Money Diaries

A Week In Launceston, Tasmania, On A $16,000 Income

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Occupation: Student / Child Care Worker
Industry: Child Care
Age: 20
Location: Launceston, lutruwita (Tasmania)
Salary: $16,000 (approx)
Net Worth: $25,900 ($36,700 in savings, $1,400 in Spaceship, $4,000 in superannuation)
Debt: $16,200 HECS/HELP debt
Paycheque Amount (Weekly): About $300 a week. I usually work 10-15 hours a week.
Pronouns: She/They

Monthly Expenses

Rent: $0. I'm very lucky and live with my parents rent-free.
Spotify: $7
Netflix: $8 (I split the cost with my partner)
Spaceship (micro-investing platform): $20

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

Yes. I have a Bachelor of Arts which I'm paying for through HECS. I'm also about to begin a Master of Social Work, which will also be added to my HECS.

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

My earliest memory of money is doing that Dollarmites saving program in primary school. I would bring coins to school in this little folder to be put into my bank account. After that, I never thought much about money until I was about 13 when both of my parents found themselves unemployed for a few months. It was tough, and I remember my parents sitting my brother and I down and saying that we were a bit tight on money. We had to start doing things like buying home brand cordial instead of our regular cordial. My parents never really educated me about money, but going through that period definitely impacted me — I think it contributed to my current frugal habits and money anxiety.

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

I worked at a bakery over the summer holidays when I was 15. I wanted to start saving some money for myself, plus a lot of my friends started to get jobs. It was a pretty good first job, although they paid cash-in-hand, which was definitely a bit dodgy. My boss would just go to the cash register every couple of days, ask me how many hours I had worked, then hand me a wad of notes.

Did you worry about money growing up?

As I said earlier, I was about 13 when I first started thinking and worrying seriously about money. Before then, I would say we were middle-class and fairly comfortable. But for a time, we were definitely living paycheque-to-paycheque, with only a few hundred dollars spare at any point in time. It made me worry a lot, and I felt a lot of guilt because they continued to send me to a private school and pay for all my hobbies and usual expenses.

Do you worry about money now?

Definitely. While I know that I have more than enough money (especially while I'm living with my parents), I worry a lot about the future. I'd love to move out — my partner is pressuring me to, but if we did, it would be really, really tight. The thought of that makes me so anxious. I also worry that I'll never be able to buy a house — it seems that goal just keeps getting further and further away. Oh, the joys of being Gen Z!

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

I guess I'm not financially responsible for myself yet as I rely on my parents for accommodation and groceries. However, I do have a pretty good safety net as I have a lot of money saved in the bank. My official emergency fund is only $1,000 as any likely emergency that could happen in my life at the moment probably wouldn't cost more $1,000 (like my car breaking down, or needing a new laptop).

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


Day 1

7:30am — I wake up and start getting ready for work. I’m so glad I feel better today. I was sick yesterday after having my vaccine booster, so I didn’t come to work. I don’t want to miss another shift, because as any casual worker would know — if you don’t turn up, you don’t get paid!
12:00pm — I’ve just finished my morning shift at the crèche I’ve been working at for the past year and a half. I’m so lucky to have a job that I really enjoy. It’s a short-term child care service for a gym, so I basically play with a bunch of kids for a few hours while their parents work out. Every day is different at the crèche, but today was pretty cruisy. We only had about 15 kids come in, and none of them got too upset or unsettled. I was thankful today that we're wearing facemasks in Tassie as I had to change a nappy — the smell can really get to you! I text my partner to see if he wants me to meet him for lunch at his house. He tells me he’s busy, but we make plans for me to come over later tonight after my afternoon shift. I often work split shifts, usually 9am — 12pm, and then 4pm — 7pm. Some people think this sucks, but I don’t mind it because it gives me a few hours of the day to go home and have lunch, do some chores or study, and maybe even go for a quick walk in my local park.
1:00pm — After arriving home and scrolling Instagram for half an hour, I do two loads of washing for my family and clean up the kitchen a bit. Since I don’t pay rent, I try and help as much as I can around the house. I often feel like my mother and I are the parents of my family — I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen my dad do housework, and my seventeen-year-old brother is just as useless. 
2:30pm — I’m getting hungry, so I make myself a toastie and some fruit for a late lunch. It doesn't cost anything, and I'm lucky my parents pay for most groceries.
3:00pm — I go for a quick 20-minute walk down to my local park, then drive to work as I'm starting at 4pm. I like getting outdoors when I can, but I don’t do it as much as I'd like.
7:00pm — I finally finish my afternoon shift and drive the 25 minutes to my partner’s house. We’ve been together for nearly four years, but neither of us can really afford to move out and live together. I usually spend one or two nights a week at his house. I’m lucky his parents are kind enough to have me over all the time. Sometimes they'll cook dinner for us, but I feel like I should pay them back somehow. Tonight, my partner and I are doing our own dinner, so I grab some takeaway burritos for us on my way to his house ($24.80). We normally split the cost of any food or shared expenses, but sometimes on day's like today, he forgets to pay me back and I don’t really worry about it. Money is harder for him than it is for me. He works about the same number of hours as me and receives a small disability payment each week too, but his expenses are much higher. I kind of think he’s bad at managing money, but then again, he has to spend a lot on medication. At the end of the day, we’re both just broke uni students. $24.80
10:00pm — My partner and I head to bed after watching some movies and chatting with his family. I feel happy to be spending time with him, but sad that we only got a few hours together before I had to get some sleep before getting up early for work.
Daily Total: $24.80

Day 2

7:20am — I wake up and start getting ready for work again as I’ve got the morning shift today. My partner always tries to make me stay in bed longer, but I manage to slip out, have my shower, and get changed with enough time to drive into work. I have to leave earlier for work when I stay at my partner’s house as he lives pretty far from town.
8:00am —  As I drive past the shops on the way to work, I consider buying breakfast from the bakery. I’m too much of a cheapskate though, so I opt for eating some fruit that I took from home and packed in my overnight bag yesterday. I often do this when I stay over at my partner’s house because I’m too stingy to buy meals out, but I also hate eating food at his house because I feel like I'm using up all his family’s money and resources.
12:30pm — I get home from work and laze around on my phone for a bit. Work was pretty chill again today, we had a few babies in, which is always fun. I also got paid today, so I browse Depop and considering treating myself. I want to buy some rings because I’ve been getting into wearing jewellery more often. I like the look of a pandora ring, so I ask the seller for the size.  The seller says she can’t check for a few days because she’s away from her house, which is really annoying. Buying from Depop isn’t as easy as it is shopping at a retail store, but it’s cheaper and so much more ethical. I feel immense guilt on the rare occasions I buy fast fashion. I also search online for glamping sites nearby. It’s my 21st in a few months and I’ve decided I want to go away on a mini-holiday and stay with my friends for one night, my partner for the second night and then go out for dinner with my family on another day. I’m obligated to do something with my family because my brother and I share a birthday (which sucks, by the way). I also hate being the centre of attention so there’s no way I’m having a big party. I'm happy with just having some time away with friends. I find a few places that look cute and aren't super pricey and send some photos to my group. I’ll try and put money aside, get work off, and then book something in the next few weeks. 
2:00pm — I make some pasta and a smoothie for my lunch at home and read my book. Right now, I’m reading one of my mum’s books — it’s about Malala Yousafzai. It’s a bit sad but very inspiring.  

3:00pm — It’s nice and sunny today, so I head out for a walk. It’s cliché, but getting outside always clears my head. I check my neighbourhood street library, but it’s just full of those old, trashy romance novels. Yuck! I’ll have to go to the library in town later this week. I’ve gotten back into reading the past few months and I’ve been powering through a novel or two every week!

4:00pm — I slowly start getting ready for tonight as I’m heading out for dinner with some friends. I'm really keen as I haven't seen them in ages. I decide to do a full face of makeup — I rarely wear makeup (maybe once every few months), but it’s nice to dress up once in a while.
5:40pm — I manage to convince my brother to give me a lift to dinner so I can have a few drinks. His odd music taste still beats paying for an Uber.
7:50pm — My partner picks me up after dinner and we head to his house. Dinner was a bit average. My BLT was a bit cold, but the cider was good ($34.51). It was really nice seeing my friends, but I can’t help feeling like we’re drifting apart as we get older. $34.51
8:30pm — My partner and I chill for a few hours at his place. He offers me some drinks he has in the fridge, so I end up getting a bit tipsy. Just before bed, I remember I have to recharge my phone credit today, so I log in and fix that up ($150). I buy yearly plans because it’s way cheaper to pay for 12 months upfront versus paying monthly. It costs me $150 for the whole year, you get 100gb of data upfront and unlimited calls and texts. $150
Daily Total: $184.51

Day 3

8:00am — My partner and I sleep in for a bit, then he drives me back home. I’m thankful because he doesn’t often do favours like this. I offer to transfer him some money for giving me a lift yesterday and today, which he gladly accepts — $20.
9:30am — On our way to my house, we drop into Kmart for some sports stuff my partner wants. I buy some makeup I’ve been thinking of getting for a while — a concealer and some brow gel. $22
10:00am — I make myself some toast and fruit for breakfast, then decide to do some washing and clean up my room a bit. I’m killing time before my family and I head off to a ceremony. My brother is extremely smart, so he’s getting an award at school for getting a high ATAR last year. He also gets to do a speech because he got dux. Sometimes I feel sad because I know that even though I’m older, his successes will always overshadow mine. 
11:50am — It’s nice to see my brother and his friends get their awards and celebrate together. Surprisingly, the speeches aren’t too boring. It feels weird to be back at my high school though. I get major deja vu for when I got the same high ATAR award three years ago.
1:50pm — I’m pretty hungry by the time we get home. Time for a toastie, my lunch staple! 
3:00pm — I make the most of my day off work and do some more chores around the house. I also get distracted and start reorganising my closet. I'm a highly organised person, so this is pretty normal for me. I reorganise my cupboard every other week.
6:00pm — I have a work meeting. Yaaay (not!). Sadly, my boss didn’t bring snacks this time either, so I'm hungry for most of the meeting.
7:30pm — I get home and help mum make dinner. It's supposed to be tortellini, but I notice while the pasta is cooking that there are a few pieces of ravioli in there too. Weird. I guess that's what you get for buying Homebrand.
9:00pm — By the time I finish cooking, eating, cleaning up, and chatting with my mum, it's already 9pm. I have to get up at 6:30am tomorrow, so I basically head to bed straight away (and by straight away, I mean that I only watch one episode of my show on Netflix!). Lately, I’ve been bingeing Superstore, a trashy comedy about the dramas of working-class employees in a Walmart-style shop.
Daily Total: $42

Day 4

6:30am — Ugh, I’m tired. I didn't sleep last night. It was one of those nights where you just can't get comfortable! I get ready for work and let our pet chickens out since I’m the first person up. We got our three chickens about a year ago now, and I've come to really love their company and quirks. Each chicken has its own personality, they make me laugh every day. Although my family love the eggs they make, they are very much pets to us. My dad is literally the epitome of the dad who doesn't want a pet but ends up adoring them more than anyone else. 
8:00am — I start my morning shift at work. I’m on with the new girl today, which I don’t mind. She does a really great job interacting with the kids and we have some fun watching them play Duck, Duck, Goose. Seeing all the kids happy makes me feel so much joy.
12:30pm — After work, I meet mum at the library. We both share a love for reading and have similar taste in books, so we often borrow a stack of books and share them for a few weeks. After the library, I help mum do some mid-week grocery shopping. She pays.
1:45pm — I’m sooo hungry by the time we get home. Mum bought an avocado at the shops, so I make myself smashed avo and an iced mocha. The smashed avo is really good, but I’m sad because there goes my dream of buying a house (lol).
3:10pm — I spend some time on a craft project I’ve been working on for the past few months — a mini punch-needle rug. It’s taking forever but thankfully, I’m almost finished! While I do my craft projects I often listen to podcasts or YouTube commentary channels. Right now, I’m listening to a YouTube video discussing society’s obsession with pets. I didn't have pets as a child, so I never really understood how people adored their dogs and cats so much. But I think I'm starting to understand it now that I have pet chicken — my chookies are my babies! But I also agree with the Youtuber's argument that pets have become an obsession and have become a convenient replacement to real human company. There's some food for thought.
7:00pm — I help mum make dinner again. We're having paella. As usual, it’s a bit chaotic because mum has a recipe for us to look at, but ends up changing so many ingredients that it's pointless to have a recipe at all. Tomorrow I have the day off, so I have a drink with dinner. I feel happy chatting with my parents over dinner. I’ve become closer to them the past few years as I’ve gotten older. Although my parents have some power over me whilst I'm living under their roof, I have a good mutual relationship with both of them. They respect me as an adult.
8:40pm — I put the chickens to bed and then climb into bed myself. I alternate between watching silly videos on Facebook and binging Netflix for a few hours before drifting off to sleep.
Daily Total: $0

Day 5

9:40am — I sleep in as it’s my day off, then slowly get ready for the day. Since I’m not in a rush, I make eggs on toast and coffee for breakfast. My relationship with caffeine is quite the opposite of most people. Instead of drinking coffee on workdays to give me a caffeine hit, I only drink coffee on my days off. Coffee always makes me need to go to the bathroom, which is really inconvenient when you've got places to be. So I only enjoy a coffee or mocha when I have the day off at home.
11:40am — My family and I (minus my brother who is on a scout camp) decide to head into town to do some shopping and browsing. My mum buys a few accessories and bits and pieces, but I don’t really need anything, so dad and I just tag along and browse.
1:40pm — We’re getting a bit hungry, so Dad finds a cafe for us to grab some lunch. He loves eating out. I think the only reason he came along today was so he could have an excuse to eat at a cafe. There are only so many good lunch spots in my town, so he chooses a newish vegetarian place we’ve been to a few times. I get a burrito bowl which is yummy and super-filling. Dad pays for all of us. 
2:30pm — We head to City Park. It’s a lovely day to be outside, but a bit hot. City Park is famous in our town because it has a monkey enclosure! It’s not a zoo, and there are no other animals, which makes it a bit random. I think some famous guy overseas donated them like fifty years ago. We spy on the monkeys for a while, then wander over to an ice cream shop next to the park. I choose a guava and apple sorbet, which is quite nice but has a lot of cinnamon. Dad pays for all of us (again!). 
4:10pm — By the time we get home, I’m a bit weary from all the walking and heat, so I have a lazy few hours scrolling Facebook and watching Netflix. I generally try to restrict my screen time on social media, only going on Facebook and Instagram for less than an hour a day. It helps me be a lot more productive and allows me more time to enjoy my hobbies, like reading and craft projects. However, on my days off, I allow myself to have some extra scrolling time. Social media is always so trashy, but sometimes, that's what you need.
6:30pm — I sit down with my family for dinner. Today mum has made chickpea burgers, which was my suggestion. I'm not vegetarian, but I quite enjoy eating vego food because it always has so much flavour. I'm also conscious of the environmental impact of consuming too much meat, so I try and eat vegetarian food a few times a week. While I'm eating, my partner texts me and asks if I can give him a lift home from his friend's party later tonight. I ask him if his friend still lives an hour away or if he has moved back closer to town. My partner says his friend is living close to town, only 10 minutes away from me. I ask if I can just pick him up and take him back to my house, but he says no — he really isn't a fan of sleeping over at my house. He gets a lot of anxiety being away from his own home, which I have come to empathise with, but it's still really annoying. I almost always have to go to his house which is about 40 minutes away. It's not a massive distance, but it's long enough that I can't just pop over without planning. Plus, petrol is so expensive at the moment. Going to his house two or three times a week probably makes up almost half of my petrol expenses — at the moment, I'm spending upwards of $80 a fortnight on petrol!
7:10pm — After cleaning up from dinner, I spend some more time on my punch-needle rug. Although I find it relaxing to do punch-needle work, I'm going to be glad when this project is finished. It's taking the longest time to do (you wouldn't believe how many hours I have put into this thing!). While I craft, I watch a video about a 30-something woman realising she is bisexual and her experience of beginning queer dating in her thirties. It makes me reflect on my own experience of being bi. I only came out about six months ago, although I had felt that I was somewhere on the queer spectrum for longer. It was quite hard for me to come out, as I felt no one would take me seriously because I've been in a heterosexual relationship for so long and have only had relationships with men. Thankfully, my friends, family, and partner were all very accepting of me. It really wasn't as scary as I thought. Sometimes I still feel like being in a hetero relationship hides my queerness. It's a strange feeling to be out as bi, but sometimes still feel like you're not queer. I guess I'm still learning, but knowing there are people much older than me going through similar struggles definitely gives me strength. 
9:00pm — I collect my partner from his friend's house. I was annoyed at having to do this favour for him, but as soon as I see him smile at me as he gets in the car, I let go of any negative feelings. I truly love him so much. We drive the 30 minutes to his house, chatting and unwinding in each other's company.
9:30pm — After getting ready for bed and a few cuddles, we drift off to sleep together. I had to get to sleep early as I'm heading to work first thing tomorrow morning. I really wish we could have spent more time together. Since we both study and work throughout the day and into the early evening, often the only time we both have free is after 7pm. We get a few hours to have dinner and relax together, then it's time to sleep and start our work or study again in the morning. Thankfully, we have been having a bit more time together lately, as we are both on uni holidays.
Daily Total: $0

Day 6

7:15am — I wake up and start getting ready for work. I’m just doing the morning shift today. I'm annoyed that I haven't had more split shifts lately as it means I don't get as many full days off. My partner doesn’t have to work until this afternoon, so he tries to convince me to stay in bed longer. I really have to leave early though because it’s quite a long drive to my work from his house. I stay strong and escape his cuddles after only a few minutes, and manage to leave just on time.
8:10am — I stop at the shops on my way to work to get some breakfast. I get a chicken and cheese toastie from the bakery ($5.75). It’s not something I’d usually eat for breakfast, but the bakery is one of the only places to get takeaway close to my partner’s house. We often get lunch and brekkie together there. $5.75
8:50am — Back at work! It’s quite busy today at the crèche, we have about thirty kids come through in the span of three hours. I like it when it’s busier as it makes the time go faster. I can feel useless on the days when we only have a few children come in.
12:00pm — I finish work and drive to my friend's house to pick her up for an afternoon of thrift shopping! I haven’t seen her in ages, so it’s really nice to catch up. I met her in my second year of uni, so I’ve known her for about two years now. Op shopping is kind of our thing. Our love of second-hand fashion was something we bonded over when we first met, so it’s become a tradition to meet every few weeks to find some good bargains. I find a simple black skirt at the first op shop we go to ($10). It’s a bit overpriced, but it’s something I’ve been looking for for a while. At the next shop, I get an oversized coat at a bargain price of $2! I’m super happy because it’s beautiful and warm too. We pass two more op shops without finding much, but at the last shop, I find a t-shirt which I think my brother would love ($4). I'm planning on stashing it away until his birthday in a few months time. I’m really happy with everything we have found! $16
3:00pm — We’re both getting pretty hungry, so my friend and I stop at a cafe for a quick lunch before I drop her home. We both get burrito bowls and pay for our own meals. I get a falafel bowl as it’s my favourite thing to get from the cafe. $13.90
4:10pm — By the time I get home, I’m pretty tired and headachy, so I veg out and watch some Netflix for a few hours. I think I haven’t drunk enough water today so the heat is getting to me. Tasmanians can’t stand anything above 25 degrees... and today it was 27! I also check on my chickens because I haven’t seen them since yesterday evening. They are happy to see me, although it's probably just because they want treats. It makes me smile seeing them foraging in the garden and chatting to each other. 
5:50pm — I browse Depop again for jewellery. Remember that ring I was thinking of getting a few days ago? The seller never got back to me with the ring size, so I decide to buy some rings from someone else. I manage to get a great deal for a set of two rings ($43) and the seller says she can ship them today! Well, I guess Depop sellers can be helpful after all. $43
7:10pm — Mum gets home, and we decide to make dinner together again. It's pesto pasta salad tonight, which is one of my favourites! We make the sauce from scratch, which is a lot of work, but it always pays off. As expected, it's really yummy, and I probably eat a bit too much. I help Mum clean up after dinner, and we stay chatting for a bit.
9:00pm — Somehow it's already 9! Mum and I rush to put the chickens into bed before it gets dark.
9:30pm — I decide to head to bed early because I'm really tired. I think my partner was moving around too much last night and I didn't get enough sleep. I'm the kind of person who can never have enough sleep — my standard is 9 hours, but if I don't set an alarm, I can sleep for 10-11 hours, easy. It kind of annoys me, because when I'm super busy with work and uni, I basically have to sacrifice all my leisure time in order to get a full 9 hours of sleep.
Daily Total: $78.65

Day 7

7:40am — I’m the first person awake, so I let out the chookies and start getting ready for the day. I felt so tired last night, so I set my alarm for a bit later to give myself an extra 10 minutes of sleep. Because of this, I end up rushing to leave on time — whoops!
8:55am — I’m back at work today for the morning shift. It’s super busy today! We have a lot of children, as well as a handful of kids who just aren't having a great day. Some of our three-year-olds just can’t get along and play together, yet they also don’t want to play apart! It must be hard being three. 
12:00pm — I finish work and start driving home. On my way back, I stop at the post office to do some banking. I deposit some cash that I got for Lunar New Year. My family isn’t super into celebrating our Chinese heritage, but this year, Dad made a bit more of an effort. He spent the better part of a day cooking a Chinese dinner for the family and invited my brother and I’s partners. He also gave us red packets, which are traditional envelopes of money given on special occasions to young members of the family. I was a bit surprised to still get one, as I’m not a little kid anymore, but I guess to Dad, I’m still his child. 
1:00pm — I make some lunch at home — today it’s avocado toast! I use the rest of the guac I made a few days ago, although there is a bit less left than I was expecting. Apparently, my brother has been sneaking some guac on crackers — rude! Mum is having lunch at the same time, too. She’s doing a crossword in the newspaper, so I help her out. We manage to do the whole thing without cheating! My brother comes over and tells me about this word game he’s been playing on his phone. I get distracted and download it, and before I know I’ve been playing for an hour!
2:50pm — I finally tear my eyes away from this silly word game, and head over to my computer. I really have to organise something for my birthday, as a lot of the glamping places I looked at the other day are now booked out. It’s hard finding a place that is cute but also priced decently. I’ve narrowed it down to two different places. One place is cheaper but only has free bookings on weekdays. The other place is more expensive, but it is conveniently available on the weekend after my birthday. I text my partner the details of both, but he tells me we can’t set a date yet because he doesn’t have his uni timetable until next week — how annoying. 
4:20pm — I’ve been staring at my computer for far too long, so I decide to head out for a walk around the park and river near my house. Mum decides to come along too, and we have a nice time strolling along and chatting. We always get along so well. On our walk, we stop by the street library and find two books that look interesting. I’m pleasantly surprised.
5:00pm — I spend some time reading as we currently have 10 (!!!) books from the town library, plus the two we just picked up from the street library. I really enjoy reading, but sometimes I just don’t have the time to commit to my books. Right now, I’m reading a memoir about an Australian woman who moved to Paris to pursue love. She loves the idea of living in such a famed city, but the complex realities of being a foreigner in Paris soon dawn on her. Intriguing stuff!
7:00pm — I help mum cook dinner — today it’s chicken and veg. It doesn’t take us long to dice everything up and put it all together. Surprisingly, my brother cleaned up the kitchen just after lunch, so it’s a quick job to do the dishes too! 
8:10pm — I spend the rest of my evening doing some more reading. This book is just getting more and more interesting!
Daily Total: $0
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