A week in Marrickville, Sydney, as a DJ & media specialist on $82,500

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Today: a media specialist & DJ who makes $82,500 a year gets a 3am ‘early mark’ from her DJ gig after everyone at the venue suddenly goes home (classic Sydney). Editor’s Note: This diary was written in January 2023.

On Money Diaries this week: a media specialist & DJ who makes $82,500 a year and has an affinity for iced long blacks.Credit:Refinery29 Australia

Occupation: Media and Communications Specialist / DJ
Industry: Arts
Age: 26
Location: Marrickville, Sydney
Salary: $82,500
Net Worth: $10,069 (I have $9,000 in my personal savings account at the moment and $31,000 in my superannuation. I’ve also recently started using Raiz to invest in ETFs, so I have about $700 invested there. I also moonlight as a DJ with my bestie, so we have a business account which we both take 50 per cent of — we currently have about $4,000 each in there.)
Debt: $34,631 in HECS debt. I never check it so it feels fake to me. Otherwise, nothing. I paid off my car loan last year (yay!).
Paycheque Amount (Weekly): $1,144.20

Monthly Expenses

Rent: $1,484.17. I rent a two-bedroom house with my partner and we split rent 50/50 because our incomes are basically the same.
Streaming: $37.99. I pay for Spotify, Stan and Binge, and my partner pays for Netflix, Amazon Prime and his own Spotify (remind me to sort out a family account for us). We love consuming media!
Coles Plus: $19. I pay a monthly fee to get our groceries delivered right to our door. It’s a luxury, but we both loathe in-person grocery shopping with every fibre of our being (if you know Marrickville Metro, you know). It works out to just a few extra dollars per weekly shop, so it’s worth every penny.
Private Health Insurance: $54.73
Gym: $69.12 usually. During this particular week, it turned into $125.45 per month (you’ll see).
Mobile Phone: $80
Internet: $70 (split 50/50 with my partner, so $35 each)
Utilities: Usually around $200 per quarter (~$67 per month).
FBi Radio Supporter Membership: $10
Savings Contributions: I’m pretty rigid with trying to save at least $250 per week, but sometimes this comes down to $150 or $200 if I have extra expenses pop up. I also have an automatic weekly contribution to Raiz set up ($22.75) and have ’round ups’ turned on, which means that all my purchases are rounded up to the nearest dollar and the difference is invested into my Raiz account once per month. This usually comes out to around $45 to $50. I also salary sacrifice $10 per week into my superannuation.

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

I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Media, which I paid for through HECS/HELP. I started with another degree and messed around for a while, so my debt is certainly higher than it should be. I also lived in a residential college for the first three years of my degree (yeah, ew, I know) which was mostly funded by a scholarship. The rest of the fees came from Centrelink Youth Allowance and my dad. I worked as a dance teacher and a few other odd jobs throughout uni to fund my lifestyle.

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

I don’t remember discussing finances much with my parents until I started working. My mum’s main campaign is the importance of superannuation for young women, she made sure that I got into a good super fund and that I make voluntary contributions regularly, even if they are small. As an adult, I regularly turn to both of my parents for financial guidance. My dad believes in serviceable loans to build up a good credit score, and thanks to my now paid-off car loan, I have an excellent credit score.

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

I worked at a bakery when I was 17 as soon as I finished high school. I got it because my mum was always really clear that she’d stop bankrolling everything (except my car insurance and my health insurance) the moment I finished my last exam. It was deadly boring, but I could eat as many croissants as I wanted.

Did you worry about money growing up?

I grew up pretty comfortably middle class and I don’t remember wanting for much as a child. I always knew that I wouldn’t have received my private education without the scholarship I was awarded. As I’ve gotten older, my mum has shared more with me about just how tight things were for her during my teenage years after my parents separated. My mum is excellent with managing money though, so she hid all of that from us at the time.

Do you worry about money now?

Nowhere near as much as I used to. My previous full-time job, which I only left at the end of 2021, barely paid me minimum wage, so I’m extremely grateful to be earning what I do now. This last year is the first time I’ve felt financially stable in my adult life, so it’s been a learning curve. Earning very little, I had to learn how to prioritise what I was and wasn’t interested in spending money on, and those values are pretty immovable to this day, sometimes to my own detriment (experiences > things, every time). I don’t have a hard time saving for a holiday or blowing cash on drinks with friends, but will deliberate for weeks over new gym shoes.

I know I could be sacrificing more to achieve financial freedom, but for now, I’m pretty happy with the balance I’ve struck between prioritising my finances and my enjoyment (we’re literally all going to die so let me have my daily iced long black!).

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

I’ve gradually become more financially responsible since graduating high school, and I’m super lucky that my parents continued making contributions to things like my car insurance and my health insurance as I found my feet.

As of 2020, I became completely financially independent. Aside from what’s in my savings, I don’t have much of a safety net, but I know that if everything well and truly hits the fan, I’d have the support of my partner and my family. I don’t want to have to touch my super unless I absolutely have no other option.

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

I have inherited about $20,000 total over the last few years from deceased grandparents. $10,000 went straight into my superannuation, and I used the rest to stay alive during uni/periods of underemployment, so it’s all gone now!

Day 1

5:15am — Alarm goes off. Sucks momentarily, but I’ve battled with building an exercise routine for so long and unfortunately, what they say about endorphins is correct.

6:00am — Reformer Pilates class. I’m a bit over my usual gym routine so I went looking for something different and have now gone full Pilates princess mode. I’m doing a two-week trial at a new studio, so it’s free!

6:55am — Cop an iced long black from the Greek cafe next to the Pilates studio. My bestie is Greek and I’m therefore Greek-adjacent, so I feel very much at home here. Plus, the coffee slaps. $6

7:10am — Home, shower, get ready for work, avocado and tomato on toast for brekkie.

7:45am — Drive to work and I see that pesky fuel light. I’m one of those people that sees the fuel light merely as a suggestion, especially since petrol is such a rort right now.

8:30am — Working my life away! Wish I could just stop and go on a cruise.

11:00am — Banana bread break. My bestie made it and gave some to me. Love Greek hospitality.

12:15pm — Lunch! I don’t face temptation from a wealth of lunch options near my office, so I’m pretty good about bringing my lunch with me to work. Today it’s a leftover chicken and soba noodle salad with edamame, cucumber, celery, nuts and a mint-lime-miso dressing situation that we made a couple of nights ago.

1:30pm — See that Stan has deducted the monthly fee from my account. I’m legitimately paying $16 per month (covered in my monthly expenses) just to watch RuPaul’s Drag Race.

3:30pm — I have an external meeting that I have to drive to, so I can’t get away without petrol any longer. Not splurging on a full tank today, though. $50.37

4:30pm — Home time! Speeding (not literally) home to get to the library to pick up all my reserves before it closes. I love reading and can’t justify buying books at the rate I finish them, so the library near my house is a gift.

5:30pm — I give the house a quick tidy and get ready because I’m having some girlies over for pres before we go see Kehlani tonight.

7:05pm — My pay comes through so I do some quick admin. I transfer my rent for the week ($342.50, covered in my monthly expenses) into another account which will be direct debited later in the week. Then I put $280 in my savings and pay an outstanding toll notice ($28.84). $28.84

7:30pm — Friends arrive. I make a few vodka lime sodas using ingredients I already have. We’re all ravenous, so we Uber Eats some Guzman burrito bowls. $19

8:45pm — We take an Uber to the show and split it three ways. $7.30

9:10pm — One vodka Red Bull at ludicrous gig venue prices. $14

10:30pm — Show’s over. This is my second time seeing Kehlani, and she’s insanely good live. Her stage presence and vocals are unreal! We take another Uber home (split three ways) at surge prices. $19.70

11:30pm — In bed, scroll TikTok, fall asleep.

Daily Total: $145.21

Day 2

8:00am — Bit of a sleep-in this morning before I head off to the rally for Invasion Day. I have a protein bar for a quick breakfast.

9:20am — Train into the city — the pre-authorisation is $1 but the actual amount will be taken out of my account later in the week. $1

12:00pm — My bestie and I get the light rail ($1) to go grab some coffee and lunch at a café nearby. We meet up with a new friend of ours who works in music and we discuss some exciting future plans for our DJ duo. I have an iced long black and an insanely good vegetarian sandwich ($25.62). $25.62

1:30pm — It’s 35 degrees so my bestie and I stop in for fro-yo on our way back to the train station. After going buck wild with adding cookie dough, I’m reminded of how expensive frozen yoghurt is. $12.04

2:00pm — Train back home. $1

3:00pm — My only other Invasion Day plans are soaking up my aircon, watching Netflix, reflecting and keeping to myself.

3:30pm — I receive a surprise $100 refund from switching health insurance policies last week. I donate it to Pay The Rent, a Naarm-based grassroots organisation that distributes mutual aid to various First Nations organisations and communities. My friend and I also donate $200 from our DJing business account (split two ways) to Black Rainbow, an organisation that works for positive health and wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTIA+SB (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, Asexual, Sistergirl and Brotherboy) people. $200

5:30pm — I’m getting a bit peckish, but I’m not quite ready to commit to a whole meal, so I settle for a slice of buttered toast.

7:15pm — Throw together one of my go-to lazy meals — frozen dumplings and steamed pak choi with oyster sauce.

9:30pm — After bingeing Keep Sweet, Pray and Obey on Netflix (big yikes), I do the dishes, do a couple of loads of laundry, and wind down with a quick Yoga with Adriene practice. Then it’s straight to bed to read, watch a few TikToks, then lights out by 11pm.

Daily Total: $240.66

Day 3

5:15am — Ugh, I should have gone to sleep earlier. I’m on the struggle bus to get up for Pilates this morning but I know I’ll feel heaps better for it.

6:00am — Pilates time. I’m still on my free trial so I don’t pay anything.

6:50am — I hit a post-Pilates iced long black from the Greek cafe. $6

7:45am — Get ready for work. I take a bit too leisurely of a pace when I’m doing my hair this morning, so I have to skip breakfast. I’ll have to get something from the cafe at work.

8:30am — Ease into a (hopefully) quiet Friday at work.

9:30am — Yeah, it’s not that quiet. I take a break and dash down to the cafe for a piece of banana bread (I’m eating an abnormal amount of banana bread this week). $5

12:30pm — Lunch. Today it’s leftover pasta with homemade pesto sauce and sundried tomatoes that I’m absolutely pushing the limit on in terms of ‘still safe to eat’-ness. I’m quite rigid about my work boundaries so I always take my whole lunch break, and sit and read at my desk for an hour with my AirPods in. I finish my book — it sucked, actually!

3:00pm — I need to head out to pick up some printing and realise I haven’t eaten enough food today, so I quickly buy a protein bar from 7/11 ($5.70). I need to make a conscious effort to eat more plants this weekend. $5.70

4:30pm — Home time. I am the world’s biggest extrovert so the best thing I can do for myself when I’m feeling off is to get out of the house and find my friends. I drive home, drop off my stuff, quickly freshen up, and then head back out the door to get on the train. $1

5:30pm — One of my friends at my old workplace is finishing up today after six years! A bunch of us are meeting up at The Alex in Alexandria. I’m really lucky that these relationships are still so strong because I really cherish all of these people.

8:00pm — We’re eating burgers, ordering jugs and being merry! I end up buying a haloumi burger for myself and two jugs to share ($49.10). These people are absolute icons. $49.10

12:30am — Proud of myself because even though it’s absolutely bucketing outside and I didn’t bring an umbrella, I resist the urge to get an Uber home. I walk up to Redfern and get on the train. $1

1:00am — I’m hungry so I get a packet of Grain Waves from the servo near my house ($6) and pat myself on the back for not ordering a whole Oporto meal on Uber Eats. Feeling very chuffed with myself tonight. $6

1:30am — Flop into bed.

Daily Total: $73.80

Read the rest on Refinery29 Australia here.

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