A Week In London On A $325,000 Income

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 analyst working at a hedge fund who makes $325,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on waffles. We previously published a diary from this OP in September 2018, when she lived in NYC. Editor's note: All prices have been converted to U.S. dollars.
Occupation: Analyst
Industry: Hedge Fund
Age: 24
Location: London, U.K.
Salary: $125,000 plus $200,000 annual bonus. (My bonus is variable year to year.)
Paycheck Amount (Monthly): $8,265
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,842
Student Loans: $0 (Per my last diary: I was very fortunate to have a college fund set up by my parents, as well as some scholarships. I also worked through school to pay some of my tuition. I'd say that tuition was covered ~70/15/15 by my parents, myself, and scholarships.)
Gym: This is a taxable benefit through work. Work pays $122.20, and I only pay the tax on it.
Medical Insurance: $104.28 (Taxable benefit, private healthcare through work — we have the NHS, which is taxpayer-funded as well.)
Dental Insurance: $16.40 (Taxable benefit)
Wi-Fi, Water & Electricity: $87.50
Council Tax: $103
Phone: $31.20
Apple Storage: $0.99
New York Times Subscription: $15 (Still essential even though I live in London!)
Virgin Wines: $6.50 for a monthly automatic top-up, which goes toward future wine purchases. I get free shipping with this.
Retirement Fund: $840 (My employer matches part of this, and I also have a 401(k) in the U.S.)

Day One

6:35 a.m. — First alarm, a.k.a. soft wake-up call. Ugh. Roll over for another blissful few minutes of sleep.
6:40 a.m. — Hard wake-up call. I begrudgingly get out of bed and dart into the shower immediately. This job has a (significantly) earlier start time than my last job, and I would be lying if I said it has not been a massive adjustment. The hardest part was training myself to go to sleep early, because I had basically six years (college and then investment banking) where I went to bed anytime from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., so there was a lot of variability. The good news is I have figured out how to maximize sleep time by having my morning routine perfected within 25 minutes: brush teeth, shower, quick skincare routine (La Roche-Posay toner/serum/moisturizer), some morning vitamins, throw on clothes, and I'm then out the door.
7:06 a.m. — Leave for the Tube ($3.10). I try to leave around this time every day to get in before 7:30. European stock markets open at 8 a.m., so we generally try to get in a bit before open to read and digest any overnight news. $3.10
7:25 a.m. — Get into work and grab a large coffee from the Nespresso machine. Log into my Bloomberg terminal and check emails. Right now it's earnings season (when companies report earnings), so it's busy on the floor, and today is especially busy for my team because a lot of the companies we hold report today.
11:15 a.m. — Head up to the kitchen to grab some lunch, which we have catered. Today it's mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, chicken, edamame, and my favorite DIY salad dressing of citrus-herb vinaigrette, Sriracha, black pepper, and chili flakes.
12 p.m. — Earnings releases (we call them prints) #1 and #2. Stocks should move in our favor, but sometimes the market can be irrational, so we'll see.
1:30 p.m. — Print #3. This is one of the stocks I cover (my boss and I split coverage), and to my delight I called it correctly. This is my first earnings season, and I was one for two in calling stocks to date, so glad my hit rate just went up!
3 p.m. — Transition onto another earnings call. U.S. market has opened and we made some good calls today.
5:30 p.m. — Take a quick break to get dinner. I've become a creature of habit in getting the same salad and smoothie every day, but it's so good that I don't think I'll ever get tired of it. ($15.92 expensed)
8 p.m. — After going over the day's news and tweaking one of my models, I head home. I avoid rush hour, which is nice. $3.10
8:50 p.m. — Log in at home to get ready for a post-close earnings report in the U.S. Print #4 of the day, and we called it very right. I had been a bit uneasy about this call, because it was my decision to put on the position right before they reported, and it's both relieving and vindicating to see that I called it correctly. I listen to the earnings call while getting ready for bed.
10:45 p.m. — Promptly go to bed. I feel slightly guilty for not hanging out with my flatmates downstairs, but today's been a long day. I end up calling my mom while curled up in bed (does everyone do that?) and don't actually go to sleep till 11:15.
Daily Total: $6.20

Day Two

5:40 a.m. — Alarm goes off. I have to be in earlier today because we have an early print. I shower, get dressed, and am out the door by 6:05. One of my favorite things about this job is that the dress code is much more relaxed, so I wear jeans most days. It makes getting dressed so easy and also means I can curl up or cross my legs in my chair at work. It's the small things in life, you know?
6:25 a.m. — Five Tube stops later and I'm at work. It's depressing going to work when it's still dark out. $3.10
6:30 a.m. — Print #1 of the day. Mixed reaction, but you win some, you lose some. I grab a large coffee and settle in at my desk.
8:30 a.m. — My boss and I get a coffee at the coffee shop across the street and discuss the portfolio and our strategy this earnings season. We go for coffee most mornings, and it's always nice to have that time to discuss anything that might need discussing. He pays.
11:20 a.m. — Print #2, and it looks really good. The portfolio is going to do very well today, and I feel that rush of adrenaline that I've started to associate with making good calls. Of course, getting feedback on my performance from my team is valuable, but it's incredibly gratifying to see your work pay off right in front of you.
12 p.m. — Make myself a salad for lunch again (mixed greens, roasted carrots, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, and hard-boiled eggs) with the same dressing.
1:30 p.m. — Dial into another call and stay on while my team has their weekly catch-up on the portfolio. (There are lots of interesting details on the call, and I find it valuable to listen live rather than read transcripts later.)
4:30 p.m. — Catch-up call with an equity research analyst in NYC. She's working from home, and I can hear her dog in the background, which makes me smile.
5:30 p.m. — Dinner break, which means the same salad and a smoothie. I never used to be such a creature of habit, but now that my work schedule is more predictable, it's actually really nice to have routine in my life. ($15.92 expensed)
8:30 p.m. — Grab my bag and head home. As usual, I grab a free Evening Standard to read on the Tube. I've been trying to reduce my phone time since the new iOS upgrade came out with screen-time reports, because mine was much worse than I thought (but I think everyone's is, right?). I quit Instagram a long time ago and recently also deleted the Facebook app on my phone (though I still have my account), and have resolved to not pull out my phone on the Tube. I usually listen to Pod Save America on my morning commute and then read the paper or a book in the evening. $3.10
9 p.m. — One of my flatmates is home, so we catch up about our days over some wine. We order wine by the case for our house of four, and it's incredibly cost-effective — ordering in bulk is obviously cheaper, and we also go out to drink during the week much less frequently. Hooray for saving money and trying new wines from the comfort of your sofa in sweats.
10:30 p.m. — Head to bed slightly tipsy from the Syrah and immediately fall asleep.
Daily Total: $6.20

Day Three

5 a.m. — What an ungodly hour to wake up. Ugh.
5:30 a.m. — Post-shower, I put on some slightly more dressy clothes than usual (which would still count for casual at my old job) and make sure to bring my laptop and charger, since I'm going to a meeting today out of the office where I need to take notes. Make it to work in time for print #1 of the day at 6, and get a large coffee per usual.
8:30 a.m. — My boss and I go for our daily coffee and both get flat whites. (He pays.) Second coffee is very necessary after this morning's wake-up call. I have to knock out some other work this morning since we're out of the office this afternoon, so I hunker down at my desk.
11:30 a.m. — Lunchtime! Spinach, cucumber, olives, grilled shrimp, and cherry tomatoes today. Read The New Yorker while I eat, which always makes me nostalgic for New York. You can take the girl out of New York...though I love London as well!
2:30 p.m. — We leave our office to walk to the earnings results presentation for the company that reported this morning. I'm introduced to some new people as we all grab coffee. As always, the buy-side finance crowd is a good mix of nerdy, douchey, quirky, and pretty dry-humored. For reference, the dry humor part usually kicks in when someone brings up Brexit.
6:30 p.m. — We walk back to the office and make two stops on the way — Nespresso pods for my boss and my salad for me. $11.38
7 p.m. — I take the Tube home and promptly park myself at the kitchen table with my salad, pour myself a glass of Rioja, and put on House of Cards. I'm exhausted, but I'm also hungry. $3.10
8 p.m. — I do 45 minutes of yoga, and it feels so nice to stretch out a bit. I haven't exercised much this week because of earnings, but hopefully next week will be better. (I usually either do yoga at home before work or go to a class around 8 p.m. once work is over.) One of my flatmates comes home and reminds me to book flights for our trip to Barcelona in a couple weeks. I meant to do it last week but forgot, so I do it now before I forget again. I've been to Barcelona a few times, but I want to do a day trip to Montserrat on this trip since I've never been! $249.60
9:30 p.m. — Back to watching House of Cards, and I am dying to know how Frank Underwood died, but I force myself to go to bed because I know I need to sleep.
Daily Total: $264.08

Day Four

6:15 a.m. — Another early wake-up for another print, but it's Friday so I don't even mind.
6:30 a.m. — Log in from home to check print #1 of the day, and it looks like we made the right call. I'm going straight to a breakfast meeting from home today since it's closer to my flat than work, so the morning routine is a bit less rushed today.
7:30 a.m. — Take the Tube to Green Park, which is one of my favorite areas in the city. Unfortunately, it's the worst kind of London day today and very gray and rainy, so I speed walk from the Tube to the restaurant. For some reason, I have a lot of external meetings today, so I hope the rain lets up at some point. $3.10
9 a.m. — Meeting wraps up and I take the Tube to work while wishing I could just hang out in Green Park all day. London is beautiful even in the rain. $3.10
10:15 a.m. — Walk to my next meeting and berate myself for not wearing rain boots today. Ugh.
11:30 a.m. — Second meeting wraps up, and I walk back to the office. I stop at my favorite coffee shop on the way and get a Nutella waffle, which has become somewhat of a Friday habit for me. I try to eat pretty healthy from Monday to Thursday, but I'll admit that Friday to Sunday I pretty much eat whatever I want. I like to think it all balances out. $5.20
12 p.m. — That waffle was delicious, and it fueled me up in time for print #2. Then I walk to a third meeting, which is fortunately a lunch meeting. I have some chicken with roasted veggies in between taking notes furiously.
2 p.m. — It still hasn't stopped raining, so I trudge back to the office in the rain. What a dreary Friday.
3:30 p.m. — Everyone on the floor seems to have hit a productivity wall this Friday afternoon, so I persuade two associates to get waffles. They agree, and we all get Nutella waffles and one associate gets a latte as well. I treat and happily devour my second waffle of the day. The second waffle is really not part of the habit (lol), but sometimes you just have to go for it. $15.60
4 p.m. — Chat with a couple more research analysts from New York for the next hour.
6 p.m. — Head home after finishing up work for the day. I stop at Boots on my way for some shampoo, conditioner, and vitamin C. $16.74
6:15 p.m. — Catch the worst of rush hour, which makes me slightly grumpy, but I manage to read some of Maid (by Stephanie Land) on the commute home. Although I didn't grow up in the type of poverty described in the book, the accounts of single motherhood remind me exactly of watching my own mom struggle on her own. Luckily, by now I have mastered the art of reading while standing in a packed Tube car. $3.10
6:30 p.m. — My flatmates are home surprisingly early, but our dinner reservation isn't until later, so we open a bottle of Sangiovese in the meantime. One of my flatmates is out of town this weekend, so it's just my two other flatmates, plus one of their friends from college who's visiting. She's here in London for med school interviews, and hearing the two of them reminisce about their school years makes me nostalgic for college, too.
8:15 p.m. — We call a ViaVan to go to dinner and split it, since it's not too expensive with four of us. We're dropped off in Chelsea and wait a couple minutes to be seated. $7.35
10:30 p.m. — Many drinks, many sharing plates, and two desserts later (highlight of the meal was the crunchy honeycomb with mascarpone and tarragon sugar), we've basically gone over every detail of my flatmate's friend's love life currently, the focus of which is a guy she's semi-seeing who's kind of playing hot and cold with her. Of course, we all advise her to break it off, but she admits she probably won't. Cue some more drinks. We split the tab four ways. $78.25
11 p.m. — We meet up with two other friends and decide to try to get into an '80s-themed club nearby, but there's a massive line. One of the biggest adjustments moving from New York to London is that things close earlier here, so you have to make it out earlier if you want to get in anywhere. We wait in line for about half an hour and then decide to go to a cocktail bar nearby. I get a mezcal cocktail (the others get vodka sodas), and we find a good spot to hang out near the DJ. $17.55
1:30 a.m. — Some drinks and two rounds of shots later, we decide to try our luck again at the club and meander back in line. Luckily, the line moves quickly, and we get in! Cover and coat check is kind of steep, but we're in a dancing mood so we go for it. $28.60
2 a.m. — They're playing a lot of Queen tonight, and I'm belting out all the lyrics like a total maniac because I had the Spotify "This Is Queen" playlist on repeat all week after seeing Bohemian Rhapsody last weekend.
3:15 a.m. — We decide to call it a night, and my flatmate gets us a cab home.
3:45 a.m. — McDonald's is closed and we are devastated. Of course, four girls who used to live in New York all declare, "This would never happen in New York." We resign ourselves to brunch tomorrow instead and walk home.
4:15 a.m. — Fall asleep on the couch while my flatmates make pasta and then drag myself up to bed.
Daily Total: $178.59

Day Five

12 p.m. — Wake up to light streaming into my room, and am thankfully not hungover. My flatmates want to go for pancakes, so I shower, get ready, and then we walk to our favorite brunch spot in the neighborhood.
12:45 p.m. — These pancakes are to die for. Clotted cream, berry compote, and fluffy buttermilk pancakes doused in syrup. I get a coffee, too. We split the bill, and I leave for a date. $20.62
1:45 p.m. — I take the Tube to meet a guy, A., at Hampstead Heath. This is our third date, but it isn't "the pivotal third date" in that sense (lol). I'll be honest and say that it's very new for me to like someone this much when I start off dating them before knowing them for a while first, because I usually realize I'm into someone once we've been friends for a while. I like hanging out with A. because he's incredibly smart and we can have engaging conversation without putting pressure on each other. And then, if I'm being honest again, the sexual chemistry is probably a big part of it as well (just keeping it real). $3.10
2:30 p.m. — A. greets me near the station with a cappuccino, and we walk around the park. He's lived in London for a while, so he knows the city pretty well, which means he's excellent at picking date spots. Hampstead Heath is absolutely beautiful, and we walk up the hill to get a good view of the city. There are some slushy patches from the light snow yesterday, but he very gallantly carries me over them.
4 p.m. — We walk around a bit more, and A. suggests going to watch the England rugby game at a pub with some of his friends. He played rugby in college and assures me he'll walk me through the rules. We take the Tube to a pub in the city. $3.10
4:30 p.m. — The pub is absolutely packed — it seems like rugby is a very close second to soccer (or should I say football?) in popularity in England. A. gets us some drinks, and I meet his two flatmates and a couple other friends of theirs. Everyone is lovely, though for a lot of the game A. explains the rules to me, while I try to locate the ball when it's under eight players all on top of one another. I pick up on the rules easily enough, but I struggle to get excited because it doesn't seem like there's much strategy to the game. That then prompts a debate of the merits of American football versus rugby, and of course I lose that argument at a pub in central London.
7 p.m. — We were going to go to another bar but somehow just stay here, and some of A.'s other friends have shown up as well. I am enjoying myself much more than I thought I would at hour four in a pub, and I get another cider. $4.03
9 p.m. — A.'s friend and his girlfriend are visiting from Berlin, and they also come to join at the pub. We make small talk about what they're going to do in London, and then A.'s friend starts recounting their fraternity days in college. It's highly entertaining for me, to say the least.
11 p.m. — We're the last group left in the pub, and I've lost count of how many drinks it's been, so I decide it's time to take A. home. He is a happy and adorable drunk, so it's a seamless transition back to my place in an Uber. $15.22
Daily Total: $46.07

Day Six

6 a.m. — Wake up to morning sex. God, I love weekends.
10 a.m. — A. and I shower and then decide to make breakfast. He meets my flatmates, and then we walk to Tesco and get some ingredients. $13.42
10:20 a.m. — We stop by a local coffee shop for lattes as well — a flat white for A. and a nonfat latte for me. $8.84
10:30 a.m. — A. makes shakshuka and scrambled eggs, and I make a kale chorizo hash, and it's a delicious breakfast. Both my flatmates have breakfast with us, and to my delight everyone gets along splendidly.
12 p.m. — We decide to go on a walk since it's so nice out and end up wandering around Regent's Park. At some point we get hot chocolate (with marshmallows!) and then sit on the benches lounging in the sun. We end up touching on the topic of A.'s parents and their divorce, and his opening up makes me a lot more comfortable discussing my own parents' divorce. I'm pretty open in general as a person, but I'm very aware that we're progressing past "not just hooking up territory," and opening up on my end feels like embracing that head on. I think I like him a lot, but I've become so good at detaching the physical from the emotional that the emotional intimacy on top of physical intimacy is honestly a big hurdle for me. Thankfully, he doesn't push too much, and we just enjoy people watching in the park for a bit.
3 p.m. — We head back to mine and end up fooling around for a bit before he leaves. Afterward, my flatmates immediately descend downstairs and proceed to ask for every detail of our date yesterday and then today, because what else would you expect living with three girls?
5:30 p.m. — I have to bring a side dish for dinner at a friend's tonight, so I preheat the oven and run to Tesco again to get carrots. I make Ottolenghi roasted carrots with pomegranate seeds — so easy and so yummy. $4.91
6:30 p.m. — Take the bus to my friend's flat and am greeted with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. Can't complain. $3.10
7:30 p.m. — We have a delicious dinner of grilled chicken, avocado kale salad, baked salmon, and pizza. I eat no less than four slices in addition to the rest of the food, and then of course try both desserts and have ice cream.
10 p.m. — After a few glasses of wine, I thank my friend for dinner and catch the bus home, where I promptly get horizontal on the sofa for a bit. I definitely need to digest and to re-energize, because I resolved to stay up to watch the Super Bowl tonight. $3.10
11:30 p.m. — Walk to the sports bar around the corner and meet two friends, one of whom also brought a friend. We're split down the table, with two Patriots fans (myself included, cue the boos) and two anyone-but-the-Patriots fans. We all order drinks.
2 a.m. — This is the most boring Super Bowl I have ever watched, and one of the most lackluster halftime shows as well. I appreciate a good defensive strategy, but this is getting to be a bit much for 2 a.m. My head sags and I accidentally fall asleep sitting up.
2:30 a.m. — Wake up and things are looking promising for the Pats.
3:30 a.m. — We won! After high-fiving my fellow Patriots fan, we all sluggishly pay for our drinks and leave. I already know I'm going to pay dearly for this tomorrow, and I try to convince myself it was worth it. It kind of was because the Pats won, but it also wasn't because that game was not worth staying up for. Plus we didn't even get to see the Super Bowl commercials since we watched it on a British channel! $8.05
Daily Total: $41.42

Day Seven

6:40 a.m. — Drag myself out of bed and into the shower. Yes, I am paying for this already.
7:25 a.m. — Sleep for 15 minutes on the Tube and then promptly make myself a large coffee at work. $3.10
8:30 a.m. — My boss and I go for coffee, and I get coffee #2 of the day. I manage to be fairly productive for the morning, but only thanks to caffeine. What would I do without caffeine?
11:30 a.m. — Lunchtime. Today's salad is a DIY tuna niçoise. Plus coffee #3.
1 p.m. — I go with my coworker to get lattes. Coffee #4. He pays.
5:30 p.m. — I've actually gotten a good amount done this afternoon, and I can feel my mind fading, so I go home. Luckily, people are pretty flexible about leaving early here, and usually only associates stay past 5 or 6 anyway. I try to nap on the Tube ride home, but unsurprisingly, rush hour commutes are not conducive to napping. $3.10
6 p.m. — Snuggle in bed and set an alarm for 8, since I'm meeting A. and his friends who are visiting for dinner later.
7:50 p.m. — I wake up before my alarm and feel infinitely better post-nap. I quickly put my clothes back on and walk to dinner in Soho.
8:30 p.m. — Dinner is at a very cute dim sum place, and we order an assortment of dim sum dishes, plus some special dishes off the Chinese New Year menu. We all order drinks except A., who responsibly orders a hot tea. I'm extremely excited by the prospect of soup dumplings — I haven't had them since leaving New York.
10 p.m. — The soup dumplings were very mediocre, but everything else was pretty good, so I'm not complaining. We split the bill four ways and decide to try a nearby whiskey bar afterward. $32.50
10:20 p.m. — Unfortunately, the bar is fully booked (on a Monday!), so A.'s friends set off in search of another cocktail bar and A. and I both take a raincheck, since we have to work tomorrow. He walks me home and we have a movie-worthy goodbye moment at my door. I go to bed smiling and wondering when I'm going to see him next, then chastise myself for getting attached, and then resolve to just go with it. It's that intoxicating feeling where you're having fun and that tantalizing awareness of something new and exciting, and I kind of want to just bask in it while I can. Go to sleep still smiling and half thinking about soup dumplings.
Daily Total: $38.70
Editorial Note: This diary has been edited to protect the diarist's identity.
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