Money Diary: A 27-Year-Old Property Manager In Birmingham On 25k

·15-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 people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period – and we're tracking every last penny.

As every person's financial situation is unique, going forward we're asking diarists to complete a series of financial-based questions to provide readers with more context to their relationship with money. Please remember before commenting that the diarists are from a range of backgrounds and cultures and their experience, education and mental relationship with money might be very different from yours. Money Diaries are designed to provide readers with diverse experiences of spending, saving and asking for more in the hope that by learning from each other, we can build a more positive financial future together.

This week: “I am 27 years old and currently living in Birmingham. I have done so for the past seven years, immigrating from France to finish my degree in languages. I have been living with S ever since we met on Instagram in 2014; soon after, we adopted our two cats and are considering adding a dog to the madhouse. I have been working in a letting agency for a few years now and I absolutely love my job, I am hoping to become a landlord myself in the near future. I also have a side passion project of becoming a yoga teacher. After years of going to classes religiously, and after five months of intensive training, I have recently passed my 200 hours qualification. I am currently navigating the muddy waters of setting up my own business and figuring out how to add value to people’s lives.

When it comes to money, I would say that I am a saver rather than a spender. I am working towards building some income-generating assets so that I don’t have to work for money anymore. S and I have been working hard and saved as much as we could to buy our first apartment, which we completed on just before the first lockdown.”

Occupation: Property manager
Industry: Real estate
Age: 27
Location: Birmingham
Salary: £25,000
Paycheque amount: £1,729.53
Number of housemates: One partner, S, and two cats, L and P.

Monthly Expenses

(All below are my share only. All bills are split equally between S and I and taken from our joint account on a monthly basis, we transfer £700 at the start of the month for this.)

Housing costs: £333.64 mortgage
Loan payments: None, I went to university in Paris and my undergrad degree was free.
Savings? I save around £600 a month into my different savings accounts, the rest is split between my Monzo card for fun money and our joint account. Current account balances are: £4,398.19 emergency fund, £6,478.80 Stocks and Shares ISA, £3,100 NS&I, £2,506.31 Lifetime ISA and £44,642.46 apartment equity.
Utilities/phone: £10 goody bag with Giffgaff, I own my phone outright. £9 water, £30 electricity, £82 council tax, £90 service charge, £2.50 Asda groceries delivery.
Subscriptions: £69 unlimited hot yoga classes with my local studio, £4.99 Netflix (split with S), £4.34 NSPCC weekly lottery.
Pension? £6,518.12 held with NEST pension. I contribute the minimum amount into it every month and so does my employer.

Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it? I always knew that I wanted to leave France to come to the UK so I made sure that I had the best grades I could to be selected for the Erasmus programme. I feel very lucky when I reflect on the fact that university in France is free… There was an expectation from my parents to go to uni but I was fine with it as it aligned with my future plans.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? My parents never talked about money. The bills were paid when due and big purchases such as a car or appliances were budgeted for and paid in full when it was time for replacement. My parents never sat with me to explain how to use money as a tool to build wealth and I started educating myself when I started earning a steady paycheque.

If you have, when did you move out of your parents'/guardians' house? I left France when I was 20 years old to come to the UK and never looked back! I really enjoyed the freedom that comes with living on your own but also leaving everything behind to start fresh in a new country. It was hard at times but looking back, it made me stronger and very resourceful.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life? I started working during the summer months when I was 16 and then worked part-time jobs in restaurants from 18 onwards so my parents stopped providing me with extras around that time but I was still living at home rent-free and only contributing to groceries sporadically. I became 100% financially responsible for myself when I was 20 years old.

What was your first job and why did you get it? My first job was working at an outdoor swimming pool during the summer. It was very close to my parents' house so I could walk over for my shift but could also use the swimming pool and steam room after hours. This was my first customer-focused job, which I really enjoyed.

Do you worry about money now? I am a perfectionist at heart and worry a lot about money. I have an irrational fear of being broke, however I am trying to shift my mindset to a more abundant outlook.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? I have never inherited money.

<strong>Day One </strong><br><br>7am: Wake up feeling refreshed after a long relaxing weekend. Have a coffee and a banana muffin for breakfast, journal for a bit and meditate. This helps a lot with my anxiety and makes me feel mentally ready for the day ahead. Get ready in 20 minutes (shower, tinted moisturiser and perfume) and I am out the door. Feeling so lucky I get to walk to work and see some lovely geese by the canal on my way in.<br> <br>10am: Work is pretty steady on a Monday so time flies by, have a quick coffee break using the bean to cup machine at work. Such a treat. Mid-morning caffeine fixes are the best.<br><br>12.30pm: I brought lunch today, a bunch of fruit and a salad with spinach, cucumber, tomatoes, gherkins, olives and boiled eggs. Take the opportunity to do some life admin during my break and book a call with a mortgage advisor as we are due to remortgage next month.<br><br>5pm: Done with work, I am lingering in the office with a friend who is also a coworker. We don’t speak much during the day as we get quite absorbed in our respective workloads so it’s lovely to catch up with her and we agree to go for a meal out soon.<br><br>6pm: Get home, feed the cats and roll my mat out. I have recently completed my yoga teacher training and I am testing out some new sequences I have recently created. Today’s practice is all about the heart chakra and cultivating a feeling of love and gratitude.<br><br>8pm: S is out with friends so make some dinner: homemade sourdough toast with baba ganoush, avocado topped with chilli and lime. Yum. Finish off with some dark chocolate and yoghurt.<br><br>9pm: Work on creating some content for my website and schedule Instagram posts. I really want to teach yoga as a side hustle so have promised myself to work on this project for a few hours a week. <br><br>10pm: Feed the cats and tidy up the kitchen. S is nowhere to be seen but texted to tell me that he is having drinks in a nearby pub. I carry on with my night routine: shower, argan oil as a moisturiser and silk bonnet. I am knackered and fall asleep reading on the Kindle. <br><br><strong>Total: £0</strong>
Day One

7am: Wake up feeling refreshed after a long relaxing weekend. Have a coffee and a banana muffin for breakfast, journal for a bit and meditate. This helps a lot with my anxiety and makes me feel mentally ready for the day ahead. Get ready in 20 minutes (shower, tinted moisturiser and perfume) and I am out the door. Feeling so lucky I get to walk to work and see some lovely geese by the canal on my way in.

10am: Work is pretty steady on a Monday so time flies by, have a quick coffee break using the bean to cup machine at work. Such a treat. Mid-morning caffeine fixes are the best.

12.30pm: I brought lunch today, a bunch of fruit and a salad with spinach, cucumber, tomatoes, gherkins, olives and boiled eggs. Take the opportunity to do some life admin during my break and book a call with a mortgage advisor as we are due to remortgage next month.

5pm: Done with work, I am lingering in the office with a friend who is also a coworker. We don’t speak much during the day as we get quite absorbed in our respective workloads so it’s lovely to catch up with her and we agree to go for a meal out soon.

6pm: Get home, feed the cats and roll my mat out. I have recently completed my yoga teacher training and I am testing out some new sequences I have recently created. Today’s practice is all about the heart chakra and cultivating a feeling of love and gratitude.

8pm: S is out with friends so make some dinner: homemade sourdough toast with baba ganoush, avocado topped with chilli and lime. Yum. Finish off with some dark chocolate and yoghurt.

9pm: Work on creating some content for my website and schedule Instagram posts. I really want to teach yoga as a side hustle so have promised myself to work on this project for a few hours a week.

10pm: Feed the cats and tidy up the kitchen. S is nowhere to be seen but texted to tell me that he is having drinks in a nearby pub. I carry on with my night routine: shower, argan oil as a moisturiser and silk bonnet. I am knackered and fall asleep reading on the Kindle.

Total: £0
<strong>Day Two</strong><br><br>7am: Wake up after dreaming that I was on holiday on the beach. My last trip abroad was in 2019 and I am missing the scorching sun dearly. Carry on with my usual morning routine to set me up mentally for the day.<br><br>12pm: Pretty uneventful day today, spoke to a few potential landlords about the services we offer. I love my job and one of my favourite thing is to chat to new potential clients. Take a quick break to have some food, today we have mashed potatoes and vegetable stir fry with mushrooms, asparagus, peppers and broccoli.<br><br>2pm: New business is won and agree to pick up the keys from a competitor the following day. Smashing! Carry on with my daily tasks, drinking water periodically and eating an apple.<br> <br>5pm: Walk home and get changed into my yoga clothes. Grab my mat, a square of dark chocolate and I’m out the door. Listen to a French podcast about boredom “boreout” in the workplace, which can happen when you do not feel like you have enough work to do or do not feel useful. So interesting.<br> <br>6pm: Hot vinyasa flow tonight, the class is led by a very experienced teacher and time flies by. I am a sweaty mess by the end of the class but my heart is so full.<br> <br>8pm: Shower, moisturise and make sourdough toast and fried eggs for dinner. Fig yoghurt to finish off and settle down on the sofa to catch up with S and cuddle with L and P.<br><br>10pm: Watch a couple of episodes of <em>The Office US</em> (seriously, I’m obsessed). S offers to wash the dishes so I brush my teeth and head straight to bed.<br><br><strong>Total: £0</strong>
Day Two

7am: Wake up after dreaming that I was on holiday on the beach. My last trip abroad was in 2019 and I am missing the scorching sun dearly. Carry on with my usual morning routine to set me up mentally for the day.

12pm: Pretty uneventful day today, spoke to a few potential landlords about the services we offer. I love my job and one of my favourite thing is to chat to new potential clients. Take a quick break to have some food, today we have mashed potatoes and vegetable stir fry with mushrooms, asparagus, peppers and broccoli.

2pm: New business is won and agree to pick up the keys from a competitor the following day. Smashing! Carry on with my daily tasks, drinking water periodically and eating an apple.

5pm: Walk home and get changed into my yoga clothes. Grab my mat, a square of dark chocolate and I’m out the door. Listen to a French podcast about boredom “boreout” in the workplace, which can happen when you do not feel like you have enough work to do or do not feel useful. So interesting.

6pm: Hot vinyasa flow tonight, the class is led by a very experienced teacher and time flies by. I am a sweaty mess by the end of the class but my heart is so full.

8pm: Shower, moisturise and make sourdough toast and fried eggs for dinner. Fig yoghurt to finish off and settle down on the sofa to catch up with S and cuddle with L and P.

10pm: Watch a couple of episodes of The Office US (seriously, I’m obsessed). S offers to wash the dishes so I brush my teeth and head straight to bed.

Total: £0
<strong>Day Three</strong><br><br>7am: Wake up feeling tired this morning, end up chilling on the sofa daydreaming and drinking coffee. Journal and meditate, then get ready for the day. Put a bit of makeup on and quick cuddles with the cats before heading to work.<br> <br>2.30pm: I am dealing with the police as one of our tenants has been arrested for cultivating marijuana. The day has flown by and this sort of high-pressure situation keeps me on my toes. <br><br>3pm: Decide to treat myself to lunch from Damascena: warm falafel wrap and lemon cheesecake. The Uber Eats driver is super friendly and we end up chatting for a few minutes. £12.28 including tip. Have a phone appointment with our mortgage advisor to plan out our remortgage on the flat, turns out our property value has increased a lot more than I thought over the past 24 months which is great news.<br> <br>6pm: Arrive home and blast through some chores: laundry, vacuuming and dusting. I try to spread these jobs during the week rather than doing everything during the weekend. Jump into my yoga clothes as I am teaching a 1-2-1 session today.<br><br>9pm: Yoga class has gone really well, I am so grateful for the opportunity to teach and this gives me the boost I need to keep working on my website and build my audience. Still full from the late lunch I had earlier so decide to have a light dinner: corn on the hob, scrambled eggs and tomato salad on the side.<br><br>11pm: Watch a couple of episodes of <em>The Office</em>, then head to bed. Fall into a TikTok black hole until I fall asleep.<br><br><strong>Total: £12.28</strong>
Day Three

7am: Wake up feeling tired this morning, end up chilling on the sofa daydreaming and drinking coffee. Journal and meditate, then get ready for the day. Put a bit of makeup on and quick cuddles with the cats before heading to work.

2.30pm: I am dealing with the police as one of our tenants has been arrested for cultivating marijuana. The day has flown by and this sort of high-pressure situation keeps me on my toes.

3pm: Decide to treat myself to lunch from Damascena: warm falafel wrap and lemon cheesecake. The Uber Eats driver is super friendly and we end up chatting for a few minutes. £12.28 including tip. Have a phone appointment with our mortgage advisor to plan out our remortgage on the flat, turns out our property value has increased a lot more than I thought over the past 24 months which is great news.

6pm: Arrive home and blast through some chores: laundry, vacuuming and dusting. I try to spread these jobs during the week rather than doing everything during the weekend. Jump into my yoga clothes as I am teaching a 1-2-1 session today.

9pm: Yoga class has gone really well, I am so grateful for the opportunity to teach and this gives me the boost I need to keep working on my website and build my audience. Still full from the late lunch I had earlier so decide to have a light dinner: corn on the hob, scrambled eggs and tomato salad on the side.

11pm: Watch a couple of episodes of The Office, then head to bed. Fall into a TikTok black hole until I fall asleep.

Total: £12.28
<strong>Day Four</strong><br><br>7am: Wake up feeling good this morning, the cats are waiting for their breakfast by the bedroom door. Feed them, then carry on with my morning routine (wash face, rose water, moisturise). My skin feels so much better since I have stripped my routine back to the bare minimum. Drink a coffee and have porridge with almond milk while journalling. Finish with a quick meditation before heading to work.<br><br>1pm: Today is a bit slow so end up doing a bit of research on ways we could improve the business and our services. Lunch is a huge salad with spinach, sweetcorn, tomatoes, boiled eggs, cucumber, peppers and lots of lime juice. Read <em>Elle</em> magazine for a bit, then crack on with responding to emails for the rest of the afternoon. Treat myself to a Kinder Bueno. 75p<br><br>7pm: Home alone this evening as S is out. I love living with somebody but also enjoy spending time on my own a lot. Dinner is pierogi (Polish dumplings) and mashed avocado, eat while watching Naomi Osaka’s documentary on Netflix. What an amazing woman she is. The documentary is so interesting, end up watching all three episodes while cuddling L and drinking mint tea.<br><br>10pm: We are planning to buy some new furniture in the coming weeks so browse Habitat, La Redoute, Tikamoon and a fair few other websites, saving links as I go along. We moved into our new flat just before the first lockdown and have prioritised painting and renovating the kitchen during this time. At last we move on to the fun bit with a furniture upgrade!<br><br>11.30pm: Fall asleep scrolling TikTok in bed.<br><br><strong>Total: 75p</strong>
Day Four

7am: Wake up feeling good this morning, the cats are waiting for their breakfast by the bedroom door. Feed them, then carry on with my morning routine (wash face, rose water, moisturise). My skin feels so much better since I have stripped my routine back to the bare minimum. Drink a coffee and have porridge with almond milk while journalling. Finish with a quick meditation before heading to work.

1pm: Today is a bit slow so end up doing a bit of research on ways we could improve the business and our services. Lunch is a huge salad with spinach, sweetcorn, tomatoes, boiled eggs, cucumber, peppers and lots of lime juice. Read Elle magazine for a bit, then crack on with responding to emails for the rest of the afternoon. Treat myself to a Kinder Bueno. 75p

7pm: Home alone this evening as S is out. I love living with somebody but also enjoy spending time on my own a lot. Dinner is pierogi (Polish dumplings) and mashed avocado, eat while watching Naomi Osaka’s documentary on Netflix. What an amazing woman she is. The documentary is so interesting, end up watching all three episodes while cuddling L and drinking mint tea.

10pm: We are planning to buy some new furniture in the coming weeks so browse Habitat, La Redoute, Tikamoon and a fair few other websites, saving links as I go along. We moved into our new flat just before the first lockdown and have prioritised painting and renovating the kitchen during this time. At last we move on to the fun bit with a furniture upgrade!

11.30pm: Fall asleep scrolling TikTok in bed.

Total: 75p
<strong>Day Five</strong><br><br>7am: Happy Friday! Usual morning routine of washing face, moisturising and mascara. I learned on TikTok yesterday that you should brush your teeth as soon as you wake up, so I will try that for a few weeks. Sit down on the sofa with L and P, black coffee and a muffin. Journal and meditate.<br><br>12.30pm: Sit down for lunch and finish reading <em>Elle </em>magazine. Today I have leftover pierogi with peppers, spinach and cucumber. Check my emails and we have got some tickets for the Commonwealth Games next year! £66 for my half but will be taken from our joint account next week.<br><br>5pm: S comes to pick me up from work and we head to town to a walk-in centre to get our second Pfizer jab. Turns out that it is no longer in town so we go shopping instead. Buy a spiced pumpkin candle and a jar of Sweet Freedom chocolate spread. Use our joint account to pay: £4.39 for my half.<br><br>8pm: Decide to buy some ingredients for dinner so we stop at Tesco and get fresh cod fillets, black pepper Kettle Crisps, asparagus, broccoli, grapes, chorizo, marinated olives, a bottle of white wine and two gin and tonics. Use our joint account to pay: £16.86 for my half.<br><br>9pm: Finally eat dinner and settle down on the sofa with the snacks and drinks we bought earlier. Put on <em>Memories of a Murderer: The Nilsen Tapes.</em> Super creepy but very entertaining. The candle I bought earlier smells like warm cake and sets the mood for a cosy evening.<br><br>1am: Finally get to bed, exhausted.<br><br><strong>Total: £21.25</strong>
Day Five

7am: Happy Friday! Usual morning routine of washing face, moisturising and mascara. I learned on TikTok yesterday that you should brush your teeth as soon as you wake up, so I will try that for a few weeks. Sit down on the sofa with L and P, black coffee and a muffin. Journal and meditate.

12.30pm: Sit down for lunch and finish reading Elle magazine. Today I have leftover pierogi with peppers, spinach and cucumber. Check my emails and we have got some tickets for the Commonwealth Games next year! £66 for my half but will be taken from our joint account next week.

5pm: S comes to pick me up from work and we head to town to a walk-in centre to get our second Pfizer jab. Turns out that it is no longer in town so we go shopping instead. Buy a spiced pumpkin candle and a jar of Sweet Freedom chocolate spread. Use our joint account to pay: £4.39 for my half.

8pm: Decide to buy some ingredients for dinner so we stop at Tesco and get fresh cod fillets, black pepper Kettle Crisps, asparagus, broccoli, grapes, chorizo, marinated olives, a bottle of white wine and two gin and tonics. Use our joint account to pay: £16.86 for my half.

9pm: Finally eat dinner and settle down on the sofa with the snacks and drinks we bought earlier. Put on Memories of a Murderer: The Nilsen Tapes. Super creepy but very entertaining. The candle I bought earlier smells like warm cake and sets the mood for a cosy evening.

1am: Finally get to bed, exhausted.

Total: £21.25
<strong>Day Six</strong><br><br>9am: Get up early as today we’re getting our vaccine. The walk-in centre is a mosque and is about an hour's walk away. Decide to get coffee on the way so stop at Starbucks and get a flat white and a caramel macchiato. I pay. £6.80<br><br>12pm: Second jab done! Happy to be fully vaxxed and think about visiting my family back in France since it’s been two years since we last saw each other. FaceTime isn’t the same and I miss them a lot.<br><br>1pm: Stop at Morrisons to get some supplies before a weekend of rest, I anticipate I will have some strong side effects so will require all the snacks. We get biscuits, soup, seasonings, mackerel fillets, bacon and two drinks as we were advised to drink plenty of fluids. Use our joint account to pay: £5.50 for my half.<br><br>2pm: S gives his drink to a homeless man we see regularly so we pop into McDonald's to get another one. S pays. Sip our drinks walking home and chat about life. There are some pop-up events in town and so much going on, making the walk back seem way quicker.<br><br>3pm: Late lunch of bacon and fried eggs on sourdough toasts with a Nespresso coffee with almond milk. Decide to have a nap as I have a mild headache.<br><br>6pm: Lost track of time and I feel a bit feverish. We decide to make the soup we bought earlier and add carrots, leeks, chorizo and noodles, making it a very comforting meal to eat under a blanket on the sofa. End up watching <em>The Office</em> until 10pm.<br><br><strong>Total: £12.30</strong>
Day Six

9am: Get up early as today we’re getting our vaccine. The walk-in centre is a mosque and is about an hour's walk away. Decide to get coffee on the way so stop at Starbucks and get a flat white and a caramel macchiato. I pay. £6.80

12pm: Second jab done! Happy to be fully vaxxed and think about visiting my family back in France since it’s been two years since we last saw each other. FaceTime isn’t the same and I miss them a lot.

1pm: Stop at Morrisons to get some supplies before a weekend of rest, I anticipate I will have some strong side effects so will require all the snacks. We get biscuits, soup, seasonings, mackerel fillets, bacon and two drinks as we were advised to drink plenty of fluids. Use our joint account to pay: £5.50 for my half.

2pm: S gives his drink to a homeless man we see regularly so we pop into McDonald's to get another one. S pays. Sip our drinks walking home and chat about life. There are some pop-up events in town and so much going on, making the walk back seem way quicker.

3pm: Late lunch of bacon and fried eggs on sourdough toasts with a Nespresso coffee with almond milk. Decide to have a nap as I have a mild headache.

6pm: Lost track of time and I feel a bit feverish. We decide to make the soup we bought earlier and add carrots, leeks, chorizo and noodles, making it a very comforting meal to eat under a blanket on the sofa. End up watching The Office until 10pm.

Total: £12.30
<strong>Day Seven</strong><br><br>8am: Woken up by two starving monsters. I feed L & P and decide to get started on a sourdough loaf. My starter is called Norman and has never disappointed since the first lockdown. I slept really badly and my whole arm is throbbing so today will be very slow.<br><br>10.30am: Asda delivery is here and we meet the lad outside to collect our weekly shopping. My half is £42.62. Painfully go through some chores: laundry, hoover, mop and deep clean the cat litter boxes before collapsing on the sofa with a bad headache.<br><br>12pm: I am definitely not getting up from the sofa today, sipping tea under the blankets and cuddling the cats. S is not feeling too well either so we binge-watch <em>The Office</em> for the rest of the day. We have a nap at some point as well.<br><br>7pm: Feel much better after a nap and a long hot shower. Put on a Garnier sheet mask and a fresh set of pyjamas to feel more human. Have some soup for dinner and a mint tea.<br><br>11pm: Head to bed. Crazy how time flies when you do nothing!<br><br><strong>Total: £42.62</strong>
Day Seven

8am: Woken up by two starving monsters. I feed L & P and decide to get started on a sourdough loaf. My starter is called Norman and has never disappointed since the first lockdown. I slept really badly and my whole arm is throbbing so today will be very slow.

10.30am: Asda delivery is here and we meet the lad outside to collect our weekly shopping. My half is £42.62. Painfully go through some chores: laundry, hoover, mop and deep clean the cat litter boxes before collapsing on the sofa with a bad headache.

12pm: I am definitely not getting up from the sofa today, sipping tea under the blankets and cuddling the cats. S is not feeling too well either so we binge-watch The Office for the rest of the day. We have a nap at some point as well.

7pm: Feel much better after a nap and a long hot shower. Put on a Garnier sheet mask and a fresh set of pyjamas to feel more human. Have some soup for dinner and a mint tea.

11pm: Head to bed. Crazy how time flies when you do nothing!

Total: £42.62
<strong>The Breakdown</strong><br><br>Food/Drink: £84.20<br>Clothes/Beauty: £0<br>Home/Health: £5<br>Entertainment: £0<br>Travel: £0<br>Other: £0<br><br><strong>Total: £89.20</strong><br><br><strong>Conclusion </strong><br><br>"This was a low spending week as we would normally go out on the weekend and spend a bit more than we did. We also have quite a few big purchases in the coming weeks so I have been diligent with savings. I really enjoyed recording my spending and my day-to-day activities as I tend to forget what I get up to and where the money goes sometimes.<br>I don’t think I will change anything in the future as I have a balance between saving and spending which I am comfortable with at present."
The Breakdown

Food/Drink: £84.20
Clothes/Beauty: £0
Home/Health: £5
Entertainment: £0
Travel: £0
Other: £0

Total: £89.20

Conclusion

"This was a low spending week as we would normally go out on the weekend and spend a bit more than we did. We also have quite a few big purchases in the coming weeks so I have been diligent with savings. I really enjoyed recording my spending and my day-to-day activities as I tend to forget what I get up to and where the money goes sometimes.
I don’t think I will change anything in the future as I have a balance between saving and spending which I am comfortable with at present."

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