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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 software engineer who makes $180,000, pays her boyfriend’s rent, and spends some of her money on a banh mi.
This week on Money Diaries, a software engineer who makes $180,000, pays her boyfriend’s rent, and spends some of her money on a banh mi.Credit: Refinery29 Australia
Occupation: Software Engineer
Location: Moonah, Hobart
Net Worth: $182,000 ($74,000 in super, $28,500 in investments. My goal is to retire early and stop trading my time for money, so I am trying to be aggressive with my investment plan. $11,000 in an employee share plan. I work for a tech company, and I get stocks of that company as a retention bonus. They vest every few months, and this is the vested amount so far on which I will have to pay income tax on. I also have $68,500 in savings, this includes my emergency fund and money I am setting aside every month to buy property someday.
Paycheque Amount (Monthly): $8,206. I salary sacrifice $1,083 a month into super.
I have a partner. I pay the rent, he pays the bills, and we split groceries 50/50. We enjoy going out to eat and treating each other, So we don’t really keep count of that. It comes out even at the end of the day anyway. Our savings and investment accounts are separate right now. I grew up in a culture where women were mostly housewives and very dependent on men for their finances and sometimes had to stay in abusive relationships because of that. I still have a lot of hang-ups around that, so for now we’re keeping everything separate. This will probably change someday when we buy property together.
Rent: $2,100. I live with my boyfriend in a two-bedroom house. It’s a 100-year-old house with a lemon, apple and almond tree in the backyard. We also have a trampoline, courtesy of the landlord. I love bouncing on it during my lunch breaks when the weather is nice (which is not that often in Hobart). I pay the rent every month, my boyfriend covers the utilities (hot water and electricity) which is around $120 a month. We met when we were both software engineers, but he realised during COVID that his true passion was healthcare. So he went back to nursing school, which costs about $35,000 a year. Covering the rent feels like the least I can do. Lastly, work covers our internet expenses since I work from home all the time.
Groceries: $400, split evenly with my boyfriend (so my share is $200).
Public Transport: $30. Buses in Hobart are super cheap and usually cost $2.40 one way.
Birth Control: $30
Private Health Insurance: $86
Phone: $20 (SIM-only plan)
Spotify: $3 (Family plan with my friends, for the win!)
YNAB Budgeting App: $12.50 (I am a budget freak)
Netflix: $0 (My dad pays for the family Netflix account since he lives in India and it’s half of the cost compared to Australia)
Eating Out: $300 (Food is my love language)
Coffee: $50 (Since I work from home, I love going on morning walks and getting a cup of coffee)
Skincare: I budget $50 for skincare every month, My current favourites are the Cosrx salicylic acid cleanser, Pyunkang Yul essence, snail mucin moisturiser, and a vitamin C sunscreen which I stole from my mum when I was back home in India.
Fun Money: $100
Vacation: $500. I just got back from a month-long trip to India. I took 11 flights in a month, kid you not. I do not recommend it. I’m currently saving for a solo trip to Singapore.
Misc: $725. This is my sinking fund to cover birthday gifts and unexpected life expenses that are not an emergency.
Salary Sacrifice: $1,083. I intend to use it as part of the First Home Super Saver Scheme.
Buying House Fund: $2,000
Investments: $2,000 (ETFs)
Bank Interest: I get around $280 a month from my bank as interest which goes into my emergency fund.
Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
I got a Bachelor’s in Computer Science from the University of Melbourne. I was privileged and fortunate enough that my parents spent their entire life savings to educate me. Since I was an international student, I couldn’t access HECS and each course cost four times the amount it would to a domestic student. The total cost of the degree was $100,000. I also got a $10,000 scholarship from the university because I had really good grades in Year 12.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents, especially my mum, constantly talked about money. She was a housewife, so she would get a fixed amount from my dad every month that she had to run the entire house on. Even though we were middle class, I am surprised at how she always kept the house full of food. Our fridge was never empty. The moment guests would come, she would instantly lay down a spread fit for kings.
I also have a younger brother, so we were always taught how to share resources, particularly money and delayed gratification. One thing they never spoke about was investments. My parents invested in property, stocks and their business, but I think they just thought we would learn it ourselves when we grow up.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was at Nando’s when I was 18. It had been six months since I had moved to Australia and I had to get a job to start paying for rent and food.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Yes and no. My dad’s business partner stole a bunch of money and left the company bankrupt when I was five. So instantly, there was a crisis that took him years to recover from. Our parents were very clear with us when they couldn’t afford something. But for the most part, we were comfortable. I went to a really good private school and my mom threw themed birthday parties at our house every year. But I remember being hyper-aware of how much everything cost and elbowing my younger brother whenever he would order something too expensive at a family dinner out.
Do you worry about money now?
Not at all. I just wish to have enough for myself and for my family if they ever need it.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
21, when I graduated from university and got my first full-time job. My parents are kind, amazing, generous people, so they will be there in case I need a financial safety net.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I receive dividends from my ETFs which are on a reinvestment plan. That’s it.
9:00am — It’s Monday morning, so my boyfriend, A., and I have a bit of a sleep-in. I work for a flexible company, so we don’t have any fixed hours as long as we finish our work on time and attend all the necessary meetings. Honestly, it’s been life-changing. I struggled so much with waking up early. It’s my turn to make coffee, so I make an Indian cappuccino for both of us. While it’s brewing, I do my morning stretches.
10:00am — I sit down at my desk and start working. My office is in the sunroom, so I get a beautiful view of the front yard and Mt Wellington. Writing code requires a lot of concentration and mental energy, so I work on writing code for a new feature first thing in the morning. Three hours of uninterrupted focus.
1:00pm — While I have been working, my lovely boyfriend cooks us some lunch (some chicken curry and rice). It’s chef’s kiss. He used to work in kitchens and enjoys cooking, so he does the majority of the cooking. We haven’t bothered buying a dining table for this house yet, so we just plop down on the rug and eat lunch at our coffee table. Today we decide to re-watch Utopia on Netflix. Not only is it a hilarious Australian TV show, but it’s also just uncanny how accurate it is sometimes.
2:00pm — A. heads off to work, he has an afternoon shift. I make myself a cup of tea and retire to the couch to do some code reviews and catch up on emails.
8:00pm — I get started on dinner, rigatoni in a Napoli sauce with heaps of parmesan. Letdown plays in the background (another favourite Aussie TV show). Boyfriend is not going to be home until 10pm, so it’s the least I can do.
10:00pm — A. arrives home and we have dinner, entering a food coma soon after. We then do our nighttime skincare routine together (oh yeah, I got him hooked on serums!) and crash into bed soon after. Today is also the day my private health insurance ($86) and phone bill ($20) auto-debits (both covered under my monthly expenses), so I check my bank account to see if it has gone through properly and add it to my YNAB. I was a broke student for the longest time, which is when I got hooked on zero-dollar budgeting. I tried a few other systems, but they never seemed to work for a control freak like me. Highly recommend it.
Daily Total: $0
8:00am — The usual morning, but this time it’s A.’s turn to make us some chai (yes, it’s just chai, not chai tea). It’s getting freezing cold here already, so we sip it quietly in bed.
12:00pm — It’s a nice sunny day, so we head out to get some Vietnamese coffee and a banh mi for lunch. We get two chicken banh mi’s and a coffee, my shout. $24
12:30pm — Our fridge is looking pretty empty, so once we have satisfied our cravings, we head to Coles. We make a menu for the next few days based on the weather and what we are feeling. This week’s menu is Korean ramyun, stir fry noodles and Malaysian curry. We are a big leftovers household, so we usually make something enough to last us at least two meals. We split our groceries 50/50, my share is about $42. We also stop by the Indian store to get some frozen pratas and some chutneys ($18). $60
6:00pm — I booked a Daniel Sloss stand-up comedy show for us a few months ago and it’s today. Apparently, he has cancelled this show in Hobart twice already, so I am excited. We put on our fancy date outfits and take the bus to the venue ($2.40 each). I also get us some drinks for the show ($24). The show was amazing — the jokes were so dark, but I laughed so much my jaw hurt. $26.40
9:00pm — The show ends and there is only one restaurant open in Hobart CBD at this time, everyone’s beloved Bar Wa. We order chicken karaage, fried potatoes, pork belly noodles, and espresso martinis. It’s all so delicious, I notice for the first time how erotic the art is on the wall and I make a mental note to bring my brother here when he comes to visit us. It all costs $70, but it’s my boyfriend’s shout this time.
11:00pm — Sufficiently tipsy and full, I book an Uber and we head back ($12). Ubers’ in Hobart never cancel on you, it’s amazing (let’s hope I haven’t jinxed it). We do our nighttime routine and crash soon after. $12
Daily Total: $122.40
9:00am — After last night, I decided to sleep in a bit. The sun is out today for a change, so I quickly jump out of bed and go for a morning walk to get some coffee. My favourite coffee shop has just opened another store in our neighbourhood, which I am very excited about. I moved to Hobart from Melbourne only six months ago, so the coffee snob in me is very much still alive. Plus, very few places in Hobart make a good strong coffee. $4.20 for a small latte. $4.20
10:00am — I have my weekly one-on-one with my manager. We discuss things I am working on and if I am experiencing any blockers, the usual. We talk about my imposter syndrome and write down some action items to tackle it. Even after being a software engineer for eight years, I still struggle with knowing where I stand in a team and acknowledging my ideas have value. I write some more code and do feature work for the rest of the morning.
12:00pm — We still have some leftover chicken curry. I heat that up with rice. Curry just tastes even better the next day. Boyfriend makes a quick stir fry with eggs, frozen peas, chilli oil and fried shallots.
1:00pm — I marinate some chicken for Korean ramyun tonight with soy sauce, honey, ginger, garlic and lemon.
9:00pm — Another late afternoon shift for the boyfriend. So, I start cooking the marinated chicken low and slow, boil some eggs and blanch some pok choy. I like having dinner with him so I usually wait up. Plus, he is a healthcare worker, so they don’t really have normal shift times.
10:00pm — Boyfriend gets home, while he freshens up, I boil the instant spicy ramyun noodles, top it up with chicken, pok choy, eggs and a bit of spring onion. Easy peasy and delicious dinner. Sometimes we get a bit extra and marinate the eggs, but today we decide to keep it easy. We watch Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown while we eat, crashing soon after.
Daily Total: $4.20
Read the rest on Refinery29 Australia here.
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