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: "Hey everyone! I’m a 22-(well I was when I wrote this diary)-year-old living in Bristol on the final placement of a commercial graduate scheme in the civil service. I’m coming to the end of my two-year scheme and preparing for the re-grade process that will be happening in the autumn, where I will hopefully be promoted to the grade above my current position. I’m originally from Jersey in the Channel Islands and moved to the UK to go to university and from there went straight into my current graduate job. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve been able to work from home during the lockdown but have struggled living so far away from my family, friends and the beautiful beaches back home. Jersey (which is not part of the UK, with a separate government, legislation and laws) has decided to open its borders with either a 14-day self-isolation or a PCR test on arrival which, if negative, allows you to go about your business following the general lockdown rules. Lockdown in Jersey has been eased a lot quicker than in the UK and even now is not as strict but they have had significantly fewer cases and deaths, as expected from an island of only 9 by 5 miles. With all this in mind, I’ve decided to use some annual leave and go home for 10 days with my boyfriend." Occupation: Commercial graduate Industry: Civil service Age: 22 Location: Bristol Salary: £25,967 Paycheque amount: £1,680 after tax, NI deductions and my pension contribution of £117.93 Number of housemates: One, my boyfriend A Monthly Expenses Housing costs: Rent for our one-bedroom house in the suburbs is £800 per month split equally, so £400 for my half. Loan payments: £0. Being from Jersey I was not eligible for the UK student loan scheme so I paid for university through grants from the States of Jersey government, a 'student loan' from NatWest (which is now paid off – partly by my savings and partly by my parents) and my parents, who paid for my living expenses. I am extremely lucky and very grateful to have had that support from them, as without it I wouldn’t have been able to go to university. Utilities: A and I both pay £675 into our joint account each payday and this pays for all our rent, bills, food shopping and eating out. We earn basically the same so split everything equally and will sometimes have to add some more money to the account towards the end of the month. Water £49, electricity £25.64, gas £28, council tax £128, internet £27.98, renters insurance £5.69, TV licence £13.20. Transportation: Average of £20 a month (before lockdown) on ad hoc train and bus tickets, though this can be much more if travelling further afield in the UK to visit family and friends. We don’t own a car and I would normally walk the 30 minutes to work. Phone bill: £11.59 Savings? I have £14,234 in my various NatWest savings accounts, the majority in the savings builder which earns slightly more interest. I also have £4,267 in a LISA. I have always been a big saver and have had some sort of job since I was 13 and have saved this up since then. My grandparents also gifted me £4,500 of this when I finished university two years ago. Other: Netflix £8.99 also comes out of the joint account and I pay for Spotify £9.99 and a Graze box subscription £3.99 a week. Day One 7.30am: Wake up slightly earlier than usual as I have a lot to get done this morning. Shower, dress and put jeans on for the first time in what feels like forever but forgo the makeup (let’s not go too crazy). Finish all the last-minute packing I should have done last night and get excited that I’m only working half a day today (praise be for flexible working). 8.30am: Sit down at my tiny Ikea dining room table to start work. A and I are lucky that we have been able to work from home since lockdown began and (although we do have to share said tiny table) it’s been going alright. I am, however, definitely looking forward to going back to the office when we can as I really miss the social aspect of having colleagues around who are easily available for advice and a chat. A makes me breakfast of Greek yoghurt, granola and berries and I finish some tasks I’ve been working on this week. 9.30am: Have a Skype call with my placement line manager to brief her on the work I’ve been doing and hand over anything outstanding before I go on annual leave. I feel guilty as she’s going to be swamped next week since the contract we’ve been working on has to be placed before the end of July but I have been working to get through as many tasks as possible over the last few days. I spend the next two hours writing up evidence for my re-grade portfolio to send to my mentor to review while I’m away. 12pm: Log off for the next 10 days! Quickly sort out the last bits and bobs we need to take with us. I speed-make us a packed lunch as we’ve run out of time to eat at home while A checks every plug is switched off and every window is closed. We walk to Bristol Parkway station. As A works for the railway we’ve managed to get discounted tickets, which he bought last week. Also, rest assured our face masks are on. 1pm: Our first train of the day is basically empty and there is nobody sat anywhere near us, so we eat our packed lunch. I’ve got a tuna and cheese pitta bread, crisps and a brownie – not the healthiest but hey, I’m on holiday. We’re getting three different trains to get to Gatwick (currently no flights going from Bristol) to avoid going through central London on the Tube, so pass the time listening to the Off Menu and Richard Herring podcasts. 2.30pm: Our discounted tickets will only get us to Redhill, so A buys us two tickets from there to Gatwick on his phone. £2.65 each but A pays and prints them while we wait at Reading. 4.10pm: Arrive at Gatwick. The south terminal is like a ghost town and none of the airline desks is open. Get the monorail to the north terminal, which is slightly busier. We’ve arrived three hours early so we check our bags in and go through security, which is a lot busier than expected but probably because they only have two lanes open. Throughout the whole journey so far everyone has been wearing face masks, which is positive to see. 5pm: The departure lounge is the quietest I’ve ever seen it and with slim pickings for food, with only Pret and Starbucks open. I buy the vegan sandwich and a packet of salt and vinegar crisps from Pret for my dinner. £5.19 7pm: EasyJet boards the plane in smaller sections than usual. It’s a full flight and everyone is instructed to keep their mask on at all times. Pass the flight listening to more podcasts. 7.40pm: We land in Jersey and I’m so happy to finally be home! We’re told to disembark the plane a row at a time and only get up once the row in front/behind has left. This is a concept that a few people obviously struggled with. We disembark and are directed to the first of many desks where I give my contact details, seat number and telephone number. Collect our bag and it’s on to another desk where the same information is asked for again along with the address where we’ll be staying, and we have to declare if we’ve got any COVID-19 symptoms. We’re told that it can take 48 hours to get our tests results back (which are sent via text) and that we should be socially distancing and minimise contact with anyone outside our household until then. We’re then given a sticker with a barcode and our name on it and sent on to the testing cubicles. A lady in full PPE swabs the back of my throat and up my nose, sticks my details on the swab and then off I go. 8.30pm: My mum picks us up and drives us back to her house and I immediately jump in the shower as the natural deodorant I’ve just started trying out has not held up and I now have major regrets for being influenced by Instagram ads into spending way too much money on it. Boyfriend and I share a frozen oven pizza as we’re still quite hungry and I eat one of the chocolate orange cupcakes my mum's made. 10.30pm: After catching up with my mum, who I haven’t seen in over six months, we head to bed. Total: £5.19 More Story continues Day Two
10.30am: Wake up after a much-needed lie-in and my mum is making bacon sandwiches (why did I ever leave?). Eat two and discuss what we can do today within the confines of the rules. A and I also receive our first daily text from the Jersey government, to which we have to reply either ‘WELL’ if we’re feeling well or ‘COVID’ if we’ve developed symptoms. We’ll get this text every day until we leave.
1pm: We’re dressed and ready to go out and walk the dogs in the wood with my mum and stepdad. Eat an apple while we wait for everyone to be ready.
3pm: That was a challenging walk with lots of ups and downs, thankfully mainly in the shade as it’s a hot day. In an attempt to improve my very poor fitness I’ve been doing Couch to 5K during lockdown and feel like after that walk I’m not as exhausted as I would have been four months earlier.
3.30pm: Mum drives us to The Horse Box Café on the north coast which is, you guessed it, a horse box which has been turned into a café. A and I stay in the car while Mum orders (and very kindly pays for) milkshakes and gets herself an ice cream. They are amazing and very much needed on a day like today.
4.30pm: After a quick stop at home to put our swimming costumes on we’re at the beach. It's pretty quiet and we stay far away from anyone else. We’ve come as my stepdad is swimming 30 bays in 30 days – a local challenge. A and I also go for a swim and I realise how much I have missed being in the sea this summer. I’ve been so jealous of my friends in lockdown in Jersey having access to all the beautiful beaches (seriously,
) and it feels amazing to finally be back. The water is surprisingly warm and we spend a blissful 30 minutes splashing about.
5.15pm: On the way home from the beach I get my test results via text: negative. This means a lot more freedom in what I can do, and I’ll be able to see the rest of my family and friends. A hasn’t got his results yet though.
6pm: We get home and enjoy the last of the sun sitting in the garden. I shower and then we have what can only be described as an Indian banquet, courtesy of M&S (one of the only supermarkets on the island along with Waitrose and the Co-op).
10pm: Very full, we go to sleep after catching up on last week’s
(yes, I am 22 going on 60).
Total: £0 More Day Three 5am: Wake up and fidget so much trying to get back to sleep that I wake A. He checks his phone and has had his results, thankfully also negative. 9am: Wake up again and quietly go downstairs as A is still asleep. Nobody else in the house appears to be up yet so make myself some Marmite on toast and empty the dishwasher. 11.45am: I convince my mum and stepdad to try out a relatively new beach café for brunch which I have seen all over my friends' Instagrams and it's very busy. After nearly an hour wait I get my avocado, halloumi and poached eggs on toast, which I’m ashamed to admit I then took a picture of for my own Instagram story. My boyfriend has a breakfast roll and cheesy chips (which I eat most of) and we pay for it on the joint account. £8.50 for my half. 2pm: My mum drives me to my dad's on her way to walk the dogs and I surprise him as I hadn’t told him I was coming back. Burst into his office where he’s buying my birthday present online and he’s speechless for a good minute, and just stares at me with his mouth wide open. My aunt, little sister and my stepmum are also home but they were all in on the plan. It's so nice to see them all after six months away. 4pm: Spend the rest of the afternoon in the garden chatting and catching up. My cousin who lives next door is having a party for her 19th birthday. We go over to sing "Happy Birthday" and I steal some sandwiches and do a 3pm shot of Baileys and butterscotch liqueur, which is delicious. 5pm: We drive down to the beach 10 minutes away and my dad and sister go paddleboarding. My best friends, one of whom I’ve known since Year 3 and who I also haven’t seen for months, meet us down there. 6.30pm: We order pizza from the Pizza Express nearby to collect and eat on the beach. When A and my friend go to get it it’s a bit of a disaster and they end up waiting half an hour as they’ve messed up our order. They eventually return with two free pizzas but no drinks. We sit on the beach and eat while having a massive catch-up on everything that’s been going on with us all recently. £14 for my pizza and drink (which we did eventually go back and get). 9pm: My friend gives us a lift back to my mum’s house and I shower, eat more cupcakes and realise I have sunburned my arms and now look like one of those Drumstick lollies. I slather on the after sun and get into bed to watch more Celebrity Masterchef followed by many YouTube videos. Fall asleep some time after 11pm. Total: £22.50 More Day Four 9am: A wakes up and goes to shower while I close my eyes, roll over and fall back asleep. Wake up again half an hour later to some Marmite toast that A has made me and my mum shouting at me to get moving. Answer my daily text from the government of Jersey. 10am: Our next-door neighbour has recently set up his own e-bike business and today we’re hiring them to cycle around the island and swim in some more bays. It’s a beautiful, warm day and he very kindly gives us a discount for four bikes. Mum pays. I remember to put lots of sun cream on today, though it is certainly too little, too late. 12.30pm: We’ve cycled to the east of the island where we stop and have lunch. We all have steak sandwiches and chips and I pay as Mum covered the cost of the bike hire. £37.95 (my boyfriend sends me the money for his). 1.15pm: We swim in a beautiful bay sheltered by the castle. The water is much colder than the other day so don’t spend as long in the water. Make A take about a thousand pictures of me by the sea and try to channel some body positivity in my bikini. I spent most of my teenage years convincing myself my life would get better when I lost weight but have recently realised that's not going to happen and I may as well enjoy myself but it’s still difficult not to compare myself to my much thinner friends. 2pm: Cycle up some very big hills, which are no issue with the turbo setting on the e-bikes. They’ve been great for getting around without getting exhausted, even if my bum is hurting a bit. My mum wants to go to a tearoom, we try two but they're both shut as it’s Monday. 3pm: Eventually end up at the café at Jersey Zoo and order a milkshake and a scone and get my boyfriend a rocky road. £10.40 4pm: Finish our cycle round half the island at a pub where my stepdad buys us all half pints of Thatcher’s. We sit in the very pretty and empty beer garden in the sun and I’m very glad not to be sat inside on my laptop working. Make it home and after we return the bikes I fall asleep in the garden (thankfully in the shade). 7pm: My mum has made us vegetable tart for dinner and my other sister and stepbrothers are around to eat too. After dinner we take the dogs out for a walk in the woods near the house. 10pm: Showered with plenty more after sun slathered on, I watch more YouTube until I fall asleep. Total: £48.35 More Day Five 10am: Late start today but justify it as I am on holiday. Eat more Marmite on toast for breakfast and make a packed lunch as it’s another hot day so we’re heading to the beach. 12pm: Mum drives us to my grandparents' house. They have been isolating since the end of February, before lockdown was even in place. They’ve set us up some chairs on one side of the garden while they sit on the other and we chat to them for an hour. I’m very close to my grandparents and would normally stay at their house for a few nights when I come to visit so it's hard not to be able to give them a hug, but I am very grateful to be able to see and talk to them in person after so long. 1pm: My grandparents very kindly let me use their car when I come over, which is a novelty as we don’t have a car back in Bristol and I’m hesitant to get one, having only driven in Jersey where the national speed limit is 40mph and there are no motorways. 1.40pm: Arrive at the beach but due to the glorious weather the car park is packed, so drive to a different one 10 minutes away with more parking. Set ourselves up and eat our packed lunch of sandwiches, crisps and watermelon. 3.30pm: Spend the afternoon lying in the sun reading. My current book is Call Me By Your Name and I am enjoying it a lot. Spend some time in the sea and then A buys us ice creams. 5pm: Reluctantly pack up and drive to my dad’s house where my stepmum is making nachos and bean fajitas for dinner. 7.30pm: After dinner we head to another beach with my dad and sister and go paddleboarding. I’ve never done it before and my terrible balance means I spend most of my time kneeling rather then standing. When I do stand up, I comically fall in, hitting myself in the head with the paddle in the process. 9pm: We get home and shower before I raid the fridge for some sweet treats. I head to bed and mindlessly scroll on my phone and watch YouTube videos until I fall asleep some time after 11pm. Total: £0 More Day Six 8am: Wake up to find out that my hair appointment, which was supposed to be this morning, has been moved to Friday. I have yet to find a hair salon in Bristol so when I come home I always have my hair cut at the same place I’ve been going to my whole life. 9.30am: Spend my now unexpectedly free morning lying in bed, mindlessly scrolling through Instagram and Twitter. Eventually I get myself up and have breakfast of yoghurt, granola and fruit. We realise that we’ll have no food in the house when we get back to Bristol next week so I do an Asda order to be delivered the evening we get home, which should last us around a week and a half. £45 but this won’t be taken from the joint account 'til next week. 12.15pm: Somehow the morning has flown by and I seem to have accomplished very little other than reading my book in the garden (as well as some more scrolling). 1pm: Drive into town and meet my two friends on their lunch break at our favourite Mexican restaurant. We park in the nearby car park and pay for four hours as we will be staying in town for the afternoon. £3.68. I order nachos and empanadas with extra guacamole to share with A and we sit outside as it’s another lovely sunny day. We pay on the joint account, my half comes to £12.50. 2pm: My friends go back to work and A and I head into town as I have some time to kill before my dentist appointment and need to pick up some things. We go to Boots and buy some lip balm (I forgot to pack one of the many I already own), a travel-size hairspray and an overpriced face mask, as my skin is not feeling too good at the moment. £14.58 3pm: Wander round town some more and it feels weird going into shops that aren’t the supermarket for the first time since March. We make use of all the free hand sanitiser and buy my grandma a birthday card (£0.89) and pick up a shower cap at Superdrug, as my current one has started to smell like bleach. £2.49 3.45pm: Arrive at the dentist. Similarly to the hairdresser, I have yet to sort out a dentist in the UK and also really love my dentist in Jersey, so I just continue to go to her when I come back. My temperature is taken when I arrive and I fill in a questionnaire declaring I have no symptoms. 4.20pm: I have a general check-up and have not been flossing enough (oops), she is very nice about it but gets the mirror out and makes me practise. She also has to do some serious scraping for what feels like ages and then polishes them and recommends I use some smaller flossing stick things for the tiny gaps I have between my teeth. £91, which is a lot more then I usually pay but I don’t question it. 5pm: We drive back to my dad’s house and pick up some fancy frozen ready meals on the way, which my stepmum pays me back for. We also buy some ice cream that is on offer. 7pm: Eat the fancy vegetable Thai curry ready meal that I picked up earlier and it is really nice. 8pm: Head out to a different beach with my dad and A to do some more paddleboarding. Am getting better and really enjoy being out on the ocean as the sun is setting. I feel very relaxed and peaceful and think about how much I miss living here. 10pm: We have a quick shower, eat some of the ice cream and then fall asleep watching more YouTube videos, as I tell myself I should really start reading before bed instead. Total: £125.14 More Day Seven 9am: It’s my 23rd birthday! Get up and shower and dry my hair and do my makeup for the first time in ages. Open some cards and am given two different restaurant vouchers (my family knows me well). 10.30am: Drive to my favourite beachside café and have a full English breakfast, which A very kindly pays for. Annoyingly the weather has taken a turn for the grey and it starts spitting so we head to my mum’s house and open cards and presents with her. 2pm: I’ve spent the afternoon setting up my new phone, a gift to myself which I’ve used some of my savings to buy outright, with £50 from my grandad for my birthday. 2.30pm: Drive to my grandparents' and my grandma has made me a cake, which she has put on a table halfway between our chairs in the garden. My grandma made me a cake for every birthday all the way up 'til I was 18 and it's so lovely to have one again. Eat cake and chat with my grandparents and my aunt. 3.30pm: My aunt drives us to the garden centre where we meet my dad, stepmum and sister and eat scones in the tearoom as a birthday treat, which my aunt pays for. I have consumed a lot of cake in the last hour but I have no regrets. 4.15pm: Wander round the garden centre briefly and have to convince my stepmum not to buy me a hand sanitiser that’s got my name on. 6.30pm: My friends come over and sit in my mum’s garden and we have my favourite dinner: a buffet of picky bits. Cheese and pineapple, crisps and dips and all sorts of other lovely bits from M&S. 9pm: It wouldn’t be a birthday without a Colin the Caterpillar cake and I struggle to finish my slice, which may have something to do with the excessive amount of cake I have eaten today. My friends head home and I crash into bed and fall asleep pretty quickly. Total: £0 More The Breakdown Food/Drink: £88.54 Entertainment: £0 Clothes/Beauty: £17.07 Travel: £3.68 Other: £91.89 Total: £201.18 Conclusion "This obviously wasn’t a typical week for me, particularly not compared to the recent months stuck at home. I spent a lot eating out which I haven’t done for a long time, so I don’t regret this at all and really enjoyed being out more with friends and family. I still spent significantly less money on food than I would on a normal holiday, thanks to eating up all the food at my parents' houses (thanks Mum and Dad!). I am surprised at how many zero-spend days I had, which is down to all the free activities Jersey has to offer in the summer, as well as my very generous family paying for food and treats. The dentist was also another large expense that I wouldn’t normally incur and it costing more than normal did throw me a bit as I wasn’t expecting to spend so much. I spent another three days in Jersey where I probably spent around another £85 on a haircut and more food and drink." More Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here? Money Diary: A 29-Year-Old Radiologist On 65k Money Diary: A Disability Advisor On 11.5k Money Diary: A Mental Health Worker On 29k