A Week In London On A $63,516 Salary

Photo: Getty Images.
Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
Today: an accountant working in banking who makes $63,516 per year and spends some of her money this week on Massaman curry.
Editor's note: All prices have been converted to U.S. dollars.
Occupation: Accountant
Industry: Banking
Age: 27
Location: London, England
Salary: $63,516
Paycheck Amount (Monthly): $3,642.44
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,212.64 including all utilities, which I split with my flatmate
Netflix: 10.89
Amazon Prime: $10.36
Gym: $45.35
The Economist Subscription: $51.87
The New York Times Subscription: $15.56
Phone: Paid for by work
Healthcare: Free from the NHS
Holiday: $200 (I bought 10 extra vacation days for the year on top of the 25 everyone gets normally…indulgent, I know!)
Dental Insurance: $18.32
Pension: $251.40 (My company contributes $172 on top of this.)
Savings: ~$390, but I haven't been as consistent lately as I should be.
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Annual Expenses
Accounting Dues: $450

Day One

5:45 a.m. — I'm usually a morning person, but having an early gym class on a Monday is painful. I go to HIIT class, then do core. It sucks to feel like a limp noodle when I remember how in shape I was a few months ago. Blergh.
8:45 a.m. — For breakfast I have protein powder that has been sitting on my desk at work for ages.
9 a.m. — Spend time reading articles and easing into the day. I recently started reading The Financial Times, which makes me feel like such a grown-up. I also buy some socks on Amazon Prime because all of mine have holes in them. $9.06
12:30 p.m. — My company gives employees a lunch allowance, which is awesome. I buy three microwave meals from Marks & Spencer (the total goes over my allowance). I eat one and stuff it with kale in order to get more veggies in. $7.78
3 p.m. — Break from lunch to go buy a protein bar. This is my daily ritual — I don't buy coffee, but this little bar brings me so much joy it's slightly disconcerting. Plus, it's healthy-ish and keeps me from dying of hunger on the Tube ride home. $2.58
6 p.m. — I read my book, The Bottom Billion by Paul Collier, on the Tube home (which I pay for using my prepaid transportation card). I've been really bad lately about going down Netflix/YouTube rabbit holes instead of reading, so I've decided to try to go the whole week without watching them. I've talked to people who don't watch TV or read, and I actually don't understand what they do with their time.
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6:15 p.m. — Pick up some packs of rice that I might need for dinner. Pre-cooked rice is life. I have never successfully cooked rice from scratch, which, now that I think about it, is pretty embarrassing. $2.59
6:30 p.m. — I took all my winter clothes out from under my bed last weekend, which has me thinking of all the things my wardrobe is missing. I accidentally wander into Joy and buy two work sweaters and a skirt. Whoops. $73.86
7 p.m. — I do all the adulting I skipped on Sunday when I decided to lie in bed watching Four Weddings and a Funeral. Clean my room, vacuum, scrub the bathroom, and do laundry.
7:30 p.m. — It's Bonfire Night (Guy Fawkes Night), so there's a near constant sound of fireworks going off outside. (It's a holiday that's not celebrated in North America.) I should go watch fireworks, but my bed is way more appealing.
8 p.m. — I warm up some food that I made a while ago and froze (bean stew with veggies and rice) while listening to My Dad Wrote A Porno. I ALMOST break my rule and put on Netflix while cooking, but I'm only on season 2 of MDWAP, so I've got a bank of episodes to exhaust.
9:30 p.m. — Eat dark chocolate-covered rice cakes in bed while reading Eastern Horizons by Levinson Wood. (I have a Tube book and a bed book.) It's about a man hitchhiking across Europe and Asia, following in the footsteps of early explorers. It's a good enough book, and I'm obsessed with traveling, but it makes me think a lot about the privilege inherent in travel and travel writing, especially in Western countries. Another travel memoir by a white man following in the footsteps of British colonialists feels a bit yucky...but not enough to make me stop reading. (Recommended travel reading — Curiosity Magazine and Bani Amor's writing about decolonizing travel.)
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10 p.m. — I fill up my hot water bottle because it feels the same as having a dog sleep at your feet without having to be responsible for another living creature. Lights off at a decent time, which is the best feeling.
Daily Total: $95.87

Day Two

6:15 a.m. — Wake up, and I'm still super sleepy. I head out, buy a travel size face soap at Boots (I'm out), and head to the gym for an LBT class. $6.68
9 a.m. — Do some life admin online rather than getting started on work. I recently gave my three months' notice, so I'm not overly stressed. Three months is quite long even for the UK, but definitely not unheard of — so different from the two weeks in North America! I actually like it more this way because I have time to wrap up what I'm working on, and don't feel like I'm letting my team down.
1 p.m. — Another microwave meal stuffed with kale. There's nonstop coverage on the TV of the U.S. midterm elections. Seeing as I'm not American, there's nothing I can do about it, but that only makes it marginally less stressful. Takes the mind off Brexit for a day, I guess.
3:45 p.m. — Protein bar time. Best part of the afternoon. I buy three and use my lunch allowance to expense most of the cost. $1.30
5:30 p.m. — Head out early-ish (a more frequent occurrence now that I'm not trying to impress anyone) to have dinner at a friend's house in East London. She makes wild duck with fancy mashed potatoes and peas for dinner, and I bring a bottle of wine I had at home. We talk about the restaurant scene in London, boys, and the merits of the U.S. healthcare system versus the NHS. Take my taxes, I can't imagine life without "free" healthcare!
9 p.m. — I read the Economist app on the Tube home. When I get home, I chug water to prevent a red wine hangover.
11 p.m. — Prepare my bags and outfit for tomorrow morning. Then I spend too much time scrolling through Instagram before going to sleep.
Daily Total: $7.98

Day Three

6 a.m. — Wake up before my alarm because the rain gutter is dripping loudly. Sad and drippy walk to the Tube. On the plus side, the Democrats won the House!
7 a.m. — Spin class this morning at the gym. It's a different instructor than usual. I know it shouldn't matter, but this always throws me off! She doesn't specify speed or resistance, which means I have no clue if I'm on track.
9 a.m. — Morning call with a client. I eat leftover dinner from Monday for breakfast and drink free tea from the office.
11 a.m. — More meetings. So hungryyyyyy.
12 p.m. — LUNCH! I get Vietnamese beef bone broth with rice noodles, to which I add kale. (I pay for the leftover balance.) $1.23
1:30 p.m. — Already starving, so I indulge in my daily protein bar that I bought yesterday. Why am I so hungry already?!
5:15 p.m. — There's a Diwali celebration at a temple I've wanted to go to for a while, so a friend and I make plans to go. I invite one of my colleagues to join us as well. We leave early-ish and take the Tube to the temple.
6:30 p.m. — The temple is all lit up and there's a great atmosphere! We head straight to the food hall, and my colleague gives us the inside scoop on what to order. We eat pav bhahi, chole tikki chaat, aloo tikki, and gajar ka halwa. I'm in actual heaven! I'm the only one with cash, so I pay for the food. There's some mention of paying me back, but I'm too busy being full and happy to care too much. $20.74
7:30 p.m. — After we feel sufficiently ill from stuffing our faces, we head over to the temple. The whole thing is amazing! We check our bags and shoes. There are thousands of people, but the lines are short and everything is super well-organized.
8 p.m. — We stand in line to get into the center of the temple, and my friend goes in a different line because it's separated by gender. Why is the line for women always longer?? We're lucky enough to see the fireworks from the temple balcony while the line is stalled. SO COOL. When we finally go in, my colleague gives me all the background on what to do. It would be stunning either way, but it means so much more now that I know what everything means.
8:30 p.m. — We explore the temple some more and then attempt to make our way back to the food hall for dessert part two. Unfortunately, everyone else has the same idea, so it's packed. As much as I want jalebi, my stomach is still so full it hurts, so we hop on the bus back to the station instead and make plans to head to Whitechapel (an area of London) soon for more food adventures.
9:45 p.m. — Home and in bed. I text my boyfriend asking for interesting stories from his day. (He is currently in med school in a different country.) Apparently, a granny he treated today told him she'd love to visit America because Trump is her hero. Well, that's depressing.
10:15 p.m. — Spend too much time on Instagram and then read my book to fall asleep.
Daily Total: $21.97

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — I sleep in a bit, but don't feel as rested as I should.
9 a.m. — Drinking tea for breakfast. Sweet, milky tea is one of the most comforting things ever. Like a warm hug in a cup.
2:30 p.m. — Walk to Waitrose to buy kale, mushrooms, cinnamon, and chocolate-covered rice cakes. Then I head back to the office to eat my final microwave meal stuffed with some of the kale I bought. Tastes so good. ($6.48 expensed)
3:30 p.m. — My colleague brought in some Indian desserts she bought yesterday at the Diwali festival. A few of us stand around for ages sampling each type and trying to pick our favorite. Now to put the sugar rush to good use.
6:30 p.m. — Head home. It's way less busy leaving now than if I leave right at 5.
7:30 p.m. — Get home and immediately change into PJs. There's no reason I should be in my flat and not in ridiculously oversized sweats. If it's not three sizes too big, I refuse to wear it at home. I throw together dinner by warming up baked tofu I froze and a bunch of veggies and rice with some spices. I listen to more My Dad Wrote A Porno while I cook. I want to be friends with them!
8 p.m. — About to call my dad when he rings me. I completely forgot it was his birthday! We have a nice chat but I feel so guilty about forgetting that it throws off my evening. I add a recurring calendar reminder so I don't forget again.
9 p.m. — Listen to The Racist Sandwich Podcast while I clean and do my nails. It's a really great podcast that focuses on food, race, gender, and class, and leaves me both hungry and informed.
10 p.m. — I should read my book and get an early night. Instead, I get sucked down a Facebook and Instagram rabbit hole. I have substituted Netflix with more Instagram, which I think might be worse.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

6:45 a.m. — Wake up naturally and play on my phone/snooze until I decide it's time to start adulting.
7 a.m. — Stand in front of the mirror trying to figure out when it's logistically smart to wash my hair given my social and gym schedules. It's so hard to time it so that I don't look gross but also don't overwash my hair. I'm about to wash it when I hear Jonathan Van Ness' voice in my head, and instead leave the house 50% woman, 50% dry shampoo.
8 a.m. — I decide to walk a portion of the way to work because it's the only time of the day I'll see sunlight! I find a super happy playlist on Spotify with Stevie Wonder, ABBA, Spice Girls, and Frankie Valli, and walk along the Thames and past Parliament. Pretty great start to the day!
12 p.m. — I'm pretty productive at work. Not sure if it's because it's Friday or if it's the caffeine from the tea. For lunch I get aubergine (British word for eggplant) and "meatballs" with noodled courgette (British for zucchini) in tomato sauce. I read an article on the cultural and social impacts of sugar by Ruby Tandoh. Super interesting. I'm definitely on a food/culture spree right now. ($5.38 expensed)
12:30 p.m. — So full from lunch. I see a sign about signing up to be an organ donor, so I go online to fill out the form. If I die I won't need them, so they might as well go to good use!
3 p.m. — Fire drill. Everyone goes outside, but instead of waiting in the park we head to a Starbucks. I don't order anything, though.
3:15 p.m. — I buy my daily protein bar and marvel at how much I love it. I expense a portion because I have a few pence left on my lunch allowance. $1.49
6:30 p.m. — After reading an article about the Kit Kat phenomenon in Japan, it's time to go home! I buy some baby carrots on the way. $1.04
7:30 p.m. — I drop my stuff off at home and then head out to meet friends for a drink before our dinner reservation.
8 p.m. — Get to the bar and order a sour beer, the only kind of beer I like. $5.83
8:30 p.m. — BYOB Thai food in Clapham. The food is good, and not having to pay for alcohol is better! I bring a bottle of green wine (vino verde) that I got in Portugal earlier this year, and we all share a few bottles. We get some starters and share pad Thai and Massaman curry. I'm peer-pressured into dessert as well, and then we all roll out of the restaurant. $25.93
10 p.m. — Head to a bar across the street. It has a map ceiling, which I am in love with! I wonder how my landlady would react if I did some creative DIY. I don't feel like drinking anymore, so I grab a soda water while we sing along to Whitney Houston and try to guess how many dates the couples near us have been on. $2.59
12:30 a.m. — Walk the 30 minutes home. Going out somewhere walkable in London is a rare treat, so I try to take advantage.
Daily Total: $36.88

Day Six

9:20 a.m. — Wake up and Skype with my boyfriend to catch up and complain. Then I buy an umbrella off of Amazon because I want one that won't break in the wind. $14.25
11 a.m. — Head over to Brixton for a boxing class. I'm out of practice, but it's an amazing workout, and sparring is such a rush! There's nothing like punching people to wake you up. The only downside is the occasional boob punch, but it's worth it!! $6.48
1 p.m. — Walk around Brixton Market, my favorite place in the world! Such a cool mix of shops, restaurants, and people. I finally buy the Brixton Market cookbook I've been eyeing for ages. I definitely need to start cooking cooler meals. $20.73
1:30 p.m. — Head down to Electric Avenue (or rather, "rock down to" — it's the street the song is based on!) to buy some produce at the market. Pick up some apples, grapes, duck eggs, and a baobab and soursop leaf soda. Not sure what it's going to taste like, but the stuff is homemade, and it's exciting to try new flavors. $8.43
2 p.m. — I hit up The Body Shop and spend WAY too much time trying to decide what to buy because I get drawn in by a three for two deal. I leave with concealer, perfume, and lipstick. $20.10
5 p.m. — Take the Tube to North East London to try Lithuanian food at Berneliu Uzeiga with a friend. We order mushroom soup in a bread bowl, which is amazing, and then a GIANT platter that the waitress recommends because it has all the most traditional dishes. Pork belly, sausage, fried potatoes, potato pancakes, sauerkraut, cream, a kind of gelatinous potato dumpling stuffed with meat, and sausage casings stuffed with potatoes. My friend pays because I spotted him cash earlier in the week at Diwali.
7 p.m. — We get kicked out because every Saturday they have a Lithuanian disco and you need to have booked a table in advance. I wish we could stay and see how hard Lithuanians party!
8 p.m. — Head to Juju's in Brick Lane to meet up with some more friends because one of them wants to go swing dancing. My friend dances with the CUTEST grandpa, and we all immediately make plans to take swing dancing lessons. I give a donation to the band and buy a mocktail. $15.56
10:30 p.m. — Head home early and am in bed by 11:30.
Daily Total: $85.55

Day Seven

8 a.m. — Wake up and Skype with my boyfriend while I get ready. Then I eat an apple for breakfast.
9:30 a.m. — Head to church with my flatmate and her friend. I never go to church unless my dad's in town, but I figure I should go because it's Remembrance Day. Halfway through church, I realize my flatmate is missing. It turns out that the incense plus her hangover made her run out halfway through to throw up! I feel bad, but it's also kinda hilarious. I give the only cash I have as an offering. After church, everyone heads over to the park for the wreath laying. $6.48
12:30 p.m. — Take the train over to Peckham to meet a friend. I get there early, so I head to a local bookstore and buy The Hungry Empire: How Britain's Quest for Food Shaped the Modern World. It's a few quid cheaper on Amazon, but I figure if I want to continue to spend ages loitering in bookstores (which I do!), I need to support them even if my Kindle is the best thing ever. $12.95
1 p.m. — Meet my friend at Persepolis, a Persian vegetarian cafe that's one of my favorite spots. You can spend hours there eating and drinking and never feel like you're being rushed. I order a cardamom-date latte and we share scrambled eggs with plantains and harissa and eggs with dates and Iraqi spices. After sitting for ages, we share two vegan sundaes that are stuffed with dates, baklava, and cookies, and one is topped with what seems like nut-flavored cotton candy. Heaven and sugar coma. $18.64
3:30 p.m. — We take a walk around Peckham for a bit and then head home.
5 p.m. — Head home and call my Gran. I tell her about my flatmate's mishap, but omit the hangover portion! Then I break my Netflix embargo and spend the rest of the night watching romcoms and eating snacks.
11 p.m. — Go to bed way too late, already dreading having to wake up tomorrow.
Daily Total: $38.07
Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women's experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.
The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day. For more money diaries, click here.
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