Money Diaries

A Week In Darwin, Northern Territory, On A $488,000 AUD 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 penny.

Today: a planning coordinator on a joint income of $488,000 who spends some of her money this week on a HelloFresh box.
Occupation: Planning Coordinator
Industry: Media
Age: 34
Location: Darwin, Northern Territory
My Salary: $93,000
My Partner's Salary: $395,000. He's the general manager of a business.
Net Worth: $164,225 ($25,000 in personal savings, $112,000 in superannuation, $12,000 in joint savings with my partner, $42,450 in a joint share portfolio with my partner.)
Debt: I have a Qantas credit card and use it for points, but I always try to pay it off immediately.
My Paycheque Amount (Fortnightly): $2,708
My Partner's Paycheque Amount (Monthly): I think it works out to be about $17,000 per month, once super and HECs are taken out. 
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses

Rent: $3,000 ($750 a week, paid for from our joint account. My partner and I live in a 3-bedroom apartment in Darwin city. We opted for a 3-bedroom so we have a spare room for guests and a home office. It's very close to bars, restaurants, gym and work.)
Phone: $80
Private Health Insurance: $110

Paid from our joint account
Netflix: $16.99
Spotify: $11.99
Busuu: $14.95
Gym: $82
Internet: $80
Power: $900 — $1,200 per quarter. Our power bills are SO expensive because we run the aircon whenever we're at home.
Savings Contributions: My partner and I both contribute to joint spending and split our savings between a bank account and a share portfolio. Our contribution amount is determined by a % of our salary. This works out to be 22% into joint spending and 25% into joint savings.

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

I went to Tafe and completed an Advanced Diploma of Event Management. My parents paid for this course, which cost $6,500 at the time.

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

I don't remember having in-depth conversations about finances with my parents, but it's something I definitely want to do with my children. That being said, I had a lot of things instilled in me at an early age — the value of money, working hard, and appreciating how much things cost. Lessons were learnt this way.

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

I started working at my local IGA when I was 16 [years old] and stayed until I finished Tafe when I was 19. I really wanted a job so I could spend my own money on clothes and makeup. I've always been quite independent and I've always been a spender. Looking back, I wish I started saving at a younger age (hindsight is 20/20!). Having financial freedom has always been important to me — I like to be able to spend my money how I want and when I want.

Did you worry about money growing up? 

No, not at all. It was something I definitely took for granted as a child but I can fully appreciate it now as an adult.

Do you worry about money now? 

Not really. My partner and I both have stable jobs and a decent amount of savings between us. We're planning on pulling it all together to buy an investment property in the next year or so. He earns a lot more than me, and one of the most difficult things for me to do has been to accept that we don't have to split everything 50/50. This is why we contribute a percentage of our salaries into our joint savings.

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

I was 19 when I moved out of home for the first time. Up until then, I didn't pay board or contribute to the household at all really.

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


Day 1

6:10am — I wake up to my alarm. It's still dark outside and it's raining. It's been raining nonstop for the past two weeks — the joys of living in a tropical climate with only two seasons: hot, wet and humid AF! I snooze for ten, which sneaks into another ten. I'm eventually forced out of bed by the not so subtle ache of period pain, so I go on the hunt for Panadol. I take two with a glass of water, boil the kettle to make a hot water bottle and put some bread in the toaster. In an attempt to cut back on spending, we've been making cold brew coffee at home and only buying coffee on weekends. It's actually been going really well — we just buy ground coffee beans every couple of weeks from a local cafe that has a really good selection. The beans cost between $15 — $25 a bag usually, and we get about twelve coffees out of it. It works out way cheaper than forking out $5 at a cafe each morning. I make two serves of peanut butter toast, one with banana for me, one sans banana for the boyfriend, D., and make a mental note of what needs tidying up. 
7:00am — We have a rental inspection today, so after breaky, I vacuum, wipe the benches, make sure the bathrooms are clean, and delegate bed-making to D. He heads off to work and I rearrange the pillows on the bed in the way that I like them.
8:00am — My workday begins. I’m working from home today, so I'm makeup-free and wearing a loose tee and bike shorts. Darwin has been mostly unaffected by Covid so up until recently, I'd been going into the office as per usual throughout most of the pandemic. But with numbers steadily rising here and work wanting to keep numbers in the office to a minimum, I'm doing 3 — 4 days a week at home and only spending 1 or 2 days in the office. It's a really nice balance.
8:05am — Today is already shaping up to be a shit show. My inbox is full of urgent requests, meeting requests and my team chat is blowing up. 
9:25am — The real estate agent arrives for our rental inspection. She's in and out in under 10 minutes and I wonder why I bothered vacuuming... 
12:45pm — D., asks how my day is going and I burst into tears (thanks, hormones!). My mornings have been pretty average, and I feel overwhelmed. I’ve recently taken on a lot more responsibility at work, and today is just one of those days I second guess my abilities. He walks in the door 10 minutes later with a poke bowl for me to have for lunch and I cry again. That cry quickly turns into a laugh because I'm very aware of how ridiculous I'm being, but it's been one of those mornings. I'm lucky that we live and work in Darwin city as his office is a 5-minute drive from our apartment, so he often comes home for lunch on the days I'm WFH. I talk about my morning, he talks about his and then he heads back to work. 
3:00pm — It's payday! I go back to my desk and move some money around. We have a joint everyday account that we use for groceries and bills, as well as a joint account that we both deposit money into, based on a percentage of our salary. I transfer $600 into our everyday spending and $700 into our joint savings. I pay what's remaining on my phone bill — $50 — and transfer $400 into my personal savings.  
4:15pm — Skipping the gym today and going to the hairdresser instead. I arrive on time and of course, they're running late. I don't like afternoon appointments because the chance of delays increases exponentially. My hairdresser is lovely as always and super apologetic, adding a free treatment to apologise. It's nice in theory but just adds more delays to my getting home time. I get my usual part line foils, toner, free treatment, cut and blow-dry — $218.
7:30pm — I'm still kind of full from the poke bowl at lunch, so I make myself some yoghurt and blueberries for dinner, while D. makes himself tuna and rice. It's a très gourmet evening.
8:30pm — After a shower, I do a face mask and settle in to watch some TV. Distracted, I pick up my phone, scroll Insta, and check emails. Just before Christmas, I unsubscribed from a lot of mailing lists to try and curb my online shopping habits. I've kept a select few and see an email in my inbox from one of my fave brands who have a sale for 40% off dresses. I go to the website to see if a dress I've been lusting after is included in the sale. It is, bringing it down to $149.95. Do I need it? No. This site also doesn't offer refunds, so I close the tab, delete the email, put my phone down, and breathe.
10.00pm — Time for bed. Two more panadol to curb the dull pain that’s growing in my uterus. Pop some lavender oil in the diffuser, and it's lights out. 
Daily Total: $218

Day 2

6:20am — I wake up to my alarm, do my morning routine, and make some oats with blueberries for breakfast. I contemplate going into the office, but decide to work from home instead. D. is working from home as well so we scissor, paper, rock to see who gets the office and who will be relegated to the dining table. Regardless of the outcome, I always get the office. My job is detail-heavy and requires me to work across multiple programs, so working off a bigger screen is necessary. The good news is that today should be a bit more chill than yesterday — I have a couple of meetings and one deadline to make, but it should be a good day. The cleaner is also booked to come at 11am today. It's pretty poorly timed considering the rental inspection was yesterday, but it means I don't have to scramble and do a pre-clean before they arrive. Our cleaner comes once every two or three weeks to do a deeper, more thorough clean than either D. or I ever do.
11:00am — The cleaner arrives, and I take the opportunity to pop out to get us coffee — $12.00 for two iced long blacks. It's hot and humid. I give mum a quick call on my way back home, just to say hi. I miss all my family and friends, but her especially. But after two years of living up here, it’s become so much easier. I'm a Sydney girl, born and bred, so living in Darwin is absolutely not something I’d ever imagined I’d be doing. Yet here I am, loving it. 95% of the time it’s really great — there's no traffic and I get to explore parts of Australia I've never seen and meet some incredible people. The other 5% is missing birthdays, new babies, and little things like family dinners. That sucks. $12
12:45pm — The house smells fresh and looks sparkling clean. The cleaner is $120, paid for from our joint spending account. It's worth every cent. I cut up an apple and have some crackers with butter and vegemite for lunch then get back to work. $120
4:45pm — The afternoon flies by. I log off for the week — yay! I get changed and head to the gym.
6:30pm — It's Friday night and I have no plans. Having decided neither of us can be bothered to cook, D. and I head to the pub for dinner and a cute little date night. We spend a lot of time together during the week, but we like to make time for proper dates as well.  I order the eye fillet ($35), D. orders the wagyu rump ($45), and we share a nice bottle of red ($140). D. pays.
8:20pm — We settle in on the couch to watch a movie. We watch The Power of the Dog as a friend has recommended it, but 10 minutes in I can tell D. is going to hate it. Nevertheless, we persist.
10:50pm —  That was way longer than I had mentally prepared myself for, but I actually really enjoy the movie. Plus, D. doesn't end up hating it — a win!
Daily Total: $132

Day 3

6:15am — I wake up at my usual ‘too early for a Saturday morning' time and after about 15 minutes of mindlessly scrolling Instagram, I decide to go for a walk before it gets too hot. Living in Darwin is sometimes like living on the sun, so I try to do any outdoor activities early. I get up, get dressed, and get out the door. 
7:45am — Walk done — it's disgusting outside. I'm very sweaty but glad I made the most of my early rise. On the way home, I stop in at the cafe near my apartment and order two iced long blacks ($9). Because my willpower is lacking, I also grab a jam doughnut for D. and I to share for morning tea ($6). Once I'm home, I have a shower and wash my hair. $15
9:25am — I make some Weetbix and banana for breaky, and D. and I go through an online Japanese language course together (Busuu — covered in our monthly expenses). We both love Japan and want to get back there as soon as travel becomes easier, but for now, here we are, learning Hiragana.
10:00am — While D. works on a pitch, I do two loads of washing, change the sheets and take the rubbish out. We have some friends coming over this arvo, so I’ve planned a Mexican feast. I head to Woolies to get everything I need. On the menu this evening: guacamole, chile con queso, corn salad, pickled cabbage salad, pulled chicken tacos and black bean and chorizo tacos. I also need limes, watermelon and jalapenos for margaritas. My total comes to $135, paid for using our joint spending account. We have tequila, gin and plenty of wine at home, so there's no need to go to the bottle shop. $135
11:30am — I get home, put some music on, and start to prep everything for tonight so I can just heat everything up when my guests arrive. I juice the limes and the watermelon — margaritas are good to go! Then, I fill up the ice maker and turn it on (revolutionary). We got it as a Christmas gift and it truly is a gamechanger. Endless ice cubes, and perfect for entertaining.
2:00pm — The doorbell rings, our friends arrive and the margs are flowing!
Daily Total: $150

Day 4

7:30am — I wake up feeling a little dusty, not hungover, but by no means fresh. D. makes blueberry pancakes for breaky while I head over to the café near our apartment for coffees — two iced long blacks ($12). The heat in Darwin makes hangovers feel so much worse! $12
12:00pm — After realising I’ve been watching Love is Blind on Netflix for the past four hours, I start to feel a bit peckish. I heat up leftover Mexican from last night. It tastes just as good as it did yesterday, maybe even better!
3:45pm — I get my shit together and head to the gym. I really don’t feel like it but I’ve barely moved all day and going to the gym on Sunday is the best because it’s so quiet. There are four other cars in the car park and every machine is available! I’ve been doing a lot more weight training recently and love how I can feel myself getting stronger every week.  
6:00pm — Agreeing that it’s a fish and chip kind of night, D. and I drive to our favourite place, Frying Nemo, to pick up some takeaway. We both get the grilled barramundi, and share hot chips, coleslaw and a 6 pack of panko-crumbed calamari rings. D. pays and I find us a table.
8:00pm — Back on the couch with my LED mask on to watch one more episode of Love Is Blind before bed. I pick up my phone, mindlessly scroll through the Adore Beauty and Mecca apps to see what's new. I put my phone down before I impulse purchase another Charlotte Tilbury lipstick.
10.00pm — I put lavender oil in the diffuser and it's lights out.
Daily Total: $12

Day 5

6:20am — My alarm goes off and I get up quickly to avoid any snoozing. I usually spend about 10 to 15 minutes stretching each morning — I either do my own thing or log into Fluidform at home, which is a subscription for at-home Pilates. I'm heading into the office today, so I shower, do my skincare, and get dressed. I make myself some oats, pour my cold brew and have breaky while scrolling Instagram.
8:15am — In the office and after doing my morning round of hellos, I check my emails and prioritise my day — I love making lists and checking things off as I go. I usually plan my week on Mondays, noting down deadlines and paperwork that needs to be processed.
10:56am — I have a fairly productive morning and I'm tracking well for the rest of the day — great! I head to the café across the road with a friend and we get a coffee each ($6). She wants to whinge about work, and I happily support her. $6
12:45pm — Having left my lunch at home, I head out to get something to eat. Not too far from work, there's a place that does really yummy salads. Annoyingly, they only take cash, so I withdraw $20 from the ATM and buy a tuna rissole and a small salad — half bean, half carrot ($11.50). I walk past the chocolate shop, and get myself a little afternoon treat — a dark chocolate coated licorice log ($2.50). $14
3:00pm — D. calls to let me know our Hello Fresh box has arrived. We dip in and out of our Hello Fresh subscription. I love cooking but only when I have hours to do so. I also hate thinking of what to make for dinner every night, so it's pretty handy sometimes. This week, we’ve got three meals which come in at $75.93, coming out of our joint spending account. $75.93
4.30pm — Gym time.
5.55pm — I arrive home, shower and get ready for dinner. D. and I take turns at cooking and tonight, he’s up. We have a veggie enchilada dish, it’s pretty tasty. After dinner, we go through a couple of Japanese modules on Busuu.
Daily Total: $95.93

Day 6

7:45am — It's a slower start today and I struggle to get out of bed. I oversleep, so have to go through a mad dash to get out of the door on time. D. drops me at the café near my work and I grab a coffee and toast with peanut butter ($12). $12
12:50pm — It’s one of those days. I’ve been in meetings all morning and now I’m starving. I have some tuna and rice in my work drawer but walk down to Woolies to get some broccolini to accompany it ($2.50). $2.50
4:45pm — I finish work and walk down to the post office to collect a few parcels that have accumulated over the past week. One of the parcels is a pair of pants I bought a couple of weeks ago. I’d had my eye on these pants for months from a New Zealand site I’ve come to love, Superette. They're high waisted, wide-legged and chocolate brown. I'd been eyeing them off for a while, so when I saw that they were reduced from $259 to $129, I bought them immediately. Pants can be a tricky thing to buy online, so I mentally prepare myself for a return.
5:00pm — Gym!
6:15pm — Home to cook Hello Fresh. It's my turn tonight and we’ve got chicken schnitzel and salad. I whip it up in about 35 minutes. It's an easy, straightforward recipe and ends up being a crowd-pleaser.
7:30pm — I shower and do my skincare, then before I get into my pyjamas, I try on my new pants. They fit like a glove and I'm in love! The colour is perfect, the length is perfect — I honestly can’t fault them. However, there is one problem... I look them up and see that these pants also come in black, but aren't on sale. I need them, obviously. How often do you find the most perfect pant?
8:23pm — D. and I do a couple of the Busuu modules — learning Japanese is hard, but super rewarding when you notice yourself recognising Hiragana and can understand more words and phrases.
9:50pm — Time for bed.
Daily Total: $14.50

Day 7

6:25am — My alarm goes off and I jump out of bed with ease today. I start my morning routine, stretch, shower, and do my skincare. I pop two bagels in the toaster — one for me and one for D — and top them with cream cheese. I munch on it and scroll through Instagram.
7:45am — D. drops me to work, and we stop and get two iced long blacks on the way ($12). I set myself a reminder to make more cold brew this afternoon — I keep forgetting so we’re back in the routine of buying coffee. $12
10:35am — I can’t stop thinking about the pants. They’re perfect; the fit, the fabric, everything about them. I go back and forth in my head justifying the price. They are everything you could want in a pair of black pant and are literally called the 'Hero Pant'. I justify the purchase in my head — they’re a wardrobe staple, they’ll get a lot of wear. I look on the Superette website and add a pair in my size to my cart.
11:58am — I buy the pants. $259
12:17pm — D. picks me up and we go out for a poke bowl. I order the salmon ($18), he gets the chicken ($16), and we both get a cold green tea ($8). He pays, using our joint account. I tell him that I bought the pants I was talking about yesterday. He rolls his eyes and asks why I need another pair of black pants when I have at least three other pairs of black pants at home. I explain the difference between the three pairs I have and this pair, going into detail about why they're so perfect. He quickly realises there’s no point going any further with this. He knows me very well and knows I’m a spender, so he’s definitely not surprised I bought the pants. However, we're trying to save more so I do understand his questioning. I’ve definitely got a lot better as I’ve gotten older, making sure I buy quality items that I know I’ll wear and not jumping on the latest craze or trend.  While we’re at lunch, we run into some colleagues of his that are up from Sydney and make plans to meet them for dinner tonight. I’d rather not go out for dinner on a Wednesday (especially with D.’s work friends), but I smile and agree to go. $42
4:25pm — I finish work and walk home through the mall to see if the florist is open. My brother and his girlfriend are visiting from Sydney this weekend, so I want to get some flowers for the guest room. The florist has a few orchid stems ($85 per stem… uhhh, no) and not much else. Flowers can be ridiculously hard to get up in Darwin, especially in the wet season. Nothing grows locally (okay, that’s an exaggeration), and I miss tulips, poppies and peonies.
5:00pm — I shower, wash my hair, and get ready to head out for dinner as we're meeting everyone at the yacht club at 6pm.
7:00pm — D. heads up to the bar to place everyone’s orders and buy another round of beers. Because we’re out with work people, he pays on his company card — a free dinner!
 10:05pm — Lavender oil in the diffuser and it's lights out.
Daily Total: $313
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