A Week In London For A Mum Of Two On A £64k Salary

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. Today, a 29-year-old woman who works in publishing at a highly regarded London newspaper. She has two children, aged two and six, and works full-time. She does a weekly shop on Sundays. She tries to spend as little as possible so that she and the family can move to a nicer area.
Industry: Publishing
Age: 29
Location: Work in London/ live in North Kent
Salary: £40,000 basic plus £24,000 OTE
Paycheck Amount: Varies, depending on performance (between £2.5k- £3.5k after tax/ month)
No. of roommates: 3 Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: £895
Home insurance: £20
Contents insurance: £16
Loans: £100 (my car) £16 (sofa) £100 (credit card)
Utilities: £60 (gas) + £40 (electricity) + £40 (water) + £30 (internet)
Council Tax: £130
Fuel: £40
Season ticket: £328.40
Phone: £15 * 2 = £30
Savings: depends on take-home pay
Groceries: around £300
Childcare: £0 (my boyfriend has taken a break from work as a builder to take our daughter to and from school and look after our son during the weekdays.)


Day One

7am: I’ve overslept. I don’t have time for a drink so I scurry up the hill to the station and buy coffee for £2.40. The coffee is bitter and the train stops every few minutes meaning I’m now late, obsessed with the painfully slow train speed and overwhelmed by the urge to wee. I can think of nothing else. I distract myself by looking for work shoes online (I don’t need any more shoes.) I tell myself I’m demure and turn to the Hobbs sale for some sensible heels at a steal for £39. 9:20 I finally reach London and frantically hunt out a toilet. I must pay for the privilege: 30p. 12pm: I usually skip breakfast and have lunch early. I have brought soup from home but it’s not enough. I top it up with a salad from our (subsidised) canteen for £2.50. Loads of people have just returned from holiday so I graze on their sweets and wafers for the rest of the day: free. 2pm: I remember to pay my boss back for lunch and wine on Friday: £15. 4pm: It’s raining so, although it’s the summer holidays, no money gets spent on the kids today. 6:30pm: Dinner is left over roast dinner from Sunday: no additional cost.

Total amount spent:

Day 2

7:30am: I run to the station to make the earlier train that gets me to work on time. 9am: On arrival, I drink the complimentary tea and snack on oranges I’ve brought from home. Throughout the morning I snaffle all the varieties of Percy Pig available in our department. 12pm: At lunchtime I eat the leftover chicken and noodles I’ve brought from home but add some salad from the canteen: £1.37. 6:30pm: For dinner, we eat roasted peppers stuffed with leftover chilli from the weekend and topped with cheese. 8pm: After putting the kids to bed, I go to the local shop and buy wine for £6.50. We watch episodes of The Office because they never stop being funny. Total amount spent: £7.87

Day 3

6:30am I leave early in anticipation of a big morning meeting at work. I buy coffee at the station: £2.40. 8:30am I meet my boss to prepare for the meeting and buy tea in the staff canteen: 50p. 9am: Meanwhile, at home, the car has been booked in for its MOT: £50. Our nephew has also come to stay for a few days, meaning the kids are happy playing at home and in the garden: no cost. 12pm: More leftovers (boring salad) from home for lunch: no cost. 1pm: At home, our daughter is rewarded for her good school report with a gift (a dinosaur mask): £3. 4:30pm I leave work early feeling very fatigued and head to the station where I buy a bottle of Florida Orange and some crisps: £2.29 for the journey home. 6:00pm Once home, I sit outside and play with the kids for a while until I feel better. I take my son to the shop and he persuades me to buy 3 lollies: 60p. Total amount spent: £58.79

Day 4

9am: The car failed its MOT but with only fairly minor repairs needed and gets booked in for the work: £228. 12pm: I eat yet more leftovers (this time it's chicken chow mein) for lunch: no cost. 6:30: We have hot dogs, chips and corn on the cob for dinner because it’s quick and easy: no cost. Total amount spent: £228

Day 5

7:00am: I have a banana at home because I have a little more time on Fridays when the dress code is more relaxed and I make even less effort than usual (I make minimal effort at the best of times.) 10:30am Work is unbearably quiet so I wander to the canteen mid-morning and buy a coffee: £1.50 12pm: It’s a sunny day so I go to M&S and buy a tuna and sweetcorn sandwich and crisps to eat outside: £3.15. 2:30pm: There are no sweets in the office which seems ludicrous in August and I consider buying something sweet. I go to the canteen and buy one of those old school cinema pots of ice cream for £2. 6:30pm: We eat pasta with vegetables and cheese: no cost. Total amount spent: £6.65

Day 6

9:00am: I get up late and we all have scrambled eggs on toast. 9:30am: Our nephew returns home and we make a start on the washing, starting with all the bedding. 10am: I am due to go for a run and realise I need to wax my armpits: a task I undertake myself since I’ve had children because I can’t justify the cost of someone else doing it. I already have the strips at home so this is no extra cost today. 11:30: We don’t go for a run so I clean the house instead. I don’t need to buy anything extra to do this. 2pm: It’s sunny so we’re all in the garden for a few hours. 7pm: I bathe the children and, while combing our daughter’s hair in front of the TV, realise she has head lice. Well, she has the eggs, at least. Brilliant. We make it to a late night pharmacy, buy the treatment and have to shampoo her hair all over again. £7.99. She’s very sad that the little creatures must die. I explain this as one of life’s great necessary evils while she looks on, baffled. Total amount spent: £7.99

Day 7

10am: Our daughter has to attend a friend’s birthday party today which is at 11am and we haven’t yet bought a present so we rush to Asda (the only place open) to buy a very generic looking doll and card, wrap and write in the car en route: £21.30. 2:30pm After collecting our daughter from the party we contemplate surviving a few more days on the scraps of food remaining from last week’s shop, realise this is impossible and head to the supermarket to replenish the stocks: £68. 5pm: I make a tray-baked salmon dish with new potatoes, green beans and lemon. I feel very pleased with myself. 6.00pm I save some of the tray bake for tomorrow’s smug lunch. Total amount spent: £89.30

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