Money Diary: A 33-Year-Old Blogger With Crohn's Disease

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 woman who, after leaving the teaching industry, has found a living as a blogger.
"I worked as a teacher for seven years but after a health setback (I have an autoimmune disease), I found it hard to keep up with the pace and the stress was unbearable. I started my blog to chronicle life with my condition but it eventually grew to the point where I started to earn a bit of money from it.
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Just over a year ago, I decided enough was enough and I left the profession, moved to the countryside and decided to try blogging for a job. Everyone thought I was crazy but I worked hard and was very persistent (nothing motivates you like dreading returning to the classroom!) and now run three different websites. I make my living by working with brands on adverts (no teeth whitening ads, I promise!), writing for other sites and also helping brands find bloggers to work with. After years of health struggles, I am currently (much to my happy disbelief) pregnant with my first child. I know I won’t have much maternity pay but I don’t care; blogging helped me escape a stressful career and earn a living – and I’m so grateful for that every day."
Industry: Blogging
Age: 33
Location: Warwickshire
Salary: It varies a lot but based on my last tax return, I earned £24,000 (that’s before all my expenses and tax were deducted).
Paycheque amount: Around £2,000 a month or £1,500 if it’s been a quieter month (again without tax and NI, which I pay on my tax return).
Number of housemates: One (my husband) and our two dogs.
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: My rent is £900 which I split 50/50 with husband.
Loan payments: Very grateful not to have any debt other than student loan (I didn’t pay any last year as was under the threshold).
Utilities: I transfer £800 to our joint account each month and that covers my half of the rent, council tax, utility bills. We usually do a big food shop every week or two and do a petrol top-up with that too.
Transportation: I pay £150 a month for my lease car. My petrol comes out of our joint account (but I don’t drive a huge amount now I work from home, so it’s never much). I paid my car insurance upfront out of some savings last year.
Phone bill: About £45 a month.
Savings? I save about £200 a month for tax and other bits. If it’s been a well paid month, I try to keep a buffer in my account for slower periods.
Other: £7.99 for my Readly magazine subscription (I’m a massive magazine lover so it saves me a fortune), £15.99 a month website hosting fees, £7.99 Netflix, £7.99 Amazon Prime. Donation to local hospital £10. I also pay out a few other boring things for my blog such as social media scheduling services, Pinterest tools and image editing services, which come to about £50 a month.
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Day One

8am: Early start today as I have a blood test this morning with the midwife. Mum pops in on way to work (since we moved, she only lives two minutes away which I love as we’re really close) to show me a maternity coat she’s bought me for Christmas. I say I didn’t need it but am immediately cocooned! Why aren’t regular clothes this comfy? One of my jobs outside of blogging is to manage another company’s Instagram account so I spend a peaceful 30 minutes scrolling for image inspiration with a cup of peppermint tea before walking to the doctors (I live on a village high street, so almost everything is in walking distance).

1pm: Lunch break. I’ve managed to get an article finished, sort the Instagram posts and send off some invoices. Now I'm faffing around attempting to take photos for a Christmas gift guide. One of my weaknesses as a blogger is photography. I started way back when it was all about the words but now everything is about the filter! Grudgingly press 'publish', heat up last night’s gluten-free pizza (I’m GF for actual bowel reasons, not Gwyneth Paltrow reasons I promise) and watch a bit of A Christmas Prince on Netflix with the dogs.

4pm: Today has gone really quickly and I've managed to get lots ticked off my to-do list. Log in to online banking to see if I’ve been paid for a piece (yay!) and received an affiliate payment (bloggers get this if someone buys something on their recommendation) but yesterday’s Costa trip (£3.80) and National Trust membership (£9.50) have come out. I'm a bit annoyed as I cancelled the membership a few weeks ago (I joined in the summer with romantic notions of husband and I strolling in the countryside but soon realised it was bloody cold all the time) so will need to follow that up.

6pm: For once, I make an effort cooking dinner (a fish and veg stew). I must admit one of the perks of blogging about food is, well, free food. I’m currently working on a piece about vegetable boxes so the free veg has come in incredibly handy and I’m trying to make sure I use it all up.

9pm: Instead of winding down, I decide to post on Instagram and Facebook to promote the new blogpost. End up spending way too long on my phone, replying to comments and generally trying to boost traffic (you can so easily start measuring your worth by your number of followers, it’s scary and quite sad). Check email and see an invoice has been paid and I need to pay a blogger involved in that project so sort that (£60). Having one of those days where I can’t switch off, which I suspect I will pay for tomorrow.

Total: £73.30
2 of 8
Day Two

10am: As suspected, an awful night’s sleep means I’ve still not got going. I can’t get into work so do some Christmas shopping. Order some restaurant vouchers for parents (£50) and a teething necklace for my sister-in-law who has just had her second baby (£12.45).

12.30pm: Anxiety has hit as my 20-week scan is in a few days' time and I'm convinced something is wrong. Keep checking bump – is it smaller somehow? Take the dogs out for a long walk which is lovely (they get lots of admirers in their winter jumpers) but still can’t shake the feeling.

1pm: I end up at Costa for lunch and buy a parsnip soup, soft drink and a gluten-free cake which is half the size for twice the price (£6.79). Spend a few hours on my laptop answering emails and messing with my blog layout. On the way back, I walk to Co-op and get a few bits for dinner: passata, pepperoni and dairy-free cheese to make pizzas (we already have bases) (£5.89).

4pm: I’m back on the sofa. Frustratingly, I feel awful and suspect a flare-up coming on. It’s likely a combo of lack of sleep plus anxiety, but one of the reasons I went freelance was to not feel guilty on non-productive days so resign myself to the sofa for a few hours with the dogs. Try to telepathically ask the baby to give me a nudge to stop my anxiety. Surprisingly, this does not work.

4.10pm: He starts moving. Oh my goodness, my baby is a genius.

7pm: Husband arrives home with a giant bag of crisps and we make pizzas together. Happily, I feel much calmer and, since I managed to do a fair bit of work on the sofa before his arrival, I settle down for an early night.

Total: £75.13
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3 of 8
Day Three

9am: I got about 10 hours' sleep last night and feel so much better for it: my anxiety has calmed and the flare-up seems to have ceased. This is why being my own boss makes such a difference to my health. With my old job, I’d have powered through and made it ten times worse. Make some porridge with fruit for breakfast.

11am: After a morning of emails, I nip over to my mum's. She’s looking after my niece today and, as my husband is working late, I decide I’ll have an hour with them and work later into the evening to make up for it. Have a cuddle with my niece but she’s glued to something called Bing which is easily the worst TV show I’ve ever seen. Not quite the pick-me-up I was after!

Noon: Make a bowl of gluten-free pasta and spend 10 minutes googling "vote of no confidence". I am still clueless.

7pm: I’ve ended up working solidly from my home office today and am now back on track after yesterday’s wobble. I’ve written up a recipe and sent it over to the brand I’m working with for approval. I’ve also written some content around being pregnant with my condition, which I hope will be of use to my readers. Feeling productive. Quick and easy dinner of gluten-free chicken goujons from Tesco and sweet potato fries.

9pm: Lovely evening on the sofa watching The Apprentice. Feeling much more positive.

Total: £0
4 of 8
Day Four

9am: It’s husband’s day off today (he is working over the weekend) and technically it should be mine too, as I worked last Sunday to give myself a bit of free time today. We end up lounging on the sofa for a few hours and have gluten-free crumpets for breakfast. Sister-in-law texts with a link to some jogging bottoms that my brother wants for Christmas so order those (£28.50).

11am: Take the dogs on a long walk in the countryside. It’s freezing but lovely. Husband picks us up two hot chocolates on the way back (his treat) and once home, I take an Instagram photo of it (needs must), get it ready to post this evening and then have an hour finishing up a quick blogpost while husband plays on the Playstation.

Noon: Quick jacket potato for lunch while on the phone to my medical team. I’ve been trying to sort a prescription for the last two weeks, there’s still no sign of it and I’m about to run out. Annoyingly, it’s around 40 minutes each way to the hospital to pick up the medicine once the prescription arrives and we’re going out later, so no idea what to do.

4pm: Hurrah! Prescription has arrived in the post. But I’ve managed to find two more days worth of tablets while clearing out so means I don’t have to face the dreaded journey today. Jump on train (husband has train pass for work, I pay £6.20 for return) into Birmingham to meet some friends.

5pm: Nip to Selfridges to pick up a Christmas gift for a friend who I'm seeing tomorrow. Remember last time I saw her she said how much she loves Charlotte Tilbury but didn’t realise how expensive it was. End up with a set of the world’s smallest lipsticks which look like they’ve come out of a Christmas cracker (£20).

7pm: Meet our friends for dinner. Husband buys two rounds of drinks (although he gets the better end of the deal now I’m not drinking) and I treat us to two pizzas and a side of pigs in blankets (it’s Christmas – would be criminal not to!) (£31.50).

Total: £86.20
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Day Five

8am: Today is the day: scan day! I had a rough night's sleep with some really crazy dreams. Most of the time, I feel fine about the pregnancy but when scans are looming, I get incredibly worried. Force down some gluten-free Weetabix.

11am: We’re here and waiting. As is standard now, I’m panicking like mad and my husband is perfectly calm. I end up doing a silent pact with God in the waiting room that I will donate to a homeless charity if the baby is all okay. Yes, I realise that is a ridiculous thing to type, hormones are making me crazy.

12.30pm: He’s fine! I can’t believe it and don’t know how I have got so lucky. Despite all my health issues, my body is managing to do an amazing thing and grow the perfect human. Scanner laughs each time I declare "He’s got a nose!", "He’s got two kidneys!" in a tone that suggests baby has won the Nobel Prize. After a little cry, I donate £28.18 to Crisis (the amount to support one homeless person over Christmas). I’d have done it anyway but this gave me the nudge to realise how lucky I am.

1.30pm: I know I should be knuckling down but my mum asks if I’ll meet her for lunch with my grandparents (who both live in a care home five minutes from me). I’ve got work to do but since my nan has severe Alzheimer’s, I know how much it helps my mum when I go. I devour a pulled pork sandwich on GF bread (Mum’s treat) now I’ve got my appetite back. I try to show Nan scan photos but I know she doesn’t really understand. It's very sad, I’d do anything to have a proper conversation with her.

5pm: Meet a friend for an early dinner at a trendy gastropub to swap Christmas presents. Order spit-roasted chicken with fries and a soft drink (£15.70). Food is a bit disappointing but still on a high and it’s a lovely evening.

Total: £43.88
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Day Six

11am: After a nice lie-in, I finally head to hospital to pick up my medication. Amazingly, there’s only a 10-minute wait so I nip to the M&S opposite to find some wrapping paper. There isn’t any so text husband to pick some up from work and I buy two bottles of fruit-infused water (I'm massively craving fizzy pop at the moment so hoping this is a healthier alternative), biscuits (I’ve got a friend coming over) and a packet of crisps (£5.60). Do the trip in under half an hour so no parking charge and my maternity exemption certificate saves me the usual £8.60 fee.

1pm: Home. Husband is at work so decide to clean the house and make chicken meatballs and more sweet potato fries for lunch.

2pm: My friend and her daughter arrive. Spend a lovely few hours chatting about all things pregnancy. I haven’t seen her for ages and it reminds me how I should make more of an effort. I know I’m lucky working from home so there’s no excuse.

7pm: In a bid to use up more of the veg, I make a huge batch of vegetable soup. Work on an article (for a travel website I write regularly for) while watching the Strictly final. Nice quiet evening.

Total: £5.60
7 of 8
Day Seven

9am: We’re both up early today as it’s our family Christmas buffet and husband finally has a Sunday off. We’d usually do a weekly shop today but our family buffets are known for leftovers and it’s a tradition that we receive a hamper full of food from my mum each year, so decide to scrap it and just eat buffet/hamper food all week. Spend a festive hour wrapping presents while listening to Christmas music. Make some granola and yoghurt to tide me over until the buffet.

11am: Make a last-minute trip down the high street to buy my other brother’s present (vouchers for a restaurant he likes: £40) and some additions to the buffet (gluten-free crisps and pretzels, gluten-free bread, dairy-free cream cheese and cake), just in case my mum hasn’t got them in (£10.50). The village high street is looking especially festive; feel so lucky to live here.

6pm: Finally home after an exhausting but lovely day! Must admit after always being asked about my health at these events (the curse of being the poorly one in the family), it’s so lovely that I’m celebrating something positive for a change and everyone made a big fuss over me and my bump.

9pm: Settle down with husband, dogs and leftover buffet food to watch The Apprentice final. Thanks for following me on this rollercoaster week R29 readers, I’ve loved sharing it with you!

Total: £50.50
8 of 8
The Breakdown

Food/Drink: £79.78
Entertainment: £9.50
Clothes/Beauty: £0
Travel: £6.20
Other: £239.13

Total: £334.61
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