Money Diary: A Fashion Designer Living In London On 18k

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 menswear fashion designer living in London and commuting to Hertfordshire....
Industry: Fashion Design
Age: 24
Location: Live in London but work in Hertfordshire
Salary: £18,000
Paycheque amount: £1,277.91 (I also get £43.25 a week from my dad, which is my half of what was originally the child support he used to pay my mum... it's a very long story) so total income per month is £1,465.32
Number of housemates: 5 (plus my cat)
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Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: £460 rent (in Zone 2!!!) but it is a very temperamental old east London house which is prone to leaky pipes, dodgy heating and currently we have no hot water, so the cheapness is often outweighed by very high stress levels.
Loan payments: £0 student loan (not even close to paying that back yet! I paid the £9k fees and the repayment threshold recently went up to £25k). I have never had a credit card, but am looking into it to improve my credit score. I have a £500 overdraft as part of my graduate bank account, which I use as a buffer to stop me getting charged for being overdrawn, and will dip into on the particularly long months.
Utilities: £42 for council tax/cleaner/house kitty contribution (all of which I manage). £9 for internet. Gas and electric are on the meter so that varies from £6-£30 depending on the season but last month it was £15. £40ish for water twice a year and about £25 for the TV licence once a year. I usually put aside £90 a month to cover all this and what doesn’t get used goes back into my current account.
Transportation: It varies but I put £264 on my Revolut card (a bit like Monzo but the cards are purple and blue ombré, not fluorescent orange) which is enough to cover me if I have to get the train to work every day. I use this to buy day return train tickets, top up my Oyster and pay for car share petrol; whatever is left at the end of the month goes into my savings.
Phone bill: £0 – my dad still pays my phone bill, but I am on sim only so if he changed his mind it wouldn’t be too much of a hassle.
Savings? I have £6,000 in a savings account that you have to deposit £100 a month into to get the best interest rate (which is 1% lol). £1,100 in my instant access (If I haven’t got £100 left over from my wages, I’ll move the money from this account to the other to get the better interest rate) and £1,500 in a 2% interest current account (which I get my wages paid into so I hit the minimum monthly deposit). My mum encouraged me to save from a young age, but I do dip into it to pay for big things such as flights, then I’ll top it back up from my wages over a couple of months.
Other: Netflix £5.99, Amazon Prime £79 p/a which I halve with my brother so £39.50 (£3.30p/m). Also have Spotify Premium but that is covered under my family bundle (which my dad pays for). I also contribute to my pension but that comes straight out my wages.
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Total: £809.29
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1 of 8
Day One

7am: I finally get up; the cat (Alfie) has been jumping around the bed for the past two hours demanding food. Have a cold shower because the boiler is on the blink again. Get back into bed for 10 minutes to warm up. Finally get up properly at 7.30 and feed the cat. I buy cat food in bulk so it's cheaper (a 4kg bag costs about £22 and lasts three months).

7.45am: Make a coffee at home to go because it's cheaper and much better for the planet and quicker than queuing in a coffee shop.

8.05am: Buy return train ticket to work (£12 with a railcard) because the lady I usually get a lift with is on holiday. Pay for it on my Revolut card so it's covered under my monthly budget.

Get a vegan fig and almond wholegrain croissant at the station because I'm starving and I have some change in my purse. £1.80

9.10am: Finally get to work and eat a small bowl of cereal, which is my usual breakfast. I buy almond milk when it's three for £3 and buy the biggest cheapest box of cereal that's suitable for vegans. This week it was dark chocolate Weetabix.

11am: Put all the remaining change in my purse into a colleague's leaving card. £1.65 (will probably end up putting more in once I get paid)

1pm: Buy lunch from Tesco: vegan meal deal £2.51 (yellow label #bestdayever), three tiny pots of hummus 78p (also yellow label) and can of Diet Coke 70p. Sit in the sun for half an hour and try and get a tan.

4pm: Mid-afternoon snack: have one of the tiny hummus pots and a wrap from my snack stash at work and another can of Diet Coke from the 24-box stash under my desk. I am a firm believer in bulk buying.

5.30pm: Have an ice lolly from the box in the freezer I bought a couple of days ago. I also eat one tiny pot of hummus and a wrap en route to see the boyfriend for a drink. Tell myself it's dinner and I'll just have some toast when I get home.

6.30pm: Buy sun cream, mascara and a packet of crisps while waiting for the boyfriend. £11.98 (Boots points though, woooo.)

7pm: Buy a pint each for me and the boyfriend, £11. London drinks prices don't even surprise me anymore.

8.10pm: Decide I'm still hungry and don't want toast, so buy Itsu on the way home. Can't be bothered to wait 20 minutes for 1/2 price. £6.98

8.15pm: Get bus home. £1.50

9pm: Watch Love Island and stuff my face with Itsu and the crisps I was planning to save for tomorrow.

Total: £38.90
2 of 8
Day Two

7.30am: Get up and feed Alfie, skip a wash because the idea of another cold shower makes me too sad. Make double sure I have deodorant and perfume on. Use the last of a can of dry shampoo.

7.45am: Make a coffee to go and chat to my housemate. Throw a packet of tortilla wraps into my bag for park tapas later with uni friends and half a bag of spinach to fashion some lunch from.

8am: Have to top up my Oyster because I'm going into the West End after work and it's weirdly cheaper (£24 from Revolut card so included in monthly budget). A single journey to work costs £7 on my Oyster card.

I am already on the platform when I realise I don't have my water bottle and I'm out of cereal at work so I go to the station café. I buy a bottle of water and a croissant but the minimum spend is £4 so I get a granola bar too, which I'll have as a snack later. £4 exactly.

1pm: Lunchtime! Make spinach, rice and hummus with a little Dijon mustard out of the things I bought with me from home and my stash of food at work. And a can of Diet Coke (my stash is very depleted so going to have to buy more on payday). Sit in the sun with work friends and discuss Love Island.

5.30pm: Get the train from work to the West End.

7pm: Meet up with old uni friends. I pop to Tesco and buy strawberries and raspberries to contribute to picnic food. One punnet was yellow label. Also get a vegan wrap to take for lunch tomorrow. £5.73

9pm: Get the Tube home (get extra off-peak fare as I have my railcard tethered to my Oyster card).

9.30pm: Get home and stupidly check my bank balance: £2.09. Thank God I get paid tomorrow. Pig out on soya ice cream from the freezer and the raspberries that didn't get eaten earlier while watching Love Island (it's taken over my life, help).

Total: £16.73
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3 of 8
Day Three

7am: Get up and feed Alfie. We finally have hot water after what feels like forever so I enjoy a nice hot shower and wash then blow-dry my hair. Feeling extra Friday fabulous.

7.30am: Get downstairs and my mood plummets as I am greeted with water pouring from my kitchen ceiling and lights. The shower is leaking again. Welcome to the never-ending stress of an old east London townhouse. Spend the next half an hour furiously mopping and placing bowls about. Almost don't have time to make coffee and only just remember to get my lunch out the fridge. Run for the train!!

8.10am: £12 day return ticket (on my Revolut card). Have a fight with the ticket machine, give up and go to the kiosk. Because I was late I didn't have time to go to Tesco and get cereal, looks like no breakfast for me. Luckily the train is a couple of minutes late so I make it.

It's payday so I spend the journey moving my money about. I put my rent and bills money (£550) into a separate account so I don't spend it and I top up my Revolut card with £264, which is the amount I need if I have to get a £12 return every day. I have a little left on it from last month so I convert this into euros ahead of going to visit my brother in a few weeks. I would usually have about £100 left to put into my savings but I owed my brother €80 because he got me a fancy electric toothbrush.

9am: Get to the office and remember I have the granola bar from yesterday in my bag, breakfast after all! Have this while finishing my coffee from home, which is still hot (Boden to go cups are the best).

1pm: Lunchtime. I have my yellow label sandwich I bought yesterday and grab a Diet Coke from my desk stash. I also pop to Tesco to buy cereal (dark chocolate Weetabix are still on offer at £2) and some Thai rice crackers, £3.

4pm: Tuck into the Thai rice crackers, they are so moreish I eat the whole bag! Manager then goes and buys ice cream for the team – it would be rude not to have one. I really need to start running again.

6.30pm: Get home. No power in the kitchen due to the leak. Fight with the fuse box for 10 minutes; shout "fuck" very loudly in the basement several times. Admit defeat and switch off the kitchen power at the fuse box. Find a proper extension cable and hook the fridges up with power from the lounge.

7pm: Housemate gets home and has a shower and I stand in my kitchen literally watching water pour from the ceiling. This also messes the kitchen lights up. I have another fight with the fuse box. Admit defeat. We have zero power in the kitchen. Including no boiler – so no hot water. Again.

7.30pm: Had enough of being at home so pop some makeup on and switch the work skirt for short shorts, grab a beer from the fridge (which I luckily got working) and head to my friend's.

7.45pm: Get the Overground. £1

8pm: Get to their house and am offered a mojito. That's my early Saturday out the window!

11.30pm: Head out to a bar because we all fancy a dance, and probably because the mojito was very strong! Overground. £1

12am: I buy a ginger mojito for me and my friend, £10. East London does surprise me sometimes with how cheap it can be! We all have a dance and vibes are good.

She buys the next round. One of our other friends gets a bit overexcited. My drink somehow gets knocked out of my hand. I now have ginger mojito in my Birkenstocks. The friend I'm buying rounds with kindly gifts me half of her remaining drink.

1.20am: Walk home through Hackney on my own which is very naughty but I'm only 10 minutes away from my house. I have very strict instructions to text when I get home.

I also get cat-called on the way home. The joys of being a woman.

1.30am: Get cash out for a veggie burger and onion rings. Drunk food is my favourite thing. £4.95

Total: £21.95
4 of 8
Day Four

Sleep in late because I'm hungover. Surprise surprise.

12pm: Finally get up and sort out our downstairs bathroom (which is a bit of a dumping ground) so we can use the shower in there while the other one is out of action. Then make some breakfast. Avocado (gifted by my housemate) on toast. Sit in the garden and enjoy with a coffee.

3pm: Eventually get myself up and out the house, get the Tube to King's X to meet the boyfriend. £1.60

3.45pm: Get an oat milk iced latte from Starbucks. I changed bags so I don't have my reusable straw with me; I feel bad but it's so hot I need iced coffee. Also resent paying stupidly expensive train station price. £3.44

We aim to walk along the canal and then cut up to Hampstead Heath but we get as far as Kentish Town west and decide to get the Overground the rest of the way as it's too hot and we're not sure we can manage Haverstock Hill. £1

Get to the heath and the queues for the mixed pond are ridiculous. So we head to M&S and get strawberries, hummus, wraps and G&T tins. Boyfriend pays. Spend the rest of the afternoon sunbathing.

7pm: Get the Overground home. £1

Pop into TKMaxx so I can get an anti-slip mat for our downstairs shower as it has a stupid slate floor and we can't use the upstairs one for the foreseeable future. It's £5.99 but will take money from the house account.

Decide to make fajitas for dinner because we still have wraps from earlier. Pop to Tesco to get ingredients. We also get food for breakfast tomorrow. Boyfriend pays again. I also buy drain unblocker for our downstairs shower (£3.95, will also take money from the house account).

Make way too much food so I will have something to take for lunch on Monday.

Watch Love Island and crash out at 10pm, we're both so tired from all the sunshine.

Total: £7.04
5 of 8
Day Five

10.30am: After a restless night's sleep for both of us (it's too hot and Alfie woke us up in the small hours), we finally get up and make avocado on toast for breakfast. We eat this in the garden, which I appreciate so much more in summer.

11.30am: Boyfriend heads home to meet his friends. I'm going back to Hampstead Heath but this time to the ladies' pond to (topless) sunbathe with friends. Go via M&S for snacks and drinks (£6.92) and go to Primark to get a new pair of low-rise bikini bottoms because the elastic is gone in my old ones. £5

Get the Overground. £1

12.30pm: I finally get to the pond and it is already heaving. Manage to find my friends and enjoy a swim. Pay a contribution of £2 to use the facilities. The ladies' pond is one of my favourite places in London. It's a little oasis. You're not supposed to use your phone in there (not that there is any signal) and you can't take photos so it's great if you want to disconnect from life/social media/the city.

Spend the rest of the afternoon sunbathing, drinking, chatting and swimming. Perfect Sunday!

6.30pm: Get the Overground to Camden Road (£1) to pick up a hoover for the house. £30 but everyone is going to pay £5 towards it.

7.10pm: On the way home I realise Tesco will be closed so I order dinner off Deliveroo, very naughty but a little payday treat. £14.40

8pm: Do a load of laundry and shower (to get all the pond water out my hair). Realise I've almost used up my shampoo bar so make a mental note to get a new one next time I pass a Lush. I try to buy as few plastic products as possible. Get ready for bed in time to watch Love Island. I'm too invested to stop watching now.

Total: £35.32
6 of 8
Day Six

7.30am: Eugh. Monday mornings suck. And it's already so hot. Realise I have basically no summer clothes but also that I can't afford to buy new ones.

8am: Go to Costa and get an iced coffee. Have my reusable straw this time so feel less guilty, £2.40. Also have lunch from home today so that balances it out. Pay for a day return train ticket as the lady I car-share with is still on holiday. £10.95 (on my Revolut card; it's slightly cheaper in July and August as they take off the railcard cap)

9.10am: Trains are running a little late so no time for breakfast today. Going to be hungry come lunch.

1pm: Lunchtime! Have leftover fajita mix with extra veg and some rice. Grab the last Diet Coke from my stash.

Go to Tesco on my way back to the office and spot vegan Cornetto ice creams; it would be rude not to get them! £2

5.30pm: Leave work in a panic because all the trains are getting cancelled. Forget to fill my water bottle up, will have to ration the little I have left. Get to the station and there's a train heading to London but it's delayed by 20 minutes.

6pm: Finally get on a train but it's not calling at Hackney so will have to get an Overground back from LST.

7pm: I finally get back to Hackney, swing by Tesco to pick up avocados (£1.75) and make a burger with leftover mushrooms and lettuce that someone at work grew.

Get home, cook, eat and veg out watching telly.

Total: £6.15
7 of 8
Day Seven

8am: Get a lie-in today because I'm working in London. All the extra sleep! Have toast and coffee for breakfast.

9am: Almost ready to leave the house, decide to be a good housemate and take the bin out. Regret it instantly as the smell is horrendous. I have the weakest stomach ever and spend the next five minutes trying not to be sick.

9.10am: Get the Tube into central London. £2.90 but I will be able to claim it back on expenses.

11am: Walking around the shops is hungry work and my stomach is feeling much more settled after this morning. I grab avocado rolls from Itsu. £3.99 – so overpriced but just so delicious.

1.30pm: Stop for lunch in St Christopher's Place. I love little off-the-beaten track places in central London, they make for a peaceful lunch. I grab a wrap and a Diet Coke from Pret £3.89

4.30pm: Have covered most of the shops so pop into Monki to see if there is anything good in the sale. I find the cat T-shirt I wanted ages ago but had sold out! Also find a nice little summer dress, it's £20 for both. Bump into my friend by complete chance and help her try and find some things. I then head to M&S to see if they have any good underwear as I have a Sparks voucher. Walk out with a new bra and three matching pants, £47. I will have to be much better behaved with my money for the rest of the month, as I’m off to Amsterdam for a weekend too. Pop into Lush to get a new shampoo bar. £6.50

5.40pm: Try to get on the Tube at Oxford Circus and all the entrances are shut. Don’t know why I even bothered. Walk to Tottenham Court Road only to find the Central line is completely blocked eastbound. Take the Northern line to Warren Street and change for the Victoria line there. Commuting in and out of central must be a nightmare. Hertfordshire may be far away but at least I get a seat every day! £2.90

6.30pm: Eventually get home. I am completely exhausted. Various parts of the house are still very broken. I cook food from things I have in the cupboard and go and hide in my room, I am far too tired to deal with it all today.

Total: £87.18
8 of 8
The Breakdown

Food/Drink: £92.24
Entertainment: £0
Clothes/Beauty: £90.48
Travel: £19
Other: £8.65

Total: £210.37
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