Money Diary: 26-Year-Old Nurse In Newcastle Upon Tyne On 25k

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 full-time children’s critical care nurse, working the standard 12.5-hour shifts across a mixture of days, nights and weekends. Along with her husband she has recently bought a house, which they are currently renovating. She reckons most of their money is spent on food and they are both trying to eat healthier and exercise more. They're mindful of where they shop, looking at ethical companies, charitable contributions and trying to reduce their food mile footprint. Their best friend is a butcher locally, which reduces meat costs, and they have a weekly veg box delivery from an organic company. She doesn’t spend an awful lot on beauty products, but there may be an occasional splurge on premium beauty as her sensitive skin has been burned too many times by cheaper brands.
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Industry: Healthcare
Age: 26
Location: South Tyneside
Salary: £25,551 plus unsociable hours and overtime
Paycheque amount: This varies monthly according to how many nights/weekends I’ve worked, and whether I have managed to do any overtime. Over the last year I’ve taken home between £1,570 and £1,950, but on average I get paid between £1,600-£1,700. In addition to tax and National Insurance, deductions include 9.3% pension, student loan (approx. £100), £82 bicycle loan, £24 car parking and £12 gym/staff social membership.
Number of housemates: One husband: self-employed musician/teacher, actually enjoys hanging out the washing (a job I detest), buys craft beer online and probably uses my Netflix account 95% more than I do!
Monthly Expenses
My husband and I have a joint account into which we transfer money on a monthly basis to cover the household expenses (bills, food, etc.). We have discussed going financially wholly joint (ie. all money goes straight into one account), however it’s easier for his end of year accounts/tax calculations to keep things separate for now. We have a joint savings account to dip into for household purchases/car insurance, which was obliterated when we bought the house. We also have our own private savings so that he can save for his yearly tax/National Insurance/student loan bills, and I can hide my own pitiful attempts.
Mortgage: Half of £510. My husband and I each transfer around £800 into the joint account to cover mortgage, household bills and food.
Loan payments: Student loan is deducted automatically. I have three credit cards for online transactions and to spread payments of expensive items. I pay the minimum amounts of these (around £40 total/month), and have a plan in place to pay off each one as their 0% interest period expires.
Transportation: I was able to pay both our car loans off just after Christmas, following the receipt of some inheritance money, saving us £350/month. £40 fuel, £40 Tyne tunnel pass.
Phone bill: £36
Savings? I try to save £200/month into my own account, and a further £100 into the joint account to cover bigger household expenses. I have a private pension into which I pay £40/month.
Other: £5.99 Netflix, £9.99 Spotify premium, £32 Royal College of Nursing membership/journal subscription.
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Day One

5.45am: Drag myself out of bed for yet another day shift. Realise that I have to clear a substantial amount of snow and ice off the car which will cut significantly into my vital morning coffee and ‘chill’ time (it’s winter; ‘chilling’ means hugging the kitchen radiator until I absolutely have to get dressed). Receive an email receipt from the veg box, £17.55. Check the joint account and realise that the veg box deduction overnight has taken us into the red (oops!), transfer £40 to avoid planned overdraft fees and to cover us until payday.

11.20am: First break. I’ve brought in the ingredients to make egg salad on toast – yum! Takes me around 10 mins to prepare due to an underripe avocado; seems my insistence on buying the cheaper ‘wonky’ veg is to the detriment of ripeness.

3.30pm: Second break. Enjoying the leftover stir-fry from last night. Congratulate myself on almost managing a whole month without visiting the hospital canteen for chips, beans and gravy (don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it!).

8.50pm: Finally make it home, absolutely exhausted. Husband is cooking pizza but the smell makes me feel a bit nauseous. I crash into bed instead.

Total: £17.55
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Day Two

8.40am: No work and a cheeky lie-in. Use the nice coffee beans for my morning hit but enjoyment is somewhat diminished by husband’s insistence on singing excerpts from his new musical theatre book at me – he has the words and I still know the lyrics better than him!

11am: Meeting a friend for lunch but feeling peckish. Eat two pieces of toast while making ‘compliment cards’ for my Rainbow unit and booking an eye test for next week.

1pm: Meet up with friend and baby for lunch, husband's lunch ‘date’ has cancelled so he tags along. We have to drive in individually due to later commitments on the opposite sides of town. I have a hot chocolate and chicken club sandwich with added chips but my eyes are clearly bigger than my belly, so I end up leaving the second half of the sandwich but eat all the filling (and chips!).

3.30pm: My friend leaves the café and my husband and I decide to have a further hot drink and shared cake while I quickly cut out the activity for Rainbows that evening – nothing like last-minute. Husband settles the bill, win!

7.30pm: The veg box arrived this morning and I review the contents for this week to make a meal plan which covers the next few days. Nip out to Morrisons with a short list, can’t find any ‘umami paste’ (what the heck Tom Kerridge?!) but do walk around the store with a discounted bottle of gin (£20 down from £28) before deciding we really can’t afford it before payday. I buy cheddar cheese, parmesan, fresh parsley and single cream ‘alternative’. Realise I forgot to check the cupboards for macaroni so chuck a packet of that in. £7.33

9.30pm: Late dinner following husband’s choir practice. Make macaroni cheese with broccoli – feel vindicated buying the extra pasta as there wasn’t enough left in the jar.

Total: £7.33
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Day Three

9am: Early start for a day off as meeting two more friends/babies for coffee. I use my prepaid Starbucks app to pay for the coffee, and an in-credit credit card to pay for my toast – I plan to cancel this card later in the week. £1.79

11am: I have a little shopping trip with the girls and buy an unnecessary new lip balm which came heavily recommended by a friend, and the hand balm I’ve been looking everywhere for and finally discover in Boots. I contemplate using my Advantage Card points but figure I’d rather save them. £6.34. I fear this shopping trip would have been fatal after payday!

12.15pm: We go back to Starbucks to feed the babies and I use the same credit card as earlier to buy a cortado. £2.25. This should take me back to neutral to close the account.

2.30pm: Drag Race All Stars 3 begins this week, but we don’t have access on our current TV package so I upgrade to the basic entertainment bolt-on for £7 from the joint account. Spend the next hour or so watching Friends on Comedy Central while eating a tub of cottage cheese and some toasted soda bread.

4pm: Go for a one-mile ‘jog’ (quick walk) around the block, trying to stay on target with my half marathon training this year. Come back home with the full intention to tidy the front room but end up sat on the sofa instead. Life’s all about balance y’know!

6.30pm: I’ve decided to make scones before dinner, or ‘flaky biscuits’ as the recipe calls them. Husband bought me a pastry cutter for Christmas which I haven’t had a chance to use yet. I pour myself a G+T which is largely ignored while I bake. The final product is fine but would be tons better with cheese!

8pm: Mushroom courgetti for dinner tonight utilising the two courgettes from this week’s veg box and the organic chestnut mushrooms I found in the reduced section on Sunday. Balk inwardly at the recipe's need for 50g of porcini mushrooms (a whole bag); I wonder if banks offer lifestyle loans for people looking to eat healthily, maybe with competitive rates of interest to promote weight loss… Now there’s an idea! Decide that I’m definitely going to have to start costing recipes out in the future, one bag of porcini weekly is definitely too much of an extravagance. Due to my failure to find ‘umami paste’ during yesterday’s shop, I use an 80:20 mix of tomato puree and Worcestershire sauce. Also manage to stab myself cleaning the spiraliser – this healthy eating malarkey is dangerous as well as expensive.

Total: £17.38
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Day Four

8am: Study day. I leave the house in good time to catch the metro into Newcastle; I buy a single ticket as I’ve lost my travel pass and husband will pick me up this evening, £3.40. Delays and a withdrawn train mean that the service is extra crowded, but the driver is full of Geordie wit, apologising for the conditions every few stations and urging passengers to ‘move down the central aisles and have a cuddle’. First meeting is at 9am but due to the metro delays, I don’t have time to grab a coffee.

10.30am: With the meeting over I head to Costa for a much-needed coffee (and an unnecessary but tasty pretzel/caramel blondie). £4.30

12pm: Frustrating morning of dodgy hospital Wi-Fi resulting in me using my phone to work. Eat last night’s leftovers for lunch in the staff canteen but have to pay 10p for a plastic fork. Head over to John Lewis to buy a new portable charger for my depleted phone battery; small debate over which card to use, however I’m hoping I’ll be paid before the transaction is properly deducted. £25

1.30pm: In a café and finally somewhere with working Wi-Fi! I order a pot of tea and get back to work, almost get my drink for free as the card machine's bluetooth is being dodgy. £2.65

3pm: Another meeting via the university library to obtain NHS membership – no more wasted study hours from dodgy internet connections.

5pm: Feet pulsing from the pavement pounding in pursuit of proper Wi-Fi (11,000 steps and counting), I head to my favourite bar where I know I can chill upstairs, have a nice cool beer and get some work done. Half a pint of an obscure tangerine-based sour beer, £2.94 after a 5% shareholder discount.

7pm: Still another 30 mins until meeting my husband so I order another drink, 1/3 pint of an 11% dark beer, £3.01 after a 5% shareholder discount.

8pm: Home for a Burns Night feast of haggis, neeps and tatties cooked by my husband, which makes it especially scrummy!

Total: £41.30
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Day Five

8.30am: IT’S PAYDAY!! We were paid a week early over the Christmas period, so it really has been a very long month indeed. I transfer my share of household expenses into the joint account; a little bit extra than normal as I managed to work some overtime in December. Husband prepares a very tasty breakfast of bacon, fried eggs, leftover haggis and mashed potato, I smother it all in ketchup and tuck in – don’t judge me, egg yolks taste far better with the added tomato!!

10.45am: Joint funds transferred, breakfast eaten and coffee consumed, it’s time to get down to the real business of the day. I open Chrome and review my Amazon basket, compiled over the last few days/weeks. I’ve changed my mind about a cookbook so remove that but add in the next two crime novels in the series I am reading. Free delivery with Prime, £24.56. The two products I wanted on ASOS are out of stock, and my husband is giving me evils over my payday splurge already, so I take a screen break.

11.30am: Finally find somewhere with the beauty products in stock, buy a clay mud mask and a liquid exfoliant, £27.99 plus £1.99 delivery (grr). I’m hoping this will help clear my skin up, as goodness knows I’m in need of a good facial pamper! Discover no more than five minutes later that I could have got free delivery if I’d spent over £30, damn!!

1pm: Arrival of the post reminds me that I need to extend our mail redirection for another six months, I’m absolutely paranoid about identity fraud – £93.98 from the joint account.

3pm: Nip out to Morrisons for a top-up shop. Finally buy that bottle of gin alongside tonic water (four pack), lemons, cottage cheese, prosciutto and bread, £27.82 from joint funds. Realise on the way home that we probably have enough leftovers to feed us tonight so will save the planned meal until Sunday.

6.15pm: Almost time to leave for work and I realise I haven’t topped up my tunnel pass! £45 which should get me to and from work over the next month (with balance to spare for any social events).

Total: £221.34
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Day Six

12.30am: Courgetti pasta leftovers on my break, really not feeling it and wish I had grabbed a bag of crisps on the way in.

8.45am: Home, bed. Absolutely exhausted after a really busy night. Set an alarm for 12pm so I can get up in good time to meet friends at 1pm.

1pm: Panic! Switched off my alarm and fell asleep again!! Message my friends and race to get ready and out; my eyeliner is almost immaculate, and I think I look fairly presentable – however I have worn the same outfit for three days running. Luckily, parking at the shopping park is easy considering it’s a Saturday. Bed to Costa in 30 minutes. Buy a medium black coffee and some fruit toast. £4.30

3.45pm: Absolutely starving so head to McDonald’s on my way home. Swerve the drive-thru in favour of sitting in as the queue is huge. I get two burgers and some fries from the saver menu. £3.07

5pm: Time to leave for a concert in Durham, I’ve necked another coffee so am feeling somewhat human. We leave 15 minutes later than planned as husband insists on telling me about all the meat he bought from our friend today. We pick up another member of his choir en route.

7pm: I bought my ticket a couple of weeks ago, so head to the front desk to pick it up. One bonus of being on my own is there generally seem to be spare seats fairly close to the front. I settle next to a handy pillar and read until the concert starts.

8.30pm: Husband’s choir was only in the first half, and the lads are itching to get back home. His friend pays for the car park as thanks for the lift. Both of us are starving so we head to our local curry house for dinner. There’s a half-hour wait for a table or takeaway, so we head across the road for a drink. I have a rhubarb and ginger G+T, husband has a bottle of Becks. £7

10pm: Dinnertime!! We skip starters and have a main course each, with shared rice and individual naans. As usual, I’m totally overwhelmed so take the remainder of my dinner home. I pay to make up for hubby treating me on Tuesday. £19.50

Total: £33.87
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Day Seven

10am: Have a lie-in to try and catch up with some missed sleep, slightly punctuated by husband getting ready and piling all his dirty washing on the bed – I get the hint! Load the dishwasher and heat up the curry leftovers to have with my coffee for breakfast.

11.30am: First coffee hasn’t cut it. Pour myself another, stronger cup and retire to the front room. Receive an email from Riverford about this week’s veg including an alert that the box contains fennel (urgh). Swap the box for one not containing evil, and add another bag of blood oranges as husband is obsessed and I want to do some baking with them; this transaction will be deducted tomorrow.

12.30pm: Remember that I need to transfer some money for a hen party in April. £22

2pm: I’ve been for a two-mile run and feeling peckish. Nibble on a bag of crisps from my work bag, I’m finding the fridge uninspiring so decide to visit Lidl. I buy a tiger loaf, black grapes and a juicer, £10.97 – that central aisle is lethal, something else to add to the cupboard of kitchen gadgetry!! Lunch is a couple of slices of the bread with prosciutto and cottage cheese (and another coffee).

4pm: I really need to clean the kitchen today, so I crack open a bottle of wine and blast the Disney tunes; if you can’t have fun on a Sunday afternoon, when can you?!

7pm: Finally have a sip of that wine, having scrubbed the kitchen and made a blood orange cake. Wish I’d opened a bottle of red now as it would have oxygenated beautifully! Use the cake cooking time to read some more of my current book – it’s very unlike me to be reading in bits like this, usually I devour a novel in one sitting.

8pm: Husband is finally on his way home from work and a friend is coming over for drinks. Dinner is a quick 15-minute pasta, it uses up the entire bag of kale from the veg box and is really tasty, definitely one to repeat.

10.30pm: The drinks are flowing as nobody has to get up tomorrow morning. I go on my laptop to change the song, end up on Amazon and make a tipsy purchase of two cookbooks and a novel, whoops. £33.70

Total: £66.67
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The Breakdown

Food/Drink: £114.48
Entertainment: £65.26
Clothes/Beauty: £36.32
Travel: £48.40
Other: £140.98

Total: £405.44
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