A Week In London, England, On A Joint $280,000 Salary

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 M&A director who makes $170,000 per year. She spends some of her paycheck on Swiss chocolates.
Occupation: Director
Industry: M&A
Age: 35
Location: London
Salary: $170,000, and my husband earns $110,000
Paycheck (Monthly): $8,800. My husband's is $4,700.
Monthly Expenses
Housing Costs: $2,300 mortgage on our two-bedroom flat in London
Loan Payments: $470/month for our investment property (after rental income). I don't have any credit card debt or personal loans.
All Other Monthly Expenses
Investment Account: $2,000/month; my husband contributes ~$1,200.
Pension: $1,200/month into my pension, 401(k); and my husband contributes ~$850/month. Both of our companies pay half of this.
Personal Insurance: $300/month (death, income protection, travel). My work pays for my private health insurance.
iPhone: $80/month, and my work provides a work iPhone that they pay for.
Miscellaneous Bills: $600/month (covering my husband and myself), toward council tax, internet, TV license, fortnightly cleaner, gas and electricity, Sky and Netflix subscriptions.
Magazine Subscriptions: ~$30/month. I have a magazine subscription to almost every fashion magazine available, but fortunately they are reasonably priced in the U.K.

Day One

6:30 a.m. — Wake up at 6:30, which is annoying for a Sunday. Read the newspaper online and do some online Christmas present browsing while my husband sleeps. At 7:30, I eat porridge with grated carrot and banana for breakfast, log on, and do a few hours of work. Our lawyers have asked that my team complete a review of a legal document before 10 a.m., having only provided it at 5 p.m. on Saturday night. I do this and a few other things. I'm in the middle of a deal, and it will make my life for the coming week so much easier if I just do it now. I drink three espressos, three glasses of water and a vitamin D tablet (which I do every morning as per NHS guidelines!).
10 a.m. — I catch the bus into the city to meet my friend for brunch at Soho House. On the way, I see a large suitcase completely alone on the side of the street, just near Oxford Circus. This has genuinely never happened to me before, having lived in London for six years, but I follow the protocol and ring the anti-terrorism hotline to report it, all the while feeling silly but knowing it's the right thing to do. The police arrive in a very impressive three minutes, sirens blaring. They don't tell me what happened, but it appears that a tourist left their suitcase on the street. On the way to brunch, I get papped by a street photographer for looking "cool," which has genuinely never happened to me either. I laugh, knowing that this will make me sound like someone I completely am not (i.e. cool). Brunch is lovely: turmeric eggs with turkey bacon and two cups of Earl Grey. $22
1 p.m. — I hit the shops and buy new perfume (£48) and a thick knit from COS (£69). I catch the bus home, chat to a friend on the phone, and get an email telling me that a silver photo frame that has been out of stock is back in stock. I buy it as a replacement for my niece, who cried when she broke the one I when I gave her as a thank-you present for being my flower girl a year ago (£20). $183
3 p.m. — I get home, do three hours of work, and my husband makes dinner: pork with chili and lemongrass, and a red cabbage, coriander, and lime salad. (The ingredients are from a grocery trip the day before.) I read in bed, drink two cups of licorice tea, and fall asleep at 10.
Daily Total: $205

Day Two

6 a.m. — Alarm goes off at 6, and I make porridge again with carrot, banana, and cinnamon, and have two espressos. I am out the door by 6:30 and off to the gym, where I do 20 minutes of HIIT sprints, and then arms for 40 minutes. My gym is my happy place. It is one of those lovely gyms with fluffy towels, GHD hair straighteners, and white robes. They iron your shirts for free, always an added incentive to go. I drink one and a half liters of water by the time I have left the gym.
8:50 a.m. — Get to work, drink have an espresso, and start my day. (Work coffee is awesome: An iPad takes my order and the machine automatically grinds the beans and makes it fresh.) At 11:30, I eat canned tuna I brought from home and a peppermint tea (also provided by work). At 12:30 I eat the veggie and chicken salad I brought from home; it has chicken breast, roasted broccoli and peppers, peas, tomatoes, and avocado. (My husband and I spend about $500 per month on groceries for the two of us. We mostly eat at home and I bring a homemade lunch to work most days.) I'm stuffed and read the newspaper while eating at my desk.
8 p.m. — Catch the tube home. Husband has cooked an organic turkey mince with courgettes and chili, and a side of red cabbage and coriander. I pack for my upcoming work trip and then lie in bed, finishing my book for 30 minutes before falling asleep at 10.30.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

4:15 a.m. — Wide awake, but I secretly love it when this happens. I get so much more time to potter in the mornings. I get up at 5 a.m., having played on Instagram and read the newspaper online, and make myself porridge and a pot of coffee. I finish packing my carry-on and catch an Uber to work ($20 expensed, due to my work trip) and am at my desk at 7. I drink a half-liter of water and a cup of peppermint tea.
8:30 a.m. — I have an external meeting at 9 a.m. and head over with the rest of the deal team at 8:30. It's an all-parties M&A meeting, so there are about 30 people in the room. I ask several questions of the other side and get slightly condescending responses, putting me in a foul mood. I avoid the breakfast food they put out (all pastries) and drink an espresso and a glass of water. I am back at my desk by noon, take a couple of calls, brief my team, and eat lunch reading the paper online at 1 p.m. It's organic chicken, broccoli, grated carrot, avocado and pumpkin seeds, for lunch, which I made this morning. Feeling really dehydrated so I drink a half-bottle of water and a cup of peppermint tea.
5 p.m. — I head to the airport on the tube and fly to Zurich (cost covered by work) at 6:30, arriving into Zurich at 9 p.m. local time. I read work materials on the flight; I am that person. My flight is a small aircraft, almost entirely filled with male commuters making the same trip as me. I reflect on the fact that I can go an entire week without talking to a woman in a professional context; fortunately, this has not been one of those weeks. I don't buy anything at the airport (it's a commuter airport) and I don't eat airplane food, so when I get to my hotel, I am starving. My hotel is just lovely: It has fancy designs, a bike hanging from the ceiling, and a walk-in shower roughly the size of my bathroom in London. I eat dinner at the hotel — lamb with vegetables (40 CHF expensed) — and get to sleep at midnight.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

6 a.m. — I get up, drink an espresso, and go for a run. I love doing this on work trips as it is such a great way to a see a city that you otherwise wouldn't have time to. Zurich is immaculate and I'm obsessed with the cute Swiss buildings. There are no other runners around however, making me think there is a great running track somewhere else that I am missing; it's completely freezing as well. I get back to my hotel at 7 a.m. and am out the door by 7:30.
9 a.m. — Getting ready quickly is my secret superpower. I have meetings until noon, so I eat a turmeric yogurt with nuts and dates around (CHF 10, expensed) and have another espresso during my meeting. At noon, I leave the office to commute to the other office, about 30 minutes away. I get lost on the way as I decide to catch the tram (taxis are ludicrously expensive and slower than the excellent public transport), and arrive at the office at 1 p.m., thereby missing the official Swiss lunch hour, meaning there is genuinely no food whatsoever. One of the PAs takes pity on me and repeatedly tells me she can "go find bread." I decline and eat a soggy apple.
5 p.m. — I finish up and decide to head back to my hotel on the tram (4 CHF, expensed), since there is a proper restaurant there that serves food all day. By the time I get to the hotel, I am on verge of hungry tears, particularly when they tell me they don't serve food until 6. I check my emails, am seated promptly at 6, and have a delicious meal of cauliflower, roasted chicken, and hummus with minced beef (50 CHF, expensed). I now feel full and a little sick as I wolfed it down too fast. The people next to me are discussing cryptocurrencies and the risk of online hacking, making me want to join their conversation; I don't because Swiss people are notoriously private.
7 p.m. — At my hotel desk after having had a nice long hot shower and put on a face mask. I drink two liters of water and have two cups of green tea. I have work calls at 8.30 on a new deal – I have never had so many deals on the go at one time and I start to panic about all the balls in the air. I send my boss an email, quickly chat with my husband (one of my best friends had a baby today, and another friend's mum had a big operation) and hit the sack at midnight.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

4:15 a.m. — Wake up; my husband (who also works in finance) is online, so I call him and we have a quick chat. He sounds tired and we both cannot wait for the weekend. (That's a bit of a fools' promise, as we both have to work but are pretending we won't have to.) We put a lot of faith in the restorative capabilities of weekends. I log onto my computer, do a little work and then shower and get suited, and go down to the hotel's café for breakfast. It is pitch black and I am the only one there. I have three eggs and an espresso, and catch an Uber to the office (45 CHR, expensed) for an 8 a.m. breakfast meeting. On the way, I buy a COS work dress online (£55) as I am rapidly running out of work clothes. (Read: I have a shopping addiction.) $70
8:30 a.m. — I have back-to-back meetings all day with senior people, and I am told it is not acceptable to check my emails on my phone. At 1, I have a working lunch which involves me working and not eating. I manage to stuff in some carrots and aubergine which are delicious (free), and I have three espressos (free). At 6, I have a compulsory networking session and as I have been in meetings all day I am terrified at the thought of my inbox. I have nine missed calls from my deal team who knew I was unavailable except in urgent circumstances. I start to panic and try calmly to keep it together. I catch the train back to my hotel (5 CHF, expensed), all the while trying to understand what the email chains are telling me; there are just too many to sort through. I get to my hotel at 8, and then start to work. Things aren't as bad as I thought; it's the anticipation of something going wrong that is one of the hardest part of this job — the hardest being when you make a mistake.
9 p.m. — I order room service for dinner, a small side of chicken and small side of aubergine, (50 CHF, expensed), but I can barely taste it as I am so stressed. I have a call with my boss for 20 minutes then work until 10. I have a long shower, wash my hair as am doing a very big presentation tomorrow, drink one and half liters of water, and pack my bag. I get into bed at 11, and send a message to my husband who is at football with friends and having a great time.
Daily Total: $70

Day Six

4:47 a.m. — Awake, but exhausted. I get up at 5 a.m. and start to prep for a big presentation I have today. I am typically either good at public speaking or atrocious, depending on the day and how caffeinated I am. I have an espresso, dress, and am out the door at 6:45. I manage to locate some porridge and am delighted. The Swiss seem to eat only croissants for breakfast, yet are somehow all very lean. (Expensed)
8 a.m. — I catch an Uber to the office (37 CHF, expensed) and am the first to arrive. Typical, as am usually incapable of being late. I have a double espresso and read through my presentation. By the time my turn arrives, I am sweating and my heart is pounding. I remind myself repeatedly that this is an excellent opportunity to impress, and the thumping in my heart is simply a matter of being outside of my comfort zone. I present and it goes fine. I am not the worst by far, but not the best. Various senior people approach me afterwards and I am pleased that this has opened the door for various conversations with senior stakeholders.
1 p.m. — The meetings are finished, and I am out the door with my carry-on. I catch an Uber to the airport (40 CHF) and have a late lunch at a delightful café that has a vegetarian buffet of fried aubergines, the freshest yellow carrots I have ever seen, and artichoke (25 CHF, expensed). I go to Läderach, the most delicious chocolate shop in the entire world and buy a box of my favorite chocolates as a birthday present to myself for next week. They cost CHF 30! For 12! There is also a Swiss Army Knife shop, and I buy a pocket knife for my father in law for Christmas (CHF 33) and am delighted. I love incidental shopping. I do a quick call with my husband and jump on the plane. I work on the flight back to London and try to stay awake. The plane leaves promptly on time, reminding me that I love the Swiss for their timekeeping vigilance. $66
6:30 p.m. — I arrive home via Heathrow (expensed) and we have visitors staying: Aussie friends who have been honeymooning in Europe and are on their way back to Australia. They are staying at our place for just one night before an early flight the next day. We take them to a beautiful local pub for a low-key dinner and Uber there; I pay. My eyes are watering and I'm so tired I can barely see. I have steak and a glass of white wine. My husband pays for us all (£110) and we catch an Uber home; I pay. I am in bed by 11. $175.63
Daily Total: $241.63

Day Seven

6 a.m. — Awake at 6 on a Saturday (of course), but at least I am feeling far, far better. I have three espressos and read the newspaper in bed. The Aussies leave for the airport (my husband orders them an Uber (£9 to the train station), and I hit the gym. Today is leg day and surprisingly I feel quite good and energetic. $12
11 a.m. — I come home from the gym and work until 5. I also book a work trip to Birmingham (expensed) and order a designer dress on sale for my Christmas party (£100). I try to nap for an hour and fail, then I get ready to go to a friend's house for Guy Fawkes fireworks night at 6. Because everyone else is doing the same, an Uber that should cost £6 costs £30, so I walk 45 minutes. I'm at risk of missing the fireworks, but I quickly buy a bottle of wine and marshmallows on the way. $158.07
8 p.m. — Our friends have the most incredible roof terrace overlooking all of London, and they make us chili and gluten-free cornbread. I have a glass of wine and am broken by 10:30. We catch an Uber home (£6, I pay) and I am asleep by 11:30. $9
Daily Total: $179.07
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