The Money Diary: A London Fashion Designer On 20k

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, a London-based 28-year-old working in the world of fashion.


Industry: Fashion – design
Age: 28
Location: London
Salary: £20,000
Paycheck Amount (Every month): £1,379.51, after tax
No. of roommates:
1 (my boyfriend)

Monthly Expenses
Housing Costs: £500 (towards our mortgage payments)
Loan Payments: £30 student loan (my monthly contributions don't yet cover the amount of interest!)
Utilities: £0 (included in £500)
Transportation: £5-10, varies
Phone Bill: £63.66
Savings: £0

Total: £603.66


Day One


6am: My Abel & Cole fruit and veg box arrives – organic, easy, and actually quite affordable. I have this on order weekly and can easily skip it if I feel a bit hard up. They deliver from as early as 5am –the only downside is I do not like early starts! £14.50

9am: I have a smoothie at work that I’d made that morning from fridge/freezer remnants – I always have stuff in the freezer for these, and try to have about three per week to help my complexion.

10am: Free croissant from a meeting at work, and a friend owed me a coffee which I forgot about, so I am pretty happy and get premature Friday feeling...

1pm: Tesco – veg to go with some rice I brought in from home. Boring-ass lunch the day before payday tomorrow! £2.65

3pm: Yoga – I pre-book this online. I always try and make this Thursday class each week as I love the teacher and the studio is nice and spacious, something hard to find at a good price! £11

6pm: I call into Sainsbury's on my way home and buy basil oil, aubergine, free-range chicken thighs, and a banana for before yoga as I won’t get my dinner until after 9pm and get hungry-angry. £6.46

Travel: I'm very lucky to live in easy walking distance from the studio so am home by 6:20 having spent £0

Daily Total: £34.61

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Day Two


11am: I snack on random nuts from my desk drawer and make a coffee at work. I don’t often get super hungry in the mornings but tend to have an earlier lunch.

1pm: I head to a Vietnamese café in Hackney Central – a payday lunch treat with work pals. I order a spicy pork baguette and some summer rolls to share. I also pick up a carton of watermelon juice from the local shop to go with it. £8.65

6:30pm: Dinner at home before heading out for the night – stir fry veg and rice with egg. Plus two gin martinis on the balcony... had it all at home. £0

8pm: Karhoo trip – I had a promo code so I decided to try out this new rival app to Uber. It is not great… doubt they’ll be overtaking Uber anytime soon. £0

8:15pm: Off-license – two beers to have at friend's place before heading out. £5.58

11pm: I buy a round of drinks at my friend's birthday party. Bit of a steep round for four gin and tonics but we have a fun night. £28

2:30am: One drunken bus trip home. £1.50

Daily Total: £43.73


Day Three


12pm: I wake up feeling a lot worse than anticipated! My boyfriend is heading out to meet a friend so I am left to fend for myself with a sore head. Luckily my friend comes over with a loaf of E5 bread, I grab bacon and eggs from Co-op and we make an epic brunch. £4.57

2pm: We book our hotel and trains for a friend's wedding in Cheshire in September. Feeling slightly more productive now. £133

5:45pm: After lazing around the flat all afternoon I head to Cowshed for a facial I’ve had booked for a while. Not a usual weekend activity for me but I had a voucher for my birthday. It is amazing. I decide to treat myself to one every few months. I cycle so I can make a swift exit with my red face but end up bumping into a friend on my way out. £45

7:30pm: Head home for dinner, a caesar salad made by boyfriend. £0

8:30pm: Go for drinks at a friend's for her 30th. Hangover is still looming.

11pm: We go to the pub when they head off to a party. I buy the first round, we only stay for a couple. £15.50

Daily Total: £198.07


Day Four


11am: Sunday brunch – a massive, man-style fry up made by my boyfriend, a bit too meat heavy but he’s made it for us so I’m not going to complain! I have a few cups of tea while reading on the balcony, trying to finish the book I started on holiday back in May.

1pm: I’m feeling way more wholesome than yesterday so I nip to the Co-op to get baking ingredients, and make a banana loaf with some bananas I notice are left in the fruit bowl. I hate wasting food. Also pick up some laundry gel. £9

3pm: Once I've finished baking we cycle to our friends' house to visit their baby twins, who are hilarious. We stay for a few hours.

7pm: We meet some other friends for dinner at a restaurant near home. When the bill comes it’s half price as our friend used to be the manager there. Thank god, as we ate and drank a LOT. £26

Daily Total: £35
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Day Five


12pm: Back at work. I head to Tesco and buy a soup, spinach to add to it, and an olive ciabatta roll. Pretty unispiring lunch but am feeling a bit guilty about my weekend spends. Will prepare some packed lunch stuff tonight for the week. £3

7pm: My friend calls after work and invites me to go walk his dog with him and catch up. We’ve not hung out recently so I go, despite rain. I call home quickly, grab a raincoat, then walk back to the overground. £3.20

8:30pm: For dinner I make a chicken salad with ingredients that are in the fridge already. £0
Afterwards, I roast some beetroot and onion and make a couscous thing from cupboard contents to take in to work for lunches for the week. Cheapo day as spent a lot over the weekend!

Daily Total: £6.20


Day Six


10am: I have some Groupon yoga coupons left so pre-book for today and tomorrow. £0

1pm: I head to TK Maxx on my lunch break and buy two giant bottles of Nioxin shampoo and conditioner that my hairdresser friend recommended, as well as a fancy nail file. I manage to restrain myself from buying any other unnecessary rubbish which is unusual. £41.97

7.30pm: We can’t be bothered with cooking tonight so my boyfriend orders us Indian take out. £0

Daily Total: £41.97


Day Seven


12:30pm: We bypass Tesco and go to M&S to pick up lunch – I buy artichokes, tapenade and falafel and somehow spend £8.60. I realise I forgot lemons so end up going to Tesco anyway. Total: £10.

4pm: I buy a dress from Depop that I’ve been eyeing up. Depop has replaced my eBay addiction, but I definitely browse more than I end up buying. £31

7pm: Dinner – I make a point of cooking tonight as I like my boyfriend to make dinner for me after yoga on Thursdays. I cook an asian stir fry. £7.80

Daily Total: £48.80

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