Money Diaries

A Week In Strathfield, Sydney, As A Banking Manager On $156,000

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 manager at a bank who makes $156,000 a year and spends some of her money this week on a present from Lush.
Occupation: Senior Manager
Industry: Banking
Age: 40
Location: Strathfield, Sydney
Salary: $156,000 (inclusive of super)
Net Worth: $988,163 ($10,800 in savings (this was more, but I had to pay a special levy for my unit), $227,363 in super (I do salary sacrifice each pay cycle and have done so for a few years) and a property estimated to be valued at $750,000).
Debt: $560,000 on my mortgage.
Paycheque Amount (Monthly): $7,710.27
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses

Mortgage: $3,041. I live alone in a two-bedroom unit that I own (thanks to a mortgage). I was so proud when I bought my apartment.
Credit Card: I also have a credit card, but only use this for emergencies and try to pay this off in full each month. I shop around for credit cards and get one with zero per cent interest rates. Currently, my credit card balance is $0.
Health Insurance: $138
Pet Insurance: $80.40
Gym: $80
Streaming Services: $19.99 for Stan and Apple TV
Public Transport: $120
Electricity: $60
Gas: $53 per month, paid quarterly
Water: $65 per month, paid quarterly
Internet: $65
Emergency Fund: $867
Travel Fund: $450
Strata Levy: $345 per month, paid quarterly
Council Rates: $440/quarter
Netball Fees: $110/quarter

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

I have completed a Bachelor's and a Master's degree. I also have a Diploma in Project Management from TAFE. I am currently completing a PhD (part-time), but the cost of this study is supported by a scholarship and I pay the additional expenses. I put my Bachelor's and Diploma on HECS and received a scholarship for my Master's and was able to pay the difference upfront. I paid back all my HECS a few years ago. It felt like a big pay rise when HECS stopped being taken out.

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 single-parent household and money was very tight. Money caused a lot of stress in our family. Growing up, there weren't conversations about money or how to effectively manage it.

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

I got my first job at 15 and it was washing the walls of a family friend's house. My first proper job was at Woolworths.

Did you worry about money growing up?

I worried a lot about money growing up — it caused a lot of stress and anxiety. I stopped asking for things at a young age. Both my brother and I managed to get scholarships to go to boarding schools for part of high school, which took some financial pressure off Mum. I remember during high school, teachers would provide us with some extras that we couldn't afford.

Do you worry about money now?

I still worry about money a lot, especially since the cost-of-living crisis started. While my mortgage hasn't been impacted yet, it will be next year. Other expenses have gone up, and it is hard to cover that as a single-income household. I've had to cut back on some expenses, including some important ones like seeing a therapist regularly (which I know already was a privilege). Given how I grew up, I think I will always worry about money and financial stability is really important to me.

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

I feel like I became financially responsible for myself quite early on. Towards the end of high school, I voluntarily became responsible for most of my expenses as I knew my Mum wasn't in a position to cover them. Uni was really hard and I can remember people talking about how much they would spend on a night out and it would be my whole budget for a fortnight. Even now, I feel uncomfortable about some of the conversations around the office about how much people spend on things. I don't have a financial safety net and it does cause some stress. I do sometimes feel jealous of friends who have families that help them out financially or act as a financial safety net for them.

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

I have. I received $15,000 from my father's estate and $500 from my grandmother's estate.

Day 1

6:30am — My alarm goes off. I turn it off and roll over and go back to sleep. Today is my study day. I work part-time (four days a week), which means I can dedicate one full day to uni (or at least that is what I am supposed to do). It has made a huge difference to my PhD progress, but I do miss the extra income from working full-time.
7:30am — I eventually wake up. I get up, make a cup of tea, get back into bed and cuddle the cat.
8:30am — I finally get up, put a load of washing on and shower. I feed the cat and cook breakfast (a poached egg, piece of toast, avocado, tomato and pepper) using ingredients that I have already. I pull two pre-made meals out of the freezer for lunch and dinner.
9:30am — I finally turn the computer on and start editing my writing.
10:00am — I get up, put the kettle on for a cup of tea, hang out the washing and put another load on, make my tea and get back to uni work. An hour later, I hang out the next load of washing and walk down to the supermarket to buy some milk. While at the supermarket, I see porridge is on special so I buy some thinking I'm running low ($6.25). When I get home and put the porridge away, only to see I have a whole unopened box. I make a hot chocolate using the milk and mix from the cupboard and settle down to some more uni work. $6.25
1:00pm — I take a break at 1pm for lunch. It is leftover mince and a piece of toast from the freezer. I cook the toast and reheat the mince. After lunch, I lie down for a bit and cuddle with the cat. I fall asleep because the next thing I know, it is nearly 4pm.
4:00pm — I play on my phone for a while before going and getting the washing. Then I watch a TV program on iView that is set in and around my hometown (I am from another state). It reminds me of home. I look at what is for dinner as I couldn't tell when I pulled it out of the freezer. It turns out it is leftover beef curry and rice. I heat this up and feed the cat. I eat on the couch while watching Netflix (my brother has given me his login to use).
7:00pm — After dinner, I play with the cat and do another hour of uni work. I do a quick clean-up of the apartment and get ready for bed. Before going to bed, I read a bit of the book Money With Jess by Jessica Irvine. I also do my gratitude diary from The Resilience Project. It's a new habit that I'm trying to build to help with my mental health.
Daily Total: $6.25

Day 2

6:00am — It is a work day, but it's a work-from-home day. I wake up at 6am, with the idea of going for a run before work. After looking at the alarm which says it is four degrees, I decide to not run this morning but go at lunchtime. I get up, make a cup of tea and go back to bed till 7:30am.
7:30am — I get up properly and get ready for the day. This includes making breakfast (a poached egg, a piece of toast, avo and tomato) from ingredients in the fridge. I take some frozen meals out for lunch and dinner.
8:00am — I log on for work at 8am. Not starting the work week on the same day as everyone else means that my first day of work can be quite stressful, as I'm trying to work out where projects are up to, if they've progressed from last week, and if new priorities have emerged.
10:00am — I've caught up and able to prioritise the morning's work. Around this time, I go and try to make a chai latte, but the chai mix in the cupboard has gone off. Instead, I make myself a hot chocolate using ingredients that I have and go back to work.
12:00pm — After a team meeting via Zoom finishes, I head out for my run. After not running last week because of really long work hours and being cold, I'm really feeling it today. However, after the run, I feel much more calm and remember that exercise is essential for my mental health and that I should do it every day. I have a quick shower before starting back at work. The afternoon is lots of back-to-back meetings.
2:20pm — Luckily, I have a small break and can quickly go and grab some lunch. One of the meals is a mystery, so I eat the meal that is mainly mince. It is quick and good. I finish the work day with more meetings, catching up on emails, and working out what I need to do tomorrow.
6:30pm — I log off. I look at the mystery meal and determine it is soup. I didn't really enjoy this meal when I made it and definitely didn't want to eat it now. I head to the supermarket for a few bits and pieces. I grab some cheese, olives, salad and half a roast chicken ($37.90). I come home, feed the cat and make dinner with some of the salad and roast chicken. $37.90
7:30pm — After dinner, I call my Mum and chat. I play with the cat and remember it is bin night. I change the kitty litter, clean out the fridge (I hate throwing out food, but there is some in the fridge that needs to go out) and put the rubbish out. I come back in and spend some time with the cat before cleaning up. I watch TV and spend some time on a dating app, setting up a first date for Thursday.
9:00pm — Before heading to bed, I read some of my book, fill in my gratitude diary and plan my outfit for tomorrow. I turn off the light around 10pm.
Daily Total: $37.90

Day 3

4:40am — I hate the garbage trucks. After an hour of lying in bed, I get up and make a cup of tea and go back to bed to read and cuddle with the cat. I get up again. This is an office day. Ideally, I would get up and exercise before going to work, but it is winter and the mornings are cold and dark, and I don't like running in the dark (I tend to trip and fall over). When I have to go to the office during winter, it is hard to exercise, get ready, commute and be there on time.
7:20am — I get ready, have breakfast (porridge made from ingredients I already had), organise my lunch and leave. I take the train to the city ($4.71) and walk up to the office. I make a cup of tea, grab a banana and a mandarin from the free fruit in the office, and go to my desk. I log on and start work at 8:40am. $4.71
9:00am — Throughout the morning, I follow up on some outstanding requests, prepare some documents, and attend meetings.
11:00am — I have another cup of tea and eat a banana. I attend a meeting and then head back to my desk to work. Then I go for a run at lunch. My office has great end-of-trip facilities that we can use which makes this possible. I don't like running in the middle of the day when I'm in the office as there are lots of people around and sometimes people in the office make comments about having a long lunch. So I go for my run, but I cut it short because I am feeling really anxious. I have a quick shower and go back to the office. I have lunch that I brought from home so I eat it at my desk (chicken and salad).
3:30pm — I continue to work until 3:30pm and then head home ($4.71). I have an important presentation to give from 5pm to 6pm, and it is better to be home to do this as I work in an open plan office and it can be quite noisy at that time with people leaving. $4.71
4:20pm — I get home and log back on and chat with my colleague about the presentation until 5pm. We deliver the presentation and then do some follow-up tasks, plan for the next day and log off around 7:30pm.
7:30pm — I get my cat dinner, have dinner myself (a chicken toasted sandwich made from ingredients that I have) and go for a quick walk. When I get home, I watch TV and do some uni work. I complete the tasks and then do a quick cleanup of the flat. Before heading to bed, I play with and cuddle the cat, read and do my gratitude diary.
Daily Total: $9.42

Day 4

7:00am — Another office day. Same as yesterday, I get up, get ready, have breakfast, feed the cat (who is still sleeping), and take the train to work ($4.71). I'm lucky as I get an express train so it only has a few stops and I get a seat. I get to the office around 8am. $4.71
8:00am — On my way to my desk, I pick up some items from my locker, grab a cup of tea and some fruit.
9:00am — I start the day with a 9am meeting, so I prep for it. The meeting goes well. I go back to my desk and do some more work. We have a pressing deadline and are trying to confirm some information for it, so I spend a bit of the morning chasing people up.
12:00pm — I'm stuck in back-to-back meetings until 2:30pm. I grab lunch at my desk and continue working on some pieces until 4:30pm, when there is another meeting. That meeting resolves an issue, that has been outstanding for a while — it's good to be able to progress that project.
5:00pm — I log off at 5pm and re-do my make-up in the bathroom before leaving the building.
5:30pm — I walk to a bar and meet the person I've been talking to on the dating app for a drink. The date goes well. We leave at about 7pm (he pays for the drinks) and he walks me to the train station. I catch the train home. $3.29
7:40pm — When I get home, the first thing I do is say hello to the cat (I feel bad leaving her for so long) and feed her. I have some more work meetings at 8pm — the joys of working for a global bank. I make a very quick plate of cheese, olives and crackers (I hear this is called girl dinner and is a new trend), then log on for my meetings. The meetings go well. I do a few more work things before finishing up at 9:45pm.
9:45pm — I prep for tomorrow (pack my bag and prepare my lunch). I play with the cat and we have a cuddle (she is such a sweetheart), fill in the gratitude diary and go to bed.
Daily Total: $8

Day 5

6:00am — Today is payday! Getting paid monthly is hard. I always find that I'm a bit cash-strapped for the last week of the pay cycle. I get up early and get dressed in my running clothes.
6:20am — I feed the cat, grab my stuff for the day, and leave home. I take the train ($4.71) and realise my Opal card is running low. I top it up with $40. I drop my bags in the women's locker room at the end-of-trip facilities. I go for a run around the city. It is much nicer running in the city in the morning — Sydney is so pretty. I listen to the Hamish and Andy podcast as a reward for doing three runs in a week. $44.71
7:10am — 50 minutes later, I finish my run and head back to the facilities for a shower. I get ready and then head to the office. I grab some fruit and make porridge (I bring the porridge packet from home and use the office's milk).
8:45am — I take my porridge and eat it at my desk while starting work. I update some documents and catch up on emails. I get a document back that we need to finalise and submit, but realise it is on the wrong template. I head into a meeting with our Director and a senior internal stakeholder. After the meeting, I raise the issue with my Director and propose a way forward, which would require them to sign off on the document before submitting it. They agree with my proposal. I update the document and submit it to them for review.
12:00pm — As a team, we eat lunch together on Fridays. A few of us head outside to eat. As I have brought my lunch from home, I find us a table and some chairs and let everyone know where I'm at. We chat over lunch and head back to the office.
1:30pm — The afternoon is quiet. I get some work done and after a few weeks of it being hectic, it is nice to have a slow afternoon where I can catch up on some outstanding tasks.
5:00pm — When I'm ready to leave at 5pm, I haven't received the reviewed document back so I know I'll have to log back on later. I head out to do some errands. I go to Haigh's and buy some chocolate ($13.90). Then I head to Lush and buy a present for a friend's birthday ($35). I pop into Woolworths to grab some food for tomorrow ($9.20) as I'm planning on going hiking with a friend tomorrow. $58.10
6:00pm — I catch the train home ($4.71). I play with the cat for a while and need to log back on to do some more work. I don't want to log back on, so I delay this by watching the latest episode of The Kardashians (my brother pays for Disney and Netflix and lets me access his accounts). While I watch TV, I cuddle with the cat. I feed the cat dinner and start eating the chocolate. $4.71
7:00pm — I log back on and complete the outstanding work task. It's a good thing I waited to do this as just as I'm finishing up, a colleague in the UK forwards me an email that needs urgent actioning. I do what is needed and set up a few options for completing this task on Monday while I'm away (as Monday is my day off). I prep for Tuesday morning, and log off at around 9pm. I prep myself as I'm going hiking tomorrow morning. Then I read for a bit, complete my gratitude diary and head to bed.
Daily Total: $107.52

Day 6

4:00am — During the night, I wake up a few times in pain due to endometriosis. I take some strong painkillers and head back to bed. After waking up again, I text my friends and let them know I can't join them hiking. Having endometriosis sucks. Some months it doesn't seem so bad, and I'm only wiped out for a day or two, while others I end up being sick for days. The side effects of the medication I take can last for a few days. I don't go back to sleep after waking up.
4:30am — I go and make myself a cup of tea, heat up a wheat pack and go back to bed. I take my iPad and put on Season 3 of Ted Lasso (I pay for Apple TV, but am planning to cancel it soon as I only really wanted it to watch Ted Lasso). The cat comes and cuddles me, which makes me feel better.
8am — I try to eat some food for breakfast, but end up being physically sick. This is part of having endo. I feel nauseated and in pain, but I have to wait until I can take some more painkillers. After taking them, I fall asleep and nap.
11:00am — I wake up. I stay in bed for a bit longer. I call my Mum to talk to her and have another cup of tea.

12:30pm — I'm feeling a bit better, so I get dressed and walk the block and half to Woolies. I get some carb-heavy food that's easy to prep ($28.25). I don't know if it helps, but it makes me feel a bit better. By the time I get home 20 minutes later, I feel terrible and need to go back to bed. For the next few hours, I listen to Ted Lasso, cuddle the cat, doze and damn the patriarchy, because if men suffered endometriosis, they would have found a better way to diagnose the condition and treat it.

3:00pm — I make some food from my shopping haul and eat. After eating, I consider moving to the couch but end up back in bed. As I just got paid, I do my monthly money tasks. I do my monthly pantry shop and organise delivery ($228.18). This includes the cat's food and litter, pantry items for me, cleaning products and meat. I pay the delivery fee as the cat products can be really heavy and I don't have a car to do a big shop by myself. I have tried getting fruit and veg delivered, but I don't like what they pick, so I prefer to go to the shops to buy this myself. I also try and get just what I need so I don't waste food (or at least that is the plan!). Then I pay my mortgage and transfer money to my emergency fund, bills account (I have an account that I put a monthly amount in that I use only to pay for bills), travel account (travel is really important to me, so I have a dedicated account for this) and my general spending account. I also put $120 on my Opal card for the month. I do this most months straight after I get paid — so I feel poor quite quickly. $348.18
5:00pm — I am supposed to go to dinner with friends but I'm still in a lot of pain, so I text my friend and apologise that I won't make it. Luckily there are a few people going for dinner, so they can still go out. I know I am lucky that my endometriosis isn't so bad at the moment (meaning I don't end up in hospital), but it is still frustrating that my life is impacted every month and I can't do what I want. I remind myself that this seems like a good month and try and look on the good side of life.

7:00pm — I get up and eat some more food. I take some more painkillers and have a shower. I get back into bed, do my gratitude diary, and doze and watch TV until I fall asleep. I hope I feel better tomorrow.
Daily Total: $348.18

Day 7

7:30am — I wake up around 7:30am and try and work out how I feel. I get up, take some medication, make a cup of tea and go back to bed. I feel a lot better than yesterday, though I feel a bit hungover from the pain medication. I know to keep up with the medication even though I am feeling better.
8:30am — I get up around 8:30am, have a shower and feel human again. I make breakfast, porridge, using ingredients that I have. I feed the cat and do some cleaning up around the unit. I should wash the floors this weekend, but it may be a Monday task. I do some uni work.
10:00am — I head out to the train station ($2.65). I'm going on a second date with the guy from Thursday. We're going to an art gallery. We meet in the gallery cafe and have tea before seeing the exhibition. After chatting for two hours over tea, it is clear there are some deal breakers. We call it and I head home by train ($2.65). I am a bit disappointed that I didn't see the exhibition but maybe I can go with a friend next week. $5.30
1:00pm — I get home and make myself a sandwich using ingredients that I have at home. I realise that I need to get some groceries for today and tomorrow (when my delivery arrives). I hang out at home with the cat and do some life admin.
3:00pm — I get ready for netball and head out. Luckily, we have a lot of people attending this game, so I get to play just a little bit. On the way to the train station, I find out the game has been cancelled and I'm relieved. I head to Woolies and grab half a cooked chicken, some tomatoes, avo, Coke and chocolate ($18.50). I get home and have a bath (a bathtub was a must-have for my unit). I put in some bubble bath, and do a hair treatment and a facial. I read a bit of my book, scroll the internet and watch some TV. Soaking in the bath feels great. $18.50
7:00pm — A few hours later, I get out. I feed the cat and make a toasted sandwich with chicken and avo for dinner. I watch some more TV and question how much TV I watch. I catch up on some uni admin while watching TV. Before heading to bed, I do my gratitude diary and go to bed early. The cat comes and we play for a bit in bed. She has been good company and I feel guilty that I have been working so much. I read for a bit before going to sleep.
Daily Total: $5.30

Anything else you'd like to add or flag?

Work has been pretty intense the last few weeks. After the next week, it should calm down, and I'm hoping that I can be more social. Moneywise, this week has been okay. I should meal plan better so I don't make so many random trips to Woolies. I have been trying to reduce the number of coffees I buy and managed to avoid buying any while in the office. I also need to check my utilities to see if I can get a better deal, but it is a task I keep putting off as it makes me very anxious and overwhelmed. I do sometimes wish I had someone else to talk to about money matters and just take some of the decision-making off my shoulders.
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