Take a peek into the weekly routine of a 50-something empty nester who has swapped her coastal life for farm life.
As part of our Money Memoirs series, we're asking Aussies to track their spending over one week to give us a look into their daily routines, spending habits, savings hacks and money mindset.
Meet Susie, a 57-year old tree-changer
Retired and setting herself for the next chapter of her life, Susie invites us into her world for a week. A mother of two daughters, a Great Dane named Domino and a gorgeous horse named Cookie – Susie splits her time between Sydney's Northern Beaches and a co-op farm on the Central Coast, where she volunteers her time to take care of the animals and manage the property. The tree change has done wonders for her well-being and her bank account.
SUNDAY – DAY WITH THE DAUGHTERS
Morning: Today is pretty low-key. I start the day by taking my gorgeous golden-oldie dog for an amble up to my favourite café on Collaroy Plateau, Z-Bar, for our coffee ritual$5.91 .
Then, my youngest daughter and I stroll around Narrabeen Lagoon – always beautiful! She has just bought her first apartment, and I'm in the midst of packing up my house, so it's a busy weekend but we always make time to catch up.
I'm renting out my house for a little while, given I spend so much time at the farm and my house sits empty. I pay an annual fee for my combined rent and membership for the farm. It’s substantial, but great value for money and the best decision I've made as an older, single, empty nester.
I spend most of my days with my dog and my horse, working around the property. It's a labour of love – I don't get paid for it.
Afternoon: Packing, clearing, tidying.
Evening: My oldest daughter brings flowers around, which is a lovely surprise. We have a drink, chat, and then I head to bed for an early night.
Total Daily Spend: $5.91
Total Daily Round Up: $0.09
MONDAY – AN EXPENSIVE START TO THE WEEK
Morning: Early morning! I meet my friend for a walk n' talk at our regular circuit hike. This includes a trek up one of Sydney's steepest hills – it's a free and easy way to work out.
On the homeward stretch, we stop for coffees – my shout$10.80 .
Next, I head off to visit a friend who had surgery recently and needs help to get out for her daily exercise. We have a cup of tea and a walk around the block.
I get a call from my daughter to ask if I can take her dog to the vet. She lives in the same suburb as my friend, so I pop around the corner and pick up her pup.
Afternoon: I front the bill for the vet $231 , which will be reimbursed later. I then drop the pup home, stop off at an ATM to get some cash out for my horse riding lessons, cleaner and gardeners $160 and get some petrol on my way back $82.43 .
I'm feeling a little peckish, so I stop at a local cafe called 21 Grams to grab a Spinach and Cheese pie – yum!$8 .
On top of organising the move out of my house and into a friend's studio, which will act as my base when I'm not at the farm, my life, finances and resulting admin all feel very overwhelming. However, the rental income will be a welcome boost each week.
I spend the rest of the afternoon getting organised before heading back to the farm. Life feels very frantic considering all I seem to be buying is coffee and takeaway food these days!
Evening: A few direct debits come out today – my phone bill $196.52 and streaming service $11.99 .
I duck out to grab a BBQ chicken and chips for dinner$26.00 . I'm finally on the road at 7.30pm.
Total Daily Spend: $726.65
Total Daily Round Up: $1.35
TUESDAY – FRESH, FARM AIR
Morning: I woke up at the farm – bliss!
From here, it's a 15-minute drive to the end of the road. There's no takeaway coffee around the corner, so I spend very little when I'm here. But when I do spend, I spend big – anything to do with horses and horse riding is expensive.
Normally, whatever I need here requires a trip into Tuggerah – Horseland, Bunnings, Westfield, or Ourimbah Vet!
I spend the morning organising the cottage. I catch up with Holly, the caretaker, then go down to see my horse. Sadly, it's too wet to ride.
Afternoon: I take my friend to Wyong Hospital for day surgery. I grab a coffee and a piece of cake on the way out $10.10 .
Evening: I throw together some leftover BBQ chicken, gravy and broccoli for dinner. My meals in both worlds are pretty crazy at the moment. I'm trying to use up stuff from my freezer and pantry, so my meals at the farm are always cobbled together from whatever I have on hand.
I usually shop at Lisarow every few days to pick up fresh fruit and veg, plus every time I come back and forth, I fill the esky from either fridge.
Total Daily Spend: $10.10
Total Daily Round Up: $0.90
WEDNESDAY – NO-SPEND DAY!
Morning: I relax with a cuppa in bed before the big feed run for the horses. It's pouringagain , so I am not getting any riding in. There's always work to be done around the farm in any weather, though. All members are expected to do their bit. I take care of memberships and help Holly look after the property – she works so hard for us. I never run out of things to do!
I spend all morning cleaning the cottage, but it's a futile job as my dog keeps walking mud all through the house.
Afternoon: I go down to spend some time with my horse but notice another one has escaped on the way. Time to mend some fences.
Evening: I am at my computer until 8pm dealing with membership and personal stuff. I tend to use my evenings to make calls and keep in touch with family and friends. Dinner is sausages from the freezer and some veggies that still have some life in them before the chooks get them.
Total Daily Spend: $0
Total Daily Round Up: $0
THURSDAY – RAIN RAIN GO AWAY
Morning: Another wet and miserable day. My riding lesson is cancelled. It's too soggy to do anything much here. I feed the horses, clean out the guinea pigs and spend the rest of the day doing admin.
Afternoon: The rain eases off enough to spend some time with my horse. Holly picks up a couple of grocery items for me, so I transfer $30 to her account. This will tide me over until I do a proper shop.
Evening: I have an early dinner and a very long phone call with a friend who's dealing with a few stressful issues. The weeks of relentless rain and ongoing stress of COVID seem to be sending everyone into a tailspin. I'm grateful to be here at the cottage, away from the chaos. It's doing wonders for my bank account too.
Total Daily Spend: $30
Total Daily Round Up: $0
FRIDAY – LIFE ADMIN
Morning: Friday is a big day for the horses – lots of preparation before the members arrive over the weekend. Making and distributing up to 30 feeds and moving some of the horses to new paddocks can take a couple of hours. I return absolutely drenched.
Back in dry clothes, I start back on my to-do list. I spend the morning making phone calls – vet appointments, home insurance, chasing up delivery of my new car, following up my Horseland order, and more membership admin. I wish I got paid for the amount of time I spend on that!
Afternoon: The rain has finally stops – hooray!
Holly shows me how to hitch my float to a car. I write up and laminate the instructions before I forget! I may need to buy some sort of cover for the float. Another expense, although Holly has suggested a cheap caravan cover from Aldi may do the trick.
Evening: Off to the vet for my dog's sore toe $116 . The vet prescribes human antibiotics because she is so big, so I'm off to the chemist $12.50 and the supermarket for some groceries $140.94 .
We have some new members trialling, so the evening is spent by the fire in the rec room. I bring a bottle of wine from my well-stocked supply in the cottage. Yesterday, my friend gave me a $200 gift voucher for my approaching birthday, so that will cover my next wine restock.
Total Daily Spend: $269.44
Total Daily Round Up: $0.56
SATURDAY – GOODBYE CAR, HELLO NEW FRIENDS
Morning: I ride over to my friend's place for a riding lesson with her instructor$70 .
Afterwards, I head straight up to the cottage to call my daughter – she's selling our old car and we need to do the paperwork online. The sale proceeds, cash is paid, I'm $4,000 richer and the car is gone. Woo hoo!
Afternoon: I spend the afternoon helping around the farm, catching up with some of the members and taking the new family for a ride. Back at the cottage, I cancel the insurance on the old car and receive a refund of $749.11 – phew!
Evening: Back to the rec room again this evening for dinner and drinks with some of the members. It's a very cost-effective way to socialise! Normally I could spend around $150 on a night out by the time Ubers, food, and drinks are all paid for.
Total Daily Spend: $70
Total Daily Round Up: $0
SUNDAY – WINDING DOWN
Morning: Coming full circle, it's Sunday again and I relish the opportunity for a lazy morning. I'm feeling a little burnt out, so I drink tea and stay in bed until noon, letting the dust settle on a life that has seen many changes recently.
Afternoon: Not much to report. Just more relaxation, writing and thinking.
Evening: Another cuppa, cuddle with my pup and into bed for an early night.
Total Daily Spend: $0
Total Daily Round Up: $0
My total spend came to $1,112.10 this week. This was made up of a few larger expenses including two visits to the vet and a rather chunky phone bill. I rounded up just shy of $2.50 – not a huge amount, but seeing my transactions all in one place is a great way to stay on top of my weekly spending. The round ups are a bonus!
Upon reflection, I have no doubts about my recent expenditure. I'm so glad I'm in a position to give my girls a hand up. I'm now creating a life for myself that does not depend on anyone else to provide happiness or financial security, and that gives me a sense of peace that money can buy!
We've got more tea to spill.
Disclaimer: This article contains general information only, and is not general advice or personal advice. Wisr Services does not recommend any product or service discussed in this article. You must get your own financial, taxation, or legal advice, and understand any risks before considering whether a product or service discussed in this article may be appropriate for you. We have taken reasonable efforts to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but the information is subject to change. We may not update the article to reflect any change.