Money Diaries

A Week In Summer Hill, Sydney, As A Video Producer On $75,000

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 video producer who makes $75,000 a year and spends some of her money this week on flights to Mexico.
Occupation: Video Producer
Industry: Entertainment
Age: 31
Location: Summer Hill, Sydney
Salary: $75,000
Net Worth: $5,400 in a personal savings account and $31,941 in super. About two years ago, my friend drilled into me the importance of not touching your super, even in dire circumstances. That said, I've been 100% tempted when that was a possibility during the height of COVID. I don't own any personal assets like property, but last month I took out a loan for a used car, so I'm paying that off in monthly instalments. Over the past few years, I have been working odd jobs and freelancing. It wasn’t until July 2022 that I started a full-time job in an industry I actually wanted to be in. So that was a roundabout way of saying — I have only just recently started properly saving! 
Debt: $10,000 in a car loan and $27,549.70 in HECS. I like to play the 'If I don’t look at it, it doesn’t exist' game, so this was a tough reality check.
Paycheque Amount (Monthly): $4,603.00
Pronouns: She/Her
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Monthly Expenses

Rent: $2,140, split with my partner. My partner and I live together in a two-bedroom apartment in Summer Hill, Sydney. I pay $255 each week and my partner pays $280 as she makes more than me. This is the lowest I have ever paid in rent, but for the nicest home. Turns out that leaving Newtown isn’t the worst thing in the world!
Utilities: $300, split 50/50 with my partner.
Mobile Phone: $80 
Private Health Insurance: $125 
Cat Expenses: $200, split 50/50 with my partner.
Psychology Appointment & Anti-Anxiety Meds: $180
Gym: $70. I just signed up for ClassPass.
Streaming: $43. I pay for Disney+, Netflix, HAYU, and Paramount+ and my partner pays for Binge, Amazon Prime and Spotify. I also have 12 months of free Stan at the moment. Yes, we have a lot of services, but I j’adore to be a part of all the conversations. Plus I can claim them on tax! 
Adobe Full Package: $80 
Car Loan: $265.91 
Internet: $65, split 50/50 with my partner.
FBi Radio Supporter: $10
Savings Contributions: I used to just throw money into my savings account when I thought it was necessary, but shock horror, this left me with $0 in savings at the end of 2022. I received a pretty sexy tax return of $6,310 in December (yes, I left it late). So I threw that into my savings account and have set auto payments the day after payday to go into some savings folders. I put $40 into a savings folder, $50 into a car folder (so I'm not shocked when it comes to rego/insurance time), and $100 into a holiday folder — this week, we booked flights to go to Mexico in March/April!
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Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?

I studied for a Bachelor of Creative Industries majoring in Entertainment and Screen Studies. I have been paying this off via HECS since I graduated in 2014 and still have a hefty amount to go. Since I'm no longer freelancing and have a more stable income, I should be able to pay it off in about... seven years. Oh, wow. Why did I do the maths? I'll be 38. Yay the arts!

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

There definitely isn’t a distinct moment that I can remember. I'm sure I was taught about it at some point, but all I remember is that we didn’t have a lot of money and things were tight growing up. For me, money talk = scary. 

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

I started working at an Italian restaurant on the weekends when I was 16. It was late nights, cash in hand, and we didn’t get breaks. Our boss also used to pocket all the tips. 100% illegal, but it was still so exciting to have some money of my own. 

Did you worry about money growing up?

My mum put both my twin brother and me through private school from grades 7 to 12 by herself — I remember her struggling a lot. We were registered to the schools from birth as she was raised by her parents with the mentality that her children had to go to private schools. She wanted us to have the best possible education and future, but it’s like she also wanted to prove that she could do it. I love my mum so much, but she really put our needs before hers. Paying for private schools meant that she never got to treat herself and I could see her really struggling. Looking back, I really feel like a brat for complaining or being embarrassed that I never had the best of things like the other girls at my school. 
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Do you worry about money now?

I’m horrible with money. It’s definitely something I am working on, but from freelancing, I'm so used to hustling to make it through the months. I definitely have the mentality of living paycheque-to-paycheque which isn’t healthy now that I have a stable income. So I still think, “Oh! I have more money — that means I can spend it!” and then panic when it gets to the end of the month and I've got none left. I’m learning, okay?! 

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

23. I was still living at home while I was in university, which meant I wasn't paying rent and 80% of my meals were at home. When I turned 23, I moved to Sydney and into a share house. I was making barely any money and after paying rent, pretty much all of my income went to beer, cigarettes and partying because I was living on King Street in Newtown and it was all SO EXCITING! I had also just come out as a lesbian, so I was trying to make up for lost time. Fun? Yes. Shock to the system? Big time. Healthy? Absolutely not. 

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

I just had to Google what passive income was… so, no. 

Day 1

7:30am — It’s my first day back at work and my body is in shock that my alarm is going off. I had told myself last night that I would get up and go to my boxing class before work, but I'm 100% not doing that. I’ll go tomorrow (I always tell myself this). It’s my first day back at work! I need my energy!  Thankfully, my girlfriend makes us coffee and brings it to me in bed. She is an angel. We enjoy them in bed while we muster the strength to get up, shower and get ready for work. 
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8:45am I’m working from home today, so I get to my desk and set up. I don’t have a meeting until 9:30am, so I go make myself some breakfast. I’ve been having a lot of tummy issues lately, so I am going to cut out dairy for the week to see if that makes a difference. A quick Google to remind myself that eggs aren't dairy, and we are good to go! 
11:00am — My vape died last night and I told myself that would be my last one. But vaping is all I can think about. Instead of going and buying a new one, I go and make myself another coffee to try and distract myself.
12:30pm Lunch time. I have $30 in my account because I just bought a secondhand car and completely forgot that things like rego, insurance, blue slips, and stamp duty all really add up. I have a bit of Xmas cash from my family that I could use to go get sushi, which is what I really want for lunch. But instead, I go to the fridge and rummage around until I find enough ingredients for a salad. 
3:00pm I WANT A VAPE.
5:30pm — I clock off for the day and my girlfriend arrives home with groceries. We use the app Beem It to split everything evenly. She puts $75 into our expenses, which we'll split 50/50, so I owe $37.50. I now owe her a total of $120. $37.50
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6:00pm Girlfriend makes us dinner — vermicelli salad. Don’t worry, I clean up! We have a system, okay? 
8:00pm We go to bed and watch TikToks because we are both so exhausted from our first days back at work. I set my alarm for 7am so that I can go boxing in the morning. 
Daily Total: $37.50

Day 2

7:00am — Alarm goes off. I can’t find my boxing gloves. No boxing today. 
7:45am — My turn to make coffee for my girlfriend and me. We’re both working from home today, so we push it and don't get out of bed until 8:50am.
9:30am FANTASTIC NEWS! My tax return has landed. I receive $6,310 in my bank account. It's a bit less than what I was owed, as I had to pay my accountant the $400 fee. I should really do my own taxes, but she specialises in the creative industries, and because I was a freelancer in 2021/22 and jumping between odd gigs, it's much easier to get her to do it. Plus, I'm horrible with money. I put $5,750 into my savings account and keep $560 in my main account. 
11:00am — HORRIBLE NEWS! I get a letter in the mail reminding me that I still owe the hospital $750 for a laparoscopic surgery I had in July 2022. I mean, yes, they did remove my endometriosis (for now), but why am I paying money OUT OF POCKET for this?! Ugh. Uteri. I take $750 out of my savings and pay the bill. $750
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5:00pm It’s date night tonight, and it's cheap movie Tuesday. I buy us tickets to see Triangle Of Sadness at Dendy Newtown. $24 split 50/50. $12
6:00pm We drive to Newtown and have some time to kill before the movie, so we grab a quick bite to eat at Odd Culture across the road. We order two drinks and three small plates and it comes to $79, split 50/50. I go to pay with my Xmas cash but get embarrassed when I realise it's all small change, so I pay with a card. $39.50
6:30pmWalk to the cinema. Everyone on the street seems to have a vape. I tell myself that just because I have a bit of money now, it's not an excuse to go and buy a vape! I stay strong. We buy two small Coke Zeros at the cinema ($11, split with my girlfriend) — you have to have a little treat! $5.50
9:30pm — Leave the cinemas and head home. We also message everyone we know to go and see Triangle Of Sadness. It was that good. I look at my phone and see that I've been charged $25 by Service NSW. After complaining to my girlfriend for 30 minutes about not knowing why they charged me, I remember that I ordered an E-Toll for my car and so they put $25 on it. Oops. $25
Daily Total: $832

Day 3 

7:20amCan’t go boxing today because I'm working in the office. That's a lie I like to tell myself. My girlfriend makes us both coffee while I shower and get ready for work. I also send a Slack message to my whole team and tell them not to let me have anyone's vape because I'm serious about quitting this time. 
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8:25pm I lay in bed for too long on my phone which means I am just now power walking to the train. I tap on with my Visa card and mentally remind myself to get an Opal card because it’s cheaper to tap on that way. I don’t even know how much I’m charged because every time I tap on, it just says '$1 card check' and then I get actually charged at random times. 
9:00am Walk into the office a little out of breath because I don’t want to be late for my 9am meeting. Someone is eating cereal in our meeting and it reminds me that I haven’t eaten breakfast yet. 
9:40am Go with the team to get a coffee. I go to pay with my Xmas cash but they don’t take cash. Damn, I need to use this cash because we don’t get paid until Friday. I buy an iced oat latte. $4
10:30am My stomach reminds me that I still haven’t eaten yet. Thankfully, our work has breakfast supplies, so I have some Weetbix with oat milk and honey. 
12:30pm We have a new team member, so we all head out to lunch together. In an attempt to save money, I get the burger special and a beer ($22). It’s Surry Hills — so the price being on special doesn’t actually mean that it’s cheap. I probably should have just gotten water. $22
1:00pm — I ask my friend at work for a hit of their vape and they give it to me. I then continue to steal it throughout the day and promise to buy them one when it dies. I would like to say I tried my best, but let’s be honest, I didn’t. I convince myself that it’s still okay as long as I don’t buy my own! 
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3:00pm — My workmates start talking about what gym classes they are doing this week as they are all with ClassPass. I find out that ClassPass is $70 a MONTH, while I'm paying $60 a WEEK for my boxing gym — that I don't even go to. I email my boxing gym to cancel, but still have to pay for the next month.
6:00pm — Walk to Central Station to head home. Tap on with my Visa card. I can't be bothered to buy an Opal card. I’ll get it tomorrow. 
6:30pm — Get home and my girlfriend is making us a stir-fry for dinner with the groceries she bought on Monday. We eat dinner, watch TV, admire our 17-year-old cat and then I clean up. 
9:00pm — We go to bed to watch TikToks and are asleep by 10pm. 
Daily Total: $26

Day 4

7:20am Look, boxing just isn’t going to happen anymore. And I have accepted that. Yes, I should go because I still have to pay for the next month, but I can't find my boxing gloves and I don’t want to buy new ones. I make my girlfriend and me coffee, and we both get ready to head into our respective offices. 
8:20am I make the slightly earlier train and am in the office by 8:55am. No, I didn't use the extra time to get an Opal card. 
9:30am Head to the cafe downstairs and get my second coffee for the day and a piece of avo on toast ($8). I get mad at myself for not just making something at work — especially since we have both toast and avocados — but I'm starving and can't take the judgement right now. $8
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10:15am We have an external meeting in the city but get to use the company Uber account there and back. It's times like these that I don’t miss the freelancer life. 
12:30pm Back in the office and I applaud myself because I packed my own lunch today — a leftover stir-fry. This makes me feel better about the 9:30am avocado situation. I've been using my workmate's vape all day. Old habits die hard.
5:30pm We don’t go into the office on Fridays, so we decide to get a drink after work (Thursdays are the new weekend!). My friend shouts me a $10 cocktail special and she leaves before I can get her one. I make a mental note that I owe her a drink. I decide to stay for another beer. $10
6:45pmWe’re having a good time and my other workmate grabs us another beer. I finish mine and head home while a few of them stay on. Crap. I didn't get my other mate a beer in return. I make another mental note that I now owe two workmates beers — I don't want them to say I'm a cheapskate! Have I mentioned I have anxiety?!
7:00pm No, I didn't get an Opal card. 
7:30pm I make my girlfriend and I some pasta with ingredients we already have in the house. It's surprisingly good. BoneAppleTeeth!
9:30pm — My girlfriend and I contemplate reading before bed, but end up just watching TikTok.
Daily Total: $19
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Day 5

8:00am I wake up super excited because it’s payday! Check my account and it hasn’t hit yet. Sad. I make coffee for us even though it’s my girlfriend's turn. She has a sore back and I am an angel.
8:30am I’m working from home today and start a bit earlier (not all heroes wear capes). 
10:30am Check my bank account and pay still hasn’t hit. I make myself eggs on toast for breakfast. 
12:30pm Still no pay, but I decide to reward myself for taking lunch into work yesterday by getting myself some sushi. But I forget that sushi is really expensive and ends up costing $26. BUT THEY TAKE CASH! So I finally get to use my Xmas cash, which makes it feel like it's free. I decide to actually take my hour lunch break and eat it on the couch while watching the latest episode of Real Housewives of Salt Lake City. I'm trying to avoid spoilers on social media, so this is my only option. $26
1:30pm I've hit a real low point — as I'm rummaging through all our old vapes like a racoon because a few of them have a bit of juice left, my girlfriend catches me. I tell myself that it's a win because I did this instead of buying one.
5:30pmAnother low point. My partner and I get in the car to head to The Lansdowne because about five months ago, I left her faux fur jacket there. Since then, I've been promising to pick it up. The Lansdowne's manager emailed me a few days ago reminding me that it was still there, threatening to donate it to Vinnie's on Saturday if I didn't pick it up. Why am I so bad at personal organisation? We collect it and the bar staff laugh because it's been there for so long that they're going to miss it. I leave with my tail between my legs. 
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6:00pm Because we are already out of the house, we decide to pick up pizza in Newtown. I decide that my five days off dairy was enough because I haven’t seen a difference. We get to the restaurant and they tell us there is a two-hour wait. So we just go home and order pizza to be delivered from another restaurant. We order it from the restaurant's website, not Uber Eats, which makes us feel a bit better about ourselves. It costs $65, paid by my partner, split using Beem It. $32.50
9:00pm My pay hits (!!!) and we go to bed. We’re sleepy girls today! 
Daily Total: $58.50

Day 6

9:00amWe wake up and my girlfriend makes us coffee. For the past few weeks, she's been searching for the cheapest flights for our holiday in Mexico which we're planning for late March/early April. We spend the morning in bed discussing how flight prices are just never going to be what they were pre-Covid, so we take the plunge and book. Well, she puts it on her credit card and adds my part to Beem It. Two return flights end up costing a total of $4,897 — so $2,448.50 for my share. $2,448.50
10:00am I drop my partner off for breakfast with her friends and then head to the post office. I lost my passport in our last house move, so I need to get it sorted ASAP. I register and pay for my new passport and get new photos taken — why are they always so hideous?! $345
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12:00pm — After I get back from the post office, I eat the leftover pizza to save money on lunch and binge-watch old episodes of The Real Housewives of New York City
5:00pm — My girlfriend and I get in the car and head to the opening night of 'THE PARTY', which is a free exhibition at the UNSW Galleries celebrating the history of LGBTQIA+ nightlife and party culture in Sydney. The exhibition is incredible and gets us super excited for all of the World Pride events coming up. 
7:00pm — Our friends, who are also there, have a reservation at 8pm at The Unicorn across the road, but my girlfriend and I are snacky and overwhelmed by the number of people at the exhibition, so we head to Cafe Freda's for a drink and some oysters ($57, split 50/50). We start planning our Mexico trip and tell ourselves that we’ll start living cheaper from tomorrow. $28.50
7:45pm — I buy a vape ($25). I tell myself that I'll quit after World Pride because it’s going to be too hard at all the events! Yes, this is another lie to myself. $25
8:00pm — We meet our friends at The Unicorn for dinner (paid by my girlfriend and put in Beem It — $63, split 50/50). We all talk about how amazing the exhibition was. Our friends also say that they're quitting vaping after Pride, so we organise a 'Death To Vapes' party. $31.50
9:30pm — Our friends kick on and we head home. 
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Daily Total: $2,878

Day 7 

9:00am — I make us coffee. We get ready to pick up my friend and head to the beach because I have a car now and this is a LUXURY! 
10:00am — We arrive at Wylie’s Baths and pay $6 entry (using Xmas cash!). I can't believe I've never been here before. We go searching for the cat that lives there, but can't find him. $6
12:00pm — The three of us grab brunch in Coogee ($70, split with my girlfriend — wow, we aren’t in the inner west anymore). I contemplate that maybe gluten is the cause of my tummy issues, so I decide to cut it out this week. $35
2:20pm — I get charged by Transport NSW for my train trips for the week ($7.58). I get confused by the amount because surely that’s not enough for my four trips. I await my next random amount. $7.58
3:00pm — My partner and I go to visit our friend's place. They've just adopted the most adorable puppy, so we sit and watch him do adorable puppy things before treating ourselves to Messina because it's boiling hot. $11
7:30pm — My girlfriend and I decide to be lazy and just have Mi Goreng for dinner. We add in Bok Choy for an attempt at health. 
8:00pm — Just when I think I’m in the clear for spending money today, I remember that I have to pay my friend for my part of the Airbnb for her birthday weekend coming up. $250
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Daily Total: $309.58
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