Money Diary: A 23-Year-Old Content Curator On 23.5k In Bristol

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 23-year-old recent graduate working as a content curator for a finance technology startup...
"Because I work in finance I follow my finances pretty well. I’m due to get a promotion in the next couple of months and have had meetings with my manager about my new role and pay.
I am two months into the process of buying my own flat, with money that is a gift from my parents. Both my grandparents died young or are very unwell, so my parents are trying to avoid inheritance tax, should the worst happen, by gifting their money now. I have savings of £7,000 to pay for solicitors, furniture and initial costs such as replacing the bathroom floor. When I move in, I won’t have a mortgage so will only be paying around £400-500 a month in bills, tax and management charges, so I’m excited to be able to save for a holiday I’m planning in August, and for flights to Texas in December. According to my solicitor, the purchase should be finished in the next few weeks.
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I have a boyfriend in the army who I see on weekends. We’ve been together around six months and our finances are totally separate but we tend to work in rounds for things.
My sister’s wedding and hen do is coming up, so will be paying lots for that (around £300 in total), so trying to make this a lean spending month."
Industry: Finance technology
Age: 23
Location: Bristol
Salary: £23,500
Paycheque amount: £1,575.57
Number of housemates: 1 – she’s 25, and also my landlord
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: £625 rent
Loan payments: £38 student loan
Utilities: Included in rent
Transportation: None, I live in the city centre and walk everywhere
Phone bill: £20
Savings? £7,000 in a savings account which is going towards solicitors fees and buying furniture for my new place
Other: Birchbox £12.95, Netflix £9.99 (which my whole family, all my friends and their uncles mooch off), Pure Gym £24.99, Amazon Prime: £79 p/a
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1 of 8
Day One

7.45am: Wake up groggily. Boyfriend groans at me and tells me to go back to sleep. I realise what time it is and cuddle back in.

9am: We wake up for real this time – it's the weekend! My boyfriend lives on a base around 40 minutes' drive from Bristol. He is currently rebuilding parts of his car, though, and I don't drive, so we have to get the train to see each other. Weekends are our time; during the week we barely speak as he is not allowed a phone during the day.

10am: Bf makes scrambled eggs while I cook bacon and grab a slice of toast for each of us. I do an Asda shop around twice a month for around £70 each which this food is from, and buy a few bits from the Tesco by my work as and when I need it.

11am: We get dressed to go to the gym. I have a Pure Gym membership that allows a guest with me four times a month, mostly my boyfriend uses it. He is a powerlifter and I do weightlifting four to five times a week.

11.15am: Boyfriend realises he has forgotten his trainers.

11.30am: We walk to Primark to buy him a pair of daps to wear to the gym. I buy a new micro-USB cable, it is gold and mine is broken. It was an obvious decision in my book. £2

12.15pm: I buy a chai latte with coconut milk from Caffè Nero while the boyfriend gets a burger from McDonald's. Apparently both these items are perfect pre-workout fuel. We regret the decision immediately after. £3.75

2.30pm: After the gym we head back, shower and make tuna mayo sandwiches for lunch – peppers, celery, sweetcorn, tuna and some light mayo on granary bread. We have one and a half sandwiches each; the hunger is real today. I eat a banana too.

6pm: Boyfriend decides we should go out drinking as it's a beautiful day. I remind him that we spent loads last weekend and that we're trying to lean down for summer.

6.01pm: We're going drinking.

6.30pm: We walk to the harbour and get a cider tasting board. Five 1/3rd pints. It's £8 but my boyfriend pays.

7.15pm: I get my boyfriend a pint of cider and myself a half of the same. £6.75

8pm: We get a pint of cider each and order buffalo chicken bites with a side of mac and cheese and chilli fries. I pay for the pints and we split the food bill. £17.45

10pm: We've been sat and eating for a couple of hours, people-watching and talking about the summer ahead. I have IBS and the chicken wings and mac and cheese are starting to work their dirty magic, despite taking Buscopan. We walk home and I take some Imodium. Somehow my boyfriend is still gassier than me.

11.30pm: I fall asleep on the sofa while we're watching a film.

Total: £29.95
2 of 8
Day Two

9.30am: We wake up. Bf stays in bed for a little while but I get restless so get up to make coffee and stretch in the living room.

11am: Bf eats some leftover Chinese food that he bought on Friday night (I avoided it at the time and now as well. Really oily foods don’t agree with me, so I pick and choose my moments to eat them). I skip breakfast after a few Maltesers as my stomach doesn’t feel great.

12.30pm: We leave the flat as it’s a beautiful sunny day again! We head to Sainsbury’s and I buy some food for a little lunch – some coconut chicken fillet things, hummus, crisps and carrot batons – while my boyfriend goes to Greggs and gets some pastry bake things for himself. £7.25. We head to Castle Park and sit and people-watch with our lunch.

2pm: I remember I need hiking boots for a hike up Snowdon I am doing in a couple of months. We head to an outdoor shop to have a look, as bf gets military discount in a lot of places, but the boots are all upwards of £150! We leave quickly.

3.30pm: We go to a pub with an outdoor bit and I get a lager shandy; bf gets the round this time. Bf’s brother’s wedding is in three weeks so I look on ASOS on my phone and show him potential dresses. I buy four dresses and a skirt in the hope that one looks nice and I can return the rest. £170

4.30pm: We slowly walk back to my flat, and start dinner. We’re having maple BBQ pork chops with sweet potatoes and asparagus which I got from Asda earlier in the week. We’re cooking loads so I have lunches for the next few days this week.

6pm: We eat, and FaceTime bf’s mum in Aberdeen about the wedding in a few weeks. She mentions that we have to book a hotel, and we’re yet to book flights; I’m inwardly cringing at the cost.

7pm: I walk with the bf to the train station to drop him off; we consider him staying until the next morning but that means a 5am start and we both agree it wouldn’t be particularly pleasant for either of us.

9pm: Shower and prep food for work tomorrow. Make overnight oats with protein powder, berries and some milk for breakfast, pork chop with sweet potato and green beans for lunch, and some hummus and carrot sticks for snacks.

10.30pm: I collapse into bed feeling sad that my boyfriend isn’t there to cuddle up to.

Total: £177.25
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3 of 8
Day Three

7.45am: It’s Monday. Shit. I wake up, slap some makeup on while watching YouTube videos, look at my eczema and realise how godawful it is today so get some steroid cream on. Grab all the prepped food from the night before as well as some gym bits.

8.55am: Get to work after a 20-minute walk. I finish an article for Mental Health Awareness week on dealing with financial stress.

11am: Hungry hungry hungry hungry. I eat carrots and hummus. Graceful is not my middle name, and I get hummus on my Beetlejuice-esque trousers.

12.45pm: I grab my bag and head to the gym next to my work and do a shoulders and chest workout.

1.20pm: I pop into Tesco to grab some grapes for snackage and some more green tea (£3) and head back to my office, heat up my lunch and wolf it down while reading a chapter of my book.

4pm: My ASOS order arrives (premier delivery is my biggest vice).

5.30pm: Leave work in a bit of a daze. I have a terrible headache and I’m starving. Make a decision to go for a run late in the evening rather than straight after work as it’s still hot as balls. I get home after my usual 20-minute walk and cook a beef stir fry with strips of beef defrosted from the night before, peppers, onions, mushrooms and sugar snap peas.

6.30pm: I try on the ASOS dresses. I am 5’10 so none of the waistbands fit on my waist properly except for the one from the tall section. Also I have a massive bloat on. I send pics to my bf and sister for criticism.

8pm: I do a MuscleFood order. This is the first time I am ordering from them but through Pure Gym I have a discount code. In the order: 2.5kg chicken breasts, 2 rump steaks, 2 sirloin steaks, 400g lean steak mince, 20 meatballs, 2 steak burgers, 2 chicken burgers, 6 pork sausages, 10 bacon medallions, 1 balti curry meal kit, 1 fajita kit, 1 high-protein/low-fat block of cheese, 1 bag of pork scratchings (I am secretly super excited about this), and some Frylight spray. Normally this would be £62.79 but with the discount I get it for £46.99, including delivery. I order thinking it’s a great deal but in hindsight, you’d probably get the same in a supermarket.

10pm: Just as I'm falling asleep bf calls. I haven't heard from him all day so we talk for 10 minutes to catch up. He tells me he's unable to get time off work on Friday so won't be able to get to Bristol for my birthday until 8-9pm. I don't mind really – he already travels to Bristol every weekend to see me, so him being a little late doesn't bother me.

Total: £49.99
4 of 8
Day Four

5.30am: What year is it?

6am: I have a rule that if I wake up and can't get back to sleep within half an hour then I have to get up. I hate myself for this rule and wonder what I am gaining from it.

6.20am: Get my running clothes on and go for a 10.8k run (although my Fitbit and Map My Run give different distances). I listen to my favourite podcast of the moment, S’laughter, and run my best time so far – 44 minutes. I see a colleague who is already on his way to work and duck behind a tree to hide from him, I have no idea why.

8.30am: Resist bacon sandwiches from the van on the way to work. I will not win this fight every day.

10am: Second breakfast! The overnight oats prepared last night, topped with a few seeds.

1.15pm: Meetings overrun, I grab my gym stuff and head to the gym for a back workout.

2pm: The meeting starts at 2pm but loads of people are late so I heat up my packed lunch – pork, sweet potato, green beans and avocado (unheated, I'm not an animal).

3.30pm: Eat carrot sticks and hummus brought from home. God my life is boring.

7.10pm: I heat up leftover beef stir fry and have a couple of slices of toast too. I am unbelievably hungry. I consider ordering Deliveroo but the cost of a burrito and sides would be £12.75 so despite my absolute craving for Mexican food, I decide against it.

9pm: In bed, watch an episode of Family Guy to fall asleep to and out like a light within 10 minutes. What a riveting young person's life I lead.

Total: £0!
5 of 8
Day Five

6.15am: Up early for an actual reason. I get some makeup on, get dressed (jeans and a chiffon top and boots), grab some fruit and my bag and head out the door.

7.15am: Buy train tickets to London once I’ve walked to Temple Meads (10 minutes away). I cannot get over how expensive it is: £101.57 return with a railcard, on-peak out and off-peak return. I will expense this. Meet my colleague who is going with me. He has bought me an almond croissant from Hart’s bakery! I genuinely work with the best people in the world – these almond croissants are heaven on Earth. I buy a notepad and pen from WHSmith as I left mine at the office yesterday. £3.98

10am: Get to the meeting. I am one of three women in a room of 30 people, and also the youngest by at least 15 years bar my colleague, who is one of only two people of colour. Welcome to the world of finance.

12.30pm: Meeting ends and I get the Bakerloo line (£2.40 – work expenses) to meet a friend for lunch. She’s a friend from school so we’ve known each other for over a decade. I love hanging out with her but neither of us can afford to get in and out of London much (seriously National Rail, what the hell?!) so unfortunately we only really see each other when I’m in London for work. We go to Carluccio’s and I get a minute steak, served with salad, with an extra side of garlic, chilli and almond broccolini. It’s delicious and we split the bill; mine will be expensed but it was £24 (incl. tip).

2.30pm: Get the tube back to Paddington (£2.40 – work expenses) and realise I have lost my return train ticket. I have the receipt though so I go to the desk and ask if I can have a replacement, they say no. I am pretty devastated but in the end pay for a single off-peak with a railcard back to Bristol (£22.65 – not as bad as I was expecting). I won’t expense this; the company shouldn’t have to pay for my carelessness even though I know if I ask they would. Lumber onto the next train and read my book the whole way back.

4.30pm: Arrive back in Bristol and on the way back to my flat I grab a dirty chai latte from Friska with coconut milk, and some vegetarian sushi – sweet tofu on sushi is something else. I am hungry and needing quick carbs, I’m beginning to get a bit shaky due to lack of substantial food today. £6.95

8pm: Eat a couple of kiwis, and go to big Tesco with my flatmate. She drives. I need to stock up on some fruit and veggies. I do a shop that consists of avocados, sweet potatoes, sweetcorn cobettes, mushrooms, red onions, green beans, peppers, mangos, 1kg tub of Total greek yoghurt, laksa paste, wholewheat fusilli, stilton, feta and some broccoli. £22.87

9pm: I cook up some pasta with the fusilli I just bought, three slices of bacon and some chopped green beans, eat it, shower and go to bed.

Total: £56.45
6 of 8
Day Six

6am: I don’t understand why I keep waking up so early. My stomach is a bit sore but I decide to just get up and go for a run. Two and a half km in, my stomach feels like it’s about to burst out of my body. I run back as fast as I can and realise that the IBS today is much worse than just a bloat. Picture *that* scene from Bridesmaids.

8.30am: I take Imodium and head into work, and hope that it works fast. I buy more on the way in just in case, along with a bread roll as something plain to eat. £3.60 (How are six tablets so expensive?)

10.30am: Nothing is working and I realise I’m going to have to go home again. It feels like it’s closer to food poisoning than anything else. I have to leave right away and barely make it back to my flat in time.

11.15am: Get a text from a colleague, bf has sent flowers to my office. I start crying that I wasn’t there and that this IBS is getting in the way of my entire life. Normally I’m hardworking, barely take time off sick and refuse to let things like diet or exercise plans get in the way of living, but now I can’t even be in the office when my bf does the sweetest thing for me because I had an almond croissant and a steak the day before?

6pm: I haven’t been able to eat all day, my stomach is so bad, I’ve been throwing up and unable to keep even water down.

9pm: I’m in bed, watching Family Guy and sipping water, nibbling some plain toast. Bf is texting me and sending Snapchats of him doing silly things in the hope it’ll make me laugh. It works.

Total: £3.60
7 of 8
Day Seven

8.30am: It’s my birthday! Wake up feeling better, but still a little fragile.

10am: Working from home, doing lots of admin and taking a few calls. My MuscleFood order arrives and I keep it in the box on the kitchen table, as my boyfriend wants to go through it to see if he wants to start ordering from them.

11am: Head to the post office to return all the dresses from my ASOS order, so that’s £170 back to me! Head to M&S and buy a Colin the Caterpillar cake and a bottle of orange and mango juice to get some quick sugar, and head to my office so we can all have some cake. They cheer my return and immediately pounce on the cake. It’s like watching a kids' party as they debate the best bits of the cake. £9.90

2pm: I finally have the afternoon off to celebrate my birthday! I meet my mum for lunch, and she pays. I get just a salad with some bread as I’m feeling so fragile. She gives me some presents from my gran: new PJs and a card that’s covered in glitter. I love it. I text her immediately that she’s amazing.

4pm: After a little walk around and going over some solicitor things for the flat I’m buying, I head back to my flat for a little nap and some IBS relief medication while my mum heads home.

7pm: Woah that was a massive nap. I wake up to a call from my bf that he’s outside my flat, oops. He comes in and we immediately cuddle up. He tells me he has booked somewhere for dinner, but after seeing how fragile I am feeling, he cancels and orders us some Mexican food. I don’t even eat a quarter of my burrito. He keeps making me peppermint tea and singing happy birthday. He gives me my present of a beautiful amethyst necklace, and helps me arrange the flowers he had delivered yesterday. We watch a film. We get into bed super early as I am struggling to cope with how unwell I’m feeling and he is tired from work... happy birthday to me!

Total: +£160.10 optimistically with that ASOS return (I’m including it, okay?)
8 of 8
The Breakdown

Food/Drink: £132.49
Entertainment: £0
Clothes/Beauty: £0
Travel: £22.65
Other: £2

Total: £157.14
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