Money Diary: A 23-Year-Old Arts Admin Assistant On 23k

·24-min read

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 a 23-year-old working in arts administration and living in London with my partner, N. I finished my master’s degree in 2020 (we love graduating in a pandemic) and started my current role soon after. Thanks to working from home, I only moved to London a couple of months ago.

Moving to London on a relatively low salary means I try to keep my finances tight! When we were in full lockdown I found this pretty easy, apart from spending money on the odd coffee, takeaway or piece of clothing. Now things are opening up again I’m struggling to keep my savings targets in mind while not feeling guilty every time I spend money. I’m also living near more of my friends than I used to, so I’m trying to balance not spending too much with seeing them more.

I currently have a lot of savings, largely because my parents were very generous with putting money in savings for me as a child. Some of my savings are also from jobs I had before and during university, as well as what I’ve saved from my job in the last few months. I’m aware how privileged I am for this and am keeping most of my savings to one side for a house deposit in a few years, as well as other more expensive things like a wedding. I don’t want to feel like I’ve wasted it so I try to view it as money that is only for big purchases rather than as money that’s available to me right now.

My parents have always been big savers and they’ve definitely passed this on to me. I’d love to save £500 per month but think this might be a bit too ambitious with my current salary and living costs in London. It helps me to have a savings target as it means I question my purchases and spending habits a bit more to keep me in line but I also don’t want to feel like I can’t do anything fun because I’m too focused on saving. At the moment I’m mainly saving to buy an engagement ring in around a year or so…"

Industry: Arts administration
Age: 23
Location: London
Salary: £23,000
Paycheque amount: £1,510 after tax/postgraduate student loan/pension contribution. I recently increased my pension contribution on my dad’s advice. It does mean I have less for my normal savings each month but I know logically it’s still a saving.
Number of housemates: One, my partner N.

Monthly Expenses

Housing costs: £550 (my half) for a one-bed flat in Zone 2.
Loan payments: £10 postgraduate student loan. I have an undergraduate loan too but I’m not at the minimum salary threshold yet.
Utilities: All of these are shared with N. Total amounts are £119 council tax, £36 water, £30 electricity, £25 Wi-Fi.
Transportation: I’m working from home at the moment but will thankfully be able to walk to work once I’m back in the office. I spend around £15-£20 per month on TfL for travelling to see friends and visit places.
Phone bill: £22.50
Savings? £12,000 in a LISA, £5,000 in a fixed rate ISA, £5,000 in a notice savings account and £5,000 in an everyday saver. I’m aiming to save around £500 this month but it might realistically be closer to £400.
Other: £7.99 Amazon Prime, £5.99 Netflix, £13.99 Spotify, £13.12 TV licence, £12.99 Peloton (all shared with N again).

<strong>Day One</strong><br><br>7.30am: Alarm goes off. N is already up to do a workout so I scroll on my phone for a bit before getting up.<br><br>8am: Make our current favourite breakfast: peanut butter porridge with banana, chocolate chips and chia seeds. We’re addicted.<br><br>9am: Start work. I have a meeting this morning with someone with a similar job to me working in a different organisation, which is really nice. During WFH I find I get a bit lonely sometimes so I enjoy the opportunity to chat to someone new and share ideas.<br><br>1pm: Lunchtime! Have some leftover cannelloni I made last night.<br><br>3pm: Team meeting. I’m being given quite a lot of work at the moment, which is nice as I know it means they trust me, but I also feel like I’m getting quite a lot on my plate. Note down some project proposals I need to have a hardcore redraft of next week. I have been seeing my team in person sometimes recently and I’ve really noticed how much more confident I feel voicing my opinions and taking the lead on agenda items in meetings, which was surprising for me but feels really good.<br><br>5pm: Log off for the day and do a workout. While I was at uni, I really enjoyed long-distance running but after my last half-marathon I fancied a change. I tried a lot of YouTube workouts and found that Peloton (without the fancy equipment) is perfect for me. They never talk about weight loss or looking a certain way, which I have unfortunately found to be quite common on similar platforms. Do a legs and glutes workout followed by a HIIT session. I think when I can finally afford a Peloton bike and have space for one, I’ll really feel like I’ve made it in life.<br><br>6.30pm: Cook dinner for me and N. She’s recently started an intense new job so is often working later than me at the moment. I’m cooking dinner a lot more but I don’t mind as I enjoy it and it means I get to choose the meals! Make Rachel Ama’s sticky cauliflower with some fried tofu for extra protein. I came across this recipe in another money diary a few months ago and I make it all the time.<br><br>7.30pm: Our weekly Sainsbury's arrives. £56.21 split between us for mushrooms, spinach, sweet potato, onions, tomatoes, cucumber, vegetarian mince, peas, frozen pizza, potato salad, beer, cheddar cheese, milk, oat milk, yoghurts, mozzarella, puff pastry, tofu, black beans, tortilla wraps, almonds, pasta, jam, chopped tomatoes, pesto, sticky rice, teabags, olive oil, porridge oats, chocolate chips, vegan kebab meat, hummus, coconut milk, orange squash and crumpets. <br><br>8pm: We settle down to watch <em>The Great British Sewing Bee</em>. We got really into <em>Pottery Throw Down</em> and I thought this would be a similar vibe but it doesn’t fill the Keith Brymer Jones-shaped hole in my life.<br><br>10pm: Read my current book, <em>The Vanishing Half,</em> in bed for a bit before going to sleep. I bought a couple of books from the Women’s Fiction Prize longlist a few weeks ago and have really enjoyed them but I’m a bit annoyed that <em>Detransition, Baby</em> (my favourite book of the year so far) didn’t make it to the shortlist.<br><br><strong>Total: £28.10</strong>
Day One

7.30am: Alarm goes off. N is already up to do a workout so I scroll on my phone for a bit before getting up.

8am: Make our current favourite breakfast: peanut butter porridge with banana, chocolate chips and chia seeds. We’re addicted.

9am: Start work. I have a meeting this morning with someone with a similar job to me working in a different organisation, which is really nice. During WFH I find I get a bit lonely sometimes so I enjoy the opportunity to chat to someone new and share ideas.

1pm: Lunchtime! Have some leftover cannelloni I made last night.

3pm: Team meeting. I’m being given quite a lot of work at the moment, which is nice as I know it means they trust me, but I also feel like I’m getting quite a lot on my plate. Note down some project proposals I need to have a hardcore redraft of next week. I have been seeing my team in person sometimes recently and I’ve really noticed how much more confident I feel voicing my opinions and taking the lead on agenda items in meetings, which was surprising for me but feels really good.

5pm: Log off for the day and do a workout. While I was at uni, I really enjoyed long-distance running but after my last half-marathon I fancied a change. I tried a lot of YouTube workouts and found that Peloton (without the fancy equipment) is perfect for me. They never talk about weight loss or looking a certain way, which I have unfortunately found to be quite common on similar platforms. Do a legs and glutes workout followed by a HIIT session. I think when I can finally afford a Peloton bike and have space for one, I’ll really feel like I’ve made it in life.

6.30pm: Cook dinner for me and N. She’s recently started an intense new job so is often working later than me at the moment. I’m cooking dinner a lot more but I don’t mind as I enjoy it and it means I get to choose the meals! Make Rachel Ama’s sticky cauliflower with some fried tofu for extra protein. I came across this recipe in another money diary a few months ago and I make it all the time.

7.30pm: Our weekly Sainsbury's arrives. £56.21 split between us for mushrooms, spinach, sweet potato, onions, tomatoes, cucumber, vegetarian mince, peas, frozen pizza, potato salad, beer, cheddar cheese, milk, oat milk, yoghurts, mozzarella, puff pastry, tofu, black beans, tortilla wraps, almonds, pasta, jam, chopped tomatoes, pesto, sticky rice, teabags, olive oil, porridge oats, chocolate chips, vegan kebab meat, hummus, coconut milk, orange squash and crumpets.

8pm: We settle down to watch The Great British Sewing Bee. We got really into Pottery Throw Down and I thought this would be a similar vibe but it doesn’t fill the Keith Brymer Jones-shaped hole in my life.

10pm: Read my current book, The Vanishing Half, in bed for a bit before going to sleep. I bought a couple of books from the Women’s Fiction Prize longlist a few weeks ago and have really enjoyed them but I’m a bit annoyed that Detransition, Baby (my favourite book of the year so far) didn’t make it to the shortlist.

Total: £28.10
<strong>Day Two</strong><br><br>7am: Wake up before the alarm goes off – success! N is awake too so we listen to the latest episode of the<em> Obsessed With...Line of Duty</em> podcast because we are…obsessed. The finale is in two days' time! My gut feeling is that Ted has some dodgy dealings going on.<br><br>7.30am: N makes porridge (yes, we will probably eat it every day this week) while I put clean sheets on the bed. I’m not working on Fridays at the moment and like to get tasks done that I don’t like doing at the weekend.<br><br>8.30am: I’ve listed a few old clothes on Vinted and have just sold a pair of dungarees! Get these packaged and ready for sending today.<br><br>9am: Do some yoga with a new instructor. It’s much harder than anticipated! In reality, I don’t think I’m the bendy yoga queen that I am in my head.<br><br>9.30am: Get ready for my day. My family are coming to visit me today for lunch and a walk. They haven’t seen where I live yet because of lockdown so I’m really looking forward to showing them around.<br><br>9.40am: Get distracted thinking about some nice earrings I’ve seen online. I’ve always worn silver earrings but have recently discovered that gold suits me so am obviously now contemplating replacing my entire collection. If I buy the pair I’ve seen online (and matching necklace) it would only cost £30 but I know this can really add up. I also lost one of my other gold earrings that I love so I’ll probably have to pay for a new pair of those too. I’m trying really hard at the moment to identify when I genuinely want something specific and when I just want to buy something new. Haven’t worked this out yet!<br><br>10am: Head into central London to meet my family. Go via the post office to post the dungarees.<br><br>12.30pm: Lunch at Borough Market, which is probably my favourite place in London so far. Deliberate over lunch a lot before deciding on vegan noodles and dumplings. £9<br><br>1pm: Decide to pick up some treats for me and N from Borough Market. £8.50 for a white sourdough loaf, brownie and banana cake. As it’s for both of us, we’ll split the cost so it’s £4.25 for my half.<br><br>2.30pm: Go to visit the area of London my sister lived in pre-pandemic. £1.65 for the train.<br><br>4.30pm: Had a lovely time exploring where my sister lives. It will be nice to go visit when she’s actually living there again! Head back to the train station but get caught out by the reduced service running from there. Get charged the maximum on my Oyster card as I’d tapped in and have to pay for the journey I actually make from a different station. Spend some time on the TfL website getting annoyed about the fare charge but think I should get a refund so won’t include it here. I’m definitely not an experienced TfL user yet! £2.90 for the train. <br><br>5pm: Pick up some loo roll as we’re in the danger zone (one roll left!) before heading home. £2 for my half. N and I tend to sort out splitting costs for food, sundries etc. weekly and always pay half each.<br><br>5.30pm: My phone informs me I’ve done 27,000 steps today. Too many! I promptly run myself a bath while N makes dinner.<br><br>7pm: Veggie burgers in front of the TV with N. We decide to start watching <em>Motherland</em> on Netflix and absolutely love it! Get a notification that I’ve sold a sweatshirt I didn’t have high hopes for on Vinted.<br><br>10.30pm: Bedtime after a few episodes of <em>Motherland </em>and <em>Gogglebox</em>, which we watch religiously.<br><br><strong>Total: £19.80</strong>
Day Two

7am: Wake up before the alarm goes off – success! N is awake too so we listen to the latest episode of the Obsessed With...Line of Duty podcast because we are…obsessed. The finale is in two days' time! My gut feeling is that Ted has some dodgy dealings going on.

7.30am: N makes porridge (yes, we will probably eat it every day this week) while I put clean sheets on the bed. I’m not working on Fridays at the moment and like to get tasks done that I don’t like doing at the weekend.

8.30am: I’ve listed a few old clothes on Vinted and have just sold a pair of dungarees! Get these packaged and ready for sending today.

9am: Do some yoga with a new instructor. It’s much harder than anticipated! In reality, I don’t think I’m the bendy yoga queen that I am in my head.

9.30am: Get ready for my day. My family are coming to visit me today for lunch and a walk. They haven’t seen where I live yet because of lockdown so I’m really looking forward to showing them around.

9.40am: Get distracted thinking about some nice earrings I’ve seen online. I’ve always worn silver earrings but have recently discovered that gold suits me so am obviously now contemplating replacing my entire collection. If I buy the pair I’ve seen online (and matching necklace) it would only cost £30 but I know this can really add up. I also lost one of my other gold earrings that I love so I’ll probably have to pay for a new pair of those too. I’m trying really hard at the moment to identify when I genuinely want something specific and when I just want to buy something new. Haven’t worked this out yet!

10am: Head into central London to meet my family. Go via the post office to post the dungarees.

12.30pm: Lunch at Borough Market, which is probably my favourite place in London so far. Deliberate over lunch a lot before deciding on vegan noodles and dumplings. £9

1pm: Decide to pick up some treats for me and N from Borough Market. £8.50 for a white sourdough loaf, brownie and banana cake. As it’s for both of us, we’ll split the cost so it’s £4.25 for my half.

2.30pm: Go to visit the area of London my sister lived in pre-pandemic. £1.65 for the train.

4.30pm: Had a lovely time exploring where my sister lives. It will be nice to go visit when she’s actually living there again! Head back to the train station but get caught out by the reduced service running from there. Get charged the maximum on my Oyster card as I’d tapped in and have to pay for the journey I actually make from a different station. Spend some time on the TfL website getting annoyed about the fare charge but think I should get a refund so won’t include it here. I’m definitely not an experienced TfL user yet! £2.90 for the train.

5pm: Pick up some loo roll as we’re in the danger zone (one roll left!) before heading home. £2 for my half. N and I tend to sort out splitting costs for food, sundries etc. weekly and always pay half each.

5.30pm: My phone informs me I’ve done 27,000 steps today. Too many! I promptly run myself a bath while N makes dinner.

7pm: Veggie burgers in front of the TV with N. We decide to start watching Motherland on Netflix and absolutely love it! Get a notification that I’ve sold a sweatshirt I didn’t have high hopes for on Vinted.

10.30pm: Bedtime after a few episodes of Motherland and Gogglebox, which we watch religiously.

Total: £19.80
<strong>Day Three</strong><br><br>8.30am: Wake up, have some porridge (!) and clean the flat with N. We always do a full clean at the weekend and feel super smug if we manage to get it done on Saturday morning.<br><br>10.30am: Do a workout. I was hoping to do an intense, Nicki Minaj-themed workout which I LOVE but I got my period and decided I probably can’t hack it, emotionally or physically. Settle for an upper body circuit which is still hard but stays away from the danger zone (aka my painful stomach).<br><br>11am: Hop in the shower. This might be TMI but I’ve recently invested in some WUKA period pants and am absolutely loving them. Would definitely recommend to anyone looking to get some sustainable period products but who is afraid of Mooncups (like me).<br><br>11.45am: Get ready to meet one of my best friends. We met at uni but I didn’t see her for over a year due to the pandemic and living in different places. I’ve seen her once since moving to London but am looking forward to checking out where she lives in east London. N and I share a lot of friends so she would normally come too but she has a hardcore day of revision planned for her upcoming exams. I’m finding it a bit of an adjustment not doing all my socialising and fun activities with N, as has been the case for most of lockdown, but it is nice to see friends alone too. Pack up my sweatshirt to take to the post office on my way to the station. Fingers crossed for no TfL accidents today! £1 on the Tube.<br><br>12.30pm: Meet my friend at her station and wander around the local area. One of my other friends has put down a deposit on a flat here too, so I think I’ll be spending a lot more time in east London! We head to lunch on the canal and go to a cute but overpriced vegan café. £6.50 for a cheese and pesto toastie.<br><br>2.30pm: My friend heads to get a haircut so I pick up some shower gel for N before heading home. She wanted a specific one that I can’t find anywhere so hope I got her an acceptable substitute. Seems pointless hassling N for the low cost so I just get this. £1<br><br>3.30pm: Go home via the post office to send my sweatshirt to its new owner. I’ve made around £35 from Vinted so far, which I think is decent. £1 on the Tube.<br><br>4pm: Browse some knitting patterns online. I got really into knitting over the past year but the things I’ve made have definitely been hit and miss. I currently have a pattern for a T-shirt but I’m now having serious doubts over whether I can actually pull off a knitted T-shirt. Check out some cardigan patterns (on Pickles, for any fellow knitters) and drop them an Insta message asking for wool recommendations.<br><br>4.30pm: Halfheartedly start some work on the knitted T-shirt while watching <em>Call My Agent</em> on Netflix. Consider pursuing a career as an agent purely because it looks glamorous and they all have nice Parisian apartments.<br><br>5.30pm: Get started on dinner: Meera Sodha’s saag paneer (it should be with kale instead of spinach but I can’t stand it) and some homemade naans! I recently learned how to make them and now I can’t stop. This is one of my favourite recipes at the moment.<br><br>6.45pm: Sit down for dinner with N and chat about our days.<br><br>7.30pm: Wash up and watch some more <em>Motherland</em>.<br><br>8pm: Call our friends in New York and play some online bridge. I met J on my master’s last year but she has now returned to NY and is living with her boyfriend, D. They taught us to play bridge and we now play around once a month. It makes me feel like an old woman but I can’t deny this is one of my favourite ways to spend a Saturday night.<br><br>10pm: Finish off an episode of <em>Motherland</em> and head to bed.<br><br><strong>Total: £9.50</strong>
Day Three

8.30am: Wake up, have some porridge (!) and clean the flat with N. We always do a full clean at the weekend and feel super smug if we manage to get it done on Saturday morning.

10.30am: Do a workout. I was hoping to do an intense, Nicki Minaj-themed workout which I LOVE but I got my period and decided I probably can’t hack it, emotionally or physically. Settle for an upper body circuit which is still hard but stays away from the danger zone (aka my painful stomach).

11am: Hop in the shower. This might be TMI but I’ve recently invested in some WUKA period pants and am absolutely loving them. Would definitely recommend to anyone looking to get some sustainable period products but who is afraid of Mooncups (like me).

11.45am: Get ready to meet one of my best friends. We met at uni but I didn’t see her for over a year due to the pandemic and living in different places. I’ve seen her once since moving to London but am looking forward to checking out where she lives in east London. N and I share a lot of friends so she would normally come too but she has a hardcore day of revision planned for her upcoming exams. I’m finding it a bit of an adjustment not doing all my socialising and fun activities with N, as has been the case for most of lockdown, but it is nice to see friends alone too. Pack up my sweatshirt to take to the post office on my way to the station. Fingers crossed for no TfL accidents today! £1 on the Tube.

12.30pm: Meet my friend at her station and wander around the local area. One of my other friends has put down a deposit on a flat here too, so I think I’ll be spending a lot more time in east London! We head to lunch on the canal and go to a cute but overpriced vegan café. £6.50 for a cheese and pesto toastie.

2.30pm: My friend heads to get a haircut so I pick up some shower gel for N before heading home. She wanted a specific one that I can’t find anywhere so hope I got her an acceptable substitute. Seems pointless hassling N for the low cost so I just get this. £1

3.30pm: Go home via the post office to send my sweatshirt to its new owner. I’ve made around £35 from Vinted so far, which I think is decent. £1 on the Tube.

4pm: Browse some knitting patterns online. I got really into knitting over the past year but the things I’ve made have definitely been hit and miss. I currently have a pattern for a T-shirt but I’m now having serious doubts over whether I can actually pull off a knitted T-shirt. Check out some cardigan patterns (on Pickles, for any fellow knitters) and drop them an Insta message asking for wool recommendations.

4.30pm: Halfheartedly start some work on the knitted T-shirt while watching Call My Agent on Netflix. Consider pursuing a career as an agent purely because it looks glamorous and they all have nice Parisian apartments.

5.30pm: Get started on dinner: Meera Sodha’s saag paneer (it should be with kale instead of spinach but I can’t stand it) and some homemade naans! I recently learned how to make them and now I can’t stop. This is one of my favourite recipes at the moment.

6.45pm: Sit down for dinner with N and chat about our days.

7.30pm: Wash up and watch some more Motherland.

8pm: Call our friends in New York and play some online bridge. I met J on my master’s last year but she has now returned to NY and is living with her boyfriend, D. They taught us to play bridge and we now play around once a month. It makes me feel like an old woman but I can’t deny this is one of my favourite ways to spend a Saturday night.

10pm: Finish off an episode of Motherland and head to bed.

Total: £9.50
<strong>Day Four</strong><br><br>8.30am: Wake up. Today’s breakfast is a different one for you all: pancakes with banana, peanut butter and Nutella.<br><br>9.30am: N is spending the morning studying before we head out for a walk this afternoon. I help her with some flash cards and do some chores.<br><br>10.30am: Workout time! Feeling much better today so I do a glutes and legs workout, followed by some boxing-inspired HIIT.<br><br>11.45am: Sit down with a coffee after my post-workout shower. Have another look at the cardigan pattern I found. The designer said it needs to be made with mohair, which I’ve found a bit itchy in the past. The internet tells me it isn’t as itchy as wool though, so I think I might be alright… I’ll have a proper wool browse later. I find that knitting satisfies my desire to have new things but is also a nice hobby and means I appreciate the products more as I made them myself. <br><br>12.15pm: Take a look at the application form for a free mentoring programme I’ve found. I hope it would help me get a clearer idea of what I’d like to do, as well as help me apply for a promotion or new job in a year or so. I really enjoy my current job but am pretty ambitious and would like to move on to a higher level role in a couple of years once I feel ready.<br><br>12.45pm: Have some leftover saag paneer for lunch before heading out for the afternoon. We’ve decided to walk down to Dulwich Village, mainly to look at the multimillion-pound houses and sit in the park.<br><br>2.30pm: Buy a drink (San Pellegrino so I look bougie) and a cronut from a fancy café in Dulwich and head to the park. £3.25<br><br>4.30pm: Head back home after a great afternoon people-watching and admiring the fancy houses. As N is studying a lot at the moment, it’s nice to spend time together doing something exciting, rather than just watching TV after work. £1.50 for the train home.<br><br>5pm: Sit down in front of the TV for a bit. We’re both absolutely buzzing for the <em>Line of Duty </em>finale tonight. I wish it was 9pm already. I’ve convinced myself that Ted is going to end up being H – I don’t trust him after season five!<br><br>6pm: Put a frozen pizza in the oven for our relaxed TV dinner. After our walk this afternoon, neither of us feels like making anything extravagant. I show N the knitting patterns and earrings I’ve seen. She tells me to buy the earrings but they’ve already sold out! Maybe it’s fate.<br><br>8pm: Sunday has been a bit of a TV extravaganza for me recently because <em>Call the Midwife</em> AND <em>Line of Duty</em> are on. I probably have the TV tastes of a middle-aged woman.<br><br>10pm: Finish <em>Line of Duty </em>confused and annoyed which, judging by my Twitter timeline, seems to be how most people are feeling. I’m glad Jo is living her cottagecore lesbian dream though.<br><br>10.30pm: After spending half an hour discussing <em>Line of Duty</em>, we head to bed.<br><br><strong>Total: £4.75</strong>
Day Four

8.30am: Wake up. Today’s breakfast is a different one for you all: pancakes with banana, peanut butter and Nutella.

9.30am: N is spending the morning studying before we head out for a walk this afternoon. I help her with some flash cards and do some chores.

10.30am: Workout time! Feeling much better today so I do a glutes and legs workout, followed by some boxing-inspired HIIT.

11.45am: Sit down with a coffee after my post-workout shower. Have another look at the cardigan pattern I found. The designer said it needs to be made with mohair, which I’ve found a bit itchy in the past. The internet tells me it isn’t as itchy as wool though, so I think I might be alright… I’ll have a proper wool browse later. I find that knitting satisfies my desire to have new things but is also a nice hobby and means I appreciate the products more as I made them myself.

12.15pm: Take a look at the application form for a free mentoring programme I’ve found. I hope it would help me get a clearer idea of what I’d like to do, as well as help me apply for a promotion or new job in a year or so. I really enjoy my current job but am pretty ambitious and would like to move on to a higher level role in a couple of years once I feel ready.

12.45pm: Have some leftover saag paneer for lunch before heading out for the afternoon. We’ve decided to walk down to Dulwich Village, mainly to look at the multimillion-pound houses and sit in the park.

2.30pm: Buy a drink (San Pellegrino so I look bougie) and a cronut from a fancy café in Dulwich and head to the park. £3.25

4.30pm: Head back home after a great afternoon people-watching and admiring the fancy houses. As N is studying a lot at the moment, it’s nice to spend time together doing something exciting, rather than just watching TV after work. £1.50 for the train home.

5pm: Sit down in front of the TV for a bit. We’re both absolutely buzzing for the Line of Duty finale tonight. I wish it was 9pm already. I’ve convinced myself that Ted is going to end up being H – I don’t trust him after season five!

6pm: Put a frozen pizza in the oven for our relaxed TV dinner. After our walk this afternoon, neither of us feels like making anything extravagant. I show N the knitting patterns and earrings I’ve seen. She tells me to buy the earrings but they’ve already sold out! Maybe it’s fate.

8pm: Sunday has been a bit of a TV extravaganza for me recently because Call the Midwife AND Line of Duty are on. I probably have the TV tastes of a middle-aged woman.

10pm: Finish Line of Duty confused and annoyed which, judging by my Twitter timeline, seems to be how most people are feeling. I’m glad Jo is living her cottagecore lesbian dream though.

10.30pm: After spending half an hour discussing Line of Duty, we head to bed.

Total: £4.75
<strong>Day Five</strong><br><br>8am: Alarm goes off. It’s bank holiday Monday! We stay in bed talking about <em>Line of Duty</em> and looking at memes. N is working again so we don’t have any wild plans but hopefully we’ll head out for a nice walk together later. I need to do some admin bits so haven’t made any plans for myself today.<br><br>9.30am: We’ve had our porridge and N gets started on her work. I fill in a consultation on higher education funding (I can’t pretend this is a normal hobby for me but the government have proposed cutting arts funding by 50%, which I think is appalling) and submit my refund claim to TfL, having waited the required 48 hours. Fun!<br><br>10am: Do a barre workout, followed by a quick core circuit. Monday is normally a rest day but as it’s a bank holiday I figured I’d save that for a weekday instead. Barre seems like a nice low-impact change of pace today.<br><br>11am: Get in the shower and resume my tasks for the day. Next up is my mentoring application.<br><br>11.45am: Not really sure what I have been doing but I haven’t made any progress on my application yet… Looks like this might be one for the afternoon instead.<br><br>12.15pm: Lunchtime! Today I’ve gone for a sandwich with hummus, cucumber and some Vivera vegan kebab meat. Never had it before but 10/10 would recommend the Vivera.<br><br>1pm: We head out for a walk up to the Thames via our favourite coffee shop. It’s a bit overpriced but the coffee is the best I’ve had here. I’m definitely still adapting to how much things cost in London! I also grab an orange polenta cake, which is nice but a bit dense. £6.20 for coffee and a cake (I said it was overpriced).<br><br>3pm: We walk home via the local supermarket for some bananas. £1<br><br>3.30pm: Scroll on my phone for a bit before settling down with a cup of tea to have another go at the mentoring application. Spending time thinking about my career goals is making me feel like I know absolutely nothing.<br><br>4.30pm: I’ve come up with some solid thoughts for my application, which I’m going to mull over for a few days before filling the form out. I’m finding it quite difficult to think about my goals and experiences in my job because everything has been unusual and virtual for so long. Hopefully if I do get a mentor, I’ll be able to see things a bit more clearly.<br><br>4.45pm: Sit down with my knitting and start on the BBC Young Musician finale (a childhood spent playing classical music never leaves you).<br><br>5.30pm: Start on dinner for me and N. Tonight it’s Jack Monroe’s vegan pastitsio. I have their vegan cookbook, which I love, but this one is from their blog. I make it all the time!<br><br>7pm: Eat dinner with N before planning our meals and grocery shop for the next week. I’ve been cooking a lot as she’s been studying hard but I’m looking forward to her doing a few more meals next week after her exam.<br><br>7.45pm: Sit down in front of the TV to watch the film <em>28 Days</em>. We’re both big Sandra B fans! It’s a bit more emotionally intense than we anticipated but it’s a great film.<br><br>10pm: Head to bed. N is going into the office for the first time tomorrow so she wants an early night.<br><br><strong>Total: £7.20</strong>
Day Five

8am: Alarm goes off. It’s bank holiday Monday! We stay in bed talking about Line of Duty and looking at memes. N is working again so we don’t have any wild plans but hopefully we’ll head out for a nice walk together later. I need to do some admin bits so haven’t made any plans for myself today.

9.30am: We’ve had our porridge and N gets started on her work. I fill in a consultation on higher education funding (I can’t pretend this is a normal hobby for me but the government have proposed cutting arts funding by 50%, which I think is appalling) and submit my refund claim to TfL, having waited the required 48 hours. Fun!

10am: Do a barre workout, followed by a quick core circuit. Monday is normally a rest day but as it’s a bank holiday I figured I’d save that for a weekday instead. Barre seems like a nice low-impact change of pace today.

11am: Get in the shower and resume my tasks for the day. Next up is my mentoring application.

11.45am: Not really sure what I have been doing but I haven’t made any progress on my application yet… Looks like this might be one for the afternoon instead.

12.15pm: Lunchtime! Today I’ve gone for a sandwich with hummus, cucumber and some Vivera vegan kebab meat. Never had it before but 10/10 would recommend the Vivera.

1pm: We head out for a walk up to the Thames via our favourite coffee shop. It’s a bit overpriced but the coffee is the best I’ve had here. I’m definitely still adapting to how much things cost in London! I also grab an orange polenta cake, which is nice but a bit dense. £6.20 for coffee and a cake (I said it was overpriced).

3pm: We walk home via the local supermarket for some bananas. £1

3.30pm: Scroll on my phone for a bit before settling down with a cup of tea to have another go at the mentoring application. Spending time thinking about my career goals is making me feel like I know absolutely nothing.

4.30pm: I’ve come up with some solid thoughts for my application, which I’m going to mull over for a few days before filling the form out. I’m finding it quite difficult to think about my goals and experiences in my job because everything has been unusual and virtual for so long. Hopefully if I do get a mentor, I’ll be able to see things a bit more clearly.

4.45pm: Sit down with my knitting and start on the BBC Young Musician finale (a childhood spent playing classical music never leaves you).

5.30pm: Start on dinner for me and N. Tonight it’s Jack Monroe’s vegan pastitsio. I have their vegan cookbook, which I love, but this one is from their blog. I make it all the time!

7pm: Eat dinner with N before planning our meals and grocery shop for the next week. I’ve been cooking a lot as she’s been studying hard but I’m looking forward to her doing a few more meals next week after her exam.

7.45pm: Sit down in front of the TV to watch the film 28 Days. We’re both big Sandra B fans! It’s a bit more emotionally intense than we anticipated but it’s a great film.

10pm: Head to bed. N is going into the office for the first time tomorrow so she wants an early night.

Total: £7.20
<strong>Day Six</strong><br><br>7am: Up bright and early for N’s first proper day in the office! I haven’t had a day working from home alone for ages so I think I’ll be a bit lonely.<br><br>7.50am: N leaves for the office. I make the most of my early morning and do an upper body workout. Looking forward to that rest day tomorrow…<br><br>9am: Log in to my work computer. After a bank holiday I always feel a bit like a headless chicken trying to remember what I need to do. This is made worse by a busy morning of meetings.<br><br>12.15pm: Lunchtime! The morning has gone so quickly thanks to a busy morning on Teams. I have some leftover pastitsio and head out on a quick walk to my local park and back.<br><br>1.15pm: Sit back down for my afternoon. <br><br>2pm: I’ve just had a lovely chat with someone who benefited from one of our outreach programmes, which reminds me why I like my job/sector so much. I can find it quite lonely working from home as there isn’t the same office chat and socialising but having meetings like this one helps me stay engaged.<br><br>2.15pm: Quick tea break before cracking on through my busy pile of work including strategy planning, comms and project proposals.<br><br>5pm: I’ve ticked a fair bit off my to-do list! Now it’s time for a meeting with someone from a similar charity to finish off the day.<br><br>6pm: Log off for the day and get straight on with making black bean and sweet potato enchiladas: my recipe this time! N is back from the office now and it’s nice to have some company in the flat again.<br><br>6.30pm: Pop the enchiladas in the oven and see that I’ve got a response about replacing my lost earring. Thankfully they can sell me just one. It’s from Birdsong, a sustainable brand which does lovely, high quality jewellery and clothes. Hopefully I won’t lose this one… £22.50<br><br>7pm: Sit down for dinner and debrief about N’s day. She tells me all about her VERY swish office.<br><br>7.45pm: N picks the film: <em>Shrek 2</em>! We are children.<br><br>9.30pm: Do a quick stretch before bed – we try to remember to do this every night but as you’ll see from the diary, we’re not very consistent at the moment.<br><br><strong>Total: £22.50</strong>
Day Six

7am: Up bright and early for N’s first proper day in the office! I haven’t had a day working from home alone for ages so I think I’ll be a bit lonely.

7.50am: N leaves for the office. I make the most of my early morning and do an upper body workout. Looking forward to that rest day tomorrow…

9am: Log in to my work computer. After a bank holiday I always feel a bit like a headless chicken trying to remember what I need to do. This is made worse by a busy morning of meetings.

12.15pm: Lunchtime! The morning has gone so quickly thanks to a busy morning on Teams. I have some leftover pastitsio and head out on a quick walk to my local park and back.

1.15pm: Sit back down for my afternoon.

2pm: I’ve just had a lovely chat with someone who benefited from one of our outreach programmes, which reminds me why I like my job/sector so much. I can find it quite lonely working from home as there isn’t the same office chat and socialising but having meetings like this one helps me stay engaged.

2.15pm: Quick tea break before cracking on through my busy pile of work including strategy planning, comms and project proposals.

5pm: I’ve ticked a fair bit off my to-do list! Now it’s time for a meeting with someone from a similar charity to finish off the day.

6pm: Log off for the day and get straight on with making black bean and sweet potato enchiladas: my recipe this time! N is back from the office now and it’s nice to have some company in the flat again.

6.30pm: Pop the enchiladas in the oven and see that I’ve got a response about replacing my lost earring. Thankfully they can sell me just one. It’s from Birdsong, a sustainable brand which does lovely, high quality jewellery and clothes. Hopefully I won’t lose this one… £22.50

7pm: Sit down for dinner and debrief about N’s day. She tells me all about her VERY swish office.

7.45pm: N picks the film: Shrek 2! We are children.

9.30pm: Do a quick stretch before bed – we try to remember to do this every night but as you’ll see from the diary, we’re not very consistent at the moment.

Total: £22.50
<strong>Day Seven</strong><br><br>7.30am: Alarm goes off and we laze about for a bit.<br><br>8am: Sit down with our porridge and watch the <em>Architectural Digest</em> tour of Naomi Campbell’s home in Kenya. It looks like a hotel! We watch a lot of interior design/home tour videos to inspire us for when we eventually have our own home which we can decorate as we like.<br><br>9am: Get started on my work day. We’ve been relatively quiet for the last few months but it’s definitely ramping up more now, which is nice. I have a couple of meetings with other teams today but otherwise I’m getting on with some social media planning and drafting copy.<br><br>10.30am: The Wi-Fi is absolutely shocking today! I don’t understand how I used to have great signal living in a rural village but in almost-central London it seems virtually nonexistent sometimes.<br><br>1pm: Break for lunch. I feel like I’m making good progress: sometimes I don’t feel inspired enough to rewrite and edit copy which needs a lot of concentration but I think I’m on a roll today. I have some leftover enchiladas, which are a bit disappointing as I manage to burn one of them, before heading out for a quick lunchtime walk.<br><br>2pm: Back to my copy editing…<br><br>4pm: Get an email from TfL saying they’ll refund my journey charge from earlier in the week. Remind myself never to tap into a station again until I know the train is actually coming!<br><br>6pm: Log off for the day. N is making dinner tonight as she can’t face doing any more revision. I do some gentle yoga for 20 minutes to try to stretch out after sitting down all day.<br><br>6.30pm: Sit down for dinner: puff pastry tart with pesto, mozzarella and tomatoes and some potato wedges.<br><br>7.30pm: Get in the bath and feel very zen before settling down to watch <em>Sewing Bee. </em><br><br>10pm: Really sad about the person who left <em>Sewing Bee</em> as they seemed like such a lovely woman. My bet is on Raph to win though.<br><br>10.30pm: Lights out!<br><br><strong>Total: £0</strong>
Day Seven

7.30am: Alarm goes off and we laze about for a bit.

8am: Sit down with our porridge and watch the Architectural Digest tour of Naomi Campbell’s home in Kenya. It looks like a hotel! We watch a lot of interior design/home tour videos to inspire us for when we eventually have our own home which we can decorate as we like.

9am: Get started on my work day. We’ve been relatively quiet for the last few months but it’s definitely ramping up more now, which is nice. I have a couple of meetings with other teams today but otherwise I’m getting on with some social media planning and drafting copy.

10.30am: The Wi-Fi is absolutely shocking today! I don’t understand how I used to have great signal living in a rural village but in almost-central London it seems virtually nonexistent sometimes.

1pm: Break for lunch. I feel like I’m making good progress: sometimes I don’t feel inspired enough to rewrite and edit copy which needs a lot of concentration but I think I’m on a roll today. I have some leftover enchiladas, which are a bit disappointing as I manage to burn one of them, before heading out for a quick lunchtime walk.

2pm: Back to my copy editing…

4pm: Get an email from TfL saying they’ll refund my journey charge from earlier in the week. Remind myself never to tap into a station again until I know the train is actually coming!

6pm: Log off for the day. N is making dinner tonight as she can’t face doing any more revision. I do some gentle yoga for 20 minutes to try to stretch out after sitting down all day.

6.30pm: Sit down for dinner: puff pastry tart with pesto, mozzarella and tomatoes and some potato wedges.

7.30pm: Get in the bath and feel very zen before settling down to watch Sewing Bee.

10pm: Really sad about the person who left Sewing Bee as they seemed like such a lovely woman. My bet is on Raph to win though.

10.30pm: Lights out!

Total: £0
<strong>The Breakdown</strong><br><br>Food/Drink: £58.30<br>Entertainment: £0<br>Clothes/Beauty: £23.50<br>Travel: £8.05<br>Other: £2<br><br><strong>Total: £91.85</strong><br><br><strong>Conclusion</strong><br><br>"I feel like my spending for the week was relatively average, apart from the replacement earring I bought. I found that the process of doing the diary definitely made me question my potential purchases more as I didn’t want to end up spending loads of money, which was pretty interesting. Maybe in the future I’ll imagine all my purchases are being scrutinised by other people to test if I really want them!<br><br>I think a saving goal of £400 might be more realistic for me at the moment, particularly because I want to enjoy meeting up with friends and family after having spent so long in lockdown. I’ve also recently increased my pension contribution a bit.<br><br>Also, on reflection, I feel like I may have judged the <em>Line of Duty</em> finale too harshly. I like the point they were trying to get across about institutionalised corruption but still feel it could have been a bit more dramatic? Maybe that’s just me…"
The Breakdown

Food/Drink: £58.30
Entertainment: £0
Clothes/Beauty: £23.50
Travel: £8.05
Other: £2

Total: £91.85

Conclusion

"I feel like my spending for the week was relatively average, apart from the replacement earring I bought. I found that the process of doing the diary definitely made me question my potential purchases more as I didn’t want to end up spending loads of money, which was pretty interesting. Maybe in the future I’ll imagine all my purchases are being scrutinised by other people to test if I really want them!

I think a saving goal of £400 might be more realistic for me at the moment, particularly because I want to enjoy meeting up with friends and family after having spent so long in lockdown. I’ve also recently increased my pension contribution a bit.

Also, on reflection, I feel like I may have judged the Line of Duty finale too harshly. I like the point they were trying to get across about institutionalised corruption but still feel it could have been a bit more dramatic? Maybe that’s just me…"

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