Money Diaries

A Week In Brisbane, Australia, On A $165,500 Joint Income

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.
Content Warning: This Money Diary mentions miscarriage.
Currency in Australian Dollars.
Occupation: Dietitian
Industry: Health
Age: 31
Location: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Salary: $114,300 (mine) + $51,200 (husband's)
Net Worth: $30,000 in savings plus we are $20,000 ahead on our mortgage. I have $157,000 in my super (retirement) account and my husband has $88,000 in his. Both of our salaries are paid into the same account and we pay for everything out of this.
Debt: $483,000 left of our mortgage. My husband has about $34,000 left from his masters (the repayments come out with his tax).
My Paycheque Amount (biweekly): $2,564
My Husband's Paycheque (biweekly): $1,477

Monthly Expenses

Mortgage: $2,266 in compulsory mortgage repayments, plus we pay an additional $600 a month in extra payments.
Gym: $33/week
Subscriptions (Netflix, Spotify, Prime): $43
Cell Phone & Internet: $184 (husband has a work phone)
Private Health Insurance: $338 (This is the total for my husband and me under the Medicare healthcare system for hospital admissions. Mine is top hospital cover which includes pregnancy (so one day I can deliver a baby at a private hospital) and my husband has mid-range hospital cover and extras (e.g. physio, dental, podiatry, etc). I cancelled my extras as it was too expensive and I wasn't using them very often.)
Utilities: $394 per quarter
Rates: $448 per quarter
Garden Waste Collection: $21

Was there an expectation for you to attend higher education? Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?

Yes. My mum in particular was very supportive of me going further than she did. While I'm sure she would have supported me in whatever career I wanted, she was always very firm on me having an education and being well-read. After high school, I started an arts degree but dropped out halfway through as I couldn't see a future in it. I then completed a degree in Dietetics. Since we can study for no upfront cost — once you start earning a certain amount each year, you start paying back the government for your course — this is lumped in with my tax. I finished paying mine off this year (it took about six years to pay off my $40,000 debt). While I was studying I also received an allowance from the government. I was still working but got about $130 or so a week extra to help with expenses.

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

My dad was always very big on saving at least 10% of your income. We didn't have a lot of money when I was growing up so we often had store brand food or clothes. Growing up, I hated this but now I appreciate the value of shopping around as well as how tough it must have been for my parents to scrimp and save for the opportunities that we did have. While we didn't go on big overseas holidays or eat out often, there was always enough for us to join team sports or for my brother to get braces, etc.

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

I worked in a newsagent just before I turned 15. I could get my first job at 14 years and nine months, so I think I just thought "Well, it's time, get a job." I was only working three hours a week and earning $20 a week, but I felt rich. Since then, I've had between one and three jobs at any one time.

Did you worry about money growing up?

I was a very unobservant child, but I did hate that my brother and I had to share a Happy Meal when we went out (now I see that this was probably better for our nutrition anyway!).

Do you worry about money now?

Yes. My husband has his own business — it's slowly growing but I worry that his income is less stable than mine. Things are definitely picking up for him and we're hopeful he will be able to pull out some considerable profit at the end of the next financial year.

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

I would guess 24. This is when I officially moved out of home and was paying for all of my own groceries and rent. I'd been paying board at my parents' house before this but the rent was a big step up. I know I could always rely on my parents if I needed but at this stage, I have a really good saving nest egg.

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


Day One

5:30am — I'm on annual leave this week but I wake up without an alarm, too excited to sleep. We are having our dating scan this morning. I'm eight weeks and one day pregnant and I feel like I've been waiting forever for this. My husband, F., stays in bed while I get up and walk the dog. We're back by 6:30, so F. and I have breakfast together. I spend extra time doing my hair and makeup — it sounds silly, but I want to look good for my prenatal appointments, they're something that I'm taking seriously. I drink the 750ml of water that I've been told to have.
9:00am — We arrive at the scan. I quickly Google whether I'll need a full bladder at the rest of my scans because this is torture! We're called in and the radiologist starts the scan. She's there for about a second before telling me my bladder is way too full and we're going to have to do an internal. I gratefully wobble to the bathroom and let it out. She begins and gets me to re-clarify my dates. I start to feel nervous. She's really nice though when she says it is only measuring five weeks, and there's no heartbeat. She explains that either my dates are wrong, or that it's not viable. We go out to pay. It's $120 but half is reimbursed by Medicare. F. and I are quiet until we reach the car, then he gets me to re-explain what has happened. A missed miscarriage is my best bet, I tell him. I know we can't know anything for sure right now, but I know my dates are right, I was tracking everything so religiously. $60
11:00am — Once we're home, I cry some more, book a doctor's appointment for that afternoon, and F. makes me a cup of tea. I can see that he's upset too and needs to let some steam out so I tell him I'm fine and encourage him to go hit some golf balls at the driving range nearby, which he does ($29.50). I call my best friend. She lives four hours away and we have a meet-up planned in a few weeks where I was going to tell her I was pregnant. Now I just need her support. She's incredible and talking helps. She had two miscarriages before both of her babies and she offers some great advice and comfort. $29.50
2:30pm — I arrive at my doctor's appointment. She hasn't received my scans yet but we chat through what happened. She explains that she can't make any calls without the report and that I will likely need another scan in a week or two anyway to confirm. She gives me a pathology request form to get my beta HCG and progesterone levels checked and says she'll call me in two days. The appointment is bulk billed, so it costs me nothing. Neither does the blood test which I get done immediately. I cry when the phlebotomist asks how my day has gone.
5:00pm — I will go crazy if I keep sitting around doing nothing but thinking about my potential miscarriage, so I get up and go to the gym. I stick to more gentle, upper body exercises just in case but exercise has always been my stress relief and it feels good to move and sweat. On the way home, I call my mum and tell her what happened. We had planned on announcing our pregnancy to our families after the dating scan but now I have an incredible need to tell my mum and have her support. She is great, although slightly too positive that it will all work out and it will be viable. When I get home, F. and I walk the dog again and debrief on the day.
7:00pm — We heat up frozen fried rice and I quickly stir-fry some veggies as a side dish for dinner. We eat on the couch and watch a mindless teen movie before calling it a night at 9pm.

Daily Total: $89.50

Day Two

6:30am — A light sleep-in compared to yesterday! I lay in bed, alternating between Insta stories and Googling miscarriages for a while before getting up and getting dressed. I drive the dog to my in-laws' house to meet up with my sister-in-law. I'm a little nervous; F. told his mum what happened yesterday and she's there, and I'm worried she'll look at me funny or be overly sympathetic. Thankfully, she treats me normally. My sister-in-law and I walk our dogs to the dog park and stop for a takeaway coffee on the way (she pays). When we get back to the house, my mother-in-law loads me up with cuttings from her garden and suggests we get lunch later.
11:30am — It's time for my semi-annual dental check-up. As usual, they tell me I need to floss more and then do the usual check and clean. I usually love the fluoride treatment but this time it's strawberry flavoured, not bubblegum and I'm left disappointed. Because I don't have extras on my health insurance, I pay full price. $225
1:30pm —  I meet up with my mother-in-law and two different sisters-in-law at a nearby dumpling place for lunch. We chat about robot-vacuum cleaners, house renovations, and the upcoming state election while we share a variety of dumplings. One of the sisters pays and we transfer her money ($14.70). They all came in one car and I offer to drive the one closest to me home. We stop at mine on the way so she can see the new entertainment unit I bought and give me some styling advice (I have very little idea what I'm doing style-wise). After dropping her home, the dog and I binge New Girl while a storm rolls in. $14.70
6:00pm — F. is home and we chat about our days while looking at the flooding in our yard from today's rain. He plays touch football two nights a week, so I'll be home alone tonight. After he leaves, I cook salmon with sweet potato chunks and salad. I watch a comedy news quiz while eating and then have a small bowl of mint ice cream for dessert. Checking the account, I see that F. has paid for football ($12.80). He normally treats himself to some McDonalds on a Tuesday night but tonight he just comes straight home at about 10:30. $12.80

Daily Total: $252.50

Day Three

5:20am —  The sun is up, and so am I. The dog and I go for a walk after my usual Insta stories catch up. We've been walking for 18 months now and he's still awful on the leash. I make a mental note to look up front-clip harnesses, which I've heard are better for control. Once home, I make some avocado toast and shower. F. leaves for work after a quick catch up about his game the night before.
9:30am — When I'm stressed, exercise is usually my go-to. I love to just run or go hard at the gym and let it out, but I feel like that's off-limits at the moment, so I decide to channel my stress into retail therapy. I head to the closest shopping centre and wander around but don't know what to buy. There doesn't seem to be any point in buying clothes — who knows what might fit me soon anyway and I can't find any shoes or jewellery that I like. I end up going to a bulk health food store and buying dark chocolate coated blueberries and goji berries, cinnamon cashews, and chocolate buckinis ($20.30), then gochujang from the Asian supermarket ($2) and some compostable dental floss and a silicon baking tray from a nearby shop ($17.60). Driving home, F. calls and tells me he's bought a coffee and a BLT for breakfast/lunch ($14.70). $54.60
12:30pm — One of my sisters-in-law calls and says she's bored so I invite her over for lunch. I make falafels with roast veg, avo, and feta and it is delicious. We chat for a bit before she leaves and I start doing some garden prep — we have a heap of mulch arriving tomorrow and I need to weed. I spend an hour or two digging out weeds and then put some unwanted plants up for free on Facebook marketplace. My doctor calls as I'm finishing. My HCG is saying I should be seven weeks and my progesterone is slightly low. She encourages me to get another scan next Monday (which I book straight away) but says that HCG can continue to rise for a few weeks after a miscarriage. F. had come home to be there for the phone call so I fill him in.
4:00pm — I hit the gym and then quickly stop at the grocery store for potatoes ($0.95). On a whim, I treat myself to a bottle of zero alcohol wine ($11.80). I love a glass of wine and it feels cruel that I'm going through this stress without it. $12.75
7:00pm — I cook dinner while F. chats. I make a Moroccan feast — veggie tagine with maakouda and beef meatballs. It takes forever and is very underwhelming. I think I'm a pretty good cook, so I'm blaming the recipe for this one. We watch a few episodes of Kim's Convenience while we eat and I have a glass of the wine — it is meant to be a sauvignon blanc but at best I would say it tastes like a Moscato. We head to bed around 9 as another storm starts up.

Daily Total: $67.35

Day Four

8:30am — After another early start of walking with the dog and having some muesli, fruit, and yogurt for breakfast, I pick my brother's wife up and head to my mum's place. She's got some plant clippings for my new garden and wants to take me to a few good plant nurseries near her. I buy nothing at the first nursery, but pick up some ground cover plants and jasmine at the next nursery. My sister-in-law wants a hanging plant and forgets her wallet so I pay ($64 for all of our plants). She says she'll transfer but I doubt it. I don't really mind as she's done a lot for me lately. We have a morning tea of coffee and carrot cake back at mum's before we head off. $64
12:30pm — I arrive home and sneak in a quick lunch of a salad with lemon and pepper tuna before a lady arrives for the free plants I'd advertised. She's really sweet and we chat about gardening for a little while. I place an online grocery order after lunch. I order a full week's groceries including pork mince, sour cream, chickpeas, olives, yogurt, as well as usuals like milk, coffee pods, tuna for the dog, and some things we were running out of like shampoo, soy sauce, flour, and laundry powder. It comes to $114 but I won't have to pay until I collect it on Saturday.
4:00pm — Back to the gym. I feel like I'm doing really well at finding a balance of getting some exercise in without pushing it too hard in the unlikely event that this pregnancy is viable. I've decided that even if it's not, I'm going to stick to some of the lifestyle changes I've made like no alcohol and decreasing my coffee intake drastically.
7:00pm — F. heads off for football again ($12.80) and I set to making a recipe from Half Baked Harvest. It's a crispy lemon feta with orzo and chickpeas and It. Is. Delicious. I practically lick the plate clean while watching New Girl and Googling Netflix's Christmas movie lineup (I take their Christmas movies very seriously and this year will be no exception. I'm particularly excited that Dolly Parton is in on the game this year). $12.80

Daily Total: $76.80

Day Five

9:00am — After walking the dog, taking an early morning gym class, and having my muesli, I drive 45 minutes to a nursery that I've heard great things about. It does not disappoint — her plants are incredible and much cheaper than other places. I stock up on ixoras, philodendrons, more jasmine, ground cover plants, and a pink cordyline ($147.54). It's muggy today, so I stop through the McDonald's drive-through and buy a frozen no-sugar Coke ($0.98). $148.50
1:00pm — I lather on sunscreen and bug spray and put on a big hat and my favourite playlist (lots of early 2000s songs). I get to work planting and mulching my yard. It takes a few hours and I'm filthy, but it looks great! I could stare at it all day, waiting for it to all grow. I take a break around 3 and go to a local photo printing store. I've decided to make a gallery wall, so I print eight photos and buy some matching frames as well as some no-nails hooks. $19.65
7:30pm — F.'s brother and his girlfriend come over for dinner. I'm exhausted after the gardening but come alive a bit more when the food arrives. We've ordered some food from the nearby Vietnamese place. I get pho and we all share some spring rolls. It comes to $31.50 for F. and me. After dinner, we play card games and I get on an incredible winning streak before announcing at 9:30 that I need to go to bed. F.'s brother's girlfriend goes home but F. and his brother drink for a few more hours downstairs while watching UFC fights. $31.50

Daily Total: $199.65

Day Six

8:30am — I managed a small sleep in today, but the sun is so bright. We really need to get better curtains or blinds for our room. While F. is sleeping, I put my gallery wall together. It takes a lot more math than I expected to make things even, but I'm satisfied with the end result! After a coffee, F. and I walk down to our local polling booth. It's the state election today and voting is compulsory. We cast our votes and then buy democracy sausages. They're a staple of Australian elections and it seems wrong to not get one ($4.90). $4.90
10:30am — F. comes with me to collect the groceries ($114.70), but he's too hungover to also come to the fruit shop, so I drop him home first. At the fruit and veg store, I buy mangoes, blueberries, peppers, arugula, cucumbers, sweet potato, bananas, apples, tomatoes, mushrooms, and avocado ($29.50). When I get home, F. is across the street chatting to our neighbour. He's getting rid of some big agave plants and wants to know if I want them. I gladly accept and he also gives us two giant filets of fish that he'd caught and frozen. What a win! $144.20
2:00pm— It storms again this afternoon and the poor dog is looking so sad and mopey. I try to give him lots of belly rubs to make up for it as we lie on the couch and flick between sports and sitcom re-runs. F. and I both have quick naps.
6:00pm — It's date night! After the downer that this week has been, we feel like we need to do something fun. We head to a nice Italian restaurant for dinner where we share a house special pizza and gnocchi carbonara. F. has a beer and I have a virgin peach bellini. It's delicious but the food is a little blah ($70.80). After dinner we go to the arcade and load up some cards — we put $25 each on a card which gives us an additional $5 credit each ($25). We spend an hour playing all sorts of games and F. is getting so frustrated. While the pregnancy gods are not currently smiling on me, the arcade games gods are because I am unstoppable! I even win a shoot-em-up game which I'm traditionally hopeless at. We cash our points in for an armful of unnecessary lollies and then get frozen yogurt for dessert ($21). Tonight was definitely a mood lifter. $116.80

Daily Total: $265.90

Day Seven

6:30am — Up early. Walk the dog.
8:30am — I meet up with a friend for breakfast. She's currently pregnant with her second child and we discuss that and my likely miscarriage while we have avocado and halloumi on toast with lattes. She also had a miscarriage in her first pregnancy and her daughter is so cool, so it gives me hope that when this eventually works out, I will also have an incredible baby. $20.65
11:00am — F. has left for golf with his friends by the time I get home but has cleaned the bathroom and done a load of laundry. I throw myself into cleaning the rest of the house. It's coming into summer and there is dog hair everywhere. Everywhere. We have a robot vacuum which is great but I pull the proper one out and do a super thorough job. I'm back to work next week and I always feel better starting back with a clean and organised house.
2:00pm — I spend a few hours working on another garden bed and plant the gifted agaves. The dog is by my side the whole time and I alternate between weeding and throwing the ball. He will never, ever get sick of me throwing the ball. There's still work to do on the garden but it's hot and I'm over it, so I shower and plop onto the couch.
4:00pm — My brother calls and invites us around for afternoon tea. We (F., me, and the dog) head around and we eat cheese and dips on their deck while watching YouTube videos and having a few drinks (they bought me another type of alcohol-free wine which is slightly better than the last). My dog and their dog are best friends and they have fun running around the yard.
7:00pm — We head home and F. and I make lemongrass pork burgers which are like a Korean style banh mi — delicious! We watch the news and then Australian Story. F. confirms what time my scan is in the morning and makes sure his schedule is clear so he can be there too. He can struggle sometimes with hard emotions but he's been incredible this week. I know he's sad too, but he's been so good at checking in on me and making sure I'm okay. We hang out, just chatting for a bit, before having an early night.

Daily Total: $20.65

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