Money Diary: A Marketing Consultant & Online Shop Owner On 11k

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 marketing consultant who works for two different clients on a freelance basis while juggling three online shops and a weekend retail job. She has just finished writing a book and is thinking about her next one.
She lives at home with her mum and is currently paying her 15% of what she makes by way of rent.
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Age: 23
Location: Essex
Salary: £7,000-£11,000
Paycheque amount: £700-£1,000 depending on hours worked
Number of housemates: 1 (Mum) and 2 dogs
Monthly Expenses
Bills: £130 (£90 car insurance and tax, £11 tech insurance, £23 dental and optician cover).
Phone: Nil, contract is part of my dad’s work contract, I own my phone.
Transportation: £20-40 a month on fuel.
Loan repayments: Aiming to save minimum £100 per month to pay my dad for my car, which he bought upfront. Don’t reach it some months, over-save others. Currently owe around £3,300. He’s really relaxed about me paying him back but I aim to save around £500 every six months because I hate owing people money.
Savings? £360 ISA, £580 car repayments, £40 tax, £30 short term savings, £215 travel savings, £30 Christmas savings.
Other: £5.99 Microsoft Office subscription.
1 of 8
Day One

6.15am: Drag myself up, feed the dogs and make porridge. Manage an entire conversation with my mum without coffee (miracle).

7am: Walk Middle Aged Dog around the local park. Should have worn thermals. Make coffee on return and post to work Instagram.

8am: At desk. I’m working from home today. Monday is the day I focus on my tiny stationery business, so I go through social media plans for November and December, schedule posts and do some accounting.

9am: Remember to have a shower.

10.30am: The guy who trims the trees in our garden is here. Make us both a tea and let Old Dog annoy him for a bit, go back to emails and tidying up my online shops while listening to a podcast.

11.45am: I’m supposed to have a phone call with the Prince’s Trust at 12 so I pay the tree guy (Mum left cash) and make sure I’ve gone through my notes from last week.

12.30pm: The call doesn’t happen. I’ve reached the part of the day where I’m simultaneously hungry, cold and demotivated. Do a bit of brainstorming of how I can improve traffic to my shop.

1.30pm: Make pasta, eat it at my desk because it’s warmer than the kitchen and take the opportunity to do as much social media scheduling as I can – I might not have time for another week and Christmas online shopping season is creeping up.

3pm: Remember there’s a design I’ve been meaning to start properly. Make hot chocolate, unearth sketches, kick my ancient Photoshop into life and get to work.

4.30pm: Mum’s home and we head to Aldi for the weekly shop (she pays for whatever we both eat, I get any snacks or specifically free-from products myself). Look for thermals as I need some for my weekend job, which is in a freezing superstore. No dice on the thermals, get some snacks and linseed for cereal. Give a Remembrance Day poppy seller a quid and promptly lose the poppy. £4.48

5.30pm: IS IT NOT MIDNIGHT ALREADY. Slump on my bed with a book and make a half-hearted attempt to organise some stuff for our house move in a few months. Put one book on a shelf.

6pm: Dinner with Mum. HOW IS IT ONLY 6PM? Am I ill? Am I tired? Nooo the clocks went back two days ago.

6.30pm: Can’t keep my eyes open, have a bath and a read. Our friends are round, supposedly to fix a door, realistically to chat to my mum. They’ve seen me in PJs before but I leave them to it since I can hear half their conversation and it’s about someone I’ve never met.

9.30pm: Crash out in bed with my book.

Total: £4.48
2 of 8
Day Two

6.15am: Up, feed the dogs, make breakfast, clear the dishwasher.

7am: Walk Middle Aged Dog. I remembered thermal leggings but should have added a hat. Make coffee and my lunch.

8am: I’m waiting on concert pre-sale tickets so I fire up my computer, open the link and have a shower. Play about with yesterday’s design.

9.30am: Ticket link is broken. Drive to work to Client 1.

10.30am: The boss isn’t in, which means everyone in the office is more relaxed. Today’s tasks are social media scheduling, writing a blogpost and looking for content to share. Eat my sandwich at my desk.

2.30pm: Back home, have some soup Mum made, play around with the design a bit more. Invoice Client 1 as today was my last time with them this month.

3.45pm: Walk both dogs round the houses while it’s still light.

5pm: Feed the dogs, can’t believe how dark it is. Make plans to have dinner with a friend soon. I have a 40% off Bella Italia voucher and we both have free evenings coming up, so it might actually happen.

5.30pm: Start dinner: halloumi and vegetable kebabs. Realise when they’re done that I forgot to make rice.

6.30pm: Have an order from one of my online shops and some questions from the customer. Respond via the app, she seems pretty pleased with her purchase.

7pm: Actually organise some stuff in my room, have a shower, decide the day is over. Watch TV with Mum until my brain has melted.

Total: £0
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3 of 8
Day Three

6.15am: Awake. Ish. Have breakfast with Mum, put on my thermals.

7am: Walk Middle Aged Dog, shower.

8am: At desk. It’s Wednesday, which is usually my writing day, but my manuscript is with a friend for a read through. Do some social media instead. The weekend job has paid me… the grand sum of £97.60. I only started last week. I put 15% (£15) aside for rent, calculate my bills versus what was already in my account and realise all I can afford to save is £10 toward Christmas gifts. I try to put at least £10 a month into my 'gifts' account as last Christmas I ran out of money for presents and felt shit about it. Having the money there to buy presents as and when I’ve seen them has been a huge relief.

10am: A friend bags us both those concert tickets. It’ll be £27 total, will sort her out when my clients pay. Drive to doctor’s surgery for a referral to a specialist about my food intolerances.

11am: Client 2 has paid! £320. I fill out a timesheet in the office so I don’t have to invoice them, which is brilliant for cash flow (and stress levels). My bills are due tomorrow and my credit card bill this month is £290.16 (my biggest bill in the six months I’ve had a credit card) as I had to get car repairs to pass the car’s MOT. Calculate 15% rent (£48), send it to Mum along with the weekend job’s rent (our agreement has always been that I give her 15% of anything I make). £63 total.

Go through bank account. I can’t afford to save anything today and Client 1 doesn’t usually pay for a couple of weeks at least but I should have enough to cover my bills. Remind myself I can always dip into my ISA, which is for Absolutely Dire Emergencies. Panic a bit about saving to pay Dad for my car. Panic about not having enough to cover my credit card and bills. Panic about my financial state generally.

11.30am: Remember it’s Wednesday, which is my day to transfer money into my ISA. I’m attempting the 52 Week Money Challenge and I call my ISA my Fuck Off Fund in case I decide I hate my life and quit all my jobs (it’s happened before). It’s also a safety blanket, as I don’t have redundancy or sick pay except from the weekend retail job. Decide I can afford to allocate… £4.

12pm: Play about with ideas for my next book. It feels like I’m cheating on my current manuscript, so I work on cover letters for agents instead and resist the urge to text my friend about her read through.

12.30pm: Soup for lunch.

1.30pm: Realise I’m exhausted and remember I’m working all weekend. Spend the afternoon catching up on emails, playing around on YouTube and doing very little. #selfcare

4pm: Walk the dogs.

5.30pm: Make vegetable curry and rice for dinner. The recipe says it’s for four, so I put aside half for the freezer and divide the other half between two plates. It is definitely not for four adult humans.

7pm: Still hungry, snack in front of the TV.

8pm: Mum comes home, we catch up on Informer.

10pm: Retreat to bed, read until I fall asleep.

Total: £67
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Day Four

7am: Wake up late and it’s hammering it down so neither dog will leave the house. Retreat to bed with my book and a coffee.

8am: Trot the dogs round the block, get soaked.

9.30am: Head to Client 1. Today’s jobs are picture-organising, Pinterest-uploading and Facebook album creation.

12pm: Leftover rice for lunch at my desk.

2.30pm: Back home, finish off the soup from the other day. Realise how much of this diary revolves around food. Get to my desk to work on designs, do some social media for my business and write a blog.

5pm: Feed the dogs and start dinner.

7pm: Go with Mum to Pilates. Forgot to get change out of the bank so I owe her £4 for the class.

9pm: Feeling smugly exercised, I crash out with a book.

Total: £0
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Day Five

6.15am: Up, feed the dogs and myself.

7am: Walk Old Dog.

8am: Drive to Client 2.

9.30am: Field a grumpy phone call, get on with blog edits, emails and the work group chat. I’m the only person in most of the day and it goes so. Incredibly. Slowly.

4.30pm: Drive home. Client 1 paid! Two days is a record, normally they take weeks. It’s £432. I transfer Mum 15% (£65) for rent, then put £80 into my fund to pay for my car, £30 into my short term savings account because I’ll need new glasses next year, £30 into my travel savings account and £30 into an account saving for tax (although it looks like I’ll come in under the income tax threshold, I will probably owe Class 2 National Insurance… I always forget my accountant charges, too). £20 to my Christmas account.

6pm: Mum and I and some extended family head to the cinema and get dinner at Pizza Express. Dinner comes to £27 including a tip, the cinema to £12.50. I didn’t get enough cash out for both and there’s that complicated 'do you have change of a £10 note wait I think I might have change' conversation over the bill with eight people. End up owing Mum £12.40 on top of the Pilates money.

12am: Home to bed.

Total: £92
6 of 8
Day Six

7.30am: I deliberately set my alarm for later as I’m working this afternoon… and wake up anyway. Have a long breakfast and a shower, do a homemade manicure/pedicure. I’m going to have to add 'get a mani pedi for Christmas' to my list of short term savings because I do not do a good job.

10am: Walk Old Dog.

11am: Transfer the Pilates money and cinema money to Mum. £16.40. Inspired by my Money Diary, I get around to reorganising my savings accounts. I have my car fund, my short term savings/emergency fund (which I kept allocating too much to, then dipping into when it wasn’t really an emergency and feeling shit about it) and a travel fund because my friends and I might be going to the US next year. Emphasis on the might, ha. Also, I don’t have holiday pay except from the retailer so whenever I take a holiday I’m losing money unless I make the days up, so I try to over-save for my holidays so it’s not such a worry. I also have an account for haircuts/eyebrow waxes/generally treating myself, but to be honest I use it to top up my current account when it looks low – so this week I don’t add to it and try to keep my current account looking healthier instead. I want to get a LISA so I can start saving toward a house (well, a small flat) before I’m 30 but now’s not the time to trawl through MoneySavingExpert.

12pm: Walk to the retail job.

3pm: Tea break. Successfully avoid the vending machine with the snacks I bought the other day.

6pm: Lunch break. Knackered. I’m working with a new set of colleagues who seem nice and the job’s fine really, it’s just tough on your feet.

8pm: Walk home. It’s the closest Saturday to Bonfire Night and I have a great view of about five displays.

8.30pm: Dinner with Mum, chill out in front of Strictly.

Total: £16.40
7 of 8
Day Seven

7am: Get up and make breakfast, spend too much time on Instagram.

9am: Walk to work.

12.30pm: We’re really busy and slightly understaffed – I spend most of the morning covered in dust and advising customers about products I haven’t really learned about yet.

4pm: Lunch. Stare at my phone for too long. My friend hasn’t sent me her bank details yet so I can’t send her that £27, and I’m paranoid I’ll spend it if she doesn’t!

5pm: Finish my shift and walk home.

7pm: Dinner with Mum in front of Doctor Who. Reflect on how thoroughly boring my Money Diary has been.

9pm: Don’t even feel awake enough for the Sunday night drama. Head to bed.

Total: £0
8 of 8
The Breakdown

Food/Drink: £31.48
Clothes/Beauty: £0
Entertainment: £16.40
Travel: £0
Other: £132

Total: £179.88
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