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Money Diary: A 26-Year-Old In Political Comms In Belfast On 27k

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we’re tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We’re asking a cross-section of women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period – and we’re tracking every last penny.This week: “I’m 26 and finally trying to get a grip of my finances after roughly seven years of getting into stupid, unnecessary debt. I have finally paid it all off and I’m starting to build some savings. I have roughly £2,500 and am trying to save as much as I can this year, especially the next few months of lockdown. I’m very impulsive and very extravagant so I’m trying to get a handle on that, too. We’ll see how it goes!” Industry: Political communications Age: 26 Location: Belfast, Northern Ireland Salary: £27,000 Paycheque amount: Approx £1,800 Number of housemates: One (my mother!) Monthly ExpensesHousing costs: £250 (limited as I live at home – my lovely mum doesn’t take much as ‘rent’ to help me save up).Loan payments: Roughly £40 on a store card. Utilities: Roughly £50. Transportation: Limited now working from home. I don’t drive (trying to learn but COVID keeps cancelling). Phone bill: £36 Savings? £500 into a savings account, which is a car/house fund. Recently set up a ‘vault’ on Revolut which I will start to pay £100 a month into for an emergency fund. Don’t want to have to use my savings every time I’m a bit broke. Other: I usually put £150 worth of stuff on my credit card and pay it off monthly to try and improve my credit score. If you are interested in completing your own (paid) money diary, please email [email protected] with a bit of information about yourself. Unfortunately we aren’t able to reply to every email.Day One 6.30am: V early start this morning as my boyfriend (J) and I drove to his house to work remotely here for a few days. We both live at home so try to split up the time so we don’t annoy either family too much. Our households are in a bubble so within lockdown rules. 7am: J bribed me with a Starbucks drive-through – an iced vanilla latte helped me wake up a lot. His treat, £6.80. Perks of the job means I make about 10 phone calls before 7.30am, morning news shows are the best… 9am: Started working (and listening to Evermore on repeat). Can’t stop reading the news from the States, where protestors have broken into the US Capitol. I got to intern there in 2014 and it’s genuinely so sad to see such an important building desecrated so much. 9.40am: Another coffee expense (this will happen a lot). I recently got a cold brew maker (it uses coffee grounds) on Amazon, highly recommend for delicious iced coffee at home and so easy. Get some Dunkin’ Donuts ground coffee, vanilla flavour to try. Hopefully it’ll stop me buying sugary syrups. £8.85 12.30pm: Homemade vegetable soup for lunch. The benefits of having company when working from home: get to watch an episode of Friends with J before he has to go back to work. I use his mother’s treadmill for a walk for 15 minutes until I get bored. Better than nothing! 2pm: Get a notification from ClearScore that my credit utilisation rate has updated, so quickly pay £55 off my credit card so it’s back below 50%. Not sure if this makes a difference. Will pay the rest on payday and not use the card for a few months. 3pm: My mum bought a treadmill (£299 in the sale) for our house as both of us are trying to lose some weight and generally get healthier. Offer her some money towards it but she refuses. Agree I’ll send her a contribution towards it when I get paid in a few weeks. January is a long enough month without any unexpected expenses. 5pm: J’s parents come home from work and his mum makes us burritos for dinner. Delicious! I’ve had a very Mexican-themed few days with my eating but I am here for it. 7pm: Take J’s dog out for a walk but it is freezing cold. Manage about 30 minutes before heading home into the heat again. 9pm: J and I laze about all evening, watching old episodes of The Inbetweeners. Have a Fibre One brownie as a snack, both of us are trying to lose some weight so attempting healthiness… We’ll see how that goes throughout the week! Total: £63.85 Day Two 8am: Needed a lie-in today! Glad it’s Friday. Had a scare last night with my work laptop which shut down and was making scary noises. Tried it this morning and it seems to be working fine. Touch wood! 9am: Start work for the day at J’s kitchen table. I bought him a coffee machine for Christmas because he loves the one at my house so much. When he made me a caramel macchiato this morning I felt like maybe it’s a present for me, too… Nature Valley bar for breakfast, bulk bought on Amazon a few weeks ago. 12pm: Leftover chilli for lunch. Delicious but way, way too spicy. J has a choc ice lolly after his and I manage to resist but so jealous! 6pm: Just finishing work at this time on a Friday, brutal. Since we won’t be here for Sunday dinner, J’s mum makes us a delicious roast chicken with roast potatoes and vegetables for dinner, amaaaazing. She spoils us rotten. 8pm: Drive back to my house for the weekend. Cup of tea and Fibre One brownies with Wolf of Wall Street in the background. Bliss! Total: £0 Day Three 8am: Up early for a Saturday but awake to the news Trump has been banned from Twitter. Laugh my head off for possibly a full hour. Serves him right! 11am: Have a slow morning and get showered, dressed and walk to a local coffee shop to get some coffees. Decide to bring some to my grandparents (socially distanced at the front door). Two lattes, a cappuccino, an iced latte for me and three brownies for grandparents and J. Costs £19.80 which is a bit steep but nice to support local business. Plan to steal at least half of J’s Biscoff blondie. 1pm: A lovely but cold walk in the park and we stop at the shop for a few bits for lunch and snacks for later, as we’re on a movie day now. £12.84 on crispy chicken, wraps, raspberries, blueberries, ice and some crisps. Ordering a Chinese for dinner and I can’t wait! 5.30pm: £16 (!) on a Chinese for me while J gets pizza. Our cheat day cravings were different so we didn’t try to compromise. Salted chilli chicken, fried rice and chips with a Diet Coke (lol). 8pm: Laze about all evening watching Wolf of Wall Street on Netflix. Have sudden urge to become a squibillionaire but it looks a bit stressful, to be honest. Total: £48.64Day Four 10am Happy Sunday! A slow, lazy morning for us today. Coffee and toast for breakfast and we watch the Hunger Games movie. Forgot how easy to watch it is. Cuddle on the sofa and don’t move for a couple of hours. 1pm: Eventually get up and J drives me to the local shopping centre to go to Sainsbury’s and get a big shop in. First time I’ve done it in ages and I don’t love the experience. See six or seven people blatantly not wearing a mask and it really bothers me. Anyway, idiots aside, £60.84 in Sainsbury’s. Stock up on a lot of bits so more expensive than normal but should keep me going for a while. They have an offer on so a huge gammon is only £1! Needless to say, I get three. Can’t even remember if I like gammon but I love a bargain. 1.45pm: Treat J to a coffee at Caffè Nero in the shopping centre. £6.80 for two sugar-free caramel lattes but free as I got a gift card for Christmas, woohoo. 3pm: Home to vegetable soup (made by my granny) and crusty bread for lunch. 3.30pm: More cuddles on the sofa and we watch Instant Family on Netflix. Such a great movie! I laugh and cry and then some. Definitely recommend. 5pm: J goes home after spending the week with me and I always feel a bit sad. I know we’re much luckier than a lot of couples but it’s still hard to be apart. I know he’ll be back in a couple of days so try to cheer up by watching some TikToks. 7pm: Text from my friend, S, about our friend M’s birthday. She’s had a tough time lately so we agree to send flowers to cheer her up. Send S £15 to cover half. 10pm: Bed, rewatching Pretty Little Liars on BBC iPlayer.Total: £75.84Day Five 8.30am: Drag myself out of bed and into the shower to start another week working from home. Wake myself up with a big glass of water and coffee from the cold brew machine. Spent quite a lot the last few days so hopefully a less expensive couple of days. Still more than two weeks to payday…gotta love January.10am: Just looking at my Revolut account. I’ve set up a ‘vault’ with the ‘spare change’ function. Highly recommend, I’ve got £48 in there already, less than two weeks in, and I didn’t notice the round-ups a lot. Great little emergency fund! 1pm: A very busy day with new website stuff, uploading content and chasing people for bios and headshots etc. Nice little mindless task though so lots of Taylor Swift and that new “Drivers License” song. I’m in a healthy and happy relationship but I’m still devastated at this song… Vegetable soup for lunch. 1.30pm: Get out for a really quick walk before it starts to rain. 5pm: A busyyy afternoon. Hectic five minutes of throwing a random combo of outfits into my well-used overnight bag before J comes to pick me up. Head up the road to his house. 6.30pm: J’s mum makes us a gorgeous dinner, pepper chicken with roast potatoes and vegetables. One of my favourite dinners.8pm: Watch some of The Office, do a bit more work and go to bed. What a dull day! Total: £0 Day Six 7am: Early start at J’s. His parents head off to work and we get ready for a day of working at home. He makes the first coffee of the day. 9am: Have a lot of Zoom calls today so I need another coffee. Try to make it on J’s new machine but it’s too hard to use so I give in and call him for help. Standard granola bar for breakfast. Try to eat it covertly on a Zoom but get called on to speak and have a mouth full of crumbs. Professional! 11am: I’m making a slow cooker chicken curry for J’s family today. The first time I’ve cooked for them properly (in six months lol) so a bit nervous but how wrong can a chicken korma go? Run to the shop for a few ingredients for dinner. £9.80 1pm: J makes us sausage sandwiches for lunch. Soooo good. Back on Zooms for the afternoon. Got my chicken curry simmering away in the slow cooker. I don’t know why I’m so nervous about cooking this but we’ll see… 3pm: More Zooms and more coffee.6pm: Dinner goes down well, thank goodness. Not sure how hard a chicken curry, rice and naan bread really is but I get lots of nice comments! Lots left over for lunch tomorrow too. Have a positive chat with J’s parents about us buying a house and our next steps. They are so lovely and really supportive so I feel great afterwards. 7.30pm: Take Jessy, J’s Labrador, out for a walk and call past his friend’s house. L comes out to say hi. It’s freezing cold so we don’t spend long chatting but still nice to see a friendly face. 9pm: Home to make tea and get into bed. I know this lockdown has been so hard for so many people but I feel blessed I get to spend so much time with my favourite person in the world, without running around crazy busy. I think when life goes back to normal I’ll definitely enjoy a slower pace. 10.30pm: Bedtime! We are such old people now. Total: £9.80 Day Seven 7.30am: We all sleep in a bit today so it’s a bit of a rush for the shower and to get ready for work. I try to put some makeup on every day as it genuinely makes me feel a bit better and more productive, especially on all the Zooms. My skin is fighting with me at the minute too so wouldn’t feel the most confident bare-faced. 9am: At my desk ready for more Zooms and more website updating. Grateful to be able to work from home though. J’s mum is at her desk (the kitchen table) too so nice to have some company. More Taylor Swift to keep me happy and LOTS of listening to “Drivers License”. I’m way too old to be invested in this teen drama but I am. 10.30am: More coffee and a granola bar for my standard lazy breakfast. 1.10pm: Slightly later lunch as I have a Zoom at 12.15, we have leftover chicken curry and a cup of tea. Eat quickly so we have time for a cuddle on the sofa too. I’m such a sap but I’ll really miss this when I’m back to the office. Not sure any of my colleagues are up for big hugs during the day. 4pm: A reasonably quiet day becomes completely crazy with a couple of later announcements about exam cancellations that we have to respond to. At my laptop, typing frantically, and I feel my vision start to go and realise I have a migraine. Awful! I take medication daily to prevent them but still get one every couple of months. Feel very nauseous and get into bed with an eye mask on to shut out any light. 6pm: Sleep for a couple of hours and wake up feeling a bit better. Vision is okay now but my head is still hurting. End up being sick a couple of times (sorry, TMI) but it makes me feel a lot better. J’s mum makes us a pasta bake for dinner. Lovely even if I don’t keep it down.8pm: Drive home to my house where we’ll spend the next few days. Feel a lot better but so hungry as I’ve been sick. Feel like snacks so we share a big bag of Wotsits (J is eating snacks in moral support lol) and a tub of Halo Top ice cream. The sugar definitely helps. Watch half of the second Hunger Games movie, love a good trashy series! 10.30pm: Into bed early. J reads his book and I scroll through some TikToks, which sounds a bit cringe as I type. I love to read too, just don’t always feel up to it at night. 11pm: Asleeeep. Total: £0The Breakdown Food/Drink: £128.13 Entertainment: £0 Clothes/Beauty: £0 Travel: £0 Other: £70Total: £198.13Conclusion”I think this is generally a typical week for me but I did spend a lot on food. To be fair though, when I read back there is nothing I regret. Spending 20 quid on supporting a local coffee shop and treating my grandparents in the process feels like money well spent to me. I think maybe because this is January and I know it’s tight (a six-week month), I am extra careful with money but generally I don’t regret any of my purchases. I’m trying to consider things more and not impulse buy, which is hard when you’re definitely a treat yourself kinda gal. No spending on clothes this week but I’ve set myself a little target that when I hit a health goal and lose a certain amount of weight, I’ll treat myself to a few nice bits.” Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?Money Diary: A Pharmaceutical Scientist On 38kMoney Diary: A 25-Year-Old Radiographer On 31k

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