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 29-year-old who moved to the UK from New Zealand in chase of change and easier access to travel. She and her husband live in Edinburgh and are saving for more European travel. This is going well as her very generous mother-in-law is currently visiting from New Zealand and they're pretty good at being prepared with their groceries. They're also both vegetarian, which brings down the cost a bit!
Industry: Marketing Age: 29 Location: Edinburgh Salary: £28,000 Paycheque amount per month: £1,841 Number of housemates: Just my husband and me
Housing costs: £650 rent Loan payments: £0 – we left NZ with all our debts paid off, which feels like a small miracle. Utilities: £194 Transportation: £54 for a bus card, although this month I’m not topping it up since we’re about to go away for two weeks and we are walking so frequently, so I’ll just get some mobile tickets. Phone bill: £54 Savings: I pay our rent and bills as I got a job first when we moved here, so my husband pays for our gym memberships, charity donations, our savings (roughly £500-600) and a bit more of our social life.
Day One 7am: Our weekly grocery shop arrived last night so the house is full of food. I’m a little obsessed with ordering online from ASDA and get it delivered every Sunday night like clockwork. Breakfast is plunger coffee with soy milk and tomatoes on toast. 8.30am: I ride to work on the bus using my prepaid bus card. Today is the last day I can use it this month. 10am: Snack time at my desk. Free coffee from the work canteen and a handful of cashews. I load my Caxton travel card for our upcoming trip and add the minimum amount of £10; I’ll wait to add the rest of our travel savings after the card has actually arrived. 1pm: I’m having lunch I made the night before – a salad with spinach, cherry tomatoes, nuts, seeds, cucumber, olives, radishes and lots of balsamic dressing and caramelised onion hummus. 1.30pm: I need a bit of an afternoon pick-me-up so a colleague and I go for a walk to get a drink and some vegan chocolate – he pays. I eat too much of the chocolate at my desk and feel a little sick for the rest of the afternoon. 5pm: I meet my husband after work and we walk home together, which takes about 45 mins at a fast pace and serves as our exercise for the day. 7pm: My mother-in-law is visiting from NZ and has cooked us dinner and bought wine. Baked sweet potatoes with a spicy lentil topping and a spinach side salad. She’s the best. Total: £10
Day Two 7am: Breakfast is at home again today. I make oats with blueberries, coconut yoghurt and cinnamon and have plunger coffee with soy milk while I watch the news. 9am: I take the later bus to work this morning since I’ll be working late tonight. My bus card has expired but my husband sends me a mobile ticket. 1pm: Lunch is a salad I quickly made last night. Similar to yesterday but with walnuts and half a can of chickpeas added and a few hemp seeds sprinkled over top, all from my well-stocked cupboards. Afterwards I go for a walk around the block with a colleague and I don’t take my wallet so I can avoid any temptations. 5pm: I didn’t have to work late tonight after all. I meet up with my husband and mother-in-law after work and we walk down to the pub (in the rain, because Scotland) to meet a few friends for a couple of drinks. I have two IPAs and my husband pays for one and my friend’s dad, who is also visiting from New Zealand, pays for the other. My friend buys a hummus platter and some chips for everyone to share and I snack on it a little while we drink and catch up. 8pm: It’s only Tuesday so we call it a night pretty early. We catch a taxi home and I use my Gett app which has £15 of vouchers on it. The ride comes to £11 so it’s a free ride. 9pm: The snacks at the bar weren’t quite enough to suffice as a meal so I make a quick dinner from what we have in the house – roasted sweet potato, veggie sausages and a side salad, with enough leftovers for lunch tomorrow (I really hate buying my lunches during the work week as it always feels like such an expensive way to do it). Total: £0
Day Three 7am: My avocado is finally ripe but there’s only one slice of bread left and it’s looking a little miserable so I have the avo on salt & vinegar rice cakes while I get ready – and, of course, my usual plunger coffee with soy milk while I watch the news. 8.30am: Luckily my husband has one more spare mobile ticket which he sends me for my bus ride. 1pm: Short lunch break today as I have a lot to get through since I’m on leave the next two days. I have leftovers from last night – salad with roasted sweet potato, chickpeas and some hummus to top it off and I eat them at my desk. 5pm: I meet my husband after work and we walk home again – 45 mins at a brisk pace. We stop at Morrisons on the way to get a couple of extra supplies for dinner (peanuts, bean sprouts, spring onions and limes) and some potatoes, just because they’re on special. £4.10 7pm: I make dinner with the ingredients we picked up and some stuff I already had in the house. Noodle salad with satay tofu and red peppers, carrots, bean sprouts and lots of chilli and lime. My mother-in-law has treated us to a bottle of our favourite gin (Pickerings) so we have G&T’s with pink grapefruit and mint as well. Total: £4.10
Day Four 8am: I have a bit of a sleep-in this morning because I’m on leave for a few days to show the mother-in-law around a bit more. It’s her first time visiting us in Scotland so we made sure to book time off to spend together. We have breakfast at home, made from the groceries already in the house – oats with blueberries, kiwis and coconut yoghurt and topped with cinnamon and chia seeds. 10am: We all catch the bus to town together. Still haven’t topped up my bus card (I’ll be honest, I’m not planning to until I get back from our summer trip) but my mother-in-law gives me a few coins to cover the cost, bless her. 10.30am: We stop in at Pret to get a few snacks for our day trip to Glasgow. I get a veggie box and some crisps and my husband pays. 11.20am: We catch the bus to Glasgow. The train is nicer but the bus is much cheaper. I pre-booked this for the three of us weeks ago when I saw a good deal, so this didn’t come out of this week’s budget. It takes a bit longer but it’s a good chance to zone out with some music and podcasts. 12.45pm: We’ve arrived in Glasgow and are here to do a little shopping for our summer trip (we don’t own many summer clothes since moving here so this is a necessity). I’m armed with a specific list and manage to find everything I had in mind – I get New Balance sneakers (£52) and a skirt, top and dungarees from Topshop (£105). 3pm: It’s 26 degrees in Glasgow which is nothing short of a Scottish miracle. I buy a round of prosecco in the sun, which we drink a little too quickly and it goes straight to our heads. £12 3.30pm: Mother-in-law and I get our nails done. Despite my best efforts she won’t let me pay a penny and it’s a fun bonding experience for us while my husband is off finding new trainers. 5pm: We have a pre-dinner drink down a random lane we stumble upon – a round of IPAs and my husband pays (once we manage to actually find the bartender – he was outside sunning himself and having a chat! Extremely forgivable as this kind of weather in Scotland should be enjoyed by all). 6pm: Dinner at one of our favourite vegan restaurants in Glasgow. We get a veggie haggis pizza, a pesto and artichoke pizza and a range of nibbles – chips, onion rings and some veggies with dips. One more IPA each and we somehow manage to have space for dessert as well (we share a brownie and a pistachio slice with vanilla soy ice cream). My husband and mother-in-law split the bill. 8.30pm: Back to Edinburgh on the pre-booked bus. 9.40pm: We get off in town and I call us a taxi to get home rather than catching the bus as we’re all exhausted from the heat. I still have a small voucher left on the Gett app which comes off the total so the ride is reasonably cheap. £8.70 Total: £177.70
Day Five 10am: We’re having a quiet morning drinking coffee and catching up on some life admin. I do our weekly online ASDA grocery shop which I always get delivered on a Sunday night. I buy mostly fresh fruit, veggies, nuts, seeds and a few veggie sausages because they’re on special and some premade falafel because I’m feeling lazy. I have a lot of vouchers available from the ASDA price guarantee website which reduces the cost drastically so it only comes to £11.24 and I also buy some mobile bus tickets to get me through until we go on our holiday. £29.60 12pm: My husband pops out to the local Morrisons for some food for us and comes back with juice, avocado, limes and fresh bread for an easy lunch before we head off for the day. 2pm: We bus to town and I use one of my mobile tickets. We have a browse around the shops and I stop in at Superdrug to get some dry shampoo. I get two bottles on a buy one, get one half price special and give one to my mother-in-law. £4.48 4pm: We’re all shopped out and desperate to enjoy the sunshine (the temperature has miraculously risen to 28 degrees). We go to Sainsbury’s to get some picnic supplies – hummus, carrot sticks, crisps, olives, a fruit platter and a few drinks for a picnic in the Princes Street gardens. My mother-in-law pays and we lie in the sun on the grass for a couple of hours. 6pm: To make the most of being in town we show the mother-in-law a few more sites around Edinburgh (Voldemort’s grave!) and then make our way home on the bus and I use another one of my mobile tickets. 7pm: A quiet night in drinking the gin from earlier in the week and watching some Netflix. We don’t need a proper dinner because we’re so full from our picnic but we do snack on some of the amazing NZ chocolate the MIL brought over for us and a few ice creams from the freezer. Total: £45.32
Day Six 8am: An easy breakfast at home while I get ready for the day. Toast with NZ marmite and surprise, surprise – plunger coffee with soy milk. 9.30am: I catch the bus using one of my mobile bus tickets and meet up with a friend. I’m getting a tattoo and she’s getting a consultation. 10am: Tattoo time! I booked and paid for this weeks ago so it kinda feels like it’s free (I can tell myself that, right?) and my friend stays and chats with me while I get it done – always happy for the distraction while I’ve got needles digging into my arm! 12pm: With my tattoo done we walk into town and I say goodbye to my friend and meet up with my husband who has been taking his mum around the last few iconic spots in the city she needs to see before she leaves on Monday. 2pm: We walk down to a place for lunch that’s half cafe, half organic shop. We get a sharing platter that has a variety of salads, breads and dips with a side of chips. My mother-in-law pays for the lunch and I get a few supplies for dinner from the shop. £7.25 3pm: I head home on the bus using a mobile ticket and spend the afternoon relaxing – the sun has disappeared and thunder has arrived so Netflix, books and naps are guilt-free. 7pm: I make an easy dinner of roasted butternut squash and chickpeas in a salad with miso & sesame dressing and we watch Brad Pitt’s new movie on Netflix – War Machine (it’s average). Total: £7.25
Day Seven 9.30am: Very pleased to have managed a sleep-in for my last day of holiday. Normally I spend a few hours at the gym on a Sunday but with a fresh tattoo I have the perfect excuse to lie in with coffee and my book. 11.30am: Brunch time! I rustle something together from what we have in the house. Roasted potato cubes, garlicky sauteed mushrooms and kale, veggie sausages and avocado on toast. The weather remains average so we relax with a documentary on the Scottish highlands and start thinking about the housework we should probably catch up on. 3pm: Today has been so quiet it’s really not worth documenting. I do a few rounds of laundry, put on a face mask, read my book and snack on strawberries, blueberries, oat cakes with hummus and green tea. 7pm: Our weekly ASDA order is due to arrive in about an hour but I’m ready for something light for dinner now. I’ve snacked a lot today so don’t need anything too substantial and end up just having avocado and marmite on toast. 8pm: We have a whisky to toast to the end of my MIL's trip to Scotland. Total: £0
The Breakdown Food/Drink: £34.59 Entertainment: £0 Clothes/Beauty: £161.48 Travel: £48.30 Other: £0 Total: £244.37