Peek Inside One Australian Woman’s Money Diary

Every dollar she spends, saves and splashes in a week

Are you a bargain hunter, impulse buyer or shrewd saver? And what do other Australian women spend their hard-earned cash on? In a new marie claire series we chart the financial lives of very different women, starting with a week in the wallet of a corporate high-flyer turned uni student in Sydney. 

Occupation: Full-time nutrition student and part-time management consultant
Age: 33
Annual salary: $91,000
Monthly paycheque: $5650

Health insurance: $150
Car insurance: $130
Phone: $145
Internet: $60
Utility bills: $140
Home and landlord insurance: $200
Gym: $280
AFR subscription: $21
Study (FEE HELP): $8000 per year
TOTAL: $4293

After deciding to pursue a long-term dream of becoming a dietitian, I recently left my job as a management consultant at a global firm – and the salary that came with it. Whilst I’m still earning a decent wage working part-time, I have an investment property and my own apartment that I’m keen to maintain the mortgage on; I used to live with my partner but since we broke up I’ve been covering all costs myself. As such I need to budget diligently and have made small lifestyle changes to trim my expenses such as cooking up a weekly roast on a Sunday; making a casserole for friends with babies instead of buying an expensive gift; looking ahead at any travel and locking in the best deal; and eBaying my clothes.

I head to the gym in the morning then come home for brekkie and grab my bag for uni. I drive to the station (free parking!) then catch the train to uni ($1.73) – concession cards have saved me so much. I walk to uni and always stop near the station for a coffee, it’s a great local cafe and I bring my own glass cup – it takes away from my coffee spending guilt ($4.50). Class today includes a long prac and test. I packed my lunch last night which is a salad with last night’s roast leftovers. I train home from uni ($1.73) and have more leftovers for dinner. After that I look up flights for a wedding later in the year in Bali. It’s during school holidays, so finding the cheapest deal has been tough. I quickly check Netflix to see if anything new and interesting has been uploaded recently (my brother kindly added me to his account – student perks!)
Daily spend: $7.96

After the gym this morning I buy myself a coffee plus one for my friend who I train with ($9). I head home and skim the papers online (I have a student subscription and can also claim it on tax so I feel like I’m somehow saving money and being smart in the process!) I have client meetings in the city today so I change and then get the bus into town ($1.73). I buy coffee at the meeting ($10.50) followed by a salad for lunch (they’re half-price after 2.30pm, score!) ($6.50). I bus home ($1.73) then head to the supermarket as my fridge is bare. I tend to shop for bulk items and dry goods every 2-3 weeks (toilet paper, tea, olive oil), so this is a quick shop at Harris Farm for meat, dairy, fruit and vegetables ($40.40). I drive home stopping for petrol on the way ($50.45).
Daily spend: $120.31

I train to uni ($1.73) and stop for a coffee ($4.50) – essential for getting through the group-assignment meeting I have before class! End up having a quick break between classes and as I’ve finished all leftovers from home I get a salad and eat outside to enjoy the sun ($9.50). I train home ($1.73) and finish off a presentation for my current project and then head over to drop a gift off to my friend for her son’s second birthday which I purchased at a sale at the beginning of the year ($15). I end up raiding her closet for an upcoming wedding and borrow a dress. Then after helping her bath her son and feed her newborn she offers to get UberEats, so I end up staying and having a great-catch up. 
Daily spend: $32.46

I have a conference call to New York in the morning so I miss the gym, promising myself I’ll walk at lunch. I have oats and frozen berries for brekkie at 10am when I hear my stomach rumble. I’m on a roll so I keep punching out my project. I hit a brick wall at 1pm so hit the pavement for my walk and listen to a podcast. I walk home past the supermarket and get enough to make a tuna salad for lunch, dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow ($26.74). After a few more calls to clients and emails, I realise I’ve missed my good coffee window and opt for another tea at home. Before I know it it’s dinnertime and I switch on the TV to watch a mindless reality program before calling an early night.
Daily spend: $26.74

Working from home has forced me to put some structure in my day and I spend my Friday mornings paying bills, replying to invites and checking my calendar is up to date. I find the invite for a Hens in a few weeks and opt to pay now ($100). I call home to check in and Mum advises me of a surprise birthday for Dad’s birthday in Melbourne in a month, so I book flights ($217). Every few weeks a group of us rotate on a new restaurant and try it out; tonight we opt for a local with BYO, so I pick up a bottle from the bottle shop ($25). My friend who lives close by and is pregnant (woohoo designated driver) kindly offers me a lift there and back. Dinner was delish and a great catch-up with the girls ($65 including tip).
Daily spend: $439.46

Saturday sleep in! I make it to gym for the late class, head out for a smoothie nearby with my friend, and end up having coffee after as well ($17.50). Later in the day I get a call from my girlfriend who is engaged so we all meet at the pub for impromptu drinks which leads into a few more back at their house, many Ubers later and late-night dancing on their balcony ($40 wine out, $35 in Ubers and $15 pitch-in for the late-night pizza we order).
Daily spend: $107.50

Head out and meet a friend for a late brunch nearby to debrief on the night before ($24.50). I decide to be productive while I have energy and do a big shop so I can prep later this afternoon at home ($64.90). I head home and write a to-do list for the week, crawl onto couch and vow to never do shots again.
Daily spend: $89.40


For more Money Diaries, pick up the August issue of marie claire Australia, out now. 


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