Money Diaries

A Week In Adelaide, South Australia, On A $95,000 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.
Currency written in AUD
Occupation: Senior Analyst
Industry: Federal Government
Age: 29
Location: Adelaide, South Australia
My Salary: $95,000
Net Worth: $208,000 in super and $550 in an investment account I've recently set up for my three little siblings and my two baby niblets. I'll be steadily adding to this over the next 15-20 years to help them with the expenses of becoming an adult (like moving out of home, buying a car, uni etc).
Debt: $1,400 on ZipPay (Yes, I'm an idiot — an idiot that decided she really, really, realllllly needed a bunch of camping gear!). $5,000 for a car that I'm salary sacrificing and will owe money on when the lease is up at the start of 2025. $6,500 in credit card debt, thanks to an emotionally and financially abusive ex-fiancé. (He wouldn’t let me take anything with me when I left, despite both our finances being joined since we met five years previously. It's a lesson I’ve learnt the hard way, and in the future, I won’t be joining finances with a partner. I had to take out $13k in loans to move, pay ‘my half’ of our debts, and buy necessary household items. I was also paying half of his rent for eight months after I moved out.)
Paycheque Amount (fortnightly): $2,470
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses

Rent: My half of the rent is $490 a fortnight. I share my place with one housemate who pays $340 a fortnight. I pay extra because I have the master bedroom. My housemate is a friend who could only afford a certain amount of rent per week, so I was happy to make up the difference when looking for rentals together. I also get free dog sitting from her when I go away which is a great bonus.
Loans: I pay $500 pre-tax and $230 post-tax for my car (this is already factored into my take-home pay). I have been really slack with paying the money back on my credit cards over the last two years. But my goal is to have them all paid off in the next four months. I’ve had a lot of social events this year and have been a bit (read — very) silly with my money. So now I’m paying anywhere between $1,200-$2,000 towards them each month. I also have $120 that goes towards my ZipPay. Thankfully, I paid off my HECS debt 18 months ago.
Gym: $40
Spotify: $12
Mobile: $20 (For both mine and my litter sister's phone)
Health Insurance: $86
Pet insurance: $53
Pet Food: $80
Contact lenses: $20
Beauty: $120 (For things like nails, laser, facials, hair etc.)
Wine Subscription: $60
Speeding fine repayment: $60
OneDrive Storage: $3
Binge: $10
Other Streaming Services: My housemate pays for our Disney+, I pay for Binge, and over AFL and AFLW season, we split the cost of KAYO ($25/month) as we both follow teams outside of our state and can't rely on free-to-air coverage. We also both have friends and family that use spare slots on our streaming apps.

The following expenses come out of a joint account my housemate and I have for our household bills:
Internet: $23
Streaming Services (Stan, Amazon Prime, Netflix): $23
Utilities: $125
Household Groceries: $20 (For things like toilet paper, cleaning supplies etc.)
Savings: I don’t make any regular savings contributions at the moment; I need to pay off my debts first.

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

Yes, I earned a Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice in 2016 through distance education. I completed it in 2.5 years while working full time, and paid for it using HECS. The repayments came out of my paycheque straight away as I was earning over the threshold. Work also contributed to about 75% of the bill as it was loosely related to my job.

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

We never really spoke about money. I grew up with a single mother who worked her ass off — usually with two jobs — to put me and my brother through private schools, so we always felt like we were part of the upper-middle class. She married a guy when I was about ten years old and between them, they had six kids (it was very Brady Bunch). After that, they couldn’t afford to send all of us to private school, so my little brother and I got shipped off to public school for the first time in our lives — I can tell you now that I did not appreciate that! Mum became a stay-at-home mum and her husband worked in a used car yard, earning about $55K a year. We started going to school in op-shop bought clothes and shoes. I remember being bullied for wearing trainers that still had the $1 price sticker on the soles.

After that, I did my best to make sure I never was in that position again — I hated being poor. I got scholarships to a number of private high schools in my town so I had the ‘status’ of going to a private school again. But I was never taught how to manage money, which is probably why I’ve made such poor decisions with money as an adult. I’ve always earned really good money for someone my age, but I’ve been binge spending for the last twelve years with nothing to show for it, except a healthy superannuation account. It's kind of like someone being on a celery diet for 17 years and then being placed in front of an all-you-can-eat seafood buffet.

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

My first job was working at a Chinese noodle box place when I was 14. It was cash in hand as I was under legal working age. I also picked up a few hours a week detailing cars at mum’s husband’s car yard, and I cleaned my grandparents’ house once a week as well. As I said, I hated being poor, so I worked three jobs. At 14, I was earning about $150 a week.

Did you worry about money growing up? 

I only worried about money when it became obvious that I had less of it than other people.

Do you worry about money now? 

Yes and no. I earn a very good wage. The only thing I worry about is being one disaster away from being up shit creek. One part of me is okay with that since you can’t take money with you when you die, so I’d rather live life to the fullest — travelling, drinking good wine and beer, eating delicious food, going to events and creating memories with my friends. The other part of me is aware of the societal pressures (owning a house means that you've nailed life, apparently), and I also don’t want to have children until I’m financially stable.

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

I became financially responsible for myself when I was 17 years old as I left home and joined the military, although I was 'paying rent' at home from the age of 16. My financial safety net is whatever limit I have on my credit cards. And one or two friends that are in a much better financial position than me that can lend me a few $$$ if I was ever in a really bad spot.

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

In 2012, my mum and father each received $70K from my little brother's death benefit. Mum used it to buy a house, which I eventually took over the mortgage for, and sold at a loss. My father gifted me $10K from his share of the death benefit, which was spent upgrading the 4WD accessories on my ex-fiance's car.

Day One

Content Warning — This entry contains mentions of possible child sex abuse.
8:00am — Wake up, take my antidepressant (Pristiq 100mg 1x a day), head to the kitchen to make a coffee and feed the dog and cat. I drink way too much coffee to be buying it from a café, so I have both regular instant coffee (Moccona hazelnut) and a pod machine at home and in the office. I'm working from home today, so I head back to bed and log onto my laptop and chuck on Red (Taylor’s Version) on Spotify for the 4th time since it came out 5 days ago… don’t @ me!
My day-to-day work involves mostly project work. Without going into too much detail, I’m currently focused on identifying people who are buying child-like sex dolls. It involves analysing large amounts of data and trying to find patterns that will help make identification quicker and easier. I also assist in finding the source of the dolls and hopefully shutting the place down if possible. It’s very rewarding work but it's also extremely mentally/soul exhausting. I put my hand up for this specific project as I was the only one in my team without children or any particular fondness for them, so I have been able to emotionally distance myself from some of the themes and images I have to deal with almost every day. I’m able to focus on the data alone as if it were any other commodity.
8:45am — I make another coffee, give up on using a regular mug and just fill up my large thermos. Two hours of sleep sucks.
11:15am — Decide to eat instant ramen for an early lunch/late breakfast. Sweeten the deal with some chocolate from the fridge as well. And another thermos of coffee for good measure.
1:20pm — Proper lunch break and I grab a bowl of the pesto pasta salad I meal prepped yesterday, then back to work.
4:15pm — Log off for the day. I found out this afternoon that my job transfer has been approved! It’s the same level, pay and even building, just a different role and team. I’m really excited to do something new! This new role involves more direct analytical support for real-life operations. Because of this, it will be a faster-paced work environment. To celebrate, I put on some trashy TV and pour myself a glass of prosecco that came with last month’s wine subscription. I don’t rate the prosecco. I’ll save the champagne celebration for Friday night.
6:00pm — Nighttime skincare routine — I use my Neutrogena cleanser as I’m not wearing any makeup (if I’m wearing makeup, I use St Ives Coconut Coffee Face Scrub instead), then The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution.
6:35pm — I treat myself to sushi and sashimi for dinner ($54), feed the animals and go to sleep early. $54
Daily Total: $54

Day Two

8:00am — I snoozed my alarm from 6:30am until 8am due to another night of poor sleep. I’m in the office today and thankfully I don’t have a set start/finish time — I just need to get my 8 hours in. I feed the animals, shower, do my morning skincare routine (Neutrogena acne face wash, SILK Vitamin B serum, Innisfree Green Tea Skin Balancing EX, and light mineral makeup), have a three-minute commute, and I’m at my desk by 8:30am and sipping my first instant coffee of the day.
9:30am — I have a coffee catch up with my new boss to discuss my transfer in more detail. He got the coffees last time, so I pay for both of ours this time. $12
10:45am — Time for another instant coffee. I’ll fit in as many as possible before my self-imposed cutoff at midday. I drink my coffee black so I don’t have to worry about “drinking my calories”, plus milk makes me feel icky.
11:40am — My housemate, T., and I have decided to put up our Christmas tree and decorations this coming Saturday, so I’ve been looking online to find solar icicle lights for the front of the house. They’re proving rarer than hen’s teeth at the moment, so I order some from Target to be delivered on either Saturday or Sunday, but thankfully, we already have everything else. $30
12:10pm — I grab my meal prepped pesto pasta salad from the fridge and eat it at my desk as I scroll through Reddit and catch up on my footy girls Snapchat group. I start nailing down some finer details of our footy trip away next weekend. It's going to be 18 girls at a beach house that's two hours out of town for four sweet days of debauchery — it should be fun! I remember that I need to buy some kind of floatie for the trip and settle on an inflatable bed (with a cup holder for my beer, of course) from Kmart ($16), ordered online with click and collect. $16
3:00pm — Hanging out for hometime, so I have a snack — peaches in syrup and roasted seaweed snacks that I keep stocked in my work cupboard to prevent me from raiding the office chocolates.
4:00pm — I leave the office. I have an article due tomorrow but I’ll finish it (and by that I mean actually start it….) in the morning.
6:20pm — I pour myself a glass of rosé (from the wine subscription box — it’s amazing and I give it five stars), feed the animals, and settle in for the LSKD Black Friday sale that starts at 6:30pm.
6:35pm — Within five minutes, I've spent $295. For myself, I got three sets of tights, a crop and a singlet dress that will be perfect for summer over my bikinis ($197). I also bought T. a set of tights and a matching crop top, which she’ll pay me back for ($98). Pour myself another glass of rosé and go back to reading my book on the couch while having snuggles with my pup and chatting with my girlfriends over Snap about their BF hauls. $295
10:50pm — Finished my book, The Wise Man’s Fear. I’m having another night where I struggle to sleep, so I pull out another book from my bookshelf, put a Disney movie on in the background, snuggle up with the dog and the cat on the couch, and remember I haven’t had dinner yet. Eh.
1:00am — I do my nighttime routine and put on a sheet mask to get my skin prepped for the weekend (and hopefully hide the effects of a week of limited sleep). I don’t know the brand, but it came in a gift box for my birthday from my best friend. Finally get to sleep around 2am.
Daily Total: $353

Day Three

6:20am — My alarm goes off and I decide to take a sick day and catch up on some sleep. I let my boss know I'll be off, then snooze until 11. It’s Friday anyway, and everyone knows that Fridays are a write-off. And anyone who sends work through on a Friday is a jerk.
4:00pm — Head over to A.’s place for the night to celebrate my new job. A. and I have been seeing each other for three years after meeting on Tinder. We've had a friends-with-benefits (FWB) situation going for most of that time and have become each other’s best friend. He's a very cautious person who thinks everything through before doing anything. I’m more of a ‘jump and we’ll make it up on the way’ kind of person, which deterred him from getting into a relationship with me for a long time. I told him that I would move on if I find someone I see a future with and I won’t wait around forever. We ended up becoming official for a few months in August-September this year, but I broke up with him after he blurred a line of appropriate communication with his ex-girlfriend. Unfortunately, both of us can’t really see our lives without the other involved, and we both still have a lot of love for each other, so we’ve reverted back to a FWB scenario — much to the irritation of my girlfriends. We stop in at a pub and get a pint each, I pay ($19.50). Then we swing past the bottle shop where he buys me a bottle of my favourite champagne, G. H. Mumm ($55 — his shout), and I grab us a six-pack of Mango XXXX Summer to try ($20). We head back to his place and chuck on a movie. $39.50
7:30pm — We go for a walk down the road to get dinner from a local southern fried chicken place and wash it down with a few craft beers. I grab this one ($91) as A. paid for our food last weekend. We usually just take turns paying for food/drinks/outings and assume it works out evenly in the end. Both of us are pretty tired and head to bed around 10:00pm. $91
Daily Total: $130.50

Day Four

11:00am — We have a lazy start to the day, hanging out in bed and watching TV until 11 before I head home. I stop by Kmart and pick up my floatie, and also pick up dry shampoo, some Christmas wrapping paper, Christmas tags and sticky tape ($20). Then I head to Coles to pick up some permanent markers ($5). $25
1:30pm — I’ve been pretty productive at home — I showered, changed my sheets, and did a bit of a tidy up around the house. That means it’s time for T. and me to belt out some Christmas tunes while putting the tree up and decorating the house. I have to get everything out of the back shed and de-spider it before T. will go near anything. I pour a glass of Apple Pie Bailey’s to really get in the Christmas spirit, and T. has a cider. The icicle lights from Target aren’t in yet and I’m annoyed. I would have liked to put everything up at once. We also need to raid T.’s mother’s storage shed to get a few more decorations around the house. My dog gets to wear his Christmas bandana, but he’s nowhere near as excited as I am about it.
3:30pm — T.’s friend, Y., comes over just as we’ve finished decorating. She’s going through a divorce at the moment so we have a girls night planned. We hang out chatting, drinking and playing Uno for a while and split a pizza for dinner ($24). We get a meatlovers and a cheese pizza because Y. doesn’t eat pork for religious reasons. I always forget how underrated cheese pizzas are. Yummo! We then start the process of getting ready to head out to a local bar to meet some more friends. This involves the usual process of changing outfits twice, getting opinions on shoes and getting the person who is better at eyeliner/curling hair/putting on lashes to help the others out, all while listening to the Guilty Pleasures playlist on Spotify. $24
7:30pm — We still can’t dance at the moment so it’s kind of boring. But we hang out for a few drinks. A guy that I’m hooking up with sporadically, L., meets us at the bar and buys me a few drinks. We all then walk up the road to a pub that has a live band and a bit more of an atmosphere. According to my bank account, I spent $56 at the bar and only $9 at the pub. A fairly cheap night! L. and I head back to his for a bit, before meeting everyone back at my place for after-party drinks. It’s the last weekend that we can use the fire pit before fire restrictions come into place, so we make the most of a cool evening by lighting a fire. We all go to bed after the sun is up. $65
Daily Total: $114

Day Five

11:00am — Wake up on the couch after four hours of sleep as I let one of the drunk girls sleep in my bed, and someone else is asleep on the other couch. A normal Sunday morning for our designated 'party house', and I’m once again thankful that I have pretty cool neighbours that are yet to make a single complaint. I feel like crap, so I cancel on plans to go to T.’s niece’s 7th birthday half an hour away. I was supposed to give T., her dad and her sister a lift, so I transfer money into our joint account so they can all get an Uber on me — my hangover is self-inflicted and not their fault ($44.60). I feel pretty guilty about bailing last minute as T.’s family has adopted me as one of their own over the past two years. This has been really good as my family are all in Queensland and I haven't been able to see them in almost three years, thanks to border closures, plus my mother, niece, nephew and brother-in-law are all immunocompromised. But I’ll make it up to her by getting her an extra kick-ass Christmas present. $44.60

1:00pm — I order one of my favourite hangover foods — sushi ($41), while watching Bones and waiting for everyone to leave my house. I also have five cups of black coffee and hope for the best. $41

5:00pm — Head to A.’s for the night. We make the most of the warm sunshine and drink a few beers, champagne and eat a cheese platter for dinner — all found in his fridge. Once the sun goes down, we throw on a movie and head to bed around 10:00pm.

Daily Total: $85.60

Day Six

8:15am — A. and I are both working from home today, so after we drop his car off at RAA to get some damage checked, we both log on to our respective laptops and get to work. One silver lining of Covid has been the ability to work remotely at 100% capacity. It's a necessity with our team as we have staff members in Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney. I pick at some leftover crackers for breakfast. And by crackers, I mean Chicken Crimpys.
11:30am — We break for lunch and head out to get some sushi for lunch. I go between phases of craving sushi and Vietnamese food. This week is a sushi week, apparently. A. pays for the sushi ($37), I get myself a bubble tea ($7) and we take it down to the lake and eat in the sunshine. We both have meetings at 1:00pm so head back to his just before then. $7
4:00pm — We log off for the day and watch some Netflix. Some alien/conspiracy shows are on the menu this afternoon.
7:00pm — I’m staying at A.’s again, so we head to Aldi and get some food for dinner and snacks. Marinated chicken breast, broccoli, pesto pasta salad, corn chips and some Maltesers ($21 — I pay for this one). We’re in bed watching a movie by 9:30pm. $21
Daily Total: $28

Day Seven

6:00am — My first alarm goes off but we snooze and snuggle until 7am before I head home.

8:00am — I’m ready and sitting at my desk in the office. I’ve packed my gym gear with me today so I can go to the gym after work. I’ve been pretty slack with the gym this week. I’m recovering from Bursitis in my left shoulder from a Dragon Boating injury, and whilst the Cortisone injection has helped with 75% of the pain, I still don’t have the full range of movement. It makes going to the gym really disheartening, so I’m trying to slowly build my fitness and strength back up so I can get back paddling after Christmas break. My mental health is very closely tied to my fitness, so the past few months have been especially trying for me. My AFL pre-season also starts next week. My coach is making us do a modified Crows AFLW pre-season training block which is going to be quite a shock to ALL of us. A few of us girls on the team all go to the same gym, so it’s nice having people you know floating around. I usually tend to go in the morning though — there are less people, my pre-workout won’t keep me awake at night, it sets up your day nicely, and you don't have ten hours to come up with an excuse not to go...

10:30am — Getting a bit peckish, so I have peaches in syrup from my work cabinet. I don’t really tend to eat breakfast if I’m not going to the gym in the morning and need the extra meal. Instead, I’ll aim for an early lunch around 11am. Some people call it intermittent fasting, I call it doing my best to overcome disordered eating by eating when I’m hungry and not labelling how I eat as any sort of diet. I also make my third coffee for the morning.

11:30am — I go for a walk to the Vietnamese shop around the corner from work and get a banh mi and cold rolls ($14.50). Adelaide has no shortage of Vietnamese places and this is my favourite in the local area. I also vow to myself to only have homemade meals for the rest of the week. This has been a big take-out week, which is not good for my health or my bank account. I only eat the cold rolls at the moment because I'm too full to also fit in the banh mi. $14.50

2:30pm — I eat the banh mi from earlier. Having this a bit later in the day will help give me energy for the gym this afternoon.

4:15pm — I finish work and actually head to the gym. I only do a 4km run and a few bodyweight exercises to brush off the cobwebs of the last week. I didn’t pack my running shoes and pay for my mistake of running more than 3km in the wrong shoes with two lovely blisters on the back of my heel.

5:00pm — I get home, pack my gym and work bag for tomorrow, and do a bit of tidying up from Saturday night. My housemate left a passive-aggressive note on our whiteboard this morning about cleaning up the backyard after Saturday’s party. By the time I get home this afternoon, she’s rubbed the message off and cleaned the bottles up outside. I clean everything else up and tidy inside as a peace offering.

6:15pm — When I get home, I pull out three pieces of Basa from the freezer. I defrost two in the sink and put one piece in the fridge to slowly defrost until tomorrow night. I bake two pieces in the oven with a tiny bit of olive oil, pepper and smoked paprika. I would usually add salt as well, but I left the salt grinder outside on Saturday night and my dog decided it was a chew toy (tequila, am I right…?). I’m not really hungry, so I put both pieces in the fridge with roasted broccoli for lunch and dinner tomorrow.

5:25pm — My housemate gets home from work so I pour a glass of half-strength wine for me and she gets a cider out of our fridge and we chat about what food we’re buying for the footy weekend. I paid for the accommodation in September and all the girls have been paying me back. We finally get all the money transferred back tonight. Yay! There’s nothing worse than having to chase your friends up for money.

11:00pm — My last entry for this diary, I daresay tonight will be another night of only a few hours of sleep. My pup has already put himself to bed and so has my housemate. I will head to bed at midnight since I have the gym in the morning at 5:30am. Goodnight!

Daily Total: $14.50
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