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 27-year-old living in east London with her boyfriend. She works in central London as an analyst in a real estate investment company. She enjoys seeing friends, tries to get regular exercise and loves going to new bars and restaurants. She also goes to the theatre fairly frequently. She is trying to save £5,000 this year which is a bit of a challenge as she also has quite a few holiday plans, as well as her boyfriend’s 30th birthday in November, when she is planning to take him to the Fat Duck. As a result she is trying to live off £75 a week for non-essentials (clothes, beauty, socialising, etc).
Industry: Real Estate Investment Age: 27 Location: London Salary: £53,000 Paycheque amount per month: £2,997 (after taxes, pension & student loan repayment) Number of housemates: 1 (boyfriend)
Housing costs: £650 (my portion of the mortgage + ground rent & service charge) Loan payments: £100 against a no-interest credit card balance Utilities: My boyfriend and I pay £500 each into a joint account each month. This covers council tax, internet/TV, water, electricity, heating and a cleaner every fortnight, as well as food shopping and some other joint activities like meals/drinks out and theatre tickets. (I’ve denoted spending from the joint account with a *, so my portion of these amounts is actually 50%.) Transportation: I use Apple Pay on my phone for public transport so the maximum I would pay each week is £33 due to weekly capping. I’ve included these amounts below so not counting them here. Phone bill: £42 Health insurance: Nope Savings? I aim to save £1,000 a month Other: Netflix: £7.50; gym: £38.99; phone insurance: £7; contact lenses: £25; Guardian subscription: £5
Day One 10am: I wake up at my boyfriend’s mum’s house, where we are staying this weekend. We make breakfast then head off to visit my boyfriend’s friend and child who are visiting from Canada. The kid’s Canadian accent is adorable. My boyfriend then drops me at afternoon tea which is a ‘family hen’ celebration for his stepbrother’s fiancée. It’s delicious and my boyfriend’s mum kindly pays so it costs me nothing. 4.30pm: My boyfriend drives us back to London and we discuss a diet I read about in the paper yesterday. We decide to try it the week after next before our holiday, so I order the book from Amazon. £12.66 7.30pm: We order Domino’s as a Sunday night treat as my boyfriend is hungover (ignore the hypocrisy of these concurrent purchases). I walk to collect it and we eat it while watching Girls. £20.49 9.30pm: Our Sainsbury’s delivery arrives. It’s more expensive than usual this week as there was an offer on wine so I added 6 bottles to our order. Other things we have bought: dishwasher tablets, cheese, yoghurt, milk, lamb mince, chicken thighs, cod fillets, cucumber, courgettes, tomatoes, aubergines, eggs, celery, cauliflower, peppers, rocket, Diet Coke and sparkling water. This should be more than enough for dinners in and lunches to take to work for the week, but as it’s late I don’t bother preparing anything for tomorrow. £93.64* Total: £126.79 (my portion: £63.40)
Day Two 8.30am: I drag myself out of bed half an hour after my alarm goes off, feeling rubbish as I have a cold. Make a coffee and scrambled eggs at home then get the Tube to work, using Apple Pay on my phone. £2.90 10.30am: It feels like today is going to crawl by very slowly. Grab an orange from the work kitchen in the hope that the vitamins will help my cold. 12.30pm: Last week I got a Hawaiian poké bowl for the first time which was delicious, except the avocado I paid an extra £1 for was rock hard. I emailed to complain and they offered me a free one to make up for it, so I return today and get a free lunch (tuna and kale bowl with avocado). It’s really yummy and this time the avocado is perfectly soft. 6.30pm: Leave work and get the Tube home, just as it’s starting to rain. Spend the evening making lunches for the week – lamb meatballs, roasted chicken thighs, cauliflower ‘tabbouleh’, aubergine caponata and tzatziki. I eat some of the meatballs with salad and tzatziki then pack up the rest for later in the week and watch TV until my boyfriend gets home. £2.90 Total: £5.80
Day Three 8.30am: Same morning routine – coffee and eggs at home then Tube to work. It’s still raining, which is incredibly depressing – what happened to summer?! Make a lemon and ginger tea at work which doesn’t do much to lift my mood. £2.90 12.30pm: Pop to Sainsbury’s at lunchtime and buy a can of Diet Coke and sachet of nut butter to eat before the gym later. Eat my brought-in lunch salad in the work kitchen while chatting to some colleagues. £1.75 6.30pm: I head to the gym after work for a session with my personal trainer. I bought a pack of 20 sessions a couple of months ago, which worked out at about £41 a session, and have nearly done them all. I don’t think I will be repurchasing as I can’t justify the expense but it’s been good to learn some new exercises in the gym and explore the weights area. My trainer kills me with an upper-body workout then I quickly shower and catch the bus to meet up with some friends at a wine bar. £1.50 10.30pm: My friends are already eating by the time I arrive and I don’t feel that hungry so I just have a couple of glasses of wine from the bottle they’ve ordered and pay towards the cost of this when the bill comes (£9.50 for my share). We have a good catch up then I get the Tube home (£2.40). Total: £18.05
Day Four 8.30am: Same morning routine, yet again – coffee and eggs at home then Tube to work. £2.90 2pm: Eat my brought-in lunch early at my desk as I am attending the first session of a free lunchtime coding course near my office between 1pm and 2pm. The course is really interesting and the hour flies by. I then go to Sainsbury’s and pick up a Diet Coke and nut butter sachet which I have when I get back to my desk. £2.30 7pm: My boyfriend thinks he is catching my cold and is feeling very sorry for himself so I ditch my plans for the gym and head home on the Tube (£2.40) to look after him, via Sainsbury’s where I pick up some treats, medicine and extra things we need for dinner (£6.50*). Cook roasted cod with courgettes, tomatoes, red onion and homemade pesto then settle in for a night on the sofa. £8.90 Total: £14.10 (my portion: £10.85)
Day Five 8.30am: Stir a spoonful of pesto leftover from last night into my scrambled eggs this morning to mix things up a bit – it’s delicious. Then I head off to vote in the general election before catching the Tube to work. £2.90 12.30pm: I head off to the gym for a quick lunchtime weights session then go back to the office after showering to eat the salad I brought in while sat at my desk getting on with work, hoping that none of my colleagues noticed my 90-minute lunch break! I don’t often work out at lunchtime but as I skipped last night and had to vote this morning it was the only way to fit in a session, because I’m also out tonight. 4.30pm: I’m bored at work and decide to see what is coming up at the theatre later in the year. I like the sound of Venus in Fur with Natalie Dormer so I book tickets for myself and my boyfriend for November. This is quite typical of how I approach the theatre – I tend to book months and months in advance if I can get cheap tickets and then it’s always a nice surprise when the date comes around. I probably end up going to the theatre about twice a month. £30* 9.30pm: I leave work and get the Tube to Liverpool Street to meet a friend for dinner (£2.90). We go to a ‘small plates’ Indian restaurant and share a few savoury dishes (my favourite are the lamb chops), dessert and have a couple of glasses of wine each. It’s delicious and we split the bill evenly (£41.76 for my share) before getting the Tube home in time for the election exit polls (£2.40). The outcome is a lot more exciting than I had anticipated so I scrap my original plan for an early night and end up watching the coverage until 3am, when I finally collapse into bed and it seems the UK is heading for a hung parliament. £46.86 Total: £79.96 (my portion: £64.76)
Day Six 7.30am: I am hugely regretting my decision to schedule an early morning workout when my alarm goes off at 6.15am but I can’t cancel on my trainer so I get up and catch the Tube to the gym. We do another intense upper-body workout then I shower and head to the office. At my desk I eat two boiled eggs that I brought from home and have a coffee from the office Nespresso machine. £2.90 1pm: I’m getting very little done at work as I am glued to the post-election fallout on the news (and discussing it with friends via WhatsApp) so when my boyfriend texts to say he is in the area and asks if I want to get lunch, I am very happy to leave my desk. We go to a Scottish restaurant and have venison burgers, a Scotch egg and haggis mac and cheese to share, which is much tastier than the sad salad I had brought with me (which will end up in the bin due to weekend plans… oops). We pay for the lunch from our joint account and both head back to work. £43.31* 6pm: I leave work a bit early because it’s Friday and head to a wine shop to pick up a bottle of champagne to take to my parents for their wedding anniversary which is next week (£34.90) and a card to go with it (£2.65). My brother is meant to be paying me back for 50% of this but he lives abroad and always seems reluctant to do international money transfers so I’m not too hopeful of that happening. I get the Tube to the train station (£2.90) and buy a ticket to visit my parents (£27.50). I also buy a Diet Coke to drink on the train (£1.85). £69.80 7pm: Very annoyingly, my train terminates before I reach my stop but my mum agrees to come out and pick me up. I wander round Waitrose while I am waiting for her and end up buying a big salad bowl from the homeware section as they have 25% off and it’s really pretty (£11.65 from joint account). Get home and spend the evening chatting to my parents over a steak dinner. £11.65* Total: £127.66 (my portion: £100.18)
Day Seven 12.30pm: I spend a lazy morning at my parents’ house, reading the papers in the sunshine, then my boyfriend arrives, having driven down in the morning. My mum has booked a brewery tour so she drives us all there and we spend a couple of hours looking round the brewery and enjoying the generous samples of craft beer. We then head to the brewery’s pub for lunch, which my boyfriend and I pay for (£42.85). My dad and boyfriend go home for a beer-induced nap and my mum and I go for a walk. £42.85* 8pm: We head out for dinner at a local wine shop/deli that does tapas-style food. We are a bit early so we grab some drinks in the pub next door – my dad buys one round and I pay for the second round from our joint account. The dinner is delicious and my dad kindly pays the bill. £19.05* Total: £61.90 (my portion: £30.95)
The Breakdown Food/Drink: £66.22 Entertainment: £118.87 Clothes/Beauty: £0 Travel: £59.40 Other: £49.71 Total: £294.19 (only my portion)