Money Diary: A 33-Year-Old Lawyer In Manchester On 52k

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: "I’m a 33-year-old lawyer living in Manchester, predominantly working from home. Similar to many, I have had to adapt to a new way of working since the pandemic hit and it has been tough at times but I feel that I have somewhat got the hang of it now. In all honesty, navigating the pandemic has enabled me to have a number of breakthroughs, from purchasing my first home on my own to realising the importance of a work/life balance and a support system. I used to be an avid spender in my early 20s, always shopping and pumping my wages back into the stores I worked for (counterproductive, I know). I always knew that someday I wanted to buy my own house so I set about a plan to be able to do that around age 27 when I opened a Help to Buy ISA. Fast-forward five years and I was able to buy my first house at the age of 32 by myself during the pandemic. I believe that saving for my house deposit has helped me to be a little savvier when it comes to saving."


Occupation: Lawyer
Industry: Legal
Age: 33
Location: Manchester
Salary: £52,000
Paycheque amount: £2,880 (after deductions for tax, pension and student loan)
Number of housemates: None

Monthly Expenses

Housing costs: £780 mortgage.
Loan payments: Other than my student loan, which comes out of my pay before I receive it, I have a £233.83 car payment each month.
Savings? I usually try to put between £500 and £800 each month in savings, although on occasion I will end up transferring some back depending on social activities for the month.
Utilities/phone: £100 council tax; £81 gas and electric; £13.45 boiler service cover; £40 water (I have recently had a meter fitted so this payment should go down to around £27); £13.37 TV licence; £40 TV and internet package.
All other monthly expenses: £32 mobile phone plan; £4.90 WordPress fee (for when I become a famous writer). Subscriptions: £9.99 Netflix, £7.99 Amazon Prime.

Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?

I was the first person in my family to attend university. I was classed as an independent student owing to my family background and income and as such I obtained the full student loans and maintenance grants available (which I am still paying off now). 
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?


I grew up with my grandparents, who were not originally from the UK and found it quite difficult when they arrived here. My sibling and I were placed with my grandparents when I was around 6 years old. When we went to live with my grandparents they were retired, however they both obtained cleaning jobs to help support the family finances in putting us through school. My grandparents worked low income jobs and my nan used to tell me to try my best at school so that I could earn a decent living. Unfortunately, my grandad passed away when I was 11 years old and my nan became a single parent raising two young children. My nan gave up work to look after us and money was tight and precious. I got a job as soon as I could work and enjoyed having the ability to buy nice things for myself, which meant I didn’t really save when I was younger. However I have an appreciation of money now.
If you have, when did you move out of your parents'/guardians' house?

I moved out originally in the first year of university into private student accommodation with my friend and two other girls where I was paying around £550 in rent. After a year, I wanted to move back home (nothing like home comforts) and I stayed at home for a while. In that time I went travelling with friends, obtained full-time employment and eventually moved out at 26 with my then boyfriend into a rented flat. 
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life?

I have always been quite independent and was aware of the need to contribute when living at home. I would give a nominal amount for 'keep' when living at home from the age of 21 after I graduated university (around £250 each month). I would say that I didn’t become fully financially responsible for myself until I moved out and got a flat at age 26. While it never happened, I knew that if I were ever in trouble with finances I could have approached my nan for help. I am responsible for myself entirely.
What was your first job and why did you get it?

My first job was working part-time in retail when I got my NI number. At the time, I knew that if I needed anything I would have to earn my own money. I loved this job and stayed there for a number of years, working part-time while studying at college and university. 
Do you worry about money now?

I am lucky that I was able to work from home last year and didn't suffer a loss of income. I always had my savings as a safety net, however now that I have bought a house I do slightly feel the pressure of having a mortgage that I am solely responsible for. As I bought during the pandemic, the bank wanted 15% deposit to secure the mortgage and this obliterated my savings completely. I continue to put money aside each month to build up my savings and to have the ability to undertake any home improvements in the future.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.


No, I have never received passive or inherited income. My nan passed away unexpectedly a few years ago without a will and as I was never legally adopted by her, the estate is subject to intestacy rules.

1 of 8
Day One

7.30am: I wake up and head downstairs to start the usual ritual of my morning coffee. I began drinking coffee around two years ago and am still at the latte stage of getting used to it. When I worked in an office, my colleagues would purchase an Americano or espresso to get them started for the day. I have not yet reached the upper echelons of coffee drinkers and tend to have my coffees weak and sweet.

7.45am: I text my brother to wish him happy birthday and set about making breakfast. It will be the usual egg on toast this morning. I then settle down with coffee and breakfast in front of the TV and head up to get showered and changed around 8.15am.
9am: Start work. I'm working from home and have a number of cases coming up for hearing in a few weeks' time. I knuckle down and power through my tasks.
12.30pm: I break to put a salmon fillet in the oven and head back upstairs.
1.15pm: I make a lunch of sweet chilli salmon and microwave rice and wolf it down in 10 minutes. I then sit and catch up on news articles for the day and head back up to my desk at 2pm to continue working.
5.30pm: Log off from work and head downstairs to wash the dishes and prepare dinner. Today’s special…chicken stir fry!

6.30pm: I plate up and eat dinner in front of the TV. My boyfriend, C, and I recently started watching Squid Game. I fell asleep in the last episode so I put it on from the start to catch up ahead of seeing C again. 
8pm: I call C to discuss the last episode of Squid Game. C compares it to the economy in light of the pandemic.

9.30pm: C and I finish our chat and I head up to bed to read.

11pm: Fall asleep.

2 of 8
Day Two

8am: Wake up and head downstairs for the morning ritual. Today’s breakfast is a banana and coconut yoghurt as I’m running a little late. I head up to get showered and dressed around 8.20am.
9am: Log on to my laptop for work; another busy day ahead. I catch up with a junior team member via Teams on her cases and how she is in general. I think it is important that we are all checking in on each other now that the world of work is quite different to the one we had 18 months ago. 
1pm: Take my lunch break and pay my council tax for the month (accounted for in expenses). Today’s lunch consists of pasta slathered with a tomato and mascarpone sauce and copious amounts of cheese grated on top.
2pm: I head back upstairs and crack on with the afternoon work.

5.15pm: I log off and pack an overnight bag of clothes as I am staying with C tonight. I leave the house and arrive at C’s around 6.30 as the traffic was pretty hectic.
7.30pm: Our takeaway arrives (C has treated us to Wagamama). We eat together at the dinner table and chat about our day. C’s birthday is tomorrow and we discuss his family coming down to celebrate. C is not originally from Manchester but came to study and subsequently bought a house here (before we got together).

9pm: We watch a couple of episodes of Squid Game and head up to bed.

11pm: Drift off to sleep.
Total: £0
3 of 8
Day Three

6am: I’m awake. C’s neighbour has a baby and he is not a happy bunny this morning. I wish C happy birthday and leave to go home to work. I prefer working from my own home where I have set up a room as a makeshift office. Today I need to pick up a cake that I have ordered for C’s birthday celebrations.

6.30am: I arrive home and immediately put the kettle on and put two slices of bread in the toaster. I watch an episode of Grand Designs while eating breakfast and log on to start work at 8am.

12pm: I leave the house on my lunch break to collect the cake. I pay £55 for the cake and drive to a restaurant in town to drop it off. C and I will be dining here later tonight and the cake is a surprise for him.

1.15pm: Arrive back home and log straight back on for work.

5.30pm: I finish work and call my friend who is currently on maternity leave. I'm eternally grateful to this friend as she set me and C up earlier this year and so far, so good (I was seriously considering joining a convent after a long time of not finding Mr Right!).

6.15pm: I start getting ready for the restaurant and head out to pick up C. I’ll be designated driver tonight. I love driving and must be the only person I know without an Uber account because of it.

7.40pm: Pay £6.55 for parking and arrive at the restaurant. The host wishes C happy birthday and C looks confused. On booking you could state in the note if it is an occasion so I said it was a birthday. The table we have is lovely.

8pm: We order steak, fries and salad (for a bit of green on the plate) and mac and cheese. The steak also comes with a peppercorn sauce. The whole meal is lovely and the setting is beautiful. C and I talk about potentially booking a holiday for next year (fingers crossed) and I daydream of sandy beaches and blue ocean waves.

8.45pm: The host clears our plates and the cake makes its grand entrance (much to C’s surprise). We eat a slice each and leave the restaurant in a food coma. My pockets are £122.63 lighter for the meal.

11pm: I arrive back at C’s house exhausted. Normally we would have gone on to grab a few drinks in town, however I think we have eaten too much and neither of us has the energy.

1am: We crash into bed, cuddle and fall asleep.

Total: £184.18
4 of 8
Day Four

5.35am: I wake up and check the time. C is fast asleep. I tend to wake up quite early, no matter the day. I woke up thinking about my family and my parents. I am due to meet my dad tomorrow for breakfast and a catch-up. I think of all the questions I used to get at school as to why I didn't live with my parents and how it used to become a little tiring (especially for an 8 year old). My upbringing as a child with my grandparents was quite traditional and strict, and I believe was shaped by the experiences of my grandparents in their native country. I never thought I missed out on anything and I have fond memories of my grandad teaching us to ride a bike and my nan being the proudest person at my graduation. I think about them for a little while and eventually get up around 7.15am.

8am: I leave C’s house to head home and grab a chai latte from Costa on the way. £4.30

8.30am: I arrive home and put a load of washing on. I give the house a tickle with the hoover and tidy up just in case any visitors pop in. My mum often drops in at the weekend to visit and she brings great energy every time. My mum and I have a great relationship now and she was an immense support system for me throughout last year. When things got a bit hairy with the pandemic and I had changes in my work environment and workload, she was really supportive. We haven’t always seen eye-to-eye so I’m glad for these moments with her.

11am: I finish tidying and take a quick snooze on the sofa.

12.30pm: I get up and throw myself in the shower. I’m supposed to be meeting C and his family in town in an hour. I hurry and leave the house for the train. A return ticket is £5.60.

1.30pm: C meets me at the train station and we head to a coffee shop. C gets us both a drink. My mum video calls to wish C happy birthday and we relax until his parents and siblings arrive.

2.30pm: We meet C’s family and head to the tapas restaurant his parents booked. We listen to stories of how C’s parents met and a few titbits on C’s embarrassing moments as a child (much to his delight). The meal is paid for by C’s parents and we go to a bar for drinks.

5pm: It starts raining (and we are sitting outside) so we grab taxis to C’s house. I’m not sure whose Uber account this is on (possibly C’s sibling). We arrive at C’s around 6pm.

6pm: The cake gets divided and we continue eating and drinking while listening to music until C’s family leave to grab their train around 8pm.

9.30pm: C’s friends arrive and I realise I’ve left the heating on at mine. I get flashes of Final Destination and despite C’s reassurances, get a taxi to mine to check the house is still intact and also pick up my car.

10.15pm: I arrive back at C’s and C is looking like he is already two sheets to the wind (his friends don’t look too far behind him). The evening continues with drinks and more cake until I can’t keep my eyes open anymore. I head up to bed at 1.30am and leave C and friends to continue the party downstairs.

2.30am: C climbs into bed and I realise I can still hear chatter and music downstairs. I laugh that C has just upped sticks and left his friends downstairs at his own birthday. I then watch drunk C hilariously herd his equally drunk friends out of the house and into taxis.

3.30am: We both climb back into bed and immediately fall asleep.

Total: £9.90
5 of 8
Day Five

8.30am: I wake with a jolt as I'm supposed to be meeting my dad for breakfast. I quickly text and let him know I’m running a little late and will be with him in an hour. I check on C who is out for the count and jump in the shower. I get dressed and leave C’s around 9am.
9.20am: I arrive at my dad's and we drive to a local spot for breakfast. We didn’t anticipate a running event being in full swing and a number of road closures are in place. We park up as near as possible to the cafe and walk down. 
9.50am: We get seated and order breakfast. Full English with a cappuccino for Dad and a veggie breakfast for me with a caramel latte. I’m not vegetarian but it sounds quite nice so thought I’d try it. Dad and I catch up, with Dad enquiring about my work. I tell him I’m kind of used to the working from home thing now and that I'm quite enjoying my routine. I’m happy about our dad and daughter day as he hasn’t been in the best of health recently. We finish up and I pay the bill, which comes to £26.95.
11.30am: I drop Dad home and head back to C’s house. I climb back into bed on arrival and drift back off to sleep.
1pm: C and I both wake up. We look at each other and start laughing, reminiscing about last night with his friends (and his herding skills). We decide that today is going to be a duvet day and put on Squid Game.
3pm: C is starving and orders us a roast dinner from Deliveroo (neither of us is up for cooking today). We continue to binge watch Squid Game. All I can say is…episode 6 (if you know, then you know). I cried so hard throughout the majority of this episode, who knew a game of marbles could be so emotional! 
4pm: Food arrives and C and I wolf it down in the kitchen. We discuss whether we should be productive members of society today but decide against it. So we continue to lie in bed watching Squid Game. We arrive at the plot twist and I demand an immediate refund of my tears.
7pm: we finally get out of bed and get showered and dressed. We head over to my house and soon fall back into bed. That’s us done for the day.

Total: £26.95
6 of 8
Day Six

6.30am: I’m up and head downstairs to put the kettle on and jump in the shower. While drying off from the shower I check my emails before getting dressed. I then make a coffee, eat my toast with jam and pack a work bag. I’m working from the office today and have a packed day in preparation for a few hearings.
7.45am: I arrive at the office and pay for parking, which costs £5.40. It’s eerily quiet and dark. The majority of staff are working from home and there are only ever a few of us around at this time. I get logged on and start on my to-do list for the week. I have an urgent piece on at the moment so I get started. My colleagues begin to filter in from 8.30am but there are still only five of us in the office today. The morning is pretty much focused on my urgent piece, with my concentration punctuated by a few intermittent calls from clients on separate matters.
12pm: I break for lunch and head out to grab food. Today I opt for soup as it is quite cold and hopefully this will warm me up. I also grab a flavoured water and a Daim bar as a treat. £4.20
12.45pm: I eat lunch at my desk and catch up with my colleagues before continuing on with my workload.
5pm: I log off and start the walk back to the car park from the office. On the way home I stop at the petrol station to fill up some fuel. £20

6.15pm: I arrive home to an empty house and decide what to make for dinner. I realise that there isn't much food in the fridge so I head to the supermarket for a few ingredients. £8.17
6.45pm: I get home and start to cook curried chicken with rice and tenderstem broccoli. I put on YouTube for background noise in the living room and video call my friend from the kitchen. We chat for around 30 minutes while I cook and discuss her upcoming plans for her child’s birthday.
7.45pm: I plate up and settle down with dinner in front of the TV. I put on an episode of The Good Wife while eating. I have watched them all already but I love the series and think the co-creators are geniuses. 
9.30pm: I wash the dishes and head up to bed to read, video calling C from bed.

10.30pm: We chat and I drift off to sleep.

Total: £37.77
7 of 8
Day Seven

6am: I’m awake and decide that I am going to attempt a light jog seeing as the festive season is around the corner and I don’t want to look like a Christmas pudding. I put on my running leggings, top and jacket (which all feel like they may have shrunk in the wash) and head out with all my great efforts. 
7am: I arrive home hot, out of breath and a little annoyed with myself that I stopped more times than I would have liked on my route. I’ve put on a few extra pounds since working from home, where I have taken too many trips to the fridge to get through the working day. I may have snacked and slacked on the healthy eating front but I tell myself that I’ll ping back in no time and jump in the shower.
7.45am: I'm showered and dressed for the day so I put the kettle on and catch up with the day’s news before logging on to start work at 8.30am.
12.30pm: I head out to meet my friend for a lunchtime walk. My friend is also working from home and these lunchtime meet-ups are definitely needed to keep us both sane. We catch up on life and my friend tells me about her holiday plans. It reminds me to catch up with C on whether we should try and book something for next year. We grab a sandwich for lunch and eat on our walk. £3
1.30pm: Back home and at my desk. Continue powering through the afternoon with a series of remote meetings and back-to-back calls.
5.30pm: I break away to grab some food downstairs. Quick meal for tonight as I want to power through with the piece I’m working on. I make tuna pasta with sweetcorn and then head back up to continue working after eating.
8.30pm: I log off and call C to catch up on our day. We talk for around an hour and I drift off to sleep.

Total: £3
8 of 8
The Breakdown
Food & Drink: £224.25
Entertainment: £0
Clothes & Beauty: £0
Home & Health: £0
Travel: £37.55
Other: £0

Total: £261.80

"I would say that this wasn’t a normal week as there was a birthday celebration, which doesn’t happen all the time. My weekly spend is usually lower than this. In terms of normal grocery food spending, this was a little lower than normal this week but I have dined out a few times which means I haven’t cooked at home that much.
I'm making a plan to start the money wallet way of budgeting and see how that works out rather than using my debit card for all transactions. Wish me luck!"
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