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 (and men!) 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 man working in a sales department at a large citizenship charity. He says he balances two worlds; that of a medium-paid line manager with a fair amount of responsibility on a weekday, then, come the weekend, he invests that salary in London’s queer venues, via the bar. His mother always tells him that he “burns the candle at both ends” and it pains him to agree.
He has always had a funny relationship with money; he wants to buy something and his debit card laughs. He likes to think that he is an economic spender but after a couple of glasses of wine, his Visa is anybody’s.
He is currently trying to save for a big trip through eastern Africa. But sadly, he suffers from a debilitating condition called FOMO and can’t shake off the exciting temptations that this city has to offer. He's also a total foodie and spends as much time eating as he does thinking about boys. As you can imagine, saving is going GREAT.
Industry: Charity sector Age: 25 Location: Islington, London Salary: £27,000 p/a Paycheque amount: £1,772.92 Number of housemates: 4
Housing costs: £480 in rent Loan payments: £0 Utilities: £40 Transportation: £50 Phone bill: £42 Savings? I have them, yes
Day One 12.55pm: It’s a Sunday. Wake up at about 11. Make cornflakes. I’m starting this on a great day because my diary is completely blank and I’m going to look really economic with my spending. Find myself deep in a YouTube hole for a good hour and 45 minutes. Make more cornflakes. £0 spent. 2.45pm: Finally pull myself out of Little-Mix-music-video-land and get ready. Feel a little groggy as a result of a heavy night of vodka lemonades. Nonetheless, pencil in a strong eyebrow and go to a gallery. £0 spent. I’m great at this. 3.15pm: Stop by Topman on the way to the gallery. Bump into a Tinder match, find myself in a flurry of awkward (I think I whispered “hello”?) and make a quick exit. Safe to say, £0 spent. But dignity lost in abundance. 4pm: The gallery is only free before noon. Obviously, that was never gonna happen. Decline the £4 admission, in the spirit of good money-saving. Naturally, buy myself a nice lasagne from M&S instead. First expense of the day. £2.90 5.12pm: After walking aimlessly around Soho for what feels like a year, pop into Superdrug to pick up deodorant and foundation. £10.43. The person who serves me offers a deal on a contour stick. Politely tell her to contour-stick it because I’m a money-saving superstar. 6.03pm: Travel home via Lidl. Grab some ‘salady bits’ and a bunch of flowers, because I’m the kinda guy who buys a weekly bunch. Drop half my belongings at the checkout. £6.13 7.35pm: Soup for dinner and bed. Priceless. Total: £19.46
Day Two 8.38am: Jump on the Tube to work. Obviously, I’m running late because it’s a Monday. Random man sneezes on me. £2.90 lost, influenza gained. 9.04am: Pick up a banana and a box of granola for the week. I feel a compulsive need to eat healthily for breakfast. Somewhere inside, I believe I’m a better human because of it. £2.20 1.06pm: Have a bad morning and feel a bit down so get a three bean wrap for lunch. I don’t really eat wraps, but sometimes you’ve just gotta push the carb boat out. Buy a little fruit pot with a chocolate dip inside and spend the hour talking about the complexities of love with a colleague. £5.80. I am wiser because of it. 5.36pm: Meant to go to the cinema but turn it down because I’m a penny-pinching giant. Also, I'm tired. Spend the evening at home watching the Kardashians and sipping apple juice out of a champagne flute. You know why? Because I’m an adult. No money spent but a new self-worth gained. 7.04pm: Call my housemate to see if he could pick me up some crisps and the good hummus from the shop over the road. I could go myself but that would involve shoes and a coat and I don’t have time for that. £2 and the best housemate ever. Excited for the good hummus. 7.05pm: The good hummus was out of stock. Standard instead. Disappointed. 8.20pm: Get a call from a lovely woman at my mobile phone network to talk about upgrading for a higher cost. Spend half an hour chatting through handsets and payment plans, spend time bargaining, making adjustments, talking about my job, her job, our careers, our futures. Leave with no deal but have a lovely time. Money saved. 10.34pm: Make a salad for tomorrow’s lunch, in some desperate attempt to convince myself I’m economic on weekdays. Then go to bed. Total: £12.90. Smashing it.
Day Three 11am: Start work later today. Eat breakfast at home and save myself the expense of that overpriced Zone 1 banana. 1pm: Lunchtime. I normally make myself lunch to save the precious coin but I have a perpetual habit of spending the mornings in front of a mirror and the evenings watching Meryl Streep movies. And so I am without lunch today. To compensate, I buy myself Cuban street food for lunch, a Kinder Bueno and a ton of fruit. £6.60 4pm: Travel to an event for work. Sustenance is very important for these events, so obviously buy popcorn and chocolate. £2.02. Deliver what can only be described as a slightly disorientated presentation. Pretty sure I snort-laughed. 7.36pm: Arrive home after a long Tube journey of screaming children and "Bodak Yellow". Transfer a friend £27.89 for Kesha tickets, whose high note in "Praying" practically forced the money out of my account. 8.04pm: Make jacket sweet potato/sweet jacket potato/sweet potato jacket and devour the whole thing in minutes. Have a hot chocolate and go to bed. Very tired from all the snort-laughing. Total: £36.51. I’m saving.
Day Four 10am: Off work today! The joys of midweek leave. Wake up a little anxious so yoga it out. Spend exactly 32 minutes swiping on Tinder. Still single, but zen af. 1.30pm: Get ready at an unreasonably slow pace – if you ask any of my friends, they will agree that at least half of their daylight hours are spent waiting for me. Hop on the Tube to meet my two besties for all sorts of shenanigans. 2.03pm: Arrive at the Science Museum with all the energy of a year 9 student. Go straight for lunch. Have a horrendously overpriced salad and the type of moist brownie that makes you doubt your other food choices. £7.75 4.06pm: Take some selfies and leave for Soho. Consciously find a bar with a great happy hour, because being frugal is important. We corner ourselves off in a little booth to talk life and love and tell each other how great we are. Lose myself in a half-price cocktail. £5 4.34pm: And another one. £5 5.04pm: And a bottle of wine. £9.58 5.56pm: And another one. £10.28. A bit fancier. 7.02pm: Immeasurably drunk. Friend buys Pringles. Somehow manage to hurt my elbow stumbling off a bus. But the Pringles are fine. 7.07pm: We were originally meant to be seeing Lady Gaga tonight but she rescheduled. Heartbroken. Go to my friend’s to eat away the pain. Halves on an Indian takeaway. £17 8pm through to 11ish: It all gets a bit too much so have to have a lie-down on the floor. Can’t finish my G&T. Watch Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert. Google "buy a bus Australia" and "good lacefront wigs". Pass out in my friend’s living room. Total: £54.61. Remember: I’m saving.
Day Five 11.45am: Wake up sunken in an airbed. Had an awful dream overnight. Call my mum to check she is alright. She is alright. Slap on some moisturiser, scrape my hair back and go with the besties to get food. 12.04pm: Find one of those really authentic hipster cafés that reuses milk bottles as table numbers. Order myself a "breakfast pizza". £10.50. It has egg and bacon and mushrooms on top. It isn’t great but since when did tastebuds exist after wine? 2.07pm: Find my way home through the depths of east London. It's all a bit sweaty and hungover and attractive. Sit down to rest and wake up two hours later in one of those disorientating “Where am I? What year is it? Trump is president?!” states. 5.34pm: Pull myself together. Remind myself that I’m a thrifty wizard and pop to Poundland. Pick up a few house bits and some Vanish stain remover. Somehow managed to get a stain on my white Converse the night before. Probably the madras. £10 exactly. 7pm: Go to a drag show with the lads. By lads, I mean the campest queens you’ll ever meet. Buy a couple of bevs and find myself onstage guessing street names for crack. £10 10.54pm: Bed. Exhausted. Total: £30.50
Day Six 9.01am: Pick up posh muesli from M&S because I’m late for a meeting and I have no time and I’m an awful professional on an empty stomach. Speedily weave my way through the crowds of Waterloo. Probably cause someone an injury. £2.80 1.13pm: A chickpea-based salad and a fruit pot for lunch. £5.50. Sit in the park under The London Eye. Clock a cute guy. He caught my London eye. 1.14pm: Apologise to myself for that pun. 4.07pm: Finish work early because I have an exceptional team. Buy tickets to Brighton for the weekend and scurry my way across the city to get the quiet train from Clapham Junction. £32 and a peppermint tea for the journey, £1.50. 7.04pm: Spend the evening slouched on the sofa with my mother. I call her Queen. She loves it. Anyway, watch the new Marsha P. Johnson film and a movie with Joan Collins. Realise that there is never a bad day for a power shoulder and a strong red lip. Soup for dinner. Parents never make you pay. Total: £41.80
Day Seven 12 noon: Sleep like a newborn. Wake up about 11. I forget how quiet life is outside of London. Instagram the shit out of my own face for anything upwards of 45 minutes and make myself breakfast. 4.34pm: A very quiet day with very little aim. Have a shower. Watch the news. Instagram some more. Get a great Tinder picture. 5pm: Meet one of my favourite humans for dinner. She got married recently and there is trash to be talked. We work up an appetite, so order a few nibbly bits. 6.17pm: Extra large nachos, a continental cheese board and two baskets of chips later (£19.90), I head home. Watch some telly and drift off to sleep. What a week. Total: £19.90
The Breakdown Food/Drink: £122.46 Entertainment: £37.89 Clothes/Beauty: £17.50 Travel: £34.90 Other: £20.43 Total: £233.18