Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking a cross-section of women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period – and we're tracking every last penny.
This week we're with a 25-year-old from Manchester who earns £18,000 per year as a learning and engagement officer. She got lucky buying a flat in Manchester city centre with her boyfriend but, with an upcoming postgraduate course to pay for, it's not all plain sailing...
Occupation: Learning and Engagement Officer Industry: Arts Age: 25 Location: Manchester Salary: £18,000 before tax Paycheque amount per month: £1,373
Housing costs: £278 for my half of the mortgage each month. My boyfriend and I have a 25-year mortgage on our two-bed flat in Manchester city centre. It's a beautiful place and we were extremely lucky to get it. Student loans: £15. This comes out of my paycheque. Electricity: £38.50 for my half, which includes the water bill too. I split this evenly with my partner. Phone bill: £11 Internet: £9.80 for my half Netflix & Amazon Prime: None. I use my family's account. Savings: £190-£240, most of which is going towards paying for my postgrad in play therapy. (I start, part-time, in September.) Health insurance: None. Swimming membership: £20 Charity: £15 — combined — to a shelter and to Arts Emergency, which supports young people from working class backgrounds who want to work in the arts, through mentors and specific programmes.
Day One 7.15am: I wake up and do a high-intensity workout at home. After showering, I make smoothies with blackberries, blueberries and strawberries, and then wake up my partner J. Today is his birthday but we're doing gifts, etc. in the evening. I have peanut butter on toast before heading out. 8.30am: I've already paid for my weekly tram ticket, which costs £21. (I generally spend £85 per month on my tram ticket, which gets me to and from work and anywhere across Greater Manchester. I don't need a car living in Manchester city centre.) I work on a freelance gig on my way to work. The freelance work is in the arts, and it's really interesting. The pay is pretty good, so I don't mind working a few weekends and evenings for it. 1pm: Good day at work. The theatre is going through a lot of changes and it's exciting to be a part of that. For lunch, I have chicken, sweet potatoes with peppers, and green beans that I made at home last night. 6pm: I leave work and buy peanut butter and salad on the way home. I also pick up a few pairs of jeans that I had tailored, and have already paid for. £3 8pm: I already bought everything I need for dinner tonight. We generally don't eat red meat anymore, but on J's birthday we make an exception as he loves steak. I got steak, potatoes, dessert, and starters for tonight. I give J his presents: a huge set of Lego blocks and two tickets for a tapas tour when we're in Barcelona next month. It's a really nice evening. We make things out of Lego and catch up properly. Total: £3
Day Two 6am: Wake up early as it's really bright outside. I do a high-intensity workout for an hour and then hula hoop for half an hour. I put the washing on, shower, make smoothies, and head off to work in a really good mood. I start reading a new book on the tram. 9am: I continue writing the script for a play I'll be directing with our youth theatre next term. I'm excited about the idea, and hope the young people love it. 12.30pm: Lunch is the same as yesterday; I have an apple, too. Later, I head out for a walk because I need a break from writing. I buy tampons, weights, and hand cream. £10.56 6pm: My boss and I head into the city for a meeting and drinks. A few of us are getting together to discuss a festival our team works on. It's around the corner from my place, so it's an easy trip for me. My boss and I share some nibbles, which she pays for. I always try to pay her back, but she's adamant about covering these costs; she is a really fab boss. 8pm: I head home and hang out with J. I eat flash-fried tuna steak and stir-fried veggies, watch some TV, read my book, and get a good night's sleep. Total: £10.56
Day Three 7am: Get up and start with my HIIT workout and hula hooping. After, I make a smoothie and spill it everywhere! I have peanut butter toast and pack my lunch for the day. 9am: I've got a dentist appointment this morning. I've been flossing loads more since I last went, so I'm chuffed when the dentist says my teeth are looking better. £19 11am: Coffee and cakes at work for a few new people starting. I skip the cakes and don't drink coffee, but it's a good time to catch up with work mates I don't share an office with. 1pm: Lunch at my desk, same as the last few days. 5pm: I leave work a bit early to do a big food shop with J. We buy peppers, feta, chicken, chorizo, salad, tomatoes, spring onions, carrots, sweet potatoes, bread, noodles, frozen fruit, halloumi cheese, cheddar, and more. We split the bill. £28.67 7pm: I make spaghetti bolognese for dinner. A mate from Liverpool is coming to stay tonight as he is working in Manchester early tomorrow morning. He's arriving late but I set up the spare room. 10pm: I fall asleep early and it feels fab. Total: £47.67
Day Four 7am: I work out in the morning: stair running, hula hooping, and weights. My mate wakes up and we have breakfast together. He's been working at different theatres and provides a few good contacts, making it a very productive morning! I have a fruit smoothie and salmon and cream cheese on toast. It's going to be a long day, so I need a bigger breakfast. 9am: I get the train to the secondary school I'm in for the whole day. The journey is £5.65, but I will be paid back by work. I walk to the school from the station and psych myself up for the day ahead. 1pm: It's five hours of delivery with one group of students today. Over lunch, the students stay in the drama studio and I eat an apple I brought from home. I deliver a workshop on writing for performance, help them evaluate a performance piece we did a few months ago, and work on some essays. The teacher is barely there because of a behavioural issue down the corridor, but I like this group of young people and it's a fun day. 3pm: School finishes for the day. I chat with the teacher, who tells me they are probably leaving over the summer. This sucks — they're a great teacher — but I'm getting used to hearing the same thing. 4pm: I head home, have leftovers for lunch, and see J, who has the day off. I see that I've been paid for some freelance work I've finished, and it goes straight into my savings account to pay for my masters in play therapy come September. I get changed and head back to work because it's opening night for a new show. 7pm: The new play includes some of the young people from our youth theatre programme. (I got free tickets from work.) It's a brilliant show all about dementia but I feel a little raw after watching it; it reminds me of my grandad and his death a couple of years back. 10pm: I get home and basically go straight to bed. I'm tired and J and I both have work tomorrow, even though we normally have the weekends off. Total: £0
Day Five 7am: I do HIIT training and weights this morning, and then drink a smoothie with toast before heading to work for our young company's rehearsal. 10am: Rehearsals kick off and go well. I successfully applied for a commissioning opportunity for this group, and they're performing this show at a festival for children in a few weeks. It looks good but still needs some work. 3pm: Back home, I make a delicious shakshuka for lunch. A friend lets me know he bought tickets for a few of us to see Rise Against in November, so I pay him back. I'm excited to relive all my teen angst! £34.70 5pm: I buy a pair of sandals on ASOS because I literally don't have any others. I hoover the flat and catch up with my mum and dad who are off to Canada for a month or so. I'll be in Italy when they're back, so it'll be a while before we speak on the phone. They live down south and I don't see them as much as I'd like, but my part-time masters will be in London, so I'll see them more when I'm there for that. £25 8pm: J and I head to our local pub to meet friends. It's a fun evening of playing darts and hanging out with people we've known since uni. I buy one round for the three of us. £9.65 1am: On the way home, J and our friend get chips. He often stays at ours when we go out as his home is out of the city centre. We used to live with him so it's no big deal when he stays. Total: £69.35
Day Six 7.30am: Today is my only day off this week but I've still woken up pretty early! I go for a run, and then do weights, then hula hoop. My friend wakes up and we hang out for a bit before he heads off to open his workshop for the day. 9am: J wakes up and we do a lot of meal prep for the week, clean the bathroom, and tidy the flat. We then hang out while eating breakfast. I have salmon on toast again. 1pm: I meet friends from my old job at a nice bar in town. It's sunny so we sit outside and catch up while drinking prosecco. £5.79 3pm: We move on to watch the Manchester Day parade, but it has already passed so we just sit in the sun. My mates get an ice cream and I get a sparkling water. £0.66 5pm: It's been a really good afternoon of catching up. J and our friends from last night are at a pub down the road so I pop by for a quick drink. (It's that kind of day!) J buys me a soda and lime and gets a pint for himself. 7pm: I meet another friend at another pub and we have a proper catch-up. (This isn't a standard Sunday, but when the sun shines…) I buy one round of drinks, and he buys the next few as I'm only drinking lime and soda. £6.32 10.30pm: Get home and climb into bed next to J. It's been a fun day. Total: £12.77
Day Seven 7am: I don't feel like it, but I get up and exercise (my weights regimen and hula hooping). I make a smoothie and eat peanut butter on toast before work. I pay for my weekly tram ticket for work. £21 9am: We've got a really busy week coming up, with workshops every day and a huge exhibition and performance the week after. Today is an admin day, which is fine by me as I'm feeling a bit sleepy. 1pm: Eat the salad I brought from home and drink a ton of water. 5pm: I got a lot done today, so I leave relatively early. It's also my sister's birthday. I call her and ask if she got the gift from me and our other two sisters. 7pm: J and I hang out, make a green curry for dinner, and look into our plans for a few weeks in Thailand and Burma over Christmas. I'm pleased that we've managed to continue travelling even after getting proper jobs. 10pm: Read my book and head to bed. Total: £21
The Breakdown Food/Drink: £51.09 Entertainment: £34.70 Clothes/Beauty: £38.56 Travel: £21 Other: £19 Total: £164.35