Money Diary: I Earn 27k – Here’s What I Spent On Christmas Shopping

·21-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 34-year-old living in north Northamptonshire. I work as part of the care service as a personal adviser, holding a caseload of young people aged 16-25 who are currently in the care of the local authority or were looked after when they were under 18. I moved to Northamptonshire four years ago with my partner, P, to be closer to his two daughters with his ex. We’ve since had two more children together and I have just returned to work after maternity leave. We have lived in a four-bedroom, semi-detached house owned by my parents for the past two years. After my grandmother died they wanted to invest their inheritance and property has a good return.

At Christmas I take charge of all the shopping and try to be really organised and avoid panic-buying. I have a notebook where I keep logs of what I’ve bought and numerous lists on my phone of what I still need to buy. This year I’m trying really hard to avoid Amazon as it’s hard to justify supporting a multinational company that pays so little tax when I’m taking food vouchers to kids struggling to survive on universal credit. I usually pay for everything with savings and space purchases out through the year but with maternity leave I still have lots to buy and there is a lot of credit card use and, for the first time, Klarna. I try not to be too consumerist and have gradually tapered the amount we spend over the years. Currently, we’re down to 15 stocking presents of about £5 for my stepdaughters and one big gift from their dad and me. As a stepmother, I find it quite challenging balancing my values around ethical shopping and avoiding plastic tat against the values at their mum’s house and have really had to rein myself in to avoid ruining the magic for the girls."

Occupation: Personal adviser
Industry: Social work
Age: 34
Location: Northamptonshire
Salary: £26,879
Paycheque amount: £2,239.92 before deductions. The actual amount varies depending on my mileage that month (I get 45p a mile reimbursement for business miles). This month after deductions (tax, student loan, union fees, pension) and plus mileage I was paid £1,746.05
Number of housemates: Five: my boyfriend, P; my stepdaughters M, 9, and F, 7, who are here around half the time; daughter B, 2; and son E, 8 months.
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses

Loan payments: Around £40 for my overdraft excursions each month, £100 on a loan I took out when maternity was more expensive than anticipated and around £200 on my credit card (minimum payment usually). My student loan comes out of my pay each month at £65.
Savings? 3p according to the banking app I’ve just checked. Maternity leave and no mileage through the pandemic has meant living paycheque to paycheque.
Pension? I pay into the local government pension scheme at 6.5% and have six years accrued now, five at this job and one from when I first graduated and worked in a school for a year.
Housing costs: £425 for my half of the rent, P transfers me £425 for his each month.
Utilities: £155 gas and electric, £78 water, £167 council tax and £17 contents insurance. P transfers £250 towards these bills but he also pays Wi-Fi, TV licence and Netflix. I pay my personal car costs, including £43 for insurance and £11 for road tax.
All other monthly expenses: £15 SIM-only contract. Childcare for the little two is currently £180 per week for two days full-time childminder (£90 per child). I’d intended to have E starting when B gets her 30 free hours after Christmas so this cost wouldn’t be so high but I got pregnant quicker than I thought so I'm paying this until January. I use the government scheme which tops up what you pay in so I pay £144 myself and HMRC pays the other 20%. I also put £25 a month into a savings account for each child so they have something when they’re older. Subscriptions: Disney+ £7.99.

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

I studied nursing at a Russell Group university and if I could go back I wouldn’t do it again. I’ve never practised as a nurse and was so depressed and anxious by my final year that I scraped a third. I should have probably dropped out at the end of my first year to focus on my mental health but should, would, could. My parents paid my rent through university, the NHS paid my fees and I had a maintenance loan for living.

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

I don’t really remember many conversations, I was encouraged to save for what I want and had to earn my pocket money but money wasn’t particularly openly talked about it. Money was definitely tight when I was young, up until about the age of 12 when my mum retrained and started working full time. I think before then my grandparents helped out in some ways maybe.

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

I’ve been in and out more often than the hokey cokey. I went at 18 for uni, came back at 21 when I graduated. Left at 22 for travelling then came back. Left again at about 23 to move in with friends and came back at 24 when the partying and drinking there got too much. Moved away at 25 for a live-in job and lived half at work, half at home, then went properly at 27 into my own flat and this time I haven’t been back!

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

At 21 when I graduated and got my first job. Mum and Dad have always been clear that they would never see me struggle and if life is hard their parents helped them so they would help us. They have loaned me bits of money in the past but nothing serious.

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

My very first job was a paper round at 12, delivering papers around the village I lived in. I got it to top up my pocket money and fund my cool emo girl shopping trips into the nearest city.

Do you worry about money now?

All the time, money is my biggest stress and I have a worry about it at least once a day.

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

Yes, my grandparents saved some money for us as children. I used mine when I went travelling at 22 and then the remainder of it and some I inherited from an uncle to leave a very toxic job situation at 29 and relocate to Northamptonshire.

<strong>Day One</strong><br> <br>6.15am: I hate mornings. Alarm goes off so I get up and shower before I get the kids ready. <br> <br>7am: P’s off to work, leaving me to finish getting B and E ready for the childminder. He’s supposed to be on a 24 hour shift but he casually drops in that he’s not sure if he’s going to have to stay on tomorrow. He works in a children’s home so can’t just leave if the home isn’t safely staffed or if an emergency comes up. It can make managing with the kids really stressful as I’m never quite sure if he’ll be around or not.<br> <br>8.45am: Get back from dropping B and E at childminder and see no notifications from the emergency duty team on my desktop so I make a coffee before I plan my to-do list. I haven’t got any visits booked today and need to crack through quite a lot of paperwork while the house is quiet for once. I need to reconcile my government procurement card (GPC) today but can’t remember my log-in for the life of me.<br> <br>10am: Still no log-in. Decide to give up for a bit and go and see one of the kids I look after to break up the tedium. On my way back I see business support have kindly reset my GPC log-in so I head home to stop procrastinating and actually reconcile the bloody thing.<br> <br>12pm: Hallelujah! All my receipts are uploaded and matched, my VAT is calculated, my authorisations are attached, the card is DONE. Celebrate with another coffee and a KitKat and put on a load of washing.<br> <br>1pm: Microwave some leftover fried rice P made for tea last night for my lunch and stare bleakly at the pathway plan I need to write. Procrastinate by ordering some Yoyo fruit snacks for the kids off Amazon. £17.90<br> <br>3pm: Log off for a late lunch break to collect M and F from school. It’s a 20 minute walk up so I spend my time in the gate queue scrolling Etsy for wreaths. I really want a Christmas wreath for our front door but don’t know what sort yet. <br> <br>3.45pm: In from school, start the girls off with reading and homework while I log back on to continue to do battle with the pathway plan. I’m definitely losing.<br> <br>5pm: Give up, log off, throw the big girls in the car with a Yoyo each to get the babies from the childminder. Stop at little Tesco on the way to get eggs and margarine to bake F’s mermaid birthday cake later for her birthday sleepover tomorrow. £3.30<br> <br>6.30pm: E was knackered and miserable so have stuck him straight to bed, tea is slightly delayed but now served. I eat with the three girls and then get them all into bed as well.<br> <br>8pm: Baking begins. I’m not brave enough to make it mermaid-shaped so am doing a round cake with blue icing and mermaid decorations. <br> <br>9.50pm: P calls as I’m finishing the crumb coat. He won’t be back until 8pm tomorrow. I have no comment to make. Give up and go to bed.<br> <br><strong>Total: £21.20</strong>
Day One

6.15am: I hate mornings. Alarm goes off so I get up and shower before I get the kids ready.

7am: P’s off to work, leaving me to finish getting B and E ready for the childminder. He’s supposed to be on a 24 hour shift but he casually drops in that he’s not sure if he’s going to have to stay on tomorrow. He works in a children’s home so can’t just leave if the home isn’t safely staffed or if an emergency comes up. It can make managing with the kids really stressful as I’m never quite sure if he’ll be around or not.

8.45am: Get back from dropping B and E at childminder and see no notifications from the emergency duty team on my desktop so I make a coffee before I plan my to-do list. I haven’t got any visits booked today and need to crack through quite a lot of paperwork while the house is quiet for once. I need to reconcile my government procurement card (GPC) today but can’t remember my log-in for the life of me.

10am: Still no log-in. Decide to give up for a bit and go and see one of the kids I look after to break up the tedium. On my way back I see business support have kindly reset my GPC log-in so I head home to stop procrastinating and actually reconcile the bloody thing.

12pm: Hallelujah! All my receipts are uploaded and matched, my VAT is calculated, my authorisations are attached, the card is DONE. Celebrate with another coffee and a KitKat and put on a load of washing.

1pm: Microwave some leftover fried rice P made for tea last night for my lunch and stare bleakly at the pathway plan I need to write. Procrastinate by ordering some Yoyo fruit snacks for the kids off Amazon. £17.90

3pm: Log off for a late lunch break to collect M and F from school. It’s a 20 minute walk up so I spend my time in the gate queue scrolling Etsy for wreaths. I really want a Christmas wreath for our front door but don’t know what sort yet.

3.45pm: In from school, start the girls off with reading and homework while I log back on to continue to do battle with the pathway plan. I’m definitely losing.

5pm: Give up, log off, throw the big girls in the car with a Yoyo each to get the babies from the childminder. Stop at little Tesco on the way to get eggs and margarine to bake F’s mermaid birthday cake later for her birthday sleepover tomorrow. £3.30

6.30pm: E was knackered and miserable so have stuck him straight to bed, tea is slightly delayed but now served. I eat with the three girls and then get them all into bed as well.

8pm: Baking begins. I’m not brave enough to make it mermaid-shaped so am doing a round cake with blue icing and mermaid decorations.

9.50pm: P calls as I’m finishing the crumb coat. He won’t be back until 8pm tomorrow. I have no comment to make. Give up and go to bed.

Total: £21.20
<strong>Day Two</strong><br> <br>7.30am: All kids awake. Make everyone porridge with cinnamon and sultanas for flavouring. Stick an extra spoonful of coffee in the machine for me.<br> <br>9am: The mother of F’s sleepover friend messages that they have double-booked and can't make it anymore. I resist the urge to reply anything too rude and start emergency planning.<br><br>10am: Head to Aldi on operation Save The Sleepover. I buy two design-your-own T-shirt kits and extra mermaid sprinkles for the sleepover, smoothies, bread, fizzy orange, a middle-aisle doll for my friend’s baby for Christmas and a selection of Maltesers for brother one and his wife’s Christmas box, which I need to send to them in China this week. Everything comes to £29.48 (WTF, it’s nine items from Aldi).<br> <br>10.30am: Head to Tesco for bonus mermaid items (there are none). F asks if we can look at the Disney mugs for her mum for Christmas but there’s none with her mum’s initial.<br><br>3pm: Cake is finished, it’s magnificent if I do say so myself. One hour until sleepover commences.<br> <br>4.15pm: The only guest is 15 minutes late, start frantically praying for divine intervention. P’s sister video calls F to wish her happy birthday and distract her.<br> <br>4.35pm: The only guest finally arrives! Phewwwwwwww. F has been promised takeaway pizza for tea so now their friend is here I order the delivery. Four pizzas comes to £40.44. <br> <br>6pm: Food arrives, there’s way too much pizza. Have the birthday cake for pudding and the girls are delighted when the icing turns their tongues blue.<br> <br>7.40pm: The babies are in bed and M is feeling left out and grumpy. I set her up making a birthday card for F and we scroll Etsy together, getting ideas for her mum’s Christmas present.<br> <br>9.20pm: Slightly later than the promised 8pm but P is home. I lie very still on the sofa, drinking vodka and Aldi fizzy orange. <br> <br>11pm: Head to bed, have a quick shag before lights out. <br><br><strong>Total: £69.92</strong>
Day Two

7.30am: All kids awake. Make everyone porridge with cinnamon and sultanas for flavouring. Stick an extra spoonful of coffee in the machine for me.

9am: The mother of F’s sleepover friend messages that they have double-booked and can't make it anymore. I resist the urge to reply anything too rude and start emergency planning.

10am: Head to Aldi on operation Save The Sleepover. I buy two design-your-own T-shirt kits and extra mermaid sprinkles for the sleepover, smoothies, bread, fizzy orange, a middle-aisle doll for my friend’s baby for Christmas and a selection of Maltesers for brother one and his wife’s Christmas box, which I need to send to them in China this week. Everything comes to £29.48 (WTF, it’s nine items from Aldi).

10.30am: Head to Tesco for bonus mermaid items (there are none). F asks if we can look at the Disney mugs for her mum for Christmas but there’s none with her mum’s initial.

3pm: Cake is finished, it’s magnificent if I do say so myself. One hour until sleepover commences.

4.15pm: The only guest is 15 minutes late, start frantically praying for divine intervention. P’s sister video calls F to wish her happy birthday and distract her.

4.35pm: The only guest finally arrives! Phewwwwwwww. F has been promised takeaway pizza for tea so now their friend is here I order the delivery. Four pizzas comes to £40.44.

6pm: Food arrives, there’s way too much pizza. Have the birthday cake for pudding and the girls are delighted when the icing turns their tongues blue.

7.40pm: The babies are in bed and M is feeling left out and grumpy. I set her up making a birthday card for F and we scroll Etsy together, getting ideas for her mum’s Christmas present.

9.20pm: Slightly later than the promised 8pm but P is home. I lie very still on the sofa, drinking vodka and Aldi fizzy orange.

11pm: Head to bed, have a quick shag before lights out.

Total: £69.92
<strong>Day Three</strong><br> <br>8am: All kids are now awake after E starting the fun at 5.35am. We settle to help the big girls pick their mum’s presents. M picks a personalised bauble and F chooses a personalised mug with a hot chocolate cone, both from Etsy. There is a set of earrings for my mum’s present in my basket so order them too. £34.59 in total including postage. We’re feeling motivated so the big girls pick for P as well. F opts for scented candles from a small Welsh vegan company that I’ve wanted to buy from for a while. £15.50 including postage. M wants to get him a tin to put his watch in (?!). I find one with a dragon on from eBay. £4.99 with free postage.<br> <br>12.30pm: P makes pasta salad for lunch and we all eat together. Then he takes all four kids to the park while I have a nap and five minutes' peace.<br> <br>4pm: I wake up naturally. P is still at the park with the kids so I pull some chilli out of the freezer to defrost for tea. <br> <br>6.30pm: After tea I go up to get the babies ready for bed while P gets the big girls ready to go to their mum’s. PANIC! Everything is lost. Swap jobs with P to get school shoes/coats/reading books assembled then wave them off until Tuesday.<br> <br>8pm: Lounge on sofa, share a bottle of wine with P while watching crap TV (<em>Ancient Aliens </em>on Blaze for anyone who may also wish to watch crap TV).<br> <br>10.30pm: Go to bed, have a goodnight shag, go to sleep.<br><strong><br>Total: £55.08</strong>
Day Three

8am: All kids are now awake after E starting the fun at 5.35am. We settle to help the big girls pick their mum’s presents. M picks a personalised bauble and F chooses a personalised mug with a hot chocolate cone, both from Etsy. There is a set of earrings for my mum’s present in my basket so order them too. £34.59 in total including postage. We’re feeling motivated so the big girls pick for P as well. F opts for scented candles from a small Welsh vegan company that I’ve wanted to buy from for a while. £15.50 including postage. M wants to get him a tin to put his watch in (?!). I find one with a dragon on from eBay. £4.99 with free postage.

12.30pm: P makes pasta salad for lunch and we all eat together. Then he takes all four kids to the park while I have a nap and five minutes' peace.

4pm: I wake up naturally. P is still at the park with the kids so I pull some chilli out of the freezer to defrost for tea.

6.30pm: After tea I go up to get the babies ready for bed while P gets the big girls ready to go to their mum’s. PANIC! Everything is lost. Swap jobs with P to get school shoes/coats/reading books assembled then wave them off until Tuesday.

8pm: Lounge on sofa, share a bottle of wine with P while watching crap TV (Ancient Aliens on Blaze for anyone who may also wish to watch crap TV).

10.30pm: Go to bed, have a goodnight shag, go to sleep.

Total: £55.08
<strong>Day Four</strong><br> <br>6.20am: E is up and ready for the day. Take him downstairs to make a bottle for him and coffee for me. <br> <br>6.55am: Wave goodbye to P as he’s back to work. I do four days a week to reduce the childcare bill and today is my non-working day. I remember it’s child benefit day, I’m rich! See an email from Brownies Brown Owl about this half-term’s subs and Christmas camp balance. Log on and pay the subs and camp balance: £21 each for subs, £20 each camp balance. It was nice having money while it lasted. <br> <br>9am: E decides it's nap time so pop him down. I need to post brother one’s Christmas presents so package them up. I have the Maltesers from the other day, a red Moka Pot for sister-in-law (apparently you can’t get them in China and she really wants one) and a Liverpool FC garden gnome for brother. I get a bit emotional writing the card I’ve bought. Brother one and I were really close growing up and due to COVID I’ve only seen him once since he moved to China three years ago. I’m hoping this will ease at some point so we can meet soon, video calls aren’t quite the same.<br> <br>2pm: Head to the local market town and go to the post office to post my parcel. £25.30. I then go to get a coffee with my mum from the only café open on a Monday (she pays).<br> <br>4.15pm: Have a difficult conversation with my dad and sister while Mum plays with the babies. Brother two and his partner are not speaking with any of the immediate family except brother one at the moment for a variety of reasons on which I have views. I’ve reached out to him to ask for photos for the calendar I traditionally make my grandma for Christmas and have been left on read. Everyone has different opinions on whether I should include him or not.<br> <br>8pm: The children are in bed, the kitchen is deep cleaned and I sit down with a vodka, <em>Sort Your Life Out</em> on TV and some Christmas admin. Check who still needs buying for and what ideas I have. Log on to Klarna to check my payment date for the indoor climbing frame I’ve bought B and E. I’m trying to avoid shopping from Amazon so much this year and focus on small shops and the high street so am trying to be more organised. Scroll Etsy and eBay for inspiration and find none.<br> <br>10pm: Give up and go to bed. <br><strong> <br>Total:</strong> <strong>£107.30</strong>
Day Four

6.20am: E is up and ready for the day. Take him downstairs to make a bottle for him and coffee for me.

6.55am: Wave goodbye to P as he’s back to work. I do four days a week to reduce the childcare bill and today is my non-working day. I remember it’s child benefit day, I’m rich! See an email from Brownies Brown Owl about this half-term’s subs and Christmas camp balance. Log on and pay the subs and camp balance: £21 each for subs, £20 each camp balance. It was nice having money while it lasted.

9am: E decides it's nap time so pop him down. I need to post brother one’s Christmas presents so package them up. I have the Maltesers from the other day, a red Moka Pot for sister-in-law (apparently you can’t get them in China and she really wants one) and a Liverpool FC garden gnome for brother. I get a bit emotional writing the card I’ve bought. Brother one and I were really close growing up and due to COVID I’ve only seen him once since he moved to China three years ago. I’m hoping this will ease at some point so we can meet soon, video calls aren’t quite the same.

2pm: Head to the local market town and go to the post office to post my parcel. £25.30. I then go to get a coffee with my mum from the only café open on a Monday (she pays).

4.15pm: Have a difficult conversation with my dad and sister while Mum plays with the babies. Brother two and his partner are not speaking with any of the immediate family except brother one at the moment for a variety of reasons on which I have views. I’ve reached out to him to ask for photos for the calendar I traditionally make my grandma for Christmas and have been left on read. Everyone has different opinions on whether I should include him or not.

8pm: The children are in bed, the kitchen is deep cleaned and I sit down with a vodka, Sort Your Life Out on TV and some Christmas admin. Check who still needs buying for and what ideas I have. Log on to Klarna to check my payment date for the indoor climbing frame I’ve bought B and E. I’m trying to avoid shopping from Amazon so much this year and focus on small shops and the high street so am trying to be more organised. Scroll Etsy and eBay for inspiration and find none.

10pm: Give up and go to bed.

Total:
£107.30
<strong>Day Five</strong><br> <br>8.30am: After a 6am start we’re all up, dressed and fed. Just as I am revelling in my achievements, P calls. He’s been a bit delayed. He’s childcare while I’m working today. I let him know I have a non-negotiable visit at 2pm and B has her ballet lesson at 12.30pm, which I’d rather not take E to.<br> <br>11am: One of my longest serving girls messages me. I started working with her when she was 16 and she has come back to me at her request after both maternity leaves. We have a nice chat and catch up about her kids and new house. I find out she's having major issues with waste disposal at her place so we agree that I’ll come over the day after tomorrow and load my car up with it to take it to the local tip so she doesn’t get rats.<br> <br>12.20pm: P rocks up in the nick of time. B and I head off to her ballet lesson (I use my lunch hour to take her).<br> <br>3.30pm: Very productive visit. The child was happy to chat with me and lots of future planning has already been completed, which is a pleasant surprise. Call P and ask if he wants me to drop into Aldi on the way home. The list of requests includes wine, vodka, butternut squash and swede which all comes to £28.94.<br> <br>4.45pm: Get home and log back on to type up today's visit before eating the dinner P has made. <br> <br>7pm: I decide to do some Christmas shopping while having a drink. Order a T-shirt, earrings, badge, keyring and stationery for my sister from various Etsy shops as well as a Bluey hair bow for B and a unicorn name bracelet for F. £46.64 <br> <br>9.45pm: P and I are both knackered and head to bed. Have a little sex before we go to sleep.<br> <br><strong>Total: £75.58</strong>
Day Five

8.30am: After a 6am start we’re all up, dressed and fed. Just as I am revelling in my achievements, P calls. He’s been a bit delayed. He’s childcare while I’m working today. I let him know I have a non-negotiable visit at 2pm and B has her ballet lesson at 12.30pm, which I’d rather not take E to.

11am: One of my longest serving girls messages me. I started working with her when she was 16 and she has come back to me at her request after both maternity leaves. We have a nice chat and catch up about her kids and new house. I find out she's having major issues with waste disposal at her place so we agree that I’ll come over the day after tomorrow and load my car up with it to take it to the local tip so she doesn’t get rats.

12.20pm: P rocks up in the nick of time. B and I head off to her ballet lesson (I use my lunch hour to take her).

3.30pm: Very productive visit. The child was happy to chat with me and lots of future planning has already been completed, which is a pleasant surprise. Call P and ask if he wants me to drop into Aldi on the way home. The list of requests includes wine, vodka, butternut squash and swede which all comes to £28.94.

4.45pm: Get home and log back on to type up today's visit before eating the dinner P has made.

7pm: I decide to do some Christmas shopping while having a drink. Order a T-shirt, earrings, badge, keyring and stationery for my sister from various Etsy shops as well as a Bluey hair bow for B and a unicorn name bracelet for F. £46.64

9.45pm: P and I are both knackered and head to bed. Have a little sex before we go to sleep.

Total: £75.58
<strong>Day Six</strong><br> <br>7am: It is a Christmas miracle. My alarm wakes me up, not a child! Get showered and ready for the day.<br> <br>8.30am: P leaves for a meeting as my mum arrives to look after B and E for us both to work. I have a joint visit with a colleague to one of her more unpredictable boys.<br> <br>11am: Arrive with my colleague at the visit. There is no answer at the flat and we walk around, trying to find a way in. Start to be concerned until he finally answers his phone to let my colleague know: "I’m fine, I’m fucking busy, I’m not waiting around for you all day." Colleague liaises with probation to make a management plan while I check through my emails.<br> <br>1pm: We’re back super early. Mum is happy with the kids until 3pm so I pop into Tesco on my way home to get some more Christmas bits like cards and wrapping paper. The total is £38 but I have £15 worth of Clubcard vouchers so only pay £23.<br> <br>1.30pm: P has beaten me home and Mum has already gone. E goes down for a nap and P takes B to Aldi to do a big shop. He gets bread, nappies, formula, eggs, bananas, apples, pasta, carrots, peppers, cherry tomatoes, frozen peas and corn, butter, instant coffee and quite a few other bits. He pays for this shop and tells me it was £87.92.<br> <br>3pm: P takes E and B to collect M and F from school and go to his ex’s house to celebrate F's birthday (I’ll meet them there later once I’ve finished work). He takes the present I’ve bought specifically for today, a Lego set. F will open the rest of her presents at our house in a few days' time.<br> <br>6.30pm: Back from singing Happy Birthday to F. P cooks a prawn stir fry while I put the little ones to bed. <br> <br>9.45pm: We go to bed, sex before sleep.<br> <br><strong>Total:</strong> <strong>£110.92</strong>
Day Six

7am: It is a Christmas miracle. My alarm wakes me up, not a child! Get showered and ready for the day.

8.30am: P leaves for a meeting as my mum arrives to look after B and E for us both to work. I have a joint visit with a colleague to one of her more unpredictable boys.

11am: Arrive with my colleague at the visit. There is no answer at the flat and we walk around, trying to find a way in. Start to be concerned until he finally answers his phone to let my colleague know: "I’m fine, I’m fucking busy, I’m not waiting around for you all day." Colleague liaises with probation to make a management plan while I check through my emails.

1pm: We’re back super early. Mum is happy with the kids until 3pm so I pop into Tesco on my way home to get some more Christmas bits like cards and wrapping paper. The total is £38 but I have £15 worth of Clubcard vouchers so only pay £23.

1.30pm: P has beaten me home and Mum has already gone. E goes down for a nap and P takes B to Aldi to do a big shop. He gets bread, nappies, formula, eggs, bananas, apples, pasta, carrots, peppers, cherry tomatoes, frozen peas and corn, butter, instant coffee and quite a few other bits. He pays for this shop and tells me it was £87.92.

3pm: P takes E and B to collect M and F from school and go to his ex’s house to celebrate F's birthday (I’ll meet them there later once I’ve finished work). He takes the present I’ve bought specifically for today, a Lego set. F will open the rest of her presents at our house in a few days' time.

6.30pm: Back from singing Happy Birthday to F. P cooks a prawn stir fry while I put the little ones to bed.

9.45pm: We go to bed, sex before sleep.

Total: £110.92
<strong>Day Seven</strong><br> <br>6.15am: Early alarm again today for childminder. P’s on shift, of course.<br> <br>8.45am: Go straight from childminder to my tip run visit. It takes three visits to get rid of all the rubbish. Brim my car with diesel on the way home. My 50-litre tank takes just over 46 litres so this was probably a good call but it costs £68.30, which feels like less of a good call.<br> <br>1.35pm: Get home and have five minutes' peace before I turn my laptop on, run the hoover around, eat some toast. The Etsy shop I ordered B’s Bluey bow from has sent me a 10% off coupon so I order a My Little Pony bow for F’s stocking as well. £3.15<br> <br>5pm: I’ve finally finished the pathway plan I was starting on day one. Password-protect it and email it to the young man and his support worker for them to look over, then log off. Head straight out to collect the little ones from childminder.<br> <br>7pm: There is a Brownies meeting about Christmas camp. I asked M and F’s mum if she wanted to go but she declined as she wants to have a shower while they’re at Brownies and wash her hair. I bath B and E and get them in their pyjamas to go up so they can go straight to bed when we get home. Camp sounds really fun, with lots of Christmas crafts, stargazing and campfires.<br><br>8.30pm: Get home and B eventually settles to bed after two stories and innumerable requests for water, wees and kisses. I microwave some leftover curry I find in the freezer and sit down with that and a drink to relax. Look through my 'still to buy' list. Order a calendar for P off eBay for £6.99 (his mum always used to buy him one and since she passed away six years ago I’ve continued the tradition). My dad has asked for a metal reusable water bottle so I order a Klean Kanteen from Babipur with 15% off. £23.76 <br> <br>10pm: I have a nagging feeling I’ve forgotten something and then realise it's the fucking lunchboxes. Angrily throw food into B and E’s lunchboxes. I pack lunch, tea and snacks for them and breakfast for E as well.<br> <br>10.45pm: Bed. I come out of the en suite from brushing my teeth to find B climbing into my bed. She tells me: "I’ll sleep here tonight Mummy." Put her back in her own room and hope that’s my last visit of the night.<br><br><strong>Total: £102.20</strong>
Day Seven

6.15am: Early alarm again today for childminder. P’s on shift, of course.

8.45am: Go straight from childminder to my tip run visit. It takes three visits to get rid of all the rubbish. Brim my car with diesel on the way home. My 50-litre tank takes just over 46 litres so this was probably a good call but it costs £68.30, which feels like less of a good call.

1.35pm: Get home and have five minutes' peace before I turn my laptop on, run the hoover around, eat some toast. The Etsy shop I ordered B’s Bluey bow from has sent me a 10% off coupon so I order a My Little Pony bow for F’s stocking as well. £3.15

5pm: I’ve finally finished the pathway plan I was starting on day one. Password-protect it and email it to the young man and his support worker for them to look over, then log off. Head straight out to collect the little ones from childminder.

7pm: There is a Brownies meeting about Christmas camp. I asked M and F’s mum if she wanted to go but she declined as she wants to have a shower while they’re at Brownies and wash her hair. I bath B and E and get them in their pyjamas to go up so they can go straight to bed when we get home. Camp sounds really fun, with lots of Christmas crafts, stargazing and campfires.

8.30pm: Get home and B eventually settles to bed after two stories and innumerable requests for water, wees and kisses. I microwave some leftover curry I find in the freezer and sit down with that and a drink to relax. Look through my 'still to buy' list. Order a calendar for P off eBay for £6.99 (his mum always used to buy him one and since she passed away six years ago I’ve continued the tradition). My dad has asked for a metal reusable water bottle so I order a Klean Kanteen from Babipur with 15% off. £23.76

10pm: I have a nagging feeling I’ve forgotten something and then realise it's the fucking lunchboxes. Angrily throw food into B and E’s lunchboxes. I pack lunch, tea and snacks for them and breakfast for E as well.

10.45pm: Bed. I come out of the en suite from brushing my teeth to find B climbing into my bed. She tells me: "I’ll sleep here tonight Mummy." Put her back in her own room and hope that’s my last visit of the night.

Total: £102.20
<strong>The Breakdown</strong><br> <br>Food & Drink: £207.98<br>Clothes & Beauty: £0<br>Home & Health: £0<br>Entertainment: £0<br>Travel: £68.30<br>Other: £82<br>Christmas: £183.92<br><br><strong>Total: £542.20</strong><br> <br><strong>Conclusion</strong><br> <br>"What a hideously expensive week. Some bits like the birthday party and Christmas shopping are out of the ordinary. Brownies as well is a half-termly payment and camp is only once or twice a year so that is unusual. It’s definitely normal not to have really spent anything on myself or to have gone out anywhere. I don’t really have any local friends so any trips are usually carefully planned day trips or weekends away organised months in advance. I’m surprised at how little I spent on Christmas presents as I felt quite productive. I’ve still got quite a few stocking bits to buy for the kids and am planning to get the big girls a Switch and <em>Minecraft</em> for Christmas so I think I’ve got a few more expensive weeks to come."
The Breakdown

Food & Drink: £207.98
Clothes & Beauty: £0
Home & Health: £0
Entertainment: £0
Travel: £68.30
Other: £82
Christmas: £183.92

Total: £542.20

Conclusion

"What a hideously expensive week. Some bits like the birthday party and Christmas shopping are out of the ordinary. Brownies as well is a half-termly payment and camp is only once or twice a year so that is unusual. It’s definitely normal not to have really spent anything on myself or to have gone out anywhere. I don’t really have any local friends so any trips are usually carefully planned day trips or weekends away organised months in advance. I’m surprised at how little I spent on Christmas presents as I felt quite productive. I’ve still got quite a few stocking bits to buy for the kids and am planning to get the big girls a Switch and Minecraft for Christmas so I think I’ve got a few more expensive weeks to come."

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