Money Diaries

A Week In Bayview, Sydney, As A Sales Consultant On $147,000

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Today: a Sales consultant who makes $147,000 a year settles back into Sydney life after a holiday in Italy.
Occupation: Sales Consultant
Industry: Educational Services
Age: 26
Location: Bayview, Sydney
Salary: $147,400
Net Worth: $133,600 ($55,000 in savings, $24,000 in shares, and $85,000 in superannuation).
Debt: $30,400 in HECS debt.
Paycheque Amount (Fortnightly): $3,486.19
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses

Rent: $1,400. I rent the master bedroom of a gorgeous house in Bayview. I pay $350 a week including bills, and I also get an adjacent room which I use as a home office. I live with the owner occupier, M. and his partner, A. They're a marvellous couple, expecting a baby girl in December. The house is split so they live upstairs and I live on the ground level. We share the kitchen but because our routines are so different, we're lucky if we see each other at all during the week. They also have a Burmese kitten, who is really affectionate and playful. He’s an indoor kitten, so he spends most of the day leaning over the edge of the balcony enthralled by the rosellas, kookaburras, chickens and brush turkeys hanging out in the backyard. We have a shared backyard organised around a tall blue gum eucalyptus tree, which my home office faces. It’s the perfect setup and I hope to stay here in peace and good company for as long as they'll have me.
HECS Debt: I pay $2,800 towards my HECS debt a month. This is taken out of my (before tax) fortnightly pay.
Phone Bill: $49
Apple One: $42.95
Health Insurance: $169.12
PopCar: $19.90
Amazon Prime: $6.99
Spotify: $11.99.
Credit Card: I also pay the outstanding balance towards my Amex Qantas credit card bill. The amount varies depending on the kind of month I have had. This month my bill was $1,900.

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

Yes, I studied for an Arts degree with a Sociology major. The degree was wonderful, and I took the opportunity to study in New York for a year on exchange. I took out a HECS debt for this which is still outstanding (and growing). Hopefully, this is the last year I'll need to make repayments.
I feel that the narrative told to us at the time I began studying (in 2015) was that HECS was an interest-free loan from the government, which wouldn't burden us because it would be repaid like a tax once we start earning a comfortable salary. In the past few months, I have been talking with mortgage brokers and learned that my outstanding balance does impact my borrowing capacity. Not to mention, my current profession has nothing to do with my degree and I learned all the IT skills I needed for my job online for a few hundred dollars.

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

My Abuelita (grandma) was the only person who taught me to save money. She gave me paper envelopes to save up for different expenses, which admittedly I rarely used because she was the only person handing out cash. But it did instil an understanding that self-discipline is the safest road to financial freedom.
On the contrary, both of my parents like to spend money. My dad has always lived paycheque-to-paycheque working a blue-collar job, and never made me feel like money was a stressor. He’s always been able to support me when I’ve needed him. He is also really transparent about his financial situation. He doesn’t have any assets and didn’t have any savings for most of my life, so I feel most proud about how we've been able to help each other save money over the past few years.
My mum inherited money when she was younger so was fortunate enough to buy her home outright, and has never been in debt. Mum doesn't have a habit of saving or investing but she does prepay her utility bills, loves to shop on points and always made sure we had more than we needed growing up. She became unwell when I was a teenager and now relies on her Centrelink payments for income. Since I moved out of home, eight years ago, I help her pay for things like lawn mowing, home repairs, and $70 a fortnight towards her groceries (which includes the cost of the cat food for the three cats we adopted).

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

At 14, I got my first job at Mcdonald's which was in the Mount Druitt food court. Ultimately, I got the job to get a feel for financial freedom. I didn't want my dad to be the gatekeeper of my style and I knew Mum didn't have any more than $30 a week to give me for lunches. So I had to budget and make my own money. I'm also pretty generous and found I was shouting for friends a lot and organising social stuff for our friends to do, like go to the movies or get the train into the city and head to the beach. I wanted to be able to relieve my parents, provide for my friends, and look good while doing it.

Did you worry about money growing up?

Not really, I always felt like the kid with money but in reality, I was just given access to more than I should've had access to.

Do you worry about money now?

Yes. I am trying to buy an investment property so that my dad has a place to live once he retires. Right now, he's living and caring for my 100-year-old Abuelita in a social housing apartment. My mum also needs more help than ever with her home and she has no savings at all. This anxiety fundamentally motivated me to pursue a high-earning career in IT, rather than work in the arts. It was the best decision I could've made because a secure job grants me the freedom to live the life I enjoy in the present, while I build for the future.

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

I suppose when I moved back into the city at 18 and started paying my own rent. However, to this day, my dad will offer to help out with expenses wherever he can, especially if it's to help out Mum with the house. My Abuelita helped me save some cash which is my 'nest egg' and she keeps that tucked away. Pretty old school, but it's nice to know I have more than what is in the bank for whatever life throws my way. I also have a really good mentor, who is the real safety net, and my emergency contact. He helped me prioritise my career and introduced the words 'financial freedom' to my vocabulary when I was around 21.

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

Yes. At 13, I inherited $75,000. My mum managed this money and by the time I turned 19, it was gone. To be fair, raising a child in Sydney isn't cheap, and I thoroughly enjoyed my teenage years (the Invisalign, the car, the expensive school excursions, and my first international trip to Nepal). I am nothing but grateful.

Day 1

8:00am — I was up in my feelings and putting together a playlist til late last night, so this morning I can't get out of bed until 8am. It’s my first day back at work after taking annual leave. I sit in the sun with our cat and a hot cup of cacao with MCT oil & manuka honey. I listen to one of my queued episodes of Equity Mates Investing Podcast. They’re in New York discussing a leading internet provider for private jets in North America.
9:30am — I take my morning standup meeting and since it’s my first day back, I was able to pull the “I’m catching up on emails” line, which gives me time to go for a walk in the sun to a local coffee shop for breakfast. I can spend half my work day there today.
11:00am — I order a coffee with collagen (for an extra $3) and a mushroom omelette ($31.40). I spend a few hours here, working and writing and Googling domestic flight deals to anywhere tropical. I think my heart is set on Cairns. I'd do a hostel for a week. I just need to get back to the sunshine. It's nice to fantasise. On the walk home, it’s much cooler and I can feel the wind in my bones. Last week, I was in Rome and enjoying 27 degree days. Now, I'm hibernating in Sydney. $31.40
4:00pm — Once I’m home, I’m hyped with energy, maybe from the brisk walk and try to exercise but the kitten, B., doesn't allow it. B. is the most hilarious Burmese kitten. He chases my feet, chews my hair, climbs my back and licks my cheeks like we’re siblings. We play for about an hour and then I shower and put on a face mask while I read.
5:30pm — I’m unusually exhausted so I take a nap.
8:30pm — I wake up eat some yoghurt, and later snack on some crackers and dip. I've got a nice hot tea to accompany me while I get some work done until 12:30am, and then I decide it's lights out for real this time.
Daily Total: $31.40

Day 2

6:15am — My alarm goes off and to my dismay, it’s still dark outside. I jump in the shower and quickly reach for WhatsApp to see if my friend S. is up for a call. He lives in Scotland and the time difference works nicely so we get to chat early in the morning. There’s something nice about unpacking his day, while I get ready for mine. We talk for nearly two hours as I take down my laundry, cuddle the cat and pack some fruit in my bag for lunch.
8:00am — I get the bus to Mona Vale and line up for the B1 ($6.10). The ride into the city is an hour long which is perfect for finishing my book. I haven’t had a coffee yet so I find my mind wonders as I’m reading. Scuba diving in Cairns still pervades my consciousness. This is particularly ironic because I’m reading A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, and there’s a whole lot of emphasis on the value of being present. Reading Tolle is such a journey. It’s best read with a pen and paper to inspire journaling and self-reflection. But it's also one of those books that won’t resonate unless you’re ready and receptive to learn and unlearn. $6.10
9:20am — I reach the office and head straight to the coffee shop downstairs. I order a cappuccino with oat milk ($5.20) and take my 9:30am standup at my desk with my three 32" monitors. $5.20
11:00am — I begin a sequence of in-person meetings, each beginning with a recount of my holiday and a comment on the winter weather. Between meetings, I order a Laksa ($9.50) and coconut chai latte ($5) and sit in the sun. $14.50
5:30pm — After work, I head to Woolies and pick up some Turkish bread and hand soap for my Abuelita ($9) and catch the light rail to Surry Hills ($2.25). I can see the road closures around Devonshire Street from the recent building fire. I try to have dinner at my Abuelita's whenever I am in the office. Spending time with her is my favourite pastime. We fry some salmon in the pan and dish it up over lentils and salad. Buttered hot Turkish bread on the side to lap up the lentil sauce. After dinner, I show Abuelita pictures of my time in Italy and we share the pistachio dark chocolate I bought her at Rome Fiumicino airport. $11.25
8:30pm — I walk back to the office to pick up the nearby PopCar and drive myself home listening to the playlist I put together. I shower and snuggle up to my pillows, properly exhausted and happy to be home.
Daily Total: $37.05

Day 3

3:15am — This morning, the jet lag has me awake and full of gusto two hours earlier than my alarm. After failing to fall back to sleep, I shower and get in the car at 4:30am, headed for the airport to pick up my ex-boyfriend, D. He’s been staying with me on and off but flew interstate to see his family while I was on holiday. On the way, I stop at my mentor's place (he lives near the airport) to pick up the air fryer my mum bought me on Kogan and dive gear I left from my recent trip to Lord Howe Island. I’ve been putting it off until I had both a car and a spare minute. Luckily he’s asleep, or just not interested in getting out of bed this early, so I am in and out of the apartment in a few minutes.
6:10am — I grab D. from outside the express pick-up parking lot. His cheek is icy cold. I put on a different playlist, he reclines his seat with his hat over his eyes and I drive us back to Bayview. We lay up in bed, both exhausted and glad to be home, and before I fall into a deep sleep, my 9:29am alarm goes off. Time for work.
9:30am — I creep out of the room and into my home office to take my meetings. Supported by one or two fortified coffees
12:00pm — I drive the PopCar back to the office location and end the booking, it cost me $59. D. always gets me from the airport when I have a trip, I don't even have to ask. So it's only fair I returned the favour this one time he travels. I get some work done in the office and finish up on the bus ride home ($6.10). $65.10
4:00pm — I spend some time playing with the kitty and make D. and I falafel salads for dinner. He's already eaten my nan's leftovers in the fridge while I was out, so he looks guilty as he tells me he's not hungry and eats his later.
6:00pm — After struggling to mouth sentences, I decide sleeping is the only thing left to do. D. grabs his laptop, turns out the lights, tucks me in and gives me a kiss goodnight.
Daily Total: $65.10

Day 4

5:00am — At some point in the night, D. and I do the deed, once, then a second time, though I still wake up feeling well-rested. It’s nice having him here now that the nights are getting cold. I take my time quietly getting ready for work. It’s the assigned office day, so most of my team will be in. I pack a nice blazer but wear my sloppy joe out of the house. This sloppy joe is like an heirloom — my mum used to wear it when she was my age and I borrowed it when I was 16. It’s like a comfort blanket equivalent.
6:30am — I notice the sky begin to blush a crimson hue between the tree branches and decide to walk past the bus stop to the waterfront French cafe. I stop at the shore to capture the sunrise and smile at the sky. I’m not alone, other early risers and their dogs stop and share the moment. It’s the first day of winter and it’s magical. The cafe owner stops to appreciate the morning with me, and I appreciate the extra large and frothy cappuccino he’s poured into my KeepCup ($6.70). I walk the rest of the way to Mona Vale, in the rain and under a rainbow. Luckily I packed that blazer. $6.70
8:00am — On the B line, I look through my library and find a song to pair with the video for my Instagram story. I’ll even add it to my ‘Australia’ highlight. I decide the intro from ‘To Summer, From Cole (An Audio Hug)' is the perfect track to accompany the moment. On my walk to the office from Wynyard, I take a detour to visit my old local coffee shop and order a cappuccino with oat milk this time. Nowhere near as great as the first, but it was cheaper. $5.80
9:30am — Most of my team is in the office today so there are back-to-back meetings, and then social chats between. My colleague and I go for a walk to Buttercrumbs (a bakery a friend suggested on Instagram) and he shouts me a strawberry heaven croissant. Naughty.
5:00pm — After work, I head to Nan's and we make a huge pot of vegetable soup for dinner. I carry this porcelain oven disk of soup on the bus with me ($6.10) all the way home to bring D. his share. He’s been fighting off a cold, so this will act as the perfect remedy. $6.19
8:00pm — I finally get D. to agree to watch an episode of Succession with me. I watched Season Three on the flight home and kind of got hooked, it’s very well written. As soon as I got back in Sydney, the Season Four finale is all over Instagram, so I’m starting from the beginning. I love watching a series after all the episodes have been released. Sadly, D. isn’t into it. I guess there’s a lot of arguing? And the characters are designed to be disagreeable. Before bed, I prepare for a solution pitch I have in the morning but I get stuck on a problem. Hopefully, I can piece it together in the morning.
Daily Total: $18.60

Day 5

5:00am — Pumped for my presentation, I spring out of bed and get ready for the day. I have five hours before my solution pitch, which feels like plenty of time to straighten it out. I make myself an adaptogenic coffee and lay on the couch reading for about 20 minutes to warm up my mind muscles and get to work.
7:00am — I take a break and go for a walk outside to catch the morning sun and listen to the birds. Cockatoos sound like how I imagine baby dinosaurs would sound.
11:00am — The presentation went well, great questions were asked and approval was given for me to commence the build phase.
12:00pm — Still riding this high, I head out to the backyard and do some weighted exercises. My housemate, A. is home and getting ready for M.'s birthday celebrations this weekend.
5:00pm — D. gets back from a job interview (which he nails, by the way), so to celebrate, we borrow A.'s car and have dinner at our favourite local Thai restaurant. D. likes this place in particular because they serve Khao Soi which apparently isn't all that easy to find in Sydney. Dinner is $49 but I ask them to round it to $50.
9:00pm — D. tucks me into bed, grabs his laptop and turns out the light for me. I've got work in the morning.
Daily Total: $50

Day 6

6:30am — I think the jet leg has finally worn off. I shower, plait my hair and take my journal down to the French cafe. I order another cappuccino. It's still not as good as that coffee yesterday morning, but I sprinkle raw sugar over the froth to make it extra delicious. $5.80
8:30am — I run back home, drop my stuff and walk to work for a 9am start. It's my third shift and I've been asked to stay until 4pm. I decided it would be nice to get a Saturday job somewhere local to get me out of the house and meet the locals. When it's not your main source of income, hospitality can be a light way to make extra money. I don't have a side hustle at the moment. If I want more money, I've got to work more and invest wisely.
4:00pm — I eat the Thai food leftovers for dinner and watch Succession while D. runs out to pick up snacks.
5:30pm — I grab the edibles out of the fridge and D. starts running the bath. We put in the Lush Milky bath bomb. It has Ylang-Ylang in it and leaves my skin feeling super hydrated. There's no better feeling than a massage when you're a little bit buzzed, so we spend a good amount of time being kind to each other's bodies.
9:00pm — We try to watch Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse and get halfway through when I admit that I am falling asleep. I hate falling asleep while watching a movie. I need to get up, brush my teeth and put in my retainer before I let myself rest.
Daily Total: $5.80

Day 7

7:00am — We probably didn’t actually get to sleep until 1am last night so I am surprised to be up on time. I am meeting a friend in Narrabeen for a morning walk but the weather isn’t looking great. It’s wet outside so I decide not to ride my bike and get the bus to Narrabeen instead. I don’t bring much with me so that I can run back, particularly if it stays this cold.
8:50am — I arrive early so end up ordering two coffees ($10) while I wait. Eventually, my friend B. arrives, as does the pouring rain, so we sit inside the Mind Cafe catching up on work and life since we last saw one another. $10
10:00am — The rain stops and we start the Narrabeen lagoon walk. We talk about as many controversies as we can: from divorce to the British Museum to the villainisation of Kanye West.
12:30pm — We say goodbye and I notice online that a close friend of mine just lost his uncle. I talk to him for a good half hour. Afterwards, I message D. and ask him to meet me at Mona Vale for lunch. We eat udon, yaki udon and four sushi train plates ($60). Then we do a grocery shop ($165). I offer to pay for this entirely because D. has to get his car fixed on Monday and we don't know how much it'll cost yet. I know he'll get me back the next time we get lunch and do a shop. $225
2:00pm — D. takes the groceries home and I walk back, chatting on the phone with my old housemate, K. I intended to run home, but the two of us can never stop talking once we start. I swear a phone has to die for the conversation to end. We are planning to meet next weekend for our first 'book club'. It’s our way of making time to see each other regularly, now that they're moving back to Sydney from Canberra.
5:00pm — I do some laundry then spend some time helping my friend L. find an apartment close to her new job in Melbourne.
6:00pm — D. is still a little under the weather and has a headache, so I make us hot turmeric lattes on the stove. Supposedly, turmeric can help with migraines and inflammation but even if the supplement wasn't effective, I think the taste of sweet warm milk made by someone who cares, would make anyone feel better. We watch the rest of Spiderman, and I voice memo Mum before bed.
Daily Total: $235

Anything Else To Add?

I have known D. for over 11 years, since our first relationship in high school. That was the formative relationship for both of us. When we went to separate universities, we broke up and stayed in touch. We tried again when we were about 21, but it felt like we were at the beginning of two very different journeys. So we lost contact and had serious relationships with other people and only sometimes spoke online. Then on Boxing Day 2021, he was flying into Sydney early in the morning and asked if he could hang out at our place until he could check into his accommodation. We immediately fell into each other's arms and just before it was time to leave, my housemate tested positive for Covid. D. was going to visit family, so we invited him to stay for the week. He stayed for the month.
Since then, he's been more in my life than not. We are both such affectionate people and we feel at home together. We always want to be in each other's lives. But we still have different life paths — he had a really difficult upbringing, so he is taking his time to heal and develop. Whereas I want babies soon. He's living with me and contributing to the rent while he works locally to save up enough money for him to do some solo travel. The agreement is that he's here for three months. Any longer and it might feel like too much time spent in limbo.
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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