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.

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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
We want to know: Do you follow your boss on social media? Having a positive relationship with your manager is key to succeeding at work — but should that relationship extend to social media? If you have a story to share about navigating the etiquette around social media as it relates to your boss, tell us about it here for a chance to be featured on our site! The good, the bad, the awkward — we want to know it all!
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.
Do you have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Submit it with us here.

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series