Money Diary: PR Director In London On 42k

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 31-year-old woman who works in PR for a high-end beauty brand shares her weekly spend. She is single, lives with one flatmate, never does a weekly shop and spends too much money in the pub [her words]. She tries to save but often transfers her funds back into her current account at the end of the month. She has accepted that she will probably never own a flat in London and is part of the generation that has given up on that dream, spending their money on brunch and holidays instead.

Age: 31
Salary: £42,500
Paycheck after tax, student loan and pension payment: £2,469
Housemates: 1 Monthly Expenses
Rent: £600
Household bills: £85
Cleaner: £50
Phone: £40
Contact lenses: £30
Gym: £110
Travel: Estimated £100, as I pay as I go on my debit card
Savings: £100 Total: £1,015

Day One

8am: After a weekend of being fattened up at my parents' house in the suburbs, I decided that I couldn’t possibly go back to London on a depressing Sunday night so find myself commuting back in on Monday morning. Get on the train with the intention of catching up on emails and preparing myself for the week, instead stalk an ex-boyfriend on Instagram for half an hour, and fall asleep for the final 10 minutes. Wake up feeling gross. Train ticket: £14.50 9am: Get a coffee from the independent shop near work, have a chat with the guy who owns it and think about how nice it would be to have a coffee shop. £2.40 9.30am: Eat some smoked salmon and half an avocado stolen from home. 1.30pm: Lunch. Grilled chicken salad from a posh kebab place. £6.90 4pm: Walk to the supermarket with my colleague just for the air and a chat, buy a packet of dates for another colleague. £2.14 8pm: Finish work quite late, it’s been a long day. Call my flatmate, who offers to make dinner but she’s still in a meeting. We decide whoever gets to Sainsbury’s first can make it. I’m there first, I buy tuna, spinach, capers, olives and eggs for a semi-salade niçoise. We eat while watching old episodes of Pulling. £9.15 Daily total: £35.09

Day Two

9am: Buy a posh tiny coffee, it takes about 30 seconds to drink and I realise I much prefer quantity to quality. £3 9.30am: Eat the same stolen salmon and avocado breakfast. 1pm: It’s the week before payday, so am trying to be sensible and buy a soup from Waitrose to heat up in the office kitchen, and a pack of celery. £3.30 3pm: Have a meeting with my boss, we have a coffee and share a cake. He expenses it. 7pm: Gym class, am really tired but hop around half-heartedly for an hour and feel better for it. 8.30pm: Buy ingredients for dinner: mushrooms, spinach and green beans. I already have eggs at home, so make a kind of veggie scramble that I feel like I’ve seen on a Deliciously Ella-type blog, put lots of butter on green beans and feel reasonably virtuous. Spend the rest of the evening writing some freelance copy. £3.50 Daily total: £9.80

Day Three

9.30am: A kindly colleague buys my coffee and puts it on my desk because I'm running late. I love her. 11am: After a particularly dreadful meeting with a client, I smoke a cigarette that I’ve pinched from an intern. Feel a bit ashamed, not to mention lightheaded. 2.40pm: Due to stressful meeting, I’m quite late to eat lunch, I want to eat healthily but eat my feelings instead. Prosciutto baguette from Pret: £3.85 and 550 cals. Whoops. 5pm: Feel like having a little cry, so badger my colleague to come for a walk with me. Buy her some grapes to say thanks and some mango for me. Oh and a coffee, terrible idea. £6.90 7.30pm: Despite earlier protestations about not drinking until Thursday, I succumb and have half a bottle and quite a lot of fried food with some friends at a restaurant in Soho. £25 Daily total: £35.75

Day Four

8.30am: Breakfast meeting with a colleague and an editor, I feel slightly hungover and eat a lot of scrambled egg plus toast and marmalade. Go to put the bill on my work credit card but realise I am over the limit due to some recent trips. Put it on my own card, must remember to expense. £55 1pm: Salad and soup from a Vietnamese café for lunch. £7.80 4pm: Mid-afternoon pick-me-up, a hot chocolate and a quick stroll. £3 8pm: Go for dinner at a friend’s, she makes pasta with a sauce that’s half tomato and half butter. I feel bad, as I’ve brought wine that was given to me by an intern who recently left. Same for the box of chocolates. I tell her, she doesn’t mind. Daily total: £10.80

Day Five

9am: Another breakfast meeting with an editor, my colleague pays on her work credit card. 1pm: Lunch with an old colleague, she’s currently not working so I pay for both of us. £16 7pm: Drinks with my housemate and a couple of friends, we have a margarita each and decide to eat dinner and have some wine. I feel bad as, after half a bottle of wine, I’m ready to go to bed but my friend is keen for a big night. I stand firm, which is rare, and receive 3am texts with pics of her and some newfound friends. £50 Daily total: £66

Day Six

10.45am: Go to the gym, feel slightly smug that I didn’t go out last night as have booked in for two consecutive classes. Halfway through the second class and I’m struggling. Slightly ambitious. £1.50 for water. 1pm: Go straight from the gym for a coffee with a friend. I pick up the bill. £4.80 2pm: Buy salmon, eggs and rye bread from the organic shop to try and maintain healthy feeling. £8.85 8pm: Split an Uber with my housemate to my friend’s house, he’s having some drinks at his flat before his birthday celebration. I pick up a bottle of prosecco and some crisps on the way. £18.67 10pm: Go to a bar, sing karaoke and buy another bottle of prosecco, and some other rounds throughout the night but at some point forget to note them down. Estimate about £40. 4am: Uber home with housemate, who kindly agreed to stay out with me. £7.45 Daily total: £81.27

Day Seven

1pm: Get up with a slightly sore head to meet my friend for lunch, he’s going through a bit of a terrible time at the moment. I hug him lots and buy him eggs and a Bloody Mary. £40 3pm: Stop at the supermarket to pick up shampoo, toothpaste and bin bags on my way back to the flat. Text my housemate to see if she needs anything from the outside world, she’s still in bed and requests a ready meal. I buy a chicken curry, a mushroom risotto and an emergency Ribena for her. £25 6pm: Eat the ready meal that my housemate didn’t want, watch endless Netflix and ponder upon Monday. Daily total: £65

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