Money Diaries

A Week In Adelaide CBD, South Australia, On A $80,000 Salary

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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Occupation: Social Media Manager
Industry: Media
Age: 30
Location: Adelaide CBD, South Australia
Annual Salary: $80,000
Net Worth: $243,000 ($110,000 in savings, $37,000 in shares, $96,000 in superannuation (I made co-contributions in the early 2010s when the government had a co-contribution scheme that paid extra for every $1 put in)).
Debt: $0 — I paid off my university fees a few years ago.
Paycheque Amount (fortnightly): $2,396
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses

Rent: $1,220. I'm a solo renter in Adelaide's CBD with a fully furnished studio apartment.
Gym Membership: $32
Mobile Phone: $150/year, so $12.50 a month.
Internet: $50
Electricity: $50
Netflix: Free, thanks to my sister!
Birth Control Pills: $28.33
Other Lifelong Medication: $3
Reformer Pilates: I bulk purchase class packs for reformer Pilates when my studio has a sale. This year, I've nabbed 20 classes for $249, and 6 classes for $90.
Exercise App: Free for one year as I used a credit card promotional offer. I use it for a mix of HIIT, Pilates, and strength training classes at home.

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

Yes, I have an honours degree. I paid off this loan with my own savings after a few years of working full-time. I was fortunate to get a PhD scholarship for one and a half years, but I didn't complete that degree. I didn't start paying tax (or any university debt) until I started working full-time at 24 years old, but still managed to save considerably in the meantime.

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

My parents taught me to not just save money for a rainy day, but to save as much as possible — even if that meant living modestly. To them, as long as you had savings, you were able to get out of most situations. In primary school, I had pocket money that I wasn't allowed to spend — it went straight into my Dollarmite account. When my dad started investing in shares in his 40s, he also encouraged me to invest my savings. As I was still under 18, we had to invest this under his name.

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

My first job was in the bakery at our local Coles. I started working when I turned exactly 14 years and 9 months old, even going so far as to do all my interviews before I was this age. I wanted to earn my own money so that I could start saving money for the future. Plus, the importance of being financially independent was instilled in me at a young age.

Did you worry about money growing up?

No, but I knew that we were poor. Dad worked a very low paying unskilled job (earning less than $40,000 a year) for many years as the sole provider. My mum was a stay-at-home mum. I knew that my parents saved intensely. It wasn't until I was 14 that my mum started working in a factory, and because of this, we started to see more money. I was finally able to have ham sandwiches for lunch!

Do you worry about money now?

No. I have a very stable income and my rent has never increased in the 6+ years I've lived in Adelaide. I have savings that give me that security I need, and I know this amount is far more than many people will have in their lifetime. I do worry about the financial implications of future decisions, like trying to buy my own place, or deciding if I want to make a career change.

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

I became financially responsible for myself when I moved out of home at 21. My parents are able to support me if need be, within reason.

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

Yes. I received about $2,000 when my grandfather passed away. I also received $5,000 from my grandmother when she passed.

Day One

8:40am — I walk to work, which means zero transport costs — I live close to my office so it’s only about a 20-minute walk. As I live in the CBD, I've made a conscious decision not to own a car.
9:00am — I log onto my computer to check emails. I also go through all our social media accounts to look for notifications that came in overnight. I check out all of our new articles that have been published overnight and schedule them on our social media accounts.
12:30pm — I dive into some corn chips from my desk's snack drawer. I eat about half a bag, so that’s basically lunch sorted. It's salty, so now I'm thirsty. It also happens to be 30°C outside, so I figure that it's a good excuse to stretch my legs, get out of the office, and buy a lychee bubble tea — $9.
2:00pm — This afternoon, we are filming in our studio with some of our journalists as they talk about their highlights from 2021. I help our video producer set up the stage and make sure everyone looks and sounds good.
6:35pm — It's been a long day at work and I walk home to clear my head. Daylight savings means that it's still bright outside which makes walking feel a lot safer.
7:15pm — I decide to have Nongshim Instant Ramen for dinner, adding sour cream to the noodle soup (trust me, try it!). It's hot, spicy, cheap, fast, and convenient. I jump onto the couch and check my personal emails. It's my birthday month, so I'm getting lots of birthday vouchers and discounts. By the time I peel myself off the couch and wash up the dishes, it’s getting a bit late. I decide to skip the gym. I usually try to go at least twice a week, if not more. 
8:45pm — After a bit of online shopping, I purchase two pairs of undies ($10 in total, including free shipping!). A sensible, practical purchase. $10
??? — After a shower and streaming some cartoons, I fall asleep at some ungodly hour.
Daily Total: $19

Day Two

8:00am — I generally prefer to sleep in later and skip breakfast, but today I make a vanilla soy protein shake. I've slept in too much though, so I powerwalk to work. Before I go, I remember to pack leftovers for lunch.
9:00am — I get to work a little sweaty. Chug a glass of cold water and get set to work — emails, social media, reading new content. Our quarterly print magazine has just gone on sale, so I update our website, banner ads, and social media to promote the new issue. No time to waste!
11:50am — My colleagues and I decide that we want to buy pastries from a local cafe. We love our flakey, buttery, pastry life. My colleagues also get coffees, but caffeine gives me heart palpitations and the shakes so I try to avoid it. As an office worker, this sensitivity actually saves me a lot of money (and yet, I can’t buy a house…). I choose a glorious mango, passionfruit and coconut glazed croissant — $7 worth of heaven. $7
12:00pm — I heat up lunch from home that I made two nights ago — a honey, soy, oyster, mushroom, and green bean stirfry with rice. I munch on this and sip a cup of green tea (free teabags from communal office stash, ftw!). My colleagues and I do a trivia quiz around the lunch table from the local newspaper. We realise we should definitely not give up our day jobs.
12:45pm — It’s a standard afternoon with more scheduling, as well as compiling weekly reports on social media engagement. 
4:00pm — Every month, I speak about the latest science news for a commercial radio station in Canberra. It's coming up this weekend, so I select my stories in advance and send it to the radio producers. I also practice my talking points.
6:15pm — It takes a while to do the reports, so I finish late again. It works out well as I have plans in town for dinner anyway. 
6:25pm — I walk to dinner at a local restaurant around the corner from the office. They're doing a one-off night where all proceeds go to an asylum seeker charity. I order a falafel pocket, a mountain of potato gems, and a 250mL can of Sprite for $18.40. I usually don't bother with a drink purchase, but it's for charity! I can't finish all the potato gems, so I take half of them home in my empty lunch container. $18.40
7:15pm — I walk home, full of delicious food. 
7:45pm — Even the slow walk hasn’t settled my potato gem-filled stomach. So it’s another couch potato night watching cartoons to zone out and dissociate from another workday.  
Daily Total: $25.40

Day Three

8:00am — It's finally Friday! I wake up, hit another vanilla protein shake, and head to work. I remember to take my leftover potato gems with me — win!
9:00am — It's a busy morning. On Fridays, we publish a weekly E-publication, so I need to send out newsletters to subscribers that highlight our new stories. I power through and don’t even have time for snacks. 
12:30pm — I stop for lunch. I heat up my potato gems on the hot plate of the sandwich press so that they crisp up. It does the trick. I sip on another cup of green tea. *Insert Kermit drinking tea GIF*
1:15pm — Back to my desk and it’s all about scheduling social media posts for the entire weekend. Fridays are always a bit of a slog.
5:35pm — The day is over and the weekend is here! I walk home — it's about a 25-minute walk. My Friday nights usually involve a detour through the Adelaide Central Market to get my fruit and vegetables for the week, but my parents are visiting from Queensland next week, so I don't need to pick any groceries up as we probably won't be eating at home much.
6:15pm — Time to make dinner. Creamy mushroom penne (featuring: sour cream, paprika, mushrooms, garlic and fresh thyme). I eat straight out of the pan — it's just that kind of night.
7:55pm — I call my dad. Since I don’t have a car and my parents are visiting and wanting to do touristy things, we need to hire one. I talk through trip details and conduct extensive online research of car rental companies with cheap pricing. I eventually find one at a good price, so my dad books it online. I need to talk him through the online booking process. It goes as well as one would suspect. At least the booking was made successfully in the end, I guess.
9:00pm — I wind down for the rest of the evening with another internet scroll, checking my Twitter and Instagram before having a shower.
11pm — It's lights off for me.

Daily Total: $0

Day Four

8:15am — I skip breakfast, ride my bike to the gym, and squeeze in a quick workout. I lift some moderately heavy things and sweat it out. My gym is only $7.99 a week, so if I can only fit in even one visit a week, it still feels like excellent value. No gym selfies were taken (this time!).
9:00am — I have an appointment with my hairdresser around the corner from the gym. I'm in the process of growing my hair out, so it requires a bit of a re-style every three months. I get a style cut, wash, and blow-dry (plus some complimentary green tea and biscuits), coming to $120.
10:30am — I make it home with a bit of time to spare before my radio segment. Before I go on, I re-read the talking points that I prepped earlier. It's a short segment — only about 15 minutes — and we chat over the phone as I share the latest science news with their Canberra-based listeners.
11:00am — I'm going to a friend's gathering at their place tomorrow, so I decide to bake a banana cake to bring over. I use two bananas that are starting to turn brown and need to use anyway, which is good. The cake takes waaay longer to bake than I had planned.
2:20pm — The oven is still hot, so I roast a sweet potato for late lunch and eat it with sour cream and chilli sauce. I’m seriously exhausted after such a busy day, so I spend the next few hours on the couch, watching more cartoons and napping. 
6:30pm — I bulk cook a batch of vegetarian fried rice for dinner tonight and two lunches for the week ahead. Meal prep, tick! I clean the dishes and have a shower. It's another night of mindless watching before my brain finally switches off.
11:00pm — Off to bed for a bit of doom scrolling before I finally fall asleep. 

Daily Total: $120

Day Five

7:15am — I wake up early and have a protein shake, as usual.
8:00am — I'm ready to break a sweat, so I head to my reformer Pilates at a nearby studio. I usually buy my classes in bundles of 10 as it's cheaper. I'd like to attend more classes, but due to my weekday and work schedule, I can only go on the weekends.
9.30am — Covered in sweat, I head to Coles donning my activewear, and buy icing ingredients for my banana cake — cream cheese, a block of butter, and bagels (for brunch). $12.10
9:59am — I walk home. On the way, I realise I forgot to buy icing sugar. Oh dear! I take a pitstop at IGA to pick it up and also grab two packets of dried pasta to restock the pantry. $4.40
10:10am — I finally get home and it's time to assemble the cake, have a quick shower and get ready.
12:20pm — After making a mess (icing sugar isn't easy to manage!), I hop on the free inner city bus and head to my friend's place, carefully carrying my cake. The cake does a bit of sliding on the bus, making a bit of mess in the cake container. But the free bus is great, and being in the CBD means it services almost all corners of the city, so I can't complain too much.
1:00pm — I reach my friend's house, and I'm the first to arrive. We have a nice spread of food that each of my friends has contributed to, including dips, cheeses, salads, bread, sweet treats, and yep — banana cake.
4:40pm — We laugh too much and talk far too much shit, constantly snacking as we go. We head off after a bit — it's Sunday, so we can't get up to too many shenanigans. I take the free bus home.
5:30pm — I'm at home, exhausted, and needing to call my mum. We talk over the plans for my parents' visit, making me even more tired. The conversation goes for well over an hour — typical ethnic mum vibes.
7:40pm —  I feel too lazy to make dinner, but too indecisive to order food. Plus, I'm not that hungry. I head to the nearby IGA and pick up canned soup and garlic bread for 'dinner'. $6.30
8:30pm — Fin. 'Dinner' is washed up. Time to mentally get ready for another work week, plus a little time for your usual existential Sunday night dread.
Daily Total: $22.80

Day Six

8:40am — It's Monday — time to get back into another week of work. I press snooze too many times, so I'm running late. There's no time for breakfast, and I speed walk to work, getting there just after 9am. At least I remembered to get my lunch from the fridge.
9:00am — The beginning of the workweek usually involves a lot of catching up on social media notifications and planning for the week ahead.
10:15am — I remember that I have desk snacks, so I chomp on a handful of cashews for a mid-morning boost.
12:30pm — I eat leftover fried rice and the last remnants of my banana cake.
1:30pm — It’s the first Monday of the month, so there’s a lot of reporting on the previous month to do. It's probably one of the most tedious, but necessary parts of my job. 
6:40pm — I finally leave the office. It's another long day and I don't get home until 7pm, where I crash on the couch and do absolutely nothing (at least for a little bit).
7:45pm — I heat dinner up — leftover soup and more garlic bread. There are weeks where I cook dinner every night, and there are weeks where I have no inspiration or energy. I guess this is one of those weeks.
8:30pm — I have a subscription to a fitness app that's designed for nights like this when I don’t want to walk to the gym. Unfortunately, I have no energy left tonight. I shower and go to bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

8:00am — With all my strength, I drag myself out of bed. How is it only Tuesday???
8:15am — I make myself a vanilla soy protein shake (surprise!). I walk to work again (another surprise!).
10:30am — I realise it's still a long way from lunchtime, so I reach into my drawer to eat more cashews. I finish the last of them. Dang it. I make a mental note to restock my snack drawer.
12:55pm — I reheat the last of my fried rice for lunch and make myself a cup of green tea. 
5:15pm — I finish work and walk to the nearest supermarket to buy groceries. I have a list to make sure that I don't forget anything this time.
5:59pm — I check out at self-service. Beep, beep... $30.15. I time it perfectly and get the free inner city bus from the bus stop right outside the supermarket. $30.15
6:45pm — I eat the last of the garlic bread, along with a vegan schnitzel, cucumber slices, and chilli sauce. I also make instant peach bubble tea from my supermarket haul. Photos are taken for the 'gram.
8:05pm — Daylight savings means the sun is up, so I walk to the gym. After a 55-min session of rowing machine and lifting heavy things, I cool down with a walk home.
10:00pm — Time to hit the shower and bed. Not bad in terms of productivity for a Tuesday.
Daily Total: $30.15

Anything else you'd like to add or flag?

One of my rules of living in the city is that if I really don't want to cook, I have to go for a walk and dine in at the restaurants. That deterrent means that I usually do a lot of cooking myself. Living alone, it's much easier to cook for two and eat the leftovers for lunch.
I'm also actively making choices to be more sustainable, including with my finances. In 2021, I switched my super to an ethical fund and added GreenPower to my electricity to offset my fossil fuel-based consumption. I also switched to a predominately vegetarian diet to cut down on my carbon footprint, which indirectly brought my regular grocery shopping costs down. 

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