A Week In Sydney, Australia, On A $60,700 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
Today: an Environmental Scientist working in Environmental Impact Assessment who makes $60,700 per year and spends some of her money this week on a Uniqlo cardigan.
Editor's Note: in the wake of the Australian bushfires (some of which is discussed below) 17.9 million acres of bush have been destroyed. 28 people and nearly a billion animals have been killed. Information on how to help can be found, here. If you would like to donate, today's diarist suggests doing so here (for human victims) and here (for animal victims).
All currency has been converted to USD.
Occupation: Environmental Scientist
Industry: Environmental Impact Assessment
Age: 28
Location: Sydney, Australia
Salary: $60,700
Paycheck Amount (1x/month, after taxes, superannuation and student loan): $3,045
Gender Identity: Cisgender Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $897 (for my half of a two-bedroom apartment that I live in with my boyfriend)
Student Loans: $217
Superannuation (retirement): $725 (This includes an extra voluntary deduction on top of the government-mandated 9.5%.)
Utilities: $70 (for my half of the electricity and internet.)
Health Insurance: $81 (for private hospital and extras cover.)
Car Payment: $0
Gym Membership: $41
Mobile Phone: $42
Spotify: $2 (I'm on a shared plan)
Netflix: $5 (for my half, split with my boyfriend)
Opal Card: $134
Charity: $33 (I sponsor the education of a young woman in a developing country)
Investments: $41 (put into Raiz, I have about $1,500 in here)
Savings: $552 (into a high-interest savings account. I have about $30,000 in here)
Birth control: $28 every three months for my half (split with boyfriend)
Car Insurance/Registration: $690 (per year for my half, my boyfriend and I split it)

Day One

3 a.m. — I wake up to the smell of smoke and sleepily move around the apartment closing windows. The first couple of times this happened I checked the apartment for fires, but it's been for over three months now, and half-asleep me knows that it's just the smoke from the bushfires.
7 a.m. — Today's my first day back at work following a two-week break over the Christmas/NY period when my office shut down. I'm used to holiday mode, so I lie in bed for a while before getting up, showering, and getting ready. I notice that the bathroom is covered in a thin layer of ash even though I cleaned it yesterday, which is frustrating. I pack my work bag, kiss my boyfriend, T., goodbye, walk to the station, and catch a train to the city for work. The train costs about $3, but it's covered by my Opal Card balance.
8:40 a.m. — In the city, I drop a dress off for repair ($14). At work, I take some bananas from the office fruit stash, make tea and eat coconut yoghurt for breakfast while looking at emails from the past two weeks. Because all my clients and colleagues have also been on leave, there's not too much to come back to. I start pulling together a list of tech specs for the infrastructure project I'm working on so that I can later evaluate the environmental impacts of each. $14
12:15 p.m. — I'm hungry. Because today is my first day back, I don't have any work snacks or lunch, so I go to Woolies and buy cheese, bikkies, and roasted chickpeas ($11.50). Afterwards, I grab a mix of falafel and beetroot salads from Soul Origin and eat in the work kitchen ($7.25). They've recently added orange to the beetroot salad for some reason, and it's nowhere near as good as it used to be! $18.75
5:30 p.m. — Time to pack up, leave work, and head home on the train. At home, T. And I veg out for a while then plan our meals for the week and make a shopping list. Before heading to the supermarket, we eat sausage sandwiches for dinner (fake meat for me, chicken for T.). Never shop hungry! We buy ingredients for a yellow curry, side veggies to have with sausages, and ingredients for zucchini and tomato pasta. We also buy milk, coconut yogurt, dried fruit, band-aids, toothpaste, soft drinks, and chocolate pudding — T.'s choice. We put our groceries on a joint card, so this is for my half only. $44.30
8 p.m. — At home, I make tomato and zucchini pasta for my lunches, and then T. and I settle down to watch a couple of episodes of The Expanse. I only just started to get into it on T.'s recommendation, and I really enjoy it so far. T. and I share a chocolate pudding while we watch.
10:30 p.m. — Head to bed, which means night-time routine — cleanse with Cetaphil gentle cleanser and moisturize with Cetaphil heavy-duty moisturizer. My skin's very oily, but if I don't heavily moisturize at night I get dry patches — worst of both worlds!
Daily Total: $77.05

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — I reluctantly wake up and get in the shower to wash my hair. I blow-dry it quickly and apply makeup — Aveeno light moisturizer, double wear foundation, blush, and brows. I haven't been able to wear eye makeup for a couple of months because the smoke makes my eyes water all the time. I pack a work bag with my lunch, another tub of coconut yogurt and some dried fruit, and head off to work at 8:15. Today I'm in a project office, so the commute is a little different but I still catch the train.
8:45 a.m. — In the project office, I eat coconut yogurt with dried fruit for breakfast, and head into a morning meeting about the status of our project. Today, I'm making sure that all the people going out to do testing/surveys on site know what they need to do.
12:30 p.m. — Hungry, so lunchtime. I eat tomato and zucchini pasta for lunch and then head down to Woolies to buy my second round of work snacks. Dividing my time between two offices means two snack stashes. For this office, I buy muesli bars. I also grab a Coke Zero to wake myself up, since I forgot to bring one from home. $8.30
3 p.m. — My colleague, M., made delicious chocolate walnut cookies, so we share them while talking logistics. We have to plan for our ecology team to go out to site to do species surveys, but we can't send them on days that are smoky or have a high bushfire risk, which doesn't leave us with that many available days. We also know that a lot of the animals we're looking for are dead because of drought or bushfire, which is depressing.
5:15 p.m. — I call it a day and head home on the train. When I get home, I watch the new episode of Call the Midwife (I love this show) while T. cooks us dinner (sausages, mashed sweet potato, and beans). After we eat, I clean up and T. and I water our balcony plants using the grey water from our shower (we have water restrictions because we're in a drought).
9 p.m. — We settle in and watch another episode of The Expanse, then decide to call it an early night afterwards. Wash face and apply moisturizer, brush teeth, and cuddle with T. for a bit.
Daily Total: $8.30

Day Three

2 a.m. — I briefly wake up to a smell of smoke and hear T. closing all the windows in the apartment.
7:30 a.m. — Awake and showering, before I get ready for work and pack pasta for lunch. When I read the morning news, the front page is a picture of a little girl at her father's funeral, wearing his firefighting helmet. Cry a little and then leave for work. The smoke is very dense today, and I hate breathing it in. They say it's the same as smoking 34 cigarettes every day, and I'm worried about what it's doing to my lungs. T. has asthma so we have to be very careful.
8:50 a.m. — In my project office I eat coconut yogurt with dried fruit and lots of water, then I get started on drafting a template for my water quality reports. The best/worst part about the project office is that they have bikkies in the kitchen, so I have a sneaky teddy bear bikkie.
12:30 p.m. — I head to the gym during my lunch hour. I'm not a morning person, and I like spending my evenings with T., so I find lunchtime to be the best time to work out. Usually, I like to squeeze in a quick run, but there's no way I'm breathing more of this in than I need to, so it's the elliptical at the gym for me. Afterwards, I shower, get dressed and go back to the project office to eat the pasta I brought.
2:30 p.m. — This week is pretty slow while I wait for my clients to come back from holiday, so I take the time to buy a grey cardigan from Uniqlo that I've been wanting. It's on sale, so the total including shipping is not too bad. $18
5 p.m. — I leave work and catch a train home for a quick freshen up before T. and I go to his parents' house for dinner. Since I went to the gym at lunch, my hair looks awful, so I spray it with dry shampoo and put it up in a bun. At T.'s parents' place, we eat delicious curry and creme brulee — his mum is such a good cook. Yum! T.'s brother and his girlfriend are there too, and I always enjoy a catch-up with them.
8:30 p.m. — Back at home, we're buggered. I've been feeling unwell for a little while and have some complications with allergies, so I book an appointment online to see a doctor tomorrow. T. and I chat for a bit, watch The Simpsons, and go to bed by 10:30.
Daily Total: $18

Day Four

8 a.m. — I'm working from home today, so I can have a bit more of a sleep in. After I get up I have a shower and wash my hair. I like to work from home one day a week because I'm an introvert and I need a bit of recharge time every now and then. I turn on my laptop and start answering emails at about 8:30, happy to not talk to anyone for a while.
10 a.m. — Time for toast and tea — always a great combination.
12 p.m. — Time to head off to my appointment, which I scheduled during my lunch break. The doctor tells me he wants to do some tests, so gives me a pathology prescription which I can do on the weekend. There's no cost for the visit since GP visits are what we call "bulk billed" under our universal healthcare scheme — in other words, my taxes pay for it. I find this a good system because there's no limit to the number of doctor's visits you can use and it encourages me to go to the doctor often and catch things early.
1 p.m. — On my way home, I fill up the car with gas since apparently prices are about to rise. It costs $30 for half a tank for my little hatchback — so expensive! Once I get home I have veggie pasta for lunch again. $30.30
5:30 p.m. — I wrap up work and head to the gym for a very quick workout. Afterwards, I start cutting up veggies for the red curry I'm making tonight. Once T. gets home, I do the rice and the rest of the curry I add tofu to mine, T. adds chicken to his, and we eat. Afterwards, we keep going with The Expanse and I'm absolutely in love with Chrisjen. She's the best!
10:30 p.m. — Usual bedtime routine, and I read a bit of my book (The Body by Bill Bryson) before turning in.
Daily Total: $30.30

Day Five

7:15 a.m. — Cuddles with T. for a bit before I have to get up. It's Friday today! After two weeks off for the holidays, this first week back has felt like the longest week ever and I'm ready for the weekend. Shower, get dressed (casual Friday = maxi skirts), quick makeup, pack my bag, and head out the door at 8. Today I'm in my home office again, so I pick up the dress I had altered on the way in.
8:50 a.m. — Coconut yogurt and banana for breakfast while talking to my colleague, S. He tells me that his brother's property burned down this week, and he's lost all his fruit trees and half his sheep. We're also up to a billion native animals killed, and an area burned the size of Austria. Prior to this Money Diary, I made a $200 donation to fire brigades which was matched by a local bank, but I'm wondering if I should donate again, this time to WIRES. I decide to look into matching schemes first to make sure my donation is the most effective it can be.
12:30 p.m. — Today I've been working on describing engineering concepts in layperson terms, which is always very difficult for me, so I take a break to clear my head and eat lunch (last round of the pasta). My colleagues and I talk about the climate protests this afternoon and make plans to attend. During lunch, I do some online shopping and buy a watch band for my sister for her birthday. $45.50
5 p.m. — My colleagues and I leave the office and get on the train to the climate protests at Town Hall. We listen to speeches and participate in some chanting, then join the march through Sydney. The protests are about a couple of things — Australia's continued reliance on coal, our government's continued lack of climate action, the lack of resources and empathy for firefighters and those who've lost houses, our destroyed native flora and fauna, and our complete potato of a Prime Minister, who decided that a holiday to Hawaii was a great idea when the country was on fire.
8 p.m. — After catching the train home, I eat red curry with T. for dinner, and we watch the series finale of The Expanse. Afterwards, I read in bed for a bit and finish my book before T. and I turn in.
Daily Total: $45.50

Day Six

8:30 a.m. — Little bit of a sleep in today since it's the weekend! I lounge around reading a new book (a biography of Bob Hawke) and T. brings me tea and toast in bed because he's a sweetheart. After I get dressed, T. and I walk over to the local pathologist, and discover that IT'S RAINING! For the first time in so long! We need this rain soooo badly, but it doesn't stick around for long.
8 a.m. — The pathologist takes blood samples from me and then from T. —- again, no cost because universal healthcare has already been paid for in our taxes. T.'s getting blood drawn to check on his progress, he was very sick a couple of months ago, and spent a lot of time at the doctor's and in the hospital. He's much better now, and I'm so grateful we didn't pay a cent for any of his treatment.
12 p.m. — I take the train to a shopping center to return a handbag I bought in the boxing day sales that was actually the wrong size ($114 refund). I also buy some Soul Origin salad for lunch while I'm there ($7.20). T. and I are having friends over tonight for dinner, so while I'm there I buy ingredients to make almond biscotti, veggies, and a vegetarian schnitzel. Joint card, so $12.10 for my half. T. buys steaks while he's out, since you should never get a vegetarian to pick your steak for you. $8.30 for my half. $27.60
2 p.m. — At home I make biscotti and do a quick clean of the house before relaxing a bit and watching the new episode of The Good Place.
6 p.m. — Our friends come over and one of them brings a nice bottle of red. We share that, open another one, cook some potatoes, veggies, and steaks (and fake meat) and catch up. It's great to see them again, especially because one of them is about to be deployed for a year to support American troops and he doesn't know when he's shipping out. After dinner, we have port, almond biscotti, and chocolate ice cream — delicious.
11:30 p.m. — After our friends have leave, T. and I share some beers and play a trivia game one of my friends gave me as a belated Christmas present. We have such a good time that we don't end up going to bed until 2 a.m. — oops.
Daily Total: $27.60

Day Seven

9 a.m. — I have a hangover, but I'm meeting a friend, B., for brunch and a movie. I text my sister happy birthday, read the news in bed for a bit, and then have a quick shower and get ready. I drive to the place where I'm meeting B., and notice that my car is covered in a layer of brown from the dusty rain. I really don't want to use valuable water to clean it, so it's staying dirty for as long as possible.
10:30 a.m. — I meet B. for brunch and it's raining again — it's wonderful! I order a vegetarian big breakfast and a juice, and B. covers the bill. I'll pay for the movie tickets and then transfer the difference.
12 p.m. — I buy movie tickets through a discount app on my phone ($15.90), and B. and I head to the supermarket to get snacks. Pods for both of us, a kombucha for B. and a Coke Zero for me ($7.20). I transfer her the difference from breakfast ($12.40) before we head in to see Little Women. Such a great movie! The standout for me was definitely Florence Pugh, she made me think about Amy's character in such a different way. Also the Australian actress who plays Beth went to school with one of my colleagues...Australia is just a really big small town. $35.50
3 p.m. — After the movie, I say goodbye to B. and walk to the library to borrow some new books to read. Afterwards, I go to Kmart and buy a reusable water bottle to keep in my car and a birthday card for my sister. On my way home I drop by my parents' house to drop off my freezer composting into their bin. My brother is staying there for a few weeks between moves, so I catch up with him for a bit before heading home. I also leave my sister's birthday card there, since she will stop by later tonight. When I get home, T.'s brother has come over to hang out and play video games with T., so I watch the recently-uploaded season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine in the bedroom, drink tea, and eat an almond biscotti. $4.80
6:30 p.m. — After T.'s brother goes home we decide to order pizza for dinner. I tell T. That if he makes the call I will pick it up, since I really don't feel like talking on the phone. We order a Margherita for me and a spicy Turkish sausage for T., and I walk down the road to pick them up. I accidentally put this on my personal card instead of the joint card, so T. will get me back next time. $28.30
9:30 p.m. — We are both hungover (this is an awful all-day red wine hangover), so it's an early night for us.
Daily Total: $68.60
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