Money Diary: A Digital Nomad On 49k

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 31-year-old digital nomad who doesn't have a base but travels all over the world, working wherever she chooses from her laptop.
"I’ve been without an actual home for just over a year now. I left the UK two and a half years ago as I really needed to change up my life and honestly haven’t looked back since. I probably won’t be a 'nomad' forever but for now it suits me down to the ground. It can be really hard for people to understand that I live out of my backpack and even harder for them to comprehend when I tell them I prefer it this way. My life is boxed up at my parents' place as I had my own place before I left the UK. It's also where I store all my clothes. The downside of this is that going to see them is super stressful as I need to think ahead to what I need to take with me and where I'm going to be. And I'm not very good at planning that, I still have no idea where I'm going to be for any of December.
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I’ve been in my current role for about six months and with the company for two years. My position is definitely a stretch role for me and I know that I work too much but I really love it. One of the key benefits of my living situation is that it gives me control of my work and social life balance. If I’m in a different place and I need to get things done, there are no external pressures preventing me from doing that. The second benefit is that it plays quite nicely on my purse strings but it can be a struggle not to burn the candle at both ends when I’m in London. I’ve managed to save a crazy amount of money as a result of this way of living and I feel much more optimistic about my financial future now."
Industry: SaaS
Age: 31
Location: Depends on how I feel, what’s going on and what the needs of the business are. It’s one of our busiest times of year, so I’m spending this month with the team in London. This is the longest I’ve spent in one place in over a year. Since January, I've been on 40 planes; visited four continents; and worked from 18 different cities from Melbourne to Copenhagen to San Francisco to Mexico City.
Salary: £49,200 + bonus (approx £2.5k a year, monthly variable payment).
Paycheque amount: £4,214 – currently self-employed so tax & NI need to be deducted.
Number of housemates: Depends where I am. This week my boyfriend and a colleague were with me. My boyfriend did start off as a digital nomad with me but has been back home for a year now due to personal circumstances. We see each other about once a month.
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Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: Variable depending on my location but in general this tends to be a minimal outgoing for me. If I’m travelling for work they’ll cover my costs, as is the case this month where they’ve paid £1,720 for a one-bed Airbnb.
Loan payments: £147.60 student loan. I pay my credit card off in full each month.
Utilities: NA
Transportation: No fixed expenses. Being in London this month means I’ll spend more than my average on transport.
Phone bill: £15.70
Savings? £56.9k – this does include the money for my tax bill but I consistently save every month. When I was based in London, I lived hand to mouth so I’ve built this up since leaving.
Other: Netflix (£7.99) and Spotify (£9.99)
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Day One

6am: Woken up by the Boy going to the toilet and then my colleague getting ready to leave. What a way to start a birthday! Roll over and try to get back to sleep.

7.36am: Not sure why I set my alarm for such a random time today. Check my messages and learn the other person can’t make my 8am sync. Catch up on Slack and emails in bed instead.

9am: Leave the house and join a team call while I travel to our London office. There’s a Tube strike but it doesn’t seem to be too chaotic. We pick up breakfast on our way in (croissant, chai latte, smoothie). Boy pays since it’s my birthday, I wasn’t paying attention to the cost.

11.30am: My office birthday twin arrives with flowers for me. Feel like a terrible human being for not thinking to bring something for her.

12.15pm: Skeleton team in the office today and since it’s a double birthday, we decide to grab lunch together but it’s hard to juggle times the six of us can make. Decide on comfort food (spinach gnocchi with four cheese sauce) since the weather sucks. Buy for me and my birthday twin to make up for my earlier fail. £12

2.30pm: Struggling to focus or get anything worthwhile done. Decide to have a cup of tea and hope that’ll help me make the most of my last hour before my calls start again. Tea is free as we’re in a serviced co-working space.

3pm: Boy doesn’t have his card machine and we need to pay our accommodation for a wedding next weekend. £320 in total but my share is £70, he pays me back for the rest.

5.45pm: Heading to the theatre as my birthday present (£94, Boy paid). Super excited as never really get the chance to do this sort of thing these days. We grab a quick dinner beforehand (£28, Boy paid). Have to say it’s an enjoyable treat to be paid for! Since I now earn quite a bit more money, I always try to at least cover my share of things.

10pm: Show was really good! Head back 'home' through Hackney and lament the gentrification of the area since the Boy lived here. It’s a nice walk down memory lane. Travel for the day £4.80.

11pm: We’re in bed surprisingly early but we’re ready for it.

Total: £86.80
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Day Two

5.45am: Urgh, so early. I’m really not a morning person. Read my messages to wake my brain up before heading to an event. It’s on the other side of London but pleasantly surprised that I can take a direct train. £6.80 for the day.

7.30am: We’re supporting the event so do a quick check, attend a team briefing and then we’re ready to go. Grab a tea and breakfast from one of the stands at the event (free). Suddenly realise how many people I’ve met in the industry this year as it’s a constant stream of hugs and hellos.

8.30am: Another cup of tea.

9am: More tea. The struggle is real.

12.30pm: Everything is going well on our side and have learned some interesting nuggets from the content. Some of the team go out for lunch to suit their special diets but I grab the free food on offer here. Have some really weird veggie burrito in a Yorkshire pudding. Sounds like it should be good but half of it ends up in the bin.

5.30pm: First day of the event is over, yay! I’ve been invited to the VIP dinner so we get on the coach and head over. There’s a bit of networking to start with and I chat to yet more people I know along with a few new faces. We’re served a three-course meal of butternut squash soup, chicken leg, and apple and blackberry crumble. But there's free booze which is ultimately all that matters at these sorts of things. My table is alright but we get into talking about Brexit and Trump and stay on the topic for way too long, which isn’t ideal. We were all aligned on our positioning, at least.

9.30pm: Dinner is over so head back to the party with my CEO. It quickly becomes apparent that we should have sacked off the dinner and gone straight to the party. A friend bounces over as soon as she sees me then proceeds to ply me with two free glasses of bubbles. It’d be rude not to, right?

10.30pm: Party is wrapping up and realise there’s a train coming in two minutes. Run down the five flights of stairs and almost fall flat on my face at the ticket machines. But I make it! Pretty happy or it would have been a 30 minute wait in the cold.

11.35pm: Make it home. Have to get the Boy out of bed to let me in, he’s not that impressed but is happy to see me.

Total: £6.80
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Day Three

6.30am: Another early start but feels like a lie-in comparatively. Same score as yesterday: messages, up and out to the event, £1.50. Join a networking breakfast with tea and a halloumi breakfast sandwich (free). Realising more and more that the most valuable parts of these events are the people you meet and have conversations with.

9am: Really enjoyed this morning's keynote session. I’m speaking in a debate session later today so sneak out after to polish up my argument. As always, need more tea.

12.20pm: Manage to get half a pot of weird macaroni down. That’s the problem with the free food at events, you never know how edible it’ll be. Starting to feel super nervous. Never done anything like this before and nothing at this scale.

1pm: Ten minutes until showtime. Gulping down water to combat my dry mouth.

2pm: And that’s my bit over! Once I got up on stage, the nerves disappeared and I really enjoyed it. Managed to convert some of the audience to my side of the argument too, which was a nice ego boost.

5pm: Conference is done, yay! We do a quick debrief with the team about what went well and what could have gone better. Try to convince them to come for a drink but they aren’t up for it. Instead head with one of the team for my birthday shindig, £2.40.

6.30pm: Probably for the best that we didn’t go for a drink as we only arrive five minutes before other people. Get a pizza and mojito, £9.95. Love this place because it’s so cheap for London. People continue to arrive for the next hour and a half. Someone buys me another drink.

8pm: Very happy to move to the bar since we’ve been sitting outside. Meet someone else there. Order a cider and start a tab.

8.30pm: Two big groups of friends (one from the pizza place and then some of my team) arrive at the same time. I’ve only booked the bar for 15 people but now there’s 22. Barman is really annoyed about this and says we should have a minimum spend. I ask the amount, thinking that I’ll just hand over my card so as not to ruin the night but then he says it's £1,200 so just shrug him off. I’ve never been in trouble for too many people turning up before, I guess it’s a good problem to have.

9.30pm: Barman is really grumpy. Besties and Boy have bought me an AMAZING cake but we aren’t allowed to cut it. Convince my friend to slip the guy £20 and give him a slice of cake and suddenly he’s the nicest guy in the world. Crazy how motivated people are by money, especially in London.

11pm: Bar is closing. I pick up the tab for the Boy and me, £54.13. A few of us head on to another bar where someone buys a round. When it’s time to go home, we decide it would be rude not to go for bagels on Brick Lane. We stock up for the weekend too (Boy pays).

1.50am: Get an Uber home since my feet are killing me. Boy pays.

Total: £67.98
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Day Four

11am: Fully wake up. Refuse to open my eyes until this time as haven’t had a proper day off or lie-in for over a month. We lounge around in bed for a bit, taking it easy, having sex and just generally enjoying each other.

12.30pm: Get up and have a shower. Find an infestation of ants in the kitchen that are all over my cake – it’s literally moving. Kill as many of them as possible and resign myself to the fact it’ll add protein to the cake. Enjoy a plain bagel and slice of cake for breakfast – don’t have anything else in the house as even though I’ve been here a week now, I still haven’t been to the shop.

1.30pm: I’m super grumpy so go back to bed for a nap.

3.30pm: We’re finally up and plan to head to the shops to return some clothes. Get to the front door and it’s raining cats and dogs so we go back upstairs and order in, £33.95.

4.15pm: Our food takes 10 minutes longer than expected and we receive the wrong order. We call Deliveroo, who replace the order, and eat the chips and chicken burger anyway.

4.55pm: Food finally arrives. In a chicken coma since we ordered wings, thighs, mash and halloumi sticks.

5.30pm: Need another nap to help the food digest. I’m not normally a nap person, so two in one day plus a lie-in is pretty strong form for me.

7.10pm: Wake up again and watch some Taskmaster on catch-up; it’s been our go-to switch-off programme for the past couple of months.

8pm: My colleague comes back so we catch up about her day. Have a slice of cake for dinner and watch a movie on Netflix. I spend the time cross-stitching.

11.15pm: Movie ends and we decide to watch another Taskmaster before bed.

Total: £33.95
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Day Five

9.05am: Alarm goes off. We reluctantly bring ourselves to consciousness and enjoy our last morning together (aka more cuddles, more sex).

10.35am: Leave the house and get the bus to Columbia Road flower market which was on my bucket list from before I left London. I’m finally making it two and a half years later, £1.50.

11.10am: Make it to the market and buy a bunch of thistles and roses for my mum, £10. We’re starving so Boy buys us breakfast sandwiches (£4.70). We decide to walk to Farringdon, which seems like a great idea until we realise 35 minutes carrying flowers is a ballache. I pick up the coffees en route, £5.30.

12.25pm: Buy a ticket out of London to see my family. Pleasantly surprised that a return is only £13.20 since it’s £30+ in the week.

2pm: Presents and birthday cake with the family followed by board games. One of my favourite things to do but my family generally complain because I can get pretty competitive. Really lovely to spend some quality time together with lots of laughter. I’m always on the winning team so no tantrums at least.

4.15pm: I asked my mum for a roast dinner with all the trimmings – this is one of the meals I miss the most when I’m not in the UK. Mum’s bought me a bottle of prosecco but nobody else is drinking so I casually have half a bottle for myself. Feeling appropriately tipsy. We have brownie for dessert and play Articulate. Prosecco shows as I come out with the word 'bicling' instead of 'bicycle'. Somehow feel that I will be reliving this for the foreseeable future whenever this game comes out.

8.30pm: Say goodbye to the Boy and get on the long train back to London. Overground home costs £2.60.

10pm: Get home and catch up quickly with my colleague. Realise I’m in serious need of rehydration. Put on some Sunday-suitable music and power up my laptop to plan the week ahead. Lights out by midnight.

Total: £32.60
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Day Six

7am: Alarm goes off. I go through my normal morning routine of catching up on messages and email before joining our Monday morning meeting.

8.15am: Leave the house and grab one of the now slightly stale bagels, £3.

9am: Arrive at the office but can’t resist buying a chai latte before heading in, £2.40.

12.10pm: Have a 20-minute window to grab some lunch between calls and meetings. I was determined to eat healthy and veggie today but see that EAT has mac and cheese on the menu which is my all-time favourite comfort food. At least it’s veggie, £5.50.

5.15pm: Finish up my afternoon meetings but still need to prepare for tomorrow’s big team meeting. Tea required.

6.30pm: Getting hungry but nowhere close to being done. Find a brownie in my bag that should stave off the hunger pains.

7pm: Turns out the brownie was pointless as decide to have a sync with a colleague over a Pret sandwich dinner, £4.25. Sync turns into a game of ping pong.

9.15pm: Finally finished the work I had to do, pick up some medication for my colleague since she’s feeling sick and buy sparkling water for myself as a treat, £6.58. £3 for the train home. I really don’t understand how travel costs work in London as I can’t see any patterns in the costs, ponder this on my walk from the station to home.

10pm: Realise how bad my colleague is feeling as soon as I get home. We call 111 for advice and they tell us to go to the hospital. We jump in an Uber, £5. When she’s seen by triage they advise the wait is three hours and they won’t give her anything extra. So we Uber it home again, £5.38. Rather expensive and pointless adventure.

11.30pm: Crash in bed ready to start it all again tomorrow.

Total: £35.11
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Day Seven

7.15am: I snoozed my first alarm but I really need to get up as I need to leave in 15 minutes. Skip my morning routine of reading my messages. Decide to take the remains of my birthday cake to the office so as not to waste it.

8.15am: Get to the office and don’t have time to grab anything to eat. Make myself a cup of tea and get ready for the big team meeting I’m about to host.

10.30am: Realise I’m hungry so eat some birthday cake. Feel like I’m overdosing on sugar so wash it down with more tea.

1.45pm: Have had meetings all over lunch so pop out to pick out food on my own. Get a sweet potato falafel box with the hope it’ll contain some nutrients, £6.45.

6.45pm: Just wrapped up another four hours of online meetings. My bestie turns up as we’re going for dinner tonight so I can meet her new man. Make her a tea to enjoy while I finish up some admin.

7.30pm: We go to meet him and decide on Pho for dinner – they’re both vegan so our options are fairly limited in the area. I decide on veggie spring roll vermicelli; it’s a pretty weird dish but edible enough, £16. I’m totally done in after all the meetings today but put my show face on and try to make an effort since I’m meeting someone new. Feel pretty confident that he’s a good guy. Take the bus home which drops me just around the corner from where I’m staying. Day travel, £5.30.

11.45pm: Check my messages and exchange goodnight messages with the Boy before zonking out.

Total: £27.75
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The Breakdown

Food/Drink: £152.93
Entertainment: £0
Clothes/Beauty: £0
Travel: £51.48
Other: £86.58

Total: £290.99
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