A Week In Melbourne, Australia, On A Joint $96,925 Salary

Photo: Getty Images.
Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
Today: a police call taker working in emergency services who makes $42,834 per year and spends it some of her paycheck this week on vanilla soft serve. Editor's note: All prices have been converted to U.S. dollars.
Occupation: Police Call Taker
Industry: Emergency Services
Age: 31
Location: Melbourne, Australia
My Salary: $42,834 base, plus ~$11,682 for nights, weekends, holidays, and overtime
My Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): My maternity leave pay is $615.24
My Husband's Salary: $54,091
His Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $1,506.77
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Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1350.44/month. (We rent a two-bedroom, two-bathroom townhouse with a yard for the dog.)
Student Loan Payment: $0. (I paid for university with savings from my high school job, scholarships, and help from my parents.)
Superannuation: 9.5% of each of our pre-tax salaries
Phone Bill: $58.41
Internet: $46.73
Dropbox: $11.68
Netflix: $10.90
Private Health Insurance: $75.54
Life Insurance: $301.02 and $186.88, for me and my husband
Savings: At least $155.76
Novated Car Lease Payment:$350.46. (Taken out of my husband's pay pre-tax, and covers lease, fuel, maintenance, and car washes.)
Zoo Annual Membership: $6.93

Day One

8:15 a.m. — I wake up very confused. Normally my husband, N., wakes me up at 7 a.m. so that I can take over baby duty while he gets ready for work. But he surprises me by taking the day off work today! I've been having a rough time lately, so this is a very sweet surprise. I have a quick shower and feed the baby while N. makes coffee.
10 a.m. — I take the baby to the mother's group we're in. The twelve of us all have babies the same age. We meet every Tuesday morning at a cute little coffee shop in the neighborhood, and it's a great source of support for all of us. We chat about how our weeks have been going, and I order a long black with a splash of milk on the side ($3.08), plus an egg and bacon roll with tomato chutney ($8.48). $11.56
11 a.m. — Baby has been in teething hell the last couple of weeks, and today is no exception. He's grumpy and unsettled, so we leave the mother's group after an hour. He goes down for a nap and I get ready to head out for a run. I'm training for a half marathon in May, so I run three times a week, as well as cross-train. I listen to Casefile, a true crime podcast, while I run.
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1:45 p.m. — Well, that run didn't go as planned. I meant to do 10 kilometers but hit a mental wall at six and just couldn't do anymore. I ended up half walking and half jogging the four kilometers back to my car. I try not to beat myself up too much about it. I'm still recovering from a traumatic birth, and some days are going to be tougher than others. I drive home and make ham and veggie sandwiches on wheat bread for N. and me.
6 p.m. — After an afternoon of family time, the baby gets fed, bathed, and changed into his pajamas. N. reads to him from The Hobbit and puts him to bed while I take the dog for a walk and listen to the True Crime Garage podcast.
7:30 p.m. — I marinated chicken overnight, so I whip up a nice butter chicken sauce and simmer the whole thing. We eat it with brown rice and steamed broccoli and each have a glass of home-brew beer while watching a trashy reality cooking competition. We have a group chat with our friends who live out of town about the show, and it's always hilarious. N. and I are both still peckish, so I make cinnamon sugar popcorn for a snack.
9 p.m. — N. cleans up the kitchen while I feed the dog and cat and we go up to bed. I do my simple routine of Cetaphil cleanser, witch hazel toner, and jojoba oil. I usually read until the baby wakes up for his feed at 10 or so, but I'm too tired to do anything but scroll through Reddit.
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10 p.m. — I feed the baby and fall asleep soon after.
Daily Total: $11.56

Day Two

6 a.m. — The little human alarm clock is babbling away. N. gets up to do the morning feed. I only got up with the baby once during the night last night, so I actually feel fairly refreshed today and can't fall back asleep. I head downstairs to make myself a coffee.
7:30 a.m. — N. leaves for work and the baby goes for a morning snooze. I quickly shower, moisturize and dress. I make myself oatmeal topped with chopped apple, almond butter, and cinnamon, and another coffee. I read Money Diaries while I eat. Baby wakes up at 8:30 and we do our usual feed, play, sing, and read routine.
10 a.m. — Nap time. I feel very fortunate that the baby has turned out to be a good sleeper. I make two pieces of wheat toast with cream cheese and cucumbers, but I am a bottomless pit of breastfeeding hunger, so it does nothing to fill me up. I scramble up a couple eggs and top them with feta. I prepare a couple bottles, vacuum, and clean the cat's litter while listening to the Someone Knows Something podcast. (True crime is definitely my thing!)
12 p.m. — My mother-in-law arrives to spend time with the baby. (My in-laws live about an hour away across the city.) Not only do I get a little time to myself, but the baby loves playing with different family and friends.
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1:30 p.m. — I haven't had my nails done at a salon in over a year, so I get an SNS manicure that will hopefully last a while ($34.60). I feel like a new woman! I stop at the pharmacy to get more jojoba oil for my face ($15.38) and also pick up tomatoes, red capsicums, bread, and a bar of Cadbury hazelnut chocolate ($6.36) at the supermarket. I snack on the chocolate on the way home. $56.34
2 p.m. — Mother-in-law brought over groceries for lunch. I make myself a roll with mayo, mustard, roast chicken, tomato, and avocado. I inhale it and immediately make myself another one. I have never been as hungry in my life as these last six months.
4:30 p.m. — Mother-in-law leaves and I doze with the baby for about an hour and wake up parched. I chug water while I chop up a butternut pumpkin to roast with olive oil and maple syrup. I'm Canadian, and my love of maple syrup knows no bounds.
6 p.m. — N. is home and gets in baby time while I finish making dinner. He handles the bedtime routine while I walk the dog and listen to True Crime Garage.
7:30 p.m. — We eat butternut pumpkin soup with a glass of home brew while watching more trashy TV and group texting with our friends. I have a cup of tea and cookies for dessert.
9 p.m. — N. cleans the kitchen, I feed the animals, and then we head up to bed. I do my skincare routine and read The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker. I just started it and it's good! Baby gets his feed at 10:30 p.m. and I dive back into bed to sleep.
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Daily Total: $56.34

Day Three

7 a.m. — N. wakes me up with a coffee and a baby. I was up at 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. to do night feeds, but other than that slept pretty well last night. N. leaves for work as I do the baby thing.
8:30 a.m. — Baby naps. I dress and make myself scrambled eggs and toast with cream cheese and cucumbers. I message with a couple friends about organizing a kid-free night to check out a new Viking restaurant that's opening. We also want to go to the new Harry Potter escape room. I read my book until the baby wakes up.
10:30 a.m. — Time for Kangatraining! This is our weekly mum and baby fitness class. It's a combination of core work, strength training, and cardio with your baby strapped on your chest in a carrier. It's a great workout and good cross-training for running. The babies love it, too, and they almost always fall asleep in the carriers! It feels so good to work up a sweat! (I paid for the whole term last month.)
12 p.m. — Back home, and I'm famished. I make a chicken, avocado, and tomato roll and heat up leftover butternut pumpkin soup. I feed the baby while watching a true crime show on Netflix and snacking on some chocolate.
3:30 p.m. — It's autumn here, but the weather still feels like summer. It's too nice to stay inside, so the baby and I drive a couple suburbs over to go thrift shopping. I changed my mind about a jacket I had bought, so I exchange it for a cool pair of distressed jeans. Clothes shopping for my post-baby body has been emotional, so I'm pleased to finally find a pair of pants I like. I pay the difference between the items ($2.33). $2.33
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5 p.m. — I stop at the supermarket for popcorn seeds ($1.16) and a cheesy-mite scroll to snack on ($1.55). $2.71
7:30 p.m. — N. is hosting clients in the VIP box at the first game of the AFL season tonight, so I'm on my own until late. I do the baby's bedtime routine and make a big pan of lentil, walnut, veggie, and quinoa burritos. I top them off with salsa and Monterey jack cheese, and then bake in the oven. Yum. I watch the footy game as I eat, clean the kitchen, and feed the animals.
9 p.m. — I head upstairs and work my muscles on the foam roller before doing my skincare routine and lying in bed. Baby sleeps through his last feed and I fall asleep before N. gets home.
Daily Total: $5.04

Day Four

8:30 a.m. — Since N. hosted clients last night, he doesn't have to go into the office until noon today. We share early morning feeding duties and I get to sleep in a bit.
10 a.m. — We have a lazy family morning drinking coffee and playing with the baby. I make oatmeal with a chopped up apple, almond butter, and cinnamon. N.'s paycheck comes in and we're pleasantly surprised to see it's a little higher than normal. His first commission has come through! We transfer some of it over to our savings and give ourselves each little extra spending money.
12 p.m. — Baby naps for longer than usual, so after N. leaves for work I read up on baby sleep techniques from a library book I checked out. I'm going back to work in a few months, and we need to start working on weaning off night feeds. That's the dream! I heat up a leftover burrito for lunch.
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1 p.m. — I go to the pharmacy to pick up my prescription ($14.51). I have major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety order and I've taken antidepressants for years to keep everything in balance. I'm happy prescriptions are generally very affordable in Australia. $14.51
1:30 p.m. — I sunscreen up and do a five kilometer run along the ocean with the baby in the pram while listening to Someone Knows Something.
2 p.m. — Finish my run and find enough coins in the nappy bag to buy a vanilla soft serve cone from an ice cream truck. I eat it, and then strap the baby in the carrier and wade into the water up to my knees. What an exquisite feeling after a run! $2.33
6 p.m. — N. is home and we do the baby bedtime routine. One of the best parts of my day is reading to the baby before we put him in bed. A freshly bathed and pajama-ed cuddly baby is a wonderful thing.
7:30 p.m. — I take the dog for a walk around the neighborhood while listening to Someone Knows Something. We eat leftover burritos with oven chips. N. is the oven chip master! We rent Murder on the Orient Express on the PlayStation Network and settle in for a movie night. $4.62
11 p.m. — The movie isn't great but not terrible either. N. feeds the animals, and I feed the baby, do my skincare, and flop into bed.
Daily Total: $21.46

Day Five

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8:30 a.m. — It's the weekend! N. takes the morning baby shift and I sleep in. I was only up once in the night, which is always a good thing.
10 a.m. — I have a coffee while doing our weekly grocery oder. I make my meal plan and grocery list on Fridays and put in the order for pick up on Saturday afternoons. Shopping online saves me loads of time and pretty much eliminates any impulse buys. I put the order through on N.'s Acorn app; he gets 50 cents in his account for each order. It's not much, but at the end of the year it's an extra $26, so I'll take it. $63.67
12 p.m. — It's torrentially raining with thunder, so today turns into a family hangout and deep cleaning day. The pup tolerates a shower while giving serious sad eyes. We tackle several loads of laundry and I make a batch of carrot cupcakes, since I'm having some girls over for a birthday tea tomorrow.
2:30 p.m. — The weather has cleared up, so I head out by myself for a run. I do eight kilometers on my favorite route by the ocean while listening to Someone Knows Something.
3:30 p.m. — I feel phenomenal after my run. I really needed it. I get a text from the grocery store that my order is ready for pick-up, so I swing by the supermarket on the way home. We paid for the order this morning when the order went through. N. calls and lets me know that we're almost out of formula, so I pick up a tin as well. It's on sale too! I stop at the liquor store on my way out and pick up wine and beer. $34.50
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7 p.m. — We do the bedtime routine and put the baby to bed. I make a stir-fry with onion, carrots, red capsicum, broccoli, and egg in a spicy almond butter sauce over egg noodles. We eat this once a week; it's delicious. We settle in front of the TV with beers to watch AFL.
10:30 p.m. — I had a couple drinks, so to be on the safe side, I give the baby a bottle for his last feed instead of breastfeeding, do my skincare, and go to sleep.
Daily Total: $98.17

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — Wake up and have coffee with N. and the baby. I did the 2:30 a.m. feed and N. got up at 5:30 a.m.
9 a.m. — Shower, do my hair, dress, and start prepping food for my birthday tea. I bake scones, and make cream cheese icing for the carrot cupcakes, whip cream, and tea sandwiches (roast beef with horse radish, cream cheese with cucumber and goat cheese with pickled beetroot). I get the table set with my nice china and head upstairs to do my makeup.
11 a.m. — The girls arrive and give me a few lovely gifts. Unexpected but much appreciated! We pop open a bottle of champagne and toast to my birthday (which is really next week), then get down to eating, chatting, and cuddling the baby.
2 p.m. — The girls leave and the baby goes for a nap. My sister-in-law brought over four huge boxes of baby clothes that her son has outgrown. Almost all of the baby's clothes are hand-me-downs from friends and family, which has saved us a whole heap of money. Babies grow so quickly that all the clothes are in excellent condition, and in some cases brand new. N. and I spend the afternoon sorting through the clothes while watching more AFL.
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5 p.m. — I take the dog for a walk around the neighborhood while listening to Someone Knows Something. It's a lovely warm evening.
7 p.m. — I feed and bathe the baby and read him Harry Potter while N. makes dinner. After the baby is settled in bed, we eat dinner. Tonight is steak with spinach, apple, walnut, and goat cheese salad in a mustard vinaigrette, with sweet potato mash and peas. It's all fantastic.
9 p.m. — Kitchen is cleaned and animals are fed, so we head up to bed and I do my skincare routine. It's now pouring (gotta love that dramatically changing Melbourne weather) and we lay in the dark listening to the rain and a Harry Potter audiobook and chatting. Baby has his 10:30 p.m. feed and then I crawl back into my nice warm bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

7 a.m. — N. wakes me out of a deep sleep with a baby and a coffee. I didn't sleep well, so I'm struggling to open my eyes.
8 a.m. — I make another coffee and eat oatmeal with chopped up apple, almond butter, and cinnamon. We're nearly out of almond butter so I add it to my Costco list. We do a big Costco trip for things like nappies, wipes, non-perishables, and meats for the freezer at the start of each month, which is coming up next week.
10 a.m. — Baby naps, and I do some online window shopping. I'm on a reduced salary for my maternity leave, and we still want to save as much as we can, so we give ourselves a limited amount of “fun” money each month. I've become good at planning out and budgeting for my future purchases. We're going to Hawaii this summer for my dad's 70th birthday, and I need a new bathing suit. I'm also on the hunt for matching knit beanies for myself, N., and the baby (no shame, I'm a dork and I love it!), and black leather Chelsea boots. I shop vintage and thrift stores as much as possible, but some things just shouldn't be bought used! I find some good options and bookmark them for later.
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11 a.m. — Baby eats his lunch and I eat the last leftover burrito. We bundle up and head out to the zoo. We have an annual membership which gives us unlimited access to all three zoos in Victoria. We have a short but pleasant visit since it's chilly and windy and we're getting intermittent showers.
2 p.m. — Back home. I eat a toasted ham and veggie sandwich with a spinach, beetroot, and goat cheese salad. Baby takes another nap and I putter around tidying the house.
3 p.m. — I make a cup of tea and eat an unfrosted carrot cupcake while scrolling through social media and various shopping websites. Baby is the joy of my life and I like staying home with him, but I also can't wait to get back to my job, which I love, and a bigger paycheck, which I also love!
7 p.m. — N. does the bedtime routine and I take the dog for a walk while listening to Someone Knows Something.
7:30 p.m. — Leftover steak, salad, and oven chips for dinner while watching garbage TV. I have a glass of white wine. We clean up, feed the animals, and go up to bed. Skincare done, baby gets a feed at 10:30, and I fall asleep.
Daily Total: $0
If you are experiencing anxiety or depression and need support, please call the National Depressive/Manic-Depressive Association Hotline at 1-800-826-3632 or the Crisis Call Center’s 24-hour hotline at 1-775-784-8090.
Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women's experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.
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The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day. For more money diaries, click here.
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