Money Diary: TV Production Runner On 22k

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 freelance production runner on various television programmes, which she says is both super exciting and super unglamorous at the same time. One day she'd like to be a comedy producer.

She is from a small Welsh town, where the idea of being freelance isn't a familiar one, and has only been living in London for 10 months. She has, however, managed to burn through a hefty chunk of money in that time as she has a penchant for expensive London restaurants. Traditionally, she was a saver but London seems to have changed that. Working freelance means that her pay can be rather sporadic and variable from one month to another and her working hours are all over the place.

Industry: Television
Age: 23
Location: London
Salary: Between £21,000 and £23,000 per year
Paycheque amount per month: £1,500, average
Number of housemates: 2 (my housemate’s mother owns the house)

Monthly Expenses

Housing costs: £640 rent. I pay my housemates once a month and this covers all utilities and bills!
Loan payments: Nothing at the moment as I work freelance and my salary is variable.
Transportation: I have an Oyster card which I top up as needed.
Phone bill: £40. Damn you, iPhone 7.
Savings? Lol, not so hot with the savings right now.
Gym membership: £29.99
Netflix: £0. I still use my best friend’s Netflix account and I think she’s forgotten.
Monzo card: £50. I use this amazing card as a way to save for holidays and travelling.

Day One

7.30am: Even though I have a day off, I wake up early because my boyfriend has to go to work. I’m working long hours and weekends in my current job so I have the odd day off in the week to make up for it.

8am: I have an apple to stave off the hunger before I get on the Tube to go back to my flat in Queen’s Park.

8.50am: Head to Sainsbury’s to do my weekly food shop. This is quite cheap at the moment because I get breakfast and lunch provided for me at my current job and it is actually really nice food! I buy salad, cucumber, chicken, skimmed milk, yoghurt, falafels, vegetables, peaches, ground coffee and some snacks. £17.14

9.20am: I buy a pastry from Gail’s Bakery to go but I forget that you need to take out a loan to buy anything in there. £1.90

9.45am: I make myself a cafetière coffee at home and settle down to send some emails and do some life admin.

12.30pm: Go to a spin class with a friend from my old job. Classes are included in my gym membership and I love going to classes with my friend as it’s an excuse to catch up and I feel more motivated when I’m exercising with someone else.

1.35pm: I top up my Oyster and this should last between a week and 10 days. I find it cheaper than buying a monthly travel card. £30

2pm: Get home and fix myself a quick falafel salad for lunch.

2.30pm: I call my mum because we’ve decided to go for a long weekend away in November. We decide to go to Lisbon and we book flights! She pays for hers and I pay £53.48 for mine. Luckily, I use my Monzo card which has money on it for this exact reason. Monzo cards are brilliant because they’re like debit cards but you can use them in any country in the world and they won’t charge any fees. Goodbye to queuing at the Post Office to change foreign currency!

4.30pm: I’ve only just discovered that the third season of Narcos has been released on Netflix and binge-watch it all afternoon.

7pm: I cook a chicken noodle stir-fry with the ingredients I bought earlier today.

10pm: I FaceTime with my best friend who lives in Australia. We don’t get to FaceTime often because of the time difference so it’s nice to get the chance to catch up.

Total: £49.04 (not including Lisbon flights as I set money aside each month on the Monzo card for holidays)
Day Two

7am: I wake up and have Greek yoghurt, blueberries and granola because I’m hungry and even though there’s breakfast at work, I’ll probably be too busy today to have any.

8.30am: I make a coffee as soon as I arrive on location in Holborn. I feel way too proud that I didn’t succumb to buying a flat white from one of the fancy local coffee shops.

11am: I’m really feeling the hunger pangs at this point but we’re out filming on the street so I literally just have to ignore them and pretend like my stomach rumbling is the sound of thunder.

1pm: Lunch is on work, which is one of my favourite perks of this job. I have an avocado and egg open sandwich and pitta chips with red pepper hummus. A strong 9/10 for today’s lunch.

5pm: Finally finish work – today has been relentless. I get changed and amble slowly to central as I’m meeting a friend for dinner there later.

5.30pm: Pop into Scribbler and buy some birthday cards for upcoming birthdays. £5.25

6.15pm: Meet up with my friend at Kanada-Ya for some delicious tonkotsu ramen. She’s normally vegetarian but even she can’t resist the incredible pork broth. £12

7.30pm: We decide to go for an espresso martini at Holborn Grind because Kanada-Ya is an in-and-out situation and we have so much more to talk about. I forget that I don’t actually like espresso martinis that much. £8.50

9pm: I get home and collapse into bed as I have to get up really early for work tomorrow.

Total: £25.75
Day Three

5.30am: Time to wake up. EW. It’s too early to function and definitely too early to eat anything so I wait until I get to work.

6.10am: My car arrives to take me in to work. If I have to be in work for 6.30am then my company sends a car to get me, as public transport is unreliable at this time. I obviously snooze for the entirety of the journey.

6.30am: Down a coffee and have a ham and cheese croissant as soon as I get to work. Free. I could really get used to this.

10.30am: I have a peppermint tea with today’s contributor. I love that I meet new people every single day in this particular job.

1.30pm: I have Pret for lunch on the company – mac ‘n’ cheese with prosciutto. Healthy eating is going super well as you can see.

5pm: I finish work, get changed and walk to central as I’m meeting a friend later. Seems like I’m having déjà vu from yesterday.

5.15pm: Pop into the Post Office to send a birthday card to my best friend in Australia. £1.40

5.45pm: I buy a bracelet from Kate Spade for a different friend’s birthday. This month is expensive. £28

6.15pm: I meet my friend at Xu for dinner. We have been dying to come here for ages. We’re meeting early as she’s flying to Greece tomorrow. We have two cocktails each as well as peanut lotus crisps, bone marrow pancakes, xian bing, char siu Iberico pork, bamboo chili beef fat rice, pak choi, ma lai cake and almond ice-cream. So basically the whole menu. You’d think we were being paid to review this restaurant, but sadly this is not the case. We split the bill and my half still comes to £55.69.

9.10pm: I get home and make a jasmine tea to repair some of the damage made by dinner. Watch Narcos because that’s my life right now.

Total: £85.09
Day Four

5.30am: Alarm goes off and I ignore it. Classic.

5.50am: Decide that it might be time to get up and rush around like crazy to make sure that I don’t miss my car.

6.15am: Back in the car and today’s driver is trying to talk to me. Starting to pine for the Tube.

6.30am: I have a coffee and skinny blueberry muffin from Starbucks which I do not enjoy. Luckily, it’s on work so I can’t complain too much.

11am: My current PD is super nice and trusts me to do some shooting for filler shots for the show on the Canon C300 when he isn’t using it. My technical skills leave much to be desired but it’s something I really want to learn.

1pm: Banana leaf salmon and miso aubergine salad for lunch. 8/10.

1.30pm: I buy myself a green cold-pressed juice and a Graze pack to avoid eating the crisps at work. £3.40

4pm: Work is super busy today and I feel like I keep messing up. I also hit myself in the face with a lens while taking it off the camera. Just a normal day, nothing to see here.

5pm: I finish work and jump on a packed Tube to my gym in Bayswater. I feel horrible but I know that exercise will improve my mood.

6pm: I do a Pump class which is a mixture of weight training and calisthenics. I love this class as it makes me feel super strong, but the instructor keeps telling me I’m doing things wrong.

7.15pm: Get home and make myself another chicken stir fry with rice noodles. I’m trying to keep my spending to a minimum today after spending so much on dinner yesterday.

8pm: I do some article planning and life admin as I like to write blogs in my spare time.

9pm: I have a jasmine tea and a peach. The peach is rotten. Fuck this day.

10.30pm: I watch Narcos because I’m convinced that I am learning Spanish by default.

Total: £3.40
Day Five

7am: Not an early wake up day, thank god.

7.20am: I have breakfast at home – yoghurt, peach and granola.

7.45am: Get on a packed Tube to work. I would do anything to be back in the car with the chatty driver again.

8.30am: Get to work and have a skinny flat white.

12.30pm: I’M STARVING. Lunch is a falafel taco bowl. I love falafel but this one is not the best. A not-so-great 7/10 today.

3.30pm: I have some dried pineapple and an Earl Grey tea because I’m losing the will to live.

5pm: I leave work and walk to Chancery Lane to meet my boyfriend but he doesn’t get out of work for another hour so I end up in Boots and I buy a nail varnish base coat. I don’t even wear nail varnish really. £4.49

5.30pm: Buy a tea from Caffè Nero and a disappointing wafer thingy. I forgot what it feels like to pay for caffeinated drinks as I keep buying them with work’s money. £3.35

5.45pm: I start reading A View from the Bridge while waiting for my boyfriend. I’m normally opposed to reading in coffee shops but my phone battery is dangerously low.

6.15pm: Meet my boyfriend and we walk to Farringdon to get some drinks and snacks in a rooftop bar called Bird of Smithfield. I pay for the double gin and tonics and he pays for the snacks. £18

8pm: Boyfriend goes to his parents for the night as his family is away but I can’t go with him as I’m working in the morning (of course). Get back to my flat, have more tea and read some more.

9pm: Decide to book a table for my birthday dinner in a week’s time for me and 10 friends. I normally don’t like hosting things but decide to make an exception for my birthday.

Total: £25.84
Day Six

5.40am: Every day feels like a Monday these days.

6.15am: Car arrives to take me to work. I seem to get most of my sleep in cars at the moment.

6.30am: Get to work and have the worst skinny flat white from Starbucks because they only had big cups and the barista filled it to the top so I basically had a hot milk. Starting to see a recurring pattern with Starbucks.

7.30am: Had to go to Boots for an errand so I buy mints and an Innocent gorgeous greens smoothie. I use my Boots Advantage card so they’re free!

10.30am: I learn how to do live logging today which is petrifying because you basically have to log exactly what someone says during an interview to help the editors in post-production.

1pm: Lunch is a chicken souvlaki wrap. Not my fave of the catering we’ve had. 5/10.

3.30pm: I have a Penguin bar as a snack. Feel like I’m about 8 years old again.

6pm: Leave work an hour late because things turned absolutely mental with no warning. I was meant to meet my boyfriend and his family for dinner but I won’t make it in time so I decide to succumb to the tiredness and just go home.

6.45pm: Buy a bottle of rosé and some chocolate because my life is tragic right now. £6.50

7.30pm: Freelance life gets the better of me as I do some adjustments to my CV. On a SATURDAY NIGHT. Finish the third season of Narcos. In a record six days. I add ‘Narcos-proficiency Spanish' to my CV.

Total: £6.50
Day Seven

7am: Wake up for work. I am LITERALLY working every day for the next two weeks. I can’t stomach breakfast just yet.

8.18am: I have a skinny flat white and a bacon sandwich. It is a Sunday after all.

10.42am: I have a break and another coffee as I’m feeling tired.

1.15pm: Lunch is AMAZING today. I have a little mezze of chicken and mango rice salad, Mexican quinoa and black rice salad, plantain and avocado wrap, halloumi and fig salad and fruit salad. 10/10 easy.

3.32pm: I do some more shooting when we have a few minutes of down time.

5pm: I leave work and go to my boyfriend’s to spend the night there.

6.12pm: I steal one of his chocolate bars.

7.32pm: We go for dinner to an amazing cheap pizza place called Pizza Union which is one of our favourite haunts. I buy my own pizza and beers for both of us. £10.95

9pm: We are going to visit my parents in Wales soon and then to spend a night in Bath so we decide to get organised and book stuff. We pay for our own train tickets and we also book a hotel in Bath but we don’t have to pay for that until we stay there. £51.60

Total: £62.55
The Breakdown

Food/Drink: £137.43
Entertainment: £0
Clothes/Beauty: £32.49
Travel: £81.60
Other: £6.65

Total: £258.17