A Week In London, England, On A $34,900 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
Today: a Policy Advisor working in Government who makes $34,900 per year and spends some of her money this week on a canned raspberry mojito.
Editor's Note: All currency has been converted to USD.
Occupation: Policy Advisor
Industry: Government
Age: 23
Location: London, England
Salary: $34,900
Paycheck Amount (1x/Month): $2,390
Gender Identity: Cis Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $400 (I live with my boyfriend in a one-bed flat that his mother owns. She moved abroad but wanted to keep a place in London, her hometown, so we pay very cheap rent in a very central location. This includes all utilities, wifi, and gym access. A pretty sweet deal.)
Student Loans: $0 (My grandmother left me some inheritance so I used that to pay for university, rather than take a loan.)
Cell Phone: $27
Netflix: $13 (the world and his dog uses this too — my sister, her ex-housemates, my parents, my boyfriend's sister....)
Spotify: $6.50 (I am still on a student plan somehow despite graduating a year and a half ago)
Charitable Donation: $25 (to support work to improve the lives of children and women in a developing country)
Savings: At the end of the month, anything left in my bank account goes into high-interest stock investments as savings. Usually around $800 to $1,000. I dip into this as necessary (e.g. to pay for a holiday or emergency). L., my boyfriend, and I also are planning to open a Lifetime ISA in January to start saving for a house, as we should both be getting raises/promotions. I will most likely transfer some of my existing investment savings to that account.
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Day One

7 a.m. — Ugh. My 7 a.m. alarm is a sound I haven't heard in a while. L., my boyfriend, and I have been on holiday for the past week, and today is my first day back at work. L. has another day off, the lucky man. I shower and quickly get ready. My dad stayed at our flat last night as he has meetings in London today near my office, so we take the tube ($2.85) together. It's nice to catch up and beat the holiday blues by discussing our upcoming family cruise. $2.85
8:45 a.m. — As a first day back treat, I stop at Pret a Manger to pick up an overpriced bacon and egg brioche sandwich, and a large orange juice for breakfast. I head into the office and eat at my desk while catching up on emails, and with co-workers. My inbox is not too bad surprisingly, so I prep for some meetings I have later. $7.20
12 p.m. — I head to grab lunch as I have a meeting at 1. We arrived back at 11 p.m. yesterday so we did not have time to food prep, which means I have to buy a very pricy salad (I usually bring in my lunch). However, it is my favorite very pricy salad — quinoa, chicken, avocado, mozzarella, roasted tomatoes, peppers, and pesto with a lemon dressing. It is incredible. Anytime I don't bring lunch, I buy this. $10.19
5:10 p.m. — I haven't had a chance to catch up with my manager yet and she asks if I can stay a little late. Unfortunately, I cannot tonight, as I need to attend a webinar training on some volunteering I will be doing, so I leave the office at about 10 past 5 to get the tube home. When I get to the tube I realize my phone is dead (I usually pay for the tube on Apple Pay), and I do not have my contactless card with me. I have to buy a paper ticket instead that costs over double the contactless price! How is that fair! $6.34
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6 p.m. — I get home to a gorgeously cleaned house and prepped dinner and lunches — L. is a star! He is out with a friend for a drink and I settle into my volunteer training. After it finishes, I read for a while until L. gets home. We eat dinner together and catch up on RuPaul's Drag Race UK before heading to bed around 10:30.
Daily Total: $26.58

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — I wake up a little later this morning as my Dad isn't here, and head out to the office at around 8:20 on the tube. Thank god my phone is charged today — I won't be making that mistake again! $2.85
9 a.m. — I stop at Tesco to pick up breakfast. I get some breakfast bars, which will last me a while, and an apple juice. I eat at my desk again, settling into my work. I shouldn't have to spend any money until after work today as I brought in jerk chicken with rice and peas that L. made yesterday for lunch. $5.50
7 p.m. — After work, I join my team for a drink at the pub. My team leader kindly buys me a large glass of wine. However, I am not the biggest fan of socializing with my direct work colleagues — I prefer to keep my work and social lives separate, so I head off to take the tube after one drink. $2.85
7:45 p.m. — On my way home, I pick up the ingredients to make a carbonara — L.'s favorite that I promised to make for him tonight. I pick up linguine, eggs, parmesan, and bacon, plus asparagus and mushrooms as I need veggies in my dinner. It's such a simple, but delicious dish. When I arrive home, he greets me at the door with a glass of Prosecco. What a cutie! We cook and eat together, and then settle into the latest episode of RuPaul. We head to bed around 11. $8.41
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Daily Total: $19.61

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — Same routine as yesterday. I hop on the tube around 8:40 today as I messed around too much. Once I get to work, I have one of the breakfast biscuits I bought yesterday to start the day. $2.85
10 a.m. — I go for a coffee, well hot chocolate for me as I hate caffeine, with a colleague/friend to discuss my career advancement plans. I want to grab a promotion in January, so we talk all about that. We end up chatting for a long time! It's nice to catch up after my holiday, too. I also eat my lunch (jerk chicken leftovers again) with some other co-workers and I'm happy not to spend anything again until I leave the office. $2.90
4:30 p.m. — L. messages me that he had an anxiety attack so I decide to leave the office early to make sure I am home when he gets in. It's nice to get a slightly less busy tube on a Friday too, plus it has been a slow day and none of my managers are in... $2.85
5 p.m. — I stop at Sainsbury's to pick up a bottle of Prosecco as L.'s aunt is coming over tonight. Somehow, L. and I manage to drink it before she arrives while watching TV. We shouldn't have worried though, she turns up with two bottles of Prosecco and a bottle of red wine. It's going to be a big night! (Don't worry reader, we "only" drink two bottles. Oops. The red wine goes in the cooler.) $8.85
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8 p.m. — As L.'s aunt so kindly brought so much alcohol, I decide to treat us for dinner. We order Nando's — five medium wings for me with peri salted chips and macho peas, L. gets 10 hot wings with double peri salted chips, and L.'s aunt gets a hot quarter chicken with salad and spinach. L. cycles everywhere so I send him to collect our order and save on delivery costs (it is like personal UberEats) while L.'s aunt and I catch up on girly stuff. $43.84
9:30 p.m. — We walk L.'s aunt to the tube station and then L. suggests we stop at a bar for a nightcap. I get a pornstar martini and L. gets a gin and tonic. L. pays. We then move onto another (much cheaper) bar where I get a gin cocktail and L. gets a beer. I pay for this round, which is half the price of the one L. bought — oops. We then head home, finish the Prosecco left out, and head to bed around 1. $16.80
Daily Total: $78.09

Day Four

12 p.m. — This morning L. and I have a glorious lie-in, and then we go down to pick up some parcels and breakfast. L. buys me a ham and cheese croissant and orange juice from our local bakery, which we eat back at our flat watching some politics (Brexit is boring me to death but I need to know what is going on!). Then we both got ready and head to one of our favorite local pubs. L. is taking me out for a late lunch so I buy him a G&T and myself a prosecco to start the afternoon right. $14.20
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2:30 p.m. — We hop on the tube to get to our lunch venue! It is a new Italian place. They have a special offer — any pizza and cocktail for $13. I obviously go for the most expensive options — a burrata pizza and a peach cocktail. My pizza has a whole burrata on it! We can't finish our pizzas so we ask for the leftovers to go. L. pays. $2.85
4 p.m. — After lunch, L. and I decide to head to a bar before we both go to meet some friends. I get a piña colada, L. gets a beer, and then we both have a sambuca shot. Yes, at 4:30 p.m. Wild. $25.86
4:30 p.m. — L. and I take the tube together for one stop, then head our separate ways to meet up with friends. I have to take a real train to my friend's, so I get off at one of London's big interchange stations. $2.85
4:55 p.m. — I stop at Boots to pick up some new tights and gradual tan ($15.50). I need to keep my holiday glow and be able to hide it under tights if the gradual tan turns me orange! $15.50
4:45 p.m. — I stop at Marks and Spencers to pick up some wine and cocktail tins ($31.68). I earn a little more than many of my friends, so I like to treat when I can. $31.68
5:03 p.m. — I'm finally on the train to my friend's. It is only a short journey, but I crack open one of the cocktail cans, Raspberry Mojito, delicious. Perhaps the journey was too short as I have to down it as we pull into the station. I meet my friends at the other end and we head straight to the pub. One friend buys us a bottle of wine there. It is great to catch up, I haven't seen these girls in ages! Then we head to one friend's house and another picks up a bottle of wine on the way. I already have the wine and cocktail tins to contribute. Everyone loves the cocktail tins! We chat, laugh, and play board games like old women. $2.85
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11:40 p.m. — I need to take the last train home ($2.85), so my friends walk me to the station. I have to wait on the platform for a while as the train is a bit delayed. $2.85
12 a.m. — The final leg of my journey home is a tube journey ($2.85). As soon as my head hits the pillow, I crash out. $2.85
Daily Total: $101.49

Day Five

12 p.m. — L. was out really late last night so we decide to have a lazy day in bed watching chick flicks...I can't lie I am quite hungover too. We eat leftovers — pizza, carbonara, you name it — and films like Sex and the City. I am so glad he has a guilty pleasure for them!
4 p.m. — We decide to order FroYo, I treat. The rest of the day is spent similarly. Eating leftovers, and watching films. I also call my parents to catch up in the evening. A truly lazy Sunday. $19.20
Daily Total: $19.20

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — Back to the grind! L. and I were meant to restart our gym routine this morning with a 6 a.m. session, but that clearly didn't happen. Instead, we cuddle until 7:30. Then, it's my usual routine. I'm on a tube at around 8:30. $2.85
9 a.m. — On my way into work, I pick up a hot chocolate to go with one of the breakfast biscuits I bought last week. As usual, I eat my breakfast at my desk. $3.55
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12:30 p.m. — I am paying (literally) for my laziness yesterday (not food prepping) with my favorite expensive salad. But you know what, it's yummy. I enjoy my lunch break reading Money Diaries and scrolling Instagram. $10.19
2:45 p.m. — Work is super slow today and I have some flexitime to claim (when you have worked too long), so I leave over two hours early!! I will log back on when I get home, but I have some chores I would like to get done. It's so nice to get a super empty tube. $2.85
4 p.m. — I buy the ingredients for food prep for this week. I'm making bacon, mushroom, and cheddar egg muffins for breakfasts, and butter chicken for dinner today plus lunch tomorrow. At home, I marinade the chicken and then make the muffins. When L. gets home around 6, he helps finish the butter chicken. Plus, we finally assemble some bedside lights we bought a while ago. It makes our bedroom look so warm and perfect for reading! We plan to read after dinner, but get sucked into a new show, The Capture. Four episodes later, it is 1 a.m. Oops. $22.10
Daily Total: $41.54

Day Seven

9:10 a.m. — Oops. I shouldn't have stayed up so late last night. Luckily I am working from home today! Gym missed again! I spend the morning working in bed on my laptop before heading down to Sainsbury's to pick up some washing powder we need. I try to get a lot of chores done on work from home days, so I spend some time cleaning. $6.47
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5:30 p.m. — I am meeting a friend for dinner tonight so I get all glammed up on a Tuesday, and head to the tube. $2.85
6 p.m. — We go to a vegan buffet place for dinner! It is one of my favorites. I get....everything and have a great time catching up with my old school friend. Nothing ever really changes, which is lovely. $19.40
8 p.m. — All caught up and full I take the tube home, and return to the series we were watching last night. We head to bed at a more reasonable time of 11. $2.85
Daily Total: $31.57
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