Money Diaries

A Week In Rosebery, Sydney, As A Senior Consultant On A $156,000 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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Today: a senior consultant who makes $142,000 a year and spends some of her money this week on the board game, Pandemic Legacy.
Occupation: Senior Consultant
Industry: Technology
Age: 26
Location: Rosebery, Sydney
My Salary: $142,000, plus a 10% bonus each year.
Net Worth: $524,700 (A house worth $1.2 million, $6,000 in savings, $1,500 in investments, and $500 in a transaction account.)
Debt: $683,300 ($682,000 on my home loan and $1,300 of credit card debt.)
Paycheque Amount (Monthly): $8,462
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses

Rent: $1,434. I share a two-bedroom, two-bathroom home with my partner. I pay a bit more as I earn more. I work from home often, so the second bedroom is used as my office. It’s in a convenient location for us to get to work with the bus and train nearby and includes a car spot.
Home Loan: $1,062
Phone: $0. My company pays for it.
Spotify: $18
Netflix: $18
Amazon Prime: $0 (Thanks, Optus).
Health Insurance: $123
Gym: $120
New York Times Subscription: $6
The Herald: $12
Landlord Insurance: $130
Internet: $71
Electricity: $140/quarter, split 50/50 with my partner.
Hot Water And Gas: $80/quarter, split 50/50.
Water: $24/quarter, split 50/50.
Rental Property Water Fees: $270/quarter
Rental Property Council Fees: $1,420/quarter
Rental Property Management Fees: $1,250/quarter

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

Yes. I went to university on a scholarship. I was just given scholarship money and wasn't explicitly told I needed to pay off my course fees, so I put my degree on HECS and used the money to fund an exchange trip, a car and some of the payment on my house. I paid off my HECS this year, though!

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

We didn’t talk about money much. I just knew we didn’t have a lot of it and there were things we couldn’t have. My parents made tough decisions with money — ones that many people might not have made. Looking back, I'm very grateful. They knew that they could have spent a bonus on paying off some of the mortgage, but chose to take us on a two-week holiday overseas instead. They maxed out credit cards so we could get braces. They knew they’d be paying the mortgage for years but that they could never reverse time to take their kids overseas. I try to keep that mentality in mind with my finances now.

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

I was a checkout chick at Kmart! I got the job as soon as I finished my HSC exams as I had the spare time and needed some spending money.

Did you worry about money growing up?

My parents were refugees. They came here with nothing, so we didn't have a lot of money. They made a lot of sacrifices and tried very hard to give us a good life, so much so that we didn't know we weren't well off. They made wise decisions — we played sports and went on holidays, but we'd also go to the library often as we couldn't afford to buy books. Later on, I found out that they'd eat less so that we could have money for lunch orders.

Do you worry about money now?

Sometimes. I know I earn a good wage and that I'm doing well, even with inflation and interest rate rises on the horizon. It’s the long-term future that concerns me — especially purchasing a family home and having children.

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

21. I graduated from university and was in my first career-type job. I paid rent to my parents and threw any extra money into savings.

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

I make $640 a week in rent from my investment property, so it comes to about $2,700 each month.

Day 1

7:00am — Happy hump day! I get up and groggily make my way to the gym for a class. I’ve rejoined the gym after a year-long hiatus where I convinced myself that I could do workouts and go for runs on my own. Clearly, it did not work. My body isn't happy with me for taking the break and I end up sweating through the hour. Somehow, everyone else in my class is still smiling. After my workout, I take my medication for ADHD. This means that I need to have a more substantial breakfast to offset the side effects, so I have a chicken and avo sandwich and a cup of tea.
9:00am — I take the train to work ($3.79) and sit down for some meetings with stakeholders and product owners. By 11am, there's a morning tea on for National Diabetes Week. I munch on some hummus and carrot sticks and head back to my desk to knuckle down. I start writing a governance plan for DevOps. $3.79
2:00pm — My partner, P., and I are trying to be healthier. We made extra cannelloni on the weekend for our lunches this week, so I have that for lunch today. While I eat, I scroll Amazon and buy a couple of bottles of rose syrup to toss in my SodaStream bottle ($16) and hazelnut syrup for my coffee ($13). I also get a bag of some green rose tea ($19). While I'm at it, I pay my friend back for some ramen and pancakes we had for dinner last night ($37). Then I head back to my desk for more work. $85
5:00pm — I finish work and walk to the station and... is that fried chicken I smell? I've heard good things about this place, so I decide to give it a try ($6). I catch the train home ($3.79), carrying three wings for P. in tow. When I'm home, I start my 3D printer as I want to print a couple of birthday presents for the weekend. As it runs, I continue building a little model of a house. $9.79
7:30pm— I request Boscaiola for dinner. P. agrees, mainly because we already have all the ingredients. After dinner, we put something on the TV and do our own thing. My 'thing' is working on my model house. He plays a video game.
10:00pm — Time to head to bed. I usually try to get us to read for half an hour before we sleep. We're semi-successful today. I also finish the New York Times crossword to keep my streak up, and my partner gets through another chapter of Hyperion.
Daily Total: $98.58

Day 2

7:30am — I’m awake. I'm at the gym. My whole body hurts because this class has targeted every major muscle group. It's awesome, but it isn't right now because all of my body is in pain. I have the same sandwich as yesterday for brekkie while I listen to my Fleetwood Mac playlist.
9:00am — My client is happy for me to work from home so I’m on the couch with a cup of tea. Tech consulting has its perks. I keep plonking out my governance plan — I'm trying to implement some change as the tech development isn't going as well as it should. I identify several issues and provide a plan of attack. While I work, I get sick of unplugging and plugging things into the powerboard because we only have four plugholes. In my rage, I order a new eight-plug powerboard on the joint account. $16
12.30pm — I whack some leftover Boscaiola into the microwave for lunch. I guess it’s not really leftovers as we cooked it with the intention of having food for the next few days. I work on my model for a bit. I prefer going for a walk at lunch, but it's raining today.
2:15pm — I’ve had back-to-back meetings with my manager and finally go downstairs to find a package that's been left for me. Yes! The syrups and tea I ordered yesterday! 
5:30pm — P. texts to say he’s on his way home and to get shoes on because he knows I haven’t left the house all day. We walk to Woolies to pick up some missing ingredients ($44.60, so $22.30 for my half). We usually go to Aldi, but it’s too far for just a couple of extra supplies. You’d think shopping at Aldi would be cheaper, but they have what P. calls 'the aisle of dreams'. You go in with a list and walk out with $30 worth of truffles that you hadn't planned on purchasing (this may have happened last weekend, oops!). $22.30
8:00pm — Dinner is an eggplant massaman curry that P.'s made, served with a side of Taylor Swift bangers. I make a green rose tea and head back to my 3D printing and house model. P.'s in the office working on his PhD. I’ve been looking for a copy of the board game, Pandemic Legacy: Season One, for a while now. It's about $100 including shipping, but eBay’s got a coupon code and free shipping so it's only $80.95. I hit that blue button (perhaps a bit too easily!). We're off to bed by 11pm. $80.95
Daily Total: $119.25

Day 3

8:00am — Have a bit of a lie-in today. P. fires up the stove for a fried egg and a couple of chipolatas for brekkie. I'm working from home again today, so I tend to the herb garden, water the plants, and make myself a mug of English breakfast tea before starting work.
9:00am — Back at it with documenting issues and changes.
12:00pm — It’s cannelloni and zucchini again for lunch. I unload the dishwasher and wash up from this morning and last night. I intentionally leave some chores for the day as it helps me make sure that I step away from my computer. Otherwise, I'd be there 9 to 5. There are a couple of bugs near the herb garden threatening to film a live-action remake of A Bug’s Life, so I get the vacuum out, demanding they either pay the rent or get out! While the vacuum is out, I figure I might as well give the house a quick once-over.
1.30pm — I get out of a meeting with my Grandboss (my boss' boss — I don't know what people call them) and they're very happy. I'm also happy because I thrive on validation. Just call me Tinkerbell because I'll fade away if people stop believing in me.
7:00pm — P. and I catch a bus ($3.20) to the city for dinner. There's a huge queue at the izakaya bar, but luckily, I had the foresight to make a booking. I look quite smug (not a good look on me) as I walk past them and straight to my table. P. orders an Asahi, I order a highball cocktail, and we get some donburi, mackerel, karaage and takoyaki to share. It comes out surprisingly fast and the donburi is deceptively large. $3.20
8:35pm — We get some sake and wagyu beef, even though I’m kinda full. The food is just that good. As P. is on a stipend, I don’t mind paying the lion’s share of our non-essentials. The total comes to $108.26, but I found it up to $120 as it hits the trifecta of service, food, and good vibes. $120
10:30pm — We walk to a dessert bar which has a small wait as it's packed to the rafters. We get a matcha toast to share — P. pays. Then we walk back to the station to get the train home. $2.65
Daily Total: $125.85

Day 4

9:30am — We have another lie-in and P. makes the same brekkie as yesterday. He also makes us coffees — the grinder has been acting up and giving us Starbucks-level coffee for a while now, so he’s just bought a new one. I don’t have coffee during the week due to my medication as it increases my heart rate, so I look forward to the weekends when I don't have to be medicated. We sip the coffees against a French jazz backdrop as we do The Good Weekend Quiz.
10:30am — We drive to a warehouse sale, but by the look of things, we've arrived a bit late. We were hoping to find a used office chair for P., but everyone’s taken the good ones. He looks at one of the last sad chairs that are practically begging for us to take them home. We almost give in, but the line is too long and our pity for the chair disappears.
1:00pm — We're supposed to clean the house, but we make a beeline for the couch instead. Lunch is the rest of the boscaiola and leftover broccoli soup. Then we finally get to cleaning. It's my week to do the vacuuming and mopping. I put on some tunes (yes, Whitney Houston did feature) and away we go. 
3:15pm — We're at the gym for some cardio and a bit of leg day. We get home and shower, and I play a very fun limited-time only game of: 'Is my washing damp or just cold?: A winter adventure'. I leave them on the clotheshorse, just in case. 
5:00pm — P. and I drive to a show his cousins are in, all the way in The Hills. We cut the drive short by taking a toll road ($21, split 50/50). He shouts us dinner. We bought tickets a couple of weeks ago, so I only need to whip my card out to buy water and snacks ($6). $16.50
10:00pm — The show is fab. What makes it even sweeter is that parking is free! We aren’t in a rush, so we take the long way home while we finish off a true crime podcast we started on the way here. Then it's off to bed.
Daily Total: $16.50

Day 5

9:00am — P. and I are home from a yoga class. He makes coffee and breakfast — avo toast with goat’s cheese and the rest of the chipolatas — while I unload the dishwasher. After breakfast, he works on his PhD while I wash up and sit down with my printer. I’m making a couple of Poké Balls for my cousin's birthday tonight. They'll open up to reveal little figurines with four Pokémon inside each ball. A bit of work needs to be done as I still need to trim, sand, and construct them.
1:30pm — For lunch, we put the last of the chicken into a sandwich with avocado. We bought some roast chooks the other night at Woolies as they were marked down for an end-of-day sale. Turns out, they stretch very far when you have only two people eating them. As a result, I'm sick of chicken now.
5:30pm — P., my sister and I head to Costco. P and I grab the usual suspects — smoked salmon, halloumi, dumplings, coffee, soy milk, tofu, edamame — and the three of us throw some extra things in our very oversized trolley. I also track down some peanut butter pretzels that my friend has requested. It comes to $420.83, and after subtracting my sister’s and friends’ parts, we’re at $265.89. I've bought some things as gifts, so with a little math, my share comes out to $157.89.
9:00pm — At the party, we have Korean BBQ and birria tacos. I also watch the birthday kids open their gifts — a diorama kit and a paint-your-own model car set, along with the Poké Balls. Fingers crossed they at least attempt them! The Poké Balls turned out great and everyone requests a set of Pokémon figurines. I guess I've got some work to do!
Daily Total: $157.89

Day 6

7:15am — It’s so cold and I’m at my first HIIT class in a very long time. The instructor, A., is a friendly man with Krusty the Clown socks. This helps put me at ease because anyone who likes The Simpsons is undoubtedly a great person. I struggle through the class and promise him I’ll be back every week. Then it's home for a shower and a bowl of oats. 
9:00am — I pop the heater on and make a cup of tea as I have a meeting with my team around licencing costs and renewals for the software we use. I get introduced to more product leads and book meetings with all of them to get to know each other. I want to understand their points of view and what problems they are currently having so that my changes can address them.
2:00pm — I usually have a smaller lunch later in the day as my medication suppresses my appetite. P. and I decide on a pie from Costco for lunch, so I put it in the oven and hang out my washing — the perks of working from home! We have an enclosed balcony with floor-to-ceiling windows where we get the afternoon sun, so it acts like a little greenhouse. It'll rain the rest of the week, so I've really got to dry my clothes today.
7:30pm — P. makes some fresh rice as we heat up a curry. We hang out on the couch watching Scrubs, and then we head down to the sauna in our building. I am still confused about how saunas were invented — like someone just suggested to sit in a giant wooden room and sweat a bunch? A girl in the sauna is reading on her Kindle and later moves to the spa. I silently regret buying the non-waterproof Kindle ("When will I ever want to read in a pool?!", she said.). We take a plunge in the pool before we had back up for TV and bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day 7

8:00am — I’ve been laying in bed since P. left at 7am for the gym — my muscles were just too sore! I figure I should probably get up to make breakfast for us. Today, it’s pesto, avo, tomato, spinach and cheese on Turkish bread with a cup of peach tea. Then it's time to work.
12.30pm — I've had three meetings this morning and I only have half an hour before the next one begins. Busy! I heat up an enchilada and drink a bit of rose sparkling water for lunch, browsing Aliexpress as I want some more diorama kits ($54.03). Then I’m back meeting another product owner, and having a mid-sprint review. $54.03
5:00pm — I’ve spent the last hour and a half with a developer, understanding more issues and suggestions for change. Then it’s time to step away for the day and crash on the couch. I’ve got quite the to-do list this evening — I need to find restaurants for lunch with friends this Saturday, as well as find some good ski boots.
7:00pm — P. and I aren’t cheese ‘lovers’ per se, more like cheese ‘fiends’. So we get some together for a pre-dinner snack and I rummage in the pantry for a wine to pair it with. Turns out all we’ve got is some peach soju and bourbon, so the cheese gets to live another day. P. steams some dumplings and edamame instead (both from Costco!) and we have that over rice for dinner. I also finally manage to snag a booking for a reformer Pilates class tomorrow night — my gym does heaps of classes, but they go quickly. 
9:00pm — While I let the glue dry on my model (PVA is the bane of my existence!), I pop Scrubs on and do a puzzle. P. and I head to bed at 10, but end up giggling for half an hour — I don't even remember what we're laughing about, but knowing us, it's something silly.
Daily Total: $54.03
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.
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