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A Week In North Devon, On A 19K Salary

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 cash during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last penny.

This week, a 21-year-old Recruitment Consultant living in North Devon on how she juggles a love of shopping, eating out and socialising with a £19k salary.
Industry: Recruitment Consultant
Age: 21
North Devon
Salary: £19k per annum + commission
Monthly pay check: Last month I took home £1892 before tax, but this varies month on month due to my commission structure. After tax, it was £1539.68.
No. of housemates: Just 1 – I live with my boyfriend, but my mortgage is just in my name. He contributes towards food and bills.
Monthly expenses
Mortgage: £222.18 (as part of a shared ownership scheme).
Ground Rent: £16.00
Service Charge: £56.10
TV license and Broadband: £29.52
Council Tax: £71.00 a month
Utilities: My gas, water and electric amount to about £70 a month.
Transportation: I’m lucky enough that I can walk to work.
Phone Bill: iPhone 6, £34.79 a month

Total: £499.56

Day One

10am: For breakfast, I treat myself to a satsuma, brought into work from home. A pack of eight is £1.50 from Iceland (just across the road from my work.) I rarely have time for breakfast so tend to just eat at my desk when I start to get peckish.

11.30am: Snack on a bag of crisps brought from home – a pack of eight costs £2 – this will keep me going until lunch.

1pm: Mega busy today as Monday is when we run payroll plus all our other daily jobs. Run to Boots and get a £3.29 meal deal to scoff at my desk. I treat myself to a smoked salmon rice dish, a tub of fruit and flavoured water. I then pop to Wilko to pick up a Glade refill for my air freshener at home. They have an offer for a twin pack at £5.50 so I opt for this (yep, I love buying in bulk.)

I generally tend to have four to five cups of tea throughout the day. Milk and tea bags etc. are free, as they are provided by work.

6pm: Didn’t have time for my usual Sunday food shop so I pop to Lidl with my partner after work and pick up £26.05 in groceries for dinners and lunches for the week. For the things I can’t pick up in Lidl, we go to Tesco afterwards, where my partner pays (we take it in turns), which comes to £41.20

8pm: For dinner we have two portions of lasagne that I had frozen down from the last lasagne I made – it’s late so I can't be fussed to cook. Defrosted and reheated these and had them with some garlic bread and salad that we bought food shopping.

Daily Total: £34.84

Day Two

9am: Sneak in a bowl of Weetabix and a satsuma at my desk for breakfast.

1pm: Forgot to make myself lunch the night before so pick up another Boots meal deal for £3.29 (life saver!) Today I opt for a pesto chicken wrap, graze snack box and flavoured water again.

6.00pm: Marinate my chicken in Nando’s Peri Peri sauce while I pop out with a friend to walk her dog.

7.30pm: I cook a gorgeous Peri Peri chicken, refried beans and rice dish. All things that I bought in our main food shop the night before. I always do a meal plan on a Sunday that I try my best to stick to and get all my food in one go.

8pm: After we’ve eaten we sit down and watch NetFlix. My boyfriend pays a monthly subscription of £5 a month.

Daily Total: £3.29

Day Three

9.30am: I’m out visiting clients today doing a Wimbledon promotion visiting existing customers and targeting new business. I spend £18.25 on strawberries and cream in Sainsbury’s, but claim this all back on my expenses at work.

12pm: After a lovely morning driving round visiting clients I pop to Costa and meet my boyfriend for a coffee cooler at lunch which costs me £3.35.

1pm: Pop to Morrisons as I realise I forgot to eat and pick up a pack of four Dairy Lee Dunkers on offer for £1. Have one in the car to keep me going. Fill up my car with £40.05 of petrol. All the miles I’ve done for work I can claim back on expenses – I did a total of 45 miles that I claim back at £0.40p from work, so that's £36.25.

3pm: Finally make it back to the office and sit down and have my ham salad roll I made the night before but forgot about. While I eat I have a browse on ASOS and spend £65 on two dresses for Goodwood, where I’m going at the end of July. I’m an avid shopper so paid £9.95 a few months back to get free next day delivery for a year – yippee!

6pm: I get 2 for 1 cinema tickets on Wednesdays because I got my car insurance through Compare The Market. It costs just £6.90 for two tickets! I pay, and my boyfriend spends £10.80 on our popcorn and drinks.

8.30pm: I stick a pizza on when we get in as it’s too late to cook properly. It's one that I picked up from Tesco earlier in the week on our food shop.

Daily Total: £134.55

Actual total (minus the things I’ll claim back on expenses) = £98.30

Day Four

8.30am: Am out all day today with a colleague doing more visits and drops with existing/ potential clients. We pop to Co-Op and I get a bottle of water and coffee for £2.65. She drives.

1pm: Stop off for some lunch. We go halves on some £10 chilli beef nachos, and I get a diet coke, £2.35.

4pm: Have a well-deserved cup of tea when I get back to the office. One of my colleagues recommends a teeth whitening kit, so I order the mouth guard and whitening gel for £26.99.

6pm: Get home and go for a walk with my boyfriend as it's nice weather.

7.30pm: I made jacket potatoes with cottage cheese and salad that I bought earlier in the week, and prepare my lunch for the next day: sandwiches, Dairy Lee Dunker and fruit. Then we chill out and watch Netflix.

Daily Total: £36.99

Day Five

9am: We like to treat ourselves in the office on Fridays, so order bacon and egg sandwiches all round from the café round the corner. £2.95.

1pm: I have my lunch – the one that I made the night before. Then I pop into town and spend £49.78 on a small summer bag, some shoes and a top.

1.45pm: Pop to Wilkinson’s and get some furniture polish and antiseptic wipes for £1.50. Pick up some sweets as well for 60p.

Again about 4-5 cups of tea throughout the day provided by work.

6.30pm: I make sausage pasta with tomato sauce and broccoli for dinner. We have a chilled night watching films and don’t do too much as we’ve had a long week.

Daily Total: £54.83

Day Six

10am: Have some melon for breakfast that I bought earlier in the week. I have a Dolce Gusto coffee maker so start the day with a lovely caramel latte. A box of pods was about £4.00 for eight.

12pm: It’s raining, so I spend the day tidying, doing washing, and clearing out my overflowing wardrobe of clothes.

3pm: I'm not really hungry but I know I’m going out later so I have some noodles and Quorn chicken and a cup of tea.

7pm: Meet some friends for drinks at a cocktail bar in town. I have two strawberry daiquiris, £7.95 each.

9pm: We head to another bar and stay there for the rest of the evening. I have four gin and tonics at £8 each, then head home for the night at about 1am.

Daily Total: £47.90

Day Seven

10am: For breakfast I have scrambled eggs on toast and a cup of tea and watch some TV. I’m doing an apprenticeship through work so spend a couple of hours working on this.

3pm: Pop out for a walk with my boyfriend to get out of the house for an hour or so. Pick up some milk for 69p and sweets for £2.00 from the shop on the way back.

5pm: Finish bagging up my clothes that I’m chucking out to take to the North Devon hospice in the morning.

5.30pm: Clean my bathroom!

7pm: Feeling a bit peckish so order a pizza to be delivered. I pay £11.40.

8pm: Log into my friend's SKYGO and watch a film on there.

Daily Total: £14.09
This article has been amended to reflect income before and after tax.