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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 medicine student who makes $26,000 a year and spends some of her money this week on a Clinique moisturiser (which includes a bunch of free samples!).
This week on Money Diaries, a medicine student who makes $26,000 a year and spends some of her money on moisturiser (including a bunch of free samples).Credit: Refinery29 Australia
Location: Parkside, Adelaide
Net Worth: $7,100 ($51,000 in savings, $2,500 in spending account, $5,000 in stocks and $16,600 in super)
Debt: Currently $68,000 in HECS (for a four-year undergraduate degree and one year of my master’s). My Doctor of Medicine is four years at $11,800 a year so it will be $103,400 when I’m done. Ouch.
Paycheque Amount (Fortnightly): $400 to $500 for my tutoring job, $562 in Austudy payments.
Rent: $672. I live in a share house with three other people, two of whom are a couple. It’s a slightly run-down but beautiful sandstone colonial-style house in the inner suburbs. I’m so lucky to get this place at such a cheap price.
Phone: I bought my phone outright but the provider is on a family plan which my parents pay for.
Netflix: I use my parent’s account.
Car: $150 on petrol. I paid for the secondhand car outright with savings and a contribution from my parents.
Gas & Electricity: Approximately $40
Savings Contributions: I currently contribute nothing to savings. I’m actually dipping into them every few weeks. The demand of this degree means I can’t work as much as I would like, but I’m lucky to have a healthy savings account that will get me through.
Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
Yes. I completed my Bachelor’s in a completely different field and then started a Master’s before realising I could do medicine. I am very grateful that my parents paid for the first year of my undergraduate, which they did as there was a discount for paying up front. The rest of my student debt is on HECS/HELP loans, however, my parents have said they will help pay this off.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
Growing up, my parents were fairly frugal in comparison to their higher-class income. My mum grew up incredibly poor so the habits she picked up from this continued throughout adulthood. She bought grocery items in bulk and only turned on the washing machine when the sun was out to use the solar panels. They definitely instilled in me the importance of living within or below my means in order to save well. But they also balanced this by educating me about what I should spend my money on. My dad has put some money into stocks for me and they discuss their various investments, but apart from that, their general ethos was to work hard and DIY what you can.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was handing out surveys for a university research paper. I was 14 and my mum got me the job. It worked well with school and paid well given it was an easy task.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Not really. My parents worked hard to send me to an expensive private school, so the kind of “money worries” I had was more fitting in with everyone and the latest trends. Though my parents could afford it, they would often forgo flashy items that I wanted in order to fit in with my friends. Looking back, I am so grateful that they instead invested in things like overseas holidays so I could get a more worldly perspective, rather than buying expensive cars and laptops so I could “fit in”.
Do you worry about money now?
Short term, it’s definitely a concern of mine. With a monthly income of only $2,068, every purchase is weighed up, though I am lucky to have savings I can dip into. Long term, I know I will be comfortable — the medical field is well-paying and jobs are fairly secure and recession-proof.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
At 23, I moved out of home. From then on, I paid for all my rent and bills myself. My savings are from working 30+ hours a week from the age of 17 to 24 (and living rent-free until 23), so I am proud of how much I was able to save whilst completing full-time uni. My parents are very generous, and will always pay for any medications/GP/dentist appointments, as well as paying for textbooks or necessities for university. I know I can always rely on them or move back home if necessary. The other medical school I was accepted into was in Sydney, but I knew life there was so much more expensive and I didn’t want to just burn through my savings or rely on my parents for money, so I decided to stay in Adelaide. I am very happy with my decision.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I have $35,000 in a high-interest savings account which earns about $100 in interest per month which I don’t touch. I don’t receive dividends from the $5,000 I invested into stocks and I actually don’t know how much it’s worth now. I have not received any inheritance.
6:50am — I wake up to the sound of my housemates getting ready to go to work. They’re all healthcare workers and get up pretty early, so I’m the last to get up. I make some instant coffee and add a spoonful of hot chocolate powder, then sit down to eat with my bowl of Weet-Bix and milk.
7:45am — I’m heading out the door to drive to uni. I purchased a parking pass so I can drive and park there each day, which is a lifesaver in a city with unreliable public transport. I’ve packed some homemade banana bread, a sandwich, some leftover Easter chocolate and a can of Coke for the day ahead.
8:10am — I log into my computer and get some pre-reading done before lectures. I start nibbling on my chocolate — that never lasts too long. I read a few pages of my textbook and then head to the lecture theatre.
9:00am — First lecture of the day. We have three hours back-to-back and the pace of the content is in the fast lane.
12:00pm — Finally, lectures are finished. I head to the library to unpack what we’ve just been taught and go over the learning objectives for the week. I eat my banana bread and get stuck in.
2:30pm — I’ve come up for air after studying for a few hours. I walk out to the courtyard and eat my sandwich while looking at Instagram on my phone. My friends left to go home and study, but my internet at home is currently not working, so I’ve had to stick around. I head back inside to get back to the books.
3:00pm — I crack open my Coke, the highlight of my day. I re-watch parts of the lecture I didn’t understand and find some free resources to supplement my learning. There are so many medical resources that make you pay, however, I have been given a bootleg copy from some senior med students. I am so grateful for the med community — everyone has been super helpful and it would be silly to pay for resources at this point.
5:30pm — Home time. On my way, I stop off at the supermarket to get some flowers for our new neighbours ($16). I also buy some Greek yoghurt to have with honey as a snack ($6). $22
6:00pm — I arrive home and head to the kitchen to cook dinner. I make a very basic bolognese with lentils as I am vegetarian. This is also saving me a bit of money, as meat can be expensive. I pop round to the new neighbours with one of my roommates and the flowers to introduce ourselves. They’re a lovely couple — I’m excited to have them next door.
8:30pm — I have a shower and do my skincare routine. My boyfriend texts me, having just finished work, and asks about tonight’s plans. I invite him over and when he arrives, he is exhausted from his shift. He eats my leftover bolognese I had planned on having for lunch tomorrow, but it wasn’t my best work, so it gives me an excuse to have something else.
Daily Total: $22
7:00am — I wake up, give my tired boyfriend a kiss and head out to the kitchen for my instant coffee and Weet-Bix combo. I add some Greek yoghurt to my breakfast as I know I should eat more protein. I offer this duo to my boyfriend, however, as a junior doctor, he is somewhat of a coffee snob. He says no to the coffee, and yes to the Weet-Bix. We chat about our upcoming weekly schedules and when we might do a date night, and then he heads off to work.
7:30am — I dawdle around the house a little more, getting ready. We have clinical skills today, which means we must wear professional clothes. I love this excuse to dress up, so I spend a little more time on my outfit and pop a bit of makeup on. My outfit is a designer brand that I bought secondhand on Facebook Marketplace. It was funded by selling one of my own dresses that I barely wore. Then, I head to uni.
8:30am — I continue my studies where I left off yesterday. Shoot — I just realised I forgot to pack lunch. Instead of staying around uni all day, I decide I’ll head home after clinical skills so I can make lunch at home instead of buying an expensive sandwich at uni. I’ll have to hotspot my phone to my laptop for the internet though, which is annoying.
10:07am — Today in clinical skills, we are learning how to do a “social yarn” with people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds. It is so important as health professionals that we are culturally trained and sensitive. Clinical skills are the only opportunity we get as early med students to feel like “real” doctors, though it does feel like we’re playing pretend.
12:35pm — After clinical skills, I hang around the library and talk to a few of my friends. We are all finding that there is so much content to learn this week, and discuss what elements of the lectures were actually useful, and which bits we are convinced we don’t need to know. Though actually, we do need to know it. We need to know everything. It’s exhausting. We make plans for the weekend to head to the beach.
1:30pm — I arrive home and defrost a mystery meal my mum gave to me last week. I use the microwave my other budget-conscious roommate took from her hockey club rooms (“It was just sitting there not being used,” she said. No complaints from me!). I eat it while watching Netflix on my phone — we don’t have a TV in my sharehouse.
2:30pm — I get stuck into some study. Diligence and discipline are two skills that I have definitely had to improve on since studying med. In my undergraduate in architecture, I could get away with procrastination and then a few intense days before a due date. I simply can not do that now!
5:00pm — I finish up studying for the day and get changed to go for a run. I live fairly close to the city and there are a few great ovals in my neighbourhood, so there are lots of running options. As soon as I moved out of home, I cancelled my gym membership to save money, so running is such a great, free alternative.
6:15pm — I get ready to go to my boyfriend’s parent’s place for dinner. I love his family — we have dinner together with his brothers and their partners every week if we can. It’s hard with schedules as my boyfriend works roughly 50 hours a week. I pack my bag to stay at my boyfriend’s place tonight and head over.
9:30pm — After dinner, we say our goodbyes to his family and drive in our separate cars to my boyfriend’s house. On the way, he stops to pick us up some McDonald’s. He gets me a McFlurry and he buys an apple pie and a sundae. He pays for this, which I’m grateful for as I just paid for petrol on the way home ($44). Petrol is so expensive at the moment, and it was the lowest I had seen it in a few days at $1.78, so I filled up while I could. $44
10:10pm — We both have showers and jump into bed. We watch something on Netflix (he also uses my parent’s account) before falling asleep.
Daily Total: $44
6:30am — My boyfriend gets up to go to work, so I get up with him. He makes us coffee from his expensive coffee machine he found on Facebook Marketplace for cheap and talk about our upcoming days. He often buys lunch, so when I look in his fridge for some leftovers to take to uni, it’s not very inspiring. I decide I will stop off at the supermarket on the way to uni to buy some stuff for lunch.
7:55am — Leave house with my bag in tow.
8:42am — I arrive at uni with a banana, a cheesymite scroll and a protein bar from the supermarket ($6.90). I head into the histology lab for our 9am practical. I find some of my friends to sit next to and we have fun looking at blood slides and chatting. $6.90
10:00am — With this prac done for the day, I head to the library. I’m the treasurer for one of the medicine societies and I have a few outstanding tasks I need to get done for this role.
10:40am — I get an email from one of the kids I tutor with an assignment he needs help with. I see two siblings every Sunday for five hours, so I look over this assignment and jot down some dot points to discuss when I see him next. Their parents pay me very well per hour so I don’t mind putting in some extra time outside of Sunday.
10:50am — I finish up with the tutoring assignment and get stuck into the weekly content with a few online lectures. We have a mini test each Friday to see how well we learnt the week’s content, and I take the test seriously as it is an indication of how much I will need to revise for the upcoming end-of-semester exam. Just when you think there couldn’t possibly be more content, there always is.
2:00pm — I head down to the cafeteria where a few of my friends are about to eat lunch. Most of them buy their lunch, which is a minimum of $12. I also notice I’m the only one at the table without a very trendy drink bottle that costs at least $60. If I was younger, this would probably make me self-conscious, but now I really don’t care (nor do I, really, have the budget to be able to care).
2:50pm — I head back to the library to study — surprise, surprise. I cave when walking past the coffee cart and buy myself a latte. As I’m part of a medicine society, we get a 50c discount, so my medium coffee is $3.90. I write some questions out for myself and for the study group that I’m meeting up with tomorrow. We each pick an objective to ‘master’ and then test each other. It seems to work well so far. $3.90
5:25pm — I’m done for the day and call my mum on my way home. She has some of my washing — the washing machine in my share house is currently getting repaired (by my roommate, we refuse to pay for that kind of stuff) — and she wants to know when I’ll pick it up. I plan on visiting my parents on the weekend.
6:10pm — I make corn burritos for dinner. I eat some leftover Easter chocolate to fill me up because my dinner isn’t cutting it.
8:00pm — I follow a free YouTube yoga workout, have a shower and do my skincare routine. I call my boyfriend about his day and tuck myself into bed early. I then watch Netflix for a little too long and fall asleep.
Daily Total: $10.80
7:00am — I wake up and note that it’s test day tomorrow. Whatever I know by the end of today is pretty much what’s going to get me through the test. I’m sitting just above the middle of my cohort in test scores, even with this much study. It doesn’t come naturally to me, so I have to work hard for it. With this in mind, I procrastinate and sit on my phone watching Instagram reels for almost an hour. Then I get up and get ready for the day.
7:20am — I jump in the shower and hear the rhythmic THUMP THUMP THUMP of the pipes warming up. I feel sorry for our neighbours.
8:32am — I’m out the door with some Greek yoghurt and muesli, as well as some banana bread for lunch today.
8:55am — I buy a coffee when I get to uni ($3.90) and head to my basic life support class. They mention an extracurricular class they recommend us taking, which costs $150. I consider it and know that my parents will pay if I want to do it. I’ll discuss it with them on the weekend. $3.90
10:30am — I head to the library. Study, rinse and repeat for the next four hours. I eat lunch sitting at my desk.
3:00pm — I meet up with my study group and we go over the objectives for the week. We bring snacks to the study group, and I totally forgot, so I buy a packet of lollies from the hospital vending machine ($5). $5
5:00pm — We finish up and I head home. One of my roommates and I take turns cooking dinner for one another sometimes, and she’s cooking dinner tonight. I stop off at the bottle shop on the way home and buy a bottle of rosé to have with it — $16 for a decent drop. $16
5:40pm — I head out for a quick run. I listen to podcasts (that are free (!!!) — this still thrills me) on the Apple Podcast app.
7:20pm — We sit down and eat dinner together. She’s one of my best friends (and also the aforementioned microwave thief) and I’m so grateful we live well together. She is a nurse and I love hearing about her day. We only drink a glass each so we have wine left for another night.
8:30pm — We watch some Netflix together on my laptop and then head to bed. I send my partner my uni timetable so he can try to line up his holidays in the middle of the year — we’d love to go away. This is something I’d happily dip into my savings to do. I also know realistically that my partner will cover 2/3 of the trip whilst I will probably cover 1/3, which I am very grateful for as he is on a much higher income than me at the moment.
Daily Total: $24.90
6:50am — Test day! I wake up and go over my notes from the week. I drink my instant coffee and have an apple before getting dressed to go for a run with a friend — we’re meeting at a park in-between our houses.
7:45am — Back from my run, I have a shower and put a bit of effort into my hair and skincare before packing my stuff up to go to uni. The test isn’t until midday, so I stop at the shops on my way and buy a new moisturiser — Clinique’s Smart Clinical Repair Wrinkle Cream — that I was waiting to purchase until it was part of a deal ($52). The deal includes free sample products with my purchase — I’m a sucker for mini products. $52
12:30pm — Test time! After, we go through the answers as a cohort and then do some case studies together based on the week’s content. We all bring snacks — my contribution is a box of Shapes I bought during my weekly grocery shop.
4:30pm — We have finally finished for the day and head to the university bar for a beer ($8). I’m not too fussy and get whatever’s on tap. I head home to get ready for a date night with my boyfriend, who finishes work at around 7pm. $8
6:30pm — I review the questions I got wrong during the test and submit this to uni. I then mooch around at home trying on different outfits and putting on makeup for our date. We booked a restaurant for 8pm, so I’ll pick my boyfriend up from his place on the way.
8:00pm — We have a great dinner, ordering main meals, a side dish and a drink each. The total is $125, which my boyfriend insists on paying for even though I’m very happy to go 50/50. We go out for ice cream afterwards which I pay for — this makes me feel better even though it’s 1/10th of the cost ($13). $13
Daily Total: $73
Read the rest on Refinery29 Australia here.
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