Money Diaries

A Week In Melbourne CBD As A Sex Worker And Pilates Instructor On $33,000

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 sex worker and Pilates instructor who makes $33,000 a year and spends some of her money this week on a lap dance from a male dancer at Sexpo.
Occupation: Pilates Instructor / Sex Worker
Industry: Fitness / Sex Work
Age: 28
Location: Melbourne CBD
Salary: ~$33,000
Net Worth: -$40,500 ($20,000 in superannuation and $1,000 in savings.)
Debt: $61,500 ($1,500 in credit card debt and $60,000 in HECS debt.)
Paycheque Amount (Weekly): $900
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses

Rent: $978. I currently live with one housemate in a high-rise building in the CBD of Melbourne.
Debt: I put $50 each month towards my credit card debt. I also owe my sister $700 so I'm paying that off monthly.
Internet: $69
Aerial Acrobatics Membership: $236
Heels Classes Membership: $120
Pilates: I work at a few Pilates studios so I get free classes.
Private Health Insurance: $55
Disney+: $12
Phone: $50 for 80GB of data, which is a good steal.
Myki Pass: $160

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

Yes. I have a Bachelor of Psychological Science, a Master's in Primary and Early Childhood Education, and a Certificate in Mat and Reformer Pilates Instruction. I paid for my Bachelor's and Master's degrees through HECS debt, and the Pilates course was paid for in full with the help of a payment plan.

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

Growing up, my parents made sure that my sister and I had everything we wanted because they didn't have much when they were young. We went to a private school in Malaysia where the fees were ridiculously expensive, but we managed. We got to go on many international holidays, lived in a nice apartment and had a pretty good life growing up. After my father passed away, my mum made sure to educate us on how to save money and make it stretch, where possible.

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

My first job was at Schnitz in a Westfield food court. I got the job part-time while I was still studying at university and worked there for three years before moving on. Moving to Australia at 17 meant I couldn't work in Singapore and Malaysia, so it was my first big girl job!

Did you worry about money growing up?

No, I didn't. My father was the CEO at his own company so we were somewhat well off. However, I recently learned that my parents also struggled to pay our private school tuition fees. We were lucky enough to have the toys we wanted and had family holidays overseas.

Do you worry about money now?

Yes, but quite honestly, I struggle with budgeting quite a bit. Because I'm self-employed, my weekly paycheques for sex work (OnlyFans, streaming and topless waitressing) are very, very inconsistent. They depend on the numbers in my audience, how much people are willing to spend, and if I even get booked for a topless waitressing job. I've lived paycheque-to-paycheque for the past couple of years due to my terrible spending habits, but I can say I've definitely gotten a lot better. Pilates-wise, my classes stay quite consistent but I have to make sure I don't get sick, otherwise my classes get cancelled. And if they get cancelled, I don't get paid.

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

I became financially responsible around the age of 23 when I started working as a kindergarten teacher in a childcare centre full-time. I also have my own health insurance (minus Medicare, thanks Mum), but Mum still pays for the family's Spotify and Netflix accounts, so...

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

No, I don't.

Day 1

9:30am — Wake up to Alexa and then do the same old — pull my phone from its charger and scroll through TikTok for 10 minutes before I have to get up. Today’s mood: numb and depresso. I go to the bathroom to wash up and get ready, chucking on my pink activewear. 
10:15am — I need to make sure I have a nice full breakfast as I’ll be doing two classes in a row today — my usual Sunday aerial hoop and flexibility class! I make eggs with bacon and pesto on toast, accompanied by a glass of milk. Super yum.
11:00am — Once I finish my breakfast, I wash up my dishes and head to the tram stop. My tram rides are mostly free as they're in the free tram zone!
11:15am — I arrive at the aerial hoop studio. The previous class is still finishing up, recording their routines and cleaning up. Once they're out, I help my instructor, W., replace the hammocks with the hoops.
11:30am — Class starts with a quick warm-up, then it's straight to 20 minutes of conditioning. Our conditioning consists of shoulder mobility exercises, gruelling abs conditioning while you’re hanging from the hoop and more mobility exercises (hanging upside down, of course). 
12:00pm — We move on. The class gets separated into beginner and intermediate levels. I go and join my intermediate-level friends. Today, we're working on polishing the basics. We work on our poses — including the man on the moon, Amazon, and a gazelle split. Let the back bruises commence! 
12:25pm — After practising the routine over and over again, we clean up our mats and start to film our poses. When I look back at mine I realise that it does need a bit of polishing, but after five weeks off, I've done my best!
12:45pm — I jump into my flexibility class. Our warm-ups start with 'travelling' from one side of the room to the other end — starting with lunges, side crab walks, plank walks and backward lunges. Today’s focus is glutes, inner thighs, and hamstrings. We end the class in an active split.
1:45pm — Classes are officially over! I stay and chat with people for a few minutes before leaving to go to Queen Victoria Market to pick up some groceries for my meals this week.
2:00pm — I get to QVM and my favourite store is out of beef mince. I go across to another store and pick up 350g worth of beef mince for this week’s meal prep ($6.20). Then I go to the chicken shop and buy five chicken thigh filets with their famous lemon pepper sauce ($16, ouch). I stop at my favourite borek store (everybody loves a borek!) and buy a spicy potato borek for my lunch. The sweet lady rings me up and remembers to double bag it for me because it’s fresh and HAWT ($4.50). My last stop is the egg store on my way to go home — I pick up half a dozen eggs ($4.30). Then it's hometime. $31
2:30pm — After a nice walk through the park and back to my apartment, I unload all my groceries, reheat the borek and sit down and watch an episode of Grey’s Anatomy
3:00pm — I finish eating and start on the meal prep. I’m making beef bolognese risotto — a dish I had made ages ago with HelloFresh, but now I just guess the measurements and add my own seasonings. It takes me only 15 minutes to prepare as I'll cook the risotto in the oven (yay, life hack!). I pop the risotto in for 25 minutes and jump in the shower to wash my hair so I feel fresh.
4:00pm — While I wait, I clean the dirty utensils and dishes and by the time I'm done, the risotto is done. I do my laundry and while waiting, I watch Grey’s.
5:30pm — Laundry is all washed and hung up to dry. I take a nap before I have to wake up and meet my friend for dinner. 
7:00pm — Head out to meet my friend. It’s dumpling night tonight, so we’re heading to a classic fave — Shanghai Street Dumplings. 
8:30pm — We wrap up dinner and she says this one is on her as I paid for the previous one. Score!
9:00pm — I return home, light a candle, make a hot milo and sit down to journal to reset for the new week. 
10:30pm — Journaling session is done and I’m off to sleep!
Daily Total: $31

Day 2

7:30am — I wake up naturally and randomly check my phone for messages. I am meant to audition for another Pilates studio today, but unfortunately, the head trainer is suffering from burnout and a sore throat so we decide to reschedule. I was meant to wake up at 8:30am, but after laying in bed for a little bit, I decide to seize the Monday and go and do a camgirl live stream. Mondays are my busiest days. On my live stream, I talk to people that jump on, hoping they request me for a private or 1-1 exclusive show — the main way I make my money. Mondays are usually when my regulars are on, so it's busy!
9:30am — After washing up and having a quick bowl of oats, I head off to the tram stop. The weather is absolute SHITE here in Melbourne today. It’s almost Christmas and it’s 11°C and very, very windy. A puffer jacket, scarf and beanie are essential.
10:15am — I get to the studio and see that my boss/friend is there setting up for a doubles live stream with another camgirl. I set up my equipment and get ready to go almost immediately. I met my boss at a Melbourne strip club ages ago and in the middle of the lockdowns, she opened her own cam studio. She wanted to have space where others could come and cam outside of their home, separating their personal and professional lives. 
11:45am — I stream for about an hour and a half and while it wasn’t as busy as most Mondays, I’ve done a decent job. I only had one or two regulars come onto my stream. It's always nice as I love chatting with them.
12:00pm — After packing up, I head home before the rain starts bucketing down again. I manage to catch a little bit of the Melbourne sunshine! I stop by the convenience store and buy a 2L bottle of Coke, but have instant regret when I see the price as I could buy two bottles from Coles for this price. $6.20
12:30pm — I get home, change into my PJs and eat some of my beef bolognese risotto that I'd meal-prepped. Then I have a nap as I have to teach two classes tonight.
3:00pm — I wake up and reach to pull my phone from its charger. I am greeted with the most amazing email anyone can ever receive from their property manager… a rent increase notice! They want to change our rent from $1,956 a month to $2,347. I inform my housemate and we make a plan to discuss negotiating it tonight. Oh, the joys of the economy and inflation! 
4:00pm — Hop on the train to the Pilates studio.
5:00pm — Two classes to teach tonight — one at 5pm and one at 6pm. The clientele here is really the best. They’re so down to earth and always up for a chat. I love letting them feel the burn from the classes. 
6:45pm — Classes are done for tonight! A client offers to drive me to the closest station and I am thankful because this weather is dreadful. I manage to narrowly escape the rain as it only starts pouring rain when I arrive home.
7:15pm — Preheat the oven for dinner, and then shower while I wait for it to heat up. My roommate and I discuss negotiating our rent increase down to $2,147 and cross all fingers and toes that they accept it (or at least give us a bit of a better offer). 
7:30pm — Dinner tonight is pre-marinated lemon pepper chicken bought at the market the other day. I eat it with microwaved sticky Korean white rice (so yum). Once again, I pop on Grey’s Anatomy.
8:30pm — I message a friend from dance class and she asks me what classes I'll be going to next week. It reminds me that I need to purchase another two-class/week membership ($30). I also remember that Sexpo is this weekend. I'll be working it, so I need to make sure I get my lashes done. I book in a lash lift appointment for tomorrow and pay the deposit ($30). $60
9:30pm — I need to wake up at 7:30am tomorrow, so it’s time to head to bed! I decide to charge my phone in the kitchen so it’s not the first thing I touch in the morning.
Daily Total: $66.20

Day 3

7:30am — I wake up, get out of bed and go straight to the bathroom to get ready for the day. Tuesdays are currently my days off from teaching Pilates, so I’ve made it my streaming and content-making day. Today I have booked the studio from 9am to 12pm. 
8:45am — After eating a quick bowl of oats (can’t go without breakfast — it’s pretty much my coffee), I head downstairs to catch the next tram. 
9:30am — I get to the studio and realise I’ve left my laptop at home. No fear, that’s what the studio equipment is for! I grab the studio laptop and set up everything to start streaming. My toys, towels and outfit are ready. 
11:30am — I have an overall good stream and manage to make a solid $200 USD for two hours of work. The first hour was dead quiet and I was getting quite disappointed and impatient, but it soon picked up. I'm still impatient, even after a year of streaming.
12:15pm — After having a quick lunch and a speedy catch-up with one of the other studio models, I hop on the tram to my lash appointment.
1:00pm — I’m super excited to get my lashes done — my lash tech recently opened her own studio and when she messaged me telling me she resigned from the other business, I immediately booked in to go see her. We catch up for a few minutes while she sets everything up, and I settle in for an essential lash nap. 
2:00pm — Lash lift is done ($30) and I head home. $30 
3:00pm — I try to fit in another nap, but my body is well rested enough so I just lay in bed for the next couple of hours, scrolling on my phone.
5:15pm — I get out of bed and get ready to meet my friend at Fed Square to go to the Night Noodle Market.
6:00pm — My friend and I meet at Fed Square and, in typical Melbourne fashion, it starts to drizzle. We decide the Night Noodle Market is too overpriced, so we stroll around Melbourne Central, buying a few things from the shops. I need to get prepped for Sexpo this weekend and the possibility of fans purchasing a topless photo of me, so I head into Officeworks to buy a Square card reader ($59). After this, we head to Cotton On Body and I buy a cute top to take photos in for content, as well as a black underwear set for dance classes, as I’ll be doing more classes in the coming weeks ($44). $103
7:00pm — We decide it’s time for dinner as we don’t wanna eat too close to our dance class. We go to this taco place called CDMX Taqueria — it’s got the best birria tacos. Definitely recommend ($15). I also get a can of Coke from the shop next door — can’t survive without some Coke fizz! ($3) $18
7:45pm — We finish our tacos and decide to go to Kmart, since we’re still early. I’m tempted to buy some things but nothing sticks out. My friend ends up purchasing some hangers for her wardrobe.
8:00pm — We get to the dance class and we’re pretty early, so we sit on the steps and watch the other dancers perform. I change out of my normal clothes and start stretching — I didn’t stretch last week and my hamstrings and neck were absolutely busted. 
8:30pm — Class starts and we do a quick and swift heels dance to 'Skin' by Rihanna. Every single class makes me feel so empowered — I forgot how much I love to dance. The company I do my classes with also offers a tease dance class that is more slow and sensual. I initially did tease classes, but soon realised that I prefer the faster pace of a heels class.
9:30pm — Class finishes and we sneak into the other room where there’s another group doing a different class, chair. They do a performance for us. We all perform for each other and hype each other up. It is such a supportive and empowering environment! 
10:15pm — My friend drops me back home. I have a quick shower and fall asleep pretty much straight away.
Daily Total: $151

Day 4

9:30am — I wake up before my alarm and decide to scroll on my phone and lay in bed for a little bit. I have to leave the house at 11am today.
10.15am — I sit down and have my regular breakfast — eggs and bacon on toast with pesto spread. Big yum.
11:15am — I take the train towards Frankston. I only have one class to teach today and it’s a long way to go from the city, but I don’t mind (except when there are train replacements) as my clients are great.
11:30am — While on the way to work, I receive an email from a Sexpo exhibitor telling me I’m officially one of the models that will be walking the runway at Sexpo this weekend. How exciting! 
12:00pm — Class has started and it’s a great vibe. I have two new clients — one who is new to the studio and one who is new to my class. We get along well and I serve the burn while they serve me death stares.
1:15pm — I stop by the nail salon that’s a couple of minutes' walk from where I live and decide to have a pedicure. My current one is like, seven weeks old and is in desperate need of more than a touch-up. I also remember that not only do I have to walk the runway at Sexpo this weekend, but I also have a girl-girl duo shoot tomorrow. 
1:45pm — I realise I need to make more content in the lead-up to Christmas, so I hit up an online store while getting my nails done and buy some cheap-priced tight and cute PJ sets and Christmas outfits. $77

2:00pm — Nails are done! ($60) I stop by Coles to stock up on some of my favourite popcorn and a bottle of Coke ($15). I head back home, shower, eat my meal prep, and then nap at about 3:30pm. $75

6:30pm — After a lengthy nap, I wake up and prep my dinner — lemon pepper chicken on rice again. I make sure to leave enough time before dance class to eat, especially since I’m doing two classes today — a heels class and a tease class. 
7:45pm — Arrive at my heels class and make sure I do a quick hamstring and neck stretch. My neck is definitely feeling the effects of those hair flips yesterday.
8:00pm — First up, heels class! I couldn’t resist booking this one as it’s with one of my favourite teachers. We’re dancing to 'Naughty Girl' by Beyonce.
9:00pm — First class is finished and the next one is tease! This time, we’re dancing to 'Dirty' by Tank. There were many, many hair flips in the first class and there are plenty in this one, too.
10:30pm — After filming and going through the choreo one more time, we sit and chat with our teacher for a little bit before I head back home. It’s only a 5-minute walk up the road for me, so I walk home.
11:00pm — After posting some dance videos on Instagram and wasting way too much time, I go to wash my hair and blow dry it — I have a shoot tomorrow and it’s a requirement to have clean and washed hair. Thank god for the Dyson blowdryer — it dries my thick long hair in 10 minutes. Off to sleep I go!
Daily Total: $152

Day 5

7:30am — I wake up and jump out of bed. I wash my face.
8:00am — I make the same breakfast, just to ensure I’m full enough to keep me going till lunchtime. After breakfast is done, I brush my teeth and do my makeup. 
10:00am — Today I am shooting with a company that I’ve worked with before — we’re filming a girl-girl duo shoot. The apartment is based in Coburg and it's one of the production assistant’s houses. I get there 10 minutes before call time and wait for them to arrive.
10:45am — It’s time for a boundaries chat! We figure out our outfits for our scene and chat through boundaries. It’s always important before shooting a scene that you know what your scene partner is and isn’t comfortable with. 
11:00am — Time to shoot our first scene! This first one is called 'Real Estate'. I am playing the part of the real estate agent and I'm showing my scene partner — the potential tenant — around the apartment, subtly hitting on her until it ends in us having sex!
12:00pm — First scene is done and dusted and it’s time for lunch! We head to KFC and get some food. Lunch today is covered by the company. 
1:15pm — Back on location and after another outfit change, we start shooting the next scene. It starts with me and my scene partner waking up next to each other after a night out, reenacting what happened in bed the night before. 
2:30pm — The shoot day is done and dusted! We each got paid $800 (score!) and then I head home. It was an exhausting day!
4:30pm — I get home, shower and chill for a bit before heading into my room to take a nap. Before I do, I make spontaneous plans with a friend to meet for dinner at 7:30pm tonight. 
6:15pm — I wake up from my nap and start to get ready for dinner, leaving the house at 7pm.
7:30pm — I meet my friend for dinner at a ramen restaurant in Fitzroy called GOGYO. It blows both of our expectations — the broth is so delicious! We pay $24 each, then head to a dessert place called Twisted Dessert Bar. I order a fudge brownie with a hot chocolate ($12) and eat it until I feel like I’m going to explode. $36
9:30pm — I get home, wash up and go to bed. Sexpo starts tomorrow night so I'm bracing myself for a very busy four days.
Daily Total: $36

Day 6

10:00am — I get out of bed pretty late. I'm meant to be meeting my situationship for lunch. He’s running late, so I pack for Sexpo, plan out my outfits and head to Bourke St Mall at 11:30am to pick up a few things — a Pilates ball, as well as other random things I need for this weekend.
12:00pm — He finally shows up and we do a little bit more shopping at Rebel for their Black Friday sale. Then we head to lunch ($15). We end up rehashing an old disagreement and having a huge heated argument.
2:00pm — We start to head back to mine, but he stops me right before we reach the doors of the apartment building. We've been going out for nearly two years (very casually) and he reveals that he's heading into potential relationship territory with someone else, so that’s the end of things. 
2:30pm — I get back upstairs and let myself cry for a good 20 minutes. Then I get up from my bed and start doing my makeup for Sexpo. At least this weekend will be a nice distraction.
4:00pm — I arrive at Sexpo and check in with C., a girl whose website I model for. I take care of her booth while she runs around. She’s one of the more popular pornstars in Australia, so she’s got a busy weekend ahead. When C. isn’t in the booth, we promote her and her website. We also get a chance to promote ourselves and take photos with people. If you want a topless photo, it’s extra! 
5:00pm — First event of the day with C. and the other models in the Fantasy Rooms, which are four really beautiful sets by Krea8tive Freedom. They have a kink-like cage with dark lighting, a pink set with fake money notes around it, a gaming set and a Christmas set with decorations in the shape of penises. 
6:30pm — After spending some time in the booth promoting ourselves, we head over to the Media Wall with C. to take more photos with fans and with each other. Then I meet up with my friend, A., and we decide to go to the Men of Dreams stage to watch them do a show. We meet two male dancers there and chat and flirt for a bit. After the show, I decide to get a lap dance from one of the male dancers — $50.
7:30pm — Time for dinner! A. and I head over to the cafe and, lo and behold, they have average food that’s extremely overpriced! I get fish and chips and a Pepsi ($17.50) before sitting and catching up with other creators that we bumped into. $17.50
8:30pm — I go back to man C.'s booth while she goes off to do solo promotion stuff. Quite a few onlookers ask to take photos with me — they can either get a normal photo for free or a topless photo for $20. I end up making a good $100!
10:00pm — My friend, K., and I go back to Men of Dreams to watch another show. I get another longer lap dance from the same male dancer. $100 
10:30pm — Runway time! I check in and put the outfit on (a Louis Vuitton two-piece) and when it’s time, I walk the runway. Some of my friends in the crowd cheer me on. What a rush!
11:00pm — Home time! I am exhausted, so I say goodbye to C. and her team and head back home. 
12:00pm — I’m home, showered, and in bed. I'm knocked out within five minutes.
Daily Total: $167.50

Day 7

10:00am — I wake up still feeling exhausted from the night before. I’m glad Sexpo doesn’t open till 11am today, so I don’t have to be there until 12pm. Today’s going to be a long one since I also have a topless waitressing job on a boat later tonight! 
11:30am — After having a filling breakfast, I take the tram to Sexpo. Today’s outfit is a blue gingham one-piece by an industry small business (and comfy sneakers).
12:00pm — I have arrived at Sexpo! I pop into the bathrooms to change, then head to the Media Wall to take photos with C. and the team as fans line up to get a photo with her. 
12:30pm — I have to leave the Media Wall to go to the runway, but I'm stopped by a guy who wants to take a photo with me. At first, he's nice. But soon, he gets way too touchy for my comfort. I hastily take a photo with him and rush off. 
1:30pm — After popping on the runway, I head over to my friend’s booth as she’s wanting to make a TikTok with me. It ends up going viral.
2:00pm — I spend the next couple of hours at C.'s booth, trying to avoid the creepy man who took a photo of me. He's been hanging around the booth for a very extended period of time. I go to Men of Dreams to avoid it and try to look for the same male dancer, but he has left for the day. 
4:00pm — Time to head out for lunch! I do my camming at a studio, and all the models and our boss have organised a lunch, so we go and have lunch together close to the exhibition centre. The energy is mixed, everyone's either really energetic or really tired. $32
5:30pm — After eating and picking up a Boost Juice, we head back to Sexpo for the night session. It's expected to be busy as Sexpo has sold out tickets for both the day and night sessions. This afternoon was already packed as is!
7:30pm — After manning C.'s booth for a couple of hours and promoting myself and selling topless photos with fans, I head off for my topless waitressing job nearby. As I leave, I see that the line to get into Sexpo is massive.
8:00pm — After finding the boat, the job has started! The buck is so kind and respectful, but with these jobs, there are always a couple of disrespectful people who like to negotiate prices. 
9:00pm — An hour in and quite a few of the guys have paid me for a lap dance (which starts at $150 for 15 minutes). The other girl and I do a public lap dance show for the buck. 
10:00pm — The boat is back at the dock and the job is done! I’ve earned quite a bit (about $750 from two hours of waitressing and lap dances) and although I’m slightly tired, I’m headed back to Sexpo for the last hour to make the most of the night. 
10:30pm — Back at Sexpo and it is STEAMY inside — and very, very crowded. I made a good decision by coming back! Quite a few people have spotted me and have wanted to take photos. I pass out my flyers to people who take photos with me.
12:00am — After a successful hour back at Sexpo, we’re shut for the night. I take the tram back, shower and sit to watch Grey’s Anatomy, popcorn in hand, before heading to sleep at 1:30am. It's my last Sexpo day tomorrow!
Daily Total: $32
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