Berocca and therapy: What a charity worker on $75,000 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 on Money Diaries, a marketing and fundraising executive who makes $75,000 a year and spends some of her money this week on Berocca.Credit: Refinery29 Australia

Today: a marketing and fundraising executive who makes $75,000 a year and spends some of her money this week on Berocca.

Occupation: Marketing & Fundraising Executive
Industry: Non For Profit Charity
Age: 29
Location: Canberra, ACT
Salary: $75,000
Net Worth: -$601. It’s probably not as much as I’d like it to be at the age of 29, but we move. I have $2900 in superannuation (I’m working on this as I’ve only just relocated to Australia), $6000 in savings (the anxiety is real — who knew moving to the other side of the world would mean your savings drop like a hat?!), and a house back in the UK worth roughly £325,000 ($617,555 AUD). My partner and I own it so we’re paying monthly mortgage payments, which we split 50/50. We also split our rent and bills out here. We also have a shared joint account which we use for weekly groceries, fuel, holidays and weekend coffee dates!
Debt: $318,278 ($47,504 for my student loan in the UK (which I’m not currently paying back as I’ve moved overseas for a couple of years). I also have $541,548 on my UK mortgage for our house, split with my partner (that’s the first time I’ve written that number down…).
Paycheque Amount (Fortnightly): $2181.00
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses

Rent: $1060, split between my partner and I. He earns a little bit more than I do so we pay 60/40 — I feel lucky we came to this agreement. We live in a one-bedroom apartment in Canberra, which is the biggest contrast from our three-bedroom house back in the UK, but we love it. Our estate agents are so chill and they leave us to it, which is great. I like to think because we own a house, we’re slightly more caring and careful with the apartment. We have a small balcony which was my one request when we were looking for somewhere to rent. Moving to Australia means I will be tanned at all costs (at least in my head), so a balcony was a must. The kitchen/living area is all in one, which I love. It has a cute little island in the centre, something I will 10000% be copying if and when we move back to the UK.

We keep track of all our joint payments using our joint account which is with Monzo. It’s such a brilliant and user-friendly app. We both receive notifications when a transaction is made which is brilliant, but also not so brilliant when I accidentally fall onto Dissh’s website… We bought a car when we moved out here which helps a lot with knowing how much we need to budget.
Netflix: $17.99 (shared with my partner)
Spotify: My parents still pay for my Spotify account (lol) which is very handy.
Gym: $46
Internet: $64 (My partner’s work pays for half of this)
Phone Bill: SO. Much. £90 ($170 AUD) a month… don’t ask. I got a new phone contract before I knew we were moving from the UK and didn’t want to fork out lots to swap over to an Australian one, so I currently pay for a roaming package.
Savings: I try to save around $500 a month. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t.

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

Yes. I went to university in the UK for three years and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Media Communications. I received a loan from the government to help with tuition fees. I worked throughout my time at university as my parents couldn’t really afford to help that much. I’m grateful though as I feel proud to have a really strong work ethic now. I feel like I also appreciate the value of money as I know how crappy it is when you have none!

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

Money is a bit of an awkward one which is why I love reading these diaries! It shouldn’t be so uncomfortable to talk about. My parents went through a stage when I was growing up of really struggling and I remember vividly hearing them argue when I was meant to be asleep. My parents have always worked really hard. My mum works at a school and my dad is a carpenter. They always provided for my sister and I, but I definitely remember times when it got really tough.

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

My first job was when I was 14. I worked at a fancy hotel down the road from my parents’ house as a pot wash girl. Yep, it was as glamorous as it sounds. I worked there for years and eventually was promoted to waitress, then head waitress, and then booking manager on the front desk. On my first ever day as a waitress, I managed to break a guest’s nose. Let me tell you: a first day has never ever been that bad since!

Did you worry about money growing up?

I did to a certain extent, yes. But it was more because I hated it when I could see or hear the financial strain it put on my parents. For example, I hated that they sometimes compromised their weekend activities so I could go on a school trip.

Do you worry about money now?

I do, yes. I am quite savvy with my money so I probably shouldn’t worry as much as I do. But, with the cost of living always going up, I feel it’s probably quite natural for it to be at the forefront of my mind. I am also really conscious of things being equal between my partner and I. I have come quite a long way with how I think about my finances, but I do worry.

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

I became financially responsible when I moved to London for my first proper job after university. I think I was 21. My salary was so low and I genuinely couldn’t afford to buy more than one coffee every two weeks, but it gave me so much independence. I lived very much paycheque to paycheque, but that taught me how important it is to have a bit of a buffer, just in case. I don’t think I was able to have more than about $150 as a buffer for months. I learnt so much in that time.

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


Day 1

6:03am — I wake up. It’s very specific timing, I know, but I’ve got my routine down to a tee and I’m very proud of it. I try to always get to the gym on a Monday morning as I feel it really sets me up well for the week. Gym done, showered and ready by 8:05am, I walk to the bus stop and wait for the 8:15am bus. It costs roughly $6.50 a day for my return trip, which is prepaid on my travel card.

8:40am — I get to work around about this time most days which is good as I like to sort through all my emails with a coffee before the rest of my team gets in. Our office just got a new fancy coffee machine which is great because it saves me money every day, and my bank balance thanks me for this.

10:00am — I pack my brekkie and lunch most days (again, to save some money). I’m a real creature of habit, so my breakfast is the same every day — three smushed Weetbix with a scoop of protein powder topped with some fruits, usually a banana. Yum! 10am is usually time for coffee number two and I’m grateful to feel the caffeine starting to work.

1:00pm — Lunch time! Monday is usually filled with a few meetings so I’m ravenous. I swear using my brain makes me extra hungry. Again, I’m a creature of habit, so I have my usual sandwich. The weather is finally getting better here in the ACT, so I sit outside with my colleagues. Everyone laughs at me for bringing in lunch, but I secretly always feel quite smug as they can sometimes spend $15 to $20 daily on food. I always do a little walk around the block to stretch my legs, so I pair that with my lunch break too.

3:15pm — The inevitable afternoon slump hits and I head to the local café to pick up a sweet treat. I figure I deserve to treat myself for working really hard on a Monday. My toxic trait is thinking I need a little reward when I do something good. $6 for a gluten-free brownie, but it’s so worth it, they’re gooey and delicious! I pair this with a peppermint tea because #health. $6

4:48pm — Home time! I get the bus back into the city and then walk back to my apartment. I really like the walk home after a day in the office. I’ve started listening to audiobooks on my way home and it’s such a great way to switch off after a day’s work. I’m currently listening to “The Body Keeps The Score” by Bessel van de Kolk and it’s fascinating.

5:40pm — Finally home and catch up with my partner about our days. I love this part of our relationship — every day after work, we have a little check-in to see how we’re going. It’s really nice and we often end up bouncing ideas off one another. He’s got such an analytical/logical brain whereas I am scatty and irrational. They do say opposites attract.

6:00pm — I’m due on my period so I end up snacking on leftover choccie in the fridge whilst making dinner. I’m craving fish finger sandwiches, so that’s what we’re having. Beige food is sometimes just essential and I’m feeling pretty smug about it.

6:45pm — We’ve started watching Modern Family and it’s the best show to watch with dinner. Each episode is about 24 minutes long which is the perfect length to eat.

7:30pm — I do the dishes and food prep for tomorrow. Brekkie and lunch sorted.

10pm — Skincare, hand cream and lights out. I fall asleep instantly. Totally convinced it’s because I’m so content after having fish finger sandwiches for dinner.

Daily Total: $6

Day 2

6:03am — Alarm goes off again and I’m exhausted but I know the gym will wake me up. I make some pre-workout and head out the door. I usually take two rest days a week. If it falls on a weekday, I like to ensure I’m still getting some steps in, so I’ll take my book and read whilst walking on the treadmill. Sounds silly, but it helps to keep my brain functioning, ensures I get some steps in and just makes me feel productive before the day has begun. I’ve set myself a target of reading 40 books this year and I’m currently on 30.

8:05am — Walking/reading session done. I head to the bus stop and prepare for the journey to work. I try really hard not to sit, and doomscroll on the bus, so the audiobook goes back on.

9:10am — Arrive at work late because there was a big protest outside Parliament House and my bus route goes that way. Nightmare. I hate being late for work even though I know 10 minutes is nothing, I’m one of those people who stresses out and thinks that my team will think I’m not arsed.

9:15am — Coffee on hand and I’m feeling better about the bus situation. I’ve got a couple of meetings this morning, so I scoff my brekkie and get to work.

11:00am — Meetings done. I take a quick break to catch up with the news headlines, which of course turns into checking Instagram and TikTok. Let’s be honest though, making it to 11am without checking social media is quite an achievement.

12:00pm — Who puts a meeting over lunchtime? Not. Fair. But I make a coffee and grab a protein bar to soften the blow. Turns out, there are biscuits provided in the meeting, but I resist as I’ve got a sandwich waiting for me when the meeting ends.

1:45pm — Lunchtime. Yay. Pre-made sandwich and an apple. I’m lucky in that my office orders a weekly fruit box for us which saves me picking up fruit during our weekly grocery shop. It also means I can healthily snack at work (even though I end up buying a brownie most weeks).

4:00pm — I take a little walk at 4pm to stretch my legs before returning to the office and using my stand-up desk. I am obsessed. I alternate throughout the day but try to stand in the afternoons to keep my brain working.

5:05pm — Head to the bus stop and catch the bus home. I’m tired on the way back home today and text my boyfriend asking if he can pick me up from the city to avoid the walk home. He agrees.

6:00pm — We start thinking about what we’d like for dinner — he requests tuna with sweet potato and veggies. Works for me as it’s the easiest dinner that requires little to no brain power to prepare. We bought an air fryer from Kmart when we first moved and it really is a game changer. I throw the sweet pots in the microwave for 10 minutes then chuck them in the air fryer for 15. Bish bash bosh.

7:00pm — Dinner time and an episode of Modern Family.

8:10am — Oops, we end up watching almost three episodes, but my brain is thanking me for switching off!

8:15pm — Dishes done. I decide to get into bed early to try and read a bit of my book.

10:30pm — Skincare done, running outfit laid out for the morning and lights out!

Daily Total: $0

Day 3

6:30am — My alarm goes off and I feel instant joy as I work from home on Wednesdays. Such a luxury and really breaks up my working week. It also means I can get in a midweek run. I’m training for a half marathon, so being able to squeeze in a speed session during the week means I can save my longer runs for the weekend. YAY.

6:45am — I finally roll out of bed and step into my running outfit. Hair brushed, face washed, and SPF applied, I fumble in the cupboard for some pre-workout. I always have pre-workout before a run. It sets me up and even if it acts as a placebo, I’m here for it.

7:00am — Foam roll and stretching time. This is one thing I never skip before a run; I’ve learnt the hard way and picked up too many niggles in the past.

7:10am — Say goodbye to my boyfriend, finish stretching and down the last of the pre-workout.

7:15am — Out the door and begin my 55-minute speed session. The session consists of a 15-minute warm-up and a 15-minute cooldown, then some gnarly sprints in the middle. I hate speedwork but I know it makes me a better runner. Or that’s what I tell myself when it gets hard.

8:20am — I conveniently end the run at my favourite coffee shop which is a street over from our apartment. I order a long black with a dash of oat milk ($6.50). It’s worth every cent. I walk 10 minutes back to our apartment, have a quick shower and log on at 9am. $6.50

10:00am — A second coffee of the day is needed. I boil the kettle and whilst I wait, I decide to put on a load of washing and turn on the news. Here comes the work-from-home distractions!

10:04am — That coffee was so needed. I take a 10-minute break to catch up on the news and doomscroll. 10 minutes turns into 20 and I start feeling a little guilty so I head back to my desk.

10:45am — I clearly don’t feel bad for too long as my loud tummy grumbles so I know it’s time for brekkie. I find it quite hard to eat straight after a run, so I let my body dictate when it’s ready. Weetbix with protein powder and fruit as usual. I also have a slice of Vegemite toast as I’m still a bit peckish. Delicious.

12:00pm — Hang the clothes out to dry. It’s a beautiful day, so I take my laptop outside to get a couple of hours of work done before my 3pm meeting.

1:45pm — Break time. I decide it’s necessary to go for a little 20-minute stroll around the park, stretch my legs and enjoy the weather. It’s absolutely beautiful. I walk past Whole Scoop and pick up a protein ball snack: date, cashew, and something else that’s yum! It’s only $3.25 so I figure it’s a bargain. $3.25

2:30pm — Back home and I make myself some lunch. I opt for a wrap with salad. Simple, but tasty.

3:00pm — A very very dull meeting about budgets… I can’t say I’m totally focused but I am listening, so that half counts. I also have the Assembly Label website open on my second screen, but resist the urge to online shop.

4:45pm — Finish up work for the day. I take the washing in, wash the dishes and put Friends on the TV as some background noise.

5:30pm — I see a therapist via a Zoom bi-weekly and it falls during this week. I still see my UK therapist and it is $90. It’s expensive, but necessary and although I dread it most weeks, I always feel better afterwards. $90

6:45pm — My boyfriend gets home from work later than usual on Wednesdays which works well with my therapy. He’s also brought home some leftover Turkish bread from his office so we have chicken, stir-fry veggies with noodles and Turkish bread.

9:00pm — I’m always exhausted after therapy, so I turn in super early and try to get an extra long sleep. See you tomorrow.

Daily Total: $99.75

Day 4

6:10am — Wake up and snooze for six minutes. I’m up straight away after I snooze which is a pleasant surprise. Nine hours of sleep and I’m feeling so much better.

9:00am — I have a doctor’s appointment this morning, so I decide to get a coffee on the way to the appointment. A long black with oat milk, as usual. $5

10:15am — Almost an hour wait for my 9:15am appointment. I swear GPs are never on time. This is my first visit to a GP since moving to Australia. I pay $100 for the appointment. $100

10:20am — I decide to get an Uber to the office as I don’t want to be any later. $18

11:45am — Early lunch as I only had time for a banana for breakfast. I’ve got my usual sandwich and a cereal bar.

12:15pm — My colleagues head out for lunch, so I join them to get some fresh air. We end up having an impromptu meeting so I’m glad I joined. I’m working on the post-campaign report for one of the big fundraising campaigns we run so it’s good to get some outsider perspective.

1:00pm — I make another coffee and prepare for a 2.5 hour Zoom call. Hideous.

3:45pm — My brain is officially mush, but our office manager has bought in some treats. She’s made some healthy flapjacks, so we snack and chat in the communal kitchen.

5:40pm — I decide it’s time to head home. My boyfriend conveniently calls me to say he’s driving past my office so he picks me up. I’ve never been so grateful especially as the heavens open on our drive home!

6:00pm — We stop at Chemist Warehouse to pick up some fish oil tablets, electrolytes and Berocca ($57). Expensive, but they last. We put this on our joint account, so it doesn’t technically feel like we’ve spent any money. $57

6:50pm — We were due to go to a trivia night with some friends, but they’ve cancelled last minute which is a shame. We don’t dwell on it though and quickly decide that we also can’t really be bothered to go.

7:00pm — Quick shower and then start making dinner. Tuna pasta. 15 minutes later and it’s done.

7:30pm — Dishes done, food made for tomorrow and we stick on Pirates of the Caribbean. I had a bit of work to finish off before a meeting tomorrow, so I do that whilst being pleasantly distracted by Orlando Bloom.

10:00pm — Bedtime and I’m out like a light.

Daily Total: $175

Read the rest on Refinery29 Australia here.

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