A Week In Brisbane, Australia, On $1,790 Per Month

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: a freelance copywriter working in media who makes $12,140 per year and spends some of her money this week on Olaplex. Below, we asked the OP some questions about her career. Editor's note: All prices have been converted to U.S. dollars.
How did you get into your line of work?
"I got into my line of work through creating a beauty Instagram account while I was recovering from a chronic illness in 2014, as a way to meet new people. People began following my page and it grew into a website and a social media platform, and I began working with brands to create sponsored content. I then was approached by some smaller businesses to create lifestyle pieces for their websites and social media — and suddenly I realized it was something I could monetize and turn into a business. I was in a crappy work situation at the time, and it made more sense to give it a go and potentially struggle than hate my situation and wish for a way out."
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What are the challenges of being a freelancer?
"Work-life balance seems easy enough setting your own schedule, but it often means people taking advantage of your flexibility and 2 a.m. edits. Getting a deposit before undertaking work is the biggest lesson I've learned — chasing people for payment after work can be extremely stressful and take longer than the work does. And the creative block can be hard when you’re possibly not working with a client you absolutely love."
What advice would you give to someone starting out as a freelancer?
"Have a good support system behind you. Have money saved (it’s never as easy as you think it’ll be), have good family and friends to help you through the hard times, and most importantly don’t be afraid to promote yourself, approach people with ideas for work, and just go for it — you might get ten rejections in a row, but the 11th time you try will be a winner!"
Occupation: Freelance Copywriter & Social Media Influencer
Industry: Media
Age: 25
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Salary: $21,419.39 (before taxes)
Paycheck Amount: On average I earn $1,790 per month and am regularly paid 14 days after a piece of work is completed. I regularly charge $35.70 an hour and occasionally by the piece. I make an average of $571.18/month for sponsored Instagram posts and roughly $1,070 from freelance work like blog posts for clients. Plus I do sponsored website posts on my own blog for $142.80 a post.
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,428.07 for a two-bedroom house I live in with my fiancé, R. Our rent is quite expensive, but we live in a very convenient location.
Student Loans: $0 (In Australia, you pay a percentage based upon your income — I currently don't earn enough.)
Phone Bill: $71.40 for my share of our phone plan, which includes payments, insurance, shared data, and unlimited calls and texts.
Electricity: $107.10
Internet: $21.42 for my half
Insurance: $174.93 for my half — includes contents, rental, car, medical and ambulance, credit card, and pet insurance
Netflix: $10 (I share my account with fiancé and my best friend. In return, we have access to her TV accounts online — it's a win.)
Google Play Music: $8.57 (Similar to Spotify but comes with YouTube Premium — no ads!)
Gym Membership: $64.26 (This includes 24-hour access as well as a pool, spa, and sauna. Exercise is a form of therapy for me, and my mental health is SO much stronger for it.)
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Day One

8 a.m. — Wake up to the cat crying in my ear wanting attention. I let her under the blankets for cuddles and silence my alarm.
9:15 a.m. — Wake up again with the cat happily asleep on me. I never usually turn my alarm off, so this was a bad decision! I quickly rush around to get ready for the day.
9:40 a.m. — Gardener arrives for a tidy up before our rental inspection next week. I explain everything that we need done and he gets under way. I do a lot of the gardening, but there are some things I can't do, so it's a safety net for us.
11:15 a.m. — Gardener is gone and leaves his invoice in the letterbox to be paid. I pay. R. will reimburse eventually. $71.40
12:20 p.m. — Rouse myself out of editing a piece of work for a client to make myself some avocado toast. Everything is ready, but as I pull the toast out, I notice a spot of mold on the bread that I just purchased on Monday…there goes that loaf! Instead I reheat some of the quiche that I meal prepped for dinners.
2:30 p.m. — The good/bad thing about being a freelancer is setting your own hours. Today I have some errands I need to run, so I quickly change and rush out of the house. I head into the city for a leg wax appointment ($18.56) and browse the latest new releases at Mecca (similar to Sephora in the U.S.), but ultimately don't get anything. I then go to my Pilates class ($15 prepaid) before picking up mail from the post office and heading home. $18.56
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4:45 p.m. — Home and time to publish an Instagram post. This is a sponsored post, and I pray that Instagram's algorithm doesn't hide this one and it does well.
5 p.m. — Made plans with a friend for dinner. I quickly run to the supermarket and grab some chicken breast, fresh bread, and some more avocado ($7.50) and go to pick her up and bring her to my house. $7.50
6:15 p.m. — I scoop up my cat to give her eye drops and medication. Last week she injured her eye — luckily, because I work from home, I noticed right away and could rush her to the vet. Thankfully it's almost healed, but it cost me around $215 that I didn't really have to spare right now!
10 p.m. — My friend leaves. We cooked dinner, chatted about life, cuddled the cat, and watched The Bachelorette. I shower and change into pajamas before curling up in bed to read on my iPad until I fall asleep.
Daily Total: $97.46

Day Two

7:45 a.m. — Wake up yet again to the cat demanding cuddles. I let her cuddle with me for 20 minutes before jumping up, getting changed, and heading to my gym for a quick workout before a morning appointment.
9:15 a.m. — Home from the gym to find a cute card in the mail from a past client — is that a thing? Time for a quick shower and hair wash before making a coffee and running out the door again to my therapy appointment.
11 a.m. — Back in the car after therapy. It should have cost me $130 with a government rebate of $65, but their receptionist was away so I'll pay double at my next appointment. My therapist is pricey, but I suffered a complete physical and mental breakdown a few months ago, and she's been amazing for progress and is worth every cent.
1 p.m. — Feeling really drained after my appointment, so I take a lunch break and make some avocado toast and a second coffee. Running low on Nespresso pods, so I message R. and we decide that I'll pick some non-branded ones at the supermarket this weekend.
4:30 p.m. — Officially switched off for the day because I can't focus anymore! I do a final check of emails and earmark a couple of influencer emails to reply to tomorrow.
5:15 p.m. — Pick my friend up from work and we decide to go out for an early dinner at a local restaurant I've never been to before. We pick a few dishes to share, and she insists on paying because I did her a favor earlier this week. She's stubborn and I know I won't be able to fight this, so I enjoy a delicious dinner!
6 p.m. — We head to her place to do a few bits around her house and watch The Bachelorette again — I wish I didn't like this as much as I do. It's a very guilty pleasure!
9:30 p.m. — I come home, feed the cat, and get changed into my pajamas. I do a little online browsing but end up closing the tab. Then I respond to comments on my latest Instagram post and a couple of Direct Messages in my inbox. I notice a few friends have posted photos from an event that I couldn't make yesterday, and I feel a little left behind. A lot of people think being an influencer is glamorous — it can be for some (especially those with LOTS of followers) and you get to dress up for events like this, but there are hours of hard work behind the scenes…mostly done in pajamas!
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

7:20 a.m. — Cat wakes me up. I let her under the blanket until my alarm goes off at 8 a.m. I stay in bed for a little bit and check for any emails overnight and scroll through social media — my weakness!
9:30 a.m. — Time for Pilates! My favorite instructor is teaching this class, and because I get there slightly early, she asks for feedback from the last class and anything I'd like to focus on this session. She obliges with my request and I feel the burn! ($15 prepaid)
10:40 a.m. — I'm completely exhausted after class — I didn't sleep well last night. I cave in and buy a coffee from a local café because I have a couple of errands to run and don't want to fall asleep in my car. $3.21
11:30 a.m. — Home. The only client work I have at the moment is due next week, so I plan to spend the day preparing content for my own social media. I take approximately 250 photos. I'll edit about 70 and then choose three to go on Instagram and ten to go onto my site. Sadly, that's the norm!
1:30 p.m. — Realize I haven't eaten all day and make some avocado toast for lunch — I'm a creature of habit. I have a couple of items to drop off with a friend of mine, so I head out to her house after this. She asks me to get her an iced coffee on the way, and I feel too awkward to ask for the money back. $4.36
4 p.m. — Arrive back from my friend's house. I dropped by Kmart on the way home and picked up a container to organize my bathroom vanity so products will stop exploding. Part of being an influencer is receiving a lot of beauty products, which is amazing but gets messy! I change into comfy clothes, light a candle, and hop into bed to watch some YouTube with the cat. $2.86
5:30 p.m. — R. is home! He's been away for the week with work, so we spend some quality time debriefing about our weeks and cuddling the cat. We have a good discussion about our finances and savings — we're hoping to buy a home soon and property prices are crazy, so we have regular chats about where we're sitting.
7:40 p.m. — R. and I are starving. We were going to get takeout for dinner, but after discussing finances, we're being good and we each grab a frozen meal from the freezer — perfect for nights like this!
8:30 p.m. — Browsing activewear online and end up purchasing two pairs of tights, two sports bras, and six tank tops. This website has a really amazing sale on, and I've had the same gym clothes for a couple of years now that are really worn out. I have a naturally larger chest, so will end up returning most of the tops anyway because my sizing is weird. $121.28
9 p.m. — Feel super guilty about spending the money and talk to R. about it. He reassures me that it's fine — I can afford it out of my discretionary spending money, and I work out at least five times a week, so it's a justifiable purchase.
10 p.m. — I'm usually a night owl, but I've recently been feeling extremely tired. I make a mental note to see my doctor next week, because this could mean a relapse of an old illness that I don't want. I do my nighttime skin-care routine (too many steps to write out!) and head to bed to scroll on social media for a little while before sleep.
Daily Total: $131.71

Day Four

8 a.m. — Alarm goes off. I was planning on a long walk to the beach this morning, but without opening my eyes I can hear the bad weather. I roll over and go back to sleep.
10 a.m. — R. wakes me up again. He has to go and run an errand for work, so I get him to drop me off at the gym on his way.
11:15 a.m. — R. picks me up on the way home and has an iced latte waiting for me in the car because he knows I've been craving one all week — brownie points for you, R.!
2 p.m. — Hair appointment! My hairdresser recommends I come in every six to eight weeks, but I stretch it to at least 12. I get a half head of foils, toner, treatment, Olaplex, and blowdry, and take home a treatment. My hairdresser is pricey, but I can get away with stretching it out longer so it's worth it in the end. $184.93
5 p.m. — A lazy day of not much has taken its toll. Energy levels are crashing, so I take a nap — excellent decision.
7 p.m. — Slap on some makeup. R.'s dad is taking us out to dinner, and we are going to a fancy steakhouse that I couldn't afford on the average day, so I am very grateful!
10 p.m. — Home after having eaten WAY too much. The food was absolutely delicious, and I already want to go back. Quickly remove my makeup and hop into bed, passing out immediately.
Daily Total: $184.93

Day Five

9 a.m. — Natural wake-up with the sun beaming through the bedroom window — this is what weekends are for! I make a coffee with my Nespresso pod machine and hop back into bed to answer a few emails that have come through since Friday night.
10:40 a.m. — I meet my dad outside my Pilates studio, because I've finally persuaded him to do a class with me! He's in much better physical shape than I am, so I've been excited to see how he does with the coordination needed for reformer Pilates.
12:10 p.m. — Class is over, and Dad loved it! He struggled a bit with some of the exercises but has agreed to come back with me next weekend, so that's a win. Parking is free where we are on a Sunday, so we go to a local café afterward and get a cappuccino each and chat. He pays.
1 p.m. — Supermarket time. I try to only go once a week and meal prep as much as I can to save money. During the week, I almost always eat at home and make coffee there. Occasionally, on weekends, we'll go out for food, and it's usually R.'s treat. R. is away again for work this week, so I'm buying just for me. I get milk, icy poles, yogurt, coconut rice, Nespresso capsules, basil pesto, cleaning solution, cream cheese, parsnips, potatoes, sweet potato, carrot, pumpkin, bananas, chicken, and grapes. I have a lot of assorted bits like rice and pasta in my cupboard right now, so I really only need the fresh things. $41.13
2:15 p.m. — Every Sunday I sit down and use a paper template to plan out my week and my meals. It takes roughly half an hour to do, but keeps me incredibly organized for the week ahead with appointments and client deadlines.
4:10 p.m. — Drive R. to the airport — typical Sunday! Notice that gas is getting low and make a mental note to fill my tank when my next invoice payment hits.
5:20 p.m. — Meal-prep time. This week I'm roasting the vegetables I purchased earlier and cooking chicken. I make enough for the next two nights as well as tonight and eat it for dinner.
9 p.m. — Nightly skin-care routine (tonight it's cleanser, toner, two serums, night cream, eye cream, and a facial oil) and pajamas before settling into bed and catching up on Riverdale.
Daily Total: $41.13

Day Six

7:55 a.m. — Wake up to the cat crying in my ear for attention, so we have cuddles until my 8 a.m. alarm scares her off. After that, I do my usual morning routine of some quick skin care (micellar water, toner, eye cream), read through a few news websites and recent Money Diaries, and feed the cat — my usual Monday morning.
9:15 a.m. — Head to my Pilates class. It's the same instructor as yesterday, and oh my word do I feel all my muscles afterward!
11:45 a.m. — Go home, shower, and eat my usual breakfast (coffee and avocado toast). Time to reply to the rest of the weekend emails and work on sending a couple of quotes for possible ongoing work.
1:30 p.m. — I make myself a snack plate for lunch with a ham-and-cheese sandwich, some fruit, and some M&Ms. I feel bad today because I'm not working on anything that'll bring in money straight away — but I'm putting a lot of effort into researching the businesses that I'm sending quotes to, so hopefully it pays off!
3:20 p.m. — I get an email from a past client with a piece they're hoping to have edited ASAP. I call them and they offer to double my rate if I can get it done immediately — how can I say no? I get to work straight away.
5:30 p.m. — I email the client my invoice and the edited work and get an immediate phone call thanking me. This doesn't happen often and makes me smile. I receive an email about one of the other quotes I applied for, saying they'll get back to me by the end of the week, which is vaguely hopeful. Sign off for the day.
9:40 p.m. — Had a super lazy evening with nothing to report. Ate my dinner, FaceTimed with R. and the cat, and caught up on some YouTube videos. I head to bed with a book I recently got from the library. I love reading, and the local library is free, so it's a win!
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

8 a.m. — For some reason I couldn't sleep last night, so I'm running on around five hours of interrupted sleep and I'm not feeling too well. Would love nothing more than to go back to sleep, but we have our real estate agent doing a rental inspection between 9 and 2, so I have no choice but to get up and get ready, ugh.
11:15 a.m. — Inspection done and no issues were found, thankfully! I make my usual avocado toast and coffee and sit at my desk to do some final edits on a piece due to a client tomorrow. I finished writing a few days ago, but I like to do a final read-through the day before emailing.
1:40 p.m. — Can't concentrate and am nearly falling asleep at my desk trying to update my website. I make another coffee and sit on the couch to rest quickly.
3:30 p.m. — Oops, just woke up on the couch! I grab my phone and realize what's happened when I see the cold, untouched coffee next to me — guess I needed a nap. I call the doctor and make an appointment for the end of the week to get some testing done, because this isn't a good health sign. I reply to my most recent influencer emails while lying on the couch. I have a couple of emails requesting sponsorship rates, so I send them off and hope for the best!
5 p.m. — A really good job pops up on a local site, so I spend a little while creating a cover letter and replying to their selection criteria. This would be an amazing opportunity, so I'm really hopeful.
7:40 p.m. — Job applied for, final emails replied to, and I've spent some time responding to comments on my latest online influencer content. Still feeling really lazy, so I make some ramen that's hiding in my cupboard for dinner.
9 p.m. — Skin-care routine, pajamas, and a book — time for some sleep!
Daily Total: $0
If you are experiencing anxiety or depression and need support, please call the National Depressive/Manic-Depressive Association Hotline at 1-800-826-3632 or the Crisis Call Center’s 24-hour hotline at 1-775-784-8090.
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