Money Diary: A 23-Year-Old Support Worker On £8.91/h

·23-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 support worker living in Cardiff. I graduated last July with a degree in modern languages and translation from Cardiff Uni after moving here four years ago. I’m originally from the south and much prefer the more relaxed way of life in Wales, it is also so much cheaper in terms of renting, going out etc. I live with my partner, D. We don’t have any joint accounts but are pretty good at sharing the cost of everything equally, bar a few treats now and then.

I have a track history of being a spender but since finishing uni I’m a lot more serious about saving and try to look at the bigger picture before buying something, usually skincare or more books that I probably don’t need. At the moment I’m saving to buy a car in the hope of passing my test this year, and also a house or a flat for the future. I should really start an emergency fund but all in good time."

Occupation: Support worker
Industry: Care
Age: 23
Location: Cardiff
Salary: £8.91 p/h
Paycheque amount: This varies month to month. The job involves doing sleep nights where you work from 9am to 11pm, sleep between 11pm and 7am at the house, then work 7am to 9am, so effectively a 24-hour shift (though the eight hours sleeping are not part of my 39 contracted hours). These sleeps are good little earners, around £200 each, so massively bump up your pay. Generally, I do between six and 11 a month, with my average week including two sleeps and a day shift. My pay since starting has been anything between £1,300 and £1,800.
Number of housemates: One: my partner, D.
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses


Housing costs: £350 for my half of the rent for a two-bedroom flat.
Loan payments: I graduated last July and have not started paying any loans back yet (I don’t think I will be earning enough when the time comes anyway). When I finished uni and left my part-time job to start my current job, it worked out that I didn’t have any form of income for around two months. As I had no savings I took out a 0% credit card with my bank to live off. I spent the maximum £1,100 and currently pay off the minimum, around £10 a month. I am also £250 withdrawn in my student account, which I can pay off when I feel like it.
Savings? £337.70 in my Moneybox LISA, £106.07 in a Moneybox 45 Day Notice account, a very sad-looking £4 in a simple saver and £100 in D’s NS&I account. My savings are not ideal at all and I do get quite anxious when I think about how little I have compared to other people of my age but I have to remind myself that I only started these three months ago and it could definitely be worse.
Pension? I have one through work though I know absolutely nothing about it. Last month they deducted £60 from my paycheque.
Utilities: £60 for my half of water, electric and gas. £80 for my half of the council tax.
All other monthly payments: My phone £22, my mum's phone £17.21, £300 for driving lessons. Subscriptions: £9.95 yearly ASOS next-day delivery, £5.99 Netflix, £12.99 Odeon, £12.99 The Telegraph (the last two are in the process of being cancelled).

Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?

University was paid for entirely by loans and I received the highest grant from student finance. I also worked part-time during term and full-time during holidays.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?

Money was, and still is, hugely stressful. After a messy divorce, our house got repossessed and my mum found herself single and without an income of her own. We effectively lived hand to mouth, with some weeks not having a penny before the next wage went in. Mum tried her best but also had issues of her own, which did not help matters financially so bills and rent often went unpaid. Unfortunately, this is still the case and I often send money to my mum when she needs it. I have educated myself a lot lately about finances and how best to save etc. but it is still quite hard to save when I need to help out every month or so.

If you have, when did you move out of your parents'/guardians' house?

I moved out at 18 for uni, where I lived in halls and then houses with friends. It only feels like I’ve properly moved out now, age 23.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life?

This is a tricky one as I started contributing to the household financially when I got a job at 16. I would say probably 18 when I received student loans and had my wage every month. At this point I was very aware that if I ran out of money, there was no family member who could help out really.

What was your first job and why did you get it?


I started my first job in retail at 16 and only left when I got a full-time job after uni. I got this to help out at home, have money to go out with friends and buy as much makeup from MAC as I could. I got it while doing my GCSEs and remember feeling part grown-up and part stressed, juggling revision and working as many hours as I could.

Do you worry about money now?

Yes. I think when you grow up poor it never really leaves you. I constantly worry about my mum and how I really need an emergency fund. This year though I am trying my very best to save as much as I can so it takes the pressure off a bit.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income?

No, and never will.

<strong>Day One</strong><br> <br>6.50am: The fateful alarm sounds so I jump out of bed and walk straight to the kettle for a coffee. I complete the morning fridge temps while boiling the water.<br><br>7.15am: Bedsheet washing, bed changing, hoovering, mopping, anti-baccing – the list really is endless, especially at this time in the morning. <br><br>9.30am: Paperwork and handover complete, I make a run for it. D has kindly picked me up as there are no buses running today. I started driving lessons in December which a) bleed me dry, and b) make me care even less about a clutch and a biting point. The test I have booked in April is looking like a pipe dream at this point. In the car D catches me up on his night with friends and informs me that he slept in his car. I’m not sure if I feel sorrier for him or his knees, to be honest. <br><br>10am: Back home and an overdue cwtch in bed. <br><br>11.30am: After showering we have a lie down on the sofa and read our books. I’m currently reading <em>Attached, </em>which is basically about the three attachment styles and how it impacts you and your relationships. It’s very eye-opening and I catch myself relating a bit too much to the anxious type, it seems as though they literally did a case study on me. Do some of the quizzes with D and have a laugh about how different we are. <br><br>12.30pm: I decide to make cheese straws as I simply did not eat enough lactose over Christmas. They are really easy and I even manage to plait them, which looks very professional in my humble opinion. Send a picture to a friend for an ego boost. <br><br>1.30pm: D and I head down to Cardiff Bay for a leisurely walk and spot of lunch. We go for three sharing plates of buttermilk chicken sliders, chargrilled chicken skewers and salt and vinegar battered fish goujons along with two drinks. The total comes to £12.75 each.<br><br>4.30pm: We arrive back at the flat and pop into the corner shop for a bottle of lemonade and soy sauce, £2.98. I message my friend, A, as it is her birthday in a couple of weeks and we are planning a night away with our partners. After finding the cheapest possible hotel at £80 per night, we agree to book it next week when we both get paid. We also get excited looking at bars which will charge us £15 for a predominantly ice and juice-based cocktail, which is all part of the fun. <br><br>6.30pm: Watch <em>Fresh Meat</em> on the sofa. I never tire of it, ever. Makes me very nostalgic for uni and just generally not feeling the pressure you get when you work full time. RIP. <br><br>9.30pm: D is feeling a bit under the weather (a negative lateral flow, thankfully) so we head to bed. I read my book for a bit then put on an Eleanor Neale video until I fall asleep. <br><br><strong>Total: £15.73</strong>
Day One

6.50am: The fateful alarm sounds so I jump out of bed and walk straight to the kettle for a coffee. I complete the morning fridge temps while boiling the water.

7.15am: Bedsheet washing, bed changing, hoovering, mopping, anti-baccing – the list really is endless, especially at this time in the morning.

9.30am: Paperwork and handover complete, I make a run for it. D has kindly picked me up as there are no buses running today. I started driving lessons in December which a) bleed me dry, and b) make me care even less about a clutch and a biting point. The test I have booked in April is looking like a pipe dream at this point. In the car D catches me up on his night with friends and informs me that he slept in his car. I’m not sure if I feel sorrier for him or his knees, to be honest.

10am: Back home and an overdue cwtch in bed.

11.30am: After showering we have a lie down on the sofa and read our books. I’m currently reading Attached, which is basically about the three attachment styles and how it impacts you and your relationships. It’s very eye-opening and I catch myself relating a bit too much to the anxious type, it seems as though they literally did a case study on me. Do some of the quizzes with D and have a laugh about how different we are.

12.30pm: I decide to make cheese straws as I simply did not eat enough lactose over Christmas. They are really easy and I even manage to plait them, which looks very professional in my humble opinion. Send a picture to a friend for an ego boost.

1.30pm: D and I head down to Cardiff Bay for a leisurely walk and spot of lunch. We go for three sharing plates of buttermilk chicken sliders, chargrilled chicken skewers and salt and vinegar battered fish goujons along with two drinks. The total comes to £12.75 each.

4.30pm: We arrive back at the flat and pop into the corner shop for a bottle of lemonade and soy sauce, £2.98. I message my friend, A, as it is her birthday in a couple of weeks and we are planning a night away with our partners. After finding the cheapest possible hotel at £80 per night, we agree to book it next week when we both get paid. We also get excited looking at bars which will charge us £15 for a predominantly ice and juice-based cocktail, which is all part of the fun.

6.30pm: Watch Fresh Meat on the sofa. I never tire of it, ever. Makes me very nostalgic for uni and just generally not feeling the pressure you get when you work full time. RIP.

9.30pm: D is feeling a bit under the weather (a negative lateral flow, thankfully) so we head to bed. I read my book for a bit then put on an Eleanor Neale video until I fall asleep.

Total: £15.73
<strong>Day Two</strong><br> <br>7.45am: I wake up in a good mood solely because I didn’t have to set an alarm. I worked 200+ hours in December and it feels like an absolute relief knowing I’ve got today and tomorrow off too. <br> <br>9.30am: No sign of D waking any time soon and the leftover cheese straws are calling my name. Have a nibble and decide to make some hearty chicken soup in the hope of bringing D back to life. <br> <br>11am: The big January clean is upon us. Bathroom, kitchen and living room all to do. The lack of ventilation in the flat is so bad that we are currently surrounded by mould. Start googling dehumidifiers but get so bored I have to stop. Will definitely be a post-payday purchase anyway. <br><br>1.30pm: It’s the moment of truth for my soup. I also make some stuffing balls to act as rogue dumplings. It goes down like a treat, with empty bowls all round. Feel like Nigella, just with less sex appeal and wearing dirty pyjamas. <br><br>3pm: I browse the new Kindle daily deals, which is always a particular highlight of a new month for me. I see that <em>Magpie </em>by Elizabeth Day is on offer for 99p and buy it quicker than you can blink with the one-click option. My toxic trait is buying Kindle books, I currently have about 40 pages' worth on my Kindle. Add it to the TBR pile. <br><br>4pm: Head to Home Bargains to pick up some essentials. An incredibly boring haul of carpet stain remover, bleach, drain unblocker, a long candle lighter, lighter fluid, Smints, Cathedral City nibbles and a bottle of sriracha mayo. £5.60 for my share. <br><br>4.30pm: We go for a walk to our favourite park and on the way D kindly treats me to a coconut milk flat white from the Costa drive-thru. For some unknown reason I have a strange fascination with working there and would happily give it a go if they paid more. <br><br>6pm: Come back from a glorious walk at peak sunset time, which is the best part of the day in my opinion. We make flatbreads, which we have with some gammon I slow-cooked earlier, salad and the new sriracha mayo. Another cracking dinner. D clears up while I sit browsing Airbnb for a log cabin with a hot tub. Why must they be so expensive?<br><br>10pm: I honestly don’t know what I’ve been doing. Texting some friends, browsing Waterstones and chatting with D seem to have taken their toll so we head to bed. Whenever I have a pretty lazy day I always seem to end up more tired than before.<br><br>11pm: Read some more <em>Attached</em> then listen to <em>Casefile</em> on Spotify until I’m asleep. <br><strong><br>Total:</strong> <strong>£6.59</strong>
Day Two

7.45am: I wake up in a good mood solely because I didn’t have to set an alarm. I worked 200+ hours in December and it feels like an absolute relief knowing I’ve got today and tomorrow off too.

9.30am: No sign of D waking any time soon and the leftover cheese straws are calling my name. Have a nibble and decide to make some hearty chicken soup in the hope of bringing D back to life.

11am: The big January clean is upon us. Bathroom, kitchen and living room all to do. The lack of ventilation in the flat is so bad that we are currently surrounded by mould. Start googling dehumidifiers but get so bored I have to stop. Will definitely be a post-payday purchase anyway.

1.30pm: It’s the moment of truth for my soup. I also make some stuffing balls to act as rogue dumplings. It goes down like a treat, with empty bowls all round. Feel like Nigella, just with less sex appeal and wearing dirty pyjamas.

3pm: I browse the new Kindle daily deals, which is always a particular highlight of a new month for me. I see that Magpie by Elizabeth Day is on offer for 99p and buy it quicker than you can blink with the one-click option. My toxic trait is buying Kindle books, I currently have about 40 pages' worth on my Kindle. Add it to the TBR pile.

4pm: Head to Home Bargains to pick up some essentials. An incredibly boring haul of carpet stain remover, bleach, drain unblocker, a long candle lighter, lighter fluid, Smints, Cathedral City nibbles and a bottle of sriracha mayo. £5.60 for my share.

4.30pm: We go for a walk to our favourite park and on the way D kindly treats me to a coconut milk flat white from the Costa drive-thru. For some unknown reason I have a strange fascination with working there and would happily give it a go if they paid more.

6pm: Come back from a glorious walk at peak sunset time, which is the best part of the day in my opinion. We make flatbreads, which we have with some gammon I slow-cooked earlier, salad and the new sriracha mayo. Another cracking dinner. D clears up while I sit browsing Airbnb for a log cabin with a hot tub. Why must they be so expensive?

10pm: I honestly don’t know what I’ve been doing. Texting some friends, browsing Waterstones and chatting with D seem to have taken their toll so we head to bed. Whenever I have a pretty lazy day I always seem to end up more tired than before.

11pm: Read some more Attached then listen to Casefile on Spotify until I’m asleep.

Total:
£6.59
<strong>Day Three</strong><br><br>8.15am: Another day of waking to no alarm, could definitely get used to this. <br><br>8.45am: Made a pot of coffee, downed a litre of water and it’s back to bed for me. I browse the Kindle deals (shock) and to my delight, <em>Sorrow and Bliss</em> has been reduced to 99p. I buy it and start reading, full to the brim with excitement. <br><br>9.45am: Time for a change of scenery. I start running a bath and add one of the Lush bath bombs I received for Christmas. <br><br>12pm: Start panicking in my head about all I have to do and curse myself for being so unproductive these last few days. Decide to get out the bath and mess around with some weights to clear my head before I get cracking.<br><br>1.30pm: Workout complete. I honestly have no idea what I’m doing with weights. I use Instagram and YouTube for guidance but still it's all mostly guesswork. I’m (hopefully) joining the police as a special constable soon so have been really trying to get fit these last few months but I’ve still got a way to go. <br><br>3pm: We got gifted a pasta machine for Christmas and as a procrastination technique I decide to make some dough we can have later. You don’t realise until kneading for 15 minutes that 15 minutes really can be a long time. I’m not sure what it’s supposed to look like but it’ll do for me.<br><br>3.30pm: D’s back from work so it’s another cwtch in. I swear most weeks I don’t normally spend this much time horizontal but here we are. <br><br>4pm: Shower then head to Lidl. We go in for a few bits but obviously we end up with a trolley full. 10% beef mince, 24 pack toilet roll, GU cheesecakes, pancetta, two ginger shots, yoghurts, antipasti platter, elderflower tonic water, eggs, Pepsi, sweetcorn, spinach, mushrooms, large avocado, red onions, cotton wool pads, shampoo, chillies, cake sprinkles and a 6kg kettlebell. £18.90 for my share. <br><br>5pm: FaceTime one of my friends from home. I love where I live but being around three hours away can be hard at times, especially going from a student to working and having much less free time than before. Come away feeling excited as we’ve planned for her to come and stay when I have a weekend off at the end of the month.<br><br>6pm: D and I get stuck in making tagliatelle. I also prepare a creamy/peppery/spinachy mushroom sauce to go with it. Cooking together makes me so happy. Soppy, I know. It’s the little things!<br><br>8pm: Have a couple of G&Ts and start watching <em>Stay Close</em> on Netflix as I keep seeing rave reviews on Instagram. Anything mystery/thriller and I’m hooked. It’s probably the wannabe detective in me. <br><br>11pm: Bed, ready for work tomorrow. <br><strong><br>Total:</strong> <strong>£19.89</strong>
Day Three

8.15am: Another day of waking to no alarm, could definitely get used to this.

8.45am: Made a pot of coffee, downed a litre of water and it’s back to bed for me. I browse the Kindle deals (shock) and to my delight, Sorrow and Bliss has been reduced to 99p. I buy it and start reading, full to the brim with excitement.

9.45am: Time for a change of scenery. I start running a bath and add one of the Lush bath bombs I received for Christmas.

12pm: Start panicking in my head about all I have to do and curse myself for being so unproductive these last few days. Decide to get out the bath and mess around with some weights to clear my head before I get cracking.

1.30pm: Workout complete. I honestly have no idea what I’m doing with weights. I use Instagram and YouTube for guidance but still it's all mostly guesswork. I’m (hopefully) joining the police as a special constable soon so have been really trying to get fit these last few months but I’ve still got a way to go.

3pm: We got gifted a pasta machine for Christmas and as a procrastination technique I decide to make some dough we can have later. You don’t realise until kneading for 15 minutes that 15 minutes really can be a long time. I’m not sure what it’s supposed to look like but it’ll do for me.

3.30pm: D’s back from work so it’s another cwtch in. I swear most weeks I don’t normally spend this much time horizontal but here we are.

4pm: Shower then head to Lidl. We go in for a few bits but obviously we end up with a trolley full. 10% beef mince, 24 pack toilet roll, GU cheesecakes, pancetta, two ginger shots, yoghurts, antipasti platter, elderflower tonic water, eggs, Pepsi, sweetcorn, spinach, mushrooms, large avocado, red onions, cotton wool pads, shampoo, chillies, cake sprinkles and a 6kg kettlebell. £18.90 for my share.

5pm: FaceTime one of my friends from home. I love where I live but being around three hours away can be hard at times, especially going from a student to working and having much less free time than before. Come away feeling excited as we’ve planned for her to come and stay when I have a weekend off at the end of the month.

6pm: D and I get stuck in making tagliatelle. I also prepare a creamy/peppery/spinachy mushroom sauce to go with it. Cooking together makes me so happy. Soppy, I know. It’s the little things!

8pm: Have a couple of G&Ts and start watching Stay Close on Netflix as I keep seeing rave reviews on Instagram. Anything mystery/thriller and I’m hooked. It’s probably the wannabe detective in me.

11pm: Bed, ready for work tomorrow.

Total:
£19.89
<strong>Day Four</strong><br> <br>6am: Quick shower, morning skincare, make breakfast and pack a lunch and many, many snacks for the day. Wrap up warm for the walk to the bus stop.<br> <br>8am: Get on the bus and read my Kindle, £2.<br> <br>9am: Arrive at work for handover. Listen to what has been going on while doing my lateral flow. It appears as though one service user is going through a relapse so has been pretty full-on while I’ve been away. We spend some time thinking of what we can do to help best.<br><br>12pm: Personal care and breakfast complete, I spend the next hour doing health and safety checks. Get drenched while doing the water temperatures. <br><br>1.30pm: The lady I’m supporting today wants to head into town for a browse, which sounds good to me. While out I am lured by the sweet aroma of Greggs for a sausage roll, £1.05. They’ve gone up by a whole five pence! Unbelievable. <br><br>4pm: Once back I have lots of paperwork to catch up on so busy myself with that. While I was out I got a missed call from the lady who will be doing my QCF qualification so I ring her back. She seems lovely and needs me to send her my ID ASAP, which I tell her I will do tomorrow. <br><br>5pm: Time for dinner! I have been requested to make a chicken curry tonight so that is on the menu. I support doing this while we listen to Elvis and chat. <br><br>6pm: One hour to go! I check on the lady who is having a tough time at the moment and she ends up crying to me for about 45 minutes. I am pleased that she feels comfortable talking to me but always wish there was more I could do to help. <br><br>7pm: Quickly document the last hour then I’m out the door as D has come to pick me up. Honestly, it’s a godsend not having to get the bus when it gets dark so early. <br><br>7.45pm: Back home and D has set up a pizza-making station so all I need to do is assemble. We bought Pizza Express dough a few weeks ago and it goes off today so we will finally see if it is everything I hoped for. <br><br>8.30pm: End up browsing ASOS which is a very bad habit of mine though I have reduced my order number massively in the last year or so. End up ordering some Revolution vitamin C eye patches I’ve had saved for a while as they’re reduced so would be rude not to. £12<br><br>10.30pm: Catch up on correspondence and read until I can’t keep my eyes open. <br><br><strong>Total:</strong> <strong>£15.05</strong>
Day Four

6am: Quick shower, morning skincare, make breakfast and pack a lunch and many, many snacks for the day. Wrap up warm for the walk to the bus stop.

8am: Get on the bus and read my Kindle, £2.

9am: Arrive at work for handover. Listen to what has been going on while doing my lateral flow. It appears as though one service user is going through a relapse so has been pretty full-on while I’ve been away. We spend some time thinking of what we can do to help best.

12pm: Personal care and breakfast complete, I spend the next hour doing health and safety checks. Get drenched while doing the water temperatures.

1.30pm: The lady I’m supporting today wants to head into town for a browse, which sounds good to me. While out I am lured by the sweet aroma of Greggs for a sausage roll, £1.05. They’ve gone up by a whole five pence! Unbelievable.

4pm: Once back I have lots of paperwork to catch up on so busy myself with that. While I was out I got a missed call from the lady who will be doing my QCF qualification so I ring her back. She seems lovely and needs me to send her my ID ASAP, which I tell her I will do tomorrow.

5pm: Time for dinner! I have been requested to make a chicken curry tonight so that is on the menu. I support doing this while we listen to Elvis and chat.

6pm: One hour to go! I check on the lady who is having a tough time at the moment and she ends up crying to me for about 45 minutes. I am pleased that she feels comfortable talking to me but always wish there was more I could do to help.

7pm: Quickly document the last hour then I’m out the door as D has come to pick me up. Honestly, it’s a godsend not having to get the bus when it gets dark so early.

7.45pm: Back home and D has set up a pizza-making station so all I need to do is assemble. We bought Pizza Express dough a few weeks ago and it goes off today so we will finally see if it is everything I hoped for.

8.30pm: End up browsing ASOS which is a very bad habit of mine though I have reduced my order number massively in the last year or so. End up ordering some Revolution vitamin C eye patches I’ve had saved for a while as they’re reduced so would be rude not to. £12

10.30pm: Catch up on correspondence and read until I can’t keep my eyes open.

Total: £15.05
<strong>Day Five</strong><br> <br>8am: Believe it or not, I actually have another day off today. My rota tends to work out where I’ll have a few days off then a manic few days at work. <br><br>8.30am: Coffee made and it’s time to be semi-productive. I was supposed to be meeting a friend today but she had to rearrange for next week so she could take on an extra shift. I log onto my driving lessons and book some lessons for the month (prepaid last payday). <br><br>9.30am: I faff around with my new silly little kettlebell for a while, using videos on YouTube.<br><br>10.15am: Jump in the bath and finish off <em>Sorrow and Bliss</em>, which I would definitely recommend. Worth noting though that if you struggle with quite severe depression, it may be somewhat triggering. Update my Goodreads and order <em>Luster</em> by Raven Leilani as I see it will only cost me 59p – absolute steal.<br><br>11.30am: Duty calls so I’m out the bath. Send off my ID and paperwork to my QCF assessor, fill out some of the vetting form I need to submit and dabble with a job application. I really do enjoy my job but know that it is not what I want to do forever. Sometimes I’ll just be sitting there and have thoughts of pure stress and despair about what I am doing with my life. I know that is so very dramatic though and that I could be doing a lot worse. <br><br>3.30pm: D comes back from work and asks if I fancy going to Spoons for some food and drinks. Never one to turn down three small plates, I get myself ready and think about the nachos. <br><br>4.30pm: Before we get in the car I pop to the corner shop to pick up a 30g pouch of tobacco and a lighter for an eye-watering £16. Think about how much better my life would be if I quit smoking – more money, better ability when running, etc. <br><br>5pm: Order a bottle of wine, three plates and a Desperado for D. £22.74<br><br>8pm: Lots of chatting and future planning calls for a cookie dough to share, which D pays for. He also buys me another glass of wine. I love days off and I love Spoons. <br><br>9.30pm: Back home and I get my stuff ready as I’m off on a long day sleep at work tomorrow. Do the eye masks with D then my usual skin routine but with an added cleanse to take my makeup off. If Caroline Hirons has taught me anything it’s the importance of a double cleanse and now I just have to do it. For someone who is obsessed with skincare and trying to prevent ageing you'd think I’d be better at quitting smoking, but we move. <br><br>10.30pm: Bed after downing a litre of water.<br><br><strong>Total: £39.33</strong>
Day Five

8am: Believe it or not, I actually have another day off today. My rota tends to work out where I’ll have a few days off then a manic few days at work.

8.30am: Coffee made and it’s time to be semi-productive. I was supposed to be meeting a friend today but she had to rearrange for next week so she could take on an extra shift. I log onto my driving lessons and book some lessons for the month (prepaid last payday).

9.30am: I faff around with my new silly little kettlebell for a while, using videos on YouTube.

10.15am: Jump in the bath and finish off Sorrow and Bliss, which I would definitely recommend. Worth noting though that if you struggle with quite severe depression, it may be somewhat triggering. Update my Goodreads and order Luster by Raven Leilani as I see it will only cost me 59p – absolute steal.

11.30am: Duty calls so I’m out the bath. Send off my ID and paperwork to my QCF assessor, fill out some of the vetting form I need to submit and dabble with a job application. I really do enjoy my job but know that it is not what I want to do forever. Sometimes I’ll just be sitting there and have thoughts of pure stress and despair about what I am doing with my life. I know that is so very dramatic though and that I could be doing a lot worse.

3.30pm: D comes back from work and asks if I fancy going to Spoons for some food and drinks. Never one to turn down three small plates, I get myself ready and think about the nachos.

4.30pm: Before we get in the car I pop to the corner shop to pick up a 30g pouch of tobacco and a lighter for an eye-watering £16. Think about how much better my life would be if I quit smoking – more money, better ability when running, etc.

5pm: Order a bottle of wine, three plates and a Desperado for D. £22.74

8pm: Lots of chatting and future planning calls for a cookie dough to share, which D pays for. He also buys me another glass of wine. I love days off and I love Spoons.

9.30pm: Back home and I get my stuff ready as I’m off on a long day sleep at work tomorrow. Do the eye masks with D then my usual skin routine but with an added cleanse to take my makeup off. If Caroline Hirons has taught me anything it’s the importance of a double cleanse and now I just have to do it. For someone who is obsessed with skincare and trying to prevent ageing you'd think I’d be better at quitting smoking, but we move.

10.30pm: Bed after downing a litre of water.

Total: £39.33
<strong>Day Six</strong><br> <br>6.15am: Alarm goes off and I’m feeling fresh, surprisingly. Usual morning routine before heading out the door.<br> <br>8am: Read<em> Luster </em>on the bus which I am not loving. Everyone has said it’s hilarious but I’m just finding it a bit slow and boring. £2 for a single bus ticket. <br> <br>9am: Another day, another negative lateral flow. I’m honestly shocked that I’ve never caught COVID after all this time, though not complaining. Feeling grateful for my immune system during this hard time. Listen to handover and start planning the day. <br> <br>10am: One service user voluntarily went to hospital last night, which is sad but I’m also pleased that they are in the best place. I’m also feeling really proud that they asked for help early on before things escalated too much. I spend some time packing a bag for them that a colleague will drop off later today. <br><br>11am: One of the activities we do is volunteer at the local dogs home and it makes my day when I get to go along! We walk three dogs and I fall in love with a particularly handsome German Shepherd called Bill.<br><br>4pm: Finally back and sit down to eat the sandwich I brought in from home. Make a coffee and sit doing the paperwork for a bit.<br><br>5pm: Today has gone so fast? Already dinnertime. Tonight I’m supporting the making of a stir fry which smells incredible. <br><br>6pm: Dinner done and cleared away, I make my bed for tonight and clean the whole house so that there is less to do in the morning. Honestly there is nothing worse than waking up and having to sterilise mop heads and clean an oven. <br><br>8pm: Cleaning all done so I do the nightly safety checks and update the care plan.<br><br>8.30pm: I sit with the people we support and we decide to watch a (not very scary) horror on Netflix about the woman who pretended her child was ill. Pretty sure I’ve seen it before but they both seem to be loving it! <br><br>10.15pm: Start locking everything up, do my skincare and get everyone else ready for bed. <br><br>11pm: Some alone time! I always feel quite knackered after a long day but it is nice to get some peace. I read until I fall asleep.<br><br><strong>Total:</strong> <strong>£2</strong>
Day Six

6.15am: Alarm goes off and I’m feeling fresh, surprisingly. Usual morning routine before heading out the door.

8am: Read Luster on the bus which I am not loving. Everyone has said it’s hilarious but I’m just finding it a bit slow and boring. £2 for a single bus ticket.

9am: Another day, another negative lateral flow. I’m honestly shocked that I’ve never caught COVID after all this time, though not complaining. Feeling grateful for my immune system during this hard time. Listen to handover and start planning the day.

10am: One service user voluntarily went to hospital last night, which is sad but I’m also pleased that they are in the best place. I’m also feeling really proud that they asked for help early on before things escalated too much. I spend some time packing a bag for them that a colleague will drop off later today.

11am: One of the activities we do is volunteer at the local dogs home and it makes my day when I get to go along! We walk three dogs and I fall in love with a particularly handsome German Shepherd called Bill.

4pm: Finally back and sit down to eat the sandwich I brought in from home. Make a coffee and sit doing the paperwork for a bit.

5pm: Today has gone so fast? Already dinnertime. Tonight I’m supporting the making of a stir fry which smells incredible.

6pm: Dinner done and cleared away, I make my bed for tonight and clean the whole house so that there is less to do in the morning. Honestly there is nothing worse than waking up and having to sterilise mop heads and clean an oven.

8pm: Cleaning all done so I do the nightly safety checks and update the care plan.

8.30pm: I sit with the people we support and we decide to watch a (not very scary) horror on Netflix about the woman who pretended her child was ill. Pretty sure I’ve seen it before but they both seem to be loving it!

10.15pm: Start locking everything up, do my skincare and get everyone else ready for bed.

11pm: Some alone time! I always feel quite knackered after a long day but it is nice to get some peace. I read until I fall asleep.

Total: £2
<strong>Day Seven</strong><br> <br>7am: Time flies when it seems like you only shut your eyes 10 minutes ago. Time to wash bedding, count meds, do paperwork...same old. <br><br>9am: D’s off today so comes to pick me up, what a treat. We chat in the car about our plans for the day and decide to go to the cinema later to watch the new Spiderman, which at this point isn’t new at all. We get home and D books the tickets as a treat.<br><br>10.30am: We’re hungry and fancy a full English. We go for a semi English as that’s all we have in the house – sausages, bacon, eggs, beans, mushrooms and a potato waffle each. Burn the sausages but I personally love a bit of a charred edge so no complaints from me. <br><br>11.15am: Decide to make some cookies using the 2,000 Celebrations we have left over from Christmas. When we moved into the flat we bought a notebook to write down our more successful recipes so we use that for guidance. I love a soft cookie but even for me these are borderline raw. Oh well, better than breaking your teeth. <br><br>12pm: Jump in the shower to finally get ready properly for the day. <br><br>1pm: Work a bit more on the job application and rack my brain trying to think of skills which demonstrate what they’re looking for. After uni I was constantly applying for jobs so it never took me too long. Now I just stare into space for a while, trying to think of anything that sounds remotely good. <br><br>3pm: Arrive at the cinema and buy some nachos for us to share, £6.50. The warm cheese dip really does hit different. <br><br>6.30pm: WHY ARE FILMS SO LONG. Maybe because I’m not a huge Marvel fan I just don’t get it but surely they could have shaved an hour off down the middle? I would like to watch all of them in order though so I can appreciate them more as everyone absolutely loves them. Still glad we went, gets a 6/10 from me.<br><br>7.30pm: D is a bit peckish so we conjure up a spicy little arrabbiata number. I’m not too hungry so have a small bowl with some parmesan, then Tupperware the rest up for work tomorrow. <br><br>8.30pm: <em>Stay Close</em> is absolutely wild. The first few episodes were a bit of a drag and now I don’t know what’s happening, who’s who, or why. Very intrigued to carry on though as I’ve heard the ending is a rollercoaster. <br><br>10.45pm: Finish <em>Luster </em>and give it a 2 on Goodreads. I wanted to love it but just didn’t unfortunately. Now my eyes are officially tired so I hit the sack.<br><br><strong>Total:</strong> <strong>£6.50</strong>
Day Seven

7am: Time flies when it seems like you only shut your eyes 10 minutes ago. Time to wash bedding, count meds, do paperwork...same old.

9am: D’s off today so comes to pick me up, what a treat. We chat in the car about our plans for the day and decide to go to the cinema later to watch the new Spiderman, which at this point isn’t new at all. We get home and D books the tickets as a treat.

10.30am: We’re hungry and fancy a full English. We go for a semi English as that’s all we have in the house – sausages, bacon, eggs, beans, mushrooms and a potato waffle each. Burn the sausages but I personally love a bit of a charred edge so no complaints from me.

11.15am: Decide to make some cookies using the 2,000 Celebrations we have left over from Christmas. When we moved into the flat we bought a notebook to write down our more successful recipes so we use that for guidance. I love a soft cookie but even for me these are borderline raw. Oh well, better than breaking your teeth.

12pm: Jump in the shower to finally get ready properly for the day.

1pm: Work a bit more on the job application and rack my brain trying to think of skills which demonstrate what they’re looking for. After uni I was constantly applying for jobs so it never took me too long. Now I just stare into space for a while, trying to think of anything that sounds remotely good.

3pm: Arrive at the cinema and buy some nachos for us to share, £6.50. The warm cheese dip really does hit different.

6.30pm: WHY ARE FILMS SO LONG. Maybe because I’m not a huge Marvel fan I just don’t get it but surely they could have shaved an hour off down the middle? I would like to watch all of them in order though so I can appreciate them more as everyone absolutely loves them. Still glad we went, gets a 6/10 from me.

7.30pm: D is a bit peckish so we conjure up a spicy little arrabbiata number. I’m not too hungry so have a small bowl with some parmesan, then Tupperware the rest up for work tomorrow.

8.30pm: Stay Close is absolutely wild. The first few episodes were a bit of a drag and now I don’t know what’s happening, who’s who, or why. Very intrigued to carry on though as I’ve heard the ending is a rollercoaster.

10.45pm: Finish Luster and give it a 2 on Goodreads. I wanted to love it but just didn’t unfortunately. Now my eyes are officially tired so I hit the sack.

Total: £6.50
<strong>The Breakdown</strong><br> <br>Food & Drink: £70.52<br>Entertainment: £2.57<br>Clothes & Beauty: £12<br>Home & Health: £0<br>Travel: £4<br>Other: £16<br><br><strong>Total:</strong> <strong>£105.09</strong><br> <br><strong>Conclusion</strong><br><br>"I’m actually pretty pleased with that! It’s worth noting that this was the week before payday so I wasn’t as frivolous as I sometimes can be when I’ve just been paid. I also usually go out with friends, maybe every two weeks, which would obviously have brought the total up. The £16 for smoking could definitely do with some work but overall I’m happy."
The Breakdown

Food & Drink: £70.52
Entertainment: £2.57
Clothes & Beauty: £12
Home & Health: £0
Travel: £4
Other: £16

Total: £105.09

Conclusion

"I’m actually pretty pleased with that! It’s worth noting that this was the week before payday so I wasn’t as frivolous as I sometimes can be when I’ve just been paid. I also usually go out with friends, maybe every two weeks, which would obviously have brought the total up. The £16 for smoking could definitely do with some work but overall I’m happy."

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