finance

The Money Diaries: How a 24-year-old spends her first full-time pay packet in Sydney.

Mamamia’s Money Diaries asks Australians to record a week in their financial lives. Kind of like a sex diary but with money. So not like a sex diary at all. We still find out the best kept secrets though. We discover what women are really spending their hard-earned cash on. Nothing is too outrageous or too sacred. This week a 24-year-old journalist tells all.

Industry: Media

Age: 24

Salary: $50,000

Housing: Renting with two flatmates

Regular expenses (monthly):

  • Rent – $1000
  • Phone – $80
  • Transport – $120
  • PT classes – $120
  • Utilities – $100
  • Groceries – $240
  • Internet – $25
  • Netflix – $12

Savings: ZERO

Debt: HECS, around $20,000

Having recently moved out of home to a new city on my own to start my first full-time job. To say I’m new to budgeting would be an understatement. My current rent of $250 p/w makes my former weekly at-home board of $50 (which I often complained about…) look like a distant paradise, and my days of impulse Iconic purchases are sadly over.

I can hear the tiny violins lamenting my sob story as I’m writing this, but everyone’s gotta start somewhere. And on a side note, I do think being thrust into the cold, bony arms of adulthood has so far made me more rational and careful with my money.

Although my current lifestyle means I can’t save any money right now, I’ll keep the real whining for when I’ve got school fees and a mortgage under my belt.

living in Sydney
Don't worry mum, I've got this. (Image: iStock)

*Disclaimer: Generally, my weekday spending habits are pretty standard but hang in there 'til the weekend for the juicy stuff.

Monday - Day One

Although the cost of rent in Sydney's Inner West was a tough pill to swallow when I first moved from Adelaide, being less than a 10-minute train ride away from work makes watching the $500 fortnightly direct debit leave my bank account a fair bit easier.

I catch the train to and from work Monday to Friday, which charges around $7 to my opal card. Because I'm determined to not be the housemate that can't pay rent on time, I make my lunch everyday and bring to work, and use an afternoon coffee, valued at $3.50 to treat myself. This friends, is the sad existence of a mid-twenties adult who would foolishly would like to maaaaayyyybe own something, one day.

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Dinner is also made at home from my non-existent stockpile of recipes (I've had Thai green chicken curry every week since I moved out) rather than bought, the cost of which comes out of my weekly grocery bill.

Daily spend: $10.50

Tuesday - Day Two

I try to go to the gym every morning before work because generally by the time I clock off in the evenings, I just don't have the mental capacity to be yelled at while lifting a kettle bell. For my unlimited access to group PT classes at the gym, it costs me $30 a week. I justify this by actually going. Well, most of the time.

While the train and my coffee splurge are the same as the day before, I'm notified by my Splitwise App that it's time to pay up for my share of the internet and Netflix. I cough up $35 and go back to streaming Law and Order: SVU without a second thought.

Daily spend: $45.50

Wednesday - Day Three

If you haven't noticed yet, my life at the moment is Groundhog Day and I am Bill Murray, except I love my job.

Train, work, a tuna and brown rice salad, afternoon coffee and dinner made at home. Some would call it torture, but the routine is helping me adjust to life in a new city.

My housemates get Uber Eats, but I decide to save the $25 in favour of the imminent G&Ts to come this weekend.

Daily spend: $10.50

Thursday - Day Four

A fortnightly direct debit for my gym membership comes out every second Thursday, so today I say goodbye to $60. I also decide to buy a brownie with my coffee this arvo because... I don't even know.

Daily spend: $75.50

women make better leaders
How I wish I looked in the office... (Image: iStock)

Friday - Day Five

Aside from the fact the working week is over, Fridays are kind of awesome because public transport is now half price for the rest of the weekend, so my commute only costs $3.50 rather than $7.

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Now this is where all of the pre-made lunches and tight arse behaviour pays off. Literally - I pay for three more G&Ts (at $10 each) than I had planned at the pub. But because it's within walking distance from our place, no Ubers are necessary. But we do get caught in the rain walking home before devouring almost an entire loaf of bread as toast.

Daily spend: $37

Saturday - Day Six

Saturdays are the day I get all my life admin done. I do my washing, and walk the 20 minutes to my nearest Woolworths to buy $60 of groceries - mainly fruit and veg, communal house stuff and of course, avo and fetta.

But in my impatience to get my shopping done, I leave my house keys at home, meaning I'm locked out with no housemates or acquaintances anywhere nearby. Maybe this has something to do with last night's gin, I'm not sure. But what I do know is that it costs me $350 to get back into my own home. Ouch.

What. Have. I. Done. (Image: iStock)

To numb the pain of this unforeseen expense, I go to a friend's housewarming party with some gin I already had on hand, and buy some more drinks out ($30) and treat myself to an uber home ($21.50).

Daily spend: $461.50 

 Sunday - Day Seven

Yesterday's locksmith incident was a real kick in the guts, so I spend the entire day on the couch debating whether or not to call my parents and ask them to bail me out with rent money.

I do, and they oblige, and I'm feeling very lucky to be in the position of having people who can help me while I navigate this whole adulthood thing. I also hate myself.

Daily spend: $0 (borrowed $350 for next week's rent)

Weekly spend: $651

Want to air your financial laundry under the veil of secrecy? Send us your weekly Money Diary to [email protected]

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