Money Diary: A 25-Year-Old Working In Publishing In Oxford On 24.5k

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 an assistant editor working full-time in book publishing. She lives in Oxford and in spite of having good intentions to save, tends to splurge on holidays and socialising. She lives with three other young professionals in a house-share close to the city centre.
Industry: Publishing
Age: 25
Location: Oxford
Salary: £24,500
Paycheque amount: £1,616 after tax
Number of housemates: 3
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Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: £550 for rent on a lovely but smallish, front-facing, ground floor room in a house-share.
Loan payments: £0. I was fortunate enough that my parents were a massive help when I was at university and very generously covered my tuition fees. I worked at a supermarket throughout to help cover my living costs, leaving me debt-free for graduation.
Bills: We each pay £100 into a house account per month to cover water, electricity, council tax, television licence, and bits and pieces (bulk loo roll orders!) for the house.
Transportation: I’ve recently started walking to and from work, which in theory should save me about £500 per year on a bus pass. In practice, I’ve been less than perfect sticking to this on cold dark mornings, and also recently acquired a boyfriend who lives a fairly substantial journey from mine, which is starting to add up. £30 bus fares.
Phone bill: £24
Savings: On a frugal month I aim to put £200-£300 away, which I will then tend to splurge on big trips – I’ve backpacked around Australia and Japan in the last couple of years, which thoroughly depleted the small amounts I’d managed to save.
Other: £5.99 Netflix subscription, £9.99 Spotify subscription, £23 gym membership.
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Day One

10am: It’s Sunday, which means a lie-in! Last night was a few too many gin and tonics at our local with my housemates, so I figure I deserve an indulgent brunch and some trashy television to help me through my hangover. A quick scope out of my cupboard leftovers from the week suggests eggs on toast is all I can stretch to in my sleepy can’t-be-bothered-to-go-to-the-shop state, so I whip up an Eggs Benedict and crawl back into bed with a coffee and Married At First Sight on catch-up.

12.40pm: Convince myself that shopping is a productive activity that can be done from bed. Log in to my Amazon Save For Later basket and pay for the selection of books I’ve wistfully accumulated over the past month. £19.95

3.30pm: Manage to haul myself away from my pyjamas and the lure of BBC iPlayer and take a walk to my nearby Tesco Metro. Stock up on fresh soup and pots of yoghurt to cover breakfast and lunch for the week, plus ingredients for dinner tonight. £12.50

6pm: Make halloumi wraps and huddle in the living room with my housemates in our matching mermaid blankets (our house is perpetually cold and these are basically a necessity that should have come with our moving-in pack). We drink endless cups of tea and binge on reality TV until bed. A day well spent.

Total: £32.45
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Day Two

6.30am: Alarm goes off optimistically early. Spend the next half an hour scrolling through Instagram and making no attempt to move.

7am: Haul myself out of bed and select a motivational Spotify playlist for a pick-me-up while doing my hair and makeup. I neglected my usual Sunday night ritual of prepping for Monday morning, so quickly fill a Tupperware with soup, add frozen mango to my water bottle filter (I’m trying to motivate myself to stay hydrated – it’s sort of working!), stuff my gym kit into my backpack, and I’m ready to go. Just time for a yoghurt for breakfast before I’m out the door.

8.10am: Arrive at work after a leisurely commute listening to my latest podcast addiction, The Guilty Feminist. Resist the temptation to get a flat white from the canteen and settle for an instant coffee as I spend the morning trawling through my inbox, hoping someone’s sent me a good book proposal or interesting manuscript over the weekend.

12pm: Book proposals or interesting manuscripts remarkably thin on the ground, I head to a Zumba class at my work gym. I try to get to the gym as much as possible during the week, and as my membership is paid for at the start of the month it feels almost like a free activity to spend an hour leaping around, shaking my booty, and getting shouted at by an overenthusiastic instructor.

1.05pm: Heat up soup in office microwave and have a quick browse of the news while I eat at my desk.

4.45pm: Leave work. It’s date night with the new boyfriend and I’m hosting, so I head to Tesco on the way home. We met on Tinder (a true modern romance!) about four or five months ago and are probably still in the trying-to-impress-each-other phase so I splurge on semi-nice ingredients and wine for dinner tonight, plus a few cupboard essentials. £22.80

8pm: I cook chilli and crack open a bottle of red. Just as me and the new boyfriend are curling up on the sofa to decide what to watch on Netflix, I get a message from a friend who has just booked an Airbnb for our summer trip to Croatia. I hate owing people so transfer the money immediately. £330

Total: £352.80
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Day Three

6am: Alarm goes off. With all the best intentions I’d booked onto an early morning yoga class. Look over at the very attractive and very sleepy-looking man in my bed. Switch off alarm.

8.30am: Finally make it out of bed. Make breakfast (toast and orange juice for him, porridge with mango and a coffee for me) and set off for work.

1pm: HIIT class at the gym. I did bring in my usual Tupperware with soup for lunch but after sweating my way through seemingly endless sets of burpees and press-ups for half an hour, I feel like I deserve something a bit more substantial. Head to the work canteen and reward myself with an enormous jacket potato with cheese and beans. £2.50

6.10pm: Arrive home from work. My new books have arrived! Heat up some leftover chilli from last night, change into my pyjamas and head to my room to curl up with a good read and a peppermint tea.

Total: £2.50
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Day Four

6am: Wake up for a pre-work HIIT class. Spend the next 45 minutes snoozing my alarm before panicking and realising I have no time to eat or walk to work. Get into my gym gear and dash to the bus stop. £2.10

8am: I’ve lost a lot of weight over the last year and my gym leggings keep on awkwardly falling down with every overenthusiastic star jump. Resolve to buy new gym kit to save both my own dignity and the eyes of the poor person standing behind me who has been forced to stare at my grotty Disney princess pants for the best part of 45 minutes.

8.30am: After a shower I head to the work canteen for breakfast. Manage to resist the bacon butties and piles of pastries and settle for a pot of porridge and a filter coffee. Feel very smug. £2.30

10am: Someone in the office has made peanut butter brownies. Eat two. Feel much less smug, but very satisfied.

12.30pm: Pop to Primark in my lunch break to stock up on more appropriately sized leggings, but end up going a bit mad in the £3 tops section. Cost of leggings: £8. Cost of total Primark shop? £23

1.40pm: Retrieve yesterday’s soup from the work kitchen fridge and eat at my desk.

8pm: Head to my work wife’s house for dinner and a much-needed rant about our jobs and boys (our two favourite topics). We convince ourselves that we deserve a takeaway and order Indian from Deliveroo. £11

Total: £38.40
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Day Five

7am: No gym class this morning so I take my time getting ready. Enjoy a coffee and a yoghurt and do my usual routine of boxing up soup for lunch and fruit for my water bottle.

8.45am: Arrive at work, make myself another coffee, and I’m ready to go. There are department drinks tonight and there’s already a buzz around the office – it’ll be my first work social with this team and I’ve heard that as a general rule at least one person will disgrace themselves. Hope ardently that it won’t be me.

2pm: Spin class. I grab the bike next to one of my office mates and in between tracks we speculate over who will generate the best gossip later.

3.10pm: Work sends round an email about a staff discount for events at the Oxford Literary Festival. I immediately message all of my bookish friends to see if anyone’s in and reserve tickets for talks with Ian McEwan and Sophie Kinsella with some workmates, and Richard Dawkins with the new boyfriend (obviously signalling what an intellectual and culturally aware total CATCH I am. Very important). £34

5pm: Work drinks kick off with bottles of wine purchased by the higher powers (aka the publishers). I make the most of this generous offer by hastily consuming three glasses before they run out. Maybe I will be the water-cooler gossip after all...

7.30pm: Subsidise the free booze with a large glass of wine of my own purchasing. £4.50

8.20pm: And another. £4.50

9.35pm: And another. £4.50

10.15pm: Agree with my now very friendly and affectionate colleagues that a McDonald's is really the only way to round off the night. £4.30

10.35pm: Catch the bus home and immediately crawl into bed. Exhausted and VERY tipsy. £2.10

Total: £53.90
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Day Six

10am: Stagger into work. I’ve picked up a bacon sandwich en route complemented by a flat white from the office canteen. Hungover me has poor impulse control. £5.20

1.30pm: Didn’t manage to pack lunch this morning so pop out to the local Co-op and grab a sandwich and crisps. I’m meeting my housemates straight after work to go and see Lady Bird at the new cinema in Oxford city centre so I also grab a pasta ready meal to heat up in the work microwave and scoff before I set off. £6.20

6.45pm: Meet my housemates and buy cinema tickets. Hope I don’t nod off as soon as the lights go down. £12

9pm: One of my housemates halfheartedly suggests cocktails as we leave the cinema but I balk at the idea of more alcohol and head home for an early night.

Total: £23.40
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Day Seven

10am: It’s the weekend, and I have plans to go to London for dinner and drinks with my university friends. As they’re mostly based in the capital I make the trip down once every three to four weeks or so. I check my bank account and decide it might be more dinner and less drinks for me – I’ve never quite gotten over how expensive a night out in the South can be.

11.30am: Get cracking on chores. Do washing, clean and tidy my room, and wash and blow-dry hair. Feel very adult-like until I realise that I’ve stuck one of my new bright red Primark tops in with a pale wash. Oops.

1pm: Realise I’m starving so make eggs on toast and a large coffee before squeezing in a quick home yoga session. Try to practise some handstands (my New Year’s resolution is to be able to do one not against the wall) until one of my housemates bangs on my door to ask what all the noise is. Pretend I’m moving furniture rather than admit that it’s me falling over. Repeatedly.

3pm: Set off for London. Get the coach to save money. £11

4.55pm: Arrive in London and catch the Tube to our agreed meeting spot. £2.40

5.25pm: One pre-dinner drink turns into two. We have time to kill before our reservation. Seems rude not to. £13.20

7pm: We eat at a great Korean barbecue place. We share starters and a few mains, and drink sake to give us the excuse to reminisce about our recent Japan trip.

10.05pm: When the bill comes it’s a bit steeper than I’d hoped. I’d planned to go out for drinks after and stay at a friend’s but I can’t justify it so I make my excuses and take off. £32

10.15pm: Tube back to the coach stop. £2.40

11.50pm: Nice traffic-free journey back to Oxford. I snooze off the sake and arrive back home ready for bed.

Total: £61
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The Breakdown

Food/Drink: £125.50
Entertainment: £65.95
Clothes/Beauty: £23
Travel: £350
Other: £0

Total: £564.45
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