Money Diaries

A Week In Brunswick East, Melbourne On A $100,000 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.

Currency is written in AUD.
Occupation: Senior Analyst
Industry: Business Strategy
Age: 25
Location: Brunswick East, Melbourne
Salary: $100,000
Net Worth: $56,377 (This includes $27,138 in savings, and $29,239 in investments with some in ETFs and some as direct investments in health and technology companies).
Debt: $21,592 for my university course which is on HECS.
My Paycheque Amount (monthly): $5,660
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses

Rent: $1,000. I'm living with two housemates that are also my friends.
Utilities: $150
Phone: $24
Streaming: I use my friend's and family's streaming accounts to watch stuff online.
Investments: I have an auto payment of $100 going into my investment account weekly. I should probably do more about my savings though.

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

I have a Bachelor's degree which I completed through government HECS-HELP. My entire course was around $32,000 which I have already paid $10,000 off a few years ago in a lump sum from my savings. I think $200 or so is taken out of my pay each month to go towards this payment.

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

My parents came from nothing — a village in China — but they worked extremely hard and made a great life for themselves. Growing up, we lived quite comfortably. We were never short on anything and had the ability to travel when we wanted to. However, my parents also enforced the saving habit on me. Every Chinese New Year or birthday I would get money (usually a few hundred dollars) as a present but they made sure I saved most of it in a bank account they opened for me at a young age. They thought it would be a good idea for me to be familiarised with having my own bank card early on. I wouldn't say they were extremely frugal, but they definitely ensured I understood the value of money and that it doesn't grow on trees! 

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

My first job was when I was 12. I worked for a local pharmacy delivering medication on my scooter to nursing homes and old people nearby. I was getting paid like $10 — $15 dollars an hour, which is quite a lot at that age! I would save some of this money in my bank account and spend the rest on food or going to the movies with my friends. I got a job at a young age because I thought working was ‘cool’ and would be a fun activity, which I still kind of believe today as I genuinely enjoy my current job. I would go crazy if I didn’t work, I’m someone who enjoys being busy!  

Did you worry about money growing up?

I didn't worry about money growing up because I knew my parents had savings. They even offered to pay for my university degree which I kindly declined. Mum also wanted to buy me my first car which I also kindly declined. I felt bad accepting something so costly from them. I know that they’ve worked hard to get to where they are and believe that I should do the same for myself. I was able to buy my own car valued at around $6,000 when I was 20 with some money I’d saved from my teenage years. Although they thought the car was unsafe, I’m sure they were proud of me for purchasing it myself. 

Do you worry about money now?

I don't worry about money now but I sometimes do get a bit anxious if I've spent hundreds of dollars on a weekend out or if I haven't been saving much after each paycheque. But on a day-to-day basis, I don’t worry about money. In my mind, money is made to be spent, so I use my hard-earned money to go out, enjoy nice food or participate in activities. I’m lucky that I have disposable income which I can spend on the things I enjoy but if I didn’t, I think I’d also be capable of living frugally. 

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

Since I was 18 years old. I moved out of home and have always paid for day-to-day things myself. However, sometimes my mum would pay my car insurance or car registration as they were big amounts of money which I might not have saved up for. I know that if something were to happen to me, such as a health issue, my parents would definitely pay for it (I don't have private health insurance because it’s too expensive, but next year I’ll probably get it as I’ll have tax benefits). They are my safety net in a way.

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

I don't have any passive or inherited income — I wish!

Day 1

8:45am — I wake up at my boyfriend’s parent’s house after a big night with friends. I’m severely hungover and we bicker about absolutely nothing. We both spend the morning looking at our phones in bed. I have to get home to get ready for a catering shift that starts at midday. I live about 12km from my boyfriend, but his car isn’t here, so Uber it is. I check the Uber fare which is $50 — ridiculous! My boyfriend checks Didi for me which was almost half the price, so he books a car for me on his account. I don’t even know the cost of the Didi he paid for, but am extremely grateful regardless.
10:30am — Home, shower and get dressed in my catering gear which includes a black tie that makes me look silly. I used to be a caterer and I'm not anymore, but I was asked nicely to cover someone’s shift so I thought, why not! 
11:30am — On my walk to the catering shift I realise how hungry I am, so I go into the closest cafe I see to buy a veggie sandwich on the go ($14). It didn’t taste too great but I eat it anyway. Can't waste food! $14
12:00pm — 5:00pm — I’m working as a caterer at an art gallery opening with a guy I've previously worked with. The gallery space is beautiful. We serve drinks to around 30 private clients that come in and out throughout the day. I made a note to myself that I should attend more gallery openings to get unlimited free alcohol (and of course to enjoy the art). Although I work full-time during the week and no longer do catering, I was asked to cover someone’s shift as they had to study for uni exams. I figured I might as well help someone out and get some cash at the same time ($156 to be exact!). I don’t pick up random shifts, perhaps every few months if they are desperate. The last time I did a catering shift was probably over 1.5 years ago, pre-pandemic. The other worker and I were both hungover so we had some cheeky gin and tonics throughout the shift to ease our pain.
5:00pm — I am way too hungover to walk or catch public transport home so I order an Uber ($15). On the ride home I am once again starving so I strategically order UberEats to be delivered around the same time as I get home. I order a vegetarian rice dish from a local restaurant which was $25 including delivery. $40
7:00pm — After dinner and having some alone time, I realise I am way too tired to go to a friend’s birthday party, so I stay home and watch Succession in bed on Foxtel (free, thanks to a friend’s family account). I probably should have attended the birthday but I know I won’t be productive tomorrow doing the things I want to do, even though the party is a 15-minute walk from mine. I’m at that stage of my life where I don’t feel bad for not attending events. My life, my time!
Daily Total: $54

Day 2

7:00am — The first Sunday in a long time that I haven’t woken up hungover! I’m quite pleased with myself. I take the morning slow and chill at home which means meditating and organising my room. I don’t bother eating breakfast because I don’t have an appetite. 
9:15am — I walk to the clothes alteration place near my house to get a dress and skirt taken in. This has been something I’ve wanted to do for a while so I’m glad I got it out of the way. The cost for both was $67 which I think is quite reasonable. I then walk to a cobbler to have an old watch battery repaired and have some of the links taken out ($37). While I'm there, I pick up some leather shoe polish ($10) as I remember that a few of my black boots were quite scruffy. $114
11:00am — I head to the supermarket with absolutely no idea of what I want, but knowing that I should get some groceries for the next few days. I end up with a bunch of veggies and fruit ($34). I usually go to the shops without a shopping list which is probably not a good habit to be in as I often end up with a range of random things that I pick up while wandering the aisles — usually an assortment of vegetables and fruit. Throughout the week I go back to the supermarket to get items that will go well with what I already have in the fridge. $34
12:00pm — I make lunch at home which is just a basic noodle and vegetable dish that doesn't take too much time and is made from veggies I bought earlier in the day and packet noodles that I find in the cupboard. I eat this in the sun and am appreciative of the weather Melbourne has given us today. My boyfriend comes past to drop off some of my clothes on his way to his beach house which he moved into during the pandemic. I lived there for a while too as I started working from home and love spending time by the beach. I’m currently back in the city, for now, to see friends and family though. He sometimes visits the city on the weekends, but I’ll see him next weekend at a friend's early 2000s themed birthday party. It's a 25th celebration that has been postponed several times due to lockdown, so I’m excited to finally dress up and hang out with friends.
2:30pm — Most of the afternoon was spent cleaning the house as it was very much needed. I then spend time reading a new book that arrived in the mail last week — Tiny Love Stories from The New York Times, a book of love stories under 100 words). I love reading about other people’s love stories — whether it’s love at first sight, lost love or an extremely devastating story. It often evokes a lot of emotion in me.
3:00pm — I do a Youtube workout. I’ve been getting into these since the COVID-19 lockdown started and gyms closed. These are free on YouTube and there are many varieties of workouts, I would definitely recommend them. I used to pay for a gym which was around $30 per week so I think I’ve saved almost $2,000 over the last year and a half doing free online workouts. 
4:30pm — 11:00pm — Since it’s such a beautiful day and we’re in daylight savings, I thought it’s probably best I don’t spend the entire day at home, so I meet up with friends for drinks. We’re telling each other about our weekends and just catching up on life in general. But god, I spent more than I should have, including $97 on drinks and food (canape style food and natural wines), $24 on an Uber home, and $20 on UberEats (a random tofu laksa) to arrive as I get home. The UberEats is definitely a drunk purchase that I needed. Too many hours of drinking and very naughty for a Sunday night. I crash as soon as I finish my meal... I even skipped brushing my teeth which is GROSS. $141
Daily Total: $289

Day 3

7:15am — I wake up to my alarm and remember that I have booked a class at F45 this morning. I feel sick and hungover, but I know if I don’t work out now I’ll have to do it later, so I begrudgingly walk 30 minutes to the gym. I’m doing the trial at F45 which is only $10 for ten days (what a deal!) which I already paid for last week. It feels motivating to step back into a gym after the last two years of being in lockdown. I’m just not sure if I’m ready to commit and sign up to a gym yet as I tend to spend my weeks between my home in the city and my boyfriend’s beach house two hours away. Until offices reopen, I’m able to work from anywhere that has wifi. It’s almost summer so I think I’ll be spending more time down the beach. 
8:00am — Walk home to start the workday. 
9:00am — I shower, then chat to a friend on the phone when I should really be working. Although hungover, I’m not dreading this Monday as my manager is on leave today. I don’t actually do much work except reply to emails. I’m definitely not spending any money today after yesterday’s big spend. 
10:00am — I eat cucumber as a snack. I spend the next few hours looking on Instagram and reading the news. Definitely not a big workday for me.
12:00pm — Lunchtime! I make basic veggies and noodles again. I’m not very creative with my cooking at the moment but it was delicious nonetheless. Can’t even fathom thinking about what to eat for dinner.
12:30pm — Spend some time actually doing work for the rest of the afternoon, which includes data analysis, replying to emails, setting up meetings for the week, speaking to people in the business and writing reports.
5:00pm — The end of my chill working day! Like most people, I enjoy a day where I’m not too busy at work. I had heaps of time to do my tasks thoroughly and had a relaxing day. I rarely seem to actually dread work. Now it’s time for a walk and to enjoy the sun.
6:00pm — I’m home alone as my housemates are with their partners. I’ve recently discovered The New York Times — Modern Love mini-series which is about real love stories people have submitted to them. I’m such a hopeless romantic. I signed up for the Amazon Prime free 30-day trial so spent the evening watching the show. 
7:00pm — Whilst still watching, I make dinner which consists of steamed vegetables and frozen dumplings that Mum gave me a while back. She bought these from a Chinese supermarket mainly because she loves to feed me (part of the Chinese culture is feeding your loved ones). It was quite yummy! When Mum goes to the supermarket, she’ll often buy some things for me as well so when I visit her weekly, I often come home with food. 
8:00pm — One of my housemate comes home (who also happens to be a best friend of mine) so we spend time catching up with life and sharing a beer as we haven’t hung out for a while. I also make her watch an episode of the mini-series with me. 
11:00pm — I brush my teeth, lay-out my gym gear for the next day and sleep peacefully. 
Daily Total: $0

Day 4

7:30am — I wake up feeling quite refreshed. I’m not in the mood to run to F45 so give myself some time to walk there which takes 30 minutes as opposed to a 10-minute run. Today is also the Melbourne Cup public holiday which means I have the day off (although I hate the suffering of horses during this event). The weather is also perfect for sun-baking at the beach. 
9:30am — 11:00am — Walk home, change my bedsheets, do some washing. I eat some fruit for breakfast and chat with my housemate. I have plans to meet up with an old friend and go to the beach. 
12:00pm — I don’t have a car at the moment. I was in a car crash nine days ago and the car was written off. I was on a holiday in the country with my boyfriend, we had been on a hike and didn’t see a car that was coming towards us from a bend. We got t-boned but weren’t injured badly, just minor injuries from the airbags and seatbelts. I’m actually quite fine about the car crash, no one was really at fault, plus the car insurance company is actually giving more money (around $1,000 more!) than what I actually paid for my car! Luckily, I have comprehensive insurance so everything was covered. Now I’m just waiting for the settlement to be processed. Since I don’t have a car and don’t want to spend money on an Uber, I decide to get the tram to the city where my friend picks me up (bless her soul). The tram in Melbourne costs $2.25 for a ride under two hours but I paid for it already on my prepaid travel card.
1:00pm — The traffic to the beach was so crazy, I guess everyone was thinking the exact same thing. My friend and I are both starving so we get food at her local bakery. I buy a sandwich ($9.70) and we also decide to get some premixed gin and tonics for the beach, I pay ($38 for a ten-pack). We walk to the beach and spend the afternoon in the sand. $47.70
4:00pm — Some girlfriends are down the beach from where we are so we drive down to meet them. We spend time laying on the beach and chatting and catching up with each other’s lives between occasional swims. 
6:00pm — Luckily my friend is driving towards my neighbourhood to pick up her brother, so I’ll be able to walk home from where she's meeting him. 
7:00pm — Both of us are hungry after a long day in the sun, so we decide to pop into a Sri Lankan restaurant for dinner, including many varieties of curries. I just can’t be bothered making dinner tonight. My dinner was $20, but my friend pays for both of us since I paid for the drinks earlier.
8:30pm — Get home, shower, get the washing off the line, and do my night routine which includes brushing my teeth and putting a night moisturiser on.
9:30pm — Bedtime to watch the Modern Love series, yay! This episode features Anne Hathaway — her character is a young woman living in New York City navigating her love life with bipolar. The scenery of NYC is so beautiful, it’s honestly my favourite city in the entire world. I have never felt more alive than in New York. The episode almost put me to tears, I won’t give too much detail away because I think whoever is reading this should watch it. Good night!
Daily Total: $47.70

Day 5 

7:00am — Wake up, get dressed and walk to F45. Seven more days left of my trial!
8:30am — I finish the class and feel like a coffee so I pop into a local cafe for an oat latte and a Portuguese tart ($10). I’m always craving sweets right before my period — I think it’s one way I know I’m getting it soon because usually, I don’t have a sweet tooth. I definitely always treat myself around this time of the month. $10
9:15am — Get home, shower, sign onto my laptop to begin the workday. I usually check my emails first. I have a mug of my housemate’s coffee just because I’m feeling tired today for some unknown reason. I’m not even a big coffee drinker. Both my housemate and I are working from home at the moment so we work alongside one another on a long desk that we all put in money to be made. The desk was around $120 from each of us, so it cost a total of $360 for it. I enjoy working with someone next to me because we can chit chat throughout the day! It can be boring being at a desk by yourself all day. 
10:00am — Eat a delicious mango then go back to working for the rest of the day.
1:00pm — Made a stir fry vegetable dish for lunch with items I have in the fridge bought on Sunday.
3:00pm — 4:00pm — Although it’s raining outside, I decide to walk to the supermarket to get my steps up as well as get some groceries I need to make my mushroom and leek risotto for dinner. On the way there I pop into a news agency to buy a vape (I know, bad habit) which costs $30. My grocery shop comes to a total of $23.24 but I have a $15 voucher for this particular Coles so the bill only comes to $8.24. $38.24
5:00pm — I'm going to be busy later, so I cook and eat dinner early — today is a risotto and a salad. I make extra for my housemate to eat later. Our household is relatively close and for dinners, we usually cook and eat together whilst watching the TV. We probably cook together around two to three nights per week. 
6:00pm — 7:30pm — I participate in some market research. This is just me giving my opinion to a market research company about whatever product they present. I rarely do this, but sometimes I get emails asking me to participate. Tonight they are paying me $120 for the 1.5 hours! This is a great way to make some additional cash as there’s no right or wrong, they simply want your opinion.  I can’t disclose too much but it was finance based research!
7:30pm — Now it’s time for me to chill, I get ready for bed which includes washing my face, moisturising and brushing my teeth. This is one of my favourite times during the day. 
9:00pm — Get into bed super early today due to exhaustion most likely related to my upcoming period. I scroll on Instagram for way too long then watch a few episodes of Modern Love as usual then fall asleep.
Daily Total: $48.24

Day 6

6:15am — Wake up earlier today as I booked in for an earlier F45 session in an attempt to get out of bed earlier. I usually get enough sleep (except when I have a night out) so I hate that I sometimes spend too much time in bed awake in the mornings. I decide to run there this morning. 
8:15am — Home from the gym, shower and prepare for work.
9:00am — Who puts a three-hour meeting first thing in the morning? I have to be quite switched on today. I eat some grapes and drink green tea whilst on mute in the meeting. The outcome of this meeting is that I have A LOT of work to do, including gathering data from different departments in the company for analysis. It seems like my to-do list is never-ending.
1:00pm — Heat up my leftover risotto from last night — I love having leftovers. Then I go for a stroll in my neighbourhood to pick up my clothes from the alterations and go past the chemist to buy a hayfever nasal spray ($15). I also grab free mini chocolate on the way out which I eat as I walk home. $15
2:00pm — 5:00pm — Staring at a screen for the rest of the afternoon. My job is demanding but it’s all about quality, not quantity. If I finish all my tasks within the first few hours of the day, I can just relax for the rest of the day. It really depends on the workload but my employer is definitely conscious about not making their employees work overtime. I eat some dumplings in between. I think when I’m extremely busy with work my body makes any excuse to tell me that I’m hungry even when I’m probably not.
5:00pm — Walk to the local supermarket to pick up some food to add to lunch tomorrow (kimchi, tofu, etc.) and other house essentials ($29.61), and I also pick up a bottle of wine ($18). $47.61
6:30pm — Get home and my housemates are already preparing dinner! They make me a Malaysian dish which is not unlike a salad with satay sauce and a side of spring rolls, yum!
8:00pm — Clean up and settle on the couch for some shitty reality TV, Love Island. I don’t particularly enjoy these kinds of shows but my housemates like them so I don’t mind.
10:00pm — Time for my sleep, I always get excited about sleep because that’s when my mind fully turns off. I never seem to have difficulty falling into a deep sleep which I deem myself lucky. 
Daily Total: $62.61

Day 7

6:15am — Out of bed, gym clothes on, and I run to the gym. I’m actually so sore today but gotta push through!
8:00am — Same routine as yesterday. I’m quite big on routine as I don’t have to think about what to do or what to wear at a given time (okay, I may have honestly just quoted some CEO from a podcast). Have a few meetings in the morning, but I’m also researching travel destinations for December. I’m thinking Thailand! Thailand would be a relatively cheap holiday compared to Europe or The US. I’m assuming flights will be the most expensive part of the trip which I’m more than okay with as I think it’s worth it. Thank god the borders are open now — I am dying to go overseas and dabble in different cultures. I have missed travelling so much. At the age of 25 I have been to 29 countries so far and can’t wait to see the rest of the world. My housemates bring me back a takeaway coffee from their walk which I very much appreciate!
10:00am — My gorgeous housemates make us crepes for breakfast, a mixture of savoury and sweet. We clean up and I’m back at my desk. Both of them have the day off today. 
12:30pm — I walk to the chemist to buy some body tape ($13). I want to wear a specific new top tonight but don’t want to have to wear a strapless bra so tape it is. I actually hardly ever buy new clothes (probably every few months), and I feel like my wardrobe is currently overflowing so I’m definitely not keen to buy new clothes for a while. Plus, my boyfriend bought me some clothes for my birthday last month. $13
1:30pm — My housemates make me lunch with the leftovers from last night, I am spoiled for meals today! Work for the rest of the afternoon. 
5:45pm — Finish late for a Friday, but just had so much to do. Next week is going to be insane, I have 24 hours worth of meetings within the five days. Big FML. We are starting a few new projects so this is the planning stage which is always hectic. However, my work weeks are not always like this!
6:00pm — Shower, get dressed and it’s dinner time. I walk to a restaurant to meet some friends as it’s only a few kilometres from home. I’m actually doing well with not having a car — I’m starting to like walking everywhere! I’ve spent quite a lot of money this week but I feel like I deserve this and I love catching up with friends, plus I’ve made extra money this week from catering and market research.
10:00pm — I finish a lovely dinner and drinks with my five girlfriends and it's great to catch up after being in lockdown. We plan to go to a ticketed warehouse party tomorrow night together — random, but a bit of post lockdown fun is definitely needed. A friend drops me home after dinner which is extremely convenient for me. Dinner and drinks cost $90 (oops!) and include bottles of red wine, different types of pasta and salads to share. I haven’t seen these girls for over three weeks as I have been away so it’s nice to catch up again. $90
Daily Total: $103
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.
For many of us, money can be a major source of stress. But it doesn’t have to be. Become more confident with our beginner's guide to managing your money.

Do you have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Submit it here.