Money Diary (Japan travel edition): #4 What we spent during 9 days in Japan (Tokyo and Tohoku region)

We spent about 9 full days in Japan (plus the morning of our flight out). This trip was significantly more in peak season that I am used to, as it coincided with the Tohoku region’s cherry blossom forecast. As always, we buy too many souvenirs from Japan.

We exchanged some cash beforehand at AU$1 : ¥78.5139. We withdrew cash in Japan to top up, from 7 Eleven ATMs, which were the second ATM I tried with our Citibank debit card (one of the two most popular debit cards in Australia for overseas ATMs). Mizuho Bank ATM quoted me ~8% worse value than 7 Eleven, which came out ~1% within the global market rate so I just relied on 7 Eleven ATMs from thereon, since they’re everywhere anyway.

All costs in ¥ or the exact AU$ charged (or both), for TWO PEOPLE.

Pre-trip

Airfares – Royal Brunei Airlines: 2 x $739.31 = $1478.62
JR Tohoku pass (choose 5 days): (¥19,000 when purchased outside Japan, but realistically the travel agents will set the price themselves). 2 x $244 = $488
Data SIM for 30 days: 2 x $39 = $78
Hotel – The Knot Tokyo Shinjuku (3 nights): $545.41
Hotel – Hotel Vista Sendai (2 nights): $208.49
Hotel – Montein Hotel Kitakami (2 nights): ¥16,600 = $214.78
Hotel – Art Hotel Hirosaki City (1 night): ¥38,880
Hotel – Hotel Ryumeikan Tokyo (1 night): ¥23,000 = $294.23
(Total cashback for four hotels except Hirosaki = $46.36)
Tickets for Teamlab Borderless: 2 x ¥3,200 = ¥6,400 = $80.73

The hotel and price in Sendai is more typical of what I am used to in terms of excellent location, compact yet clean rooms and price. The Shinjuku hotel was excellent but a bit far from the station. I would trade the size of the room for better location in an instant, but April is peak season so I had to make do and pay a bit more than I am used to for Tokyo and slightly worse location. It wasn’t bad though, and I’d prefer this location in Shinjuku than to not be near Shinjuku. The Hirosaki hotel was right next to the station but absurdly expensive. Welcome to the sakura festival in one of the top sakura locations in Japan! It was the most stressful finding a hotel in Hirosaki. The city is not that big and populous. The hotels there are on the old side and not too tourist-friendly (difficult to find smoke-free hotels). I would not have considered this hotel given its ratings if it wasn’t the only non-smoking option left in the city. The price was still ouch though.

Some transport prices may not be exact as I noticed sometimes IC cards gave ¥1-5 discounts on actual actual fares. All fares were retrospectively calculated. I’ve tried to categorise souvenirs clearly as things we bought to bring back for ourselves or other people (although this gets muddy because we did bring lots of snacks from convenience stores back home for ourselves/others). We are used to doubling or tripling our luggage with shopping because we buy so much in Japan! I think our luggage weight at least doubled.

Day 1 (Tokyo and Takao-san) *JR Tohoku pass*
Narita Express to Shinjuku: covered with JR pass
Lunch (tempura soba and tendon at Tenya Tendon): ¥1,440
Vending machine (drink): ¥150
Train to Takao-san: covered with JR pass except one stop, 2 x ¥130 = ¥260
Cablecar roundtrip: 2 x ¥930 = ¥1860
Tickets for Monkey Park: 2 x ¥420 = ¥840
Goshuin: ¥300
Vending machine (drink): ¥170
Train to Shinjuku: covered with JR pass except one stop, 2 x ¥130 = ¥260
Dinner (skewers izakaya at Kushiyaki Bistro Fukumimi): ¥6,778
Drugstore (lip balm): ¥306
Convenience store (salad, fruit, snacks): ¥678
Total: ¥13,042

We started our time in Japan around midday by the time we’d got into the city from the airport and dropped off our luggage at the hotel. We had a quick lunch at a chain restaurant before heading off to Takaosan. I got my first goshuin of the trip and had to pick up a lip balm from the drugstore back in Shinjuku because I lost mine on the flight. Every night we go on a conbini crawl as I try to stock up on vegetables/fruit and T tries to eat as much ice cream and junk food as possible (not that I don’t also join the junk food party). Typically a non-snacker, he turns into a different person in Japan! The other category that I spend a lot in is goshuin (also here), which I will categorise separately.

Day 2 (Tokyo and Kamakura)
Vending machine (drink): ¥140
Train to Kamakura: 2 x ¥920 = ¥1840
Convenience store (onigiri): ¥120
Bakery (2 breads): ¥480 (?)
Taxi: ¥1000
Tickets for Hokokuji: 2 x ¥300 = ¥600
Goshuin: ¥300
New goshuin-chou + goshuin = ¥2200
Tickets for Hokai-ji: 2 x ¥200 = ¥400
Goshuin (3): 3 x ¥300 = ¥900
Sakura mochi: ¥200
Lunch (soba at Fukuyu Soba Bar): ¥1836
Tickets for Hase-dera: 2 x ¥300 = ¥600
Goshuin: ¥300
Tickets for Kotoku-in: 2 x ¥300 = ¥600
Goshuin: ¥300
Souvenirs (2 small face towels): ¥1200
Goshuin: ¥300
Vending machine (drink): ¥130
Train to Shinjuku: 2 x ¥920 = ¥1840
Reserving Narita Express for airport: 2 x ¥3210: ¥6440
Dinner (skewers izakaya at Yakitori Nanbantei): ¥7123
Souvenir (2 alcohols from Bic Camera): ¥2364
Drink (alcohol from Bic Camera): 2 x ¥110 = ¥220
Souvenir (T-shirt from Uniqlo): ¥1065
Souvenir (insulated Tiger drink mug from Bic Camera): ¥1998
Convenience store (snacks): ¥588
Convenience store (ice cream): ¥500 (?)
Total: ¥35,584

We started our day an hour later than I had hoped, so I decided we would take a taxi to the first site in Kamakura instead of walking to help make up some time. It is such a temple and shrine town that we had to not visit many temples and shrines (and not get goshuin) so we could actually complete the itinerary. We like walking everywhere and visiting ALL THE TEMPLES AND SHRINES so this one day ended up not being enough time for us, since shrines and temples can start closing around 4pm. We will need to revisit. For lunch we had Yamagata soba, which T loved but I didn’t. I got my second goshuin-chou (book) at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu because the book was so pretty and I only had a few pages left in my old book, so I bit the bullet. I later realised the book is slightly bigger and in retrospect I would have preferred all my books to be the same size. Goshuin at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu also cost a premium – ¥500. Back in Tokyo, we picked up some alcohol to bring back. I also picked up the Tiger mug that was on my shopping list (half the price of what it would cost me in Australia/online). I think we both discovered the Haagen Dazs crispy ice cream sandwiches that night – they’re amazing.

Day 3 (Tokyo)
Vending machine (drink): ¥140
Goshuin: ¥300
Lunch (okonomiyaki at Kotegaeshi Okonomiyaki): ¥2764
Goshuin: ¥300
Metro: 2 x ¥200 = ¥400
Souvenirs (2 plush toys and 1 toilet cover (LOL) from Pokemon Centre DX): ¥6900 (tax-free)
Metro and train: 2 x ¥500 = ¥1000
Dinner (tonkatsu at Tonkatsu Wako): ¥3150
Tickets for teamlab Borderless: pre-purchased
Train and metro: 2 x ¥580 = ¥1160
Convenience store (cake, ice cream, chips, drink): ¥667
Convenience store (Kit Kat, purin): ¥313
Convenience store (sweets): ¥103
Total: ¥17,197

We just wondered around for most of the day. I checked out like ten consignment stores and then we spontaneously decided to go to the Pokemon Centre DX in Nihonbashi before heading to Odaiba for an early dinner. I heard Borderless is least busy around dinnertime so I was aiming for 6pm. When we returned to our hotel, we went on a conbini crawl for snacks for that night and to eat on the shinkansen the next day.

Day 4 (Sendai) *JR Tohoku pass*
Convenience store (breads and onigiri): ¥386
Shinkansen to Sendai: covered with JR pass
Lunch (gyutan at Rikyu): ¥3564
Goshuin (2): 2 x ¥300 = ¥600
Souvenirs (mug and tumbler from Starbucks): ¥4104
Dinner (izakaya at Aburiyajubey): ¥6166
Snack (?): ¥432
Snack (Hyotan-age): ¥250
Snack (shu-pie at Papa Beard): ¥170
Snack (mochi): ¥200
Snack (Hokkaido milk cake): ¥290
Coin laundry (wash then dry): ¥300 + ¥300 = ¥600
Convenience store (2 ice creams and bananas): ¥1002
Total: ¥17,764

We had the afternoon to wander around Sendai after checking in and trying gyutan (ox tongue) at the famous Sendai chain, Rikyu. I didn’t really like thick cut gyutan the way it’s done in Sendai, so we didn’t eat any more during our stay. I picked up the Sendai Starbucks mug in the new design (I absolutely prefer the old design for regional tumblers – the new series is kind of awful, but I’ve never been to Sendai so I can’t get the old ones anymore…) and the new Starbucks “Japan” mug because it’s so pretty. After dinner (our only bad meal for the whole trip), we ate a bunch of cool food in the train station and went back to do laundry at the hotel (with ice cream, of course).

Day 5 (Sendai and Matsushima)
Train to Matsushima: 2 x ¥410 = ¥820
Snack (curry bread at Pensee): ¥300
Matushima Bay ferry (with upgrade to green car): 2 x (1500 + 600) = ¥4200
Lunch (Seafood at Nanbuya): ¥5700
Tickets to Zuigan-ji: 2 x ¥700 = ¥1400
Goshuin: ¥300
Tickets to Entsu-in: 2 x ¥300 = ¥600
Goshuin: ¥300
Snack (fishpaste skewer): ¥200
Souvenir (grilled garlic): ¥540
Snack (regional sakuranbo Hi-CHEW): ¥150
Toll for crossing to Fukuua Island: 2 x ¥200 = ¥400
Train to Sendai: 2 x ¥410 = ¥820
Dinner (ramen at Misoichi): ¥2100
Souvenir (regional gyutan Pretz): ¥600
Souvenirs (amazake dango, 2 umeshu): ¥1016
Snack (sakura doughnut at Mister Donut): ¥129
Souvenir (lightning cable from Tokyu Hands): ¥1836
Souvenirs (stainless steel Tiger drink mug and soup/food mug from Yodobashi Camera): ¥4670
Convenience store (ice creams and fruit liqueur): ¥1030
Vending machine (drink): ¥110
Total: ¥27,221

I was informed by the Internet that upgrading to green/first class on the ferry of Matsushima Bay would be worth it as you are able to go outside on the deck. I found a Hi-CHEW I’d never seen before and T managed to sneak in a packet of grilled garlic because he is a garlic monster (the verdict is he wishes he brought back ten more packs…). Back in Sendai, we started getting serious about souvenir shopping. T says he got the lightning cable despite it being expensive because he has for years been particular about a certain cable length and will try any that he stumbles on in a quest to find a good quality one. I picked up a second Tiger mug and also a soup/food thermos even though I don’t need one (I prefer this one and have been using it though).

Day 6 (Sendai, Yamadera, Kitakami) *JR Tohoku pass*
Convenient store (2 breads and 2 onigiri): ¥493
Train to Yamadera: covered with JR pass
Goshuin (3): 3 x ¥300 = ¥900
Tickets for Yamadera: 2 x ¥300 = ¥600
Goshuin (8): 8 x ¥300 = ¥2400
Lunch (soba at Enzou): ¥2780
Souvenir (wooden plate): ¥700
Train to Sendai: covered with JR pass
Souvenirs (2 boxes of seafood senbei): ¥2376
Souvenir (lotion toner from Matsumoto Kiyoshi): ¥799
Souvenir (tamagoyaki pan from Tokyu Hands): ¥4622
Souvenir (T-shirt from Comme des Garcons): ¥7344
Dinner (tonkatsu at Saboten): ¥3881
Convenience store (drink): ¥129
Shinkansen to Kitakami: covered with JR pass
Shuttle bus to hotel: complementary
Convenience store (ice cream, purin, bananas, Starbucks coffee, onigiri, bananas): ¥1023
Total: ¥28,047

We got an absolute tonne of goshuin at Yamadera!!! I picked up a cute leaf-shaped wooden tray/plate made in Takaoka to hold trinkets in. We returned to Sendai for a few hours of speed shopping because we still hadn’t really made a dent in our souvenir shopping. We picked up these impressive seafood senbei for family and I finally decided on a tamagoyaki pan, which was on my shopping list. After arriving at our hotel in Kitakami, we immediately set out to find the nearest conbini!

Day 7 (Kitakami)
Laundry (wash then dry): ¥500
Goshuin (2): 2 x ¥300 = ¥600
Lunch (takoyaki and yakisoba): ¥1070
Dinner (shabu shabu at Porco Blu): ¥6480
Convenience store (bread and drink): ¥491
Convenience store (onigiri, ice cream, drink, warabimochi): ¥558
Total: ¥9,699

We had a late start and also did laundry since it was raining heavily. The town was smaller and quieter than I expected and there was almost no option for lunch so we had a quick lunch in a tiny cafe that seated four people and the store-lady literally made one serve of food ready for customers. She actually couldn’t give me what I ordered because she didn’t have enough takoyaki, haha. We were able to enjoy one of the top cherry blossom spots in Tohoku all afternoon. After some difficulty finding somewhere for dinner, we ended up at a shabu shabu restaurant. It was super fancy and we had a huge private booth to ourselves. The food was great and we were stuffed! THat doesn’t mean we didn’t do a conbini crawl for more snacks and stuff to eat during transport the next morning.

Day 8 (Hirosaki) *JR Tohoku pass*
Shinkansen and train to Hirosaki: covered with JR pass
Bus: 2 x ¥100 = ¥200
Chicken skewers: ¥500
Squid skewer and pork skewer: ¥1100
Sanshoku dango: ¥200
Goshuin: ¥300
Tickets for Hirosaki castle: 2 x ¥310 = ¥620
Souvenir (Hirosaki castle postcards): ¥424
Bus: 2 x ¥100 = ¥200
Dinner (izakaya at Izakaya Tsugaru’s Liquor Worm Watami): ¥5108
Souvenirs (face cleansers, oil cleansers, face masks, mascara, lotion toner from a supermarket/drugstore): ¥19965
Convenience store (pickles, drink, ice cream, Hi-CHEW): ¥571
Total: ¥29,188

Hirosaki was crazy busy! We headed straight for the park and ate some overpriced (and not very good) skewers from the food stalls, and a not-quite-defrosted dango (I was terribly sad by this). We went into the Hirosaki Castle keep, which was priced unusually. I don’t think I’ve ever paid for a temple, shrine, castle, garden etc that wasn’t a denominator of 100 in Japan. We had a fantastic dinner at an izakaya, trying a bunch of local (Aomori) specialty cuisines. We definitely over-ordered and it was still so cheap! Since it was still early, I convinced T to go to Mega, which I saw was a huge drugstore/supermarket. I went to town on face masks (for myself and my Mum) and stocked up on longtime favourites that I usually pay two or three times more for. I only bought three or four of each item but I bought out the stock for each product! To end the night, I wanted pickles and T wanted ice cream, and while I was at it I also found a Hi-CHEW I’ve never seen before.

Day 9 (Hirosaki, Tokyo) *JR Tohoku pass*
Tickets for Saisho-in: 2 x ¥300 = ¥600
Goshuin: ¥300
Souvenir (2 alcohols): ¥1080
Bus: 2 x ¥100 = ¥200
Convenience store (2 breads): ¥273
Snack (hanami dango): ¥140
Convenience store (onigiri): ¥140
Lunch (2 ekiben): ¥1810
Vending machine (2 drinks): ¥320
Train and shinkansen to Tokyo: covered with JR pass
Souvenir (stovetop grill toaster from Tokyu Hands): ¥2462
Souvenirs (3 different packs of Tokyo Bananas): ¥2541
Souvenirs (6 different packs from Kit Kat Chocolatory): ¥4266
Dinner (Beer Hall): ¥3596
Convenience store (sweets): ¥103
Convenience store (lollies, chocolates, ice cream): ¥625
Total: ¥18,456

We walked around the city and visited over 20 or 30 temples. Sadly I was only able to get a goshuin at one major one. By the time it was midday, we were near Hirosaki Park again. We went to the visitor centre to use the bathroom but also left with two bottles of ringo-shu/apple liqueur (Aomori is famous for its apples). Back at the station, I found hanami dango that I was really craving after the terrible one from the previous day (it was divine!). We’d decided to have a late lunch on the shinkansen so we picked up two ekiben to share. Back in Tokyo at 6pm, we checked into our hotel and started a night of frantic shopping by 6:30pm. We had a lot of stores we needed to visit before they closed in a few hours. I found a stovetop grill toaster (on my shopping list) and T decided to pick up a box of Tokyo Banana to share at work and we got two small packs in different flavours for ourselves. We also visited the Kit Kat Chocolatory since T is serious about collecting his Japanese Kit Kats. The Chocolatory is incredibly premium these days. You can pay some $20 for small box of containing three small sticks of single origin volcanic something-or-another chocolates. That’s so different to a few years ago when the Chocolatory first started! He got some Kit Kats to share at work, and picked up three things that he didn’t already have. After a late dinner, we tried to run down our IC cards on snacks and ice cream so the balance would be closer to 0. I’ve kept my IC cards for many years (for subsequent trip) but I prefer to keep a minimal balance on them in case I lose them or they become nonfunctional.

Day 10 (airport day)
Convenience store (drink, bread, banana): ¥378
Convenience store (2 onigiri, Kit Kats): ¥400 (?)
Narita Express to airport: reserved and purchased on day 2
Souvenirs (2 tumblers from Starbucks): ¥3596
Souvenirs (2 eyeliners and 2 stockings from Matsumoto Kiyoshi): ¥3500 (tax-free)
Souvenirs (3 different packs of Kit kats): ¥3680 (tax-free)
Total: ¥11,556

We had a late morning flight and got up super early. On arriving at the airport, I popped into the Starbucks and found an airport exclusive tumbler, and the new series Hiroshima tumbler, which is incredibly beautiful and I couldn’t not have it! Once through customs, I finally found one of my favourite eyeliners at Matsukiyo. I saw the brand of stockings I’ve been buying on every Japan trip but they had different lines. I grabbed two to try as I figured they must not make my exact one anymore. Unfortunately we found more Kit Kats T didn’t have at another souvenir store and had to buy them (including the premium Tokyo Banana with Feuilletine Kit Kats!).


*JPY estimates are based on 1 AUD : 78.5 JPY for simplicity

Sightseeing is relatively cheap in Japan for exploring nature and temples/shrines. The majority of the sightseeing costs we had were the Matsushima ferry and Teamlab tickets. Once again, food was the real winner. Despite eating all the food and drinking every night, eating out and snacking only cost ~¥4500 or ~AU$58 per person per day. The real cost would probably be lower as we really didn’t need to eat that much convenience store junk food, and some of it might technically be “souvenirs” as I brought them home. Unsurprisingly, we spent a lot on goshuin and shopping/souvenirs – 18%! Here’s everything we hauled back… *hides*

Money Diary: #3 Back to the grind

I am trying to be more mindful of our finances starting this month as we really need to buckle down to save for a house in the next two years. I’ll not be counting my Airbnb expenses but I will note prices if I’m purchasing something.

Day 1: Monday 21 January

Usual morning routine – I pack breakfast (mango with yoghurt and muesli), lunch I cooked last night (kimchi rice, Japanese egg roll – tamagoyaki – and sugar snap peas), a banana, and a bag of spicy snap peas (my Mum can’t eat spicy food anymore so she gave them to me because they were going stale).

I drive to work as it’s a Monday and I visit my parents for dinner. I lend T my transport card.

Every Monday, money is taken out of T and my separate accounts to go into our joint bank account which we use for joint spending (cash and paying off credit cards). We decided this was the easiest method and usually there is enough money or else I will just have each of us deposit a bit more (I am the chief financial officer of the household, haha). This way we can still keep most of our money in our own mortgage offset accounts but there is a communal pool that is easy to access. I go ahead and pay off last month’s credit card bill.

After work, I visit my parents. When I leave, my Mum sends me off with lunch for the next day (rice, cabbage and carrot stir-fry, tofu, and a prawn-egg-corn dish) as well as her (slightly famous amongst friends) pork floss bread. She’s really into making it!

When I get home, I make T’s lunch for the next day. I make a pasta salad with corn, edamame, lettuce and egg (and I will add tuna the next morning).

Day 2: Tuesday 22 January

I add dressing and tuna to T’s lunch. I pack my own food – lunch from leftovers from my Mum, coffee, breakfast of nectarine with yoghurt and muesli.

I train to and from work today.

In the morning, I go down to Coles to get bin bags for my Airbnb ($2; the size I need has been sold out during our weekly shop for the last month – get your stock right, supermarkets!) and David Jones gift cards which are on offer with 10% added value. I was planning to get maybe $200 ($220 value) but they’re sold out. I should have taken this more seriously… argh!

After getting home from work, I make Japanese curry (potato, carrot and peas) with rice, which I cook with quinoa mixed in. We also pack our two lunches, but there is still some leftover curry (no rice)… I’ll think about it later. I also start making sponge cake because I want to have a second go at making mango cake (Natasha’s Kitchen recipe). I didn’t think I used enough filling for my first attempt at Christmas.

T is invited to go out and Pokemon Go raid for a bit and I want to go too. The cake-making is put on hold. (For anyone interested, we are playing hard in these two weeks because of an incredibly meta-relevant Pokemon)

After getting home again, I finish making the cake but I definitely put too much filling between the layers this time. Plus I don’t have time to cool everything in the fridge between steps so it’s a sloppy mess when I cut two slices for us to eat. I consider this attempt a bigger fail than last time and I am not going to try making this again because the recipe’s ratios are all wrong for me. The kitchen is a nightmare and T helps me clean up.

Day 3: Wednesday 23 January

I take my breakfast (peach with yoghurt and muesli today), curry lunch, banana and a slice of cake, which is holding itself together now that it’s cold.

I train to and from work.

I leave work early to go see my allergist and pick up my kit as I’m starting immunotherapy. It’s $120 and the Medicare rebate goes through overnight. $54.80 (personal account)

After I get home from work, I make tacos using the vegetable mixture I use to make vegetable puffs (I froze the leftover after making vegetable puffs for Christmas) and frozen crumbed fish (taco toppings are lettuce, cherry tomatoes, pickles and cheese)

After dinner we go and clean my Airbnb. I’ve gotten good at predicting which guests will give me a minor or major headache. I was right about this one. 🙁

After we get home, I cut up nectarines and we eat that with some more mango cake.

Day 4: Thursday 24 January

I pack breakfast (peach with yoghurt and muesli), coffee, a banana and some Vegemite bagel chips.

I train to and from work.

For lunch, our department goes out to lunch to farewell our colleague. I’ve worked closely with her and I will really miss her. She’s returning to another country but will be working with us via distance. I order a breakfast tortilla ($19.50) and surprisingly, the boss pays for all of us!

As I’m leaving work, eBay notifies me that an item I am watching is ending. I put a lot of things on my watch list and most I’m not serious about and often just curious to see the final price. This one I will commit to if it sells low (near the asking price) as it’s a Saba silk dress and I’m a sucker for silk. It’s starting at $25 plus $8.55 shipping so I bid $33 as I’m only ready to pay a little over $40 for it. I’m the only bidder so I win! $33.55

It is like 42 degrees when I leave work and I think I’m going to die. I do make it home. It’s a mishmash dinner. I make a potato pasta salad with leftover pasta from Monday night, some vegetable dumplings from the freezer, and heat some pork floss bread from my Mum that I totally forgot about and now we need to hurry up and finish. I decide I’ll have to finish it for lunch the next day because I don’t think I should keep it much longer.

I have to have an icypole, and we somehow manage to finish the mango cake (T thinks we can’t keep it in the fridge any longer) but we do regret this decision…

Day 5: Friday 25 January

I pack breakfast (banana with yoghurt and muesli), coffee and lunch (leftover salad from taco night, and the remainder of the pork floss bread). I’m very please because we had enough leftover curry that T also took curry for Thursday’s lunch and today’s lunch. This marks the first week ever that we have not bought any lunches during the work week! It wasn’t intentional but I’m very happy.

I train to and from work. It’s also over 40 degrees today… ugh.

After I get home, I get to work making slow baked (boneless) beef ribs with onion, carrots and mushrooms. We bought some meat from Costco a few months ago, portioned and stored them in the freezer but actually I’m not good at cooking meat so I’ve been trying to work out how to cook this. The last attempt at slow-cooked ribs was pretty bad. This time I go with a slightly different approach. Unfortunately I realise we don’t have canned tomatoes or tomato paste (the former is my fault since we have a house inventory rule of putting items on a grocery list that is shared on both our phones when one opens or uses the last of an item, and I was the last to use the canned tomatoes). I send T out to get tomato puree and he comes back with a huge bottle. I make two cling film balls with the remainder that I don’t use and freeze. $2.75 but paid with a 5% off gift card so ~$2.61.

We eat close to 9pm, haha. We eat with some broccoli, but it’s not much food, oops. Also the beef wasn’t good. Braised beef isn’t a good weeknight idea.

Day 6: Saturday 26 January

It’s Australia Day today (and Monday is a public holiday in lieu).

We go to Louis for a (late) brunch. T gets the green chilli scrambled eggs ($18) and a latte ($4). I get the salmon baguette ($11 – I order this in an effort to be more frugal at brunch as I’m weary that we might eat out more than usual this long weekend if things get hectic…) and an iced latte ($4). The eggs are nice but not spicy at all, the salmon baguette is super stingy on the filling, and the iced latte is pretty horrible. $37

We spend all afternoon out and about (Pokemon Go) and pick up a slurpee from 7/11 to keep hydrated. $1

But by the time we get home at like 7:30pm, I am super hungry and dehydrated. T suggests we go have Vietnamese so we drive to Thanh Ha 2 (I’ve never been before). We get beef satay skewers ($8), and a broke rice dish each ($14 and $15) plus ice tea for me because I need to rehydrate as quickly as possible with sugar ($4.50). $41.50

Day 7: Sunday 27 January

We decide to eat in for lunch but don’t have much breakfast/lunch-friendly food. I make french toast (savoury because I never liked sweet french toast!) and some broccoli. I rationalise that we can pick up a snack in the afternoon since I’ll probably be hungry very soon. T gives me a blind taste text of the two coffee capsule brands I’ve been buying for the Nespresso machine. I can’t tell the difference because they are both so terrible so seems logical that I’ll just continue to buy whichever is more discounted (I think all capsules including Nespresso taste bad, but do not want to regularly pay for someone to make me coffee).

We spend all afternoon walking around the city again (Pokemon Go). The snack situation never eventuates but we grab another slurpee from 7/11. $1

For dinner, we visit T’s parents for our near-weekly catch up. We have chicken rice, loh bak, snow peas pumpkin shoots, and try the 2X spicy Samyang HEK Buldak chicken ramen. The ramen is painful and I go through half a glass of milk while almost crying. We also have fruits after dinner, including the best cherries I’ve had this season!

After dinner, we hurry to do our weekly grocery shop. I have $30 of rewards stacked up from spend-and-earn offers I’ve been doing for the past three weeks (it didn’t require us to spend more than we were already going to), but somehow the whole shop goes out of control because quite of lot of discounted meat that we talk ourselves into getting since the freezer is looking a bit empty. We usually buy meat when cheap to freeze in portions (T likes his meat so we try to keep the freezer stocked). We buy (deep breath): bulk-pack free range chicken thighs ($13.41 at $15.00/kg); 6-pack chicken, rosemary, thyme and chive sausages, 6-pack Italian beef and pork sausages, and 8-pack sweet and chilli chicken tenders (3 for $17 offer); organic chicken drumsticks ($4.67 on clearance as expiring); quarter red cabbage ($1.47); half green cabbage ($2.94); gold sweet potato ($3.94 at $5.00/kg); purple sweet potato ($3.48 at $5.50/kg); broccoli ($2.49 at $5.90/kg); a bunch of kale ($3.00); flat large mushrooms ($1.33 at $9.00/kg); nectarines ($3.07 at $3.00/kg); bananas ($2.84 at $2.00/kg); 700g wholemeal bread ($3.20); 750g sliced cheese ($8.75); Marion’s Kitchen Thai green curry and Thai red curry kits ($3.72 each – highly recommended by Ozbargain when it went half price this week so I want to try it!); 105g beef stock cubes ($2.60); 1kg iodised cooking salt ($1.09); 1kg yoghurt ($4.00); 3 cans 400g diced tomatoes ($0.60 each); 230g chipotle in adobo sauce ($4.50); 120-pack surface wipes ($5.00); 48-pack liners ($3.80). The total is $101.80 minus $30 of rewards, and we pay with a 5% discount gift card. I almost cry because I can’t believe our total grocery bill (minus rewards) is so high and can’t remember this happening before… $68.21

Notes on the grocery shop: the sweet potatoes broccoli were both very expensive but I did really want them (I love both so much!). Otherwise everything was pretty cheap, but we just bought a truckload of meat.

I also buy fresh milk for my upcoming Airbnb guests ($3.20 for 2L because they are staying a long time).

We retreat home and I’m still moping about how large the grocery bill was. I was really hoping it would be low considering we had $30 of rewards. 🙁

Total spend: $239.67 ($184.87 joint account; $54.80 personal account)

We had the Thai green curry the other night and it was pretty good. I’m impressed! Even at half price, I find it a bit pricey so I’ll have to think about whether I’d repurchase.

Money Diary: #2 Week before Christmas

This will definitely be an abnormal week as it was the lead up to Christmas, and T and I celebrated our anniversary. T and I share expenses now so everything is charged to our joint account (cash and credit) unless otherwise stated. I’m not tracking T’s own spend from our joint account though, as I just don’t track that! I’m sure I spend a lot more money than he does, in any case!

Day 1: Monday 17 December

I prepare lunch for T and myself – a sandwich each and some carrots and sugar snaps I prepared the night earlier. I also prepare my breakfast to take to work (cut up an orange with yoghurt), and make a coffee to take and drink after lunch (I don’t like our work coffee beans so if I can be bothered in the morning, I just take my own in an insulated mug).

On Mondays, I drive to work so I can then visit my parents and eat dinner with them after work.

At work, I add some muesli to my fruit and yoghurt. I keep around 3 serves in a small jar at work so I am able to add it just before eating it. I don’t like soggy muesli.

For lunch, I eat what I brought, and then drink my coffee. I forgot to bring snacks today and struggle a bit. I don’t have any snacks in my desk drawer either. Sad times.

After work, I drive to my parents’ house. Mum cooks a feast (as always) as though it’s someone’s birthday. I can tell my parents really enjoy our family dinners, so I let them go overboard. Mum gives me some cash to pay for her half of Dad’s Christmas present (snow pants from Macpac) and a dress I recently ordered from J. Crew because she didn’t know what to get me for Christmas and insisted on “buying” it for me when the package arrived at her house. She then told me I had to bring it back to her so she could wrap it and put it under her tree. This means in total I moved it back and forth four times, haha! (Since I moved into T’s apartment and his building doesn’t have a concierge like my building, I send all my parcels to a parcel locker. Unfortunately my research indicated that the courier J. Crew used would not deliver to parcel lockers. In those rare instances, my parents are happy to accept my parcels. Why is online shopping still so difficult in Australia?!)

I sit through the first half of Home Alone (LOVE IT!) and then make myself leave as it gets late. I drive home.

Day 2: Tuesday 18 December

I prepare breakfast with banana and yoghurt this time, and make my coffee to take to work. I add my muesli at work. T did not tell me he didn’t want to take lunch (he had a work Christmas event), so my weekday lunch plans are thrown off somewhat. I decide to just buy today and pack our two lunches the next day. I remember to bring a snack today. I want to bring fruit but I poke the peaches and they’re definitely not ripe yet. I pack a small serving of biscuits as emergency snacks.

I take the train to work. I buy 4-week public transport passes and let T use it on weekdays when I drive. He works one suburb outside of the CBD, so usually only rides the tram through the free city zone and then alights at the end of the free zone and walks several blocks to his work so his transport is free (unless the weather is shocking or he has a really long day). I work in the suburbs now so public transport is a must. Driving would actually be cheaper since work is within 10km of my house, but taking the train is more time efficient if I don’t want to arrive early, and better for the environment. I’m usually at work after 9am. It’s a very relaxed environment.

For lunch, I buy a mini cherry, spinach and ricotta quiche and a mini spinach and ricotta pastry from a nearby gourmet food store, deli and bakery. It wasn’t the best choice and a bit much. This place is always really expensive but I didn’t feel like sushi today. I drink my own coffee. $15.45

I decide to buy a white water kayaking experience. It sounds awesome even if I’ll be miserable when I’m soaked, haha. I book it for the Friday during the Christmas break (forced break for me). We are always talking about doing cool and new things, but never actually doing them. This sounds like a great plan to me. I’ll surprise T later (today’s our 5th anniversary) even though I don’t consider it a gift. I don’t think we need to get each other gifts. Unfortunately I receive an email from the company a few hours later saying the date was labelled as available in error. I’m upset (a few days later we book it in for the start of January). $118 (personal account)

I email Jo Malone because part of my friend’s Christmas present was ordered late November and arrived at the Melbourne sorting facility at the end of November but hasn’t moved since. Of course being Australia Post, they did not respond when I opened a lost item enquiry a week later. T said I needed to jump up and down some more, and also make it Jo Malone’s responsibility. So I email Jo Malone asking if they could do anything for me. They respond almost immediately saying I could pick something else out and they’d send to me. The item (one of JM’s Christmas gifts) was long sold out, and I had since purchased some things from Sephora to replace the JM items for my friends gift, so I pick out a candle since it was closest in price. I tell the JM customer representative and offer to pay the price difference, but they said it would be posted and the price difference waived. I am super impressed by the customer service at Jo Malone, especially as it’s not their fault.

I purchase discounted tickets to Artvo, a ‘trick art’ gallery I’ve been meaning to visit for a long time. They’re usually $28 but I get them for $18 each. $36

I leave work early to get to the post office to pick up a package before they shut. The parcel lockers are all full so I have to collect from the counter, which is super inconvenient! I wish there were more parcel lockers! I take the train, which is stalled (as always) and rush to the post office. I make it before close and there is a long line of people waiting to pick up parcels. After I get my two parcels, I meet up with T and we walk home together. I drop off my stuff, change bags and grab a shawl.

We take a tram (T validates his pass today) to “Tempura Hajime”, a 12-seat tempura omakase restaurant. We both pick the more expensive tempura and sushi course ($115) and order a drink ($13). The food is nice and actually I wasn’t that full at the end. It isn’t amazing though, and I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend it. T thinks we had nicer tempura at a simple lunch place on a tiny island in Japan… Our bill is an extravagant $256 and we argue over whether to tip and how much (settle of $15). $271

We tram back home.

Day 3: Wednesday 19 December

I make a sandwich and a heap of vegetables for our lunches. I am pleased to find one peach is ripe, so I cut that up and pack yoghurt and muesli for breakfast. I also take a banana but skip making coffee.

I take the train to work and same back home.

Once I get into the city, I wander around a little bit. I walk past a Koko Black pop-up store and decide to go inside. I get handed some free chocolate and then decide to buy some of my favourite Koko Black chocolate, Tasmanian Leatherwood Honeycomb. For 150g, $16.50

I get home and T is on day 2 of cooking his infamous pasta sauce (he makes a huge Le Creuset pot of pasta sauce over, typically, two nights). He started on Monday and is finishing it off today. We eat it with pasta and pack it for lunch too. Looks like it’s a small batch this time and we’ll get four more serves out of it (eight total). I also cut up some peaches for us to eat.

Day 4: Thursday 20 December

I make a coffee to take, cut up a banana to have with yoghurt and muesli for breakfast, and also cut up an orange and peach to eat throughout the day.

I take the train to and from work.

As I’m heating up my pasta lunch, a colleague whips out an apricot cake for her birthday. So I eat pre-lunch cake and then my lunch. It’s a lot of food…

After I get home, we eat more pasta with T’s pasta sauce. He packs two lunches as well and we are pleased that at least there’s two sauce serves left to freeze for rainy days. I also have some ice cream.

Day 5: Friday 21 December

I cut up a peach for breakfast with yoghurt and muesli, cut up an orange for snacking, make a coffee to take, and take my pasta lunch. I drive to work because I may need to pick up my mum from a surgery she is having later in the day.

Update from that missing Jo Malone parcel. I get a tracking notification that it was sent back to the seller because I didn’t pick it up! I phone Australia Post (20 minutes on hold) to ask what the heck is up. Apparently it was never scanned in when it reached my post office, hence I was never made aware. Then AusPost somehow forgot to respond to my lost item enquiry. Then some three weeks later it got automatically sent back! To their credit, the representative I was speaking to thought it was a unbelievably huge ****-up and profusely apologised to me. She said the company would be able to just send it back to me and she even transferred me $15 for the inconvenience. (The following Monday, the Jo Malone representative I was emailing said the package would indeed be sent back to me, and to keep the extra candle as a guesture of goodwill when I offered to pay for it! At the end of the day I somehow came away happy with the excellent service, a free candle and money…!)

Mum is staying overnight in the hospital so I drive home. Dad will pick her up the next morning.

For dinner, I make okonomiyaki with cabbage, mushroom, carrot, potato and egg. This is my second attempt and not as good as my first attempt, which turned out really well.

Day 6: Saturday 22 December

It’s a slow morning and we only leave the house after midday. We drive to have brunch at Bawa. I have a salmon gravlax dish and T has the chilli scrambled eggs dish and a latte. My salmon gravlax is an awful dish, and the chilli scramble was always our favourite in Melbourne but today it’s not as good as before. We probably won’t come back here. I lost the receipt so do not have itemised costs. There was a 10% weekend surcharge. $47.30

We go to the Bunnings Warehouse next door (partly why we chose to visit Bawa) because I need to purchase a replacement globe for my Airbnb. $9.30 (personal account for Airbnb and not included in total)

We head to South Melbourne. I need to start shopping for everything I am making for Christmas day lunch and dinner (the former is hosted by T’s Aunt and the latter by my Mum), hence our grocery buys over the next two days are not typical of our usual grocery shopping habits, which usually involves hoarding things only when they are at their lowest unit price (I have a strange talent of being able to remember unit prices on almost everything we usually buy…). This applies less to fresh foods – I will begrudgingly buy fruits and vegetables that are not on sale, haha.

The things I need to buy for that I don’t already have ingredients for are a fruit salad and a mango cake. I look at mangoes in Woolworths so I can time them to be perfect by Tuesday (I need some ripe and some a little underripe). I buy 7 mangoes ($1.80 each), 1kg of carrots ($1) and 200g of fancy blueberries ($6.50!). I have a $10 of rewards credit that I use off the $20.10 total, and pay the rest on a 5% discount gift card (we buy everything under the Woolworths family on gift cards pre-purchased at 95% value). $10.10 but really ~$9.60

We walk across to Dan Murphy’s because the only gift left to buy is something for my Uncle. I pick a white wine. We pay using the 5% gift card. $19.99 but really ~$19

I decide we might as well also visit Coles because I want peaches for my fruit salad and they probably need the extra day to ripen (we otherwise will do our major grocery shop on Sunday as usual), but they didn’t look very nice at Woolworths. I buy ~800g peaches ($3.50/kg), ~1kg oranges ($4.90/kg) and a packet of reindeer ice cream sticks because I got an offer to redeem them for free (otherwise $4). $7.80

For dinner, I booked Hell of the North, one of my favourite restaurants in Melbourne. We haven’t visited in a couple of years and want to make sure it’s still excellent. It’s funny because I rather dislike French food, but I adore everything here! We drive there. T wants to get the chef’s menu ($75/head) so we do that because it’s Christmas (I much prefer a la carte – $75 is a lot, we already had a super fancy meal earlier the week, and the last time we had the chef’s menu here we could barely move…). We also order a cocktail ($18) each. The food was impeccable and divine. Our bill comes to $188 with an included $2 donation to feeding those in need. We spent way too much on food this week and it makes me anxious. We tip $12 so it rounds to $200 but it turns out there’s also a credit card surcharge!! $203.10

Day 7: Sunday 23 December

We go to the florist and I pick three flowers to make a bouquet for my Mum. $40

We go visit my parents. Mum is doing poorly and couch-ridden after her surgery. I send T out to get some supplies for a cranberry vodka punch I am making for Christmas dinner so we can just leave them here. I also struggled to find half pineapples yesterday (I don’t want to accidentally pick a whole pineapple that is underripe and half pineapples are easier to time because you can see inside already) so I get him to hunt that down at the local grocery stores too.

T successfully finds half a pineapple at Coles. $1.90

T also gets 2 1.25L bottles of lemonade ($0.75 each) and 2 1.5L bottles of cranberry juice ($3.80 each) at Woolworths for the punch. He pays with a 5% gift card. $9.10 but really ~$8.65

After leaving my parents’ house, we go to Huff Bagelry for a quick lunch. We get our usual “Autumn Brekky” bagels (THE BEST) ($11 each) and T gets a latte ($3.80). $25.80

We also fill up petrol because petrol predictions say we are sitting at the low point on the price curve. We fill unleaded 98 (140.9c/L) and use our 4c/L discount. We pay using our 5% gift card (effectively around 130c/L after all discounts). $63.06 but really ~$59.90

We go to Woolworths to do our weekly grocery shop. We always do it on Sunday but this time we buy ingredients for Christmas lunch and dinner dishes, and don’t buy much for ourselves. I buy ingredients for the mango cake I am making and more fruit for the fruit salad. For ourselves, we only pick up some vegetables. I lost the receipt and can’t really remember what we purchased so I won’t bother trying. We pay with our 5% gift card. $39.44 but really ~$37.47

For dinner, we go to visit T’s parents. We usually eat with them every Sunday night. They say we are going out for dinner instead of eating at home. We eat at a Chinese restaurant and T’s parents kindly pay. We return back to their house to chat and eat fruit – YUM!

Total spend: $917.47

I hope you had a wonderful end of year season and New Year’s. The day after the end of this money diary (Christmas Eve), I ended up sending my Mum to the emergency department. She returned home a few hours later and is now much better. She still insisted on going ahead with Christmas dinner but was unable to do anything. With the combined effort of my Grandma, T and myself (but mostly my amazing Grandma), we ended up making pretty much the whole dinner for ten and I think it meant a lot to my Mum that we were all able to be together.

Money diary: What I spend – 2 weeks in Melbourne

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I mentioned previously how much I enjoyed being nosy about money diaries published online. Since then I decided to journal two weeks like the Refinery29 Money Diaries. I decided on two weeks because I tend to think of all my finances in a two-week cycle as I get paid fortnightly. I moved out into an apartment less than a year ago. I am currently living in central Melbourne and I work in science. This is my third year working, and I am making above the median starting graduate wage but definitely not six figures. All figures are in Australian dollars.

Monthly expenses

Mortgage/rent: I have a mortgage on my primary residence. I live by myself in a one-bedroom high rise apartment. I rent out my car park space. If I rented the whole place out, I would expect $2100 or up to $2600 if furnished.
Strata/body corporation: ~$200
Water: ~$65-$70
Electricity: ~$60
Hot water gas: ~$10
Internet: $60
Mobile: $20
Public transport: $131 for 4-week pass (includes all public transport)
Private health insurance: $97
Other: I’m saving ~20-25% of income (as mortgage offset) although HECS debt (university debt) will eat several points off that when my repayment bill comes through after lodging taxes. I consider my apartment’s principle repayments a form of investment too.

Day 1 Monday

9:00am – Tram to work. I eat a cheesy vegemite scroll that mum gave me the day before (think she said it was $2).
12:00pm – I have leftovers for lunch from visiting my parents the night before. Today I have stir-fry rice noodles! I also brought a kiwi fruit and eat that. I regret not cutting it up at home and bringing it in tupperware, as I proceed to get kiwi juice all over my desk.
4:00pm – Feeling peckish, so I snack on a biscuit I brought.
5:00pm – Managed to get to the bank by 5 for some banking (took the tram). Since it’s early I decide to go for a grocery run. I pick up apples, avocado, cherry tomatoes, salad leaves and bulk free range chicken thighs (on last-minute 20% clearance). They are my favourite protein to keep in the freezer for when I’m in a pinch. I spend $0.99 remaining on a gift card and $20.45.
6:30pm – Dinner is one piece of chicken thigh, broccolini, sweet chilli potato and carrots. While cleaning and doing chores throughout the night, I also snack on a Ferrero Rocher.

Day 2 Tuesday

Payday! I get my salary fortnightly, with generous salary packaging benefits. I’m able to take home several hundred more dollars (per pay) than without salary packaging.
9:00am – Tram to work.
10:00am – Didn’t get time to eat until now. Egg sandwich from home.
12:30pm – Lunch of some leftover chicken and sweet chilli potato and carrots, plus a cheese and vegemite toasted sandwich.
5:00pm – Tram home.
6:30pm – Dinner of mushrooms, tomato, potato, carrots and egg strips. Also baked a crumbed dory fillet. For dessert, a weak G & T with a scoop of ice cream – bizarre idea but it was actually nice!
10:00pm – Feeling hungry so I snack on some seaweed rice crackers Mum gave me as a souvenir.

Day 3 Wednesday

9:00am – Tram to work.
10:00am – Breakfast of egg sandwich.
12:00pm – Lunch is the dish from last night, carb bulked with some pasta… like a “dry pasta”.
4:00pm – Eat an apple and a biscuit.
5:30pm – Tram home.
7:00pm – Walk to dinner with a friend at Moo Moo Pho & Burger. I have a vermicelli noodle and spring roll salad, $12.50.
8:00pm – After dinner we tram and walk back to my apartment. Later I walk her to her tram stop.

Day 4 Thursday

Receive $15 cashback into bank account from previous purchases.
9:30am – Tram to work and breakfast of cheese and vegemite sandwich.
1:00pm – Lunch of a tiny leftover portion of the “dry pasta” from Tuesday plus salad leaves with cherry tomatoes and half an avocado.
5:00pm – Snack on a Japanese apple pie kit kat.
5:30pm – Tram into city and walk around.
7:00pm – Eating with bf and we are going to eat in. I buy salmon, green beans, avocado and frozen cheesecake from the supermarket to make for dinner, $22.32. We eat all that plus pears and kiwi fruits. He drives me home after eating and watching TV.
11:30pm – Pay my building’s quarterly strata fees for 1-bed apartment plus carpark, $812.26. The fees are really good in terms of what my building has. This was by far the best value body corp fee of all the apartments I looked at last year.

Day 5 Friday

Received a $100 prepaid VISA card from the government for switching my internet to NBN – yay!
9:30am – Tram to work and cream cheese sandwich for breakfast.
12:00pm – Lunch of leafy salad, cherry tomatoes, the other half of the avocado and homemade croutons.
5:00pm – Tram into city. Pick up a Domino’s pizza I ordered online before leaving work. This is the first time in my life I have gotten Domino’s for myself. I pretty much never do takeaway. I found a $1 off voucher online, so $6.95.
5:30pm – Walk with pizza to friend’s apartment in city for a long overdue catch up over pizza. We also Skype our best friend overseas. We live so close but rarely see each other, it’s terrible!
8:00pm – Walk home.
10:30pm – Snack on an apple and some more of the rice seaweed snacks from Mum.

Day 6 Saturday

11:30am – Bf picks me up. I decide to go to South Yarra to vote in the federal election because I want to eat lunch around there. It takes like an hour in line.
1:00pm – Lunch at a Tivoli Road Bakery. We get one latte (Bf), share a chipotle pork with crackling, charred corn and slaw sandwich, ham & cheese croissant, plain croissant, and take away a lemon curd meringue doughnut and vanilla custard doughnut. Bf pays, $33.80.
2:00pm – Drive back to Bf’s place. We have to leave in a bit but I feel like eating the lemon meringue one already. We share it. It is amazing!!!
3:00pm – Drive to Escape Room Melbourne (the original one in Melbourne) because Bf is taking me as an early birthday treat. Our appointment is at 3:30pm but we accidentally follow Google Maps to the wrong location. We are very late!
4:00pm – Arrive at Escape Room! We are meant to get 70 minutes but since we are so late, he gives us 50 minutes. We escape in 49 minutes!!! Bf already paid when he booked, $85 – thanks Bf!
6:30pm – Walk to dinner at Honcho, a popup of a relocation and reinvention restaurant from one of our favourite chefs (Adam Liston). His food is still amazing and I’m more in love than ever. We order a “golden egg”, “prawn cracker”, spanner crab udon dish, salt & pepper squid ink noodle dish, two cocktails, $96. (The description doesn’t do his food justice… it’s a lot more innovative and inspiring than that, haha.)

Day 7 Sunday

12:00pm – The person renting my carpark space is not extending. I list on Gumtree to find a new tenant.
1:00pm – Eat prawn crackers and curry puffs (from Bf’s mum), toast and kiwi fruit.
2:30pm – Walk to hair salon. I go about 2-3 times a year and I’ve been going to the same lady for some five years now. I’ve planned and saved for this trip. Today I’m getting a cut and 1/4 head foils, $130.
5:00pm – Walk home, pick up some some stuff.
5:30pm – Train home to see my parents for dinner (I usually visit every Sunday). My train line is having major construction works so I also have to bus part of the way and my dad picks me up from the bus stop. Dinner is usually about 6-8 different dishes! My mum gives me lunch for the next day and a lot of bao to keep in the freezer because she’s been making them this week.
8:00pm – We drive out to see relatives who are visiting from overseas.
9:00pm – My parents drive me back to my place.

Day 8 Monday

9:00am – Slept through my alarms! Tram and bus to work because there are construction works on my tram line this week. Breakfast of egg sandwich.
12:00pm – Direct debited my monthly internet $59.90 & mobile $19.99 fee, total $79.89.
12:30pm – Lunch of leftovers from dinner last night – prawns, pork, veg plus rice.
5:30pm – Walk, tram and train to my parent’s place. Mum also drives out to pick me up. It’s very frustrating that there are works on all my lines. My dad works late on Monday nights so I stay with Mum during those Mondays, which is almost every Monday.
6:30pm – We have hot pot! Yum!!!
8:30pm – Mum loves cocktails. She asks me to make something (and make it strong) – I make a muddled kiwi, midori, vodka and pine-mango cocktail which we drink.

Day 9 Tuesday

8:00am – Mum gives me a lift to the train station, while I eat bao she heated in the morning. I train, tram and bus to work.
12:00pm – Free sandwiches at work for lunch today.
3:00pm – Eat a banana and a big biscuit.
5:00pm – Walk and tram to supermarket. I buy sliced cheese and pak choy, $7.90. I walk home.
7:00pm – Dinner of the remaining curry puffs from Bf’s mum and some pak choy, carrots and potato. I also snack on some chips.

Day 10 Wednesday

9:00am – Tram and bus to work. These construction works are driving me crazy. My breakfast is oat granola with kiwi fruit and wheat crackers with cream cheese. I use milk from work for the granola.
12:30pm – Lunch is rice cakes, cabbage, lamb and prawns (some leftovers from Monday night’s hotpot which Mum cooked into a lunch for me but I didn’t eat yesterday because of free lunch).
5:00pm – Walk and tram to supermarket.
6:00pm – From the supermarket I pick up bread, cos lettuce, tomatoes, canned black beans and canned beetroot, $10.21.
7:30pm – Dinner is tomato drop egg soup with pak choy, and some wontons from the freezer – my mum always makes large batches and they are great to keep in the freezer for something easy and quick to cook and eat.

Day 11 Thursday

9:00am – Tram and bus to work. I eat an egg mayo pickle sandwich.
10:30am – I’ve put aside money over the last month so I can go shopping this weekend and buy myself some beauty goods. I purchase a 5% off gift card. I will use this to buy another gift card for a store where I plan to spent it, $95 (for $100 worth).
12:30pm – Lunch is salad of cos lettuce, black beans, corn, sweet potato, beetroot, tomatoes and croutons. I also eat two biscuits from the tea room.
5:30pm – Walk and tram into city. Bf and I have dinner at Shanghai Street Noodle Wizard, ordering chicken in spring onion oil, xiao long bao and braised pork belly soup noodles. This place is a disappointment. Bf pays, $33.60.
7:00pm – We walk to his place to watch TV and eat frozen cheesecake purchased last Thursday.
9:30pm – He drives me home (we live 20min walk apart, but we are sooo lazy!).

Day 12 Friday

8:30am – Tram and bus to work. Breakfast is another egg mayo pickle sandwich.
12:30pm – Lunch is another salad of cos lettuce, black beans, corn, sweet potato, beetroot and croutons (no tomato this time).
6:00pm – Walk and tram home. I also stop by the supermarket to exchange my gift card for the actual gift card I want (Myer). This is how I can get 5% off all spending at Myer…
7:30pm – Dinner is salad again (need to finish everything off) – cos lettuce, tomato, black beans, corn, beetroot, pickled jalapenos and croutons. I also make “fries” by roasting strips of potato in the oven.
9:30pm – Snacking on chips while watching a movie. Oops.

Day 13 Saturday

10:30am – Bf picks me up. We drive to brunch but stop on the way to pick up an order from the supermarket that is already paid for.
11:30pm – Brunch at Lolo and Wren. Bf orders a latte and chorizo cazuela and I order southern fried soft shell crab in a burger, $45.50.
12:30pm – We drive a fair distance to go to Eastland Shopping Centre. I want to buy beauty products using my gift card (for Mecca in Myer) and am on the hunt for pants. The reason for going to this particular shopping centre is explained in my last blog post. I end up getting not one thing and we leave just before 3 hours to avoid paying for parking.
4:30pm – We left the shopping centre before I could get a Boost juice. So we drive to The Glen and arrive literally ten minutes before closing.
5:00pm – I get my Boost juice in the tiny kids cup because I WANT A FINDING DORY CUP, $5.50! Hurray! Someone actually took mine but they made me another one.
5:30pm – We have some time to kill so we wander in the supermarket and I get black beans to cook, $2.65. Then we drive out of the shopping centre to get parking closer to dinner (like 2 minutes away).
6:00pm – Dinner at The Black Toro. We order two cocktails, potato, jalapenos and cheddar croquettes, seared Canadian scallops, soft shell crab tacos, roasted ocean trout fillet and a chocolate parfait dessert. It’s nice but given its popularity I expected it to be better. Bf’s parents purchase the entertainment book for charity so we get 25% off our bill. Bf pays, $120 with 25% off = $90 plus $10 tip.
7:30pm – I’m actually not full and don’t know why Bf is trying to stop me getting dessert. We walk around and I want to go in this little dessert cafe. He limits us to a lava cake for sharing and a passionfruit macaron and Whoopie’s Cookie for me. He insists I take the cookie for eating later/tomorrow and insists on paying, $14.70
8:00pm – Drive home to his place.
8:30pm – He says his parents have something to give me for my birthday coming up. We go to his parents place (while fending off my attempts at reaching for that cookie).
9:00pm – Bf’s mum made me a HUGE 3D MINION CAKE LIKE LEGIT THE STUFF OF MY DREAMS OMG – see Instagram. I don’t want to cut it, but it must be done. We eat the minion’s backside, haha. Inside, it is a five-layer chocolate cake with raspberry jam (and now I know why Bf made sure I had room for more dessert).
10:30pm – We return to Bf’s place and watch a movie and some TV. The cookie isn’t happening today. Later he drops me back home.

Day 14 Sunday

11:30am – I’m running late leaving to go to see my parents. I’m meant to go shopping with my mum today. I rationalise that this is the only opportunity I have of eating the double chocolate giant Whoopie’s Cookie (like a giant cookie sandwich) and I eat it. Oops. I walk to the train station and take the train.
12:00pm – My mum meets me at the train station and saves the day with homemade dumplings for me to eat for lunch, yay!
1:00pm – We go to Costco. I haven’t been since they first opened in Melbourne – it’s been many many many years. I find the prices more expensive than sale prices at supermarkets so I’m unlikely to come often. But I get cashew nuts and hygiene products. Things I buy to split with mum are edamame, kiwi, grape tomatoes and tofu. She pays and we will arrange payment later.
3:00pm – We make an impromptu trip to DFO since I’m still hunting for pants and mum is always a good second opinion. I find no pants. Instead, I buy a dress from Marcs, $259 reduced to $209 to $129 to $79 plus 20% = $63.20 and also pay for mum’s purchase for now. I also buy a sports bra from Lululemon, $59 reduced to $39 but use my Visa giftcard to buy it.
5:00pm – We drive to Bunnings Warehouse because for my birthday, my parents are buying me two large outdoor pots that I REALLY want (and soil). One pot it sold out though so mum says she’ll try a few other locations another day for me.
6:00pm – Back at my parent’s house. Mum gets busy making dinner. I’m calculating who owes who money but it’s not a clean split with the cash we have on hand. In the end it works out that I spend about $54.20 for Costco.
7:00pm – In typical fashion, Mum has made 8 dishes for three people. I make another cocktail. After dinner we eat grapefruit.
9:30pm – My parents drive me home. Dad muscles the pot and soil onto my balcony for me. Thanks, parents!

Total

Groceries: $115.08
Eating out: $166.45
Bills: $892.15
Shopping/pampering: $249.29 (including $95 spent on a giftcard for future use & not including $39.99 spent using giftcards)
Cashback/giftcards received: $115