Money Diary: A 28-Year-Old Office Exec In Belfast On 20k

·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 28-year-old office executive for a recruitment firm/freelance content writer living in Belfast with my husband (C). I grew up between Northern Ireland and the Middle East but came home to live in 2015. Over lockdown, fearing I’d lose my job, I was extremely frugal and it triggered a lot of deep insecurities I had towards money (flashbacks of making £20 last me a month during my master's in Newcastle, living off freebie library coffee etc.). C and I decided that as this month will mark 10 years together, we would treat ourselves! Especially considering that we had to cancel a pretty big holiday to celebrate said 10 years.

I am also building up my portfolio as a freelance article and content writer – something I wish I could have pursued sooner but unfortunately earning a steady wage had to come first. The article gigs are coming in slowly. At present I am helping a long-time client (S) with her Viking erotica."

Industry: Recruitment/HR
Age: 28
Location: Belfast
Salary: Full-time job £20,000, freelancing £400-600 a month depending on jobs.
Paycheque amount: £1,372 + £400 monthly average in freelancing gigs.
Number of housemates: One (husband).

Monthly Expenses

Housing costs: My half of rent comes to £250 but I transfer £300 as C usually picks up groceries.
Loan payments: £0. I am not nearly educated enough to feel comfortable with a credit card/loan.
Utilities: £20 gas per month, £20 electricity per month. I am aware of how crazy cheap this is. £30 for unlimited internet with EE.
Transportation: Nada! I live a short walk from the city centre and haven’t travelled home to the country as Mum is shielding. I walk EVERYWHERE. There is not a single point in Belfast that I need to get to which is more than an hour’s walk away.
Phone bill: £21. I have a SIM only deal with EE which gets us discounted internet and more than enough mobile data – a must-have for the amount of podcast-listening I do on my walks.
Savings? Most of our savings, including all our wedding money, went towards supporting my mum when she came home. She has been so ill for most of my adult life and has lost a lot of her independence. We have started to build up a pot again, with £10,000 in savings. Not sure if we will use this for a house deposit or not, as the idea of settling somewhere FOREVER does not appeal to me. I deposit £300 into it every month (bar this month, treat yo’self in the name of love babbbyyyyy).
Other: Fellow Creatures vegan chocolate subscription box £12. Mum's private healthcare £11, this comes out of my salary automatically.

<strong>Day One</strong><br> <br>7am: It’s Saturday! I message my mum to check in on her. She sends me a picture of our family’s sleepy rescue chihuahua, Revel. Heaven is a small sleepy pupperino. <br> <br>Throw on hiking gear as my friend N and I are going up Cavehill this morning. Breakfast is a pint glass of chocolate oat milk and a banana so I can take the last of my antibiotic for an ear infection.<br> <br>7.15am: Stop in at a Centra. N messages to say not to get anything for her as she’s had breakfast like a functioning adult. Follow suit and buy some Livia’s Dunx – oat biscuits nut butter cookies, water and dried mango. The cookies are AWFUL but I comfort myself with the thought of all that protein. £2.15 and a dry mouth.<br> <br>11am: Hike up Cavehill complete (up the HARD route as well, thanks to my deceitful trail partner). I have never been so sweaty in my life. My eyelids are sweating and the muscles in my arse are SORE. We say bye to each other and I jog/waddle back home. <br> <br>12pm: Showered and log on to sort through my emails. I’ve a few from my Viking erotica client S with some scenarios that she would like me to expand on. I call her, make notes and advise her what fits into the plot’s trajectory and what doesn’t. At the end of our session she asks if I’m comfortable with her passing on my contact details to a friend. Abso-frigging-lutely!<br><br>For anyone who is interested – I met S during my master's in Newcastle. She’s in her 60s and got into erotic literature when <em>Fifty Shades</em> came out. She’s wonderful, although it can be strange when conversations about whether cock rings are historically accurate are followed with conversations about her grandchildren.<br> <br>12.45pm: C pokes his head round the door to ask if I want to order lunch. Yes please. It’s his turn to pay and I get a large falafel pitta, a burghul and lentil salad, and lentil soup from UMI Falafel. Send a picture to my falafel-loving Baba, who replies with a series of heart-eye emoji. It comes to £9 and tastes exactly like the falafel in Damascus. £0 as C pays.<br> <br>5pm: I log off and message the sibling group chat. Little sister has allocated us all the presents for Mum’s birthday. I get on this immediately and order some soft nightdresses online. £35 including P&P.<br> <br>Have decided to bite the bullet and buy a desk and office chair from Argos. Over lockdown I was working from our knee-height living room table (sitting on the floor and looking up at my monitor). Chat to C about turning the spare room into my writing room. He’s all for it if it means liberating our living room. The living room is currently filled with several of his guitars and monster amps. £123.95 using a £50 voucher.<br><br>7pm: Still full from the feed earlier and popcorn snacking. Make a light dinner of toast with 'posh beans', which is a tin of Heinz, some garlic, chopped cherry tomatoes and Violife coconut cheese spread mixed together with some za’atar and sumac seasoning. We watch the last two episodes of the <em>High Score </em>documentary on Netflix. Not something we would usually watch but I loved it. <br> <br>11pm: In danger of falling asleep face down in my dinner’s leftovers. Brush off crumbs and head to bed. I have a look on my phone at flights to Glasgow next year for a concert. Make a mental note to buy them tomorrow morning (spoiler alert: this never, EVER works). <br> <br><strong>Total: £161.10</strong>
Day One

7am: It’s Saturday! I message my mum to check in on her. She sends me a picture of our family’s sleepy rescue chihuahua, Revel. Heaven is a small sleepy pupperino.

Throw on hiking gear as my friend N and I are going up Cavehill this morning. Breakfast is a pint glass of chocolate oat milk and a banana so I can take the last of my antibiotic for an ear infection.

7.15am: Stop in at a Centra. N messages to say not to get anything for her as she’s had breakfast like a functioning adult. Follow suit and buy some Livia’s Dunx – oat biscuits nut butter cookies, water and dried mango. The cookies are AWFUL but I comfort myself with the thought of all that protein. £2.15 and a dry mouth.

11am: Hike up Cavehill complete (up the HARD route as well, thanks to my deceitful trail partner). I have never been so sweaty in my life. My eyelids are sweating and the muscles in my arse are SORE. We say bye to each other and I jog/waddle back home.

12pm: Showered and log on to sort through my emails. I’ve a few from my Viking erotica client S with some scenarios that she would like me to expand on. I call her, make notes and advise her what fits into the plot’s trajectory and what doesn’t. At the end of our session she asks if I’m comfortable with her passing on my contact details to a friend. Abso-frigging-lutely!

For anyone who is interested – I met S during my master's in Newcastle. She’s in her 60s and got into erotic literature when Fifty Shades came out. She’s wonderful, although it can be strange when conversations about whether cock rings are historically accurate are followed with conversations about her grandchildren.

12.45pm: C pokes his head round the door to ask if I want to order lunch. Yes please. It’s his turn to pay and I get a large falafel pitta, a burghul and lentil salad, and lentil soup from UMI Falafel. Send a picture to my falafel-loving Baba, who replies with a series of heart-eye emoji. It comes to £9 and tastes exactly like the falafel in Damascus. £0 as C pays.

5pm: I log off and message the sibling group chat. Little sister has allocated us all the presents for Mum’s birthday. I get on this immediately and order some soft nightdresses online. £35 including P&P.

Have decided to bite the bullet and buy a desk and office chair from Argos. Over lockdown I was working from our knee-height living room table (sitting on the floor and looking up at my monitor). Chat to C about turning the spare room into my writing room. He’s all for it if it means liberating our living room. The living room is currently filled with several of his guitars and monster amps. £123.95 using a £50 voucher.

7pm: Still full from the feed earlier and popcorn snacking. Make a light dinner of toast with 'posh beans', which is a tin of Heinz, some garlic, chopped cherry tomatoes and Violife coconut cheese spread mixed together with some za’atar and sumac seasoning. We watch the last two episodes of the High Score documentary on Netflix. Not something we would usually watch but I loved it.

11pm: In danger of falling asleep face down in my dinner’s leftovers. Brush off crumbs and head to bed. I have a look on my phone at flights to Glasgow next year for a concert. Make a mental note to buy them tomorrow morning (spoiler alert: this never, EVER works).

Total: £161.10
<strong>Day Two</strong><br><br>7.30am: Wake up annoyingly early for a Sunday. If I try to lie in I’ll get a headache so instead I go downstairs and make coffee and mango smoothies for C and me. St George’s Market is open and I haven’t been since March, so I’m excited. We’re not planning on heading until 12 so I open up my laptop. A friend has asked if I could help edit some content on her writing website. I get to work and alternate between hot coffee and creamy smoothie. Breakfast of what? Champs, son. <br><br>12pm: We’ve made it to St George’s Market. It’s busy but very well distanced. I get C a flat white as soon as we’re in. I get a large beetroot, carrot and ginger smoothie from the Ugly Fruit juice station. I notice a lot of stalls haven’t survived lockdown and it hits me really hard. Find out from one of the vendors that many have gone online. Message a friend to offer some free content writing for her jewellery business. £8.20 for both drinks including £2 tip.<br><br>1.30pm: We’re both starving and have made our way into the city centre. We go for Frankie & Benny’s as they have more than just ‘vegetable curry’ for a vegan option. C orders mozzarella sticks and a large spicy beef pizza. I get the garlic bread, a pasta pomodoro with added veg, and a vegan choc chip shake. We can barely breathe by the end of it. I pay. £52.01 including 10% tip. (I say this with the fire and passion of a thousand suns: TIP YOUR SERVING STAFF. Especially now. Even if it isn’t 10% – just tip them. Also, don’t even think about being a prick when you eat out. Are you serious? Have a word.)<br><br>3pm: Town is a little too busy for my comfort now. No social distancing whatsoever and I’m getting a bit shaky from it. The stores will be closing at 5pm anyway. Belfast closes early on a Sunday. I thought for ages all cities in the UK did…nope. Just us.<br><br>6pm: I head out for my jog which is 20% for fitness and 80% to help me think. I throw on the<em> Lore </em>podcast via Castbox and choose the route that follows the river. A friend calls me half an hour into the jog for some advice so I spend the rest of it just walking and talking her through some job applications.<br><br>7.30pm: C reminds me that he’ll be dropping laundry off tomorrow so I get £10 out of the cash machine. Our washing machine broke at the start of lockdown <em>(</em>literally broke free of its tubing and met me in the living room, standoff style<em>). </em>After many failed bathtub sessions, we gave in and started to use a family-run business two minutes away. A huge suitcase stuffed with clothes is only a tenner to have washed, dried, ironed and delivered. Reader, judge me all you want but I may never do a load of laundry at home again. £10<br><br>9pm: Melt the last of my salted caramel chocolate from Fellow Creatures into some cocoa and hope the next delivery comes soon. I surprise C with the latest collector’s edition vinyl of our favourite band. I paid back in March for it but only received it last week due to COVID. It’s worth the wait and we both go a little soppy listening to it. Mood is slightly dampened by two kids yelling about how much they "fucking love Wotsits" as they walk past our window. We’re both in stitches and get into a heated debate over crisp tiers. Finish the argument in bed…ROMANCE.<br><br><strong>Total: £70.21</strong>
Day Two

7.30am: Wake up annoyingly early for a Sunday. If I try to lie in I’ll get a headache so instead I go downstairs and make coffee and mango smoothies for C and me. St George’s Market is open and I haven’t been since March, so I’m excited. We’re not planning on heading until 12 so I open up my laptop. A friend has asked if I could help edit some content on her writing website. I get to work and alternate between hot coffee and creamy smoothie. Breakfast of what? Champs, son.

12pm: We’ve made it to St George’s Market. It’s busy but very well distanced. I get C a flat white as soon as we’re in. I get a large beetroot, carrot and ginger smoothie from the Ugly Fruit juice station. I notice a lot of stalls haven’t survived lockdown and it hits me really hard. Find out from one of the vendors that many have gone online. Message a friend to offer some free content writing for her jewellery business. £8.20 for both drinks including £2 tip.

1.30pm: We’re both starving and have made our way into the city centre. We go for Frankie & Benny’s as they have more than just ‘vegetable curry’ for a vegan option. C orders mozzarella sticks and a large spicy beef pizza. I get the garlic bread, a pasta pomodoro with added veg, and a vegan choc chip shake. We can barely breathe by the end of it. I pay. £52.01 including 10% tip. (I say this with the fire and passion of a thousand suns: TIP YOUR SERVING STAFF. Especially now. Even if it isn’t 10% – just tip them. Also, don’t even think about being a prick when you eat out. Are you serious? Have a word.)

3pm: Town is a little too busy for my comfort now. No social distancing whatsoever and I’m getting a bit shaky from it. The stores will be closing at 5pm anyway. Belfast closes early on a Sunday. I thought for ages all cities in the UK did…nope. Just us.

6pm: I head out for my jog which is 20% for fitness and 80% to help me think. I throw on the Lore podcast via Castbox and choose the route that follows the river. A friend calls me half an hour into the jog for some advice so I spend the rest of it just walking and talking her through some job applications.

7.30pm: C reminds me that he’ll be dropping laundry off tomorrow so I get £10 out of the cash machine. Our washing machine broke at the start of lockdown (literally broke free of its tubing and met me in the living room, standoff style). After many failed bathtub sessions, we gave in and started to use a family-run business two minutes away. A huge suitcase stuffed with clothes is only a tenner to have washed, dried, ironed and delivered. Reader, judge me all you want but I may never do a load of laundry at home again. £10

9pm: Melt the last of my salted caramel chocolate from Fellow Creatures into some cocoa and hope the next delivery comes soon. I surprise C with the latest collector’s edition vinyl of our favourite band. I paid back in March for it but only received it last week due to COVID. It’s worth the wait and we both go a little soppy listening to it. Mood is slightly dampened by two kids yelling about how much they "fucking love Wotsits" as they walk past our window. We’re both in stitches and get into a heated debate over crisp tiers. Finish the argument in bed…ROMANCE.

Total: £70.21
<strong>Day Three</strong><br> <br>3am: I FORGOT TO BUY THE GODDAMN PLANE TICKETS. Fall back asleep pretty much straightaway though. Oops.<br> <br>6am: Alarm goes off for my morning run. It’s muggy out and just starting to lighten. I choose to run through Botanic Park this time. <br> <br>7.15am: Home, run upstairs and throw on ‘casual’ wear for the office. C is set up on his own desk – our bed with the two work laptops spread across him. He has Spotify on, blaring out symphonic black metal. I’ve never been more glad to be back in the office. Head down and message my big sister who is out in Dubai for a bit while I eat breakfast: two large coconut yoghurts and an iced coffee.<br> <br>8.45am: Make it into work. Wipe down all shared touch points with antibacterial spray, open windows as our air con has been switched off, and prop all doors open. Take everyone’s temperature as they arrive and record it for monitoring. I do this every day. I catch up with my manager over Teams – she’s still working from home as she has a little boy and her husband is unable to work from home. It’s strange and we usually end up talking over each other without the in-person cues but we’ve made it work so far!<br> <br>We started back in the office at the end of July. I’ve mixed emotions about it as I don’t think it’s safe yet but our vulnerable staff members have been able to stay working from home, so that’s a plus.<br> <br>12.30pm: Lunchtime! I usually take this time to go for a walk around the city but I’m tired and it’s a bank holiday so town will be busier than usual. I have a large wrap filled with chickpea, mayo, red onion and tomatoes that I dip into hot sauce. Snack on a packet of Eat Real quinoa ‘cheez’ puffs. Miss the cheesiness of Tayto crisps if I’m honest. £0 as I’ve brought all from home.<br> <br>5.30pm: Today was hectic. As everywhere begins to open up, so does recruitment. Dealt with multiple contracts and terms. Ring Mum on the 30-minute walk home.<br> <br>6pm: Feeling drained, put on a lo-fi playlist and throw in some Linda McCartney sausage rolls (our freezer staple). Have this with salad and some wedges with hot sauce. C has done the grocery shopping. It’s a mishmash of Dunnes, Lidl and Iceland. All in all, about two weeks’ worth costs us £25-£30 depending on the menu, as I usually cook a lot of things from scratch (lentil bakes, curries, soups etc.).<br> <br>7.30pm: Open laptop to continue working on chapters for S. Leave phone plugged in upstairs and disconnect from the internet. It takes me about 20 minutes to fully focus.<br> <br>11pm: Make my way up to bed. C already sleeping so put headphones in and listen to the Calm app until I fall asleep. I choose the ‘rain water on leaves’ simulation, as it reminds me of summers in Damascus. Send a joke via voice note to Baba: What kind of ape makes prank calls? A who-rang-u-tan.<br> <br><strong>Total:</strong> <strong>£0!!!!</strong>
Day Three

3am: I FORGOT TO BUY THE GODDAMN PLANE TICKETS. Fall back asleep pretty much straightaway though. Oops.

6am: Alarm goes off for my morning run. It’s muggy out and just starting to lighten. I choose to run through Botanic Park this time.

7.15am: Home, run upstairs and throw on ‘casual’ wear for the office. C is set up on his own desk – our bed with the two work laptops spread across him. He has Spotify on, blaring out symphonic black metal. I’ve never been more glad to be back in the office. Head down and message my big sister who is out in Dubai for a bit while I eat breakfast: two large coconut yoghurts and an iced coffee.

8.45am: Make it into work. Wipe down all shared touch points with antibacterial spray, open windows as our air con has been switched off, and prop all doors open. Take everyone’s temperature as they arrive and record it for monitoring. I do this every day. I catch up with my manager over Teams – she’s still working from home as she has a little boy and her husband is unable to work from home. It’s strange and we usually end up talking over each other without the in-person cues but we’ve made it work so far!

We started back in the office at the end of July. I’ve mixed emotions about it as I don’t think it’s safe yet but our vulnerable staff members have been able to stay working from home, so that’s a plus.

12.30pm: Lunchtime! I usually take this time to go for a walk around the city but I’m tired and it’s a bank holiday so town will be busier than usual. I have a large wrap filled with chickpea, mayo, red onion and tomatoes that I dip into hot sauce. Snack on a packet of Eat Real quinoa ‘cheez’ puffs. Miss the cheesiness of Tayto crisps if I’m honest. £0 as I’ve brought all from home.

5.30pm: Today was hectic. As everywhere begins to open up, so does recruitment. Dealt with multiple contracts and terms. Ring Mum on the 30-minute walk home.

6pm: Feeling drained, put on a lo-fi playlist and throw in some Linda McCartney sausage rolls (our freezer staple). Have this with salad and some wedges with hot sauce. C has done the grocery shopping. It’s a mishmash of Dunnes, Lidl and Iceland. All in all, about two weeks’ worth costs us £25-£30 depending on the menu, as I usually cook a lot of things from scratch (lentil bakes, curries, soups etc.).

7.30pm: Open laptop to continue working on chapters for S. Leave phone plugged in upstairs and disconnect from the internet. It takes me about 20 minutes to fully focus.

11pm: Make my way up to bed. C already sleeping so put headphones in and listen to the Calm app until I fall asleep. I choose the ‘rain water on leaves’ simulation, as it reminds me of summers in Damascus. Send a joke via voice note to Baba: What kind of ape makes prank calls? A who-rang-u-tan.

Total: £0!!!!
<strong>Day Four</strong><br> <br>6am: Alarm goes off and can go straight to hell. Turn it off and head back to sleep.<br> <br>6.15am<strong>: </strong>Begrudgingly up and on easyJet looking at flights to Glasgow for next year. (Remember how I was supposed to do that two days ago?) C insists on paying for half. £120 for two return tickets. We’ll book the hotel closer to the time. Breakfast is a huge bowl of cereal with coconut milk, an orange and a handful of cashew nuts. £60 for my half of the tickets.<br> <br>8.45am: Make it into work with my Perkbox weekly coffee. The company pays a subscription fee that gets us freebies and discounts to different services. Many of them are England-focused but we still get some great deals for over here. £0<br> <br>12.30pm: I’ve to get some photos taken to renew my driving licence. We tried taking these at home but the glare kept showing up on my glasses. I’m advised by the staff member in Snappy Snaps that we don’t actually need to take a photo with our glasses on…after I pay. £9.99<br> <br>1pm: Forgot my packed lunch today so run into The Nutmeg, which is a local health food store. Get two sosmix rolls, a packet of Eat Real Cheez Puffs and some chocolate peanuts. Notice one of the team has made some new face masks with astronaut print… £3.15 for the snacks and no mask.<br> <br>3pm: Get a notification to say I’ve been paid for some freelance work I did…six months ago. I tip my hat to anyone who is able to keep a sane head while working freelance full time. Celebrate with the packet of chocolate peanuts. +£150<br> <br>5.30pm: C texts as I’m leaving to ask if I want to order dinner. I’m so tempted. But we also have a fridge full of groceries that he picked up. It’s a no from me. Head home and make up a Korean-style stew with gochujang paste, coconut milk, fake meat strips from Fry’s Family, cabbage, and rice noodles. I get out fancy bowls and we watch the making of <em>The Witcher</em> featurette. I didn’t realise how important the novels were (and still are) to Poland! <br> <br>7pm<strong>: </strong>C needs the living room to work on some guitars he’s modifying. I take myself upstairs, throw on a pair of peppermint foot booties and finish up reading <em>The Night Brother</em> by Rosie Garland. <br> <br>11pm: Feet smooth. Head comfortably sleepy. Switch fan on and fall asleep instantly.<br> <br><strong>Total: £73.14</strong>
Day Four

6am: Alarm goes off and can go straight to hell. Turn it off and head back to sleep.

6.15am: Begrudgingly up and on easyJet looking at flights to Glasgow for next year. (Remember how I was supposed to do that two days ago?) C insists on paying for half. £120 for two return tickets. We’ll book the hotel closer to the time. Breakfast is a huge bowl of cereal with coconut milk, an orange and a handful of cashew nuts. £60 for my half of the tickets.

8.45am: Make it into work with my Perkbox weekly coffee. The company pays a subscription fee that gets us freebies and discounts to different services. Many of them are England-focused but we still get some great deals for over here. £0

12.30pm: I’ve to get some photos taken to renew my driving licence. We tried taking these at home but the glare kept showing up on my glasses. I’m advised by the staff member in Snappy Snaps that we don’t actually need to take a photo with our glasses on…after I pay. £9.99

1pm: Forgot my packed lunch today so run into The Nutmeg, which is a local health food store. Get two sosmix rolls, a packet of Eat Real Cheez Puffs and some chocolate peanuts. Notice one of the team has made some new face masks with astronaut print… £3.15 for the snacks and no mask.

3pm: Get a notification to say I’ve been paid for some freelance work I did…six months ago. I tip my hat to anyone who is able to keep a sane head while working freelance full time. Celebrate with the packet of chocolate peanuts. +£150

5.30pm: C texts as I’m leaving to ask if I want to order dinner. I’m so tempted. But we also have a fridge full of groceries that he picked up. It’s a no from me. Head home and make up a Korean-style stew with gochujang paste, coconut milk, fake meat strips from Fry’s Family, cabbage, and rice noodles. I get out fancy bowls and we watch the making of The Witcher featurette. I didn’t realise how important the novels were (and still are) to Poland!

7pm: C needs the living room to work on some guitars he’s modifying. I take myself upstairs, throw on a pair of peppermint foot booties and finish up reading The Night Brother by Rosie Garland.

11pm: Feet smooth. Head comfortably sleepy. Switch fan on and fall asleep instantly.

Total: £73.14
<strong>Day Five</strong><br> <br>6.30am: C has made toast for me and a banana smoothie. Wednesdays are my busiest time of the week. My manager is off those days so I usually run admin on my own.<br> <br>10am<strong>:</strong> Our finance manager passes me a packet of Fruit Polos. I could cry. Today has been hectic. We’ve received double the amount of applications, systems weren’t working for some team members and I have a headache brewing. Can feel the tension throughout the office.<br> <br>11am<strong>: </strong>Message down to reception with some ‘suggestions’ for the building’s Spotify. A few moments later, the sound of tranquil pan flutes is replaced by the <em>Fresh Prince</em> theme. Tension dissolved as the office starts cracking up in an impromptu singalong. Aaaaaand breathe.<br> <br>12.30pm<strong>: </strong>Black rice noodles with veg for lunch. I eat this cold and make my way out to have a look around the charity shops. I’m trying my hardest to shop more sustainably and know being a regular size contributes a lot to how easy this can be. Find a brand-new pair of black lace-up boots for £15! IN A SIZE SIX? Impossible. £15<br> <br>1pm<strong>: </strong>S cancels our call tonight as she’s entertaining friends. I reply that it’s no problem and attach the drafts of the chapters we’ve been discussing for her to read/comment on.<br> <br>4.30pm: Systems audit. I snack on far too many black pepper crackers and mango tea from the communal kitchen. Building Spotify is now blasting "The Best of…Queen!" Yessssss.<br> <br>6.15pm<strong>: </strong>Get home and cook Spanish rice. C’s has some chicken shredded through it and I opt for shredded vegan deli meat. It’s fatty and spicy, and just what I needed. <br> <br>7pm: Choose to run around Ormeau Park this time, sticking to the forest route. I’m incredibly lucky to live in an area with so many running routes. Over lockdown this helped me take care of my mental health, as we don’t have a garden and the front of our house doesn’t get a lot of natural light.<br> <br>8.30pm: Ask C if he’ll tune my guitar for me if he has time. He tells me he already has. What a guy. Spend the rest of the evening de-stressing and playing some old favourites.<br> <br>10pm: Video chat with my mum and little sister. They’re both fine and Revel immediately leaps up to get fussed over. Sleep as soon as I say goodbye.<br><br><strong>Total: £15</strong>
Day Five

6.30am: C has made toast for me and a banana smoothie. Wednesdays are my busiest time of the week. My manager is off those days so I usually run admin on my own.

10am: Our finance manager passes me a packet of Fruit Polos. I could cry. Today has been hectic. We’ve received double the amount of applications, systems weren’t working for some team members and I have a headache brewing. Can feel the tension throughout the office.

11am: Message down to reception with some ‘suggestions’ for the building’s Spotify. A few moments later, the sound of tranquil pan flutes is replaced by the Fresh Prince theme. Tension dissolved as the office starts cracking up in an impromptu singalong. Aaaaaand breathe.

12.30pm: Black rice noodles with veg for lunch. I eat this cold and make my way out to have a look around the charity shops. I’m trying my hardest to shop more sustainably and know being a regular size contributes a lot to how easy this can be. Find a brand-new pair of black lace-up boots for £15! IN A SIZE SIX? Impossible. £15

1pm: S cancels our call tonight as she’s entertaining friends. I reply that it’s no problem and attach the drafts of the chapters we’ve been discussing for her to read/comment on.

4.30pm: Systems audit. I snack on far too many black pepper crackers and mango tea from the communal kitchen. Building Spotify is now blasting "The Best of…Queen!" Yessssss.

6.15pm: Get home and cook Spanish rice. C’s has some chicken shredded through it and I opt for shredded vegan deli meat. It’s fatty and spicy, and just what I needed.

7pm: Choose to run around Ormeau Park this time, sticking to the forest route. I’m incredibly lucky to live in an area with so many running routes. Over lockdown this helped me take care of my mental health, as we don’t have a garden and the front of our house doesn’t get a lot of natural light.

8.30pm: Ask C if he’ll tune my guitar for me if he has time. He tells me he already has. What a guy. Spend the rest of the evening de-stressing and playing some old favourites.

10pm: Video chat with my mum and little sister. They’re both fine and Revel immediately leaps up to get fussed over. Sleep as soon as I say goodbye.

Total: £15
<strong>Day Six </strong><br> <br>6am: Up for my run. I choose The Gasworks this time – it has old red brick buildings and old monuments around it and is the quietest to run around when mornings are this bright. On the way back I pick up an energy drink for C and a three-pack of Alpro chocolate milk. £2<br> <br>7.30am: I make dinner for C to heat up tonight: Thai green curry with rice (I smell like lemongrass and chilli all day so in future will make it the night before!). I’m meeting a friend for dinner tonight – I haven’t seen her since before lockdown as she had just KICKED CANCER’S ASS. So excited for a catch-up. Breakfast is banana on brown toast with peanut butter.<br> <br>9.45am: How can it feel like I’ve been here all day? It’s very slow. I map out some article ideas and submissions to handle next week. Next to each I’ve written the name of various sites that I’d prefer to be featured on. My biggest frustration at the moment is that a few I’d submitted to years back are no longer online. I’ll get there though.<br> <br>12pm: My friend messages to say she isn’t feeling the best. Completely understandable – she’s been pretty stressed lately. We reschedule.<br> <br>12.30pm<strong>: </strong>I hadn’t brought lunch as I was planning on a huge dinner later with my friend, so I take myself to Maggie Mays in town. Anyone in Belfast will tell you that Maggie Mays has the cure for EVERYTHING. Hunger? Hangover? Heartbreak? Maggie goddamn Mays. I’m lucky that my lunch break is earlier than others, and get a table. I order the meatless burger with a side of curry chips and a huge vegan strawberry milkshake with coconut cream on top. These milkshakes, vegan and non-vegan, are infamous. £14 including £2 tip. (Did I mention how cheap it is to eat out in Belfast? This is on a Thursday so not part of the eat out to help out scheme.) <br> <br>3pm<strong>: </strong>Why did I eat so much? I’ve been ready to nap all day and the slow pace is not helping. I bag some soy milk off a colleague and make a double shot latte. The warmth of it makes me sleepier. Damn.<br> <br>5pm: Of course we get a sudden BOOM of activity half an hour before the end of the day. I snack on some cold grapes that a colleague has shared out and some almonds that are in my drawer.<br> <br>7pm: Home, and all I want to do right now is pour myself a large glass of gin and watch Korean vlogs. There’s a YouTuber called Plan:D who makes incredible food and is just so soothing to listen to. I highly recommend her. But! I’ve an email from S asking if I mind having a catch-up call regarding the chapters. I can’t say no as we’ve already missed some crucial catch-up time. Get online and into meeting mode.<br> <br>9pm: Past the point of tiredness now, make C and me some hot chocolate and we both get to reading. He’s started into the <em>Ring</em> series and is on the second novel, I’m trying to get into <em>The Luminaries</em> by Eleanor Catton again and failing horribly. There’s some curry left over and I pick at this as I’m really too tired for dinner.<br> <br>12am: Back in the realm of sleepy. Turn fan on and lights off.<br> <br><strong>Total: £16</strong>
Day Six

6am: Up for my run. I choose The Gasworks this time – it has old red brick buildings and old monuments around it and is the quietest to run around when mornings are this bright. On the way back I pick up an energy drink for C and a three-pack of Alpro chocolate milk. £2

7.30am: I make dinner for C to heat up tonight: Thai green curry with rice (I smell like lemongrass and chilli all day so in future will make it the night before!). I’m meeting a friend for dinner tonight – I haven’t seen her since before lockdown as she had just KICKED CANCER’S ASS. So excited for a catch-up. Breakfast is banana on brown toast with peanut butter.

9.45am: How can it feel like I’ve been here all day? It’s very slow. I map out some article ideas and submissions to handle next week. Next to each I’ve written the name of various sites that I’d prefer to be featured on. My biggest frustration at the moment is that a few I’d submitted to years back are no longer online. I’ll get there though.

12pm: My friend messages to say she isn’t feeling the best. Completely understandable – she’s been pretty stressed lately. We reschedule.

12.30pm: I hadn’t brought lunch as I was planning on a huge dinner later with my friend, so I take myself to Maggie Mays in town. Anyone in Belfast will tell you that Maggie Mays has the cure for EVERYTHING. Hunger? Hangover? Heartbreak? Maggie goddamn Mays. I’m lucky that my lunch break is earlier than others, and get a table. I order the meatless burger with a side of curry chips and a huge vegan strawberry milkshake with coconut cream on top. These milkshakes, vegan and non-vegan, are infamous. £14 including £2 tip. (Did I mention how cheap it is to eat out in Belfast? This is on a Thursday so not part of the eat out to help out scheme.)

3pm: Why did I eat so much? I’ve been ready to nap all day and the slow pace is not helping. I bag some soy milk off a colleague and make a double shot latte. The warmth of it makes me sleepier. Damn.

5pm: Of course we get a sudden BOOM of activity half an hour before the end of the day. I snack on some cold grapes that a colleague has shared out and some almonds that are in my drawer.

7pm: Home, and all I want to do right now is pour myself a large glass of gin and watch Korean vlogs. There’s a YouTuber called Plan:D who makes incredible food and is just so soothing to listen to. I highly recommend her. But! I’ve an email from S asking if I mind having a catch-up call regarding the chapters. I can’t say no as we’ve already missed some crucial catch-up time. Get online and into meeting mode.

9pm: Past the point of tiredness now, make C and me some hot chocolate and we both get to reading. He’s started into the Ring series and is on the second novel, I’m trying to get into The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton again and failing horribly. There’s some curry left over and I pick at this as I’m really too tired for dinner.

12am: Back in the realm of sleepy. Turn fan on and lights off.

Total: £16
<strong>Day Seven</strong><br> <br>6.30am<strong>: </strong>Make kiwi, green apple, coconut and mango smoothies for C and me. Choose to run down the riverside towpath today. <br> <br>8.30am: Ring Mum on my walk into work as C and I are going for dinner to Jumon tonight and I’ll be too tipsy/full to be coherent later. She’s had a brilliant week. Pain management is going well and she was able to walk around the garden crutch-free! I’m buzzing, get into work with a huge grin on my face. Send picture of said grin to the siblings chat. Get same photo sent back to me with a willy drawn on my head. Fair.<br> <br>10am<strong>: </strong>Grin has been well and truly slapped from the face. We are BUSY. <br> <br>11am: My friend (L) asks would I mind meeting them for a coffee at lunch as they’ve been having a really tough time lately. I say yes and send them a video of a skateboarding bulldog. <br> <br>12.30pm<strong>: </strong>Everywhere is bunged. I tell L to meet me at the Kaffe O coffee hatch in front of City Hall. Two iced lattes, a coconut brownie for L and two flavoured teas (which I bought just for the designs) come to £6. I pay as they’re having a shit time of it lately mental health-wise and deserve a treat. The hatch is contactless payment only and the card reader doesn’t give the option of a tip. I ask the barista if he has a tipping jar. One espresso cup later and he does. L and I walk and talk around City Hall. By the end of it we’re both feeling a little better. All I want to do is hug them but they understand that I can’t. £8 including the £2 tip.<br> <br>4pm<strong>: </strong>Fantasising about my tofu massa laksa curry that I’m going to INHALE the minute I get to Jumon.<br> <br>5.30pm<strong>: </strong>WE ARE OUTTA HERE BABYYYYYYYY. I run out the door while the team are having Friday drinks in the office. C meets me there and I could cry when we get in. I’m so glad this restaurant survived lockdown. It’s vegetarian/vegan-only cuisine – mostly Thai-inspired – and I mean it when I say you won't get a better feed anywhere else in the city centre. We get the kimchi fries and sesame cauliflower to start. C gets the peanut rice curry and I’m reunited, after six long months, with my massa laksa curry. It’s a huge bowl with curry, rice noodles, fried aubergine, courgette and breaded tofu. It has peanuts crumbled on top and a tiger salad (which you can get on the side). It’s sex in a bowl, is what it is.<br> <br>6.15pm<strong>: </strong>Plates licked clean and cocktails drained. I am the picture of contentment. The bill comes to £55 (including 10% tip) and I send C half via mobile banking. £27.50<br><br>On the slow walk home we bump into an old friend out having drinks. She works in one of the busiest bars in Belfast and is apprehensive about going back. She mentions wanting to get back into admin roles and I give her my email address so she can send her CV for me to edit. We end up chatting for half an hour and I send over some positions to companies that I know treat their staff well. <br><br>8pm: C has opened a bottle of red wine and I’ve poured myself that long-awaited glass of gin. Nothing productive is going to happen the rest of the night.<br><br>9pm: Realise we have no potato bread for a hangover fry tomorrow! Run across to the shop and pick up potato bread, some pineapple juice (because drunk cravings are strange), pork sausages for C and toilet paper to make up the £5 minimum spend. £5.05<br><br>10pm<strong>: </strong>Fade early. Makeup off, face routine done. Crawl into bed and fall asleep full and happy.<br><br><strong>Total: £40.55</strong>
Day Seven

6.30am: Make kiwi, green apple, coconut and mango smoothies for C and me. Choose to run down the riverside towpath today.

8.30am: Ring Mum on my walk into work as C and I are going for dinner to Jumon tonight and I’ll be too tipsy/full to be coherent later. She’s had a brilliant week. Pain management is going well and she was able to walk around the garden crutch-free! I’m buzzing, get into work with a huge grin on my face. Send picture of said grin to the siblings chat. Get same photo sent back to me with a willy drawn on my head. Fair.

10am: Grin has been well and truly slapped from the face. We are BUSY.

11am: My friend (L) asks would I mind meeting them for a coffee at lunch as they’ve been having a really tough time lately. I say yes and send them a video of a skateboarding bulldog.

12.30pm: Everywhere is bunged. I tell L to meet me at the Kaffe O coffee hatch in front of City Hall. Two iced lattes, a coconut brownie for L and two flavoured teas (which I bought just for the designs) come to £6. I pay as they’re having a shit time of it lately mental health-wise and deserve a treat. The hatch is contactless payment only and the card reader doesn’t give the option of a tip. I ask the barista if he has a tipping jar. One espresso cup later and he does. L and I walk and talk around City Hall. By the end of it we’re both feeling a little better. All I want to do is hug them but they understand that I can’t. £8 including the £2 tip.

4pm: Fantasising about my tofu massa laksa curry that I’m going to INHALE the minute I get to Jumon.

5.30pm: WE ARE OUTTA HERE BABYYYYYYYY. I run out the door while the team are having Friday drinks in the office. C meets me there and I could cry when we get in. I’m so glad this restaurant survived lockdown. It’s vegetarian/vegan-only cuisine – mostly Thai-inspired – and I mean it when I say you won't get a better feed anywhere else in the city centre. We get the kimchi fries and sesame cauliflower to start. C gets the peanut rice curry and I’m reunited, after six long months, with my massa laksa curry. It’s a huge bowl with curry, rice noodles, fried aubergine, courgette and breaded tofu. It has peanuts crumbled on top and a tiger salad (which you can get on the side). It’s sex in a bowl, is what it is.

6.15pm: Plates licked clean and cocktails drained. I am the picture of contentment. The bill comes to £55 (including 10% tip) and I send C half via mobile banking. £27.50

On the slow walk home we bump into an old friend out having drinks. She works in one of the busiest bars in Belfast and is apprehensive about going back. She mentions wanting to get back into admin roles and I give her my email address so she can send her CV for me to edit. We end up chatting for half an hour and I send over some positions to companies that I know treat their staff well.

8pm: C has opened a bottle of red wine and I’ve poured myself that long-awaited glass of gin. Nothing productive is going to happen the rest of the night.

9pm: Realise we have no potato bread for a hangover fry tomorrow! Run across to the shop and pick up potato bread, some pineapple juice (because drunk cravings are strange), pork sausages for C and toilet paper to make up the £5 minimum spend. £5.05

10pm: Fade early. Makeup off, face routine done. Crawl into bed and fall asleep full and happy.

Total: £40.55
<strong>The Breakdown</strong><br><br>Food/Drink: £122.06<br>Entertainment: £0<br>Clothes/Beauty: £15<br>Travel: £60<br>Other: £178.94<br><br><strong>Total: £376</strong><br><br><strong>Conclusion</strong><br><br>"This was definitely a bigger spend than my usual weeks but honestly? The ‘treat yo’self’ vibe was appreciated. I also hadn’t factored in getting paid for a job I’d completed MONTHS ago, so that was a bonus. Something I didn’t mention was the anxiety I faced buying anything for myself. It shocks me how much guilt I felt, buying a desk that I should’ve bought months ago as my back has been in bits from working late nights hunched over our living room coffee table long before lockdown. I’m getting there though – and will have fun decorating my newly appointed writing room!"
The Breakdown

Food/Drink: £122.06
Entertainment: £0
Clothes/Beauty: £15
Travel: £60
Other: £178.94

Total: £376

Conclusion

"This was definitely a bigger spend than my usual weeks but honestly? The ‘treat yo’self’ vibe was appreciated. I also hadn’t factored in getting paid for a job I’d completed MONTHS ago, so that was a bonus. Something I didn’t mention was the anxiety I faced buying anything for myself. It shocks me how much guilt I felt, buying a desk that I should’ve bought months ago as my back has been in bits from working late nights hunched over our living room coffee table long before lockdown. I’m getting there though – and will have fun decorating my newly appointed writing room!"

Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

Money Diary: An Operations Manager On 40k

Money Diary: A Social Media Manager On 29k

Money Diary: A Medical Writer On 35k

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting