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 communications coordinator on 26k who lives in Bristol and has quite a busy couple of months ahead. First up, she's buying a house and then, early next year, she's getting married as well! How will her finances hold up under the pressure?
Industry: Finance Age: 26 Location: Bristol Salary: £26,000 Paycheque amount per month: £1,633 (after tax and pension) Number of housemates: 1 (my fiancé)
Rent (soon to be mortgage!): £400 into the joint account Utilities: My half of council tax/ Sky/ gas & electricity/ water/ TV licence is £100 Transportation: £0 – I live close to the city centre so I walk everywhere. Loan: £100 per month to pay off the cost of my master’s degree. Phone bill: £15 (as long as I’m good and don’t use up all my data too quickly!) Gym: I’m a Move GB member – I pay weekly (£8.49) so that comes to £34 for a month. Spotify: My fiancé and family all leech off me for my Family account – £14.99 Savings: Whatever is left at the end of the month goes into our wedding fund right now. This is usually around £200.
Day One 8am: Wake up in a bit of a grump because it’s a Monday (standard) and I’ve also just got back from a lovely weekend staying with my family. Have to really fight to get myself out of bed. I rummage through the fridge and find a yoghurt and an apple for breakfast. 8.45am: On the walk to work, I convince myself that I should get a small latte from my favourite coffee shop – I like many things about my office but the coffee available isn’t one of them. Promise myself it will be the only one this week. £2.60 10.30am: Check my emails and see that two of my favourite shops are having a sale! My fiancé and I are in the process of buying a house, so I’ve been trying to be especially careful with cash. I manage to resist the temptation. 1.15pm: I’m lucky enough to live very close to work, so I decide to head home for lunch so that I can eat what’s left in my fridge. Make myself avocado on some wholegrain toast with poached eggs – sort of feels like a brunch so that’s something! 2pm: Head to the gym for an exercise class. Much as I hate working out on a Monday, I feel like it sets me on the right track for the week. And I’m happy I’ve gone once it’s over! Costs nothing as it comes out of my Move GB membership. 7.30pm: My fiancé remembered to take out a vegetable Thai green curry we made last week from the freezer, so we have that for dinner. 10pm: Use the rest of my evening to (reluctantly) look at my bank statement, go through our wedding spreadsheet and check my emails. Get a group message from a friend asking to sponsor her for a race so I ping a donation to her JustGiving page – feel a bit bad and want to give more but I’m feeling the pinch, especially after my bank balance analysis this evening. Thank goodness it’s payday soon! £10 Total: £12.60
Day Two 8am: Wish I could say it was slightly less difficult to get out of bed this morning but for some reason it feels even worse. Fiancé makes me scrambled eggs with tomatoes and spinach for my breakfast. He makes me a coffee, too! 10.30am: Feeling really grotty now and starting to get anxious that I’m poorly and not just tired. I pop to the shop a few doors down from the office to get some paracetamol. I want to get the cheapo option but they only seem to have Panadol. £2.65 11.45am: It’s official: I have the dreaded lurgy. Have a sore head, feel sick and my throat feels like it’s made of sandpaper. Excellent. Grateful I live so close to the office so it doesn’t take me long to stagger home… 6.30pm: Fiancé comes back from work and finds me hiding under the duvet shivering. He’s brought supplies in the form of soup and Lemsip. Can’t bear the idea of eating soup so he settles for just giving me the Lemsip. 8.30pm: Trying my best to sleep it off this evening. Feeling a bit sorry for myself but hoping I’ll feel better tomorrow… Total: £2.65
Day Three 4am: Nope, definitely not better. Grumble grumble grumble… 8.45am: Send my manager a message to say I won’t be in today because I still feel awful. Feeling anxious about missing a meeting and just generally having sick day guilt, even though I’m poorly (am I the only one who gets this?!). My fiancé tells me to snap out of it, in the most loving but firm way he possibly can, and makes me a Lemsip and a hot water bottle as he gets ready for work. 2.30pm: Wake up from a veeeerrrry long sleep and start to feel slightly more human again – well, at least I’m not throwing up anymore! I wander into the kitchen for water and paracetamol but can’t quite stomach eating anything just yet. 6.45pm: Decide I’m feeling well enough to graduate from my bed to the sofa, but bring a tonne of blankets with me. Stick Friends on – ultimate chewing gum for the brain TV because I’ve seen all the episodes before but it’s still amusing. Fiancé comes home and makes me another Lemsip. I am still in my pyjamas and look a total mess. 9.45pm: Do a bit of light research for a moving van for us but decide not to send any emails until I’m back to normal. Early bedtime in the hope I’ll be fighting fit for work tomorrow. Total: £0
Day Four 8.15am: Hurray, I’m well enough to go back to work! My appetite is still AWOL so I’m not feeling breakfast. Hopefully once the morning is over I’ll be wanting to play catch-up after barely eating anything in the last couple of days. 10.30am: It’s a colleague’s birthday, so she’s brought in enough cakes and doughnuts to feed a small army. I’m still not quite sure if I’m hungry, but pick up half a doughnut to nibble on. It’s so delicious that my appetite comes back with a vengeance and I race back for a slice of chocolate cake and an éclair too. 1pm: Heading back home for lunch to finally eat the soup that my other half got me when I was poorly. Go via the shop to grab some other bits and to check if there’s anything nice I can get for dinner later. I grab some eggs, find some salmon fillets in the reduced section (£1.99 for two! Score!) and pick up some diet cloudy lemonade and baking potatoes. Also have to pay 5p for a bag because I’m silly and forgot to bring one with me. £5.92 3pm: Get an email to say the bridesmaid dresses I ordered last week have arrived at my pick-up point in the city centre! I guess it’s a trip to the shops for me tonight… I won’t include the cost for the bridesmaid dresses as that comes out of the wedding pot. 6pm: Walk into town armed with three of my super heavy-duty reusable shopping bags, just in case these dresses are tricky to carry home. The weather in Bristol is HOT today, so I’m already sweating like crazy. I decide I need a pitstop for a grapefruit bubble tea with kiwi popping bubbles – if you’ve never had bubble tea, you should try it, it’s so good on a sunny day! £3.50 6.30pm: Pick up the dresses and realise I’ve totally underestimated just how difficult these will be to carry home. Just about make it down the escalator but decide I really can’t walk back with them when they’re this heavy (and in this heat!) unless I want to keel over. Feel like an idiot and book myself an Uber… £6.30 7pm: Think about going to the gym but still not feeling 100%, so decide that it probably isn’t the wisest choice. Start making dinner with the salmon I bought earlier and make a salad to go with it. Decide this evening is best spent dining al fresco – we should make the most of a British heatwave while we have it! 8.30pm: Our food shop from Sainsbury's arrives! We normally only do one big bulk shop a month and then top up as we go – we became quite conscious of how much food we’d waste when doing a big shop more often. Fiancé and I take it in turns to buy this and this month it’s his turn. Happy the fridge is full of food again. Total: £15.72
Day Five 8am: IT’S PAYDAY! So thrilled when I realise that I do a happy dance! Make myself some spinach, tomatoes and eggs for breakfast. 9am: Really tempted to buy myself a latte to celebrate both payday and that it’s almost the weekend, but remember I promised myself I’d only have one this week. Resist. 12.45pm: Pop back for my usual lunch at home. Make a salad using whatever I have left in my fridge – mainly spring onions, radishes, cucumber, peppers and avocado. Top it with some black truffle olive oil, which my mum got me as a gift, and it tastes ridiculously good. Weather is still gorgeous so I eat outside. 1.45pm: Today is casual Friday at my work, and the money we raise goes to a different nominated charity every month. I pop to the cash point on my way back to get some money to leave in the collection bucket. It’s normally £2 per person, but as it’s payday and it’s for a charity, I leave a little more. £5 5.30pm: Leave work to run to our solicitor’s office to drop off some documents. Buying a house is finally starting to feel real! I get a message from my sister giving me an ETA update – her, my brother-in-law, my niece and nephew are visiting Bristol for a wedding this weekend. Excited to see them all and rush home to ditch stuff and rummage for a snack from the fridge, which turns out to be a nectarine. 6.30pm: Dash into Boots in town because we’ve typically run out of all our toiletries at once! Pick up two bottles of hand soap, mouthwash, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, moisturiser and sunscreen because the weather is still so warm. Costs more than I hoped it would but oh well. At least I got some points on my Advantage card. £32.50 7.30pm: Me and my fiancé walk into Cabot Circus to meet everyone. Niece and nephew, even though they’re very sweet, are both tired and a bit grumpy, so we try to find somewhere nearby to eat. We decide on TGI Friday’s so they’re close to their hotel. Have a lot of fun helping my niece to colour as we wait for our dinner. I order fries and sesame chicken strips, plus a Diet Coke (I know, pointless but I prefer the taste). Split the bill with my sister. £45 including tip. 9.15pm: Say bye to everyone and head home to walk some of the food off before bed – I love how Bristol is easy to walk around, even if it is deceptively hilly! Total: £82.50
Day Six 10.30am: Feeling happy after a long lie-in. Get up and make my fiancé a cup of tea. Decide on no breakfast as we have a big lunch planned… 12.30pm: We head up the hill to Clifton to meet some friends for burgers and a catch-up. Order the most incredible and ridiculously huge burger with parmesan fries. Manage to eat just over half and give up. Oops. Fiancé pays as I got his dinner last night. 2pm: Head to a coffee shop for more chats. Our friends treat us to a latte each. 3.15pm: We say goodbye and decide we should probably do the longer walk down the hill to burn off some of the burger. We walk past a furniture & gift shop which we both absolutely love and decide to have a look around, just to get some inspiration for when we move soon. I fall in love with a sweet pea candle that smells like heaven and, after umming and aahing and carrying it around the shop with me for ages, decide I should just buy it because I can’t stop sniffing it. £5.99 6.30pm: Start to walk over to my sister’s hotel near Cabot Circus – we’re babysitting the kids tonight while they’re at the wedding reception. Actually a little bit nervous and hoping I don’t fail at auntie duty! On our way, we go to pick up cookies from Ben’s Cookies because my sister has been saying she really wants to try them. Grab a box of seven so they can all have some. £7.75 7pm: Babysitting commences. Watching Moana and trying to get my nephew to settle down. Still not hungry after the huge burger earlier but decide we’ll wait for an hour or so to see if we get peckish… 10pm: So naïve: had no time to get peckish whatsoever. Niece was a total angel and went to sleep easily but my nephew is teething and had a full-on demon baby meltdown. Not the easiest to handle in a hotel room. Eventually he tires himself out but I’m too nervous to put him in his bed in case he wakes up. Thankfully fiancé doesn’t seem too scarred for life. 11pm: Sister and brother-in-law return from the party. I’m so sleepy that my fiancé orders us an Uber to travel home. Get back and literally conk out the moment my head touches the pillow. Total: £13.74
Day Seven 9am: Wake up and I realise that I’ve only been to the gym once this week because I’ve had the lurgy and it’s been a busy one. Decide I should probably go and get moving, so head to spin class. Costs nothing as it’s from my Move GB account again. 10.30am: Meet my sister in town with my brother-in-law and the kids for breakfast. I’m ravenous and devour avocado, eggs and bacon. They treat me to breakfast for my babysitting efforts, hurray! Fiancé stays at home because he’s very tired and not feeling great – suspect he may be trying to fight off the bug I had earlier this week. 12.30pm: Decide to get him some bubble tea on my way home to cheer him up. I grab one too. £7 1pm: Head home for some serious clearing-out efforts. Even though we don’t have a final moving date yet, I’m trying to get the ball rolling so it won’t feel so atrocious when we have to pack things up. Start with my wardrobe. Have the window open on a sunny day and cloudy lemonade on the bedside table so it doesn’t feel too miserable. 3.30pm: Bedroom is a total mess. Send help. 5.45pm: Decide I need to take a break. Head into the living room to make three bean chilli con carne with my fiancé. He ends up doing most of it because I keep getting sidetracked by other things. Also, Columbo is on the TV and it’s my oldie guilty pleasure. 8.45pm: Room looks like a tornado has swept by. Did not know I had so many clothes. Fiancé claims that he knew, with an eyeroll... 10.30pm: Three and a half bags of clothes for the charity shop later. Starting to make some headway but it doesn’t feel like it. Decide I need to go to bed and will carry on tomorrow. Moving to a new house seems like it’s going to be a mammoth task, but feel very lucky that it’ll be to our very own place this time. Total: £7
The Breakdown Food/Drink: £71.77 Entertainment: £0 Clothes/Beauty: £32.50 Travel: £6.30 Other: £23.64 Total: £134.21