Footy tickets and a book: What a comms adviser on $83,000 spends in a week

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This article originally appeared in Refinery29 Australia.

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we ask real people how they spend and save their money during a seven-day period, tracking every last dollar. Anyone can write a Money Diary! Want to see yours here? Here’s how.

Today: a digital communications advisor who makes $83,000 a year and spends some of her money this week on tickets to the AFL Showdown.

On Money Diaries this week, a digital communications advisor who makes $83,000 a year and spends some of her money on tickets to the AFL Showdown.Credit: Refinery29 Australia

Occupation: Digital Communications Adviser
Industry: Government
Age: 28
Location: Adelaide, South Australia
Salary: $83,000
Net Worth: Approx $168,000 ($28,000 in savings, $40,000 in super, an apartment worth $450,000, and a car worth $15,000)
Debt: $364,657 ($320,000 mortgage, $44,657 in HELP student loans)
Paycheque Amount (Fortnightly): $2044. I also get $345 towards my mortgage and $100 on a meals and entertainment card, which are salary sacrificed from my pay before tax.
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses

Mortgage: $1766 (and ever-rising thanks to inflation). I live in a two-bedroom unit I own with my boyfriend, O. He sends me $650 a fortnight as his contribution towards our living costs. He pays 40 per cent and I pay 60 per cent, as he also pays all the costs for his house which is currently being built.
Strata Fees: $133
Council Rates: $88
Utilities (Water, Gas, Electricity, Internet): $385
Dropbox Storage: $18
Adobe Creative Cloud: $80 (I plan on cancelling this soon and using my work account).
Spotify: $12
Disney+: $14 (I share this with my parents, who share Netflix with me. O. pays for Binge, Kayo and Amazon Prime).
Phone: $111
Insurance (Car, Health and Pet): $500 (O. and I need top cover health insurance for IVF when we decide to have children).
Gym Membership: $243
Savings Contributions: $200 to an offset savings account and $100 to an IVF savings account.

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

I studied graphic design at university and got a job in my final year. I enjoyed being creative but discovered that graphic design was mostly marketing people coming up with creative ideas and briefing you. I was obsessed with nutrition at the time so I started studying a nutrition degree online. Then an opportunity for a marketing job came up at work and I jumped across and loved it. I graduated with a diploma as my dream of becoming a dietitian faded away.

Last year, I started studying for a masters of marketing to help with my imposter syndrome and open opportunities to escape a toxic workplace. I’m currently halfway through the masters but taking a study period off as I’m enjoying my (new!) job. I feel like I’ve been studying forever and I’m over it. If I finish two more subjects I can graduate with a graduate diploma, so I might do that. Or I can graduate now with a graduate certificate … I have a few weeks left to decide. My HELP debt is large enough.

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

My parents didn’t really talk about money. They were young when they had me but good at living within their budget. Mum didn’t work when we kids were young, but Dad had a good job that saw us move and live all over Australia. We didn’t do any overseas holidays but went on plenty of camping trips. I learnt to shop the sales racks only and look at the cost of food by grams to find the cheapest option.

But we also received great presents for birthdays and I never felt like I had to go without anything. When I got my first job, they opened up a debit and savings account for me and encouraged me to save. My mum started working when we were all at school, and Dad has steadily moved up the management ladder, so my parent’s financial situation has improved a lot.

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

My first job was at a local cafe when I was just under 15. My mum got the job for me. I worked every Saturday and Sunday from 9am until required and my boss was terrifying. I once asked for a weekend off for a surf competition and she abused me over text message. I never went back and my parents went and quit for me.

Did you worry about money growing up?

No. While things were undoubtedly tight on one salary, I never worried because my parents didn’t. We made do with what we had, and my childhood was full of endless fun and adventures.

Do you worry about money now?

Yes and no. I worry because money seems tight, especially with rising interest rates, despite my good salary. But I remember that O. and I are paying for two homes and living in one so this pressure should ease once we move into his house and rent my unit out.

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

Probably at 25 when my family moved interstate and I bought my unit. I paid for all my bills before then but moved in and out with my parents as I navigated my early 20s. However, my parents would help me with anything if asked, or even if I don’t ask. For example, last Christmas Dad bought me new tires for my car because I didn’t want to spend the money. And they split the cost of flights when I go to visit them. So my financial safety net is there and I’m well cushioned.

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


Day 1

6:00am — Roll over in bed. A serious mistake, as this wakes up our kitten (B.) who is sleeping between my legs. He purrs and walks over to me and O., protesting the lack of breakfast.

6:30am — I get up to feed B. Then I get back in bed. It’s cold and dark and I’m not ready to face Tuesday yet. B. brings us a hair tie he found and O. plays fetch with him from bed (clever kitten).

7:15am — I’m up! Quick shower, throw on tights, a dress, coat and boots. Pack oats for breakfast, leftover pad Thai for lunch, a banana and a kiwi fruit. Kiss O. goodbye and thank him for making me a coffee while I rushed around. Feel guilty as B. cries by the door as I leave.

7:45am — Tap onto the train ($4.05). Sip my coffee. Internally debate the social acceptability of eating a banana on the train and decide against it. $4.05

8:10am — I walk 20 minutes to the office, listening to the Shameless podcast. Say hello to my co-workers. The director comes to talk to me about a leadership course she did recently in which they discussed generational differences and advised everyone to bring their youngest co-worker into leadership meetings. She says she’ll be pulling me into more meetings with her, which I am excited about. I started this job late last year after leaving a very toxic workplace. It’s been a wonderful change but the role is newly created, so I’m still trying to fill my time after being used to doing two people’s work at my old job.

9:00am — Make oats with honey and cinnamon and eat them at my desk.

9:30am — My team go to buy coffee at our regular cafe. Soy flat white for me. $6.50

9:45am — Time to start work. I check my emails and our work social media accounts.

11:45am — Reply to a guy on Gumtree who is buying our TV that sits in our bedroom unused. Why is haggling so exhausting? Agree to another $20 off so he’ll just come and pick the thing up. Then I study to renew my Google Analytics certification.

12:00pm — Lunch. Heat up my pad Thai and eat in the staff kitchen. Spend 20 minutes trying to find a new book to read. I just finished Fourth Wing in two days (thank you, BookTok) so now I have a long wait until book two in November. Download a sample of The Seven Sisters, then spend the rest of my break on TikTok instead of reading it.

12:30pm — Help my coworker make a PDF document, then O. calls me to update me on his house, as he just went to meet a new builder. Building has been a long, difficult, expensive, and stressful process that we won’t be repeating.

2:00pm — My manager is midway through briefing me on some work to do this week when the director comes and pulls us into a meeting to cover for a sick co-worker. We smile and nod at the appropriate times.

2:30pm — Eat half of my banana and get grossed out by the texture so don’t finish it.

3:00pm — Submit my timesheets for the next two weeks. They have to be done early due to a public holiday. Then I dive into social planning for next month and content for an upcoming launch.

4:40pm — Pull myself out of my social calendar, dehydrated and hungry. Refill my water bottle and start the walk to the train station.

5:05pm — Tap onto the train ($4.05) and watch TikTok. This train is express to the stop before ours so I get off and walk the rest of the way home. O. surprises me by meeting me at the train station. B. is very excited to see me and immediately demands his dinner. He gets tuna tonight! $4.05

5:45pm — Cut potatoes into chips and put them in the air fryer, then I shallow fry chicken schnitzels and steam broccoli. O. is on a Zoom call about his house, so B. monitors me from the top of his cat tree. I serve everything up alongside a can of Pepsi Max for both of us.

6:30pm — I’m selling some of my clothes at a local rent-a-rack store starting tomorrow, so I sort them into piles and attach price tags to all of them. This takes an hour or two so O. joins me and we watch The Office. He also makes me a cup of tea and brings me a mini almond Magnum.

8:00pm — Do the dishes. When I go to throw out the rubbish, B. darts past me outside into the dark and we spend five panicked minutes trying to find him. O. shakes treats in front of the door and manages to catch him, then I hug them both for five minutes. B. is an indoor cat and won’t wear his collar, so we really could have lost him. I eat a snack-size Freddo Frog to feel better.

9:00pm — That’s enough excitement for today. I get into bed and consider reading Mortal Instruments, but end up just scrolling socials and going to sleep.

Daily Total: $14.60

Day 2

5:30am — My alarm goes off. B. didn’t sleep with us last night so he comes in and starts purring and making biscuits on my feet. I don’t want to get up. Grab B. and close the door so O. can sleep a bit longer. Put B. down on the bath mat while I get ready for the gym. Throw on a Lululemon top and leggings, Nike Metcons, and a hoodie and pull my hair into a messy ponytail. Then I cuddle B. until I have to leave.

5:45am — Drive to the gym. It’s lower body today and we’re doing heavy squats and hip thrusts. I partner up with a lovely girl and we chat throughout the class. Feel bad because I don’t know her name. She asks me if I’m coming tomorrow morning and I say yes, so now I can’t cancel!

7:10am — Home. B. is waiting in the window for me and runs to the door for a cuddle. Pets are the best. I shower and put on comfy flared leggings and a hoodie as I’m working from home today.

7:30am — Have a protein shake and two pieces of toast with apricot jam. Watch YouTube while I eat.

8:00am — Tidy up the house a bit, make the bed and put away last night’s dishes. Then I make a coffee and sit down to start work.

9:00am — B. tries to sit on my keyboard. O. wants to go for a quick walk so I join him on a lap around the block. My MetroCard auto recharges from my payments account. $20

10:00am — My rent-a-rack starts now! I drive to the store and set up my clothes on the rack, attaching security tags. This only takes half an hour. I post on Instagram about it and tag the store. Hopefully, I make some sales! At least enough to pay the $190 it cost to rent the rack (I paid this a few weeks ago when I booked).

10:40am — Home. Make an iced soy latte and warm up some raspberry white chocolate banana bread. Give B. some cat milk as his “coffee”. Back to work.

12:30pm — Take a break from making content for an upcoming campaign to heat up leftover schnitzel and chips for lunch. Watch YouTube while I eat.

1:00pm — Check my rent-a-rack sales on the app. Nothing. Sigh. I’m going to be obsessively checking this over the next two weeks.

2:30pm — Time is moving at a glacial pace. Make O. and myself tea (he works from home) and cuddle B. for five minutes.

3:00pm — Check the app — I made a sale! $55 for a jumpsuit I’ve worn once. Celebrate with a row of white chocolate.

4:00pm — Heat up and eat a plain pita bread wrap. Carb central today.

4:20pm — Try to cancel my online news subscription. I paid $4 last month to read a few articles that were paywalled, but the subscription is $28 a month after the first month. It says I have to CALL to cancel. What is this, the ’90s? I begrudgingly call and it only takes a few minutes. The cancellation email they promise doesn’t come through …

4:30pm — The guy from Gumtree comes to pick up the TV. He’s nice enough that I feel bad that I made sure O. would be home. I give the $280 cash to O. since it was his TV. Released from safety duty, he heads out for a quick run before a 5pm meeting.

5:00pm — Work done! Lie in bed and chat with my mum on the phone. B. sits on the bed head and guards me from the birds outside the window.

5:25pm — Feed B. (chicken tonight) and start dinner. Tonight, we’re having chicken skewers with caesar salad. Clean out the fridge while I cook, fishing several soggy vegetables out of the crisper. They deserved better.

5:45pm — Deliver O.’s dinner to him in his meeting and eat mine on the couch. B. tries to steal my chicken, then my parmesan (any cat owners have tips on how to stop this? We’re first-timers). He eventually gives up.

6:15pm — O. finishes his meeting and rushes around getting ready for a rugby game he’s going to tonight. I check the train timetable for him and he runs out the door at 6:30pm. Settle in with a mini almond Magnum for a night on the couch.

7:00pm — I’ve started and stopped two movies, both five minutes in. I swap to books, adding five to my reading list on Apple Books then downloading the Kindle App so I can buy The Serpent and the Wings of Night series on Amazon ($15.34). Committing to a new book series or TV show is so hard — new worlds, new characters, new plot lines to absorb. $15.34

9:00pm — Give B. his bedtime snack (biscuits) and get ready for bed. I’m running out of almost all of my Go-To Skincare but I’m waiting for mid-year sales to restock.

10:15pm — O. calls me to say he accidentally got off the train one stop early and we chat as he walks home. Once he’s home I get out of bed to give him a kiss, then retreat to bed, shutting the door.

Daily Total: $35.34

Day 3

5:28am — B. wakes me up in what feels like the dead of the night. I let him under the covers until my alarm goes off two minutes later. He emerges smugly, and sits next to my head purring until I get up. He nuzzles my face with his little nose as I carry him out of the room and I feel blessed. Shut the door so O. can sleep.

5:45am — Lululemon on and I’m out the door. It’s a cardio class today at the gym and my new friend isn’t here. We have to complete alternating six-minute blocks on a cardio machine with wall balls, dumbbell snatches and a choice of burpees or running outside in the cold and wet. Everyone runs.

7:00am — Done! That was hard. Mentally commit to at least one cardio class a week.

7:20am — Walk in the door, cuddle B. and make O. and myself coffee and toast. I also grab out the slow cooker and chuck in red curry paste, chicken thighs, and coconut milk and turn it on for eight hours. I will add vegetables later. B. tries to eat the raw chicken.

8:00am — It’s payday! I get paid an extra $360 for working a weekend last fortnight, which I transfer to my spending account. All my other transfers are scheduled, moving my budgeted amounts into savings, spending and payments. I also pay off my credit card, which I used to buy a new vacuum a few weeks ago ($281). $281

9:00am — Quick shower. Dress in jeans, Converse and a knit, throw my hair into a low bun. Smother my face in Go-To Much Brighter Skin (love this stuff) and tinted zinc cream, and gel my brows into submission.

9:30am — We leave for a selections meeting as we’re choosing the finishes on O.’s house. I feel nauseous so I eat a single slice of white bread and a muesli bar on the drive there.

10:00am — Dive into choosing carpets, floors, curtains and more. I love this. O. gives me free rein and the designer advises me of the best styling choices. I am very excited by a new technology that makes mirrors not fog up when you shower!

12:00pm — Home and feel guilty for missing so much work. Make a quick ham and cheese toasted sandwich (five pieces of bread today – and counting!). Give B. his cat milk. Back to work.

1:00pm — Make O. and myself coffee with Freddo Frogs melted in to make them mochas. Check the rent-a-rack app, no sales yet today. Starting to doubt my fashion taste … Shred the chicken and dump frozen winter vegetables in the slow cooker.

3:45pm — Take a break to eat a kiwi fruit and refill my water bottle. B. is taking a nap on our bed, making sleepy kitten sounds. I’m jealous so I take my laptop and work next to him. I’m trying to make an interactive PDF using a lot of large files and it’s slow and frustrating.

4:30pm — Close the interactive PDF for today and work on our social media report for last month.

5:00pm — Clock off. I should work for another hour to make up time, but I am exhausted. O. has made rice to go with the red curry, so I eat dinner early. Feed B. his tuna dinner at the same time.

5:30pm — O. leaves for football training, I watch The Incredibles 2 on the couch and cuddle B.

7:00pm — Make a cup of tea and heat up some white chocolate raspberry banana bread. Check the app and I’ve made another $42!

8:00pm — The movie finishes. I give B. his bedtime snack and get ready for bed. Read The Serpent and the Wings of Night until 9:00pm then get an early night.

Daily Total: $281

Day 4

5:10am — O. wakes B. up (although he claims it is the other way around). B. purrs and walks over to me and I place him on my lap, where he settles.

5:30am — My alarm goes off. B. comes and sits next to me, I put my arms around him and he lies down for a cuddle. This has NEVER happened before. I might cancel my whole day and stay in bed.

5:40am — I can’t put off getting up any longer. Try to convince B. to stay curled up in bed but he follows me sleepily into the bathroom. Throw on the usual Lululemon kit and rush out the door.

6:00am — It’s upper body day at the gym today. Partner with two girls for bench presses, rows, push-ups and bicep curls. Lift my heaviest bench press ever and feel accomplished.

7:00am — Home again. Cuddle B. and kiss O. good morning before jumping in the shower. I’m going into the office but we’re allowed to dress casually on Friday. I wear flared leggings, a long-sleeve top, cropped puffer vest and platform Converse. Slick my hair back into a plait. I need to wash it but I have long, thick, knotty hair and it takes me two to three days to build up the motivation.

7:38am — I have two minutes to get out the door. O. kindly starts my coffee while I pack oats for breakfast, red curry for lunch, and a kiwi fruit. Grab my takeaway coffee, kiss everyone goodbye and rush to the train. Arrive on time and tap on. $4.05

8:10am — Walking to work, I stop at the French bakery and buy a chocolate croissant because it’s Friday. $4.50

8:30am — Arrive at work. My team is at the door about to leave for coffee so I turn around and join them. Buy an iced soy latte. $6.50

8:50am — Back at my desk, enjoy my coffee and croissant as I check emails and socials. Share cute photos of B. with a co-worker who loves cats. I can’t believe how in love I am with this kitten.

9:30am — Make oats with cinnamon and maple syrup to eat at my desk.

12:00pm — Lunch time! Reheat my red curry and eat in the staff room, reading my book. Transfer O. $80 to send on to his friend, who bought us tickets for the AFL Showdown next month. I also book dinner for us at a pizza restaurant near the stadium. $80

12:45pm — Buy a Coke Zero from the vending machine. $2.25

2:00pm — Send out my finished social media report.

2:30pm — Eat my kiwi fruit and watch Snapchats O. has sent me of B. making biscuits on my fluffy blanket. I miss them.

3:15pm — Finally send off that pesky interactive PDF, and eat a small Easter egg from the office stash as a reward.

4:45pm — Call it a day and walk to the train station. Tap on for $4.05.

5:20pm — Home! It’s the weekend! O. orders us pizza for dinner to celebrate. He gets a deal for pizza, garlic bread and a soft drink, as well as two-for-one caramel nut sundaes.

6:00pm — Our food arrives and we eat on the couch watching The Office. The sundae gives me a sugar high and I find everything very funny. Check the app and I made $32 today!

8:00pm — O. watches the football and I read my book until bedtime.

Daily Total: $101.35

Read the rest on Refinery29 Australia here.

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