A Week In Canberra, Australia, On A $115,000 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: a risk-management consultant working in aviation and transport who makes $115,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on turmeric elixir.
Editor's note: All currency has been converted to USD.
Occupation: Risk Management Consultant
Industry: Aviation & Transport
Age: 29
Location: Canberra, Australia
Salary: $115,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $3,117
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,319 (I rent a two-bedroom apartment and sublease the spare room out on occasion. I charge $200 per week, inclusive of bills.)
Loans: $0 (This gal failed out of high school, so no student loans.)
Electricity: $150 (The meter is read each quarter. This amount generally overpays, so the excess rolls over until I have enough to cash out.)
Pet Insurance: $35
Internet: $60
Cell Phone: $15 (It costs $60, but $45 is reimbursed through work each month.)
Health Insurance: N/A
Netflix: $12.99
Spotify: $4.99 (student discount)
Superannuation: In Australia it is mandatory that each employer pays a minimum of 9.5% of your annual salary into a fund that cannot be accessed until you retire full-time and reach a certain age. In my experience, salaries will be discussed "ex-super." The last time I checked (more than a year ago), I had roughly $65,000 in super. You can self-contribute to your super, and that is something I will look at doing in 5-10 years, once I have purchased a house and achieved other financial goals.
Savings: $3,000
Advertisement

Day One

6:45 a.m. — My alarm goes off, but I immediately turn it off and activate my second alarm. I have several tiers of readiness, depending on what time I get out of bed. Morning snuggles with my dog, D., entice me to snooze for too long. I am not adhering to my morning routine.
7 a.m. — I snooze again. I don't want to go to work.
7:20 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I finally get up. I give myself a quick pep talk and start my morning routine. I am in recovery (alcohol addiction) and my sponsor has recommended a new routine, which involves spending 15 minutes each morning meditating, reading an excerpt from AA literature, and writing down five things I am grateful for. This morning I am grateful for my dog, that I can afford rent this month, that I have a job to go to today, that my bed is warm, and that raspberries are in season. I listen to a new podcast while putting on my face and getting dressed. I say goodbye to my dog and drive the 10 minutes to work. My city doesn't have great public transport. I pay for parking, but as I'm consulting, it is reimbursed through my work. ($9.95 expensed)
8 a.m. — Despite my paying a premium for parking, it's still a hike to the building I work in.
8:15 a.m. — I started a new job two weeks ago. I left my old job after three years and went into private consulting for three months. It was fun, but I wanted the support and safety of working for a big company, so I accepted an offer with an established consulting group with a really big emphasis on culture and professionalism. Private consulting was crazy good money (about $12,000 per month post-tax), so it was a small drop coming to my current gig, but still a massive hike from my old job, where I was earning $50,000 per year.
Advertisement
8:20 a.m. — It's a nice but weird feeling being given so much autonomy in my work. I have been instructed to complete several high-level tasks in the next six months by my direct boss. His attitude is basically "Come see me if you need help, or deliver the completed version by the deadline," which is very refreshing after my last company, where the CEO micromanaged every person in the company. I spend the morning writing down my monthly goals and breaking them down into weekly and daily tasks.
12 p.m. — My old mentor picks me up outside my building and takes me to lunch. He is a close friend and was the first person I revealed my addiction issues to. We're in a fancy area and go to an authentic Italian restaurant. We both get the crab linguini. He gets a glass of wine, and I get a cola. I insist on paying, as he normally picks up the check, and part of this lunch was to celebrate my new job. $57.99
4:15 p.m. — My best friend, S., is having a struggle right now. She has dealt with multiple deaths, family trauma, job loss, study, etc. She has been withdrawing and advised she needs to take some time for herself. I'm going to make her a care package and drop it off this weekend, so she is reminded she's surrounded by people who love her. I drop into an upmarket holistic shop and purchase mushroom powder, liquid turmeric elixir, hand cream, lip balm, beetroot and ginger tea, local honey body scrub, and rose petal body wash. It's expensive, but she's worth it. $77.09
Advertisement
5:20 p.m. — I get home and unload my bags. I carry my work bag with a laptop, notebook, fancy pens, and wireless modem, my personal handbag with house keys, car keys, work keys, wallet, small bag filled with makeup, lunch bag with my fruit and vegetable snacks, my mini coffee press, coffee grinds, water bottle, plus the bag of goods I just bought for S. I need a better system, because it's too much schlepping around with every day.
5:30 p.m. — I tell D. about my day. He shows me his favorite toy of the day. I pretend to be very interested in his toy, and we play-fight for about 20 minutes.
5:45 p.m. — I roasted a variety of vegetables earlier in the week. I mash them up with rice and mix with some salsa and guac. I eat this Michelin-star concoction with corn chips while watching Netflix and messaging the gals in my group chat.
9:30 p.m. — Bedtime. I take the stinker out around the block to do his business. It's the middle of winter and very windy, which makes him a bit frightened and too scared to go. I can sympathize, but we're not going back upstairs until he goes. We do a few laps until he's ready, then back upstairs and into bed.
Daily Total: $135.08

Day Two

6:30 a.m. — Today is Friday, so I wake up with a bit more pep in my step. Morning routine. I have a "work uniform capsule" that consists of six black dresses, six blazers, and six loafers in varying colors. I jazz up my day with earrings and a pink lip. I don't have to think about what I wear each day, just grab a dress, a blazer, put on loafers, and shove earrings into my blazer pocket to put on in the car at traffic lights. Drive to work. Pay for parking. I bump into a friend, who let me know I can save around $2.50 if I opt for a weekly parking ticket. This is great information for next Monday. ($9.95 expensed)
Advertisement
7:45 a.m. — I'm a visual learner, so I start to collate the information I've gathered this week into diagrams and infographics. I pin them up around my cubicle, and a few people stop by and we talk about them. My internal business lady is happy.
10:15 a.m. — I'm enticed by a colleague to go get a coffee. The coffee shop in our building has a line wrapping down the hall to the security gates, so we brave the cold and go to a smaller building across the square. I buy a mystery muffin that is massive. $3.08
12 p.m. — I have meetings offsite this afternoon that I prep for. My team advises that on Fridays they all go out for lunch together and invite me along. I brought a salad, but also crave human interaction. I go with them and spend too much on a very average chicken sandwich. $12.45
1 p.m. — I drive 15 minutes to where my afternoon meetings are. Parking here is free. I still feel like a child on the inside and am sometimes surprised at the words coming out of my mouth. I guess I am qualified to do this job??? When does the feeling of "knowing what you're doing" kick in? Why do I have zero self-confidence?
4:30 p.m. — I need to go to my base office to have a check-in with my internal manager and fill out the expenses form for the first time with the help of the finance team ($141 in parking claimed). There are office drinks on offer, and I am still very young in sobriety. Drinking is a huge part of Australian culture, especially work culture, and I am trying to learn how to balance social interactions without partaking. I have a soft drink and chat with my new colleagues, but dip out pretty early. I am thankful each day I don't drink, and my life has changed drastically in my 11 months of sobriety, but I am still adjusting to who I am in the world and how I interact with alcohol when it is so prevalent.
Advertisement
5 p.m. — I message my sponsor. I haven't seen her since I started my new job, and I've been skipping support meetings because I'm busy. I drive home, get changed into athleisure, and grab D. for a walk. We walk down to the lake, and I let him chase a few swans on the water. It's too cold to stay out much longer, so we walk home and I jump in the hot shower. D. sits on the other side of the curtain drinking the floor water, which is gross, but also kinda cute.
9 p.m. — I spend a bit more time on my skin-care routine tonight. I recently disabled all notifications on my phone, and while I can see the little red badges telling me people have messaged and called, I ignore them because I find it too overwhelming to engage socially. I climb into bed with D. and some snacks and put on a movie to distract me. I comfort-eat Tim Tams and eventually fall asleep.
Daily Total: $15.53

Day Three

7 a.m. — Mmmm, sweet, sweet Saturday. I burrow into my pillows and snooze.
8:30 a.m. — I nudge D. awake with my foot and gently encourage him to come to the top end of the bed for spoons.
9:30 a.m. — I don't want to stay in bed all day, so I get up and go into the kitchen to make a cup of coffee. I make a French press and try to see how many chores I can complete while it brews. I fill up my dishwasher, put a load of washing on (towels and bedding), and make a ham and cheese croissant. I go back to bed and drink my coffee and browse the internet for meal-planning inspiration.
Advertisement
1 p.m. — I putter around the apartment watching Netflix, reading my book, and doing my weekly chores. I try to spend 20 minutes each day doing chores, so I don't waste a Saturday cleaning, but the new job has made me more tired than usual. I do two loads of washing, hang up the clothes to dry, and clean the bathroom, laundry, kitchen, and my bedroom. I water my plants, which takes about 45 minutes, as I have nearly 100. And as it is winter in Australia, I have to spend some time moving them around to make sure they get enough sun. I finish up by vacuuming the apartment. I finally change out of my PJs and take D. for a walk.
2 p.m. — I have an upcoming out-of-state trip next month with my new consulting group for a four-day mix of workshops, leadership talks, and networking. It's sold as being fun and low-key, and we are encouraged to dress up for the main dinner on night three. I find an amazing multicolor sequin two-piece suit that I order online. This store has flexible return options, so if it looks too ridiculous, I can return easily. $121.44
4:30 p.m. — I am a member of Alcoholics Anonymous and am endlessly grateful for their support in my journey to and in sobriety. My home group is an LGBT+ group held on Saturday evenings. As a group member, it's my responsibility to supply tea/coffee and biscuits. I find a packet of rainbow-sprinkle shortbread biscuits to bring. I go early to help set up the chairs and materials. I'm asked to chair for the first time, which means I open the meeting and choose who to ask to chair. It's a really beautiful and warm meeting with about 30 people in attendance. It's one member's birthday, so we celebrate after the meeting with cake. Three people come up to me afterward saying I did a really nice job of chairing. A small group stays for about two hours, chatting and cleaning up. I leave feeling like my soul has been fed. $8.19
Advertisement
9 p.m. — On the way home I stop by a dry cleaner to drop off a suede jacket and wool coat. It has this fun self-service contraption similar to a vending machine. I fill out my details, it dispenses a bag to put my clothes in, and I drop it in the hatch. I pre-pay, but might be charged more later as I'm guessing what the total might be. $19.10
9:30 p.m.— I get home, have a hot bath, and read my book. I put on a face mask while I'm in the bath.
10 p.m. — I place an order online to pick up tomorrow. I am feeling overwhelmed with the week ahead, so I decide to go against what I normally do and order pre-made meals. I get four Darikay soups (chicken and corn, vegetable, lentil, Thai pumpkin) and four pre-made salads (chicken couscous, Mexican salad, Caesar, Greek), garlic bread, pumpkin and feta ravioli, Icelandic-style skyr yogurt, and some sea salt dark chocolate. $30.70
10:30 p.m. — I put on Forensic Files to lull me to sleep. I have Pavlov-ed myself to get sleepy when the theme music plays. I'm out like a light.
Daily Total: $179.43

Day Four

3:30 a.m. — I wake up super early to the TV playing loudly. My housemate is a chef at a fancy restaurant. I go out and find him watching a South Korean drama and making a large pot of curry. He just got home from work and apologies profusely. I don't mind too much. I stay up and we chat about my new job, his upcoming international travel, house-related business, and D. I have a bite of curry, and it is amazing. I am #blessed. This curry will be included in my gratitude list for sure.
Advertisement
4:15 a.m. — I go back to bed for a few hours. I put on Forensic Files to help me fall asleep.
8 a.m. — I wake up properly and get up and make a cup of coffee. While it's brewing, I empty the dishwasher and put away my clean clothes, towels, and bedding. I fold the clotheshorse down and drink my coffee in bed while scratching D.'s belly.
9:45 a.m. — I meet up with a friend, a former coworker, and her fiancé for lunch. It's near my apartment so I walk up, stopping at the ATM to get cash out. I order green eggs and ham and another coffee. We have a breezy brunch and chat and laugh for almost two hours before I realize I need to get on with the rest of my day. My friend pays on her card, and I guesstimate the price of my food and give her cash. We're pretty casual about these things. We work in nearby buildings and make loose plans to meet up for lunch during the week. $17.06
11:45 a.m. — While I'm walking home, I pass a new "wholefoods scoop shop" and decide to pop in. It sells spices, organic flours, and other healthy goods. I pick up some reusable produce bags I have been meaning to buy online. $14.20
12:15 p.m. — I'm a member of my local Buy Nothing New group. Another member posted an insanely tacky but amazing gold long-sleeved body suit (free!). This is my back-up option in case the sequin suit doesn't work. She has hidden it in her garden. I drive over and collect it and message her to say thanks.
Advertisement
12:30 p.m. — I drive to my local farmers' market and buy some locally roasted coffee beans ($8) and these cute silver earrings that look like hands ($24), and use my new produce bags to collect some sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, red onion, garlic, mandarins, blueberries, and Granny Smith apples ($7.50). $39.50
1 p.m. — On my way back to my car, I can't resist a stall selling flowers. I pick a bouquet of yellow and pink roses. $6
1:30 p.m. — I drive to pick up my click-and-collect groceries, then head home and unpack everything. I organize the groceries in my fridge, so I have a soup/salad/fruit/yogurt in a stack for each day. Small things like this help soothe my anxiety, since I know I can grab the stack each morning before work. I get really bad decision fatigue, and a small thing like having the flavor of soup I'll eat for dinner already decided for me really helps. I cut the stems of the roses and arrange them in a weird, but still cool, shell-shaped vase. I decide to bring a stool into my bedroom to keep them on, so I'll see them each morning when I wake up.
2:15 p.m. — I decide to list a few things on the Buy Nothing New page. I take photos of a large ornamental urn to post. A lady quickly responds to the FB ad requesting to pick it up. We organize for me to drop it off later this week.
Advertisement
5:30 p.m. — I drive across town to a new meeting I haven't been to before. Something someone else shares causes me to start (silently) sobbing. After the meeting, I sit in my car and start crying harder. I don't know why I'm so upset. I call a friend I've made in recovery, and he makes me laugh by telling me that coming into recovery causes the ice around our hearts to melt. I spent so long drinking to mask all of my emotions that any type of feeling causes me to panic and feel overwhelmed. Talking with my friend, we uncover that I am feeling frustrated because I don't know how I am feeling or why I am feeling that way. (I think) I feel relieved at this realization. I drive home, scoop up the stinker, and snuggle in bed till we fall asleep.
Daily Total: $76.76

Day Five

6:45 a.m. — I wake up, get ready, drive to work, and purchase a weekly parking ticket. ($48 expensed)
7:45 a.m. — I get to my office and check my emails. I have been invited to a heap of meetings this week, and my calendar is quickly filling up. I block out hourly sections in my calendar so no other meetings are booked and I can actually get some work done. I make a cup of coffee and chat to my desk buddy. I gave her a bag of green tea last week, and she's sweetly brought in some chai to share. We make a little tea station in our office and decide to start a tea club.
Advertisement
11:30 a.m. — I get back to my desk and make a cup of herbal tea (grapefruit and lemon) and eat a strawberry skyr yogurt while reading documents. My podcast playlist isn't working for some reason, which is irritating me more than it should.
12:15 p.m. — I eat lunch at my desk — it's a pre-made salad that is delicious.
5:30 p.m. — I wrap up my work, make the trek to my car, drive, and park at home, then walk several blocks to a local church for an AA meeting. I make a cup of instant coffee and settle into the room, talking to the other regulars. At the end of the meeting, I put a few coins in the collection basket, which helps pay for renting the room, tea, and coffee. $2
7 p.m. — I feel emotionally exhausted. I get home and lie on the floor with D. and pretend I'm a dog. I let him lick my face while I lie motionless.
8:30 p.m. — I heat up the soup of the day (lentil) and half-watch Netflix while eating. I'm not really hungry or interested in the show. It's raining lightly outside and I want to take D. for a walk, but he hates the rain. We compromise and go downstairs into the underground garage and play fetch for a little while.
10 p.m. — I have a shower, do skin-care routine, get into bed, and feel sad and sorry for myself. I consider comfort eating, but instead find #relatable memes to send to the group chat until I eventually fall asleep.
Advertisement
Daily Total: $2

Day Six

6:45 a.m. — Wake up, get ready, and head to work. I have meeting after meeting this morning, and my brain begins to melt because I have yet to grasp the wider complexities of the environment I am working in. I feel myself starting to zone out. During a meeting break, I escape to a prayer room in the building. AA can be intertwined with God, but I am not religious. I am very spiritual, and as part of my recovery journey, I am opening my mind to the possibility of something bigger than myself existing. Really, though, I wanted five minutes in a quiet, dark room with a bed. I lie down and browse Instagram.
12 p.m. — Meetings. Salad at my desk. More meetings. I sneak out of work a few minutes early.
5:15 p.m. — My friend's boyfriend calls me to ask a few questions about meds and general mental health. He's thinking about seeing a psychiatrist and wants to ask for a referral. It is comforting to have someone to reach out to me to ask questions about these things. It reminds me to not compare myself to others, as they can be crumbling, too.
7 p.m. — I check my bank account and see that I have received an unexpected windfall in the form of a tax return!! I only filed last week, so I wasn't expecting this for another week or two. I immediately transfer the full amount ($3,870) into my savings account. I plan on buying a new car in the next month or two.
Advertisement
7:30 p.m. — I go to an AA meeting and listen. I only have small denomination coins, so I opt not to contribute to the basket.
9 p.m.— I get home, quickly walk D., then have a long, long, hot, hot bath. My skin is red when I get out. I do half my skin-care routine and get into bed. I pop a melatonin and put Forensic Files on and make a pillow nest to sleep in.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

6 a.m. — I wake up early and spend 20 minutes writing out a plan for the next week, because I feel myself struggling and not moving forward in recovery and life. I plan to meet with my sponsor tomorrow after work.
7:15 a.m. — I message my boss to let him know I will be working from a different office. It's nearby my house, so I can walk over. It has nicer amenities, too. I walk in, regretting not bringing an umbrella, because I know it will rain later. I left my coffee arsenal at home, so I pick up a soy flat white when I reach the building. $4.30
8:10 a.m. — I unpack at one of the hot desks and start chatting with the lady across from me. We spend about 30 minutes talking about nothing related to work, which was my intention.
10 a.m. — I have a report that is due today. I decide to relocate to a café for some outside inspiration, and because nearby cubicles are chatting and distracting me. I order a fruit tart and another coffee, then spend about 45 minutes sketching out what the report should look like on my notepad. $9.40
Advertisement
1 p.m. — I return to work and break for lunch with a group of colleagues. I left my pre-made salad at home. Half the group goes to a café to get sandwiches, but I walk a little bit further with a few people to a Mexican place and order a burrito. $14.15
2 p.m. — I get back to my desk and finish my report.
5:30 p.m. — Home time! I walk the long way home and pop into another meeting. There are over 100 meetings every week in my city. I have my regular meetings that I try to go to each week, plus my home group that I go to every week without exception. My sponsor suggested I try a new meeting each week. This is a regular meeting. The format isn't my favorite, but it's very close to home. I put some change in the basket. $1.25
6 p.m. — I have a haircut booked at a salon around the corner from my apartment. It is a very fancy salon and an indulgence I don't feel guilty about. A lady greets me, checks my coat, and takes me to my seat. She provides an iPad with the option to watch Netflix or read a magazine. She asks me how chatty I am feeling to pass on my response to my hairstylist (ugh, I love this). I am feeling quiet, so opt for limited social interaction. Another staff member brings me a hot towel to wash my hands and asks me what I would like to drink. I request herbal citrus tea. He also brings a glass of sparkling water with lemon and a piece of caramel. Regardless of what I'm drinking, I have always struggled with the complimentary drinks provided at hair salons. The stylist is manipulating your head during the entire session, so when are you meant to be able to drink it?
Advertisement
6:15 p.m. — My stylist comes and sits with me to discuss what cut I would like. I show her some reference pictures. Another staff member brings me to a dark back room where they wash your hair. This place is so relaxing, and the process is so polished. My stylist cuts my hair, with no small talk as per instructions from the receptionist. She finishes up my hair, and I pay at the counter and make another appointment in eight weeks. $88.46
10:30 p.m. — I walk home, grab my dog, and take him to the park a few blocks over. We play for half an hour, then head home. I finish my nighttime routine and pop into bed. I message friends and make plans to catch up tomorrow after work. I put on my favorite Forensic Files and fall asleep.
Daily Total: $117.56
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.
Want more Money Diaries? Well, you’re in luck — Refinery29 Canada is launching its own Canadian Money Diaries three times a week. (Which means once you’re done with catching up on all our diaries during your lunch break, you can head on over to R29 CA for even more.) You can now experience Money Diaries IRL at 29Rooms Toronto September 26th through October 6th. Buy tickets here.
Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women's experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.
The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day. For more money diaries, click here.
Do you have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Submit it with us here.
Advertisement

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series