Money Diaries

A UK Expat In Sydney, On A $110,000 AUD Salary

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 portfolio director who makes $110,000 a year spends some of her money this week on a session with a sex and relationship therapist.
Occupation: Portfolio Director
Industry: Events
Age: 30
Location: Double Bay, Sydney
My Salary: $110,000 + super
Net Worth: $104,500 ($25,000 in savings, $18,000 in super, $1,500 in shares and $60,000 of equity in a property that I own with my ex-boyfriend in London. His parents were incredibly generous and gifted him a hefty deposit, so we bought an apartment together and split the equity in proportion to what we were contributing. My current partner and I don’t live together, but we’ve just opened an account that we share to make our joint spending much less complicated. We take turns putting $1,500 into that account, usually every 6 weeks or so). 
Debt: $389,000 ($354,000 left to pay on my mortgage, split equally with my ex-partner. I also have $35,000 left to pay on my UK student loan. I was only planning on moving to Australia for a year or two and never got around to arranging repayments from overseas, so I haven’t paid off anything since I moved here in 2017!).
My Paycheque Amount (Monthly): $6,796
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses

Rent: $1,126. I live with two housemates in an old but lovely apartment with a gorgeous view of the water — I'm so lucky! My rent is $70 cheaper a month than it should be as we rent out our car space.
Streaming (Spotify, Binge, Apple TV, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Stan): $34.98. I have free access to a couple of accounts via my boyfriend and pay for the rest.
Good Pair Days: $100. I started my Good Pair Days subscription during lockdown and loved it. I love that I get to try new wines and that it’s flexible — I can pause it when I’ve got too many bottles to get through. 
Centr: $10. This was another subscription that I started during lockdown. I love their variety of recipes and at-home workouts.
Cloud Storage: $3 
Wifi: $30
Phone: $40
Electricity: $150 (approx.) every three months. 

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

I went to University in the UK, where it’s much more common to move away from home to a new city to study. My family was low-income, so I got a student loan and qualified for some grants to cover the cost of my tuition and rent. My estranged grandparents on my dad’s side of the family gave me approximately $1,800 a year to contribute towards rent. I also had a part-time job throughout my second and third years, working in the student union bar to further support myself.

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

My parents both have learning difficulties so my grandparents were very hands-on with raising me. As a working-class family, the only conversations we really had about finances were about how much things cost and saving up for our holidays. My mum also had difficulty managing her finances, so she'd often get herself into debt — paying the credit card bill became a monthly topic of conversation.

But from a financial education standpoint, the very few conversations we had were about me working hard, earning my own money and saving up to buy or pay for things. I still very much live in the present moment from a financial perspective and save what I can. Admittedly, that's not much at the moment, but it's something I'm working to change.

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

When I was 14, I started working for a sports photography company that one of my friends worked for. I really wanted some of that independence that came with earning my own money. I also wanted to avoid putting any further financial stress on my family when I wanted to buy a new top or go out with friends. I worked one full day every weekend (starting at 6am and finishing around 6pm), sometimes two if I needed the extra money.

Did you worry about money growing up?

We did. That’s not to say that we went without, but money and how much things cost or how expensive they were was always front of mind. It was me, Mum, Nan and Grandad in our household. My mum worked as a waitress and my nan didn’t work. They were both quite frivolous with what money they did have, but my grandad had two jobs and worked incredibly hard to support us. This meant we could still go out for dinners every once in a while and get a week or two in Spain each year. He was also incredibly thrifty, which meant that they managed to pay off the mortgage, taking a big burden off.

Do you worry about money now?

I do, not in the immediate day-to-day sense, but in terms of supporting myself in the future. I've had a bumpy couple of years — my salary was reduced during Covid and I had to take money out of my super. I also needed to set myself up again after a big break up, bringing with it post-break-up spending splurges and even new relationship spending splurges! My savings have taken a bit of a hit, so I’m now trying to start to think more consciously about my long-term financial goals and get back on track.
The world of investing is totally alien to me, so I’m trying to educate myself on how to select and manage a portfolio. Being from the UK, superannuation still baffles me. I'm trying to understand how to maximise that potential, too.
My new partner earns a lot more than I do. We haven’t discussed exact figures, but it's probably three times my salary (as a ballpark). While he does often treat me to a coffee or occasional dinner, we try to split our expenditure evenly using our joint account. In this sense, I worry about being able to keep up with him.

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

I became financially responsible for myself the day I left home at 18 to go to university, which was a three-hour drive away. I managed my loan and grant money to ensure I had enough to pay rent, buy food and buy books. I also worked part-time to ensure I had enough money to be able to enjoy my experience there too. I moved back home after university. Being from London meant that I had the luxury of being able to take a ten-week unpaid internship while paying minimal rent to my family. When they offered me a full-time role at the end of my internship, I left home again and moved in with three friends from university who had also moved to London.

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

My ex and I rent out our apartment in London. After covering our mortgage repayment and any property maintenance, we end up making approximately $500 a year each.

Day 1

7:00am — Wake up with a fuzzy mouth and a sore head. My boyfriend and I had dinner out last night, heading back to his after, where we polished off a bottle of wine. Not ideal mid-week antics! I snooze for another 20 minutes.
7:20am — Finally muster the energy to get out of bed and realise that today is hair wash day, devo. I shower, get ready for work and iron a white linen shirt for work using my boyfriend’s new steamer (such a great buy!). My boyfriend and I work together, so we get the bus and train into work ($4.86), stopping for coffee along the way. I get a decaf almond latte which is $5.50 but it’s my boyfriend’s treat this morning. $4.86 
9:45am — My hangover is still lingering, so I head out for a second coffee (I know it’s decaf, but I still love the ritual!). I also grab a naughty cheese and ham croissant, which my boyfriend and I share. I shout coffees for my boyfriend and two of our co-workers — $27.
12:00pm — The effects of the croissant start to wear off and my tummy starts to rumble. I pop over to the sushi counter at the Woolies opposite my office and get some sushi, edamame beans and a kombucha ($19). I ordinarily try to bring my lunch in but I’ve fallen out of the routine this week. Disclaimer: I spend a pretty penny on kombuchas. $19
1:00pm — I’m working through some historical issues in my romantic relationships. Today, I have my monthly session with my amazing sex and relationship therapist via Zoom ($180). I head to one of the spare meeting rooms in the office and get started. $180 
2:00pm — My boyfriend and I got his sister a boozy painting class for Christmas, which we finally book. It comes to $180 for the three of us and he books it using our joint account — $90 for my share. $90
5:30pm — The boyf and I head to the pub for a cheeky drink before going our separate ways for the evening. I buy us each a glass of wine ($20), then grab the bus home ($2.48). $22.48
6:30pm — I swing by Woolies to grab some groceries for dinner tonight on my way home — a butter bean Nicoise salad that I got the recipe for on the Centr fitness app. I’ve been trying to experiment with new, healthy recipes the last few weeks and Centr has heaps of them! I buy green beans, an onion, tomatoes, rocket and butter beans — $8.
7:45pm — I accidentally fell asleep on my bed for 20 minutes and wake up realising that I should probably make dinner. I make two portions of the salad using the ingredients I bought earlier, plus some potatoes and olives I already had at home. Now I have a quick, easy lunch ready to go for tomorrow, too! It’s delicious and it feels good to get some veggies in me. 
8:30pm — My housemates and I watch the final two episodes of And Just Like That and then I retire to bed to watch an episode of The Bold Type before getting some shut-eye. 
Daily Total: $351.34

Day 2

6:50am — I work from home on Fridays, so I try to go for a walk in the morning to get some steps in. This morning I'm still feeling exhausted, so I turn off my alarm and treat myself to an extra-long snooze.
8:50am — I wake up suddenly realising that I start work in ten minutes. Oops! I quickly shower, brush my teeth and pull on some activewear before sitting down at my desk at 9:03am — phew. 
11:00am — I finish an hour-long session with a coach I’m working with (the sessions are pro-bono for their next qualification, which is amazing!). I feel a bit peckish, so I whip up a chocolate protein smoothie with banana, cocoa, collagen, flax, chia seeds, almond milk and peanut butter powder. 
12:00pm — I head off for a reformer Pilates class down the road which I booked using credit from a 10-pack I bought a while back. I bought it when there was an offer, making the classes $18 each instead of $28. Thank you, earlier me!
1:00pm — I get back home and have my leftover salad for lunch while catching up on emails, counting down the hours until it’s officially the weekend. Not long to go! 
4:30pm — I call it a day and head to my local nail salon for my usual SNS removal and manicure ($66). I’m a recovering nail biter and used to get my nails done religiously every two weeks to keep the nibbling at bay. I’m trying to stretch that out to three weeks now to save some cash. This time around, my nails lasted three weeks and four days — score! Yes, there was a serious regrowth gap, but think of the savings! $66
6:30pm — I was meant to head over to the bf's place for a night in with takeaway and I Love You Man (Paul Rudd, what a guy), but I'm not feeling well so I opt to stay home instead. It's raining (obvs) so getting Deliveroo is a nightmare. My go-to Zambrero is unavailable, so I opt for a naughty Domino's instead — $30. 
10:00pm — After a night of feeling sorry for myself and bingeing The Bold Type, I head to bed to get a good night's sleep. I can't resist putting on one more episode before calling it a night. 
Daily Total: $96

Day 3

9:50am — I slept awfully so treat myself to a lie-in. I drag myself out of bed and hop in the shower for the full shebang — exfoliate, shave and hair mask. I'm going to a BBQ with my boyfriend's family today, so I get ready for the day and put on a nice, family-appropriate dress. I squeeze in some life admin (hello, late tax return!) before I have to leave. 
12:15pm — The boyfriend swings by in an Uber on the way to the BBQ to pick me up. He insists on paying for the Uber as he’d be getting it anyway. I take a bottle of sparkling Shiraz with me that I'd bought on a trip to Berry a few months ago — his family loves a sparkling Shiraz! We arrive at his sister's for a full day of consuming our weight in bubbles, cheese and seafood. Yum. 
9:00pm — After an entire day of eating and drinking, we do The Saturday Quiz as a collective (ten minds are better than one, but we still only get to 11 points) before my boyfriend, his cousin and her boyfriend decide to head to a cocktail bar in the city on our way home. What could go wrong? My boyfriend's cousin shouts the Uber cost. 
11:00pm — I probably didn't need those extra two cocktails after a full day of vino but drunk me thought it was a great idea. My boyfriend pays for our share of the bill on our joint card ($86 in total but $43 for my share). He then grabs us an Uber back to his where we hit the hay for a merry, drunken sleep. $43
Daily Total: $43

Day 4

8:30am — Needless to say, my head hurts. Big time. But I need to get up and ready as I've got a big day at the Easter Show with my two housemates today. The Easter Show on a hangover — what was I thinking?! 
9:30am — My boyfriend drops me home. I make a speedy turnaround and head out with my two housemates. I grab a pack of melon (great for hydration) plus a bag of salt and vinegar crisps (carbs are life) from Coles ($5.89) before hopping on the train. We get free train travel to Olympic Park with our tickets that we bought a few weeks ago at the early bird price. $5.89
1:00pm — It's my first time at the Easter Show and I am amazed and overwhelmed in equal measure. After a morning of perusing the stands, stroking kittens and hugging sheep and goats, we grab a snack. I opt for buttered corn on the cob — $6.
2:45pm — We work up an appetite again with lots more walking and stop to pick up another snack — this time, a chip on a stick with chicken salt. Another Aussie delicacy ticked off my bucket list since moving here from the UK four years ago! I pay for us, but the others transfer me for their share straight away — $15.
3:00pm — It's ride time! We pre-purchased 120 credits when we bought our early bird tickets (thank you, earlier us!) so we spend the next couple of hours hopping (read: queuing) between rides. I manage to not throw up which is a massive win, especially on a hangover. 
5:00pm — We head over to the dog show before making our way over to the dreaded show bag hall. I'm a sucker for this stuff and buy one for myself (a hat, sunglasses, skirt and bag —$32) and an NRL one for my boyfriend ($30). We bleed green, Raiders for life! $62
6:00pm — We grab some dinner ($15) (is there anything better than pasta from a cheese wheel?) before making our way over to the arena for the evening entertainment and fireworks, which are surprisingly very good! $15
8:50pm — We're exhausted after a big day and want to leave before the end to beat the crowds, so we head home using our free travel ticket. 
10:15pm — We get home, say goodnight and jump straight into bed, exhausted after a day of wholesome fun. 
Daily Total: $103.89

Day 5

8:15am — The weekend flew by — I can't believe it's already Monday! Luckily, Monday is a WFH day so I get up and get ready for my first call of the day at 8:30am. No pre-work walk for me again today, oops. 
10:30am — I've been on calls all morning and am feeling a bit peckish, so I make a cup of hot cocoa and collagen powder. I know it sounds strange but I love it! 
12:15pm — The sun is shining and I'm determined to make the most of it. I head out for a 45-minute walk, swinging by Woolies on my way home to grab some groceries for lunch and dinner this week. I grab some fish, lots of veggies, tins of beans and chopped tomatoes and a multipack of kombucha— $59.35.
1:10pm — I'm taking a slightly longer lunch today but I figure I started 30 mins early, so screw it! I make a big tuna and feta salad to have for lunch today and two other days this week — #mealprep. It feels good to get some veggies in me after my indulgent weekend. 
3:30pm — It's time for my daily kombucha to break up the afternoon and give me a little hit of sweetness. Today's flavour of choice: mango. 
5:00pm — I head to another reformer Pilates class with another credit I bought ages ago, and then make my way to my boyfriend's house for dinner. I'm trying to cut down on Uber spending, so I walk to the station and get a train, then a bus ($4.68). Good thing I have today's Wordle to keep me occupied! $4.68
6:45pm — I arrive at my boyfriend's to find him cooking us a lovely dinner. I hop in the shower, we eat dinner at the table and then snuggle up to finally watch I Love You Man after I bailed on Friday. We may or may not consume an entire bag of sweet buttery popcorn while we watch…
9:50pm — The movie ends and luckily it was a hit — he loved it. I have a track record of picking films that are pretty bad, so this choice redeems me a little. We get ready for bed and read for a while before hitting the hay. 
Daily Total: $64.03

Day 6

7:15am — We get up and get ready for work. The boyfriend is driving in today as he has some errands to run later, which means I get a free ride to work! I'm in meetings from 8.30am — 11am, so I make myself a cup of hot cocoa when we get to the office to set myself up for the morning ahead.
12:30pm — We're going to Sri Lanka for ten days later this week, so I head into the city to pick up some bits that I need — a new activewear set for a hike we have planned and a new concealer ($132.05), as well as some toiletries for the trip, including two bottles of insect repellent because mozzies hunt me down ($42.95). On the way back to the office, I take a new pair of trousers to an alterations place to get them shortened so I can wear them on the trip ($28). $203
1:40pm — I’m back at the office and tuck into the meal-prepped salad that I brought in from home. 
3:30pm — It's kombucha time again! I grab one from the fridge from the multipack I bought last week and treat myself to some crispy chickpeas from the little snack shop we have in our office — $1.
5:15pm — I call it a day and decide to walk home to get some steps in and listen to a podcast as it's not raining. 
6:15pm — I get home and head straight to the kitchen to get my cook on. I make oven-baked green Thai curry fish with veggies for dinner tonight and tomorrow night. While that's in the oven, I batch cook four portions of bean chilli to have in the freezer ready to go. I am really vibing the meal prep! 
7:45pm — While I eat dinner, my housemate and I watch this week's Grey's Anatomy — our happy place. 18 seasons in and we're both still obsessed. We love you, Meredith Grey. 
8:45pm — I clean up the rest of the bits from my cooking sesh and start preparing things for my trip including downloading some content for the plane (Bridgerton, I'm coming for you) and buying my new book club book on my Kindle — $10.
10:00pm — Nothing says bedtime like a bit of mindless scrolling for 30 minutes.
Daily Total: $214

Day 7

7:15am — My alarm goes off and I'm up and rearing to go. I shower and get ready for the day.
8:30am — I have a site visit at a venue for one of our work events later in the year, so I order an Uber to meet my boss there. It's $24, but I'll expense it later. $24
9:30am — Site visit done! My boss drives us back to the office and I catch up on some emails.
10:30am — I'm feeling peckish, so I make my standard hot cocoa with collagen and buy a bliss ball from the snack station in the office ($2.80). Today's flavour is peanut butter and dark chocolate. Name a better combo. $2.80
11:15am — Time for another site visit at a different venue. I Uber there and back ($31 in total) but will expense both later. $31
12.30pm — I've got a couple more errands to run before the boyfriend and I go on holiday tomorrow, so I nip back into the city. I pick up the trousers I dropped off for altering yesterday, nab a bottle of Sunbum sunscreen ($17) and a long-sleeved top to wear on our hike in case it gets chilly ($29). $46
1:30pm — I rush back to the office and plate up the tuna salad I prepared earlier this week. I dig this meal prep life. 
2:30pm — The office manager organises a little office social with an array of hot cross buns ahead of the Easter weekend. I'm in between meetings but grab a cheeky chocolate HCB on my way. It's delicious but I regret not toasting it in my rush. Rookie error. 
5:30pm — I've been in back-to-back calls and meetings all afternoon, so I call it a day and grab the bus home. It's pouring with rain (when isn't it these days?) but my bus stop is opposite my office and it comes straight away — $2.48.
6:00pm — I get home, say hello to my housemates and get straight into packing for my holiday. I spend an hour planning my outfits (I create a note on my phone with all my options planned out so I know exactly what outfit choices I have, don't judge me). 
7:20pm — I give myself a break from packing and reheat the Thai green fish and veggie bake I made yesterday. I eat on the sofa and treat myself to an episode of Friends for some mindless entertainment, but spend the whole episode thinking about what else I can't forget to pack. 
8:00pm — I’m back to holiday prep now — it's time for the packing cubes to make an appearance. This is very serious business.
10:30pm — Okay, packing done! Almost... I've made a small pile of things that need to be packed tomorrow morning — final toiletries, chargers, makeup etc. I get into bed and our cat joins me for a cosy snuggle, which he rarely does. I turn off the lights and drift off to the sound of his gentle purr. 
Daily Total: $106.28
Money Diaries are meant to reflect an individual's experience and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behaviour.