family plan (10 months strong), so I am hoping he doesn’t read this.
Apple iCloud Storage: $4.49
Car Insurance: $123. I was recently in an accident (which I caused), so the cost of my comprehensive insurance has skyrocketed.
Raiz Investments: $100 monthly. This is in addition to the round-up amounts that automatically get invested each week (which is about $20).

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

I studied a Bachelor of Business, which I completed at the end of 2021. Now I have $39,000 in student debt. It would have been a lot more, but I was also lucky enough to get a $30,000 scholarship when I started. This was awarded to me for being a high achiever in high school and showing 'promise', as opposed to being a financial hardship type of scholarship.

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

My parents taught me a lot about how to gain financial freedom. They wanted to give me the education that they didn’t get as children. When I got pocket money for doing household chores as a child, I had to split it up into different jars: long-term savings, short-term savings, emergency fund, spending, education, and giving (to a charity). Each had a certain percentage that was required to be put in. I was doing this with literally just silver coins from probably about the age of six.
To this day, I still put away 10% of everything I earn into my long-term savings account, as I learnt from my jars. While all my friends got Nintendos for Christmas, I had to save my chore money to buy my own. And even though I had to be a bit more patient, once I finally got the money, I bought myself a DSi console (which made it so worth the wait). It taught me how good it feels to put in the work and earn things for yourself.
I am so grateful for this type of education from my parents, as I believe it has shaped me into a great saver but, at the same time, a smart spender. They also played a board game with me as a kid called ‘Cashflow for Kids’. It taught us how to create passive income and introduced us to investing in a really fun and easy way. There is also an adult version which I am yet to play.

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

I got a job at Maccas when I was 14. Honestly, I really wanted money to spend on food at the mall after school and fit in with my friends (a lot of whom were given money to spend from their parents, while I was not). But of course, I also wanted the freedom to choose what I spent my money on and to have my own debit card.

Did you worry about money growing up?

I was privileged not to have to worry about money growing up. I wasn’t spoilt or given everything without earning it, but I always had a roof over my head and food on my plate. I remember missing out on an extra-curricular school camp that I really wanted to go on because my parents couldn’t afford it at the time. But even then, I knew that I was in a privileged position in my life.

Do you worry about money now?

To a certain degree, I do. But not in a survival sense. I worry if I will be able to afford a house and do all the things in life that I desire. But I know that at the end of the day, I will always have my parents to house me and help me out enough if I were to come into dire money troubles. I also know that I will also have a job waiting for me in retail at my old company if I ever need it.

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

I'd say I became financially independent at age 17, when I bought my own car and started earning more money. I don’t have private health insurance, so medical and optical expenses can add up for me. But my parents pay for groceries and don't charge me rent, so I wouldn't say I am 100% there yet. My savings are my safety net, but I know my parents would help me get back on my feet if it came to it.

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

I get tiny dividends from my shares, which are automatically reinvested. There's also interest on my savings accounts, but it's only about $30/month. As for inheritance, I've never received any, but all four of my grandparents are still alive, so that is an unknown for now.

Day 1

9:00am — I arrive at work and go for a walk around the shopping centre with my boss. I work in centre management, so we do a daily walk to make sure that everything is in check and to also say hi to tenants. My boss shouts me a coffee (she’s a legend).
10:30am — I leave work to go to a doctor’s appointment. I am hoping to rule out a heart attack since I have been having chest pains for a few days. After having the consult and an ECG, I realise that I was defs just overthinking a bit of indigestion (better to be safe than sorry, though, right?). I pay for the appointment, and I’m told I will get a Medicare rebate of $76.95, so it pretty much only costs me $28.05.
1:00pm — I have my lunch, which I'd made the night before. I use a packet of rice and a mini tin of sweet chilli-flavoured tuna. I add in some scrambled eggs and cherry tomatoes. It is quick to make and high in protein. It's pretty nice, but some extra coriander would make it even better.
3:00pm — I leave work again (thanks to my very nice boss) to go to the mechanic for my car part that has arrived. I smashed my wing mirror off a few days ago — I have no excuse for it tbh; I just wasn’t focusing. I am told it will be $500, which includes the paint colour match. But the mechanic lets me wait on payment until the last piece comes in a few days.
5:00pm — I go to the gym after work and smash out leg day. I leave feeling really good, even though I went in feeling super unmotivated and tired.
7:00pm — I transfer my friend $75 to pay for some festival supplies which we will need for this weekend. $75
Daily Total: $180

Day 2

7:30am — I wake up to my Medicare rebate already in my account, yay!
8:25am — I need to leave at 8:30am to get to work on time, and I have barely woken up. I make some avocado toast which I finish off in the car, along with a protein Up N Go. I don’t have time to make lunch and I didn’t last night either. I put a scoop of salted caramel protein powder in a shaker to have at work.
12:30pm — I add milk from the office fridge to make my protein shake. It’s not enough to suffice as lunch (as expected), so I buy a sushi roll ($4.36). While I am down in the centre, I impulse buy a set of fake lashes ($13.99) for the festival tomorrow. $18.35
5:30pm — I will be driving to a hotel later tonight for the festival tomorrow, which is two hours away. So I skip the gym after work so I have time to fake tan before I leave. I’m pretty consistent with going four to five days a week, so I don’t feel too guilty about missing a day.
6:00pm — I air fry ten chicken nuggets to eat so that I don’t spend more money on dinner later. I eat them while I marinate myself in tan for an hour.
8:00pm — I pick up three of my friends and we stop at Dan Murphy’s to get some pre and post-drinks for tomorrow. I already packed a bottle of Prosecco that I had left over from my birthday, so I just buy a bottle of orange juice and a four-pack of fruity beer. $13.99
9:00pm — We stop at a servo on the way to the hotel for everyone to pee. I buy a meat pie because I am hungry again. Typical me — I try to save money but am constantly hungry. While I am there, I buy some muffins for breakfast for the next day, again in an attempt to save some money on food. $11.75
10:00pm — We finally arrive at the hotel and meet up with our other friends who arrived a bit earlier. We have a few drinks but get a fairly early night to save our energy for tomorrow.
Daily Total: $44.09

Day 3

11:00am — I eat the muffins that I bought yesterday. My friend also buys me a coffee from a café across the road. I will pay her back later (probably). I also finish the leftovers of my friends’ toast that she bought from the café (I’m always hungry for more). After my coffee, I have a couple of mimosas to start the day off right.
12:30pm — I bring a beer on the train to the festival ($7.58 return) and walk about 20 minutes in the pouring rain. I am so grateful I decided to bring a waterproof jacket. $7.58
1:30pm — The weather clears up, and we all buy our first round of drinks. I buy two ($24.26) to avoid lining up again. My friends score a free drink each from a brewery company that was giving them out if you did a survey. I opted out because I don't want to get too drunk too fast. $24.26
4:30pm — We all agree we are hungry, so I buy a cup of chips and a bottle of water ($17). I share them with the friend who bought my coffee to say thanks. $17
6:00pm — We go on a hectic ride that they have at the festival ($25). Then I meet up with my sister who is also at the festival as she wants to go on it. It's terrifying but bloody fun. $25
8:00pm — Half my friends leave the festival, but I stay with my two besties and we have a wild time. Two of us (including me) have a quick little boot. It keeps us going longer.
10:00pm — We arrive back at the hotel after getting the train, pretty spacey, but very happy. I drink the beers I bought yesterday as well as some more mimosas. I end up in bed by about 2am. It's been a great day.
Daily Total: $72.84

Day 4

6:00am — I am awoken by the sun so I get up, go to the toilet, close the blinds and go back to sleep.
9:00am — My alarm goes off and I do not want to get up. My boyfriend’s alarm goes off too (his is much more aggressive), and as per usual, he takes ages to turn it off. We continue sleeping.
9:30am — We actually get out of bed and pack our stuff. I feel surprisingly okay, considering the circumstances. I am starving though, which is not surprising considering that I threw up one of the only things I ate yesterday.
10:00am — After we check out of our room, I use the communal kitchen to cook myself some eggs on toast that a friend had left over. I feel a lot better and am grateful I could save even a little bit of money there.
11:00am — Five minutes into leaving, we stop at Macca's with my friends to get breakfast. I can’t resist a hash brown and a large Coke ($7.75). Also, since when are large frozen Cokes not a dollar?? $7.75
1:00pm — I get home and check my bank account so I can even out my finances with my friends. I bought a pair of Pride socks at the festival which my friend paid for, so I send her money for those ($6.50). I also send a message to the group chat to ask for petrol money from the people in my car. $6.50
3:00pm — I receive some petrol money from a couple of friends which I am grateful for, so I'm up $25!
6:00pm — I have a delicious home-cooked meal for dinner at my boyfriend’s family’s house — roast lamb, broccolini, roast potatoes and gravy. It was definitely needed. 
Daily Total: $14.25

Day 5

8:00am — It's a rude awakening going back to work feeling extremely tired from the weekend. I eat breakfast and make lunch for the day, which is another tuna and rice mix, this time with a Mexican tuna tin.
9:00am — I arrive at work and make myself an instant coffee as soon as I get to the office. My boss is feeling under the weather and knows I had a big weekend, so we skip our morning walk today. 
1:30pm — I am feeling exhausted and craving sugar after lunch, so I buy a packet of chocolate biscuits from Coles ($2.25) and share some around the office. $2.25
3:00pm — I get another petrol contribution from a friend for the weekend. Yay (+$10).
5:00pm — I skip the gym again. I need rest. I feel slightly guilty since I know I also won’t be going tomorrow due to a public holiday. I make the effort to forgive myself since I have been in a good routine lately, and I don’t want to feel negative. I will still get three days in this week, and that is good enough for me.
6:00pm — I eat a home-cooked meal (thanks, Mum) and have a quick shower.
7:00pm — My boyfriend comes over and we get into some Breaking Bad. Somehow it's my first time watching it and I’m loving it.
10:30pm — We brush our teeth and get to bed. I fall asleep very easily as I'm so tired. If I had work tomorrow as normal, I would have gone to bed earlier, but knowing there's a public holiday tomorrow (and therefore a sleep-in), we sneak in an extra episode.
Daily Total: $2.25

Day 6

10:00am — I have a well-needed sleep-in and eat breakfast at home.
12:00pm — I go for a walk along the beach with my boyfriend since it is such a lovely day. He gets a burger and chips but I resist buying a full feed because I’m not super hungry for lunch yet. Plus, I am planning on spending money this arvo.
2:00pm — I set off on my walk to my local pub, which takes about 20 minutes.
2:20pm — As soon as I find my friends, we go buy a drink each ($8.32). I get an apple cider that’s on tap. $8.32
2:30pm — I buy a sausage sizzle ($5) with heaps of onion and tomato sauce — can confirm it is delish. $5
3:00pm — I buy myself two drinks ($16.65) because the line is absolutely insane. $16.65
4:00pm — My friend buys me a drink since he is going to line up, and I can’t be bothered to again. We’re all just having a good old chat and boogying to the live band.
5:00pm — It has been such a pleasure spending a Tuesday at the pub with my friends while knowing I am still getting paid. I buy my last apple cider of the day plus a drink for my friend who I owe a drink to ($18.47), before reminding myself that I have work again tomorrow. $18.47
5:45pm — My friend loses all his money on two-up (a total of $115…).
6:45pm — I walk home, and fall asleep fully clothed with all the lights on in my room by 7:30pm.
Daily Total: $50.94

Day 7

7:00am — I actually wake up before my alarm today for the first time in forever. Since I fell asleep by accident, I got my sleep stats from my FitBit. I find it uncomfortable to sleep in usually, but last night it reckons I slept for 10 hours and 48 minutes. Wow.
8:40am — I still manage to leave for work late despite being awake early. I don’t know how I do it sometimes. At least I had time to make myself lunch today. I am kind of getting bored of rice and tuna, so I make a chicken and sea salt chip sandwich. 
9:00am — Instant coffee.
12:30pm — I am already hungry, so I eat my lunch and take my whole hour break since it is a fairly quiet day. My job has a lot to do with billing tenants and chasing for rent and other expenses, so I tend to be really busy the first two weeks of the month, and less busy the second two weeks.
3:30pm — I get to the end of a task, so I go for a walk to the toilet. Yes, there is no toilet in our office. It is ridic. The walk is only two minutes down the hallway but it’s long enough that you can’t leave it ‘til the last second to go. Then I go downstairs to the news agency to buy my dad a birthday card ($4.99).
5:00pm — Gym! I finally go today and do a good back day. I forgot that school holidays is over, so there are loads of school kids at the gym, which I find really annoying. It’s good for them that they’re there, but they all hang out in big groups and take up so much room, so it gets on my nerves. Sorry. 
6:00pm — After the gym, I drive straight to the pizza restaurant where we are going out for dinner for my dad’s birthday. I am a little sweaty, but I would’ve been late if I had showered beforehand, plus my family isn't gonna care that I'm sweaty.
8:30pm — After an absolutely delish dinner (paid for by my parents), I get home and put my leftover pizza (they were huge) in a container for lunch tomorrow. I am grateful to my parents for not one, but two meals they have covered for me.
9:00pm — We Facetime with my grandparents who live in the UK and sing happy birthday to my dad. Instead of a cake, we stick a single candle into a block of cheese since it is what my dad is more keen on. I personally will not be eating any, but each to their own.
9:30pm — I get into bed to watch some Grey’s Anatomy. I only watch one episode before I am ready to zonk out.
Daily Total: $4.99

Anything else you'd like to add or flag?

I was going to say something about 'it is all about balance' and 'it is possible to save and still have fun' etc, but maybe my perspective will change when I am forced into Sydney's rental market. ;)
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