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 scientific advisor who has recently relocated with her husband from Dundee to Hampshire. They met and started dating in high school back in 2003 and have been married for five years. They are currently trying to save as much as possible as they love to travel and have bought a '60s bungalow in need of renovation.
Occupation: Scientific advisor Industry: Pharmaceuticals Age: 30 Location: Hampshire, England Number of housemates: Two (my husband and dog… although sadly she doesn’t contribute to the bills!) Salary: £58,000 base plus yearly bonus and company car, which means my total annual salary is circa £66,000 plus car. Paycheque amount per month: £2,943. My husband and I pull all of our money into a joint account to pay all of our outgoings (bills and savings), then we take an allowance of £300 each for random individual spending throughout the month. My husband’s paycheque is £1,292 per month so our total income for the month is £4,235.
Mortgage: £1,117 (we recently moved to the south and we are still coming to terms with the crazy house prices, our mortgage in Scotland was less than £400!) Utilities: £402 (£80 gas and electricity, £10 water, £196 council tax, £95 TV/internet/phone, £8 Netflix and £13 TV licence) Transportation: £240 diesel for both cars Phone bill: £82 (£38 for my contract) Groceries: £240 Pet insurance: £25 Dog walker: £40 Gym membership: £145 (£75 for my membership and personal training sessions) Savings: £1,000 per month (we currently have £16,200 in an ISA which is earmarked for some large home improvements) Debt: I went to uni in Scotland so I didn’t have to pay tuition fees (thank you, Scottish government!) and I paid off a small student loan a couple of years ago. We have £1,000 on our 0% credit card as we booked flights to Sri Lanka, we will clear this with our “£1,000 savings” when my next paycheque comes in.
Total: £3,291 (£4,235 – £3,291 = £944 left over for both of us but as mentioned we only take £300 each)
Day One 6.45am: My husband heads to the gym before work so he is always gone before I wake up. Somehow he manages to never wake me (ninja husband!). I shower, eat a bowl of Weetabix and drink a glass of fruit juice. 7.15am: Take the dog out for a long walk; she is an energetic black Lab so I try my best to tire her out. Sweatpants and hoodie are my standard attire for a morning dog walk. 9am: My parents-in-law have been visiting for the weekend so I drive them to the station so they can catch their train home. It has been so nice to catch up with them and I give them an extra long hug as it will be a little while before we are back in Scotland. I am working from home today so I head back to the house and put on some washing and vacuum before sitting down at my laptop to start work. 1pm: My stomach rumbles and I remember it is lunchtime (I find when working from home I can lose track of time quite easily as I get immersed in work). Cheese on toast, a handful of strawberries and a glass of water. I remember my husband dropped and bent my tweezers so I order a new pair from Amazon. £8 5.30pm: I take the dog for a walk and call my family in Scotland while I am out. I then do some studying as today is the first day of the new semester for my distance learning course. After eight years of university (BSc and PhD) you would think I would have had enough of studying, however, I love learning new things so I decided to sign up for one more course! I am also very lucky that my company pays for the master's. 7pm: My husband gets home and I convince him to come with me to a pub quiz. He has far superior general knowledge so I need him to be the brains of the operation! We don’t have enough time to make dinner beforehand so we both grab a burger at the kebab van (£6.50 for both but he pays). 11pm: With lots of help from our knowledgeable friends we end up winning the quiz! Our £65 prize pays for our drinks and a victory kebab that we share when we get home. We will keep the rest for a nice lunch at the weekend. The dog came out to the pub with us and had a walk while we waited on our kebab so we can head straight to bed. Total: £8
Day Two 6.45am: Same routine as every weekday: Weetabix, fruit juice and dog walk in my sweats. 8.15am: Iron clothes, pack bag for work, dress in respectable work clothes and apply makeup. I once started driving to work in sweatpants and had to turn around… thankfully this has only happened once. 8.45am: Arrive at work after my 15-minute commute. My job used to entail a huge amount of travelling so I promised that when I changed jobs, I would prioritise a short commute! I have just been asked to lead on a new project so the next few days will entail lots of researching, meeting new team members and planning a trip to Europe for a workshop. I am excited to get started! 10am: Get hungry, so I have a yoghurt that I brought in from home. 12pm: Lunch in the canteen, a bowl of beef chilli and rice, £2.30. The canteen is heavily subsidised so while I keep telling myself that I will pack lunches (like my husband does), I never get around to it. 2pm: A colleague messages me to ask if I want to grab a tea and catch up about a project. I end up buying a muffin and cup of tea. £1.80 5.45pm: Arrive home, cuddle the dog and then take her out for a walk. I grab a snack before the gym, Philadelphia on Melba toast. 7.15pm: The circuit class is tough as always and we are glad when it is over! We arrange a cinema trip with our friend that takes the class. 9pm: We are both exhausted and aren’t hungry enough to eat a full dinner; we end up eating cheese on toast, with chocolate for dessert. My husband takes the dog for a walk while I iron his shirt for work, go team! Total: £4.10
Day Three 6.45am: Breakfast, dog walk and quick tidy of the house including putting a load of washing on. Waze informs me there is a lot of traffic on the road so I dart out of the house before I am late! 10am: I am hungry so eat a yoghurt that I brought from home. This reminds me that we really need to do our food shopping as we have very little food left! 12pm: Lunch in the canteen, Vietnamese Pho which turns out to be lovely, £2.30. I catch up with a colleague to discuss some projects that I handed over when I changed jobs. An hour quickly flies by and I head back to my desk. 3pm: I head down to the café at work to grab an apple and banana to eat, 90p. I bang into some colleagues who I haven’t seen in a while and have a quick catch-up. 5pm: One of my colleagues heads to the vending machine to get some chocolate, I can’t resist and end up buying a bag of crisps and chocolate bar. £1.35 5.45pm: Arrive home to find my new jeans have been delivered (£0 as I paid with birthday money). I walk the dog and then head out to a session with my personal trainer. I joined a couch to 5km group a few months ago and the trainer offered £10 sessions after it was finished – it would have been silly not to at that price (£10 is already accounted for in my monthly expenses). We do 6.5km interval runs and some strength training. We decide to run a route which I will use at the weekend in our walking group (she won’t be there so I make sure to pay attention… I don’t want to get the group lost!). 8pm: My husband has cooked some Lorne sausage and Stornoway black pudding (leftover Scottish treats from his parents). We watch the first half of the football and order our shopping from Tesco online. We order all of our meat from a wholesaler and get it delivered once a month and we bulk-buy a few items from Costco like dog food, toilet roll, washing powder and softener so our bimonthly Tesco shop tends to be fruits/veggies, yoghurts, milk, cheese, noodles, toothpaste and snacks for us and the dog (£61, however this is already accounted for in our monthly expenses). We transfer money to a friend for gig tickets which he ordered (£23 each) and then I go for a bath to try and relax my weary muscles. 9.30pm: I am determined to stay on top of my coursework this year so I do some studying. After an hour I feel like I have accomplished enough and stop. My husband walks the dog while I iron his shirt for work. Total: £27.55
Day Four 6.45am: Ouch, my legs are sore. I wouldn’t normally do back-to-back circuits and a personal training session but last night was the only evening that I had free. My dog walk after breakfast helps to ease my muscles, plus it is a lovely day so I am in a good mood. I make a fruit smoothie, grab some leftover chocolate for later and head to work. 10am: My smoothie is long gone so I have some chocolate. I have just finished reading an Elon Musk biography and a friend recommended that I read Sapiens afterward so I order that from Waterstones with a gift card that I got from work (£1.25 as I don’t quite have enough on the gift card). 12pm: Lunch with my team, chicken tikka masala with rice and a poppadum, £3.10. I am so lucky to work with such a great group of colleagues, we share stories from the week and talk about our plans for the weekend. I get a message from some of my field-based colleagues asking if I want to go out for dinner and drinks on Monday when they are down visiting the office. I happily accept and offer to pick them up and drop them off as I would prefer to take my car to the restaurant. 4pm: My afternoon hunger forces me to seek out food; annoyingly the café closes at 4pm so the vending machine will have to do. Steak-flavoured crisps. 70p 5.45pm: I go to Tesco to pick up the food that we ordered last night. I then pop into M&S to pick up some dessert for dinner as I am going round to a friend’s house and never like to turn up empty-handed. Four salted caramel chocolate pots. £5.20 7pm: Chinese buffet for dinner, yes! Duck-filled pancakes, chow mein, chicken skewers and prawn crackers (£0 as my friend pays). My friend gives me a belated birthday present, chocolates and pink prosecco, lovely! We all catch up and then watch a film while relaxing on the sofa. 10pm: I get home and cuddle the dog and my husband. He is playing Xbox online with his friends so I give him a quick update about my day then I get cosy in bed and watch the latest episode of Location, Location, Location. Total: £10.25
Day Five 6.45am: I wake up and realise I must have fallen asleep halfway through the programme. Breakfast and then dog walk. It is lovely and sunny yet bitterly cold, autumn is well and truly here! 9.15am: My car gets picked up for its first MOT and I manage to get a lift into work from them, which saves me cycling. I haven’t cycled into work yet and although it is only 5 miles I am worried I'll get a bit lost! I drink my fruit smoothie from home and fill up my snack drawer with all of my Tesco treats (protein nut bars, hazelnuts and a couple of apples). This will save me going to the café and vending machine! 12.30pm: Lunch with my team in the canteen, tough choice between fish and chips or steak and ale pie… I opt for the fish, £3.60. We get introduced to a new medical manager who is super lovely so we sit chatting for a bit longer. I head back to my desk and get on with reading for the new project I am working on. 3pm: I take a quick break from reading to book flights for my work trip to Barcelona in October. I eat a salted caramel nut bar and apple from my snack drawer. 4.30pm: My car gets returned to the office – as it is a company car I don’t have to pay for the MOT or any routine work done on it (£0). I will have the option soon of either getting a new company car or getting a salary increase, I think I will opt for the salary increase so I can choose exactly what I want. On the way back from picking up my car key, a colleague offers me some free cake… I never say no to food so I grab a little cream scone and a piece of chocolate brownie. 5.45pm: I get home and take the dog for a long walk. My husband gets home just as we get back and we catch up about our day. 8pm: We head around to our friends' house for some dinner. They have recently returned from Vietnam so we have a long catch-up and share our experiences of the incredible country and people. We order Indian food and enjoy that with some drinks that we have taken round (£15 for food and £0 for drinks as I take round Coke which I bought in the Tesco shop). 11.45pm: We get home and take the dog out quickly before crashing in bed. Total: £18.60
Day Six 8am: Wake up, shower and breakfast. 8.30am: I am leading the weekly walking group today. I arrive early to answer any questions for newcomers. We set off just after 9am and cover the 6.7km route that I mapped out on Wednesday. We get back to the pub car park and decide to stop for tea/coffee. 12pm: The weather is beautiful so I decide to invite a few friends over for pizza and drinks. I recently bought an Uuni pizza oven and can’t get enough of using it. I pop out to Waitrose to buy flour, toppings, snacks and drinks (£27, however that will be taken out of our monthly food expenses as we account for having friends round so £0). 5pm: After a manic house and garden tidy we are ready for guests! Even though we told them not to bring anything, they very kindly arrive with loads of extra food. We crack open the drinks and I get cooking. 9pm: Everyone is full and having fun toasting marshmallows in the chiminea. After a little while we decide to head in for a comfy seat on the sofa and I make cups of tea for them. My friend sneaks into the kitchen and starts washing dishes… I tell her off but appreciate the help and we manage to get everything clear. I cannot wait to have a dishwasher in our new kitchen! 11pm: Our guests have headed home and we promptly head to bed. Total: £0
Day Seven 8am: Wake up, dog walk and breakfast. 10am: We head to a spin class. It has been three weeks since we attended this class as we have had guests staying with us over the last couple of weekends. We manage to make it through to the end. I am red, sweaty and my hair has come lose and gone crazy but I don’t care because I feel awesome. I cannot believe how tough it is after missing a couple of classes, let’s not do that again! We head to the cinema to pick up tickets for tonight. 11.30pm: After a quick snack I feel energetic so decide to cut back our rose bushes and a couple of hedges. We live in a cul de sac of bungalows and we are by far the worst gardeners… I try my best to make it look presentable! 1pm: We head off for lunch in the sun at a lovely restaurant a short drive from our house. It is busy but we manage to get a table outside. I opt for the burger and chips while my husband has the roast. (£37 with tip, however, we pay for this with our quiz night winnings so £0). We come home and have a power nap on the sofa. 3.30pm: Thankfully we set an alarm! We wake up and head out for a dog walk with our friends and their little boy. The boys head to the play park while the girls walk the dogs. 5pm: I have an online exercise to complete for my university course so I power through that. After two years my MAC concealer has run out so I pop online to buy another. They offer 10% off, a free sample and free shipping if I sign up for their newsletter; I love a bargain so enter my details. I also welcome the free sample of mascara as the one I have is three years old and my friends keep telling me off for not throwing it out! £16.20 6.40pm: We head out to meet friends at the cinema. Tickets for Kingsman (£6.50 each with a discount card) and I get an ice cream (£3.20). 10pm: We get home, walk the dog and then head to bed. How can the weekend be over already?! Total: £25.90
The Breakdown Food/Drink : £39.45 Entertainment: £30.75 Clothes/Beauty: £24.20 Travel: £0 Other: £0 Total: £94.40