finance

The Money Diaries: How a 25-year-old lives on a part-time wage.

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 25-year-old producer tells all. 

Industry: Media

Age: 25

Salary: $45,000 but working part time temporarily, so $27,000.

Housing: Renting in a jam-packed sharehouse of five.

Regular expenses set aside after receiving monthly wage:

  • Rent : $650
  • Mobile phone: $40 (hooray for prepaid!)
  • Internet: $12
  • Entertainment (Netflix and Stan): $20
  • Myki: $70
  • Other bills: Approx $30

Savings: Nada.

Debt: HECS debt approx. $50,000.

Assets: Can I call my beaten up Commodore an asset? I don’t think so.

MONDAY – Day One

8:00am: I wake up with a raging fever so opt for an iced latte in lieu of breakfast – $3.50

8:30am: Stop off on my way to work to stock up on $9 worth of Vitamin C. This cold will NOT get the better of me. 

12:00pm: My tummy starts to rumble so I venture out in the cold in search of food and find a health store selling chicken soup. Sounds like a great idea until they dish up the wrong batch and I end up with a putrid green kale and quinoa detox soup. I throw my $5.90 down the drain, literally.

2:00pm: One of the superstars in the office made banana bread so I help myself to a (second) slice to tide me over until dinner – $0

6:30pm: Miraculously I motivated myself to do a big cook up over the weekend, including a batch of pesto made from my leftover veggie scraps (thank you Sarah Wilson!) so my green spaghetti and meatballs cost me nothing. 

Daily spend – $18.40 

Batch cooking = CHEAP. (Image: iStock)

TUESDAY - Day Two 

8:30am: Another day, another coffee. - $3.50

9:15am: I have my usual breakfast at my desk, consisting of a porridge sachet and banana pinched from the office fruit bowl - $0

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1:00pm: With yesterday's lunch debacle still fresh in my mind, I go for a tried and true option, a steaming bowl of the $9.50 ramen from across the road. Yum.

6:30pm: I've got a work event to go to tonight. Fortunately I managed to avoid paying the $40 ticket price and get in for free. I also manage to nab a complimentary copy of the book.

8:00pm: Naturally, the event leads to dinner out with colleagues. Luckily it's big, hearty and relatively cheap - $22

Daily spend - $35

WEDNESDAY - Day Three

10:30am: A day off means a sleep in, so it's a slow start today. Managing a newly diagnosed chronic illness, I'm still learning to find the right balance between getting enough rest and staying active. Usually at this point I would go for a swim or hit a yoga class but with my cold lingering, exerting that much energy would wipe me out for days. I desperately want to stay in bed but I force myself out to hit the library to stock up on more free books.  I then remember that I need to top up my library card for printing which sets me back - $10

11:00am: I head down the street to my local fabric shop to indulge my crafty hobby. My $1.40 is swallowed by the parking meter which is now jammed. I'm secretly happy as this is cheaper than the parking rate. I buy $60 worth of fabric and haberdashery, which ought to keep me busy for a while. I know sewing my own clothes costs a lot more than just buying them, but it's much more fun and infinitely more sustainable.

12:00pm: I catch up with a friend and spend an hour or so wandering around a fantastic 3D art gallery. I'm down $25 and up about 3,000 photos. 

6:00pm: I stop at the fruit and veg shop to buy my fresh ingredients, it's cheaper and supports the locals! -$23.50

Daily spend - $119.90

Listen: financial guru Canna Campbell shares her secrets to saving money.

THURSDAY - Day Four

8:30am: I cave in to my fatigue and order a large coffee. Immediately feel guilty as my housemate just got a coffee machine and I stocked up on pods last week at the supermarket. -$4.10

12:00pm: I'm stingy enough to opt for a cheap lunch, but not enough to pack my own. Instead of hitting the closest sushi shop I go to the inexpensive one up the street and pay just $4. Win.

5:30pm: After work it's time for my favourite sort of shopping - shopping for presents. You don't have to feel guilty about spending money if it's on someone else, right? I buy a set of whiskey glasses for my boyfriend's birthday and for Mother's Day I pick up a pair of slippers (classic) and a beautiful pair of suede gloves. Luckily my sister will go halves in the latter, the perks of siblings! - $105.90 

Daily spend - $114

FRIDAY - Day Five

3:00pm: My second day off for the week is infinitely more quiet and I don't spend any money until the afternoon. I head into the city and get in another parking kerfuffle. This time I get stung with Friday rates when I thought it was a Saturday. Instead of $10 all day parking I pay $35 for an hour. Ouch.

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6:00pm: I take my boyfriend out for a birthday dinner at George Calombaris' Hellenic Republic. Being the sweetheart he is, he insists on paying half and I can't manage to talk him out of it. - $50 each.

Daily spend - $85

Me swiping away all my money. (Image: iStock)

SATURDAY - Day Six

10:00am: I bully the birthday boy to let me shout breakfast. He acquiesces. - $42

12:00pm: I agree to lunch with his family in China Town. It's the first time I've met them and I'm utterly terrified. I make it out unscathed and they pay (despite my objections). 

6:00pm: Tonight is the big 30th birthday party and the man of the hour is insistent that no one will open their wallets. The bar tab runs all night long and is quite scary to look at the next day (who ordered the 42 Dark and Stormy's?) Since being diagnosed I rarely drink so a night out like this really hits me. I'll be feeling this one for the next week. - $0

1:30am: We catch an Uber home and I am far too impatient to wait for the surge prices to go down. Pay a quite reasonable $30.62

Daily spend - $72.62

SUNDAY - Day Seven

11:00am: Rather wobbly and still feeling the damage of last night, we head out to meet a friend for brunch under sufferance. We wait over an hour for food, weary and ravenous. I perk right up when the waitress compliments my handmade dress. Sensing our pain, our friend pays. - $0

7:00pm: I sleep through lunch and only emerge from bed to order pizza from Uber Eats for dinner. Vow to never drink again. - $24

Daily spend - $24

Weekly spend - $468.92

This week was more expensive than usual (pesky presents!) but I'm relieved that I managed to come out below my wage. It's tough adjusting to part-time pay, especially with the extra time on my hands, but after tracking my spending for the week I can see that my time would be better spent cooking in bulk to avoid eating out. That, and quitting the takeaway coffees. Consider it my challenge for next week...

We'd love to hear your version of The Money Diaries! If you feel like spilling some financial secrets, send us your Money Diary to [email protected]
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